The Nigerian contemporary realities is one which is filled with so many charades, socio-religious cum political misdemeanors which has hampered the growth and development of the nation since its earliest years of inception, should I say since the time its founding fathers left the scene for the now new self-acclaimed sons of Zik and Awolowo who are nothing but opportunist who have chosen to use the Nigerian Political platform as a viable means to escaping the tethers of oblivion, enriching themselves at the first sight of power, leaving the masses to fed up the crumbs left behind by their deceitful self.
Since the year 1960, the Nigerian nation which was birth as a result of the amalgamation of both the Northern and Southern protectorate, a nation of over Two Hundred Million inhabitants, the most populous nation on the African continent, Nigeria has within its shores over 250 different ethnic groups speaking approximately 500 languages. A multicultural as well as multi-religious society with the existence of three major religious worldviews which are Christianity, Islam and the African Traditional Religion which has necessitated the need for its government to adopt a secular approach to dealing with its populace in order ensure peaceful and harmonious co-existence among its people which spans across its thirty-six states of the Federation.
Considered the Giant of Africa, a tag which many believes has been lost to the claws of the past, the Nigerian economy was once considered to be one of the fastest growing economies of the world in its earliest years, with its rich and blessed natural and mineral endowments, coupled with its abundance manpower and brilliant brains, the nation upon independence soared on the back of its agricultural wits, as it was able to successfully exploit the various agricultural benefits that nature earth had bestowed upon it, Cocoa. Palm Oil, Groundnuts, Cassava just to mention a few gave the nation a huge economic face-lift as it was able to turn itself to an exporting country where it was able to exploit the international market with its huge agricultural products. Many of its earliest infrastructural projects were built on the bank of money made from agriculture, the discovery crude oil in the year 1958 Oloibiri Rivers brought in immense hope for the nation as the nation Nigeria saw to a huge rise increase in its financial lots as the nation joined the rich list of the oil producing nations of the world. The Niger Delta area became an instant goldmine for people, as business men, expatriates among many others made their way to this oil rich zone, making millions of money for themselves, the nation while also leaving the Niger Delta zone desecrated and exploited as they have nothing to show for it. While it’s the hope of many Nigerians as it was of the founding fathers of the nation to see the nation grow and thrive into a viable economic giant, political maturity and a united federation of states, it is however saddening that the nation Nigeria failed to match up to these earnest expectations and hope. Its solid agricultural base was deserted at the first sight of the oil boom in the Niger Delta, unaccountability and corruption saw to it that a large chunk of its wealth saw itself in private foreign accounts of greedy politicians who had etched themselves into the political scene of the nation, adopting the biblical lines of the devil, “for the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy”
Sixty years after the independence of the Nation, nothing really has changed as the nation Nigeria has hovered in circles as its watch other smaller nations around it arise from the Oblivion making things happen for themselves and their people. The Nigeria community with hope every four years walks to the election booth with the hope of making the right choice that will see the nation grow and attain greatness, however these hopes and aspirations are often thrashed and shamefully destroyed by the rocks of political manipulations and permutations.
In seeking a viable way out to these various hurting realities, various Nigerians in times past have often call for various solutions to be enacted as the only way to see the birth of a new nation, one that can be set on the right path of greatness. Solutions like restructuring, national dialogue, revolution, re-branding, secession among many others have been on the lips of many Nigerians as a solution to the woes and ills that has plagued the nation since inception.
How do we resolve the ills of the nation Nigeria if we do not critically and objectively understand the various roots of the nation’s diverse woes? A common saying goes thus, if we do not understand where we are coming from, going forward will be a problem.
Before we start pointing accusing fingers at different factors which we think might be responsible for these woes, before we start proffering solutions to the various challenges which the nation Nigeria is facing, it is quite important and pertinent that we take a pause and re-examine who we are as a nation, how far we have come, and how much of ourselves that we are willing to commit for the sake of national restoration.
There is no doubt a continual journey in our current lane will lead us nowhere but an unstable society, one with an unclear future and plans for the future generations. Taking a clue from the lives and times of our founding fathers, the likes of Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, and Anthony Enahoro among many others, these are individuals that counted the cost and willingly gave their all for the birth and survival of the nation Nigeria. A number of unfortunate incidence has rocked the nation Nigeria, the years of its civil wars which led to a depletion of the eastern part of the nation, several years of battling militants from the Niger Delta areas, the onslaught of the terrorist group, Boko Haram which did lead to the death of thousands, destruction’s of lives and properties, hindrance of even growth and development of the affected nations, the call for secession from the Indigenous People of Biafra, the nation has been lucky to have survived these various ordeals, while it may seem that the boats of national turmoil has been rocked to sleep a little, there are still other little foxes that can ruin the garden, some small, minute factors which might seem insignificant but are behind the curtains ruining and destroying the nation’s chance at national restoration and growth. It is in this light that I seek to explore these various little foxes which are capable of bringing immense damages to the nation.
