By Douglas Anele
Nigeria got her independence in 1960. Since then, the ruling elite has failed to harness the abundant human and natural resources in the country for the welfare of the citizens.
Corruption, unintelligent planning, greed and lack of visionary leadershipÂ has made Nigeria almost a failed state. The recent violent clashes in Jos are stark reminders that our country is not yet a nation, notwithstanding the hypocritical posturing of the carpetbaggers in the corridors of power.
It is still, in the words of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a geographical expression. Worse than that, it is fast becoming a theatre of failed dreams. Gaddafi has reportedly modified his earlier suggestion that the country should be split into north and south along religious lines. He now says that Nigeria should be divided peacefully into several independent states to minimise inter- ethnic and religious violence.
Gaddafiâ€™s proposal has been criticised by the â€œpigsâ€ in the animal farm called Nigeria, who have been benefiting from the inequalities and anomalies which characterise our arrested development. Hypocrites and egoistic nitwits who know next to nothing about selfless leadership have described the Libyan leader as â€œmad,â€ andÂ â€œignorant.â€ Some have even suggested that Gaddafi is jealous of the size and natural resource potentials of the country, and wants our standing (which standing?) in Africa diminished.
All these vituperations against Gaddafi,Â as far as I am concerned, are refuted by the developmental strides in Libya since heÂ came to power three decades ago. In terms of infrastructural development, economic stability,Â affordable housing,Â health care, and basic amenities, Libya is better than Nigeria. If Gaddafi was truly mad and ignorant, how can one explain his achievements? If our countryÂ is better governed than Libya, to the extent that its leader would bellyache because of what Nigeria has achieved, why are Nigerians, despite the hardships in going to Libya and series of deportations , still try whatever they can to go there?
LetÂ us be frank on this issue, and put aside pretentiousÂ patriotism. Our shameless, over-fed, over-pampered and obscenely rich rulers are not happy because Gaddafiâ€™s comment is a direct criticismÂ of their repeated failures to attain the level of achievements recorded by Libya under Gaddafiâ€™s watch: they are jealous of his achievements and boldness in suggesting radical solution to ourÂ socio-political problems.Â Their feigned anger is a charade; it is not a reflection ofÂ genuine patriotism.
The big men are afraid that if Nigeria is properly reconfigured to meet the genuine aspirations of the people, they would be the biggest losers because they are the greatest beneficiaries of the present distorted system. Nigerian rulers are ignorant and singularly opaque to the history of their own country. TheyÂ do not realise that Gaddafi was right inÂ blaming the British for creating a fractiousÂ lopsided country, Nigeria. For instance, after the northern and southern protectorates were merged unilaterally by the colonialists, Lord Lewis Harcourt, as a male chauvinist,Â laid it down that in the marriage between the north and the south, the north would be the husband while the south would be the wife.
Since the north, favoured by the departing colonial master, was seriously lacking in modern education, its ruling elite, fixated on the emirate system, had no democratic tradition for managing social change. Hence, the only response it had for dealing with dissent, according to Patrick Wilmot, is mass killing.
Furthermore, in 1992, Maitama Sule, a loquacious northern politician, argued that the north, endowed with leadership qualities, has a divine right to perpetual leadership of the country. Such arrant nonsense and the tenacity with which the ruling block in the north holds on to political power are the major root causes of political instability in Nigeria.
Agitation for the dismemberment of the country has been a recurrent theme since independence. Remember, the araba riots in the north, which began in May, 1966 and continued after the counter coupÂ of July the same year, were secessionist movesÂ by some members of the northern eliteÂ targeted at southerners, particularly the Igbo. Indeed, shortly before and after independence, threat of araba or secession was a leitmotiv in the north. Chuks Iloegbunam, in his thought-provoking work, Ironside, intimates that when retired General Yakubu Gowon,(then Lt.Col.) was about to become the head of state in August 1966, â€œhe still had in his pocket a piece of literature intended to proclaim the secession of the north.â€
Interestingly, Mohammed Bello who became the Chief Justice of Nigeria from 1987 â€“ 1995, participated in drafting the secessionist document.Â According to Iloegbunam, Sir Francis Cumming Bruce, the British High Commissioner in Lagos at the time, claimed to have played a crucial role in dissuading Gowon from secession. There is also the sobering fact, documented by Iyorchia Ayu and corroborated by Gambo Sawaba, thatÂ the so-called voice of the common man, late Mallam Aminu
Kano, was part of the araba Movement and participated in the pogrom against the Igbo. With a rag-tag of volunteers, Isaac Adaka Boro, in February, 1966, declared an independent republic in the Niger Delta. Of course, the most serious threat to the existence of Nigeria was the Biafran civil war, which lasted for about three years, from May 1967Â to January 1970.
The history of countries, just like the history of individuals, is full of ironies. Gowon who, as we stated earlier, was about to announce the secession of the north, claimed that he fought the civil war to keep Nigeria one. But his maiden broadcast in August 1, 1966, to theÂ country as head of state, contains statements loaded with secessionist implications.
To be concluded.