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It is a war between a heartless government and a cheated people. The

 government is construed by the people, as fighting to maintain a status

quo, which benefits the people only in depriving them



Nigeria: A Failed State in the Making?

By Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh


Handwritings, Histories and Portents!!!!

Before the Shakespearean Caesar fell, the nightmares of his wife were premonitions. Before he took the fatal steps to the Capitol, the good offices of Artemidorus were deployed by fate as an early warning system. The treachery of Brutus was appropriated by the sharp faculties of the Seer. Caesar was warned. He got sufficient forewarnings. But like every conceited man, Caesar was deaf. His pride deafened him. Caesar felt invincible. He kept his self-deception running on all cylinders. “Caesar was more dangerous than danger”; screamed the arrogant banners of his conceit. He swaggered in pride, loathing his wife’s unease, and disregarding the Poet’s note. As pride precedes every crash, his arrogance goaded him into ignoring the warnings; signing his execution warrant in the process.

That was in ancient Rome!

Frail is the line between literature and life. As form follows function, so literature follows life. Literature is the narration of human vicissitudes rendered in words. Literature mimics life, and typifies it. Literary artists are sculptors of words, and creators of worlds. The universe is their canvass, as well as material. To this end Shakespeare bestrides the universe of ideas like the Colossus at Rhodes. His literary interventions, and voyages into different town squares of human endeavour deluge our universe of meaning, with their insight and brightness. He holds promise for our enterprise whenever we consult him; centuries after he took his exit. 

Another ancient Kingdom was visited by portents!

Before Belshazzar lost his kingdom, he was equally tipped off. The story makes for a wonderful reading:

Once upon a time, a historic “handwriting”[i] appeared on the walls of an imperial dining room. It was at the royal courts of Babylon, during the reign of Belshazzar. The handwriting at interpretation, detailed the numbering, weighing, division, and destruction of a great empire. It appeared at the event of an occasion. It was an imperial feast. Abundant debauchery attends such occasions. Crapulence is indulged, celebrated and canonized. Bacchus is the patron of such assemblies. Such was the Bacchanalia convoked by Belshazzar the King of a decaying Babylonian empire.

All the signs of decay surrounding him never revolted him into acting to save his empire. He was not only blind to them, he was blinded by them. He suffered from the perceptual myopia native to those ensconced in rot. Just like olfactory fatigue, which renders a man incapable after a few minutes, of perceiving his own malodorous odour, he was immunized to the decadence of an empire that gorged itself fat on the ruins of other nations. He was oblivious of the internal profligacy, wasteful incompetence, and sterile lethargy of his courtiers and nobles, at whose hands the empire was being bludgeoned to death. His charge was expiring and falling into disrepute, while he imitated Nero, who would gloriously debauch himself into the synonym for fiddling, some centuries later.  Just like the Humpty Dumpty[ii], whom neither all the kings’ horses nor men could put together again, Belshazzar’s courtiers, magicians, lords, and men were useless in the face of the portentous threats. Their faculties were blunted by a combination of greed and privileged debauchery. And Babylon was destined to fall at their hands.

This is the fate of all nations piloted by privileged leeches and elitist scoundrels. It is destined to fail. Isolated micro-universes of individual greed encircling the corridors of power, is the foolproof recipe for national failure. Greed is never a manifesto for good governance. A state populated by avaricious individuals is simply embezzled out of existence. In such states, reason capitulates.

To that end, Babylon and all empire that would mimic its historical blunders was already weighed on scales and found wanting. The days of the kingdom was numbered. It was already divided up along its great fault lines, and apportioned to usurpers for their sport. In a little while, Babylon was to tumble into the sea of “was-once-great”. It was to become history. But the custodians of this empire were blind to the impending catastrophe.

