A POPULAR Nigerian proverb says that if you think that you have someone eating your hands, it will be a good idea to count your fingers.
Nigerians were a peace loving people even from before independence in 1960.Human life and blood was very valuable to the average Nigerian. High premium was placed on the life of the average Nigerian by the then government of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. The first stanza of our national anthem then, hailed Nigeria, our native mother land, emphasizing that we shall remain one nation though our tribes and tongues may differ. The difficulties to keep Nigeria as one nation with her multi-ethnic variations without short changing any ethnic group/s have remained her biggest challenge in this 21st century.
This is because change naturally soon came into our national politics from the Western Nigeria with the introduction of ethnic politics soon after independence.
The color and language of ethnic politics have since then, continued to change either for the worse, or for good depending on which side you are looking at ethnicity in Nigeria from. I think it changed us for the worse, because ethnicity forced us into a three years civil war which completely derailed this nation.
The 1914 Amalgamation treaty of the Northern and Southern Nigeria was the thing that kept us together as one nation though our tribes and tongues differed. It was the basis for the civil war to keep Nigeria one.
Natural change brought that treaty to expiration in December 2013,and a thoughtfully good course of action by the National Conference of 2014, is being resisted by change from the north of Nigeria. In order words, without the National conference report, we really have no basis to continue to exist as One nation, except by the power of sentiments, and persuasion or by use of raw power of force. The use of force is the game plan of soldiers, whether retired or serving in the Nigeria power game.
They started it with the 1966 first military Coup, the Counter Coup, the Biafra Civil war which ended in 1970.
Soldiers introduced open killings as a means to acquire and retain power in this country, for that has remained their own idea of change, and till date, fear, intimidation, killings have continued to verge round every of their plans to rule and control Nigeria. Change to most of them is simply, change in the persons controlling and making the orders of power in the country, and may not necessarily be about the common good of the common or ordinary Nigerian like me.
This is why from 1970 till date, they have continued to rule and control power in Nigeria either as officers in uniforms, or retired officers in flowing gowns.
The oil boom of the late 1970s brought a change that left them most confused and distracted, such that a Nigerian Military leader in those days, once told his listeners that Nigeria did not know what to do with money.Nigeria as a result lost the character and virtue of patience in business, family, and even how we drive on the roads, and now, we have become a nation of get rich quick, and share-the- money politicians. We changed and lost restraint in enjoyment, and we were even reputed as the happiest people in the world, by early 1980s.
Then Change struck with the Structural Adjustment programme, hardship came, all the efforts to drag Nigerian economy aright refused to yield desired results, that a Military Head of State, in the 1990s told his listeners that he does not know why Nigerian economy had not collapsed.
As Nigeria changed military leadership, from one northern army officer to another, the gap between the rich and the poor widened, the neglect of the oil producing states and their environment increased somewhat proportionately to the quantum of oil extracted from the bowel of their lands. Poverty reigned among the common people from the north to the south of Nigeria, but surprisingly more in the north, where it created a fertile or favourable breeding ground for negative religion and the birth of terrorism, with violent militancy in the South South region of Nigeria.
And while the common man desired real change in their living conditions, and provision of essential amenities, their political leaders sought real change only in the occupants and who controlled power.
Change is a language the Nigerian military leaders know how to use very well, with little or no positive impact or improvement on the living conditions of the ordinary citizenry, yet they find supporters.
Nigeria has changed from the happiest nation of the world to a nation of terrorist and suicide bumbers;
We have changed from a nation that did not know what to do with money, to a nation in dangerous recession that could lead to depression;
We have changed from a nation strong and united in diversities of tribes and tongues, to a nation plagued with agitations for separation and independent smaller nations; We have changed from a strong secular nation to a nation deeply divided along religious lines, with strong fear of islamisation;
We have changed from a nation that had a biding force and basis under a legal treaty, to a nation bound by mere sentiments and wishes;
We have changed from a nation that used restructuring to “keep Nigerian One” by dealing with Igbo unity, to a nation where the north is afraid of restructuring;
And now it appears that we have just changed from a nation with free and independent Judiciary to a nation with emasculated, intimidated, and badly harassed Judiciary.
The sum of all these is that we are changing from a destination nation of foreign investors, to a nation that scares investors away. Who will bring his investments into a nation where Judges are treated with regrettably utmost disrespect, dishonour, and disgrace as the DSS did just a few days ago?
Mr. By Clement Udegbe, a lawyer wrote from email@example.com, Lagos.