How could Karl Maier in his book 'This House Has Fallen,' describe Nigeria as; "a criminally run corporation where the leaders are armed and hidden in the vault."?


As patriotic Nigerians and believers in Nigeria's renaissance (though that has almost faded), that statement by the American journalist should be enough for Nigerians to issue a Fatwa on his head.


But Karl Maier knew what he was talking about. About twenty years after he released his block buster book at the dawn of our now unbroken 'democracy,' virtually all the dark predictions made about our country have come to pass. 

It is not that the author set out to rub Nigeria in the mud. On the contrary, his motivation was to look for, and find the redeeming qualities of our country. Indeed, he was awed by the vast riches of unquantifiable measures, located in every corner of Nigeria. From the north to the south are massive natural resources of all kinds in great commercial quantities. 

With vast arable farmlands, and powered by a great population made up majorly of youths, Karl Maier knew that Nigeria had very serious potential to be unstoppable in the entire global human family. After all, countries with practically NOTHING had become SOMETHING and the envy of many. 

But he was alarmed to see the dark sides of our political elites and prominent persons who were supposed to drive our country to progress and greatness. 

It was thus a shock to realise the full extent of their depravity. They are neither patriotic nor nationalistic. Some of them manifested traces of parochialism of the worst kind. Others were downright unintelligent and lacked any form of conscience that could inform them that they had gone too far in the destruction of their country. Their stock in trade was to use identity politics to keep us permanently at each other's throats to prevent us from asking the kind of questions that could eventually lead to our liberation. Sometimes they quarell among themselves when the sharing formula is perceived to be unjust. But in spite of the occasional disagreements among themselves, there was a very strong bond of unity;


Over the years, Nigeria has become one vast criminal business empire with presidents and governors as board members while the ministers and commissioners and parliamentarians are the CEOs, COOs, and Senior and Middle Management Personnel reminiscent of the notorious Italian 'Mafia' enterprise of yore. 

Occasionally, a few good people within the political firmament with some consciences intact, come along. But their feeble efforts to appeal to reason are soon drowned by the cacophony of impure noises coming from members of the illicit national business empire.


Every good business man, whether the mafiosi type or the conventional one, knows that the principle of eating the goose that lays the golden egg is an anathema and deleterious to the overall health of the business. The original Italian mafiosi knew this and understood the importance of fattening the goose so that controlled exploitation and theft could continue. 

This is why the businessmen running the business corporation called Nigeria are so pre-historic and Neanderthal in their ways and practices. Their greed does not allow them realise that they are burning the very house that they live in. Even when they do realise that there is danger, they delude themselves into thinking that there is one final item of value to be picked from the ruins and debris. 

Just as It is always a very traumatic and troubling experience to behold a man or woman on the throes of death - the pain, the fear, the regret, and the uncertainty of what comes next, Nigeria and Nigerians are sadly going through the same processes. M.D. Geismar described it as "a hard and painful struggle - the throes of revolutionary social change"

But some are saying that rather than a death throe, the country is rather going through a birth pang and that what we are witnessing, the orgy of violence and killings are symbolic of the pains associated with the birth of a child, or in political terms, the birth of a new nation. 

Either way we look at it, the danger with both positions is that the success of each is dependent on the specific socio-political contexts,. the drivers, the motivations, and philosophies of the processes. The scenarios that stare us in the face in Nigeria are not so inspiring. There is no national movement towards nationhood and no encompassing ideology except the ideology of the ruling class which is absolutely selfish and self serving.   

Eventually, something will give. It always does. The what, how, and when, is the great mystery. Will it be reminiscent of the Soviet revolution in which millions died in the snows of Siberia, consuming both the innocent and guilty, or the French Revolution in 1789 in which the oppressive regime was overthrown and the king and queen beheaded, or the Somalian experience that completely destroyed that country's political system, or the Rwandan social eruption in which over a million people were killed in a space of three months. There is also the Cuban Revolution that led to the success of Fidel Castro's forces. And then, very close to us here in Ghana was the 'Ghana Revolution' inspired by young Ghanian officers and led by the great Jerry Rawlings. 

Perhaps, if there is still any small hope to hold on to in Nigeria, it is the fact that our story as a nation has not yet ended. Perhaps, following from this, the statement; 

"While there is life there is hope," might still hold true. 

But hope, built on nothing is stupid. And to build it on the back of our thoroughly discredited and unworthy politicians is the height of insane optimism. 

Death throes or birth pangs? 

Who knows?

It seems like the Devil's alternative.

Which will it be?

You may also like

Read Next