By Douglas Anele
That the creation of Nigeria by imperialist Britain is founded on a grossly flawed moral foundation and that perpetuation of the colonial amalgam entails prolongation of one of the grossest historical instances of British political gerrymandering in Africa is beyond dispute.
One does not need to be an erudite historian like Kenneth Onwuka Dike, J.F.K. Ade-Ajayi or Tekena Tamuno to arrive at that conclusion after reading historical source materials containing details of how British colonial officials assisted by efulefus and ndi iberibe in the local populations treacherously brought together multiply plural ethnic nationalities to form the unwieldy amalgam initially called Niger area.
On that basis, it is largely correct to claim that the intractable problem of transforming Nigeria into a united, strong and prosperous country is traceable to the faulty foundation on which she was constructed. Again, just as the rustic Islamic education introduced into what later became northern Nigeria by the arch jihadist, Usman Dan Fodio, and the one brought into the south by European missionaries were intended to keep the indigenous peoples mentally enslaved, Britain created Nigeria to serve the interests of the British Crown.
The ugly situation has remained relatively unchanged after she attained what is essentially a flag independence more than sixty years ago. To bring this point into prominent relief, remember that the United States of America was a British colony until July 4, 1776 when the thirteen American colonies defeated Britain and regarded themselves as sovereign states no longer under colonial rule.
Presently, Britain is behind the US in terms of power, influence and prestige at the international stage whereas Nigeria, still battling with the teething problems of nation-building, is tied to the exploitative neo-colonialist apron-strings of her former colonial master to the extent that the Nigerian ruling class dominated by Fulani caliphate colonialists and their lackeys from the south continuously take dictations from number 10 Downing street, London.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the current federal government of the All Progressives Congress (APC), like a child with severe congenital abnormalities, relies a lot on the British establishment for protection and support, which partly explains why Nigeria has regressed considerably since 2015 when the ageing retired soldier, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, replaced Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President.
It must be mentioned in passing that under Buhari the APC has almost mutated completely into what the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) represented in the First Republic, that is, the undisputed champion of northern interests above all else.
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Unrelenting leadership blizzard in Nigeria was the focus of the little but forthright book, The Trouble with Nigeria, written by the late distinguished African novelist, Prof. Chinua Achebe. In that book, Achebe placed the problem of arrested development in the country squarely on the doorstep of successive incompetent political leadership whose principal actors were motivated primarily by the craving for self-aggrandisement and primitive accumulation.
Prof. Achebe reiterated the same theme very briefly in There was a Country, but it appears that key players in Nigerian politics either have not read Achebe’s works or merely read through them for reading sake without seriously engaging and internalising the serious points he raised therein considering that the quality of leadership has grown progressively worse since Achebe’s books were published.
I suspect that amongst those occupying top political positions at the moment President Buhari is not the only one that does not read, as the loquacious Rotimi Amaechi unwittingly revealed in a video footage that went viral last year or so. On the contrary one can safely bet that from the President through the top leadership of the three arms of government down to the local government level none of them have read from cover to cover any great book on political philosophy and leadership written by transformational leaders such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Julius Nyerere and Lee Kuan Yew.
In other words, at the highest levels of governance Nigeria is ruled by men (and few women) whose minds are bereft of deep knowledge and wisdom derivable from great literature, of relevant pragmatic ideas, policies and efficient implementation strategies that can transform the country from the poverty capital of the world into Africa’s version of Japan or the United States.
It is evident to any discerning mind not beclouded by the deadweight of ethnicity, religion and other intellectual toxins that members of the ruling elite at all levels of governance are shameless. Now, the word ‘shame’ describes the uncomfortable feeling one experiences when he (or she) knows that he has done something wrong or embarrassing, or when he knows that someone close to him has.
When someone does not feel ashamed of a wrong or immoral act either committed by himself or someone close to him, the person is rightly described as ‘shameless’ which, in the relevant context, is the opposite of ‘shame.’
It is clear from the foregoing that the feeling of shame is connected to the capacity for self-censure derived from the innate human capacity for morality activated and given practical significance in the course of socialisation within the family, educational and religious institutions etc. This means that the feeling of shame, when genuine, is an inward acknowledgement that one has fallen short of expected standard of behaviour which is a prerequisite for sincere remorse.
On the other hand, anyone that is incapable of feeling ashamed or habitually pretends to be is a moral degenerate who cannot be relied upon to act in accordance with the fundamental principles of right and wrong. This becomes a matter of great concern if the person in question occupies leadership position in any sphere of human endeavour, especially politics.
Keep in mind that shameless politicians are enabled, aided and abetted by journalists who, probably because of bribes or are unduly afraid of the repercussions for reporting or publishing unpalatable truths about those in power, use their vantage positions to suppress such information.
In the months and weeks to the presidential elections in 2015, there was a hurricane of allegations against the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was at the forefront of the anyone-but-Jonathan crusade or jihad (depending on whether you are a christian or muslim), which included prominent Nigerians like Prof. Wole Soyinka, Bola Tinubu, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and a motley crowd of senior academics, the clergy, top players in different professions, celebrities, self-styled activists, and a cross section of Nigerians particularly in the north and south-west.
On top of all this, the American government under President Barak Obama actively supported Buhari to the extent that Obama himself publicly endorsed APC’s propaganda of change, refused to sell arms to the Nigerian army to fight Boko Haram, and David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager, served as a consultant to Buhari’s campaign organisation.
Even, prominent members of Jonathan’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), decamped to Buhari’s APC all in a bid to return power to the north. And the shenanigans worked, although there were credible reports of massive underage voting and failure to use smart cards readers in most polling units in northern Nigeria. Let us be forthright about this: Muhammadu Buhari emerged President through an election that was marred by serious verifiable allegations of voter fraud and irregularities which became amplified in 2019 when he was re-elected for another four years in office.
To be continued…