Opinion: Failed state: What options for Nigeria?

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By Promise Adiele

The term “failed” in the context of a state as a sovereign, political entity is amorphous and deeply rooted in ambiguity.

“Failed” occurs in different contexts – failed marriage, failed career, failed institution, but my interest here is the state as a sovereign political entity.

The indices that categorize a state as failed are primarily subjective, leading to a fragmented understanding of the term.

Some scholars interpret state failure as a catch-all phrase which describes any political entity enmeshed in diverse, intractable problems.

According to Fund for Peace, a think tank of the United States, indicators of a failed state can be grouped into social factor, where there are tribal, religious, ethnic conflicts, and the displacement of refugees.

There is also the economic factor where there are acute corruption and severe economic decline resulting in extreme poverty among the populace.

There is also the political factor where there are human rights abuses, terrorist groups operating as a state within a state, and the deterioration of public services.

However, the Gap-Framework approach narrows down the three basic standards for ascribing failure to a state.

First is the inability of a state to provide basic goods and services to its population.

Second is when a state is unable to provide security for its population under threats from an armed group.

The third is when a good number of citizens are disenchanted with state policies and the distribution of wealth among the citizens which ultimately breeds corruption.

There are many other yardsticks for identifying a failed state however, the Fund for Peace and Gap-Framework approaches serve the purpose of this essay.

I have not set out to write a political treatise on state failure but to analyse the conditions in Nigeria and situate them within the context of a failed political entity, then examine the choices open to the country.

Out of a list of 160 countries of the world, Nigeria occupies the 14th position as a failed state.

This should end the debate as to whether Nigeria is a failed state or not. As a failed state, what options are open to Nigeria?

Is the situation in our country salvageable or shall we summarily re-enact that Biblical incident where the Israelites echoed the now popular declaration, “to your tents O Israel”?

Should we give up or hold on tenaciously and try to shore up the crumbling will of the populace daily maintained by pathetic government policies?

In this issue, I have an opinion and hindsight should never be in doubt.

While those who have given up on Nigeria preach disintegration, those who believe in the bedridden country preach restructuring.

Thus, there are two options for Nigeria as a failed state. It is either the country disintegrates which will signal the end of Nigeria as a political entity or restructures which will ensure the continued existence of Nigeria where all the fissures will be addressed. Let us consider the two options.

Since the end of the civil war, disintegration has never stared Nigerians in the face like in the present dispensation.

These days, the country steadily makes progress towards a precarious precipice with the anxiety of tipping over the abyss.

To recount all the anomalies that bedevil our country will turn this essay into a monotonous discourse and that is not my intention.

Every enlightened mind is aware of all the fault lines which characterize our country and unfortunately, they acquire new monstrous shadows daily.

Given the above scenario, disintegration rends the air – Arewa Republic, Republic of Biafra, Oduduwa Republic and the NigerDelta Republic.

While disintegration may sound plausible, it may not be the best option.

Space will not permit me to explain how and why all the drums of agitation for the disintegration of Nigeria are basically cosmetic.

It is obvious that those who preach disintegration do so as an impulsive response to all the dilapidating conditions in Nigeria.

As a man of letters, a literary person adequately schooled in the nuances of literature as an analytical mechanism, I view the entire disintegration din differently.

From my viewpoint, I have not seen any genuine, concrete efforts by any of the groups mentioned above to achieve a separate country.

I am only aware of agitations couched in very foul, offensive language expressing the appropriateness of disintegration as a viable option to end the failed Nigerian state. USSR, India, and Yugoslavia all disintegrated.

I have studied the circumstances that led to their disintegration and I have not seen any of them in Nigeria.

What we have in Nigeria are beer parlour discussions, social media outbursts, and various intellectual remonstrations.

If a collective decision is to be taken to collapse Nigeria, are there actions in that direction? Is there any concrete attempt by any part of the country to secede?

What we have is the usual rabble-rousing by some unfortunate persons with their diseased consciousness. While disintegration is a viable choice, it appears that Nigerians are not really ready to disintegrate.

In Nigeria, there are states where governors and politicians live in offensive splendour while the people grapple with excruciating poverty.

There are states where salaries have not been paid for over one year.

There are states where underdevelopment and decrepit road networks have assumed calamitous, scandalous dimensions.

In the event of disintegration, the governors and politicians from these states will emerge as leaders.

The criminality and embezzlement of public funds will continue.

The helpless will remain helpless and the impoverished masses will have their misfortunes extended to new heights.

Therefore, I say no to disintegration at least for now. Ghana didn’t disintegrate at the worst of times and today, the country has become a role model for Nigeria.

China didn’t disintegrate, UAE didn’t disintegrate and even Japan didn’t collapse after the holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Today, these countries have all become big players in the comity of nations. Unfortunately, the class of people who should drive the disintegration programme in Nigeria are all benefitting from the mangled system.

I am aware that the country operates on a structure of bleeding sectionalism and nepotism. I am aware that “to your tents, O Israel” appears attractive, yet there is still hope for Nigeria.

Restructuring Nigeria is a more achievable, distinguished alternative.

To rely on mere sentiment as a source of one’s interpretation of social reality is a disservice to the intellect, that is, where intellection truly exists.

Such banal effusions as ‘we are slaves in Nigeria’ will be put to rest if the country is restructured.

For Nigeria to continue to exist, restructuring is the best option.

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If Buhari does not restructure Nigeria, which I doubt very much, then restructuring must be a cardinal point for the incoming government in 2023.

Aspirants to the office of the president must be made to sign a pact to restructure the country.

We cannot continue to shout and war on social media while our future is trammelled by indignant, self-pleasuring idle loungers at the corridors of power.

Restructuring will lay to rest all the injustices which fuel agitation for disintegration.

Out of the two options before Nigeria as a failed state, I will vote for a restructured one Nigeria where the regions that make up the country will have autonomy.

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