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Nigeria and the illusion of independence (4)

By Douglas ANELE
AN independent country is largely self-reliant and does not need foreign aid. Notwithstanding her incredible wealth, Nigeria receives a lot of aid regularly from the West.

Nigerian rulers take dictations from Washington and London. Unlike Libya, Nigeria rarely takes a principled stance which contradicts or conflicts with American or British standpoints on international issues, even when it is justified to do so. Therefore, Nigeria is an appendage of the West.

Corruption has taken a serious toll on the country; it is the single most deadly poison that has virtually killed our developmental aspirations. When the Union Jack was lowered and the insipid uninspiring Green-White-Green hoisted, the illusion of independence began in earnest. Nigeria has most of the outward signs of independence; but in real terms she is as dependent as ever.

The major difference now is that the British colonial masters have been replaced by their clones from Nigeria. Again, their agents are still operating with deadly effect, because the more things change, politically speaking, the more they remain the same at the economic level.

The West, notably Britain and the United States, is still the major determinant of our economic development. Since politics and economics are interrelated, it is not surprising that the West controls Nigerian politics indirectly.

How can Nigeria extricate herself from the yoke of dependent independence? Can we ever wake up from the illusion of independence and evolve into a truly independent, virile and self-reliant nation? I want to reiterate that at the moment Nigeria is still a pseudo-country hanging precariously on a precipice.

Most Nigerians agree that the fundamental problem that has prevented their country from evolving into a truly self-reliant independent federation is poor quality leadership.

The noted novelist and writer, Chinua Achebe in his little book, The trouble with Nigeria, located the root cause of Nigeria’s arrested development squarely on the doorstep of the visionless, inept and mediocre leaders.

There is no scintilla of doubt that the quality of leaders that have emerged in Nigeria, especially since the Biafran war ended in 1970, has been going down ever since.

More specifically, military interventions by corrupt and incompetent set of solders and their civilian cohorts into the political machinery of the country have ruined virtually everything, from the industrial or manufacturing sector to agriculture, from education to health, from infrastructural development to the provision of conducive environment for actualizing the productive potentials of the population.

Over the year, successive administrations have failed completely to provide adequate housing and security for the citizens. Therefore, Nigeria is a failed state sliding towards total oblivion if something drastic is not done as soon as possible to check the horrendous abuses and injustices in the system.

Unfortunately, the present government, headed by President Umaru Yar’Adua, is repeating the mistakes of its predecessors by (1) failing to deal courageously and frontally with the malignant leprosy of corruption in government, (2) refusing to embark on genuine electoral reforms which will improve electoral productive on Nigeria, (3) unwillingness to rebuild dilapidated infrastructure and diversify the economy, (4) inability to reduce the cost of running the machine of government and, finally, failing to address squarely, through sincere restructuring of the political structures of Nigeria, the injustices to, and marginalization of, some geopolitical zones in the country.

In addition, President Yar’Adua has made some cabinet appointments which demonstrate lack of sound judgment and rigour in handing the affairs of State.

However, granted that Nigerian leaders, past and present, had been egregious failures, what about Nigerians themselves? Do they have the necessary mental habits and behavioural dispositions to sustain a genuinely independent democratic country?

I am afraid that the answer to these questions is – No! Nigerians, in general, are greedy, corrupt, selfish and morally uncultivated just like members of the ruling elite.

In any case, Nigerian leaders are Nigerians; they did not drop from the sky. Thus, the mental attributes they had before they got into office are, by and large, the very mental attributes that world determine their behavour while in office.

People fail to realize that if X becomes a president, governor, legislator, etc, he or she would still behave in accordance with the character structure he or she had already formed before getting into office.

Consequently, there is no miracle that can turn a rogue and a scoundrel into an angel overnight just because he or she happens to occupy a high political office.

The only way Nigeria can evolve into a truly independent country is for Nigerians, especially those in power, to make a commitment to acting in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity, selfless devotion to merit and excellence, and patriotism.

Without this, Nigeria will continue in the futile vicious circle of dependent independence until the time when things will completely fall apart.


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