NIGERIA; 48 YEARS OF UTTER CONFUSION
by Ogbonna Sunday
“A fool at 40”, says a popular maxim, “is a fool for ever” the truism of the above statement may be argued to be relative from some quarters. But as a graduate of Psychology, I think I subscribe to its insightfulness to a greater extent. “At 35”, one of my professors would say, “any behaviour that is pronounced in one’s life, to a greater extent, has formed part of his/her character/personality. Such behaviour is said to have been engraved or stamped in that person’s life. It would take an extra-ordinary event for such internalized behaviour to be altered”, the renowned scholar would conclude. I hardly miss out of any of prof. Amechi Nweze’s lectures those days, because, we all held him in high esteem. We respected and even adored his opinions. He was, and I believe, still an idol of sort.
Nigeria celebrated, if not still celebrating her 48 th birthday as an independent nation/state. Mr. President, the 36 State Governors, the Local Government Chairmen and, I think, even the Ward Councilors, all mounted stages to eulogize the “giant strides” of the “giant of Africa” and her leaders (themselves) over the last 48 years. I believe millions, if not billions of naira were “spent” on the occasion by them. But to some independent and objective minds like my humble self, President Yar, Adua, the legislatures, down to the Ward Councilors, and in extension, Nigerians in general, have no moral backing to celebrate, rejoice and be happy so far in this “mere geographical entity”, called Nigeria.
The purpose of this article is to stimulate your mind to ponder on the questions to be raised in this piece, and allow you to come up with your own personal objective conclusion on whether to celebrate or morn the nation at her 48 th birthday. I remember vividly the 46 th independent message of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the then Governor of Abia State, that bosomfriend of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, the then “do-or-die” President and civilian dictactor of Nigeria. Kalu reportedly mounted the stage and told the people that the nation had nothing to celebrate for, but should rather be in a sober and mournful mood. Corroborating Kalu, our dear Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Shonyinka, had echoed, “Ours is a failed generation”.
Permit me to snappily take you to a skeletal journey of Nigeria from 1960 till date. But before then, note that the Nigerianess of the people now called Nigerians are still being questioned and challenged by scholars and opinion leaders world over. In 1960, Nigeria was declared an independent nation by the colonial vultures. Within 1960 to 1970, Nigeria was plunged into momentous political crisis such that was never heard of in Africa. The end of it was the annihilation of over two million people of the then eastern Nigeria. Does such calls for celebration?
Following that, all democratic structures were dismantled and the northern military hegemony foisted themselves on the nation in manners that irritated even Saddam Hussein and nearly resurrected Adolf Hitler. Even Idi Amin of Uganda cried at the degree of tyranny and inhumanity Nigerians were and are still being subjected to. It went thus: Gen. Gowon, 1966 – 1975, Gen. Murtala Mohammed, 1975 – 1976, Gen. Obasanjo, 1976 – 1979. Then we briefly courted civilian rule again from 1979 – 1983 (Shagari). Then Gen. Buhari flushed it out and ruled from 1983 – 1985, then Gen. Babangida, 1985 – 1993, Gen. Abacha, 1993 – 1998 (apples can be succulent, but be careful), then Gen. Abdusalami, 1998 – 1999. They were all word class dictators and Africa’s best looters. Their evil years are still hunting us with spears and arrows. You think this is one of the reasons we should celebrate at 48?
Unfortunately, in 1999, another black chapter of the nation’s history was opened. It was the unholy imposition of Gen. Obasanjo on Nigerians by the then ruling and retired northern generals against all sense of morality, patriotism and nationalism. Armed with their “Ghana must go” bags of stolen billions, they bought the presidency from the hungry, pauperized and greedy politicians for Obasanjo in the place of Dr. Alex Ekwueme who, as it were, was the popular choice of Nigerians. Expectedly, Obasanjo drew the nation thousands of mills backwards and enthroned negative godfatherism with its evils as a culture in Nigeria. He brazenly enshrined rigging, thuggery and “do-or-die” mentality in our political environment. Is that why we should celebrate at 48?
When his planned life-presidency from 2007 failed, Baba Iyabo, as has been maintained by both local and international analysts, single-handedly “elected” his family friend, Alh. Umoru Musa Yar’Adua, as his successor. I needn’t tell you that the 2007 general elections in Nigeria must have entered the Guinness book as the worst election ever conducted, and surprisingly, accepted in human history. Even in the Stone Age, it would have been rejected. It was, in my opinion, more criminal than whatever the notorious Anini did or the dare-devil robbers are doing. Then you say we need to be joyous at her 48?
