NIGERIA: “THE BEAST OF NO NATION”
It is possible to build a house either upon the wrong ground or upon a loose foundation. The foundation default of the Nigerian nation is quite understandably not based on the wrong grounds. In appreciation of nature and its bestowal, I dare say that Nigeria has the best grounds in the world upon which her foundation should be built.
Nigeria has well-endowed weather and climate conditions, excellent geography embracing five vegetational belts, a world class human resource base, multi-cultural and traditional heritages, a world class capacity for socio-cultural competition and a rich historical background. Nigeria is surely a possible First World country, with a world class capacity to compete with world class economies.
If a building site is good, it also makes the building cost, especially the cost of its foundation less expensive. In all building endeavours, the soil nature also determines the quantity of materials needed to put the building together. This much I have realized in my 25 years in the building construction industry. It is this wealth of experience and my concern for a Nigerian renewal that led me to contemplate what the problem is with Nigeria.
Of course it is clear that the problem is not with the ground upon which Nigeria stands, and it is also not with the materials needed to build a virile foundation for her. If these vital components of construction are therefore not Nigeria’s problems, then it has to do with the competence of its builders and possibly with the right application of available materials.
It is very possible to have a good ground for a foundation, and have high-grade materials for construction but still have a poor foundation.
When a building plan has no professional undertaking or the erroneous appreciation of professional undertakings, and the disproportioning of available materials can deliver a very poor, unstable and a regrettable foundation. This is what seems to be wrong with the foundation upon which our country Nigeria rests: incompetent builders with no knowledge of what to do, especially in the face of the fact that we still operate laws framed with a regimented mindset.
It is absolutely the grace of Mother Nature and its bestowals that has kept the Nigeria-building from collapsing. I grew up hearing elders say that what causes war in other countries is not up to a quarter of what happens in Nigeria, and it is surprising that Nigeria, in the face of all the grievous abuses meted on the citizenry has not been in an obtuse and protracted war. The Biafran experience of the late 60s was a demonstration of a peoples’ resistance to citizens’ abuse and disrespect for national brotherhood.
Contemplating this position some time ago, I realized that our seeming sufficiency-consciousness in nature’s bestowal has made majority of Nigerians to find maximum tolerance in life, to enable them ignore the urge to rise against their leadership. It is the norm to hear those who are propelled to popular protests respond “you are on your own (OYO). It is such a grace for our leaders that the ordinary people are quite easily moved to find alternatives for lacks in their livelihood than to hold the government responsible for these lacks.
For how long therefore would our leaders continue to count on the grace of nature and the peoples’ magnanimity in refusing to confront their incompetence and gross incapacities? It was confiding for government in the past that it was pension remittances that were annoyingly been owed. I remember how in the late 90s, my father, a pensioner of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, was owed an upward of 23 months in pension arrears, and up till now, those arrears still have a two-year outstanding to be cleared.
Now that salaries of regular workers are also been owed for upwards of 8 months, it has jolted me to remind our leaders that wherever insurrections arose, they were spontaneous and unprepared for, and if the trend of deficits in our financial balance sheets continues, I am sure nature’s grace and the peoples’ “belly full” with nonsense will give way to a popular rejection of our government. The continuous recklessness in the handling of our national wealth and the imbalances in its apportioning will soon raise an international attention and focus on Nigeria.
I think it is the barrenness of ideas for national wealth disbursement to put peoples’ money under the control of one man who is clearly powerful enough to manipulate the institution he represents, operating as the only law. It is a vital corruption of the law in Nigeria for it to claim that “no one is above the law”, yet classify some officials of government as not answerable to the law no matter how much they offend it while in office.
I see this as the legal protection of illegality. Why would politicians not shed innocent blood to occupy the office of a governor against the mandate of the people over whom he forces himself? This is slavery in itself, especially when subsequently the wealth of the people is further placed under his approval.
