By Michael Effiong
It was the Oziddi King, late Sonny Okosun that sang a popular song with the title ” Which Way Nigeria”.
The lyrics talked about the strife in the country, the blame game culture, the suffering of the people and ended with he question: which way Nigeria?
That song is ringing in my ears this morning as I reflect on the state of our nation. Where is the country heading to really? Some events of the last few days have made the question relevant.
Take for instance, the drama over the ministerial list. The list has eventually been dropped on our laps but guess what?
Like it has been done since 1999, names were submitted to the Senate without portfolios.Is that not a which way Nigeria moment?
I am told the reason Presidents usually keep the portfolios close to their chest is to avoid protests especially when some are given ministries that are not ” juicy” or allocated junior ministerial positions aka Minister of State.
Well, if this is the real reason, it does not hold water because either it is mentioned now or later, what will be, will be.
Granted it has not been the norm, but attaching portfolios to the list would affirm the Next Level ambitions of the present government and give it the much-desired PR boost as an administration that is light years ahead of the PDP…But this resort to business as usual, get as e be.
The embarrassing incident of “Bow and Go” would have been reduced if we knew the assigned duties of the ladies and gentlemen.
We, as citizens, could scrutinise these nominees on our own even before they step into the red chamber and our nation will be the better for it. Indeed, we could have been saved from the drama that played out inside the hallowed chambers.
I watched a few of the screening sessions and was not too impressed. The case of the immediate past FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello really hit a raw nerve.
I don’t know if he answered any question before I witnessed him telling the Senators that he should enjoy the privilege to ” Bow and Go” because he occupied the position of FCT Minster which was the equivalent of State Governor!
I was appalled that no one raised the issue that he was an appointee and not an elected official etc. He got his way with cheers from the floor.
Well let us not dwell on the negatives, the screening also brought to fore the need for technocrats and professionals to become politicians.
No doubt if you know your onions, you can stand at anytime to prove your mettle. And that was what Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Ali Isa Pantami, Festus Egwarewa Adeniyi Keyamo and Sunday Akin Dare showed.
Not only were they cerebral, they were very composed, articulate and regaled us with impressive stories of their personal and professional accomplishments.
While, I say kudos, will the Nigerian system, which stifled brilliant minds like late Chief Bola Ige allow these ones to soar?
Will they be given assignments that will allow them exhibit their prowess and talents? Or Will we come back in a few years to lament in our usual manner: which way Nigeria?
Just when I was pondering over all these, the BBC jolted me from my reverie with a powerful documentary on kidnapping in Nigeria.
Titled “Inside Nigeria’s Kidnap Crisis” by Kunle Falayi, the documentary again brought out the Which Way Nigeria question.
It highlighted the gallantry of the Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari and his men of the Inspector-General Response Team which has led to the arrest of many daredevil armed robbers and kidnappers.
But the documentary also showed the extra judicial actions of some of the officers, especially the allegation of torture of suspects or relations of suspects.
The one that broke my heart was the story of the family of an IRT Inspector who was killed in the line of duty.
The family of this hero (a wife and four children) was living in penury because his entitlement has not been paid four months after his demise. His children have stopped school and his wife was begging for decent accommodation!
What made it painful for me was that the fine officer, Mr Kyari was right there as the broken, disappointed and despondent woman poured her heart, instead of tellling us how he will facilitate urgent succour for the family, he was lamenting about the poor welfare of his officers! Haba Abba! Which Way Nigeria?
Though he spoke about the need to boost the morale of officers with better welfare and care, the soothing balm for that woman was not to generalise her problem. Maybe he did that in private, but what was shown to us was not palatable at all.
Despite the good work of Mr Kyari and his men, the kidnapping palaver is hitting closer home with an incident reported at the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as we are pondering over that, we now have the additional tension of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), the Shiite group led by El ZakZaky.
Though I am not a fan of the violent protest embarked upon by the group over the continued detention of its leader, the proscription order which was
nicodemously granted to the Federal Government may not be the right solution.
With all we have on our plate at the moment, was this action deeply thought out? Some say this is a knee jerk approach that will likely worsen the situation and lead to the usual question: which way Nigeria? God help us!