It is no over-statement that everybody in the world today except obdurate and pathological optimists, is expecting the worst for Nigeria within next six months. This fact was recently confirmed by no less a personality than Mr. Tony Blair, the immediate past Prime-Minister of Britain. There cannot be any pretence about the worsening situation in Nigeria. All fields of positive human endeavours in the country have collapsed. Only criminality, mediocrity and incompetence are thriving. To this end, Bishop Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi, 80, a retired Anglican prelate prophesied a bloody revolution soon in Nigeria. He is not alone.

In 2005, the American Central Intelligence Agency, C.I.A predicted that Nigeria as now constituted might not last beyond 2015. There is nothing on the ground today apart from the flashes of hope from the wide lips of President Goodluck Jonathan to make anyone doubt this empirical prediction of the Yankees. In spite of the stupendous petroleum-oil-generated revenue in Nigeria, the masses of the country are hungry and grossly impoverished by a few citizens in power. Yet Nigeria can get its acts together and surprise the world. There are three pre-eminent sons of Nigeria that can come together if persuaded as I am doing now, to deny themselves and save Nigeria. They are, General Muhammadu Buhari, President Goodluck Jonathan and Malam Nuhu Ribadu.

The News Magazine of November 22, 2010 empirically demonstrated how members of the national and state legislature in Nigeria numbering less than two million people are sharing among themselves more than 35% of the daily income from Nigeria’s oil wealth meant for 150 million citizens with a situation that one senator apart from allegedly collecting uncountable constituency allowance of above N60 million three times a year, earns salaries and allowances greater than that of the president of the United States of America. Both the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Sanusi and the Finance Minister, Dr Aganga, have recently confirmed these even though members of the National Assembly are kicking.

Some state governors who claim they cannot pay their workers the current national minimum wage of N7,500 ($57.7) per month, pay themselves annual security votes of between N2 billion ($15.4 million) and N3 billion ($23.1 million). These are citizens who do not buy fuel, food or pay for accommodation. The Nigeria Police, Armed Forces, SSS, Civil Defence and other para-military troops paid by the federal government are at their disposal. Their wives’ wardrobes are serviced by the state. Their emoluments are more than N10 million a month, yet they collect about 5% of their state’s total allocation annually as security votes. You wonder what they do with this scandalous type of money since they do not even look healthier than their poor subjects who earn more than 1000% less than them. Imagine a situation where an ordinary man who suddenly finds himself as Speaker of a state House of Assembly gets N25 million Naira ($192,307.7) every month as security vote. This is apart from his salaries, allowances and other trappings.
It is ironical that in such states, students in secondary and tertiary schools pay through their noses to acquire the mediocre education available to them. The lecturers are not paid well, the civil servants are owed salaries for months and hospitals are closed.

It is ironical that in such states with such satanic statistics, no CONMESS for doctors, TSS for teachers, ASSU wage for university lecturers and of course the newly agreed N18,000.00/month national minimum wage will ever be considered.

Our universities and hospitals are comatose no thanks to perennial strikes over improved welfare conditions of workers. Today, there is renewed militancy in the Niger Delta. There is organized kidnapping of human beings and murder especially in the south-east which have spilled quite sporadically, all over Nigeria. Ritual sacrifices, armed robbery, political intolerance, politically-motivated assassinations, rape of infants by adults resulting in plebiscite taciturnity are the vogue. Graduate unemployment has reached an alarming rate.

Our health sector is now and then threatened by the rivalry between medical doctors and paramedicals trained to assist them in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients. In some states, doctors are barred from local government health departments by the combined conspiracy of LGA chairmen on the one hand and nurses/environmental health officers on the other hand. In one state in the south-east, an environment health officer (a sanitarian) is the Director of Public Health, a position clearly defined in the Public Health Laws of Eastern Nigeria as reserved for medical doctors. It is that bad!

There is midday illiteracy as professors of English from our universities now cannot make ten correct sentences at a stretch. You pick up an award-wining book published in Nigeria today, there will not be a page without a grammatical aberration! Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, editors have in the past three years fed the nation with amorphous forms of the English Language as today’s editors who probably are products of both examination malpractices and failed education system, cannot conjugate their tenses or differentiate between a direct speech and an indirect (reported) speech. Everything they write and read is in the present tense. At times you wonder if the people being reported upon are there with them in your TV tube. Many parents now chase their children away during every NTA Network news so as to avoid corrupting them with bad English.

Power failure is the norm despite Jonathan’s efforts. Bad roads litter every state despite the urban road cosmesis propagandaed about by state radio/television stations. The resultant multiple road traffic accidents deplete our population daily and make people waste man-hours daily in mechanic villages fixing cars crippled by pot-hole infested roads. But for President Goodluck Jonathan who appeared about six months ago to stabilize the price of petrol at N65.00/litre, life would have been more difficult today for the common man. But one would always want to know why Nigeria’s petroleum refining system produces only gas and petrol and discards other products, otherwise let someone at NNPC tell us why we cannot have kerosene and diesel in our filling stations regularly and at advertised rates.

