The Night Side of Nigeria’s Independence By Idris Evuti
This independence you brought to us when shall it finish? This was the question the Tanzanian peasant farmers asked their leaders; when it became clear to them that their lives were better during the colonial rule.
Nigeria is fast growing in years of independence, but, without commensurate economic and infrastructural development. On 1st October 1960, like the new couple, Nigerians were full of euphoria for attaining self-governance. Nigeria started its journey to ‘nationhood’ on a promising note, with three rival economically viable regions. Although, the rivalry between these regions were healthy and purposeful. Because, it gave birth to lofty policies and programmes centred on human development. For instance, the idea to establish the famous Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was conceived in order to lessen the gap that exists then, between the western and northern region in terms of ‘formal or western education’.
The hopes and expectations that came along with independence were dashed and short-lived, and they became rhetoric than realities. This is especially after the phasing-out of the post-independent leaders of Nigeria – the nationalists.
The northern population Ahmadu Bello boosts of has now become unproductive – as the number of Almajiri’s is swelling by the day and like-wise the number of youth enlisting in the political thuggery industry. Also, Sardauna’s legacy of unifying the diverse people of the north across tribes and religions is now being betrayed by those who parade themselves as “Northern Elders.”
The seed of free education Obafemi Awolowo sowed in the western part of this nation is now yielding apostles of the “do-or-die” politics, and bigots who interpret their ‘day- dreams’ of once having an affair with the Biafrian warlords’ widow.
The industrial and entrepreneurial ideas Nnamdi Azikiwe promoted in the east have now metamorphosed into kidnapping, robbery and swindling.
Apparently, this is not the Nigeria our Nationalists bargained for in the Lagos and London conferences respectively.
Records have it that Nigeria, Brazil and India were once peered together and often referred to as “the face of third world countries”. That is, these countries have all it takes (human and material resources) to favourably compete globally. It’s most unfortunate to note that the duo have achieved some level of domestically driven developments while Nigeria is still lagging behind – with primordial sentiments and acute shortage of the basic index that make life worth living.
Available facts and figures suggest that from 1999 to date, Nigeria has earned more revenue than from independence to 1998; but paradoxically, the nation has lost more to corruption in these years. According to Orient News, Nigeria has lost N8 trillion to corruption in 13 years of her return to civilian rule. Despite the numerous anti-graft agencies that were established in the years in question; corruption, like an inferno in the garment factory, has engulfed the Nigerian state. Again, as Orient News puts it: “… Nigeria is a case study of unbridled scramble for commonwealth … justifying that corruption, like chickens, has come home to roost.”
To a larger extent, the success or otherwise of a nation is being determined by its leadership. Thus, it’s germane; by a way of analogy, to recount the distinct dispositions of the leaders this nation has produced since her return to democracy. A glint through the personalities of our leaders from 1999-date:
In the beginning of this Republic, was a retired Army general whose name has been catalogued among those who fought for the preservation of Nigeria’s unity during the nations’ civil war. But, for the lust of power, this former prison tenant, turned to a “third-term mafia”; who against all odds was bent on subverting the country’s constitution for self-centred interest(s). But kudos to the members of the fifth National Assembly, some citizens, Academia and Civil Society Organisations etc that were opposed to and fought against President Obasanjo’s tenure elongation.
However in 2007, unlike the invisible hands of the market forces; President Obansanjo was instrumental in the emergence of President Umaru Yar’adua. On assuming office, President Yar’adua assiduously advocated the need for rule of law and constitutionalism. Alas! Little did the Fulani man knew he was harbouring the adversaries of rule of law – his wife and some of his cabinet members; referred to “kitchen cabinet or cabal”. For their personal gains, they (his wife and the cabal) prevented him from transmitting power to the then second in command. This resulted to a constitutional battle, which afterwards gave birth to the ‘doctrine of necessity’. Consequently, the seven point agenda president lost his life in controversial manners; in similar ways controversy surrounded his emergence.
The Hausas have a maxim thus: “fadin wan wani, tashi wan wani” meaning the fall of one person is the rise of another. In 2010, the man with a hat took charge. And as proved by history, this “hat -man” has always had a smooth climb through the ladder of fortune when his “oga(s)-at the- top” have dates with their misfortunes. As gentle as this man from the riverine area might look, he “don’t give a damn” if public office holders declare their assets or not, or if 16 is less than 19 votes. All he gives a damn about is that he goes with the prediction of the public; recently people foretold he will fire some members of his cabinet and he ‘blindly’ did. That was too cheap a prediction on Mr President; even though he has the power to hire and fire members of his cabinet. Idris Evuti is on twitter: @idrisevuti
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