One of the very popular local proverbs in Nigeria says ‘the insect that devours the vegetable resides right inside it’ Of course. Otherwise, it won’t be able to enjoy the meal. Or, can anyone eat food by staying away from it? But the implication is immediately clear. Those hampering one’s growth and progress often are close allies. In fact, the Bible expressly says a ‘Man’s enemies are those of his very household’.
Nigeria is no exception to this universal principle. There are those who genuinely wish that we prosper as a nation. That we prevail against the gruesome challenges that keep frustrating and drawing us back. There are those who are ready to pay any price to see us prosper collectively. Those who are not after filthy gain, whose god isn’t their belly. We have lots of selfless and sacrificial statesmen who know the right path for Nigeria to go, and are willing to take us there if given the opportunity. Even if at the expense of their comfort and convenience. But like every society, we are also blessed with the other group. Those who are only interested in their personal interests and conveniences. They would rather see Nigeria go to blazes than lose a penny. We’ve had leaders who took selfish decisions to enrich friends and families at the expense of a dying and hungry populace. Our civil service is filled with incompetent workers who earn salaries simply because they are connected to someone at the top. Whereas millions of qualified graduates are jobless because the spaces have been taken up by rogues. It’s not that the wicked people that stuff government offices with families and friends don’t know the implication, which obviously is total wastage of resources as well as backwardness and ineptitude; it’s that they simply do not care what happens to service delivery or the quality of it; as long as they can draw more cash for themselves. The unfortunate thing is that this unfortunate latter group always find themselves to the top, and unfortunately drag us further into crises of unfortunate and avoidable calamities.
But there’s another group. The ones who choose to see no good in the country as long as they are not in charge. This group are in control of most of the media outlets, print and broadcast, and do well to paint a picture of doom and destruction, hopelessness and heresy. And, with every passing day, they grow more desperate.
The war on terror shouldn’t have happened. Terrorists are everywhere, seeking territories. But they always exploit loopholes whenever they see one. They did in the Arab spring. They did in Somalia, which has been without a central government since 1991, they are doing in Iraq, and of course to full effect in Nigeria. They found a loophole in our cultural, political and religious differences. Boko Haram only wanted to enforce their version of Islam on their own territory, an obligation which they felt they morally owed their god. Our politicians fuelled their fire, whipped their adrenalin into a frenzy, and set them loose. Today, Boko Haram is a global monster. With backing from international affiliates, they have declared war on Nigeria. Those that unleashed Boko Haram on the country only hoped that it would destabilise government, and make them lose focus. Since they are not in power, they would make power powerless for those in charge. Like the biblical Samson, they don’t mind bringing the house down on everyone. Today, they are regretting.
But even as we prosecute the unfortunate war, these wicked never-see-wells, only sow seeds of fear and despair. Strangely, we have seen newspapers only coming short of celebrating Boko Haram victories on their front pages. They use mocking and derogatory words such as “flee” for their own soldiers. Whenever our soldiers rout the criminals, it is no news. Whenever the terrorists prevail slightly, it’s celebrated with “flag-hoisting” headlines. I imagine how satisfied and accomplished the terrorists feel everytime they glance through some of our newspapers. And they must be blushing too. Because they know they do not have as much ground as the papers claim. And our soldiers? You can imagine how demoralised they feel everytime, after risking their lives to defend us, only read such healines such as “Soldiers flee into bushes and caves as Boko Haram overrun Army base”. Let’s even assume it’s true. What do we gain by making the head of our collective enemy swell. You say it’s the right of people to know. Really? It’s not every information that is useful to people.
Especially online, I see an army of mockers. They are enjoying the gradual downfall of Nigeria. They are happy the government looks helpless. It soothes them because it gives them the courage to preach the message of “pull them down”. They are bold to proclaim that without them, we won’t have hope. So every calamity is celebrated. And every success is downplayed. But they forget that if Nigeria goes up in flames, they also won’t be spared.
It’s the nature of crabs to pull each other down. Except themselves. Any other person that rises is pulled down. So, if there are twenty crabs jailed in a bucket, by simply allowing themselves to climb their way to freedom, they all would escape. But the moment one of the crabs reaches for freedom, and makes its way out; the others would pull it down. So, they all remain trapped.
We must love our country above ourselves. We must support our soldiers. We may not like them that much, but we have no choice. It’s to whose benefit to run them down? And if our own people aren’t in power today, why should we burn the whole country before it gets to their turn. Of course we won’t want our peole to rule over ashes, bones and liters of crying blood!
Olufemi Ogunseye is a journalist and writer. Follow @Olufemisp.