Lack of Ideological Structure– the lack of a clear cut national ideological structure has led to the nation Nigeria without no viable collective national growth. Within the Nigerian structure are federating units which needs to be fully harnessed for effective development. The nation Nigeria in the last two decades has been run haphazardly without no proposed plan for the future. A fire brigade approach has been used to sort and solve most national challenges. It is important for any progressive nation of the world to have a viable plan for its citizens and projections for the future. This can only be achieved when there is a collective national agenda which is built on a progressive national ideological structure. When institutions are built on a solid ideological structure it to a very large extent streamline the direction at which its political and economic policies are built. Using the case of nations like China as a vivid example, China was a nation that was regarded as a growing economic with no viable economic strength to challenge the world blocs, however within the last decade, China has risen to be an economic giants with immense national growth and development recorded within its shores. This was made possible because the nation China was noted to be a nation built on certain ideological structure. Its communist ideals and structure saw to it that the nation remained committed to walking the path which they had designed for themselves over the years. Their growth was an intentional and conscious one.
For the Nigerian Nation to grow and thrive, it must on solid ideological structure, one that is objectively accepted by all its federating units make viable plans and projection for its future, its structure must be a defined one which has the ability to also influence and dictate the flow of national activities to its various component units. The re-branding Nigeria project was one in recent times that came close to achieving this, but however the nation lacked the discipline and commitment to see to the fruitful end of this agenda. There was also the Project 2020 which did not see the light of the day.
Corruption- this is a very major challenge which many people has come to see as a culture, as an identity as Nigerian. The International community which once regarded Nigerians to be one of the most industrious nation of the earth has been made to have a whole new different view of the nature of Nigerians. The new realities has seen Nigeria become a highly corrupt nation where people cut corners to attain stardom’s. The Nigerian political institution has become a new breeding ground for corrupt national leaders, while its teeming youths has taken to illegal activities such as cyber-crimes, stealing and other social vices to accrue financial wealth. Adding to this corruption in Nigeria as it is in other part of the world is more than just financial misgivings. It is one that has to do with a standard behavioral pattern. To be corrupt means to sway away from doing the right thing. The Nigerian Public and Private spaces has seen to it the emergence of people with no moral recourse to the outcome of their actions. A nation with the fangs of corruption eating deep into its fabrics cannot progress as it would always manipulate opportunities to advance the nation as a means to enrich itself. In one of the sincere submission of the Vice President of the Nation, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, he stated that corruption has become institutionalized in Nigeria, the deviation from the right thing to do to doing the wrong thing. The nation is built on a certain principles and values enshrined in the constitution, the constitution is supreme and must be treated as such. It is an outright violation of the constitutional provision when we abuse the tenets of the nation’s constitutional provision for personal self.
Marginalization– while many will argue that there is no marginalization in the nation Nigeria, we cannot however turn a blind eye to the little and various instances and evidences of marginalization in the nation. The national formula for wealth sharing must be visited, the Niger Delta area of the nation has in no doubt been marginalized as they are responsible for the buck of the nation’s wealth, however despite this fact, and their region has been left for the gallows as the crude oil exploration has rendered their lands inhabitable for their populace. The shouts and Screams for a national intervention which fell on deaf ears of the government led to the emergence of the Niger Delta Militants who took to arms to protest this marginalization and neglect. While we cannot entirely blame the woes of the region on marginalization as the recent case of the financial misgivings in the area has shown. The inability of their leaders to effectively manage and utilize the various funds channeled to the area by the federal government all because of corruption is another reason while the area has been under-developed despite the fact that it produces the wealth of the nation. It is also important to note that marginalization is not just in terms of infrastructural and industrial development, it can also be seen from the area of power sharing. While certain ethnic groups have been heavily involved in the affairs of ruling the nation, there are other groups who feels left out of the equation. We must have it at the back of our mind that we are a pluralistic society thus we must have a balanced structure that will see to the unity and integration of its component units.
Politics and Religion– the idea of secularism was to ensure that both do not mix together, however it is quite unfortunate that the Nigerian nation has failed totally to have a firm control and neutral stand when it comes to the issues of religion in the Nation. The constant use of religion as a tool to manipulating people for cheap political gains have over the years set the nation behind in term so f peaceful co-existence. For the nation Nigeria to enjoy a stable growth and development, religion must be kept religion and it must not be used a tool to cause national disruption. The nation can only thrive on the wings of a united component units.
Continual Silence of the Elites– the continual silence of the nation’s elites has continue to mar the nation’s political system. Many have often describe politics as a dirty game which must be left to those who are ready to get themselves soiled. This notion has seen policy making been left out to thugs and vagabonds, people with no credibility and leadership acumen while the nation’s elites have taken themselves to the back stage choosing to observe rather than participate leaving the growth of the nation in insure hands.
Lack of Infrastructural/Industrial Growth– the nation Nigeria has been rocked with the lack of viable industrial and infrastructural growth and expansion. This has created huge unemployment gap in the nation as job opportunities has become limited with many school leavers with no viable option or means to sustain themselves. The nation needs to see to it that it resuscitate its moribund industries which are all over the 36 states of the federation. This to a very large extent will see to the creation of small and medium scale enterprise. This will also reduce the dependence on crude oil as it will generate more interest in Agricultural activities as raw materials will be needed in these various industries.
The nation Nigeria is plagued with so many woes which if drastic steps are not taken will see to the end of the nation, as highlighted in this article, it is important that we take a very intentional and conscious step to correcting these ills, it is not enough to scream revolution with our first doing a personal revolution of our individual self, it is not enough that we shot restructuring without first restructuring our mind to accommodate and spearhead a successful national restructuring. We have seen in the years of this nation and its existence the case of several individuals who started the progressive struggle, bearing the tags of activists and comrades to later join the group of people they had earlier came to rebuke.
By Amudipe Marcus