Our football and sports in general have nose-dived from their Olympian height in the 90s. Super Eagles was rated one of the best ten teams in 1994 shortly before their world cup outing in the USA. We all know the story today.

The worst offence committed by our politicians is their causing the extinction of the Local Government tier of government as provided in the 1999 Constitution. This level of government nearest to the people was meant to be an avenue through which goods and services will reach them. Now, a state governor will not only concern himself with his state budget, he determines what goes on in every office in each LGA of his state. He is the spender of the monthly allocation to the LGA from the federation account in the name of joint State/LGA accounts where the sole victim is the LGA counterpart. He determines who becomes party officials and LGA councillor in every ward and every LGA in the state. So, the sub-servient LGA chairman is not allowed to provide the so-called dividends of democracy to the people who he is appointed to oversee as he even wastes the little balance given to him on sycophancy drive for the governor in local tabloids in order to sustain his job, since he is repeatedly told that he did not win any election. The worst scenario is the fact that in some states, LGA chairmen are barred by the state governor from initiating any project, from using their heads as all thinking belongs to the governor. I do not believe that the office of the governor can transform a thief into a saint or a dunce into a genius.

As if these are not enough, some self-acclaimed militants who have in the past one year been beneficiaries of government amnesty programme turned round to embarrassingly, bomb Nigeria on her 50th independence anniversary on October 1, 2010, and in the process, destroying 12 lives and maiming hundreds of their citizens.

Nobody today in Nigeria, except pathological ingrates can say President Jonathan has not shown commitment and industry, yet these anomalies persist and even escalate. The ease with which he resolves looming industrial actions all over the nation is unprecedented. His magic wand for this is his humility and childlike transparency

Now, in the midst of all this unfortunate situation, we are being called to cast our votes for a new set of Nigerian leaders, come April, 2011. In the race for president are the incumbent President Jonathan of PDP, former Head-of-State, General Buhari of CPC, former Vice- President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of PDP and Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the erstwhile EFCC Chairman of ACN. The likes of General Babangida, General Gusau and Dr Bukola Saraki have been prematurely retired from the current presidential race by Alhaji Adamu Ciroma as he pursued his pet consensus candidate programme for the North in the name of Zoning, but most pundits know that the cunning old man is only paying IBB back for aborting his presidential bid in 1989, though he antithetically provided a soft landing spot for IBB whose ambition was vehemently opposed by all Nigerians except those after his stupendous wealth.

We know all these aspirants one by one. We live with them, we know their roots, we can predict correctly their levels of patriotism, strengths and weaknesses. We know among these aspirants, those that are capable of saving Nigeria from collapse and disintegration before doom’s day comes. Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu are exceptional, yes, almost extraordinary leaders who like meteors visit the Earth planet once in a while. I have told anybody who cares to listen that Buhari, Jonathan and Ribadu are each, reliable enough to be trusted with the governance of Nigeria from May 29, 2011 till 2015. None of these gentlemen has told us lies or abused us or been shown to have stolen our money like some other aspirants. Nigerians have not had it so good before, having three outstanding, patriotic, optimistic, honest, God-fearing, incorruptible, courageous and honourable trio as aspirants to the office of the president at one given time. Now, we have a choice to make and each way we go, we would land gold.

Buhari has served Nigeria as NNPC Chairman, Petroleum Minister, Governor of a state, Head of State and Chairman, Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PTDF), and in all these sensitive and money-spilling positions, he showed altruism, discipline, confidence and accountability. As Head of State, he introduced War Against Indiscipline, WAI, and War Against Corruption, as the fundamental principles of his government. He made Nigerians proud to be Nigerians and made us realize in his War Against Filth Crusade, that we had been living among dirts. It was he who introduced the monthly clean-up exercises. We, for the first time, learnt how to queue in line, to enter the bus in the overcrowded Lagos and even to enter the National Stadium in Surulere. Buhari used counter-trade economic strategy to sell our crude oil and revive the economy destroyed by the politicians of Shehu Shagari’s Second Republic. He refused the IMF loan without any national debate. He sent to prison and detention almost everybody connected with the corruption of the failed 2nd Republic without fear or favour. He restructured the civil service nation-wide through discipline of staff, so that nobody allowed anybody’s file stay on his table for more than 24 hours. Buhari made Agriculture rather than petroleum a backbone of wealth. He sent everybody back to the farm, with the result that by the middle of 1985 when he was toppled by the Public Enemy No 1, everybody was able to produce from his backyard, some components of every meal.

