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Nigeria: 58 Years of What? (3)

By Awa Kalu, SAN
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 from 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.

A girl sells Nigerian flags during celebrations marking the country’s 58th anniversary of independence, on October 1, 2018, in Abuja. / AFP PHOTO /

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 long drawn-out with the attendant consequence 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. Perhaps, it is not yet time to determine the unwholesome consequences of insurgency in the North East.

By December, as promised, Boko Haram would have been

routed. With the history of Nigeria as a plank on which to analyze her problems, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, a foremost nationalist and public affairs analyst lambasts this country in his book Nigeria: The Poitical 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 contends that ‘in examining the Nigerian condition’, he is ‘reminded of that parabolic signification of communal ethos in a society caught in the web of organized 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-honored 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 strive towards chaos and the fatalistic journey into the molting abyss and morass of the unknown?’

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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. Our military establishment, happily, has promised that calm will soon return to all parts of our nation.

I have listened to radio and television discussions aimed at appraising Nigeria at 58.

It appears that there is a consensus that so soon after its Golden Jubilee

anniversary, our country is afflicted with pre-pubescent and adolescent problems. Some analysts even remind us that the Jubilee 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 match 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 laboured under military leadership and fought a bitter civil war which deepened the schisms in the polity.

In 1979, the military retreated to the Barracks in the belief that politicians had learnt their lessons. On the last day of 1983, there was yet another coup d’etat, followed by another in 1985 and 1993. Historians are familiar with the flip-flop in the formulation of policies that followed including the failure of a well-designed transition to civil-rule programme. Recognizing 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 as an invitation of some sort. We labored under the burden of pre – 2019 shenanigans as indicated in the imbroglio in several states political party primaries. We are still quivering from the revelations from the recently concluded Gubernatorial elections in Osun State and some have argued that this may be a tell tale sign of what to expect in the forth coming general elections in 2019. But we are resilient and we will make it even if slowly and painfully. The fact that we have had nineteen 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. Apart from the umbrella that protects us from rain and even sunshine, we now have a clean sweeping broom that is preparing us for the change as promised by the government at the center. Remember in the course of your continuing celebration that, “change starts with you”.

This is because, if all of us mend our ways, irrespective of out political party affiliations, religious inclination, social values and what have you, change must come. I remember that date, 1st October 1960.

As a primary school pupil decorated in a new school uniform and brand new converse shoes, I took part in a march past on the day that the Union Jack was lowered and the Green-White-Green flag 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 our heroes past shall never be in vain. It is our hope that those who wield our broom will sweep away our ills; usher in a period of boom and wipe away our tears. Similarly, those who hold an umbrella will not be beaten by rain and those whose cocks are crowing will provide enough food for those they govern. Finally, political godfathers all over the land will find an accommodation with their godsons and goddaughters and together, we shall all march cheerfully into 2019.



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