President Yar’Adua, who benefited maximally from the inglorious election, seems not to have woken up from the dream where he saw the “Seven Point Agenda.” His promise for a state of emergency in the power sector, and what we have now as power are quit antithetical. Well, since his health issue seems to be posing more emergency than the power sector, we may bear it to avoid grappling with two emergency situations. But what do you expect of a man who never dreamt of contesting for the presidency in the first place. Surely, he had no plans or vision for the job. Therefore, everything becomes an emergency. So, are we celebrating that at 48, Nigeria is still under “a state of emergency”, trailing far behind her younger brothers in Africa and beyond in all aspects of development and living standard?
Are we celebrating that at 48, everybody seems to be in haste to leave the country for abroad, even if it is to Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Libya and South Africa or even Togo, not to talk of Europe and America? I was shocked to the marrow one day at a church service here in Lagos, the Pastor called on those who want to leave Nigeria for abroad to come out for prayers and prophetic instructions. Over 70% of the congregation – children, teenagers and adults came out! It has often been said that over 60% of prisoners in South Africa, Libya, London, Germany, Singapore etc, are Nigerians. How many Libyans, South Africans, Singaporeans, Britons or Americans are in Nigeria in search of greener pastures? And you think w should be happy and celebrate for being 48?
At 48 are we celebrating the official terrorism and inhumanity in the the Niger Delta region by the federal government. I refuse to mention the Odi and the Zakibiam genocides. Does the fact that the nation is ill-structured to fevour some sections and alienate others call for celebration at 48? Should we celebrate that at this age of freedom of information, our President left the country for 17 days with no clear information of his purpose and where about, only to come back and allowed a television station that tried to throw some light on why he traveled and its likely consequences, to be clamped down on and her journalists detained? As if that wasn’t enough evil, Mr. President quickly turned the Presidency into a secret cult by forcing staff of the Presidency to swear an oath of secrecy. My be, he believes that when again he may be “on a prayer mission”, or placed in the Intensive Care Unit or Life Sustaining Machine in Saudi Arabia, Germany etc, if nobody from the presidency talks, Channels will close her big mouth.
Again, are we celebrating that at 48, even when Ghana is celebrating 12 years of uninterrupted power supply, Nigeria cannot boast of 24hours of constant power supply for the past 48 years? Should we celebrate that our children are not going to school as a result of poverty, and those who managed to go and graduated are roaming around with no reasonable jobs to do? Are we celebrating that at 48 in spite of the nation’s abundant wealth, more people are dying from road accidents as a result of bad roads than other causes, and over 70% of the population is living below poverty lines? Are we going to be cerebrating that at 48, professionalism, efficiency, competency, proven track records, integrity etc, are always sacrificed on the alter of fevouritism and sectional interest in appointments and placements in Nigeria?
Well, having gone this far, I wouldn’t fall in the group that Emeka Ojukwu called “pseudo-intellectuals”. Those he said will “present analysis without proffering solutions”. In providing my solution, I wish to draw your attention to what Chief Anthony Enahoro, one of, if not the only surviving early nationalist, and Chief Asari Dokubo, the Niger Delta freedom fighter, said in separate interviews on this year’s independence day. They both held that Nigeria itself is an illegitimate entity and should be null and void, because, none of the people now known as Nigerians were consulted before the infamous amalgamation of 1914. They opined that except when we come together and create the nation of our choice, Nigeria’s problems will remain intractable, because, according to them, we have an area called Nigeria, but nobody in the real sense of it, is a Nigerian.
I think their opinions are quit clear, sincere and noble. I share their views. We see and treat ourselves as “Hausas”, “Igbos”, “Yorubas”, etc. If not, why “State of Origin”, Federal Character”, “Catchments Area”, “Quota system” etc, in our professed one nation? I make bold to say that I respect the opinion and wisdom of Emeka Ojukwu at the 1967 meeting in Ghana, where he sincerely and intellectually suggested confederalism as the panacea to the nation’s socio-political problems. Had that well-thought and globally praised solution been implemented, the question and the crises over resource control and allocation formula would’ve been forever nipped to the mud long ago.
Therefore, I may not say, “on Aburi we stand”, but call it Confederation, Resources Control, True Federalism etc, I suggest we go back to the Aburi Acord and implement that well-thought document. Unless that road map we got from Aburi is exhumed, dusted and presented at a Sovereign National Conference that should be convened, for examination and possible implementation, even in the next 100 years, Nigeria will still be groping in a total socio-political and economic darkness for a path that may perpetually remain elusive.
Lagos – Nigeria.
Sunysuny2003@yahoo.com, OR firstname.lastname@example.org