Buhari is still young and willing to serve. I believe that there is hardly any other Nigerian today that has a stronger will to fight corruption and restore discipline in all spheres of Nigeria national life. I equally believe that it will be another national oversight after Awolowo if Nigeria is allowed to decay while Buhari rots away in Daura with his talents and abilities.

Jonathan, the incumbent president is a young man. Initially most people thought he was a puppet when his humility and obsequious followership of his captains were placed before him. But today, responsibility, patience and power have unchained the tiger in Jonathan. I believe Jonathan is strong, educated, intelligent and patriotic enough to rule Nigeria over for the next four years. What he achieved especially in the Energy and Power sectors within six months has not been seen in the recent past. That he did not shield former Governor James Ibori of Delta State, his kinsman from the law, means that he can confront corruption. That he restored Ribadu from the forlorn rubbles of Yar’Adua’s double-standard politics, means that he is capable of independent thought, opinion and action and at the same time being sensitive to the plights of his subjects. This virtue places him above all other leaders before him, especially Obasanjo who loved Nigeria more than Nigerians.

Ribadu, a lawyer hidden in police uniform, was working insidiously to fight criminality, to prosecute criminals and to save Nigerians from them. God used Obasanjo to expose him to public limelight by making him EFCC Chairman where he excelled and shone like a million stars until Yar’Adua and some cronies who he had exposed conspired to castrate him. Ribadu had the courage to investigate and prosecute a serving Inspector-General of Police, his boss, Tafa Balogun and later convicted him. Given the right atmosphere, Nuhu Ribadu is courageous enough to tackle corruption which is the greatest hindrance to the nation’s growth. And any leader who can tackle corruption in Nigeria can tackle Nigeria’s leadership imperfections.

Why can’t we harness the virtues of these three gentlemen at one sweep of fate in order to save Nigeria from its prophesied doom? We agree with the rest of the world that two good heads are better than one. Still, three good, honest and quality leaders are better than one. What will go wrong if we pursue a doctrine of synergy to tap from the resources of Buhari, Jonathan and Ribadu in order to build a nation which we would be proud of its leaders at the apex of our administration?

In fact, I am thinking of a situation where Buhari becomes president, Jonathan, his vice and Nuhu Ribadu, the country’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice in the next four years from 2011. That would not be a demotion for Mr. President for in 1984 when Buhari held sway in Dodan Barracks, Jonathan probably was a young man in the university. It will even be an honour to serve as Buhari’s deputy, after all, the great Zik of Africa compromised to literally serve under a lowly-educated Tafawa Balewa in the 1st Republic to stabilize his government and save Nigeria from para-independence viscititudes. Again, this arrangement may even provide a soft landing spot for Jonathan if the zonal chauvinists succeed in scuttling his ambition at the PDP primaries.

All over the world, nations that want to survive go for their bests. The mystery of existence and super-power posture of Israel today apart from the biblical covenants, lies in their belief in the Doctrine of Compromise and Doctrine of Synergy in order to save Israel from its truculent and hostile neighbours. Menachim Begin, Benjamin Nathanyahu, Yitzak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Olmart Ehud, Shimon Peres, etc take turns to serve as prime-minister, defence minister and foreign minister – the three most important portfolios in Israel, and none sees it as a demotion. Prime-minister today may be foreign minister tomorrow so long as Israel’s fecundity and territorial integrity are protected. Why can’t Nigeria tap from this survivalist instinct of this tiny middle-east nation and draft Buhari, Jonathan and Ribadu into the next government through any pre-election democratic means so as to put a stop to the nation’s drift into anarchy?

I am a strong believer in a big nation state like the USA. Nigeria as presently constituted serves to save us all from ethnic predators around than when out of selfishness of the political gladiators of today, we balkanize it into regions or geo-political zones or even worse, ethnic nationalities. I do not see why Buhari, Jonathan and Ribadu cannot join hands centripetally in a big political party with a progressive membership majority to save Nigeria instead of dissipating energy, money and talent in centrifugal politics that has failed Nigeria since independence. There is no problem or challenge which a combined effort of these three honourable gentlemen cannot solve. Nigeria is in an emergency situation according to Professor Wole Soyinka in the News Magazine of October 4, 2010. We need such native intelligence, emergency creativity and political astuteness as I hereby proffer, to reverse the cataclysmic trend otherwise there may not be a country to own, to rule or to govern by May 29, 2011.

I have since stopped discussing Nigeria or any subject for that matter, but this piece is a mementum I shall keep for my brilliant and radical children who I know must one day ask me what I said or did when the confusion of zoning and power equation championed by unaltruistic old men with lumbar arthritis and senile dementia reigned in the land to abort the dreams of our founding fathers.

(Dr Madugba, author of Nigeria: Buhari’s Boots, Babangida’s Boots, is a Public Health physician, poet and Human Rights Activist based in Owerri)