I will recall that before the exploration and exploitation of crude oil, our external trade index, which was solely computed upon agricultural products and near-surface mining, provided for, and met the needs of our people far more than we are able to cope with in these days of our dependence on crude oil.
We had the groundnut pyramids, cotton fields, hide and skins products in the North; cocoa farms in the West; palm extracts and coal mines in the East. The self-sufficiency of the regional governments at that tine contributed 50% of their revenue and income to the “Centre”. During this period, every region had self-pride; and regional self-development initiatives was not the concern the “Centre” as it is now.
It was the regions that determined what happened at the “Centre”, considering the example of the North “not been ready” for Nigeria’s independence in 1956. Northern Nigeria pulled out of the independence talk and paralyzed the drive for Nigeria to purse its 1956 deadline. I am very sure that if that talk had happened in these days, that independence of 1956 would have been forced on the North. Or could it be that it is the North that has always had its way in what relates to the entire Nigeria? I seem to hear some Northerners say “nothing can be forced on the north”.
This is left for us to follow from now on. If this is true, that the North has been leading others by the nose, then they must realise the incompetence that has left us struggling with our nationhood. When did this initial national building plan, which aimed at the independence of the regions and availing regional self-sufficiency changed to the dependence on the “Centre? A Centre that is an exploitive, yet an unproductive, economic Santa Claus.
The question that quickly comes to mind is, how much of the economic blueprints that provided the virile economic foundation for our former regions and the national prosperity experienced at that time have been sustained until now? If there was a deviation from the regions to the Centre, what necessitated that deviation?
Nigerians need to know what caused the disappearance of the groundnut pyramids, cotton plantations, palm plantations, coal fields, hide and skins enterprises, cocoa plantations…what happened? What propelled an economically unproductive and an abstractive “Centre” into becoming the sharer of national wealth derived on crude oil and statutory revenues?
Thinking very clearly, it is not far fetched where the problems from which our national development stems. And no wonder our governors would gather at the “Centre” and clamour for the sharing of “everything” revenue. I really could not understand why the Nigerian Governors Forum protested the setting up of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) by the Jonathan administration. Why would leaders of federating States in a country protest the “saving for rainy days”? Yet these are men who steal and invest the peoples’ wealth in global stocks.
Our constitution is said to be our “ground norm”, a sort of our national bedrock, and therefore the seeming building plan for Nigeria. It is necessary to identify, apart from the corruption of our laws by organs and agencies of our government, how the law in itself inequitably availed itself in been anti-people.
It is not in doubt what the inequities in our laws has caused in the urban migration of our rural population, and the criminality it generates against our socio-political and economic processes.
What led our youths out of their family farmlands and their homes to seek refuge and residence under the overhead bridges of our urban cities? A situation which converts our pedestrian walkways into public toilets and our urban environments unsightly polluted.
How interesting to us is the requirement for the issuance of the US visa that requires one to show evidence of self-sustainability while on a visit or stay in the US? Are there really vital reviews we need to consider in our constitution, especially as it has to do with our policy for national integration in view of the present unhindered rise in our rural to urban migration index? Why do we have such numbers of beggars’ colonies in our cities? How trustworthy are our lawmakers that they are people we can trust to wish all Nigerians well?
The providence surrounding the emergence of President Buhari as Nigeria’s fifth democratically elected President can only be said to be divinely propelled. I therefore will not give credence to whoever desires to take the shine from God by telling a naked lie that he facilitated Mr President’s victory. Recently Senator Saraki attempted to add salt to the injury he inflicted on public decency by telling a grandiose lie that he forewent his presidential ambition for Buhari’s, when he actually never expressed an interest in the presidency for this administration.
I have warned before now that Saraki’s intention is not to secure the Senate Presidency for public service but as an easy stairway to the office of the President. He is just a step away, having seen the Vice President as a “mere Commissioner”.