The Lessons of Signs

Portents are forerunners of catastrophe. Signs advertise themselves, as calamity prepares its visit. But a corrupt cocktail of arrogance, oversight, presumption and outright incompetence sabotage their being rightly perceived, and interpreted.  Ignorance equally compromises the effectiveness of the perceptual facilities from anticipating such downturns. In complex institutions, bureaucratic bottlenecks, sycophancy, laziness, greed, corruption, petty politicking, and outright dereliction of duty aid, and propel the misinterpretation of the radar signals emitted by catastrophes as they make landfall.

Prior to 9/11, for instance, FBI operatives in Minnesota picked up signs that a disproportional number of men of Middle Eastern descent, were enrolling in American flying schools. They sent words up the command chain. But petty politics prevented actions that would have nipped 9/11 in the bud. Before Massoui could be arrested or his computer searched, the hijackers already had some planes in mid-air, enroute their various targets. World Trade Center, the Pentagon and most probably the White House had to pay for the petty politicking and allegiances to ego, resident deep in the bowels of such complex bureaucracies run by midget conquistadores and petty egos.

In Nigeria, the immediate post independence government was very busy overreaching itself in its unwarranted tolerance of official corruption and pettiness, to realise that the country was no longer at ease. A nelson’s eye was posed to Okotie Eboh’s advertisement of corrupt opulence. Akintola’s political brigandage was timidly tolerated ad nauseam. Corruption arrived and engrafted itself onto the body-politic. As these cancers metastasized, the government basked in timidity.  It failed to anticipate the unrest and the subsequent putsch, which swept its inglorious feet off the corridors of power.

However, the job of intelligent leadership everywhere is to anticipate these calamities; read and interpret the signs intelligently and come up with blueprints to counter such threats. Belshazzar had the Hebrew youngster Daniel in his court for this purpose, though his belated action did not suffice to save a kingdom rotten from the roots.  Artemidorus may have been Caesar’s intelligence agent, whom he roundly ignored to his eternal discomfiture; while the espionage prophets of Arlington remain American government’s response to such eventualities, in spite of their monumental failures to anticipate 9/11.

Handwritings on walls are metaphoric, preliminary gestures thrown up by an empire on the throes of death.  Not some senseless historical graffiti designed to be ignored. Perceptual fatigue and the arrogance of power scuttle their being rightly construed. They are often ignored by those most in need of its lessons, only to be happened upon, when future generations seriously inquire into the decline of their once proud and august heritage. Every creation has its genesis. The same holds and applies to every destructive apocalypse. The decline of great empires commences in the inconsequential misdemeanours of its custodians.

Ancient Rome was well past its way across the Rubicon of decline, as its successive Emperors fiddled and dallied with debauchery and corruption. The custodians of the state convoked a festival of depravity, and invited the citizens to partake as spectators and participants in the cannibalization of their commonweal. In the same vein, the death knell for all failed States is sounded once the leadership begins a brazen embezzlement of all morals, good sense, and resources of their various charges. That is why Nigeria may be on the highroad to becoming a failed State. The journey has begun. It may just be a matter of time before we arrive there.

Great signs are not needed to show that things have really fallen apart. The situation is attested to, by a collection of facts, which inconsequential in themselves; assemble to brew a broth of far-reaching unease, as is the case in the Niger Delta today. This area is increasingly being militarized on both sides. It is a war between a heartless government and a cheated people. The government is construed by the people, as fighting to maintain a status quo, which benefits the people only in depriving them of the succour of a clean environment and bequeathing them an all round poverty. The government seems to be fighting for the maintenance of the unearned privilege of a few elitist leeches, and their foreign collaborators, in whose interest it is that the oil continues its uninterrupted flow, even if the whole Niger Delta ecology is to be destroyed in the process.

Dateline Nigeria!

