Nigeria: Power to the Gangs – Japheth J Omojuwa



Title: Nigeria: Power to the  People Gangs

Nigerians need not be told that issues of their welfare and governance rank very low on the priorities of their leaders. It is not enough that most of the newspapers and news channels are all about the 2015 elections and the battles leading up to it, that is actually the reality at the centre in Abuja and across most of the states – especially the PDP governed states. This is good for political platforms like newspapers and politics’ focused news channels; it is bad business for governance. Take a look at the ASUU strike, the needless industrial action continues simply because education if on the order of priorities of this government has now further gone down the pecking order because of the mix of 2015 politics and the president’s desperation to survive the war, that at the moment looks like would do his political career in by 2015.


This answers a lot of questions about where power resides in Nigeria. If the people were really the most important factor in elections in our country, would it not be that the president would concentrate on pleasing the people by doing the job for which they supposedly elected him? If the people truly elected president Goodluck Jonathan, why is he more afraid of what governors would do to his chances than he is afraid of what his non-performance would do? And to think that the president himself promised, Nigerians would begin to see his work by this year, when everything points out to politics and politics till 2015. Nigeria’s transactional politics simply means that as a people, as a nation, we survive on election cycles. What happens before the elections and after the elections matters far less compared to what happens during the elections. The winner takes the bounty.


Talking about bounties, ex-militants are currently being rewarded because they have one of their own in power (pun intended). In a nation where those who lift arms against the state are rewarded with contracts so juicy they can spare some $50 million to buy jets and then expend some $500 thousand maintaining same per month, where lies the incentive to go to school when young people know that all these stark illiterate outlaws had to do to get all the money was to carry arms against the state?


As Nigeria’s undergraduates continue to stay at home in anticipation of their lecturers calling off the strike – a false anticipation at least for now – some of them have taken to new virtues and vices. The bulk of them know that they do not matter to the government as much as those who are able to challenge the state of security of the state with guns and bombs. Think about it; were Boko Haram to ask for N200 billion to down tools and come to the negotiation table, would the government waste time in meeting their demand? Considering how long it has taken to meet ASUU’s comparatively paltry demand, does this not say everything about what counts for power in this country?


Today’s Nigeria is a society that incentivizes kidnapping, militancy, armed robbery and terrorism. The closure of the universities will only add more soldiers to the army of these gangs. At the end of the day, those who join in fighting the state are more likely to ride in private jets and dine at Aso Rock than those who just stay at home to read. When 2015 finally comes – or should one say if it comes – Nigerians must know where to pitch their tent. As it is, the current reality shows that the current government has pitched its tents away from the people that supposedly put it in power.



Omojuwa discusses the failures of governance in Nigeria