We pray! We pray!! We pray!!! And still, Nigeria continues to fumble and wobble. Christians have bled the ears of Jesus the Christ (and some rumor has it The Holy Trinity now sends Nigerian Christians to voicemail whenever they call during any of their marathon night vigils). Not to be outshined, Muslims continue to cry to Allah five times a day for a special prophet, just to help show Nigeria some semblance of a way forward. And yes, witchdoctors have not stopped their slaughter of chickens, goats, and cows to appease the angry gods who continue to eat expensive sacrifices and drink palm wine by the barrel, without showing an iota of mercy.
It’s been three months since an irresponsible and shameless president, President Umaru Yar’Adua, abandoned his people without any official declaration of his whereabouts. According to the Nigerian constitution, the president must alert the national legislature in writing should he have to leave the country on vacation (medical or otherwise), so the vice-president may take over presidential duties till the return of the president. After a power vacuum that has persisted for months, Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as Acting-President through a parliamentary maneuver absent an official word from the president.
Other than the man’s wife, it’s hard to say who knows if Nigeria’s president is dead or alive. In the mayhem that surrounded Nigeria producing its first international terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, not a single word came from the President – verbal or written. Last month, a man claiming to be the president spoke to the BBC in a three-minute sound bite from some hospital in Saudi Arabia. “I hope that very soon there will be tremendous progress, which will allow me to get back home,” said the weak voice on the audio recording. This offshore president has refused to grant an interview from either the grave or a hospital bed to any newspaper in the nation.
Cabinet ministers, governors, prominent Nigerians and others have made uninvited visits to the hospital where the president is purportedly holed up, with all being denied access to the ghost of a man. No Nigerian has laid eyes on him since he vanished into thin air on November 23, 2009. Not even his vice-president has seen the man.
But now that Mr. Goodluck Jonathan has temporary replaced an ineffective and puppet of a president, one can only hope Nigeria enjoys the good luck his first name suggests, and that which his career in public life has enjoyed so far.
Nigeria, the largest congregation of any black people on earth, is a broken house.
Power continues to be concentrated in the hands of an ever-aloof minority, who team with international conglomerates to plunder and sap the resources of the nation. Constant electricity, safe water, proper education, and even safety are luxuries affordable by a select few in an overtly and excessively corrupt society.
Even the courts are broken. Attempts to prosecute criminal elements like Shell and Exxon, who continue to recklessly dump insane amounts of carcinogens into rivers and farmlands in the Southern part of Nigeria, have been largely frustrated. To further parody this mess, an ex-governor of a state in the region was acquitted of 170 criminal counts, despite overwhelming evidence proving otherwise. The court could not muster a conviction on a single count.
And yet, domestic terrorists continue to highjack the stability of the country. Religious strife is an embedded identity in Nigerian life: Islamic fundamentalists, mostly in the North, go on violent sprees and instigate religious riots whenever an event or news story is not to their liking.
It is now widespread discussion among many Nigerians in the South on how long the Giant of Africa can continue to operate as a single entity without splintering into factions as did the USSR — seeing the irresolvable dysfunction and hopelessness in all levels of government.
This is the nation Mr. Goodluck Jonathan inherits, albeit temporarily. God help him; that’s if God still keeps a residential address somewhere in the streets of Nigeria.