BY DAMIAN OPATA
Published in 2011 by Life Apostolate Publications, Enugu, Paulinus Ike Ogara’s Nigeria Must Survive is a two hundred and forty page book that addresses the issues of corruption, insecurity, poverty, unemployment, rural underdevelopment, religious intolerance, ethnic rivalries, and bad political leadership in contemporary Nigeria. These problems are commonly perceived as threats to the corporate survival of Nigeria as an entity.
The author is optimistic that strong moral family backgrounds, the pooling of collective effort by all Nigerians, the enthronement of strong security measures, building and enhancing empowerment structures for the people, good leadership, effective opposition, the cultivation of love, empathy and compassion by all Nigerians, proper and adequate religious education, and enduring political and spiritual will on the part of the leaders and the led, could ensure the survival of Nigeria.
Nigeria Must Survive is a book of twenty – nine chapters. The chapters are arranged thematically, and each chapter is preceded by a summary statement that captures what the chapter is about. The chapters derive from different contexts. It does even appear that many are articles written on different occasions to address different social problematics in the Nigerian federation. Consequently, each chapter can be read independent of the other. The chapters divide themselves into two broad thematic categories: themes that address the political, security, and economic challenges in Nigeria generally, and themes that address religious challenges, especially as this concerns the ordained and individual lay persons. In this second category, the individual moral deficits of politicians, members of the clergy, as well of that of the average Nigerian are highlighted. The depiction of this moral deficit is sometimes done in very ironic ways. Both Christian and Muslim fundamentalism are particularly identified for condemnation.
Although the book is not a theoretical treatise of the Nigeria malaise, the author offers some critical interpretations of the social ills addressed in his book. This is particularly evident in Chapters 7, 17, and 22. Chapter 7 of this book is titled: “Let My People Go.”
The author uses this as a metaphor for the mighty in Nigeria to desist from oppressing the poor, the helpless, the people discriminated against, and the marginalized in society generally.
Chapter 17 of the book is titled: “When Anointing Becomes Annoying.” I wholeheartedly buy the argument that those anointed by God to serve him and humanity in whatever capacity should not use the privilege to annoy others, to suppress others, to intimidate others, and to deny justice to others.
Chapter 22 is titled: “We Can Live Together.” This is a very important chapter in the book because it is central to the survivability of Nigeria, the purpose for which the book has been written. The author’s own summary of the chapter is very informative and insightful
Nothing could be more beautiful than this; nothing more elevating or inspiring. We really can live as one in Nigeria, even though some people make no pretences about the desirability of our going separate ways. The author goes on in this chapter to make a very interesting observation when he says that, “What we suffer in Nigeria is not a mistaken amalgamation.
Rather, we have been mistaken in believing that it cannot work. The major problem with the author’s argument here is that it is logically possible for someone to believe that the amalgamation of Nigeria is mistaken and still firmly believe that it can work. Its mistakenness is not a necessary or ineradicable impediment to its unworkability.
This is the crux of this book, its epochal ideation. Nothing can be further from this truth if Nigeria must survive, as it must in fact do. Even if amalgamation was a mistake, it should now undergo a healing transformation through its destabilization and progressive contextual reconstitution. The book, Nigeria Must Survive is an affirmation and renewal of the thorny history of this continuing survival of the Nigerian state which, despite all attempts, continue to be threatened.
Another important contribution of this book is the author’s addition of his voice to the longstanding calls for a national dialogue by whatever name named. He has been doing this since 2011.