October 12, 2020

Nigeria @ 60 and our wasted opportunities

For DSO, a new life in a season of expectations

By Martins P. Iwuanyanwu

I have tried to reminisce over Nigeria’s nationhood journey, particularly at this its adult age of 60 years, and to find reasons to celebrate the so-called Nigeria political independence. But I still cannot find any cogent reason to do so, especially when we consider the many wasted opportunities we have had as a country.

I also deliberately avoid calling Nigeria a nation because we are far from being a nation and may never be. Some people may want to continue in the illusion and self-deception that Nigeria is working whereas the reverse is the case.

Nigeria is not working and may never work as presently structured. Nations do not work by happenstance. People make it to work. Leaders labour to build an enviable future for the upcoming generations of their nations.

But here our leaders work tirelessly to destroy today and to make sure there is no tomorrow for the younger generation. A man who steals more than what he needs, is not just a thief or a criminal but a lunatic. There are many lunatics in Nigeria in the name of politicians.

Many of our present day leaders in Nigeria should actually be certified and confined in a lunatic asylum. You cannot see a people that behave in a continuous abnormal way and expect magic or miracle to happen always. It was a psychologist who once said that if you do one thing over and over and expect a different result, then you must be checked for insanity.

Recently Vice President Yemi Osibanjo recently warned that Nigeria is likely to break up. I began to laugh and wonder if Nigeria is still in the processes of breaking up or has since 2015 parked up completely. I have also wondered on whose interest it is for Nigeria’s continued corporate existence as presently structured.

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Nigeria, from every definition, is not one nation. Nigeria was only forced into a union. Any forced union may try and manage to see if things can work, but it is just for a while. That union is bound to fail and crash. Nigeria is made up of two opposing protectorates: the Northern Protectorate and the Southern Protectorate with nothing in common.

Unfortunately, the British Colonial Administrator in Nigeria then in the person of Lord Lugard and his home government decided to amalgamate both protectorates for whatever political or economic reasons best known to them without considering the fact that we have nothing in common. And they called this ‘mere geographical expression’ a country or nation.

No common language, no common culture, interest or aspirations. The amalgamation was like bringing together a full-grown man and a full-grown woman and to insist that they must marry themselves and live together as husband and wife. In that situation, what you will always have is incompatibility and irreconcilable differences.

Union of any kind must be based on mutual respect and love for one another absence of which will lead to altercations and wars. We have had the first civil war which costs Nigeria unquantifiable losses in human and material terms with no lessons learnt.

I believe the British wanted a situation of constant altercation and aggression and in fact confusion in Nigeria so that they will continue to benefit economically. The British did not envisage a united and prosperous Nigeria to happen in Nigeria. Evidently, united and prosperous Nigeria was not going to be possible in the circumstance we found ourselves.

While the Southern protectorate has continued to make enormous sacrifices, hoping that things will change for the better and Nigeria will attain unity and possibly become prosperous, the other side of the divide, the North, has done everything that negates peaceful co-existence, unity and progress.

Nigeria is a country of unequal classes of human beings. The North in its permutation claims to be superior to the South and insist that the South is inferior to it. Nigeria is a country where Peter is robbed to pay Paul.

Nigeria is a country where the intelligent child will never get admission into so-called unity schools or universities because of his or her state of origin, while the unintelligent is offered admission on a platter of gold without any hard work.

Yes, I mean Nigeria is a country where remuneration due to a hard working person is paid to none hard working person simply because of where he comes from. The word merit is totally foreign. Nigeria is a country of contradictions. Nigeria is a country where fraudsters can buy with money positions of power and enjoy immunity.

Nigeria is a country that rewards mediocrity handsomely and trample upon competence and excellence. Nigeria is a country where illiterate criminals with connections can get anything and those decent law abiding and educated citizens serves as servants.

Nigeria is a country where pensioners who have spent their entire life serving their country die while on a queue waiting to be paid their pensions.

There was an attempt to galvanize the different peoples of Nigeria from the year 1999 to 2015 and to give everyone a sense of belonging through rotational arrangements of public office sharing like the presidency and governorship.

It was the same wisdom the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari demonstrated between 1979 and 1983 before Gen. Mohammed Buhari aborted that democratically elected administration through a military coup. But for that military intervention, Nigeria, perhaps, could have moved on since then.

The struggle to return Nigeria to democracy took many lives, including the winner of June 12 presidential election Chief M.K.O Abiola. Buhari, it must be noted, did not participate in the struggle for emancipation from military bondage even though he is today a beneficiary of that struggle.

There is no doubting of the fact that Nigeria’s unity has remained cosmetic and fragile and something urgent needs to happen to change the narrative. The South-East cry for marginalization and exclusionism in the scheme of things in Nigeria and the South-South suffocation under the environmental degradation and gas flaring occasioned by the oil and gas exploration in the region.

Nigeria has wasted so much time and enormous resources doing the wrong thing all the time. Look at the budgets and expenditures of this present government and you would be tempted to ask if those involved in all the processes live in a different planet.

Just of recent the Federal Government took a loan of $1.9 billion from China to construct a railway from some states in Northern Nigeria down to Niger Republic. What a wasteful project.

What does Nigeria stand to gain from that rail link to Niger Republic? The money budgeted for it is enough to create more than one million jobs for our youths. And someone wants us to celebrate Nigeria at 60.

Dr. Iwuanyanwu, is Founder, Leadership Watch.