How can we get Nigeria right?
It has been 57 years of turbulence.
It has been five decades of uneasy peace and frustrated aspirations!
How do we get Nigeria right?
Granted that she is not a Union. If not, the mantra that “Nigerian unity is non-negotiable“ would never have been conceived.
It seems she is an imposition which some interests want to keep for as long as it takes. That may explain why they invented that fiction.
Granted she was a bastard sired in the boardrooms of British imperial and neo-colonial treachery;
Granted that was created to serve British imperial and neo-colonial interest;
Granted that she is a boiling conglomeration of federated grievances, held together by Oil-wealth;
How do we assume control of our destiny and pilot it like it is ours, in the interest of all Nigerians?
Is dissolution the right way?
Is restructuring the right?
What are the fears of those pushing for dissolution?
What are the fears of those against dissolution?
Is there an essential arena where these opposing divides can meet and let their fears cross-pollinate, to come out with a blueprint for the country of our dreams where every Okeke, Kayode, Musa, Ekpenyong, Dokubo, Jang, and every other Nigerian could feel at home and have a sense of belonging?
How do we get Nigeria right?
If the brilliance of a Barack Obama could yield and give way to the garrulity and obscene impolitic of Donald Trump, then Corretta Scott King must be right that the battle for freedom must forever be fought anew. And every generation is condemned to fight for its own freedom.
How can my generation get Nigeria right?
Have we not abandoned the field to the geriatric gerontocrats enough?
Have we not allowed dinosaurs who in saner climes are relegated to the museums of their history as extinct examples of a glorious past, to keep trampling, ravaging our present and shooting our future out of the sky?
Have we not allowed that demographic who by the power of age should be statistically dead, to bury our future in the cemeteries of their greed and myopia?
Is youth the answer?
Examples abound of young people who are as listless, myopic and without ambition as they come!
Or what youth represents?
Like boundless and infinite possibilities, the desire to reject limits and limitations; to take shots at immortality?
How do we create a Nigeria of prideful associations that every African could proudly associate with, and hoist high as a beacon of hope, excellence, and freedom?
Is dependence on oil the answer?
Oil as a resource is receding in importance in all dimensions.
Oil rich countries with any ounce of vision are all in the business of diversifying their economies and society; standing them up to opportunities that would empower them to greet tomorrow as masters of their destinies. Not as slaves to external interests.
Oil dependent countries are quickly discarding their dependence as a prostitute discards a patron.
Europe had a vision 2020 to wean all its industries of dependence on fossil fuel; flood its streets with electric cars to attain zero C02 emissions; fill its roofs and open spaces with solar panels; grab a major percentage of her power needs from renewable energy sources; all before the year 2020.
India wants to attain same by 2030.
Nigeria is still prospecting for oil in the North of Nigeria in 2017!
Is education and trained manpower supported by functional social and physical infrastructure, like corrupt-free bureaucracies of government; functional judiciary; excellent network of roads, rails, dredged, navigable rivers, and airports parts of the answer?
Every modern civilization that boasts of progress have all these in common. It may not hold all the solutions. But no modern state has been able to function without them.
Is the sustenance of democracy the answer?
That is a tricky one. Democracy has become a political dogma. Europe was not a democracy when it devastated lands, robbed and pillaged continents to accumulate the wealth that caused rivers of wealth to flow through her; which irrigated her society and attended the germination of the economic advantages she enjoys today.
America‘s claims to democracy could not be sustained by logic or fact in the days she enslaved the Blacks, and robbed them of their labour; raped their humanity and bartered that to purchase wealth and economic advantages for herself.
China, which is steaming to become the largest economy in the world right now, is also not a democracy. So, the correlation between democracy and socio-economic development is not as clear cut as many would presume.
But is democracy a great option?
For a country like Nigeria, with deep primeval fault-lines of ethnic provenance; yes!
The minority‘s fear of being swallowed by the cascading inconsideration of the majority is accommodated and addressed by democracy and her principles.
Moreover, military dictatorship has been tried by Nigeria. It did not acquit itself creditably. It raped us like every unchecked power is wont to do; sodomized our collective psyches without Vaseline, and softened us to be taken advantage of by any clever idiot masquerading as a strong man. It scuttled and devastated our institutions, which could have been our first lines of defence against tyranny and bad governance.
Democracy is the greatest citadel for protecting and promoting human rights and the rights of man. She is the best vehicle for transporting our aspirations to the launching pads of actuality. She is basically that maid, which eviscerates the ontological arrogance of anyone arrogating himself the right to rule over others without their consent. She is the Northern Wall protecting us from being overwhelmed and swallowed up by the Hobbesian State of nature; where the presence and fear of violent death lurks in every cranny. And where the lives of man would become solitary, nasty, brutish and short.
Democracy and the rule of law are the sword and the shield defending and protecting our fundamental freedoms.
In a democracy, freedom of speech is not a sacrilege, as Farooq Kperoggi brilliantly contends. Fighting hate speech is not deployed as a smokescreen to muzzle the opposition. The equality of every one before the law; and the right of everyone to fair hearing is an absolute right and good.
In a democracy, the military is not deployed to intimidate the opponents of anyone in power. The courts remain the final arbiter between the State and the citizens. And the State obeys her own laws.
The obverse of all these, is tyranny. Not matter the borrowed robes, it is dressed in.
Is banishing tribalism and it’s associations the answer; or deploying that diversity as a reservoir of strength and national elasticity to launch us to the pinnacle of achievement as a society, as a people, and as a nation?
It is actually a theoretic over-indulgence to consider banishing such primitive attachments. Or even superimposing a structure over it to smother its presence. Yugoslavia did not survive that attempt for long. She imploded on the weights of those contradictions. No country can survive that for long.
This is why Nigeria must seek a resolution to her ethnic question in the light of truth, equity and justice. Any other shenanigan, or pretence to that end, to purchase short-term political advantages, is simply a postponement of our implosion.
I don’t have the answers. That is why as Nigeria celebrates her independence again this year, I am still asking:
How do we get Nigeria right?
We must get Nigeria right. We have wasted enough time. We have wasted enough moral, and intellectual capital. We have wasted a lot of resources. And the more of these that we waste, or brook their being wasted; the more we postpone any future we may think is ours to attain
Gwazia ndi yard unu!