SOME years ago, even when Nigeria was still far from the present stage of near anarchy, a prominent man of God was so worried about the situation of things in the country. He invited some media chiefs to Lagos to brainstorm on how to stem the tide of the dangerous trend of things socially, politically and economically in the country. From the look of the man of God that day, one could observe his worries and undiluted patriotism. He did not even bother about whether the outcome of such brainstorming would have any impact on the kind of leadership the nation has unfortunately been producing over the years.
The clergyman started the meeting with a preamble, a fictitious story to illustrate the sorry situation of Nigeria. According to the story by the man of God, some nations of the world took a protest to God. They felt that the Creator of the whole universe appeared to be partial. Nigeria was the main reference point of their partiality complaint. According to the complainants before the Almighty God. His distribution of resources among nations of the world He created was glaringly lopsided in favour of Nigeria. They cited some examples like the abundance of crude oil, gas and other mineral resources. The story went further that God listened patiently to the complainants and when they finished with their litany of the alleged unmerited favour for Nigeria, God merely smiled. He then told the complainants to just watch and see what the Nigerian leaders would do with what they are complaining about.
If we may ask ourselves, what has Nigeria done with the abundant resources? Recently, the nation has been awarded the unenviable poverty capital of the world. The future is so bleak for the youth in the country hence, a resort to criminal activities to keep themselves afloat in Nigeria’s ocean of hopelessness. This is in spite of the abundant resources for which many nations of the world are envious of the country. Nigeria is today one of the most terrorized nations in the world. No safety for anyone anywhere anytime in the country today. In fact, watching Western media, one would think that no other thing is happening in Nigeria aside from terrorism or anything that detracts from human dignity. Today, the nation is characterized by all sorts of anomalies. No wonder some Nigerians had concluded that Nigeria is already a failed state.
However, one can have a glimpse of how Nigeria has been reduced to the Hobbesian state of nature where life is nasty, brutish and short. The resources of the country are being cornered, misused and looted by those in control of power at different levels in the country. Recall the display of a Nigerian legislator at the national assembly in Abuja some time ago. The legislator came to the House chambers with a retinue of wives to prove to Nigerians that he is powerful. How many industries did he establish? Apart from the ludicrous nature of the display, where does this lawmaker get the resources to maintain the harem and the many children in such a competitive breeding environment? How were some Nigerian leaders able to buy aircraft for exclusively personal and family enjoyment without any industry as their source of income? Most of the major players in the polity see the vanity as their ultimate goal. For how long are we to continue in this absurdity?
The above is the derivative of the awkward system on which the nation operates. The prevailing system, especially at the national level cannot produce a highly dexterous and patriotic leader. Ask why Chief Obafemi Awolowo always met a brick wall in his attempts to replicate what he led the Western Region to achieve in his days as Premier at the national level. The prevailing system in Nigeria will always allow kleptomaniacs and ethno-religious bigots in power and frustrate any dexterous and patriotic leader in the mould of Awo. There are many Awolowos in every part of Nigeria but the prevailing system will always obstruct their patriotic efforts or even liquidate them.
The point being made is that the contraption put together by the colonialists and called Nigeria in 1914 is not standing on a solid foundation. This is why Nigeria has never worked as a viable nation-state. It will never work because it was built on a faulty foundation. The prevailing system only allows the wielders of political power (many of them not even qualified for the positions that the awkward system bestowed on them) to appropriate the resources of the country mostly for selfish reasons and at the expense of the downtrodden majority. Whoever thinks we would continue like this is only living in self-delusion.
There are only two options out of the present quandary. The first is for the country, being a heterogeneous nation, to restructure to embrace true federalism which is the norm in sane societies. This is the only political system that can retain the nation as a single political entity. The second option is for every nationality within present Nigeria to go its different ways to make life meaningful to its citizens. After all, if life becomes meaningful to everyone with this option, it is better than now when life has become meaningless to everyone except those at the helm and their families.
For anyone to say the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable is a gross disservice to everyone not close to the corridors of power in the country. In fact, one of the status-quo defenders once likened the unity of Nigeria to that of Catholic marriage, saying that even though the marriage might not be happy, it will not break. But when the elasticity limit of Catholic marriage is exceeded today, it breaks irretrievably.
As things are today, show me, anyone who is sincerely against the restructuring of Nigeria, I will show you an ignoramus, someone who doesn’t understand or bother about what is in the best interest of Nigerians and the future of the country. Show me someone from the southern part of Nigeria who is openly against the restructuring of the country, I will show you a hypocrite, a quisling, someone who is quintessentially selfish. Show me a status-quo defender from the North, I will show you a lazy drone who is only interested in enjoying what does not belong to him, someone who unwarrantedly possesses a rabid interest in what belongs to others without working for his own.
- Rev. Sam Adesua, a former MD/EIC of Tribune newspapers wrote from Ibadan.
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