Nigeria is on the road to becoming a failed State. The signs and portents are everywhere. But Nigerians being wishful thinkers and redundant optimists of the worst quality are still posing a blind eye to the signs environing them. Every factor worthy of consideration in Nigeria seems to be a part of a huge conspiracy to get Nigeria to crash land and break up. The leadership is a corrugated theatre of indentured roguery; the populace; a timid mass of impoverished humanity. Infrastructural decay is tradition here, while interminable crises have assumed the way of life. In Nigeria, the Hobbessian fear of violent death accompanies Nigerians throughout their short life spans. The life spans of Nigerians have been reduced terribly southwards that investing in an uncertain future is predicated on the roulette wheel of chance and luck.  And this ensures that “there is no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short[iii]

When on Wednesday, the 25th of May, 2005, the United States National Intelligence Council, released its long-term outlook and assessment of Nigeria, which projected a catastrophic scenario that Nigeria risks collapse in 15 years, Olusegun Obasanjo; Nigeria’s erstwhile president dismissed the report as emanating from detractors, and “prophets of doom”.[iv] Obasanjo was not doing something out of character. He was being religiously faithful to that ostrich culture of dismissive denial, which has forever been the hallmark of Nigerian leadership. This culture of dismissal has so much permeated Nigerian leadership corridors, as to sire a thoroughbred race and bureaucracy of professional sycophants, whose bounden duty is to shoot every patriotic criticism of government’s incompetence out of the sky.

It seemed that when the president reacted himself to the issues, he did that with the same modicum of arrogance and incivility, which emboldens the audacious impunity of his rabid Rotweilers like the notorious court-jester, Fani-Kayode, Remi Oyo, or his ministerial “Otimpkpu” Frank Nweke, jr. These were notorious for their unrefined propensity to react to issues, and dismiss them with a plethora of insults, and garrulous irrationality, which resides in the darkest grottos of motor-park thuggery. Abubakar Umar, Chinua Achebe, and the European Union 2003 Nigerian election observer mission have all faced the speaking ends of presidential-approved verbal thuggery.

This dismissive culture of denial is an attempt to wish away the facts, or manufacture illusions to soothe their incompetence with the balms of ease. But facts are stubborn. And like corks, would never drown; always popping up at unguarded moments with tons of embarrassment in its wake. The World Bank followed up and pursued the same issue from its own peculiar standpoint. The 2005 World Bank Assessment lists Nigeria among the fragile states that risk collapse.[v] These states known in World Bank parlance as Low-income countries under stress (LICUS) are laden with multiplicity of chronic problems, which pose some of the toughest development challenges.

These countries according to the World Bank’s assessment are characterized by the same dysfunctional constants. They are embroiled in extended internal conflict; struggling through tenuous post-conflict transitions, faced with weak security situation, fractured societal relations, corruption, breakdown in the rule of law, and lack of mechanisms for generating legitimate power and authority. We must underline that although I have had occasions to disagree with World Bank’s recommendations especially for African economies, I have always found their appraisal and analysis of the problems flawless. But the solutions they recommend and impose most times are inspired more by ideology[1], and less by science[2]

On the 23rd of December 2006 a car-bomb exploded in the Nigerian Southern city of Port Harcourt, which incidentally is the Oil capital of Nigeria tearing down parts of the fencing of the government House, which is the administrative hub of the state. The Associated Press report claimed that MEND (The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) claimed responsibility for the bombing.[vi] This importation of Taliban tactics into the Niger Delta agitation by MEND marked a new twist in Nigeria’s chequered voyage enroute renaissance or implosion. This is testament to a nation embroiled in extended internal conflict.

Nigeria has never ceased to struggle through tenuous post-conflict transitions. The military years which reached its unholy apogee in Sanni Abacha bastardized almost all the structures and apparatus of state, conscripting them into the service of tyranny. Then, came the coup from heaven, which saw Abacha expiring atop imported prostitutes; followed by a hurriedly-convoked transition to a rule by a political class peopled by inglorious collaborators with the military occupation of Nigerian politics. At the head of this hurried transition emerged Obasanjo; a man who went to jail under the military, and who rose pledging to spare no sacred cows in his fight against corruption in the new dispensation. Eight years after that declaration, more sacred cows were cloned under his administration than any other in Nigeria history, in spite of what his paid cheerleaders would have us believe.

