2nd September, 2010
To say that Nigeria is a lucky country is an understatement. To also say that Nigeria canÂ survive is also an understatement. Nigeria will surely survive.
Let us recap and recall the circumstances that led to the creation of the great country calledÂ Nigeria, when Great Britain amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates on the 1st ofÂ January1914.
It was in Britainâ€™s strategic economic interest to integrate these diametrically opposingÂ protectorates and merge them into one â€œUnited Nationâ€. Britain at that time did not want anyÂ colony that would be termed â€œliabilityâ€ or unproductive hence she â€œimperiouslyâ€ selectedÂ Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Sierra Leone to be her colonies in West Africa. This area thenÂ became British West Africa. If Britain wanted to colonize the whole of West Africa she had oneÂ of the most powerful navies- the awesome British Royal Navy, to do it.
Britain wanted territories that were viable enough to feed her industries with raw materials asÂ a result of the industrial explosion which was an off-shoot of Britainâ€™s industrial revolution.Â Britain strategically manouvered Nigeriaâ€™s amalgamation to have access to the raw materials ofÂ groundnut, hides and skin, tin, bauxite from the Northern Protectorate which she felt would beÂ easier to ship through the Lagos port. Well, do not forget that Britain dictated the prices forÂ all our produce even to this day.
Britain created several other countries as they created Nigeria in January 1914. And like allÂ human creations, imperfection was paramountly displayed in all these artificial creations.
For instance Britain and the Allied forces redrew the map of Europe and created â€œnew countriesâ€Â after the capitulation Adolf Hitler in September 1945.
Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were also two revelations of the 2nd world war. These twoÂ countries were carved out of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and initially put under theÂ protectorate of the USSR. These two countries came into existence in 1945 and by 1993 they hadÂ ceased to exist as a result of the dynamics of revolutionary incompatibility. They also ceasedÂ to exist because of the crash of Bolshevism and the splintering of the former USSR state inÂ 1991. Just on 22nd July 2010 Justice Hishashi Owada sitting at the International Court ofÂ Justice in the Hague (Netherlands) declared that Kosovo has not breached any international lawÂ by declaring itself independent from Serbia on 17th February 2008. The 90% Ethnic AlbanianÂ Kosovo are mainly Muslims while the Serbians are Orthodox Christians. And Serbia is one of theÂ six states Yugoslavia was split into in 1993.
We have not heard the last of Unilateral Declarations of Independence (UDI) from that region ofÂ Eastern Europe.
So to say that Nigeria is a lucky country is an incontestable understatement.
And I know that those invisible hands that have held Nigeria together since its creation willÂ not tire or slumber despite the vexatious strain Nigeriaâ€™s lack of patriotism has put on theÂ union.
It is unfortunate that Nigeria was created on a lopsided political tripod with structures whichÂ were more confederational than federal.
The three regions that came out of the amalgamation were so powerful with even more powerfulÂ leaders that rendered the centre effeminate and incapable of moving the country forward. TheseÂ strong regions unavoidably led to the fratricidal Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970.
Is anyone still doubting that Nigeria will surely survive the present regional war being wagedÂ by some ultra-conservatives in some parts of the country? How many nations have survived suchÂ gruesome wars as we have done?
My conclusion is that Nigeria is being held together by a divine string which no part of thisÂ country can single handedly snap up.
We shall use some countries as models to demonstrate that Nigeria with the right leadership canÂ move from its unenviable and despicable â€œDeveloping Nationâ€ status to a fully developed state.
We shall use South Africa and Singapore as model states Nigeria should strive to emulate. TheÂ two countries have one factor in common â€“ good leadership.
Today, the onlyÂ difference between Nigeria and South Africa is leadership. President NelsonÂ Mandela is today the most revered human being in the whole world. This is not only because heÂ spent 27 years hewing stones on Robben Island but because he is the symbol of South AfricanÂ patriotism, nationalism and a stoicism that can only be compared to that of Socrates whoÂ willingly drank hemlock to prove his patriotism.
Nelson Mandela became President immediately after he came out of prison and refused a secondÂ term despite an overwhelming national request for his continuance. Thabo Mbeki took over andÂ resigned honourably in his second term. South Africa is the country to beat in Africa. WithÂ just 50 million population and over 50,000 megawatts of electricity, South Africa has todayÂ become Nigeriaâ€™s 2nd colonial master, completely taking over the Nigerian economy, a very goodÂ pay back for extricating her from the strangulating jaws of apartheid.
In Nigeria today you find South African businesses dominating our banking, fast foods,Â communications, television and trade generally. Nigerian traders now swarm to South AfricaÂ instead of London, Hong Kong, China, etc.
