Nigeria: One Year Shy of 60, Nigeria Still Gropes in the Dark
The Lugardian contraption called Nigeria has come of age. Hasn’t it existed for over a century? It was in 1914 that the Southern and Northern protectorates were amalgamated, and the geographical space was called Nigeria. So, Nigeria is a disparate political entity and a conglomeration of ethnic nationalities. And for a considerable length of time, the geographical space, which was christened Nigeria by Flora Shaw, was a British colony.
During the colonial era, Nigerians who acquired Western education became politically conscious. So, in 1922, the first political party in Nigeria was formed following the adoption of the Clifford Constitution for use in the country. Then, Nigerians were elected into the Lagos and Calabar legislative councils.
More so, educated Nigerians who were conscious of the evils and disadvantages of colonial rule started agitating for the political emancipation of Nigeria. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, a political ideologue and an alumnus of Lincoln University in America led the charge for the decolonisation of Nigeria.
Chief Anthony Enahoro, who moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence; Nwafor Orizu, one-time Senate leader; Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a former Premier of Western Region; Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, who became our Prime Minister in 1960, and others, fought relentlessly for Nigeria’s attainment of political sovereignty and freedom.
Upon our attainment of statehood and political sovereignty in 1960, the departing British colonialists, who were amenable to the Northern people’s political domination of Nigeria, helped Alhaji Tafawa Balewa to become the Prime Minister of Nigeria in 1960. The British imperialists had clandestinely enthroned the northerners’ political hegemony and dominance of Nigeria in order to achieve their selfish and sinister goals. It’s they who institutionalised the perverse and monstrous culture of imposition of political leaders on Nigerians, which has led to the emergence of mediocre political leaders in the country.
That’s why after the collapse of the First Republic and the end of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, a political dark horse called Alhaji Shehu Shagari beat Azikiwe, Awolowo, Aminu Kano and Ibrahim Waziri in the 1979 presidential election.
And Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was helped to power in 1999 by the king-makers and Northern interests to placate the indignant Yoruba people over the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election. Again, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who won the 2007 presidential election, confessed that the election which brought him to the office was marred by electoral fraud.
We should note that Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who were beneficiaries of Nigeria’s egregious culture of imposition of leaders on the populace, squandered the opportunities offered to them to transform Nigeria positively. And they couldn’t entrench enduring peace and unity in Nigeria, which is the bedrock of national development.
Today, Nigeria is stuck in the mud of underdevelopment because it hasn’t been led by its best politicians since it became an independent country. However, a country’s development is intrinsically linked to the quality of leadership provided to the citizens by its national leader. The economies of Malaysia, Singapore and other great Asian countries had been leapfrogged to great heights because their leaders possess political ideologies, moral probity and good leadership qualities. A good political leader, who is a visionary, envisions the type of country he wants and works assiduously and patriotically to build that country.
So, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first coming or incarnation as our civilian president, millions of Nigerians thought him to be the messiah who would revamp our economy, evolve our own technological culture which will be predicated on the functional educational system and entrench peace and unity in the country. And not a few Nigerians felt that his leadership of Nigeria would be a positive departure from that of Dr Goodluck Jonathan. We believed him to be the political leader who would root out corruption in Nigeria and bring sanity to our systems of doing things given his ascetic nature and distaste for corruption.
However, President Buhari’s occupation of the highest political office in Nigeria has led to his demystification. Under his watch and guidance, Nigeria is steadily going to the dogs. In his first term in office, Nigeria’s economy slipped into recession. It came out of it, however. Nigeria, as a country, which has oil resources and humongous population, has not witnessed rapid economic progress and technological transformation under the leadership of President Buhari. Today, owing to the mismanagement of our economy, millions of Nigerians have been reduced to sub-humans.
The worsening economic situation in the country has made millions of Nigerians become vulnerable, with some of them joining terrorist groups like the Boko Haram. The impressionable young people who joined Boko Haram had been indoctrinated with distorted teachings of Islam which fire them up to levy war against the Nigerian state.
Aren’t we aware that the unresolved Boko Haram incubus poses a great threat to our continued existence as one indivisible country? In addition to this, gun-wielding cattle herders, who are classified as a deadly terror group, should be checked, otherwise, their murderous deeds will plunge Nigeria into a huge conflagration, which will cause its disintegration.
President Buhari should up his game as the leader of Nigeria in order to improve the people’s living condition and ignite the rapid economic and technological growth of Nigeria. He should wean himself of ethnocentric proclivities and religious bias and initiate pragmatic pan-Nigerian policies, the implementation of which will transform Nigeria into a developed nation-state and assure us that he is not a sectional leader and divisive figure.
Until President Buhari starts doing the right things, Nigeria will continue to grope in the dark for national redemption and salvation from the debilitating forces of national disunity and underdevelopment.