Obasanjo succeeded in single-handedly re-introducing civil-tyranny into Nigeria. He bestrode Nigeria as a village thug, in an Orwellian revolution gone awry. He busied himself harassing anyone who believes in the rule of law, as against the rule of Kabiyesi. Audu Ogbe bears in his disgrace, a testament to Obasanjo’s crude ways. Atiku Abubakar equally got his share of Obasanjo’s crudeness for daring to nurse an ambition unapproved by Baba himself. This uncouth midget thug essayed to destroy all that was left of accountability in governance, decency in comportment and vision in authority. He sold Nigeria to his isolated pocket of false friends, who are members of this syndicated gangsterism holding Nigeria to a ransom since independence.

Almost all our public utilities were auctioned off in obedience to his greed. He bestrode the NNPC like a drunken sailor, rendering no account to anyone on how the revenues accruing the country were expended. After investing trillions of naira in our power sector, which he took up as his highest priority, the power sector is no longer epileptic but in coma. He invested over 300 billion naira to make Nigerian roads look more like the outbacks of hell and primeval desolation in concert with Tony, “Mr. Fix it” Anenih.

Obasanjo’s crimes against natural justice, equity and good conscience can never be retired or appeased in two generations. Nigerians will continue for ages to come to offer propitiations to equity in retirement of the crimes committed by this cow in china shop. Obasanjo’s greatest achievement was in cloning and imposing an illegitimate government on the Nigerian tribune of power. After an eight year tenure marked by executive delinquency, policy confusion, selective fight against corruption, and presidential vindictiveness, he further castrated the Nigerian electorate by imposing on them candidates they neither wanted, chose, nor asked for. He used Mr. Maurice Iwuh for this heist.

Today, Nigeria still summarizes insecurity of lives and property in spite of the sepulchral whitewashing of the Heart of Africa project, and the sterile millions wasted thereto.  Armed robbers, both official, government-approved ones, like the Nigerian Police, and the freelancers have ensured that the Nigerian public space remains an arena of insecurity.  This is a country where life is cheaper than the price of peanuts. This is where arms and ammunition are in the hands of petty crooks and psychologically unbalanced policemen and soldiers. The Nigerian state has since lost the monopoly of violence. Armed bandits are now ruling the waves and determining who has the right to life or death. Our fundamental freedoms are now casinos where crooked politicians, bandits and privileged debauchery play for high stakes.

Instances of this drastic denigration of human life in Nigeria abound. Thisday’s journalist, Godwin Agbroko was sometime ago, shot dead in cold blood on his way home. No suspect was fingered or arrested. Believe me, none will ever be. How could the Nigerian police solve the murder of a common journalist, when it could not open mystery that was the murder of the former attorney general of the Federation; Mr. Bola Ige?[vii] Ayodeji Daramola was murdered in Ekiti State. The Nigerian Police Force is yet to fish out the killers. Funso Willams was murdered in Lagos state. The police are yet to rise up to the challenge. Instead, hundreds of innocent Nigerians are still being killed and tortured yearly by the Nigerian police in a very degrading and shameful manner that has attracted the highest international condemnation.[viii]

Till now, no one has been convicted in the killing of 6 young Igbo traders at Apo village in Abuja in June 2005. Are we still talking security? A glance through any Nigerian news daily will apprise you of what security means here. In fact, Nigeria defies every rational computation.  When beggars die in Shakespeare, there are no comets seen, but the stars themselves, blaze forth the death of princes. That is only in Shakespeare. In Nigeria, whether princes or beggars, life is so cheap that anyone who cares to do you harm would really do you in, and get away scot-free. 

