“The future will have no pity for those men who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference, and sometimes of cold complicity.”—Frantz Fanon.
The transmogrification of Nigeria into a captive state, a century-long process embarked upon prior to the fusion of the northern and southern protectorates appears to have reached its plastic point in recent years. In physics, the plastic point is one wherein an elastic wire would cease to return to its original length upon stretching. With the spate of unabated killings and stomach politicking, nationals await the miracle their leaders would deplore to remove Nigeria from the parlous position it currently occupies.
From Nigeria down to Zimbabwe, India through Pakistan, the notoriety of the British never to forget to leave a problem in every country she colonized for them to chew until eternity continues to remain a formidable platform upon which the cracks in those nations manifest. Sadly for Africa, the actors who fought under the siege of Black Nationalism reclaimed their lands only to replace white supremacy with tribal bigotry, a volte-face amongst these scorched-earth creatures whose touted intelligence, sophistication and power of reasoning cease to function once the double-faced weaponry of religion and ethnicity is bandied right to their very faces!
Their diverse nature, rich histories and alluring cultures—powerful combos whose nuances ought to be recognised, respected and brought together to forge an indomitable front have but become the major fulcrum upon which all manner of division and hate is spewed, an unfortunate reality which signals to the correctness of the words of the black existentialist philosopher and pragmatic revolutionary, Frantz Fanon that “national consciousness is nothing but a crude, empty fragile shell. The cracks in it explain how easy it is for young independent countries to switch back from nation to ethnic group and from state to tribe—a regression which is so terribly detrimental and prejudicial to the development of the nation and national unity.”
It is this rapid switch to our parochial instincts that has reduced the country to a big-for-nothing giant, a condition exacerbated by our embrace of a “lootocratic” form of government as against a flourishing one, with very little to show for the massive wealth buried beneath the soil, rarities on top of it and most damning, the brilliant ideas within the skull of the people. With a switch so inimical to national progress and the spirit of Pan Africanism, character, merit and justice have got to make way for federal character and all what's not, creating an atmosphere wherein persons whose belief system bars them from loving life deny others their fair share of it.
While the masses keep bickering amongst themselves over the terror of the herdsmen, fellow nationals from northern Nigeria whose detest for criminality is an open book have since been in a fix over the questioning of their loyalty as they grapple with an emotional nation which has succeeded, to the dismay of logic and reason, at reducing the glaring failure of leadership and an over-centralization of security apparatuses to an act of ethnic expansionism! With this mindset, the masses deny themselves core sympathizers on the other side of the divide at best, and at worst, play into the hands of an overt bigot, whose trifling use of “my fellow citizens” is at variance with his sectional outlook and a lack of appreciation of the richness in people beyond his parochial subconscious, with neither age nor ascension to the highest office to preside over the affairs of a multifarious nation having any effect on his person.
With Nigeria, one cannot be too surprised on the sound of a barrel or the sight of a club. But recent events, which culminated in the making of the middle belt into a vast morgue and the rest of the country, a hellish abode have further thrust the nation on the brink of collapse. These further reinforce my position that should Nigerians not wake up from their collective slumber by first recognizing that the only enemy they have got are the characters that make up the rank and file of the leadership cadre, redefine their country and situate their place in it, our slip into anomie would only intensify.
A place to begin is the kind of country we all desire to live in. It is the propounding of such a vision that has made the American, America; the French, France; and the Russian, Russia; with these nations having sons and daughters who embody in totality, the aspirations and yearnings of their respective lands—not hesitating whatsoever to live or die for their countries in the furtherance of such noble ideals.
One clarity in the Nigerian state is the rarity of statemen—men and women whose duties lie, strictly, in the promotion and propagation of the common good. From the north down south, through the trenches of delta, the nation longs for a father. It is this absence of a national patriarch that has made way for all manner of charlatans and opportunists to abrogate such tasking responsibility to themselves, audacious among them being ex-president Obasanjo, the impish general whose continued relevance in the public space is tied to the chronic affliction of collective forgetfulness amongst the people on one side, and the very position the country occupies as a failed state on the other.
With the call for restructuring exceeding the desirable decibels since the days of the inept and corrupt administration of Goodluck Jonathan and raging with fire and brimstone since the pretentious and complicit presidency of Muhammadu Buhari, the debate on the sustainability of the Lugardian project has never been this visible on the spot. The nation more than ever needs brave men who are certain of their convictions to put forward viable alternatives and defend their arguments with uncommon bravado.
Restructuring or otherwise, it would not require much from men with convictions to recognise that irrespective of the structure or system of government we adopt as a people, our entanglement with the hefty baggage of official corruption and treachery would remain until the masses realise their place within the space they call theirs, fashion their country in line with the vision so conceived and put structures in place for the sustenance and continuation of such.
The shirking away from this noble venture of statehood stands as the greatest stumbling block against our longing to make a nation from Nigeria, with everyone caught up in the web of hate and individualism while the unfortunate, albeit succinct words of the respected premier of the defunct western region, Chief Awolowo of Nigeria not being a country but a mere geographical expression continue to remain as the most fitting descriptor of our nation several decades later.
Until the masses themselves realise, paraphrasing Kwame Ture, that there is a higher law than the law of a hypocrite named Obasanjo, a higher law than the law of a bigot named Buhari, and a much higher one than those made by the tools in the national assembly, the leadership space would continue to remain an abode for self-acclaimed democrats whose motive for venturing into politics is strictly to steal, kill and destroy.
With 19% (16 million) of the total workforce unemployed and 21% (18 million) underemployed according to the Q3 2017 Employment By Sector Report of the National Bureau of Statistics; 1 in 5 children dying before the age of five according to the World Health Organisation and an unacceptable fatality rate amongst child bearers, Nigerians must stop being accomplices to the subjugation of their existence by their fellow citizens.
Going by the level of rot and the very fact that the nation keeps going adrift, hope appears to have eluded this generation. Will the people throw their hats in the ring to salvage the next?
Modiu Olaguro can be reached on [email protected]