Nigerian Independence and the Way Forward: A Historical Analysis

Independence day

Nigeria at 63: Independence Day Anniversary

By Muhammed Abdulkabir

The Nigerian state is, for many, a stateless society and thus, replication of what Thomas Hobbes described as, brutish, poor, nasty and short. It is that country where corruption originated, poverty prevails, and insecurity dominates. Hence, Nigerians cannot wait to japa to first world countries such as the United States and the UK, where life is ‘perfect’: everyone is rich; no corruption, but harmony triumphs. What is utopian to Nigeria.

The first issues with Nigeria’s independence lies in its unholy amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates by Lord Lugard in 1914, for selfish and economic interests best known to him and the British government. This was a country constituted of diverse ethnic groups who were independent prior the colonial domination. A factor which speaks to the protracted genocide Nigeria witnesses after her independence. The “marriage of inconvenience” was maintained under the monopoly of the British colonial government until some irresistible nationalists saw an unretractable need to fight for an independence against colonial rule, which exploited the colony’s economy for survival. A formal nationalistic attempt toward demanding an independence from European rule and exploitation was first showcased by Sir Herbert Macaulay, a journalist, who tenaciously challenged the colonial government in 1920 when he escorted Chief Oluwa of Lagos, Chief Ahmadu Tijani to the Privy Council in London, as a private secretary and interpreter. At the council, Macaulay challenged the colonial government of not fulfilling their promised pension to the king of Lagos, Oba Dosunmu, which was to cost the Oba rather than Macaulay, his seat as Oba of Lagos. Subsequent nationalists, many of of whom were learned and who schooled in the Queen’s England, including late Chiefs Nnamdi Azikiwe; Anthony Enahoro; Obafemi Awolowo, to mention a few, all maintained this adventure and pioneered a legal and formal movement for the Independence of Nigeria which was realized on October 1, 1960. The efforts of these men cannot be overstated, and we need not be delayed by an examination of their altruistic and egoistic actions thereto. An analysis of what established the current framework for a seemingly “hopeless” Nigeria whose independence is a facade, and her development is distorted by an insurmountable disease, corruption, would be time consuming; those are issues that have been discussed by Yakubu, et.al, in their Corrupt Followership versus Corrupt Leadership: A Stereotypical Analysis of Political Corruption in Nigeria, and a host of other works by Nigerian scholars.

Aside from the inferiority complex built in the mindset of the Nigerians by the Europeans,—that Africa is primitive and backward and thus, nothing good can come out of an African state—the political leadership of the country since independence, have made many Nigerians to question any optimism for a better Nigeria. It is not just about the humans’ love for tourism, the Nigerians are ready for anywhere—as far as it is outside Nigeria, and better still, Africa—just to avoid a state where there is no hope for the common man. For how long do we continue to celebrate a facade independence when our political economy still appears to be unripe for an independence we got sixty-three years ago? How long do we continue to experience a brain drain to this incalcitrant Japa syndrome? Until when would this country ceased to be a dumping group for European goods despite the many intelligent and innovative minds in our possession? When are we going to celebrate an independence that reflects the freeness of Nigeria (especially the masses) from both internal and external overlords? The answers to these questions are not farfetched. Good leadership and correct follwership are the antidotes to Nigeria’s state of affairs.

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If Nigeria must be developed, our leaders must be ready to emulate the good acts of their nationalist predecessors especially those who fought for our independence, so much so, that they beginning to unlearn the bequeathed corruption.

A rich country as such could not boast of independence, let alone development if it is not better off the time its ‘destiny’ was toiled on by a foreign power, when some countries who become independent at a later time are hoping to join in the pedestal of first world countries. What exactly is our independence if we are still dependent? If we now have to willingly allow for an exploitation of our raw materials, because we are not industrialized enough, after several decades of independence, to cater for products we could make out of our mineral resources? This independence is not true!

Nigerians on the other hand, however, failed on their own part. Aside constituting a bad followership, Nigerians have shown little philanthropism toward the betterment of their country. They choose to be defiants of the laws and negligent of their responsibilities to the state, not minding the effects those would have on the country. I shall give some instances where the Nigerian citizens, themselves, contribute more to the country’s delapidation.Taxation, one of the fundamental means of a state’s survival, is undermined in a country where citizens induce tax collectors (and other related agents) with bribe. The same thing is replicated in the power sector, where people ignorantly bribe power agents to pay less than their supposed bills, especially in places where the meters are not being used. The consequences of this act is that, such an environment is not offered a stabled electricity because the actual bill is not generated. It is in this country also that you see people breaching traffic regulations, on the basis of being ‘smart’ and having no time to waste. Transporters are not ashamed of bribing road agencies in the event that they breached the law. Yet, none of these can be done in those developed countries where they ‘japa’ to. These law agencies who take bribe are also Nigerian citizens.

It thus appear that, a true independence that reflects economic development can only be achieved, in Nigeria, if leaders, as well as followers changed their mindset and perception of how they conceive Nigeria. Leaders learning from the philanthropic nationalism of their predecessors, and the followers readying to support the system by obeying rules and regulations are some of the many antidotes to Nigeria’s desolation. Until Nigeria becomes economically developed, independence celebration would be a facade. Happy Independence Day!

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