By Ikechukwu Odu
NSUKKA- Professor of Linguistics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Christopher Agbedo, has described Nigeria as a market place meant to be exploited and never to be developed.
Professor Agbedo, who is also the Head of Department, Linguistics, Igbo, and other Nigerian Languages, spoke to newsmen in his office, noting that Nigeria is the only country in the world without any known national development plan.
He said that Nigerian leaders who took after the colonial masters, even till the present political dispensation, have never made any conscious effort to deviate from the template carefully carved out for them by the departing colonial masters, which, according to him, has been exploitative of Nigerians and Nigeria.
According to him, “Nigeria was originally fashioned by the colonial masters not with the intention of forging a united sovereign country. They were only interested in bringing together people of disparate nationalities not with the sole aim of developing us but to do business.
“Unfortunately, our indigenous leaders, who inherited the woeful status quo, did not bother to change the system because they were also part of the conspiracy. Have you ever wondered why politicians who aspire to occupy the highest political office in the land must run to Chatham House, London or other Bretton Woods institution to sell their candidature and perhaps get a nod of the neo-colonial masters? Of course, they needed to be sure that their vast economic interests in the country would be protected before they lend their support. Their allies in this country keyed into the exploitative tendencies of the colonial masters because they are beneficiaries, and that is why I said that Nigeria will never develop, it is only a market place. This explains why Nigeria appears permanently set in the default mode of under-developing!
“At independence in 1960, those countries we now refer to as Asian Tigers (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the rest of them) were at par with Nigeria, economically speaking. Today, Nigeria cannot be compared with them by any stretch of imagination.
“Part of the manifestations of what I am talking about is the Oil Prospecting Licence, OPL. One can reel out countless names of retired military men, who own oil wells in Nigeria today. and you may want to know the connection between an army general and oil exploration?
” This is the only country with no known national goals. What are the national ideals of Nigeria, which any leader that emerges is expected to key into? National ideals are conceived in terms of centuries and millennia because a country is meant to last for as many millennia as possible. Can you go into the history books and say these are our national goals which leaders are supposed to key into in line with the national development plan? There is no such a thing. That is why from 1960 till present, there is no continuity in policies and programmes.
“What we continue to experience is a harvest of policy somersaults. A government will come into power and initiate programmes that will sustain it throughout the number of years that it is going to stay in office. From 1999 to 2015, People’s Democratic Party, PDP, was in power. For 16 years, we had one political party in power but they could not maintain consistency in policies and programmes. President Obasanjo came up with National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS); Musa Yar’Adua introduced 7-point Agenda. Even Goodluck Jonathan, who succeeded YarAdua as his Deputy could not continue with the programme of his principal. Instead, he chose to push it aside and started his own Transformation Agenda.
“If a political party cannot ensure consistency in its policies and programmes and consolidate whatever gains made, how do you expect an Opposition Party to do that? All Progressives Congress, APC, started with Change. For four years, we got stuck in the ‘Change’, and after four years, it changed to Next Level. Next Level of what? Is that how a country is going to develop,” he asked?
He said Nigeria can still disappoint her colonial masters by taking practical steps towards forging a united country. One practical step in this direction, according to the university don, can be taken from the domain of language. For him, harnessing the immense linguistic resources of our local languages for the formulation of a functional indigenous National Language Policy remains an inescapable option for any government of the day.
In his opinion, the ultimate ambition of such Policy would be attained when Nigeria is in a position to dispense with the avoidable encumbrances of her colonial language policy and fully maximise the potentials of her immense linguistic resources for national development as a truly independent sovereign state.