Wanted: An Intellectual Revolution In Nigeria

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My dear fellow Nigerians, I respectfully crave your indulgence for a short period of your time as I seek to explain the reasons behind my clarion call for us Nigerians to declare an intellectual revolution aimed at effecting the long desired change in the political administration of our nation. Just like the Arabs are now agitating for the overthrow of dictatorships and unconstitutional monarchies, our present situation clearly shows that Nigeria cannot afford to remain a mediocre nation given her vast potentials for greatness. My inspiration, therefore, directly flows from the present cross border violent agitation for political reforms throughout the Middle East.

For various reasons, however, I strongly oppose any form of advocacy for a violent change like most of the Arabs are engaged in today but strictly recommend an intellectual revolution which will afford us a quality time to reflect deeply on the factors that had hitherto restrained us from moving forward. In my own humble opinion, I have identified official corruption as the No. 1 factor, followed by energy/power problem, collapse of the educational sector, commerce/industry, etc.

The majority of we Nigerians as well as foreigners alike know that official corruption has foisted upon us a prisoner status, mentally, psychologically and even spiritually. In a deplorable state of this nature our physical body though seemingly free is also imprisoned.

This adequately explains why we have been on a backward march for about 26 years now when our psyche/physical infrastructure started collapsing and has kept deteriorating up till today without any meaningful step taken to halt the drift. This is the simple reason why the situation will continue to degenerate even if the size of our annual national budget is tripled for the next 100 years.

Please cast your mind back to the huge sums of money that has been allegedly injected into the power sector by the politicians of this 4th Republic Nigeria alone and ask yourself, what is the situation like today? The same is applicable to the educational sector, industries, etc. We readily acknowledge that while annual budget for these services/projects is ever on the increase, the situation continues to get worse by the day.

We clearly see now that while the Arabs are clamouring for the overthrow of dictatorships, unconstitutional monarchies, etc., we are supposed to be fighting for our survival and fulfilment as a nation. This is why we need a revolution like theirs but not a violent one. We need a peaceful revolution to free our psyche: our mental, psychological and even spiritual and physical selves from bondage without which we are doomed. All we need borrow from the Arabs today is the quality of their resolution for a change.

But in order to give us enough reasons to take this call seriously, I urge you to please remember that official corruption had been with us from the inception of Nigeria as a nation. Please remember that official corruption was entrenched at the birth of our nation on 1 October, 1960 in that our founding fathers, true patriots, nationalists and great sages inadvertently allowed the virus to gain access into our foundations.

History records that at Independence, our founding fathers were unable to bring their different ethnic/tribal nationalities to merge at the centre due to mutual fear for each other, suspicion and discrimination on tribal and religious lines.

History records that their true loyalty lay with their different regions, thus leaving the new-born nation without love and care, the free and voluntary will to belong and unshakeable faith in her to excel unto the great nation the whole world proclaimed her to be at birth.

Thus, the foundation laid at Independence for the new nation was founded on a shifting ground upon which no meaningful structure could be built. Soon, the result started to manifest as the 1st batch of coup plotters in Nigeria struck disaster which led to the civil war which was fought and ended on a ‘no victor, no vanquished note’ but achieved the very noble victory of keeping Nigeria as one nation.

However, the post civil war Nigeria failed to address the remote and immediate causes of that war so as to ensure that we do not fall into such harm again. Official corruption was therefore, allowed to fester until about 1985 when it emerged as a giant monster to confer Nigeria with the status of ‘institutionalised official corruption’ on the global map.

This is the simple reason why I want our desired revolution to be tagged the 2nd Civil War on the grounds that our first civil war was not concluded on a victory for all Nigerians. We need now to re-launch that war in order to conclude it victoriously against official corruption which is our true common enemy No. 1.

We must now wake up from our docility, for we have been indeed very docile, and fight this monster by making a quality resolution to resist official corruption in Nigeria under any guise, anywhere and time from now on. Please remember that it was the direct quality of our docility that led an international research team to conclude that we Nigerians are the happiest people on earth today. But is it not a pity that we should be so described as a celebrating, partying, people in the midst of darkness for want of electricity, deteriorating basic public infrastructure, dilapidated road networks and general state of insecurity in the midst of stupendous wealth? This is why we should start thinking and rejecting the status quo as globally distinguished intellectuals who have been embarrassed by the state of shame at home.

We should start by voting strictly for ourselves and our family members first before voting for any other person at this April 2011 general elections. By this, I mean that we should not just cast our votes on sentiments of tribe and religion but strictly in consideration of whether that candidate and his party has yet realised the fact that, it is all about us, the people of Nigeria that are ‘Mr./Master/Miss Nigeria.’ We must now ensure that we reject all candidates and their parties who have manifested by their behaviour in the past to engage in, promote and celebrate official corruption in Nigeria. These are the ones that lead us on daily basis deeper into the prison yard they have already brought us to.

We must remember that no revolution succeeds without the right leader. The right leader, of course, must be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without whose involvement body, heart and soul our revolution will suffer still-birth. He must therefore be a man who hates corruption with passion. He must be incorruptible and must have acquired practical knowledge of investigating corruption and be a man of proven courage and integrity to the extent that he would not recognise sacred cows in Nigeria or provide tacit support to his friends or party members who are guilty of official corruption.

The leader of the revolution must be a man internationally recognised as a crusader against corruption in Nigeria so as to give us a much needed facelift and he must not be a tribalist or religious fanatic as we need a truly united Nigerian to rebuild our present weal foundation into a brand new Nigeria. Once we vote in such a person on 16 April, we have already won 50% victory because he will lead us with zeal and passion for the next four years of unrelenting war against official corruption in Nigeria until total victory is won or renew his mandate in 2015.

I say this because we as distinguished intellectuals cannot make any difference here at home if we fail to break these chains of bondage, pull down these prison walls and take back our destiny after 50 years of nationhood. We will surely fail if we do not come together to declare an intellectual revolution against official corruption in Nigeria on 16 April, 2011.

We have a model for the desired revolution in Nigeria, in Governor Fashola and Lagos State.

 

•Barrister Casmir Uzoma Lemeh wrote this article from Lagos.

 

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