Nigeria has chalked up such a dreary image in 107 years of amalgamation and 60 years of independence that every anniversary has come with a whimper. When Nigeria’s independence clocked 60 in October 2020, it equally basked in the euphoria of politicizing the outcry against police brutality by her teaming youth population. Since I was born, I have never experienced the bang and the spangles that my forebears told me about whenever they talked about the early years of freedom from colonial rule.
It must have been an extremely short moment of freedom. In President Olusegun Obasanjo’s story, signs of bias, favouritism, tribalism, some partisan politics and disregard for merit started to be seen from 1963. This seems like a logical conclusion to why coups and counter – coups stemmed out of military regimes and why neutral politics, unity, harmony and brotherhood became a thing of the past.
When I talk in favour of a working Nigeria, most people see me as delusional. They spend time expounding on why things cannot work and to what extent the national image is desecrated such that at the mention of the any of the national emblems, shame and self – disgust rather than pride fills the air.
I grew up reading newspapers every day and I saw how Nigerians were desperate for a change in 2015. I followed the 2015 general elections closely and I can boldly say that the election of President Muhammadu Buhari on March 28, 2015 and reaction from other parties proved that it was still possible to experience fresh hope in a new Nigeria.
Seeing what has played out in the past 6years, it is safe to conclude that the fresh wave that raised the hopes of many in a new Nigeria was not capable of reversing the heavy hand of history in our day – to – day lives.
Incessant ethic crisis spreading across the nation affirms that the sense of freedom has been missing for a very long time. How then can we juxtapose intolerance across ethnic groups in a nation?
While I grew up hearing about the inconsistencies and incapability of the 1999 Constitution to bring about a sustainable and developing country, I am amazed that little or next – to – nothing has been done about the constitution. It is also there most blatantly, in the fact that all the structures which sustained previous dictatorships, military juntas, ethnic crisis and gave the most devious turns to sinister plans and pursuits are still very much in place.
Looking through the lens of the motives behind military coups and various wars across tribes, many in the Southern part of Nigeria believe that the colonial architecture gave Nigeria a lopsided federation of which one part, the North, has had preponderant power to determine the fate of the South. Northern Nigeria argues otherwise.
Expending energy on theories, philosophies and perspectives to know which school of thought is most logical and supreme is nothing but sheer waste of fundamental resources. Lopsided system of Federation or not, the deed has been done and charting our course forward is the most important thing to do.
To part ways (which I strongly oppose – because it wouldn’t solve the systemic problem) or work things out? I understand that people like me are accused of assuming optimistic postures. However, I believe the Nigerian dream can fly so high. Oh Well! Even though I wasn’t there 107years ago, this is an impromptu articulation of a shared faith in one Nigeria.
Bold of me to assert the existence of one Nigeria?
We all saw the tremendous energy with which Nigerian youths trended #EndSARS globally, provided food for people they don’t even know, organized private security-related outfits, helplines and all manner of patriotic show of love in October 2020 so as to have all hands were on deck to drive home their point.
That is a clear demonstration of that which is possible when there is a common goal. In this case, one Nigeria.
I find it quite worrisome that when a particular region of the country is in power, the other divide begins to express distrust and prove the suspicion of a sinister agenda by the ones in power. It is always a sad experience seeing a people who could have been united in purpose fighting one another. Like a football fixture, rancour is been shifted from one region to the other: North vs. South, East vs. West, West vs. North, North vs. East. Often than not, most Nigerians forget that we have more than 500 ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Inexplicably, Nigerian leaders are mandated by virtue of being elected to sieve public opinion and shape a working coalition for all.
The outcry of various groups that the country be restructured as part of a way of defending democratic decision-making is the first step that is both necessary and strategic. It’d demonstrate the desire to take steps outside rhetoric to return Nigeria firmly on the path to peace, unity, genuine democracy, and progress.
In 1998, Mr. Niyi Akintola – then Member of the Oyo State House of Assembly (a gubernatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 general elections) said the next republic was going to collapse if the nation was not restructured. In context, he said a situation where you have JAMB, NNPC, PTF, NUC, Customs and Excise, Immigration, Internal Affairs, Prison, Army, Police – all headed by Northerners. And out of 47 permanent secretaries, only eight are from the south. As a matter of fact, this nation has been sitting on gunpowder.
One might begin to wonder to imagine if there’s anything different from the most recent agitation and utterances of Mr. Sunday Igboho Adeyemo. Indeed, the heavy hand of our history has failed to move. We need to move past the cold ethnic war and forge ahead.
Perhaps, it’s about time the concept of State of Origin be replaced by State of Residence. Where do you expect Adewale or Chukwuemeka who was born and bred in Kano to call home? As a global citizen, I believe we are first humans then Nigerians. We can have the Igbos in the North and Fulanis in the West without anyone feeling threatened.
Just like it was in times past, should we fail to do the needful, Nigerians are about to treat themselves to another round of comic actions despite the deceits, pains, frustrations and oppressions of the past.
In as much as we cannot reverse history and undo the consequences of yesteryears, a systemic reform might be our best shot. Until we find a way to strengthen our civic institutions and develop habits of compromise, we will continue to struggle as a country.
One last thing: Nigeria’s political vocabulary will be revised. Words like restructuring will be retired for a while and new words introduced.