The body count seem to be never ending; bomb blasts after bomb blasts, raids after raids and school attacks after another, the Northern part of Nigeria is now permanently besieged by devil reincarnates that knows no bounds. In the face of this, a bumbling commander-in-chief, and a clueless legislature lead Nigeria; the party of the center has lost the plot!

Tackling the Boko Haram debacle requires uncommon courage; Nigeria is a nation desperately in need of reformers not “band-aid specialists” like the little men we now have in power. The reform we speak of will strike at the very faulty foundations of our nation that gave rise to this menace. Such reform will touch every aspect of our society; it will start at the top but affect the very bottom of our societies.

But it appears the elites instead of decided that their perennial game of ostrich must continue. How else will one explain a President that won’t confront, neither will he console? Coming 19 days after the Chibok attack, all he could do was to blame the families of the kidnapped! Like it is not the responsibility of WAEC or the government schools to have data including pictures of students under their care.

While the conditions that laid the foundations for Boko Haram was not a result of four or even ten years of misrule by Goodluck Jonathan or the PDP for that matter, the mismanaged response has been their making. Their lack of leadership in the face of the onslaught, speaks to the ineptitude and above all lack of courage of the current crop of elite leeches in Abuja that masquerade around as leaders.

Inevitably, four fundamental paradigm shifts  (starting with abolishing our “us versus them” mentality within our country) will begin to turn this tide against the enemy (i.e. Boko Haram and their sponsors):

  1. Nigerians, especially the conservative northern elites, must rethink its opposition to a standard National Biometric ID Card & Proper Census, that captures who is Nigerian once and for all. Linked to this is greater enforcement of border security, increased surveillance (electronic and otherwise) of our vast Northern borders and enforcement of Nigeria’s immigration laws. We know that Boko Haram have explored the hole in our borders, now is the time to close them by identifying our countrymen and developing an envelope of security on our borders. Border security and better data will increase intelligence capacity, and will help us bring justice to the souls of our countrymen being vanquished.
  2. Nigerians, especially the more educated Southerners and the Northern elites, must rethink its indifference to Northern suffering, underdevelopment and above all under-education. There must be a concerted national policy to get Northern children to school; Northern elders irrespective of their cultural reservations must discover a passion for western education. There is no better cure for poverty and misinformation than education. We cannot afford for our children in Gombe state to become mass failures, and do nothing about it! In a Nation where 30-40 million of Nigeria’s youth are in the North, we’re wasting a precious human resource if we continue to ignore the menace of illiteracy, unemployment and utter lack of opportunity in the North of Nigeria.  A concerted National program that lifts all boats, but attacks the under-education of the North is a step in the right direction. This is the time to reach out to respected Northern leaders, including some in the opposition like General Buhari to lead the charge against illiteracy and under development. It is a goal that can be achieved with proper planning and stakeholder engagement.
  3. Our government must begin to serve us, and act in the interest of the larger society. To this end, urgent reforms in the security sector that has been put off for selfish reasons must urgently be revisited. Our law enforcement apparatus, which is currently a canvass of confused bunch, must be refocused: splitting the Investigative/Intelligence arms, from the enforcement force (which should be devolved and localized).  Merging agencies that duplicate efforts must begin at the legislature and be implemented. Modern forensic laboratories, emergency response systems and intelligence gathering mechanism are required.  We spend too much on “big men”, leaving very little to overhaul governance; now is the time to make a pivot: we must dump this expensive system of governance. No elected or appointed representative should earn a salary, or allowance – and we must have zero tolerance for official corruption; death sentence when caught is in order. Our elites should also stop using our lean police for protection.
  4. The previous point made about governance will not happen unless we the governed demand it. It is not in the interest of the elites to police themselves. To this end, we as patriots and citizens must stand up for good governance. We must stop voting sentimentally, and replace sectarian interest with self-interest, which places the nation first at the voting booth. We must recognize that we have no other country but where we call our own- Nigeria; any act of terrorism on any one of us is an attack on all. Citizen informants should be unleashed on Boko Haram and like groups in all parts of the country, even as we remain watchful and become our neighbor’s keeper.

These four paradigm shifts would not come easy to a nation that has always felt more comfortable patching and band aiding, with no citizen buy-in. Nigeria has developed a culture that loathes reformers, and disparages change. Such is this strong national culture that even while we individually wish for changes, we cannot make them even when held at bomb-point of Boko Haram.

Ultimately, the fastest route to a paradigm shift is a movement led by a team of truly transformative leaders that recognize the fierce urgency of now and have the mental capacity to take advantage of the wellspring of desire for change. Such leaders definitely must have brain, brawns and persuasive skills that unfortunately the shoeless boy from Bayelsa cannot summon! Will we be up to the task of sending this clueless leader packing?