April 2021
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A Dictionary of Problems

I have never heard of anything like that. It came to me by a flash of intuition. But I have heard of and seen a dictionary of names. That would be a list or a collection of names and their meanings in strict alphabetical order. This is because, conventionally, a dictionary is a list of words and their meanings arranged in a strict alphabetical order.

What about a dictionary of problems? That would be a  novelty, and it would be good to propose it for the Nigerian State. The idea of such a dictionary tumbled out of my mouth as we reflected on and discussed the enormity and complexity of the challenges confronting Nigerians at the editorial board meeting of the National Mirror, last Tuesday.

We had hardly caught our breadth from the embarrassment, outrage and the loss resulting from the terrorist bomb attack on the UN building in Abuja when a fresh mayhem broke out in Jos as a consequence of the clash between Christian and Muslim youths; and then, there was this road carnage that claimed 30 lives as we bemoaned the Ibadan flood disaster that destroyed buildings and bridges and separated the inhabitants of one of the oldest West African towns.

Now, where does one begin and where does one end in cataloguing and proposing solutions to the problems of the country? Arguably, road accidents resulting in fatalities happen everywhere, but not the avoidable types caused by neglected and collapsed road infrastructure; roads which contracts had been awarded and paid for from public treasury, but abandoned and not constructed. Again, while it is true that terrorist bomb attacks is a frequent occurrence in many countries of the world today, the political leadership of those countries do not console their citizens with stories of woes in other places, but rather act in recognition of the fact that it is a wrong policy to appease an aggressor.

Likewise, in matters concerning natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, modern states not only anticipate and predict such natural occurrences and calamities, adequate warnings are issued to people in the affected communities, prompt evacuation of residents is carried out and other necessary safety measures and disaster management mechanisms are put in place to reduce casualties and fatalities to the barest minimum. Affairs of state are not conducted by constantly explaining away failures and handicaps in a Jerry Gana-like fashion. Affairs of state are conducted to bring succor and respite for the ordinary man, not to complicate and compound his difficulties.

Apart from constantly ensuring the security and welfare of the citizens, the business of government is to build hope and encourage faith in the system, to make the ordinary man have cause to keep living, not to dampen the zest for life by creating room for despondency and despair. People have lost faith in the system, and patriotism has been chased into the background as mediocrity is promoted over and above merit and creativity. The question mark on the Nigerian federalism has become increasingly bolder. The average Nigerian is at a loss with the state and at a loss without the state- confused, hungry, angry and unhappy.


To make sense of the ensuing confusion and to prepare for a fundamental change, a sample of a dictionary of the problems of the Nigerian State, to guide a comprehensive survey, is inevitable here. The neglect of Ogoniland and the contiguous oil producing communities in the Niger Delta gave birth to the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). The alleged marginalization of the Igbo gave rise to the emergence of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MOSSOB). The failure of the state security apparatus, especially the police, gave rise to the coming about of the Bakassi Boys in the East, the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) in the West and the Arewa Youth Movement in the North (AYM). And needless to say, the loss of perpetual political power by the Northern political elites gave immediate birth to the incubated test-tube violent terrorist baby, the Boko Haram fundamentalist sect, now bombing everywhere from beer parlours to UN buildings and threatening Armageddon.

Thus, owing to the legacy of failures foisted on the Nigerian State by the mediocre performance of successive regimes since the attainment of political Independence in 1960, nurtured and nourished by military interregnum, the faulty foundation of the constitution of the Federal Republic has begun to reverberate through violent reactions.

A fundamental restructuring of the Nigerian State inevitably beckons, to avert a monumental disaster.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001611977049 Gloria Ololade

    sir, i agree with u

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/U3RCWLCVYIZTB5SJLUMEPQJEEI sanni

    yeah, u are right sir

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