Today, thugs rule the Nigerian political theatre. Armed secret cultists butcher every opposition into submission, turning our universities, which are supposed to be the ivory towers of learning into abattoirs for human slaughter. Brown envelop syndrome has been deployed in emasculating the Nigeria Press; the supposed Fourth Estate of the Realm, into lending itself as cheerleaders of privileged rascality and political roguery. The Police force has since abandoned the pretence of being custodians of law and order; they are now a full-blown corrupt vestige of the ruling party in power. The battle for the soul of the Nigerian judiciary is on. With those who believe in the rule of law daily losing ground to those led by Aoannadaka the federal attorney general, a petty egomaniac and a corrupt representative of the ruling cabal.

The Nigeria social space offers no protection to anyone, both celebrities and paupers. To this end, celebrities pay for police protection as they would private militias to protect their asses. The poor are abandoned to the mercies and good pleasures of the marauders. Do we have fractured social relations in Nigeria? Well, a visit to any Nigerian chatrooms, or internet discussion group would surprise you. The amount of mutual hatred oozing out of those rooms is so toxic that it could corrode hell. Other factors listed by the World Bank and the espionage prophets of Arlington are abundant in Nigeria. That would take a full dissertation to explain.

Designed Never to Function

Nigeria was never designed to function. That explains why she is in competition to become a failed state. The conglomeration, and yoking together of over 350 different nations under one country, is to all intents and purposes, designed to be an impossible project. How a huge boiling pot of invariables, and polarized insularities could stew together in unity, faith and progress beats every rational imagination. The constituent nations all jointly and severally boast of millennia of peculiarity and diversities in culture, language and worldview. They were semi-isolated ethnic pockets obeying their own rules and living their own lives, although in interdependence.

In fact, everything about this country has been an imposition. The country itself was an artificial creation. The union of the component ethnic nationalities was an imposition by the fiat of the British imperialists. They created Nigeria, not as a state that should thrive and propel itself independently on the paths of development, but as a huge reservoir of resources of be milked unto extinction. Nowhere has a functional state ever been created by the avaricious fiat of a colonizing power. Countries are not created by the mandates of exploitation. Peoples unite to pursue their common interests.

There was no common interest on the agenda at the creation of Nigeria. No people ever came together and dialogued their way unto a union that became Nigeria. Nigeria was decided at the British trading outposts, and sent to Whitehall for approval. Recognition for this tardiness was canvassed at the 1885 Berlin conference, and was legitimized in the eyes of the Robber baronial nations that masqueraded as colonialists. It was then imposed on the peoples inhabiting the territories affected by that decision. Nigeria was a by product of a colonial master, seeking to gorge itself full on the wealth of its colony.

The country Nigeria was an imposition. The name itself is equally an imposition. So is the constitution that under girds it all. A glance through the Nigerian constitutional history proves this point beyond all doubts. Never in the history of Nigeria has the true representatives of the people ever sat on an agenda to define and dialogue out their common interests and basis for a union. The 1999 constitution that is the foundation of this present democratic experiment was a military imposition. Chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution for instance, is a phoney creation. It is just there for cosmetic effect. We either borrowed that from India or whichever country that was ready to lie to its people for fun. For example: rights like free education for all Nigerians was deemed non-justiciable, whereas Nigeria has enough resources to educate all her citizens.

These provisions offer the leadership an escape route to embezzle funds mapped out for sectors like education without anybody asking questions. If the leadership knows that a child in Kaura Namoda who is not in school will take the government to task over this, and the child in Ijebu ode as well as kids all over Nigeria; then the leadership will not allow the embezzlement of funds for the educational sector because, it will be immediately apparent. And that will signal failure of the government and may engender serious civil outcry and possible civil disobedience. This will be a way for the people to act as checks on their government.

