Change – the urgency for now!

Nigeria is one of the countries cobbled together from different ethnic, religious, cultural and political traditions, as a fiat of European adventurism and greed in various parts of the world. Nigeria has been very lucky in various ways, even with the perennial scourge of primitive leadership which has all but destroyed the fabric of national existence.Indeed no one would have expected the “peculiar mess” that Nigeria is in today; even our worst enemies would have thought we would have done better with our independence and our great wealth. For individuals with short span of life, change may be too late, but for countries, change for the better may always be possible, as long as there is a cadre of determined, enlightened, visionary and committed leadership.

Probably the fact that Nigerians did not fight from the guerilla trenches a protracted independence struggle has accounted for the failure of the inheritors of state power to understand the value of freedom. But Nigeria had a 30 month civil war which dissipated the human, material and spiritual resources of the country unnecessarily. Could it be that because the war was unnecessary, therefore there was no appreciation of the value of the unity that was forged with the blood and humanity of the Nigerians who died to keep Nigeria one?

Probably the fact that Nigeria is abundantly and unusually blessed with enviable material, natural and human resources, which needed very little investment in labour, technical or financial capital to tap and earn income from has accounted for the profligate, prodigal and irresponsible manner in which the resources aresquandered, instead of being utilized to generate wealth and prosperity for Nigerians. But lessons of Nigeria’s short history show that any bounty not harnessed for good use means nothing, nor does such bounty help the beneficiary of such providence. We have been shown that international environment is not friendly, as those who colonized, oppressed and enslaved you and your ancestors can never wish you well. Hence,we have witnessed various devices used to impoverish Nigeria from the international agencies, who extract maximum wealth, leaving little or nothing for the indigenous owners of the wealth.

Basil Davidson considered nationhood/statehood to be the black man’s burden; by which he means that African inheritors of independence, adopted without question European and American governance models, regardless of different cultural, social and political traditions of the various African societies, thereby imposing alien legal traditions, political climate and economic environment on their countries. On the surface, this could insinuate that statecraft and statehood was alien to Africa before the ill-fated modern adventurism of Europe in Africa, but a closer look will show that what he deplores is the failure of the inheritors of political power at independence to ask what was to be done with the new “political kingdom”.

Nigeria has missed many opportunities while there have been spats of sanity which have attracted the support of a cross section of the population. Examples of such unifying efforts and occasions have been the NYSC, the WAI, Operation Feed the Nation, Federal Mortgage Bank, Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, even (sad as these may seem). So, why does Nigeria need to face the urgency of “Change”?

There are basic functions which states perform that are better performed by collective effort rather than individually. All across Nigeria, regardless of tongue, creed, or economic status, the basic human needs remain the same: nourishing food, habitable and decent shelter, access to decent drinking water, access to health care facilities, security and safety of person and property, access to empowering education, transportation system for ease of movement, and uninterrupted energy to power every aspect of modern life. These are not rocket science inventions beyond the ken of Nigeria and Nigerians. These are things which Nigerians used to take for granted to some extent in the not too distant past. These are things which many African countries, with a lot less natural and human resources, are able to take for granted to varying degrees even now. But instead of Nigeria advancing, and under the leadership of vagabonds, primitive, greedy and intellectually barren charlatans, what has happened has been decay in all aspects of our existence – even mobile telephony networks are caricatures of what they are in many African countries which used to look up to Nigeria!

While not dwelling too much on the negatives, it can be said without any iota of doubt that the many problems which beset Nigeria are not unheard of in other countries – corruption, nepotism, embezzlement and cronyism. Many forget there was a time in USA history when cannibalism was practiced as means of survival! Even more interesting is the fact that up till recently, USA degrees and diplomas were not recognized in Nigeria! What has made the difference has been the determination of leaders of USA that nothing but the best is good for USA, and that USA will not play second fiddle to any other country.

And there is a way in which populations respond to responsible, accountable, visionary leadership. This happened in Nigeria in the past. However, there is also a way in which mediocrity, hooliganism, kleptocracy and mendicancy becomes endemic in social, cultural and intellectual psyche of a people. Instead of ensuring that Nigeria is the best, we undervalue what we have, import substandard human power from people who never wish us well, and export our collective wealth to safe havens for sequestration, at the expense of our own collective economic, social, cultural, intellectual and spiritual development.


…. to be continued

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