Story Seven: Chideraa in Insecure Nigeria
“Despite the clamour about a corrupt government, President Obasanjo has clearly achieved some level of stability in the economy. Also, in 2001, he brought in MTN, a telecom company, into the country and that is why you are enjoying GSM now.” Obierika’s friend, Maduka, a staunch supporter of President Obasanjo and a PDP member was trying to convince Obierika to vote for Obasanjo in the forthcoming election polls.
“Maduka, I cannot sell my conscience, that man’s government was corrupt. He couldn’t even handle the Niger Delta crisis properly. What about the 16 Billion Dollars that was put into an Electricity project? Do you have power supply for up to five hours a day in your house?” Obierika firmly replied.
“Well, whether you vote for him or not, he will still win” Maduka was smiling cunningly as he spoke. He actually meant what he was saying. The election was conducted and President Obasanjo retained his seat as President in an election that was generally perceived as anything but free and fair.
Nothing significant apart from constant warring had been done with the Niger Delta militants. After every attack from the Nigeria Armed Forces they would regroup and strike again, either vandalising pipelines or kidnapping a foreign oil worker.
Soon the news became normal to most Nigerians, including Chideraa, but the effects of it were still felt nationwide. President Obasanjo had achieved great success in stabilising the economy by the time he was rounding up his second tenure in office, only that there was still clear inbalance in the distribution of the nation’s wealth and therefore there was insecurity of lives and properties; from bank robbery attacks to house robbery even to kidnapping, duping and ritual killings. These evils became normal in Nigeria just as our identity and Nigeria was beginning to rank high as one of the most corrupt and insecure countries of the world.
Whenever new leaders emerged, there was usually a feeling that something new was about to happen. That was the feeling that Nigerians had in March 2007 when it was announced that Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had become the country’s new president. Though there were talks about the election not being free and fair, the truth was that the Nigerian people liked him, and soon Chideraa became one of his fans and he wasn’t disappointing Nigerians at all.
Chideraa was glued to the TV watching AIT that evening as they broadcasted live the Amnesty programme of 2009, where Niger Delta militants surrendered their weapons and denounced their violent ways and the government pardoned all of them. In just two years in office, Yar’Adua had calmed the insecurity situation in Niger Delta. Chideraa immediately started to tell his father that Yar’Adua would be the best president Nigeria would ever have. What was better than peace? But peace indeed was hard to get.
That same year, 2009, Chideraa sat that in the parlour with his father and they watched the 9pm news together on AIT. The news anchor read out that a group of Muslim extremists, Boko Haram, in the North have violently expressed their agitation over the execution of their founder and leader, Mohammed Yusuf.
Chideraa was confused. Nigeria had simply moved from one type of insecurity to another. He asked his father “Daddy, when would this insecurity problem end in Nigeria”
His father answered “Chideraa, I had told you before. Only when the wealth of this country is distributed evenly and used to better the lives of the citizens and not a few groups of people will insecurity end in this country.” Chideraa wept for his beloved Nigeria and prayed that the situation of things should change. The group continued to terrorise the Northern part of the country terribly, killing thousands and chasing a lot people away from their homes.
Unfortunately, Yar’Adua later died of ill health and his vice, Goodluck Jonathan, took over from him. Goodluck contested and won the presidential election in 2011 and later handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.