If a citizen knows that he stands a chance of winning a case if he institutes an action against the government, its agents or privies, then the government will be more responsible, than reckless. But because our constitution was an imposition, we find such lies being celebrated in our most sacred document. How can a country function when the people have no common interest except their common hatred of each other, and their common oppression by a cabal of faceless rogues?

This exploitative metaphysic followed Nigeria till today. At independence, the colonial Lords, not satisfied with this apparent loss of power, still craved some influence no matter how remote. They reengineered power into the hands of the conservative element that would uphold the status quo in everything but name. This ensured that at Independence, Nigeria remained a British colony in everything but name. With the passage of time, the Nigerian agents of the British neo-colonial interests realized that a continuation of this culture of imposition would successfully install them eternally in power; a pedestal from which they would perpetually lord it over the rest of us, where the colonialists left off.  Just like in Animal Farm, we exchanged our slavery to British official whims to the capricious and monumental indiscretions of Nigerian politicians. This exchange created a crop of home-grown colonial Lords, who exploit the people like their former Lords did.

The only difference now is that neither is allegiance owed to the Court of St. James, nor the booty shipped to Britain, and offered in genuflection to Whitehall. The home-grown masters have now new masters: namely their inordinate greed. They shipped their loot to Switzerland; housing it in numbered accounts. The rape of the country assumed the same trajectory in both epochs. Our local pirates in some space of four decades succeeded in out-performing the colonial masters in greed, thievery and plunder of our commonweal.

The colonial experiment monopolized violence and used it to keep the colonized from raising their voices against their plunder and oppression. At Independence, the local pirates inherited that apparatus; namely the Police force, and deployed it to shutting out and exterminating all opposition to their excesses. Till today, true democracy refused to germinate in Nigeria, while the fear of the police became the beginning of wisdom. The Nigerian police till today remains an instrument of oppression of the populace. This fact which has followed almost all the post independence governments ever to rule Nigeria was well advertised during the inauguration of Yar Adua’s illegitimate government on the 29th of May, 2007.

The Features of a Failed State in the Making

The Loss of Monopoly of violence versus the Democratization of violence

The State enroute failure first suffers the loss of its authority to compel obedience to the sanctions and provisions of its statutes and laws. It consequently loses the monopoly of the use or deployment of violence. It lacks moral authority to compel obedience. To this end, violence is democratized.

A failed state hatches violence. It breeds warlords and warmongers. It tolerates jingoes and empowers them. It loses its authority to command a monopoly of violence. Its laws and statutes are objects of scorn and derision. To this end, warlords and bandits are availed the rich humus to germinate and assume control of much territories and armed jurisdictions as they can grab. In this scenario, individuals lose their sense of security as fear of violent death lurks in every corner and fissure of life.  These were individuals who under the theoretic terms of the social contract subleased their rights and powers so that the state can accumulate and exercise a monopoly of violence for the social good.

The Nigerian government has lost the moral authority to be the custodian of the peoples’ welfare. The citizens through a series of government’s gangsterist behaviour were invited as witnesses, as the structures of state were degraded, bastardized, and co-opted into the service of unholy political ends, to attain impious goals of avaricious import. They have jointly and severally watched as their posterity was shot off the sky by the avarice, squandermania and outright thievery of the ruling class. They have been impoverished beyond all measures, in all dimensions that the society reeks with the odours of corrupt opulence existing side by side with inexplicable penury.

The elite in such states are then fragmented by their haggling over their avaricious pies. They busy themselves scrambling for crumbs that fall off the tables of power. They suffer from a mental leprosy that inures them from realizing their slavish attachment to insignificance. They spend their lives fighting for crumbs leaving the state to be hijacked by scoundrels.  As tyranny usurps power, the future of the state desiccates into visionless amblings without purpose. They cause petty empires to be constructed within the state, and ruled by various barons and dons, while the nation becomes a bankrupt and corrupt fiefdom. From a corrupt fiefdom, the nation matriculates into a no-man’s land where anarchy reigns. Poverty, hopelessness and underdevelopment then invade the land!!!!

