By Yusufu Ameh Obajei
INTRODUCTION: The success of our democratic institution depends largely on our understanding and re-evaluation of the Nigerian Equation as well as the development of a clearly defined National ideology.
In 1946, the three regions that emerged were known as Northern, Eastern and Western regions accordingly. The leaders of these regions were driven by the spirit of freedom, integrity, credibility, accountability and competitiveness, in order to ensure that the entity called Nigeria remains united, indivisible, prosperous and truly great among the comity of Nations.
But soon after, the colonial policy of “divide and rule”, the growing political intrigues, suspicion among regional champions, the fear of regional domination and the struggle to control the pendulum of power of the Nigerian entity, gave birth to regional philosophy of survival of the fittest.
The North identified “political power” as the instrument of survival of the North and the means of achieving personal, regional and national greatness. The East came up with the idea of “monetary wealth” as the means of realizing personal, regional and national greatness.
The West saw “education” as the fundamental tool for achieving personal, regional and national greatness. Thus the stage was set for an endless battle of survival of the fittest, with each region holding on tenaciously to its concept of the national equation of “political power” for the North, “wealth” for the East and “education” for the West, as the means of having a fair share of the perceived national cake
Armed with these regional ideologies, the leadership of the regions mobilized their people to invest in all kinds of agricultural, educational, economic and socio-political interests, in order to consolidate their grip on regional autonomy and authority, as well as having substantial control over national leadership and resources.
This struggle has endured to our generation and there are no visible signs that it will end very soon as long as we remain unprepared or unwilling to do justice to the missing link, the development and enthronement of a definitive national ideology. Therefore, the main objective of this discourse is to call attention to some of the challenges posed by the Nigerian equation and to suggest the fact that only a profoundly viable National Ideology can serve as an ideological peg or foundation for any other sectarian ideology. Indeed, it is from there that all other ideologies, whether personal, regional or institutional can hang the ideological net, without being tossed here and there, or torn into pieces by the stormy wind of politics of survival of the fittest.
It is on this note, therefore, that one must proceed to examine more critically the subject matter of this presentation, namely, the Nigerian Equation and the categorical imperative of National ideology. Having said this, we can now move on with the development of the subject before us:
The challenge of the Nigerian equation
The challenge of sustainability: Although, people were eager to identify themselves with their regional ideologies of power for the North, wealth for the East and education for the West, the sustenance of the Nigerian equation has not been easy.
For the North in particular, even though it enjoyed many years of political power, it could not make full use of the opportunity to transform the North or the country as a whole. This was largely due to two main factors, namely, ethnic bigotry and religious fanaticism. The feeling and enforcement of ethnic superiority complex in a multi-ethnic society erodes confidence and loyalty to a given course.
While the early leaders of the North tried to balance the relationship of minor ethnic groups and the major ones, subsequent leadership betrayed the trust in favour of the dominant tribes and thereby weakened Northern solidarity and the spirit of arewaism. Thus, the Northern grip on political power began to fade away like the brightness of the light from the sunset.
In addition, religious extremism based on half-baked understanding of the meaning of religion and its value for human life and society divided the North further along religious sentiments. In most cases, we have allowed religious indiscretion and fanaticism to dictate appointment into various leadership positions and responsibility assignments.
WE often forget the fact that what matters most to God, is not our religious affiliation or identity as either Christians or Muslims, but the extent to which we reverence him as one and only God, as well as the love we have for him and our fellow human beings, regardless of which religious tradition we belong to in this world. We are all his creatures and he demands that we fear him, worship him and live as brothers and sisters, as we render selfless service in his name to one another, our Country and to the world at large.
The denial of this understanding of religion became a major contribution to the situation where the one time united North became a divided North of all kinds of self-asserting ethnic kingdoms, with resultant broken pillars of Northern Unity and the weakening of the strength of whatever remains of the political power ideology of the North. It is one thing to have an ideology and it is another thing to sustain the ideology. In this case, it is the North that has failed in her control of political power in Nigeria and we must not blame others but ourselves.
In another dimension, the sustainability of political power for a given region within a country is equally subject to the direction of the wind of democracy. It blows in favour of the majority and the political will of the custodians of political power in a given democratic climate.
Therefore, what the North needs today is not a threat to do anything unduly, if political power is not returned to the North, but to recreate more conducive religio-economic and socio-political environment for a new alliance with the Nigerian masses, drawn from all parts of the country. This is fundamental because modern democracy is a game of numbers and not an inheritance of any individual or group.
Challenge of sustainability
It is interesting to note that the East faced the challenge of sustainability in the Nigerian Equation by sheer hard work, undying survival spirit at all costs, undiluted passion to excel by all means and effective mixture of the pepper of republican spirit and the salt of mentorism. It is a philosophy of you are on your own and yet an attitude of you are not your own in the business of money-making or wealth generation.
The successful businessman or woman has the responsibility of mentoring others. The older generation in the business of creating wealth saw the inevitable need to pass on the knowledge and the technique to the younger generation. They were so successful that others in the Nigerian Equation admired them and nicknamed them as the lovers of money. Whatever may be the undeserved title or well-deserved categorization, the East has reasonably maintained their own share of the Nigerian Equation.