Just Before We Decide To Breakup By Samuel Akinyele Caulcrick
The Nigerian media and airwaves are saturated with stories of an impending breakup of Nigeria come 2015. Most Nigerian elites seem to salivate at the prospect; nothing else makes sense to them these days. It started with a purported forecast by the United States’ intelligence machinery “Nigeria, as a nation, will disintegrate in the year of the Lord 2015.” The pundits would be proven right if the patch-up failed after 101 years. Initially, the prediction looked far-fetched, but as the doomsday draws closer, it is becoming increasingly plausible. Nigerians, particularly its elites and political leaders, seem to be acting the American script to the letter. Nigeria is becoming a nation on life support.
Let’s face it, the country has not been a success story in cohesion; each constituent blames the other or others for lack of its development or improvement. Ordinary citizens in each tribe in Nigeria seem brainwashed to believe that the other tribes are the reason why they lack basic necessities of life; this is against the backdrop of their kin and kith colluding with the supposedly strange peers or enemies, at the centre, from other tribes, to rob them blind. People claim our togetherness as a nation has slowed down the growth of their zone, whereas the people beating the drum of separation have converted what is meant for their kith and kin to personal use. Most of those that are advocating unity, also, are also not pro bono, either.
It sounds hollow to advocate togetherness at this juncture in Nigeria’s history. While my mind loomed to some incredible prospect that I may not be a fellow compatriot to somebody from Sokoto, Calabar, Maiduguri, Enugu or Katsina, etc in the next 2 years, I came across an old school hymn. I attended a private Methodist high school, Eko Boys High School, in the late 60s, and we used to pride ourselves on being patriots. Our school principal was an Anglican reverend, who enjoyed the rich collection of Methodist hymns. One of his favourites on morning devotions to hone home our commitment to our fatherland, Nigeria, was the Methodist hymn, “To Thee, Our God, we fly,” which we sang with relish:
To Thee our God we fly For mercy and for Grace; O hear our lowly cry, And hide not Thou Thy face. O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand, And guard and guide our Fatherland. Give peace, Lord, in our time; O let no foe draw nigh, Nor lawless deed of crime, Insult Thy Majesty. O Lord, stretch forth Thy mighty hand, And guard and bless our Fatherland. The other stanzas of the hymn remain relevant to our situation today as they also address the untruthfulness of the men of God and the Church; the hymn’s chorus implores God to guard and bless our fatherland. They implore God to make the Church one, and the pastors true. These, however, are the signs of our times: a derailment from the track that leads to God’s Kingdom. Our leaders move from one church to the other searching for perpetuity or self-political success and not for the fatherland – searching for a God that is not missing.
Who are these so called “patriotic” Nigerians that are bent on the collapse of this nation? They beat their chests as patriots, but they should face the criminal charge of treason against their fatherland, for they have robbed their fatherland of its wealth. Except I have missed the definition of a patriot while growing up, It was defined to us, in our school, as a person who loves and zealously supports and defends their country. The patriot of old could take advantage of outsiders (us and them) to enrich their fatherland and not the other way. We, helplessly, watched these criminals change the definition of patriotism as they robbed the country blind and shipped the wealth of their fatherland to a foreign land – impoverishing their fatherland. For challenging this dastardly act, they label their accusers as unpatriotic.
Yugoslavia was a child of the end of the First World War; Nigeria was a child of the prospect of the beginning of that same war. True, the hurriedly amalgamated Nigeria union, in 1914, of the southern and northern protectorates was outside the compass of the control of the natives. It was an exigency put in place by the British colonial masters at the time in preparation for the First World War that was looming, and actually started in that same year, 1914. Most of the British supervising staff in British colonies, all over the world, were needed at home, in Britain, to prosecute that war to defend their fatherland. A merger of protectorates, like those of Nigeria, would sensibly reduce the number of needed supervising staff; thus, extra British Foreign Staff were released to go back home to fight the World War in Europe. That was what the British did. The Nigerian union thus was conceived by the prospect of the First World War – it was a child of circumstances.
Even we, humans, are all children of circumstances. Today, an African-American occupies the White House; this perhaps was unthinkable some few years back; his father was even a native of faraway Kenya. What has made Barak – a child of circumstance – a success story, but Nigeria’s story a failure? There are no easy answers. One thing is certain; Nigerians are united on common fronts, like sports and forces against Nigeria. They share poverty together without tribal coloration, and if you may know – they loot the public treasuries together without tribal coloration, either. Nobody has come back from Abuja with his or her dress torn to shreds because he or she is from a particular tribe. Perhaps, it is the degree of the public treasury looting that has a tribal unbalance, and not the level of labor.
That being the case, the ordinary Nigerian will be stupid to go to war because a common thief that happens to hail from their town or zone is being marginalized by the group the common thieves belong. “What have you done for me lately?” We have no constant electricity; no water; no rail; no decent mode of transportation – only okada, molue, or danfo and you call that progress? We have no good hospital; no good schools for our children; no good roads; no security. We practically live in a Stone Age in the year of the Lord 2013. Is it tribalism that makes the schools in our villages not good enough for the children of the elites or politician from these villages? Is it tribalism that makes the hospital in our villages not good enough for their families that hail from these villages? I beg! It is the ordinary folks in Nigeria that are being marginalized and not the over pampered common thieves.
This hymn was written in 1871 by William How, an Anglican priest and rector of Wittington near the Welsh border – he later made bishop. I thought his words would guide us to a rethink. Another hymn of note in my school’s morning devotion was “Land of our birth we pledgeto thee.” A colleague says something like the first one or the latter should have been ournational anthem, instead of what Obasanjo gave us that is tearing the country apart. But then, the non-Christians probably would have objected. There are just no easy solutions. Let us have a minute silence for those who have died while we struggle to keep Nigeria, our fatherland, one. These include those recently slaughtered students by unknown gunmen. God, let them not die in vain; guard, bless, and guide our fatherland.
Samuel Akinyele Caulcrick wrote in from Jeddah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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