The Need For Action: Something Is Wrong With Nigeria

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Speaking in Enugu at the funeral service of late Nneoma Chime, mother of Governor Chime of Enugu state, President Jonathan was said to have stated that it was high time a change was made to correct the ills of successive past regimes.

According to the Nigerian Tribune of May 19, 2012, President Jonathan was quoted as having said :



  “Something must have gone wrong along the line from 1914 when the Southern and Northern Protectorates were amalgamated till date. When you look at the 1914 amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates, and between the period Nigeria got independence in 1960 and the time I was sworn in as President, you will agree with me that I am not the problem of Nigeria….What we must do is to make a change for the development of Nigeria. We cannot check out like that of the television man ….”

One must thank Mr. President for acknowledging that Nigeria has been sick and wobbly since its amalgamation/creation in 1914. Something was definitely wrong and ill-conceived with that process that only benefited its creator and amalgamating power, Britain, which even at that time, acknowledged that the process was only for its administrative convenience! 

Britain supposedly left in 1960. Why have ‘Nigerians’ not taken the necessary step and action to REPAIR the damage done to them by Britain ?

Why the hypocrisy that all is well, when we all know that everything is wrong and deadly ? Since the so-called political independence in 1960, Nigeria has lost over 6.5 million of its peoples to internal strife, including a genocidal civil war, a recurring cycle of religious and ethnic massacres, more than 30 years of ethnically-induced military dictatorship which has impoverished the regions that lay the golden eggs for the country, massive corruption at the highest levels, lowest levels of economic development and growth inspite of being richly endowed with huge natural resources, insecurity of lives and property, and now Boko Haram. The ills of Nigeria go on and on !!

Every leader of Nigeria before the military incursion in 1966 agreed that Nigeria was a big fraud. Its founding fathers were agreed on that fact. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the then leader of the Yoruba nation and first Premier of Western Nigeria called Nigeria, ” a mere geographical expression “. Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto, and first Premier of Northern Nigeria, saw Nigeria “as an estate from our great grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio ” in which “we must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to have control of their future…” Characteristically, this thinking of Ahmadu Bello has been the philosophy of the Hausa-Fulani oligarchy since 1960, and the cause of all the frustrations at nation-building in Nigeria.

But these were the sincere views of the founding fathers of Nigeria. However, under intense pressure, and in their eagerness to impress their British colonial masters, these founding fathers agreed to live together in a political structure that would allow for separate development of the different regions at their respective rates. This was the essence of the federal structure adopted at independence…..for the tolerance of one another. The bubble, however, burst in January 1966.

General Ironsi’s attempt to forge a united Nigeria with his Unification Decree No.34, ended in complete disaster, and triggered the chain reactions that led to the genocide of  1966-1970. Since August, 1966, when Lt. Colonel Gowon came on board, till now, its been hypocrisy in leadership. Convinced that the basis for unity did not exist in Nigeria, Gowon, the leader of the ARABA Northern military group which overthrew Ironsi on July 29, 1966, announced to Nigerians on August 1, 1966 : “….Suffice it to say that putting all considerations to test–political, economic, as well as social–the basis for unity is not there.” This matter-of-fact statement was to be a prelude to the North declaring its independence from the rest of Nigeria in August, 1966. Britain again intervened. Gowon was reminded that power was again in the hands of another Northerner, and that there was no need to take a piece of the pie, when the entire pie was in the control of the North. Gowon told his fellow mutineers this much, and in his second broadcast convinced them to go for ONE NIGERIA. So, their putsch turned from ‘Araba’ to ‘One Nigeria’ when power returned to Ahmadu Bello’s North. This has been the story of Nigeria since 1960. It is the story of the nature of co-existence that featured among the various nationalities that make up Nigeria…the ‘born-to-rule’ and ‘the ruled’ syndrome. The born-to-rule must be in power for there to be peace in the country !General Azazi is nobody’s fool !!

President Jonathan must recognize and appreciate this terrible condition for peace in Nigeria if appropriate steps must be taken to correct the anomaly. Past Nigerian leaders and regimes have not been sincere in acknowledging this terrible truth in dealing with the Nigerian dilemma. All other problems of Nigeria have everything to do with it. Political spaces must,therefore, be created where different peoples of the entity called Nigeria can exist, and maybe, co-exist, in peace and harmony, without fear of persecution and molestation by some over-zealous groups and nationalities wanting to impose their antagonistic agendas. The problems of Nigeria, therefore, have everything to do with the basic structure of the country and the rules of co-habitation.

Why do we all pretend all is well. Nigeria needs to be re-structured,and rules of co-existence streamlined, for people to develop to their full potentials. There is so much acrimony, envy, jealousy, bigotry, and selfishness among the various nationalities, particularly along the north/south divide, that the various peoples live in fear of one another.For example, parents and guardians of young university graduates from the south now resist the posting of their children and wards to the North for national service, for fear of losing them in the hands of “fellow Nigerians”. No country makes progress under such conditions ! This is the reality President Jonathan and the entire Nigerian leadership must come to terms with, and do what is necessary.

The President must get away from the hypocrisy and pretensions of past leaders and chart a new course, so that peoples that inhabit Nigeria can develop into the pride of the black race. ‘Nigerians’ and their children in America and Europe are performing wonders, and contributing immensely to the growth and development of technologies and advancements in their new homes. Most of this people are willing to come home to contribute their expertise and knowledge. But the enabling environment must be created, the political space conducive and un-inhabiting, and their nationalistic fervor challenged ! Ojukwu provided such leadership, and Biafra, the political space some 45 years ago ! The miracles of Biafra in a peaceful and non-war environment can be re-created all over the present Nigerian space for the benefit of all the peoples. Nigerians must be given the opportunity to create and sustain their well-being and welfare in accordance with their wishes in their fatherland. This is the beauty of democracy and the freedom of choice. President Jonathan and the National Assembly should have the patriotic guts to move the nation forward! They must provide the political environment for people to flourish. This is the function of any responsible government anywhere in the world.Otherwise, the Andrews will continue to check out to greener pastures where their talents are appreciated !

Responsible Nigerians have been shouting themselves hoarse over the call for a Peoples’ National Conference where Nigerians would seat down, look one another hard in the eyes, and speak the truth on the way forward. Why is it taking forever to resonate with the Presidency and members of the National Assembly that this is the only way forward for Nigeria ? Maybe, it is true what they say that people in government at those two levels are more concerned with their present fleecing of the resources of ailing Nigeria than bringing the sick amorphous giant back to life. I wonder what patriotism means to them.

To our President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, I humbly wish to say : “Sir, at your level now…..if I were in your position, I would be more concerned with the judgment of History than with my personal assets and possessions. You have a golden opportunity to write and etch your name and administration in gold in the hearts and memories of all well-meaning Nigerians, now and for generations to come, if you right the wrongs ignored by past regimes in Nigeria. You can transform yourself into a statesman, the Mandela of Nigeria by taking the bull by the horn! Nigerians are clamoring for leadership, and a positive change in their lives. They want to talk at a Peoples’ Convention or Conference. That wrong of 1914 must be corrected now…..in your time !”

Provide Nigerians that opportunity to discuss their future well-being.

I hope President Jonathan is listening !!

 

Nnamdi J.O.Ijeaku

 


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