This is the reign of systematic anarchy; systematic in the Machiavellian fashion. This kind of anarchy is an artificial creation, fashioned to keep the populace busy, while the ruling thieves loot and pillage the nation. Obasanjo versus Atiku verbal war for much of their second term in office for instance, was an engineered disagreement over the loot, which is a feature of classical brigandage. Executive anarchy at the highest levels mirrors, inspires, and drives street-level thuggery and violates the fundamental freedoms of ordinary Nigerians.

The general populaces in such states are victims of pervasive apathy, which cripples organized resistance to oppression. Thus they become inadvertent collaborators to their predicament. They are disenfranchised and co-opted unto their disservice either by their ignorance or collective apathy.  And the dictatorship holding their destiny to a ransom revels in sustaining this apathy and ignorance, which renders collective resistance to tyranny an impossibility.  Over and above that, these people oppressed by governmental irresponsibility then conjugate themselves into catering for their individual selves and welfare. Some arm themselves for their details. Others arm themselves to defend their conveniences. And since everybody elects to be his own defender, the power to inflict violence becomes democratized; within everyone’s reach. And a modern State of nature; a social jungle is called into being.  That is the case of Nigeria today.

A perfect example of this could be seen in Nigerians of the Oil Rivers extraction organizing and arming themselves, with the aim of assuming control over their resources, which has brought them a cocktail of disadvantages. They have seen their lands pillaged, their ecology is collapsing on them, their flora and fauna can no longer sustain reasonable life; all because their land must keep up giving up its oil to fund the extravagant indiscretions of the Nigerian power elite, and their foreign collaborators. Adaka Boro’s misadventures were a dress rehearsal for what Mujahdi Dokubo is trying out today. His tactics may be controversial but the cause he fights, if that is what he is doing, cannot but be just. 

Another example of the violence in the Nigerian society could be gleamed in the activities of armed robbers across Nigerian cities. This is a sad catalogue of pain and despair. It remains a placard attesting to the breakdown of the Nigerian society.

Dinosaurs in Power

That a State fails is not an event. It is a process spanning decades of leadership orchestrated goofs. Every state on the way to failure entertains dinosaurs, which should be archaeological monstrosities buried in memory, on its corridors of power and centres of social legitimacy.  This accounts for Nigerian political and public space being over-populated by recycled bandits and geriatric debauchees. These guys that should be museum pieces relegated to irrelevance are the ones defining the directions of social conduct. They are the ones unfortunately leading the debate on how to construct our future. These were the men, who wasted our past, embroiled our present in interminable crises, and short-changed our future.

These same wandering minstrels of cant are the ones holding the keys to our social legitimacy in Nigeria.  The fact remains that any nation that allows this as the currency of operation, is living in a theatre of never-to-be-fulfilled dreams. Rationality would command retirement to men like Olusegun Obasanjo, Ojo Maduekwe, Tony Anenih, etc. But these men who embody in their crooked frames, all that is wrong with Nigeria, continue to hoodwink and swindle us into allowing their continued amble in the corridors of power. These men bereft of ideas are still conducting the phoney orchestra singing the dirge to Nigeria’s future

The reign of Fraudulence

Fraudulence reigns in every state enroute to failure. It commences with electoral fraudulence and diffuses to all sectors of the national life. Electoral fraudulence converts a democracy into a seething cauldron of bottled discontent, which if not properly managed explodes to rip the state to shred. This is quickened by the fluid equations created by the absence of functional rule of law or apparatus of state. Electoral fraud hands a blank cheque to incompetence, creating a ruthless power matrix that celebrates falsehood and mediocrity. And since every fish rots from the head, every state collapses from the debaucheries of the ruling class.

