Reversing Nigeria’s Amalgamation Of 1914 —Ben Nnanaghan

Opinion

It is highly regrettable today that politics in Nigeria is getting more brutal, more bizarre and damned bloody. Political assassinations and daredevilry are commonplace in the agenda of today’s politicians. Our politicians now pursue more eloquently those traits and interests that divide us rather than inventing means of cementing the bonds that unite us. This trend has become a critical political factor for our politicians, senators and members of the Federal House of Reps, especially those from the Northern axis.

This is a very sharp departure from the exemplary precedence left by our fine breed of first generation politicians. Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, despite being Nigeria’s first Executive Head of State was so humble and humane as he was a product of the finest stock of the homosapiens. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was one of Nigeria’s strongest political canons yet was so humorous and he never saw politics as a do – or – die affair. I can vividly remember the Owelle of Onitsha declaring himself a “beautiful bride” in 1979 for other political “grooms” who were willing to dialogue. Was that not the apex of humour and bon camaraderie?

As for Chief Obafemi Awolowo, his role as a socialist reformer, a great “recovery economy” strategist and an avatar did not make him pursue politics as the beginning and end of life. Today Chief Obafemi Awolowo is a reference point for his robust intellect and adamantine principles.

And so what has gone awry in the Nigerian project? Why have we jettisoned caution and reason and embraced this virulent politics of hate and bitterness? In fact, where did we get it all wrong? How did we meander through this uncharted course of violent events without fragmenting into smithereens?

When the military seized power in January 1966, little did we know that 45 years later, Nigeria would still be wriggling and reeling in this murky and rudderless syssipphean tragedy. Even the best of military governments can only compare with benevolent despotism which still smacks of authoritarianism and individualistic leadership.

The military are trained to defend and not to govern nations and their lack of democratic credentials is what has moved us to this deplorable watershed. Some military apologists have rationalised that the military came with good intentions but were corrupted and polluted for their own selfish interest. However, some other socio-political commentators believe that the military came to steal, to kill and to destroy. This latter school of thought believe that the military smuggled fiscal indiscipline, unmitigated corruption and state-sponsored terrorism and violence into the Nigerian political terrain. And so as military regimes succeeded one another, these military leaders became so ensconced and inured to power that some of them even deluded themselves by equating themselves to Nicolo Machiavelli whose treatise on power and its control as manifested in the “Prince” became a yardstick for political wisdom. Even some military lackeys in Nigeria went beyond decency and invented the term “Military Democracy”, a phraseology they could not defend even in their political dictionaries.

And after a long military interregnum, Nigerian democracy started in 1999 with a military leader in mufti. As a result of this, violence did not leave our shores even as a democratic nation.

This violence has now become a cultural trait of the political class which has also trickled down the base of the pyramid. Now politicians openly encourage mass violence by inciting their followers to reject election results and cause mayhem and incalculable damage to the political psyche of the nation.

This strain of violence and confrontation has also affected the entire political system by producing a new wave of political antagonism and hatred.

The foregoing scenario is well played out in both chambers of the National Assembly. For instance, in the lower House, a committee of 19 Northern Experts have been chosen to critically examine and analyse any bill going through the House with a view to expunging any anti-North interest before the bill is allowed to sail through. It is the greatest height of unpatriotic act to this nation for the Northern Caucus and lobbyists to submerge core national interests for zonal and parochial interests. It is not only shameful but ridiculously absurd to learn that the North in its morbid anti–Jonathan crusade has snapped up those sinews that link us together in order to orchestrate the publicity of our differences. Do our lawmakers not watch intelligent and inspiring debates on international networks? It is unfortunate that the invidious resolution to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan has blinded some lawmakers so fatally that their actions and attitudes have become so unfortunately puerile and ridiculous. What a farce, what a pity!

These Northern legislators have also accused President Goodluck Jonathan of filling most vacancies in “key sectors” of his government with people from the South-South.

It is unfortunate that these political jokers have forgotten that the North has governed this country for 38 years during which time they have not only monopolised all key sectors of the Nigerian economy but also milked and sucked the nation dry to its marrow. There was a time in this country when nearly all the old permanent secretaries were from Northern Nigeria and nobody complained. Even if you complained, who would you complain to when both the President, Permanent Secretary, Inspector General of police, Director General of Immigration, the Customs Comptroller-General, the Chief of Army staff, the Chief of Naval staff, the Chief of Defence staff and the Chief Justice of the Federation were all from the North?

Between 1960 to 1999 it was the norm for the Northern university graduates to reach the exalted position of Federal Permanent Secretary within 5-6 years of employment or through secondment from his state but for the Southern graduate becoming a Permanent Secretary was a very tall dream of about 15-20 years of meritorious and unblemished service to his fatherland.

But today these same Northern leaders have accused President Goodluck Jonathan of nepotism, favouritism and all forms of calumny when the president has not even spent six months of his tenure as president.

Our politicians should delve into history and discover how our founding fathers fostered unity among all the various ethnic and geopolitical zones even though “tribes and tongues may differ”.

But our politicians are more interested in sharing booties rather than settling down and leafing through historical journals to discover the way forward.

Instead of employing and sponsoring Boko Haram, our frustrated Northern leaders should invest in long term integrative strategies; rather than planning sabotage and disintegrative diversions to split the country.

Nigerian politicians and Nigerians in general should seek the old and righteous ways of God as only God’s righteousness can salvage this nation from a Boko Haram engineered disintegration.

•Nanaghan writes from Lagos and can be reached through his e-mail: [email protected]

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