Even though South Africa did not go beyond the group stages in the last 2010 world cup itÂ hosted, it came out more honoured and celebrated even than Spain that won the World Cup. ThisÂ is due to the almost perfect management and execution of affairs from the beginning to the endÂ of the football mundial. It is perhaps unknown to most Nigerians that South Africa spent onlyÂ $5bn to build 5 new stadia and refurbished five other existing ones. Nigeria would have usedÂ $5trillion and with almost nothing to show for it as all our legislators and ministers wouldÂ have gotten enough to build personal estates there from.
The difference is so clear between South Africa and Nigeria. While South African presidents areÂ stepping down willingly, Nigerian presidents are only â€œstepping asideâ€ and scheming for â€œthirdÂ termsâ€ with most of the presidents and vice presidents owning personal universities while inÂ office. Truly, Nigeria stinks to high heavens. Today our Ambassadors are all practicingÂ businessmen and they are not hiding it. Nigeria has lost all sense of international value andÂ decorum.
Singaporeâ€™s story is perhaps the 8th wonder of the world. From a small fishing village to oneÂ of the most developed economies not only in the Asia but also in the world; from a â€œThird WorldÂ to a â€œFirst Worldâ€ nation. And the motivating factor behind this incredible feat is itsÂ leadership. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959-1990 and he did not become aÂ millionaire at the end of his 31 years tenure but made his country incredibly prosperous toÂ warrant Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and even Russia (believe it) to request loanÂ facilities from a tiny country like Singapore. Russian Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzkhov underÂ President Mikhail Gorbachev visited Singapore in February 1990 and requested for a $50mÂ facility from tiny Singapore.
Of course if Nigeria manages her economy very well, even 1st World countries will come toÂ borrow from her and court her friendship because Nigeria is one of the most naturally endowedÂ nations on earth. But how can such a vibrant, selfless leadership emerge from a â€œzoningâ€ crazyÂ country like Nigeria? Singapore had its unity problems too and in August 1970 it announced itsÂ National Integrative Ideology called â€œRekunegaraâ€. This ideology was meant to make allÂ Singaporean people advance together towards a just and progressive society through belief inÂ God, loyalty to king and country, upholding the constitution and the rule of law and theÂ promotion of moral discipline, tolerance and mutual respect.
NIGERIA TOO CAN ADVANCE TOGETHER TOWARDS A JUST AND PROGRESSIVE SOCIETY, THROUGH BELIEF IN GODÂ (NOT KILLING IN GODâ€™S NAME), LOYALTY AND UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RULE OF LAW (NOTÂ RULE OF THE THUMB) AND THE PROMOTION OF MORAL DISCIPLINE, TOLERANCE AND MUTUAL RESPECT.
Zoning in Nigeria has encouraged mediocrity, injustice, and retrogression, lack of mutualÂ respect for minorities and the absence of the fear of God. In a recent newspaper interview aÂ Northern political leader blasted Nigerian minorities and advised them to accept their fate andÂ support Northern Nigeria in its continued retrogressive dominance of this sleeping giant ofÂ Africa. Or how can Alhaji Tanko Yakassai explain the fact that the North has ruled Nigeria forÂ 38 years out of its 50 years as a nation and still wants to rule for another 8 years to bringÂ the Northern tally to 46 years while Southern Nigeria would have ruled for only 12 years?
This unbridled and negatively skewed injustice forebodes danger for Nigeria as the North is nowÂ poised for war with their â€œzoning or nothingâ€ declaration. Is the North implying that NigeriaÂ will not survive 2011? If so, how will the North survive as a nation when all the NorthernÂ groundnut pyramids are now history?
Perhaps Tanko Yakassai and Inuwa Wada would for the first time in their lives de-emphasizeÂ â€œNorthern Nigeriaâ€ and emphasize â€œNigeriaâ€ and stop Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangidaâ€™s madÂ Hitlerite ambition from destroying Nigeria. Just last week, General Babangida played theÂ â€œNorthern Heroâ€ by asking for the immediate release of Major Mustapha from prison. BabangidaÂ was merely playing to the gallery to win Northern support to back his ill-fated presidentialÂ ambition.
But surely history will judge the likes of Babangida, Tanko Yakassai, Inuwa Wada, etc. andÂ Nigeria will still remain one united, indivisible and economically vibrant nation that willÂ command world respect if we find the right leadership.
Northern Nigeria has its pedigree of accomplished administrators of the younger breed. The NuhuÂ Ribadus, the Attahiru Jegas, the Lamido Sanusis are a better options to the infamous andÂ Machiavellian imposter that Gen. Babangida is.
For now I believe the President Goodluck Jonathan for 2011 is a veritable option and I amÂ convinced he will carry Nigeria to the next level just as newly sworn-in President BenignoÂ Aquino III of the Philippines had promised to deal (even with his life) with the corrupt cabalÂ that had held the Philippines hostage since independence.
Surely Nigeria will survive if we turn to God and find the right leadership.
So help us God â€“ Amen.
â€¢Ben writes from Lagos. May be reach onÂ e-mail: [email protected]