I love reading about nations’ history. Whether it’s a rendered account of past events that took place within a nation’s borders, or a narration of acts of foreign men outside of the same, I am thrilled by history. Nigerian history, for example, thrills me. It tells us so much about our faulty foundation and the mindsets of British overlords who wove us together as a nation without the colonised people’s collective consent. For about 40 years, I have been a student of American history.

I have learnt about the fortitude and strength of a determined patriotic people who may disagree loudly on issues but stick together to fight a common adversary threatening the citizenry. A bit of European history I read many years ago taught that there have been instances where nations have undergone internal strife, conflict, or collapse, leading to their own destruction in various forms. History tells us that the Western Roman Empire experienced a gradual decline over several centuries due to a combination of factors including economic instability, political corruption, military defeats, and invasions by barbarian tribes. The reasons for the downward spiral of many countries have always been because they slid into self-immolation, destroying themselves by themselves through their actions and inactions. Disasters often happen to nations when their people, often through sheer ignorance, fight to destroy themselves without knowing it.

Marcus Cicero, the Roman philosopher and political theorist once put it more lucidly: “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”

A deep reflection on sundry acts and misbehaviours of many Nigerians often trudges me to always ask this question: When will Nigerians stop Killing Nigeria? When will we end killing ourselves by ourselves? It is an incontrovertible truism that Nigerians are their own worst enemies. The destroyers of Nigeria are Nigerians. But when will we stop killing ourselves? The following assertion is by no means an attempt to exculpate any group of people, but big Nigerians are behind Nigeria’s biggest problems. Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission fingered seven big bosses of The Nigeria Customs Service in one of the biggest cumshaw allegations in the agency. A total of N12bn, presumably proceeds from escapades of bribery and corruption, were traced to these foul fellas’ bank accounts. For a long time, the government and its many agencies have been a cesspool of systemic stench and undrainable swamp!

With our own hands, we drilled big holes in Nigeria’s financial heart and soul. Opportunities to steal and loot are always created even by our laws and lawmakers who seem to enjoy those loopholes to feed fat on a hungry nation. In the 2024 Budget, we have now learnt that in Senate President Godswill Akpabio’s constituency, to drill one borehole costs N193m (about $200,000). If it costs that much to drill a fountain of God-given free water, how much will the Senate President tell us it costs to drill an oil well? Why have we chosen to kill ourselves by ourselves? Big Nigerians are behind Nigeria’s biggest problems. They have the capacity and boldness to request billion-naira loans. They have colluding friends and acolytes in big banks who give them easy passes. They serially default on loans and escape without comeuppance. These are Nigeria’s big Nigerian problems.

Let’s swing back to history. The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo reportedly spent $16bn (N3.52tn). His successor, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua spent $5.375bn (N1.183tn). Goodluck Jonathan’s administration spent $8.26bn (N1.817tn). A total sum of $29.635bn or N6.52tn was wasted on electricity supply between the three presidents from the same party. But where is the power? We have an idea where the money went. Nigerians know where their stolen money goes. They just don’t have the boldness to stop the traffickers. Under immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari, billions of dollars were also frittered away into the incinerator of waste and corruption. Now under Bola Tinubu who came on board a few months ago, darkness is still enveloping the nation. Nigeria has spent at least N15tn on power since democracy showed up with its hydra-headed, dehydrating, debilitating monster self in 1999. But where is the promised power, my friends?

Nigeria today is in a megawatt of darkness with gigabytes of excuses from those who are wont to over-promising that light will soon replace darkness. Money budgeted for power melted like ice cream in the oven of fraud and corruption. Where is the promised power? We are killing ourselves by ourselves. As Nigerians continue to kill Nigerians by killing the economy, poverty and squalor continue to thrive. My friends, if poverty does not die quick, the rich and affluent and these lawmakers and politicians in Nigeria may have murdered sleep. Something ominous is looming. I just don’t know what. When the poor and hungry no longer have food to eat, they will begin to corner up these rich thieves, break down their high fences, tear down their barricades, plough through their securities, and begin to cook them all up for lunch and dinner.

This week, as I round off this thought that will be concluded next week, take this truth home. Either in minute measures or in big and gargantuan strides, all of us in Nigeria-the big man and the little man; the rich and the poor; the authoritarian with power and authority and the man tutored to submit to authority are all culpable contributors to the mess in the system. We are all donors to the well of unwellness we are forced to drink from today. We are all killing ourselves by ourselves. And this self-immolation will not be muzzled and eviscerated if the same contributors to the problems aren’t ready to tell themselves the truth and end the mess. If the rich and powerful don’t cooperate with the little people, all we will always have will be protests like END-SARS that will end nothing but continue the metastatic charade.