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Nigeria @ 53: Beyond our low key celebration (2)

By AWA KALU

In this manner of conceptualizing events, history could be said to be unrestricted by space and time.’ The authors further opine that ‘history and historical events are not amorphous or shapeless occurrences. On the contrary, historical events and processes possess uniqueness which marks them as much the product of the past and of particular places, as they are sufficiently differentiated from their antecedents. Such uniqueness of history provides both the basis for a break from either the past or from events of other places as well as the basis of a completely new future history.

The decisiveness of the unique nature and character of historical events and processes provides the basis for the differentiation in history.’ They then affirm a truism on which basis our country may be judged, that a set of events and processes could be quite profound and drawn out with the attendant consequences that existing structures and values of a nation become completely broken or overturned giving rise to new structures, institutions, values and patterns of social conduct.

With the history of Nigeria as a plank on which to analyse her problems, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, a foremost nationalist and public affairs analyst, lambasts this country in his book ‘NIGERIA: THE POLITICAL TRANSITION & THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY’ as a nation in search of identity and consciousness. He argues that the dilemma of contemporary Nigeria is mind-boggling. Nigeria is bedeviled by a myriad of problems which require radical therapies.

In very strong words, he compares ‘the enormous problems of the polity’ with ‘the reality of a tragic dance of death; a ritual with no purpose and a rite in celebration of decay and putrefaction’. Arthur Nwankwo further states that ‘in examining the Nigerian condition,’ he is ‘reminded of that parabolic signification of communal ethos in a society caught in the web of organised intrigue. The belief that a disease which is ravaging a land needs the blood of an animal matching its potency for exoneration, exorcism and amelioration holds absolutely true for the Nigerian State.’

In a tone brimming with resignation and surrender, he alleges that ‘the only qualification to the time-honoured liberationist paradigm is that not even the blood of a mortal, and a clansman’s at that, may have the efficacy of purgation or the potency of regeneration.’ As angry as his words indicate, he however takes the path of a statesman and asks: ‘what are the basic tentative measures likely to arrest the calm stride towards chaos and the fatalistic journey into the molting abyss and morass of the unknown?’ He concludes that Nigeria’s drift into chaos is both attitudinal and institutional and his belief is that arresting the drift demands the re-orientation of individual and collective awakening to realities.

I have listened to radio and television discussions aimed at appraising Nigeria at 53. It appears that there is a consensus that not long after our Golden Jubilee, the country is still afflicted with prepubescent and adolescent problems. Some analysts even remind us that the Jubilee itself was celebrated with an unprecedented bombing. We need not be deterred by negative tendencies.

Touted as the most populous black nation on earth, recognized as a country endowed with vast and extensive human and natural resources, blessed with the potential to be what it can be, we still suffer the misfortune of a burden of who will bell the cat i.e. the cat of liberation from self-imposed stagnation and an unwillingness to march into unrestrained prosperity. We are often in search of the ideas that will give fillip to our destiny.

Thus, at independence, we were given a constitution which tied us somehow to the Monarchy of Great Britain. By 1963, when we parted ways with that constitution, we gave unto ourselves a Republican constitution. Then, anchored on allegations of corruption and misrule, a coup d’etat overthrew that constitution and for several years we labored under military leadership and fought a bitter civil war which deepened the schisms in the polity.

Formulation of policies

In 1979, the military retreated to the Barracks in the belief that the politicians had learnt their lessons. On the last day of 1983, there was yet another cop d’etat followed by others in 1985 and 1993. Historians are familiar with the flip-flop in the formulation of policies that followed including the failure of a well0desined transition to civil rule programme.

Recognising that it is the inalienable right of the people to choose who should regulate their affairs, the military again retreated to their Barracks in 1999 and have not given any overt indication of an intention to return despite the predilections of our politicians some of which may sound like an invitation of some sort.

We are presently laboring under the burden of electoral reform, constitutional amendments complicated by dog fights at the National Assembly, a seemingly ugly cat and mouse game with the Presidency, financial and personal insecurity and a legion of other problems. But we are resilient and we will make it even if slowly and painfully. The fact that we have had twelve years of unbroken civil rule is eloquent testimony to our steadfastness.

Truly, it is a wonder that despite our wobbling and fumbling, we have lived under the umbrella of one Nigeria- an umbrella which is bigger than those of other rainmakers; an umbrella that is bigger than those of ethnic jingoists and chauvinists; an umbrella that is bigger than those of professional politicians, of certain fraudulent professors and other professionals and of even those who do not like Nigeria. I remember that date, 1st October, 1960.

As a primary school pupil decorate in a new school uniform and brand new converse shoes, I took part in a march past on the day the Union Jack was lowered and the Green-White-Green was hoisted. That flag will continue to fly, our frailties notwithstanding. It is my belief that we will continue to hail Nigeria, our own dear native land. Indeed, the labour of or heroes past shall never be in vain. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


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