Nigeria News
Our independence of corruption

WE are celebrating another independence day, the same  ritual; razzmatazz and demonstrations. Speeches. Promises and promises, all of the same, so much motion but no movement.

Fela calls it “perambulating and still remaining on the same spot”. We have seen it all, as it was in the beginning- 1960, so it is now, nothing has changed. Will Nigeria and Nigerians ever change? That is the big question.

I was reading through Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s book Travails of Democracy book two, recently; as I made progress from one page to another, my body shivered, it was as if he was addressing  today’s Nigeria. The voice of the opposition, then Action group, can be likened to today’s APC, no difference in language and temperament. The NPC/NCNC coalition is like PDP of today; powerful, not too loud but quietly strangulating the opposition.

It was a battle of northern feudalism versus the south’s free enterprise and adult suffrage. It was a classical match at the eve of our independence and the referee was our colonial master, Britain. Same is happening today as our politicians have started appearing at the British parliament to plead their cause.

The independence of 1960 offered a great hope, but, the hope was short lived and finally cut short by a weak foundation, that was programmed to fail ab initio, coupled with the activities of our gullible politicians.

The foundations of Nigeria were built on corruption and manipulations. No structure can survive under a weak foundation, we have witnessed so many collapsed buildings, including the recent one at the Synagogue church of all nations. What are the requirements for a solid building foundation? We have: cement, sand, gravel, iron rods and water. A combination of the right quantity and quality of these items will give a sound foundation for any building; the higher and bigger the structure, the more materials that will be required. There is no short cut to it.

Taking this analogy further to the nation state, the raw materials needed for a nation state to thrive are; willingness of the various interest groups to live together as one, truth- in the form of accurate statistics and census, visionary and purposeful leadership. All of these ingredients for a correct democratic foundations were lacking, at the inception of this country’s independence in 1960. In fact, it dates back to 1914, the year of the amalgamation of the north and south. They were lacking then and they are lacking now.

Let us not deceive ourselves, unless these foundations are put right, nothing will work right in this country; we can adjust, manipulate, cajole or threaten, use propaganda and even, go to war, the problems will never be solved; a sandy foundation will never last. The Nigerian state foundation was built on corruption and, until we go back to the basics to correct this, our situation will remain the same.

The different nations in the amalgamated Nigeria were never, really, fully integrated. It was a merger that was directed by the fiat of the British authorities, all they were interested in was how it benefit the cause of Great Britain.

The system of administration was even different for the north and southern regions. Culturally, the people are different; while the south are more agitative as a result of their western education exposure and republicanism, the north is more subdued because of their feudal tendencies. The British found it more to their interest to favour the passive north against the restive south.

Therefore, every decision taken in respect of the Nigerian nation, was skewed against the south. It was a conspiracy of the British and the northern ruling class against the south. The geographical mappings were skewed in favour of the north, census were conducted to favour a section of the country against the other. That was the foundation for distrust between the north and the south till date.

That was the beginning of ethnic/religious rivalry and that was the basis for our inability to handle the monster of corruption, as everyone  shouts: ” you want to bring down my brother”.

The damage that tribalism has done to this country can never be quantified.It has encouraged wastages; projects of all types and industries are sited, based on ethnic considerations, without the viability factor. Therefore, there are so many abandoned projects all over the country. Merit does not count in appointments to positions, even, up to the highest levels; the people in public office  today, in all cadres, are not the best that the country has to offer, but, because of such factors, mediocrity is enthroned.

Why, for instance, can’t the presidency be open to all and sundry, irrespective of tribe and geographic location? When you place mediocres in position of leadership, you receive mediocre rewards. Unfortunately, those angling to take over power do  not fare better. Where are the detribalised Nigerians? Do we have them? Men who will be ready to lead Nigeria as a whole, instead of for self and tribal interests, that will be the day.

The Scottish people have just voted to remain in the United kingdom, in a transparent poll, can our leadership afford the various ethnic groups, the opportunity to decide how they want to be governed? There are so many ethnic groups that are been suppressed in this country, for example; we never knew that there are predominantly Christian towns in the north, until the Chibok incident occurred.

Are we ready to allow these small ethnic groups have their say? Democracy favours the majority, but, all ethnic groups must be recognised. Until all ethnic groups are giving a sense of belonging in the affairs of this country, we shall only be pretending to be a nation state. It is not too late to conduct a referendum the Scottish way. Tribalism is evil. It is at the heart of our inability to tackle corruption decisively in this country. Let the people’s voices be heard.

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