Thursday, 1 May 2014

God will not do it!

I was going to write about General Buhari’s latest volte face in which he condemned the Nyanya bombing and the abduction of 234 schoolgirls, now said to be sold off at N4,000 a piece. Others have noted that he never before criticised the murderous activities of Boko Haram. On the contrary, he had seemed miffed on previous atrocities that a group which despises ‘Western’ education, seeks to Islamise Nigeria and repudiates democracy should fail to attract the same sympathy accorded the Niger Delta militants, whose own legitimate grievances were borne for far too long, but who never blew up motor parks or abducted schoolgirls.
But why bother? His widely circulated (and poorly headlined) article – ‘Putting Back the Fight against Terrorism on the Rails’ – in which he professes himself shocked at the ‘evil’ perpetrated by these Islamic fundamentalists, is too obviously self-serving. ‘While we are engaged in tight political competition against the ruling party we shall not play politics on this issue so vital to our national survival and well-being,’ he sanctimoniously wrote, having done just that, much to the delight of the presidency, whose erudite apologist was quick to acknowledge the former military dictator’s ‘very statesman-like views on terrorism and insecurity’.
Buhari’s obsessive – I almost said sinister - presidential ambition dates back to 2003, when he famously promised to make Nigeria ungovernable if the results weren’t reversed in his favour. Well, Nigeria has now become ungovernable and all he can tell us is to ‘take close heed at this moment and recognize the severity of what is upon us’. But we knew that already. We knew that even when he served the late, unlamented Abacha as his alternative petroleum minister, having paved the way when he did his own stint as maximum dictator. And all this before we began the voodoo democracy he would now profit from.
In fact, Buhari’s sudden realisation that bombing citizens and abducting schoolgirls are ‘evil’ is less a Damascus conversion than a cynical reading of the prevailing mood in the nation. It isn’t so much that Nigerians are beginning to realise the ineptitude of government at all levels - they knew that already - but the loss of a desperate hope that things might improve if only we could get the right set of people at the helm of affairs. As I attempted to argue in my last blog, sacking this or that minister is merely a distraction from what is already an undeniably failed state, which is also why any talk of 2015 is not merely beside the point but obscene to boot. Nothing will be improved by swapping Jonathan for Buhari (or whoever else), which would merely guarantee more of the same.
But what is especially noticeable in the public discourse across the social media is the absence of any recourse to the Almighty. Previously, one would have been assaulted by the maddening refrain, ‘God will do it,’ as if we are not ourselves actors in the unfolding tragedy of Nigeria. Now we know that God won’t un-bomb Nyanya, nor is God about to rescue the schoolgirls. Moreover, there is no earthly (or even heavenly) reason why God should do so, having already equipped us with the wherewithal – and that in comic abundance.
Concerning the schoolgirls especially, we are now to believe that the entire resources of the Nigerian army, to say nothing of the police and the various other security agencies, are unable to confront an armed gang hiding out in a forest. What a laughing stock we have become in the eyes of the international community, and there we were getting worked up when President Mugabe rubbished us. He hardly went far enough. Besides, he only said what everyone else was thinking, even those presidents who are forever in and out of Abuja looking for handouts, which seems to be the sum total of our foreign policy. Everyone knows that the huge sums voted to security – N1.055 trillion in the current budget – are simply looted at source, hence the rumours of soldiers fleeing before the heavier firepower of the insurgents.
Some time ago, someone coined the term Pepper-soup Generals, and there you have it exactly: the top brass entertaining their girlfriends in Abuja while the rank and file are expected to lay down their lives. What for? Better to go into the forest yourself, which was what some despairing parents did before they realised the folly of their undertaking. And if the idea of Jonathan himself leading the way into that same forest is too preposterous to contemplate, we can at least wonder why he ever thought it necessary to flaunt his own daughter’s wedding.
Meanwhile, as all this is going on, a select group of the usual suspects is busy debating the future of the country in a hotel in Abuja at N4 million a month. I say the usual suspects. In fact, in amongst their number is a coterie of so-called civil society activists who don’t appear to understand why they were nominated to this pointless talking shop in the first place. One of them vowed to donate his share of the national cake to charity, another that he wouldn’t even touch the money, and a third went into a long spiel about how you can only affect change from the inside. One hardly knows which to despise most. Better those who know the score and are content to play Scrabble when they aren’t sleeping.
So there we are: the endgame in Nigeria and 2015 just around the corner, with Jonathan and Buhari squaring up to each other in the interests of exercising power without responsibility. But at least we now know that God will not do it for us; was never going it for us.  We’ll have to do it all by ourselves.
© Adewale Maja-Pearce
An earlier version of this piece first appeared in Hallmark, 29 April 2014

Adewale Maja-Pearce is the author of several books, including Loyalties
and Other Stories, In My Father's Country, How many miles to Babylon?, A
Mask Dancing, Who's Afraid of Wole Soyinka?, From Khaki to Agbada,
Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays, A Peculiar Tragedy, and
Counting the Cost, as well as the 1998 and 1999 annual reports on human
rights violations in Nigeria. He also edited The Heinemann Book of African
Poetry in English, Wole Soyinka: An Appraisal, Christopher Okigbo:
Collected Poems, The New Gong Book of New Nigerian Short Stories,

and Dream Chasers. The House My Father Built, a memoir, will be
published later this year.

Click here to see Maja-Pearce's page:

1 comment:

  1. The weakness of this piece, Mr. Maja-Pearce, is that it fails to proffer solutions while deftly analysing the situation. What should those who really do know the score do? Siddon look? Surely, that couldn't be a response worthy of serious consideration. So we must seek answers and 'appropriate' responses to this Nigerian situation. - AOO