No human society can ever survive the erosion of it values and cohesion, which leadership-orchestrated rottenness engineers. This has been the lesson of history. But our refusal to learn from history has condemned us to repeat it, in the vain hope that a future we never prepared for, will suddenly arrive on our shores, just like a treasure ship from nowhere. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. Electoral fraudulence is why Umaru Yar Adua “won” the presidential (s) elections; a charade convoked in supreme mockery of the people’s will. 

Issues at Reconstruction

This country could function, if it is worked at. But attempts at progress are defeated ab initio by the crude politicization of the inbuilt fault-lines, at the least opportunity. Any attempt at reconstructing Nigeria must go back to the basis. Nigerians must convoke a Sovereign National conference and decide whether they want to federate into a union or go their separate ways. We should not stay together because it serves American or British interests and need for oil. We should stay together because we want to be together and because we have a basis for that. This basis must be a basis that serves us, not our friends or anybody else. This conference will map out the matrices of our common interest. It will create the people’s constitution which will be the sacred document bearing the letters and spirit of this agreement. 

Nigeria will never know felicity or development until the present arrangement which is at best retrogressive is jettisoned for a more functional one, flowing and deriving its legitimacy from the genuine will of the people expressed in their coming together to dialogue out their differences and configure it a basis for unity and development.

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[2] Jeffrey Sachs, End of Poverty

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[i] This is the famous “handwriting on the wall” me•ne, me•ne, tek•el, u•phar•sin  Pronunciation: (mē'nē, mē'nē, tek'ul, yOO-fär'sin), [key] Aramaic. numbered, numbered, weighed, divided: the miraculous writing on the wall interpreted by Daniel as foretelling the destruction of Belshazzar and his kingdom. Dan. 5:25–31. See: InfoPlease accessed on the 23rd of December 2005. This is applied as the lead question to our exploration. Is Nigeria’s days numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided?

[ii] Humpty Dumpty was in fact an unusually large canon which was mounted on the protective wall of "St. Mary's Wall Church" in Colchester, England. It was intended to protect the Parliamentarian stronghold of Colchester which was in the temporarily in control of the Royalists during the period of English history, described as the English Civil War (1642 - 1649). A shot from a Parliamentary canon succeeded in damaging the wall underneath Humpty Dumpty causing the canon to fall to the ground. The Royalists 'all the King's men' attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall but even with the help of ' all the King's horses' failed in their task and Colchester fell to the Parliamentarians after a siege lasting eleven weeks. See: Famous Quotes accessed on the 23rd December, 2006

[iii] Thomas Hobbess, Leviathan

[iv] Cf. USAfrica Online accessed on 23rd of December, 2006

[v] The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), Engaging with Fragile States: An IEG Review of World Bank Support to Low-Income Countries Under Stress, Washington DC, The World Bank, 2006

[vii] The Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero was quoted as closing the case on the murder of Bola Ige, whom they could not solve. This is an admission of incompetence from the authorities statutorily empowered to protect our lives and property in Nigeria. What better way could one have in passing a vote of no-confidence on his abilities. Cf.

[viii] Human Rights Watch,  “Rest in Pieces”: Police Torture and Deaths in Custody in Nigeria, 2005, HRW Reports

Emmanuel Franklyne Ogbunwezeh was born in Nigeria and currently lives in Germany. He had his Bachelors in Philosophy from the Pontificial Urban University Rome. Mr. Ogbunwezeh is currently working on a Ph.D. in Social Ethics and Economics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His book The Tragedy of a Tribe: The Grand Conspiracy Against Ndigbo and the Igbo Quest for Integration in Nigeria was published in 2004. "Shots at Immortality: Immortalizing Igbo Excellence" and "The Scandal of Poverty in Africa: Reinventing a Role for Social Ethics in Confronting the Socio-economic and Political Challenges of Africa of the Third Millennium" will be published in 2005. Additionally, Mr. Ogbunwezeh published dozens of articles in newspapers, magazines, internet sites, and trade journals.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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posted 4 march 2008




Home  Transitional Writings on Africa

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