By Donu Kogbara
Last week, on the eve of our 56th Independence Day “celebrations” (what is there to celebrate?!), I compared Nigeria’s lack of progress with the daily progress that takes place in other parts of the world – Europe, America and Japan, for example.
I described this contrast as depressing, blamed us for most of our nation’s failures and challenged Nigerians to emulate the White man’s commitment to self-improvement by sitting up and becoming architects of a brighter future.
Several Vanguard readers responded to my comments; and I’ve decided to share the two most thought-provoking emails I received with a wider audience.
From: Mudiaga Okorodudu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I totally agree with your views. No doubt, the White man has helped the human race in so many ways, be it in science, medicine, infrastructural development, governance, etc. It was the late Chief Sam Mbakwe of blessed memory who once said several years ago that the White man should re-colonise Nigeria and rule the country thereafter for at least 50 years.
Religious and ethnic lines
I think the late Chief was right. As a nation we have indeed under-achieved in every aspect since we got our independence 56 years ago. My thinking is that if the White man had been allowed to rule us at least till the 1990s, Nigeria could have been a much better place, even in terms of values.
Nigeria at 56 is yet to be united as a country and is still divided along religious and ethnic lines and still grappling with infrastructural development and poverty.
Being in government has become the most lucrative business. We still find it difficult to conduct free and fair elections because getting into government is still a do or die affair. And most Nigerians have yet to regard governance as a catalyst of progress and development in a just and egalitarian society.
My take is that the current economic recession is a blessing and that the experience, if properly managed, shall be immensely beneficial in the long run.
From: Victor <email@example.com>
Dear Donu, as usual, your piece in today’s Vanguard newspaper is food for thought. As you rightly noted, we are ALL collectively guilty in terms of our failure to keep apace with other civilisations. And the reasons for this failure are numerous.
First and foremost is our lack of love for one another. For instance, Vanguard recently reported that Nigeria has lost over 16 trillion naira because of the non – passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, by the National Assembly, NASS.
For God’s sake, who are the members of NASS? Are they extra-terrestrial, are they from China, Australia, Iceland or Greenland? No! They are our brothers and sisters. But those who are not from the Niger Delta won’t pass the PIB because they have a grouse based on the advantages it gives oil-producing communities.
This is outright wickedness and does not depict love at all, especially when you consider that oil-producing communities have been bearing the financial burden of this country for more than half a century and have very little to show for it!
This lack of love is exemplified by tensions between the North and the South; and I wonder why all of the key defence and security agencies should be headed by Northerners or why the upper cadre of the judiciary is dominated by Northerners.
These things just don’t measure up and prove that equality is scarce within the Nigeria Project. You do not need soothsayers to tell you why things don’t just work in Nigeria. Serious nations pass us by because people, including some Southerners, are appointed into positions NOT on the basis of intelligence, knowledge or skill.
We are progressing backwards every day and heading to a doomed destination because our leaders do not care as long as their egos are massaged.
Another reason why Nigeria is where it is, is IMPUNITY. Because leaders don’t comply with standards, rules and regulations, Nigeria is now jaga-jaga, where everything and everyone dey scatter-scatter. Nigeria has become a market place where you grant amnesty to murderers, criminals, kidnappers, etc.
There is no rule of law in Nigeria today, only that of the jungle! Nigeria is the only country where a criminal will dare the government and refuse to be arrested.
I have just read in Vanguard that “the FG is to build ranches, grazing reserves for Fulani herdsmen”. And I regard this move as obnoxious and parochial!
We have over 100 tribes in Nigeria and each has its own peculiar needs and challenges. If the FG panders to the herdsmen at enormous cost, then other ethnic nationalities deserve to have full-blown federalism at whatever cost.
As things stand, Donu, you cannot expect any miracle of performance from the Nigeria Team.
Bitterness and confusion
But there is a way of getting out of the woods and dousing the bitterness and confusion in the land: We need to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, like the one that was chaired by Desmond Tutu in South Africa.
We need to listen to each other and to the voice of the people, and palliate their anger in an honest and transparent atmosphere. And, at the end of this process, there will be forgiveness; and a new and authentic road map for true federalism and national integration will have been charted; and Nigeria will become a country where no man shall be oppressed even when tribes, religion and tongue may differ.