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Who governs Nigeria?

By Obi Nwakanma
Among its many ills, and a great reflection of its political underdevelopment, is that Nigeria is a minion state. It is governed indirectly from Whitehall, the White House, and not unthinkably from a White Mud, if such a place does exist.

The structure of thought and consciousness of contemporary Nigerian political leadership is principally of a caretaker elite for international interests that seem to have circumscribed Nigeria into a neo-colonial grip. Of course you cannot blame Britain or the United States for exerting political acts that help to sustain and advance their political and economic interests through the maintenance, selection and advancement of those who control Nigeria’s internal domestic affairs.

All truly great and self-conscious countries, through their leaders, seek to maintain political oversight over their minion states. In street parlance, Nigeria is a slave-nation mostly because its leaders – political, economic and intellectual – are the lickspittles of the British Empire in all its faded glory. That of course makes Nigeria a laughing stock among serious and self-respecting nations.

The actions of Nigeria’s political leaders frequently make many Nigerians conscious of their historic duties seethe with shame and suppressed rage. This shame and rage is often quiet but active in the small circles of the highly conscious, intellectually-minded, historically aware and ideologically clear nationalist segment even of the Nigerian Armed Forces who feel the insults on the banners they swore to protect as warriors of nation.

As ordinary citizens we are all humiliated by the actions and perhaps even the inaction of our leaders. Nigerians who have traveled and made contact with the rest of the world can attest to the routine amusement that others express on matters regarding Nigeria; the degradation of the significance of Nigeria on the scale of serious nations.

But in spite of the rapid loss of its place as a country of significance – one vital enough to be taken seriously – those who have anything to gain from it still mouth the farcical claim of Nigeria as “the giant of Africa” Well, the giant of Africa is where all the action is: international publishing, international exchange, international opinion, well-established universities and research facilities; well-built cities. First rate Engineering and manufacture.

Peace and security. Indeed, that is where anybody who wants an African opinion ought to go. But what Nigeria says or thinks is unimportant because it is not borne of any independence nor is it backed by any might. It does not even own its most vital resource – the oil for which thousands of Nigerians die yearly – because frankly, it ceded both the operational and political control of that resource to its political masters.

Imagine this: the federal government of Nigeria announced that it would celebrate Nigeria’s 50th Independence Anniversary with N10 billion budget sent as supplementary budget by this president to the National Assembly. Among the budgeted items of expenditure are clearly items that would make the devil blush with embarrassment.

One such item is for some activity by the “first lady” which is to cost N50 million – her visits to the underprivileged. You can’t beat that! But the most ridiculous is item number 30 on the budget list simply termed “miscellaneous” for which N105 million was marked down. Its an omnibus term that captures Nigeria’s miscellany of folly. A dark hole through which money is funneled.

But a look at the entire proposed budget for the October Shindig says something about Nigeria in ways that nothing else would: Nigeria’s political and bureaucratic leadership is terribly inferior, unpatriotic, and philistine. Let us imagine for one moment that there is something to celebrate of Nigeria’s 50 years of “flag” independence, and we see nothing in the budget that reflects purpose or symbolic grandeur or that would draw attention to Nigeria as a veritable story of success.

Reflect, therefore, fellow Nigerians, the difference between Ghana’s celebration of its jubilee and compare it with Nigeria’s. In Ghana, they used the occasion to place Kwame Nkrumah back on the pedestal of the history of great black global leadership in the 20th century.

A nation is known more by the contributions of its people, and a great knowledge of Ghana today flows from what has been made of the political discussions of its nationalist leader in the context of African internationalism and his promotion as the leading light of African nationalism in the 20th century by whose examples other Africans became free.

But yet, Nigeria suppresses the significance of the great Zik, and we lose huge capital in the public relations weight that Zik could attract to Nigeria properly harnessed and properly celebrated by the nation he gave his life.

But the rather remarkably unhealable ethnic wounds of Nigeria’s history, undermines the significance of its own nationalist leader, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in the global narrative of the 20th century. Azikiwe’s place has been usurped principally because Nigeria turned into a demonic nation.

That is why even the National Television Authority seems predictably unaware of Nigeria’s political history and rather invents it. Nigeria’s demonic status also makes it impossible for it to get anything right: a jubilee is the celebration that ought to have commenced since January this year with all kinds of programs – that showcases the works of Nigeria’s artists and writers, the music, the craft and the engineering, and its intellectual traditions.

The plans, including all matters of budget should all have started a year to the event. The Conferences and public Lectures, the exhibitions of the various paths that Nigeria has trod through photography, the documentation, and the commissioning of new public parks, new anniversary housing, new city squares named after our national greats – the very act of memory that ought to be symbolic of the past and the aspiration of Nigeria as a nation should have been more carefully planned with a national commission or Committees carefully drawn and established for that purpose.

It would have been an inward-looking program, reflective and deeply aware of the moment and its occasion. But of course, we have wasted the opportunity, and the bureaucrats doing the budgeting and the planning only see an opportunity to mine money from the toxic coffers.

Perhaps it is not right to expect us to make gold from lax, but the greatest cut of it all is the decision by the president, his ministers, and his ruling party men to hold the “anniversary summit” in London. London? But where is the outrage? What do the President and the PDP and the London summiteers wish to communicate? That Nigeria’s is not independent or that it is still governed from Great Britain?

Of course we have always suspected this, which is why we tend to connect the consequence of Nigeria’s underdevelopment to a political leadership that is still subject to British oversight, that acts as marionettes to its political paymasters in the colonial metropolis. This is what Nigerians call “agents of imperialism.” They did not have to rub it in, but by summitting in London, President Goodluck Jonathan inadvertently tells us that he is not in charge of Nigeria.

He reminds us why Nigeria has no reason to celebrate a 50th Independence celebration. That Nigeria is, afterall, still not free. That its political freedom is an illusion created to deceive, and that its lack of political freedom is the cause of its terrible underdevelopment, which demands from us to raise this question: “who governs Nigeria?” and that the answer to this question should naturally compel Nigerians to begin the second phase of the anticolonial nationalist movement. We have wasted half a century.


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