The exigency of the clamour by the PDP to “return to power soon” is not far from this fetching. My eyes are on Saraki and the National Assembly. Nothing must happen to President Buhari’s tenure of 4 years. Nigerians must engage the National Assembly in the need for them to justify their budget and to earn their wages appropriately by the number of law driven vehicles they dispatch with dividends of democracy for Nigerians. The era of “business as usual” died with the “Jonathan’s” administration. I am eager to see Senators Bukola Saraki and Ali Ndume clear their names from charges of corruption and accessory to terrorism respectively. President Buhari must be quick about this.
For once since the entrance of the present democratic dispensation, Nigerians had their earnest prayers for a people-driven leadership answered. This is the reason many Nigerians think this opportunity must not be lost, as we clearly seem not to have another if this one is wasted. Muhammadu Buhari has clearly won the trust of Nigerians, seen as the man with the right attitude and discipline required for self control, frugality, and fiscal responsibility. Having therefore been asked to lead, he is sorely responsible to set the ship of State aright and should be supported by all to succeed.
Ordinary Nigerians have suffered such neglect and official abandonment since the country’s independence in a way that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to begin afresh to rebuild the visible failures in the foundation of our nationhood. It must be clear to all that no nation is built by a self-serving elitist class; they can only pilot its affairs aground, in a clueless and reckless drive as the recent past administration bequeathed. True nations are built by the love of brotherhood shown between its citizenry and by their patriotic disposition to national advancement.
This cannot be said to be so with Nigeria. We have seen how participation and privileges in this country has been either on a “man know man” basis or by the survival of the fittest through social impunity, religious deception and political criminality. This is why our youths weld guns and others embrace cyber crimes to rub shoulders with our ruling class.
We live in a country which operates an extravagant government, but where the basic needs of life for the people are left for the citizens to provide for themselves: housing, health, water, power, food and necessary amenities that should uplift the peoples’ life expectancy and the fundamental objectives requiring a government over a people. In righting the foundational defects of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari is not only expected to straighten our economical goals, deal with official and officious corruption, strengthen our institutions, release the prosperity of our country and restore her dignity in the comity of nations; he is also expected to address the imbalances in the distribution of national wealth and the corruption in our law books, especially those ones relating to the provisions of benefits for our people.
If no other Nigerian has observed the inappropriate allocation of national privileges to a few in the face of the deprivation of the majority by our laws, I have. I wish therefore to call the attention of all Nigerians to the fact that if we must get the act of our nation building right, we must go back to the foundation.
It is a universal fact that the stability of a building depends on its foundation. Nigeria’s foundation has been faulty from the onset and though we have had series of legislative assemblies, mandated to establish laws that will form the vehicle to convey basic provisions to the ordinary people, their attention has been focused rather on very frivolous issues like enacting laws to set at what age a child should have the right of consent to have sex.
Is there any way the activation of this law can cover for the religious intention that influenced it? Yet we operate a secular State: who is fooling who? It is pitiable that though lawmakers are put in office, paid excessively to chart a true path for our country, they have proved to be a disgusting disappointment. The Eighth National Assembly is barely 6 weeks on oath, and at a time they were yet to commence any serious business, the major news reaching Nigerians about them are centred on the cost of their “nakedness” and on “juicy committees” they desire to “head”.
I am not saying that they do not deserve what is meant for them, far from it, but my point here is; as much as they get what they deserve, their attention should shift to areas where the real nation-structural faults lie. Inasmuch as Nigerians suffer immensely from reward deprivations in keeping their jobs, it is an absolute minimum for lawmakers to take the interest of Nigerians seriously.
Ordinary Nigerians are not interested in what lawmakers wear and in determining at what age a child should have sex, than in having affordable housing, sustainable food policy, adequate health care, an encouraging maternal and child mortality index, reliable national biometrics and statistical data, and a dependable private and public sectors economies? Why would our political class pursue house rats, when our nation is on fire and in dire need of selfless leadership?