For Nigeria, liberation song remains green 56 years after
This is 2016, the year that announces our country’s fifty-six years existence as one country or nation of different peoples, different nations and nationalities yoked together as a homogeneously heterogeneous or heterogeneously homogeneous entity. Whatever you or anybody may say, since 1960 when our founding fathers drove the Brits from here without firing a bullet in any episode of liberation war, we have been living together of our own free will. Ours clearly has been, since 1960, a country of diverse peoples who have been trying to relish, in varying degrees, the classical doctrine of unity in diversity.
These days, however, our unity-in-diversity slogan is seriously threatened and endangered by harbingers of the doctrine of liberation, the “liberation of Nigeria,” which is truly what they mean by their slogan of re-structuring, the structuring of Nigeria. These harbingers and drummers of their peculiar brand of liberation or of re-structuring see and take anybody who does not share their view as an enemy of the masses and of the people of our country. Maybe I am wrong and maybe I am not wrong.
But whatever the case is or whatever the case may be I would like to see myself as a member of the Re-structuring Resistance Brigade – that is if such a brigade exists. Despite our many challenges since 1960 we have steadily cruised and steered our ship of state in a turbulent and rocky sea of nationhood as diverse peoples possessing homogenous credentials. Some may argue, rightly or wrongly, that what we have had (and are still having) since independence is a romance of the state of Nigeria that has assumed absurd proportions. One reason they canvass and advance is that a particular section of the country has been lording over other sections since we stopped and “beat” the colonialists out of our land.
Their submission is not entirely correct. Yes, Northern persons have politically ruled Nigeria more than Southern persons. But the effects of the political policies of both Northern and Southern political play-makers on the entire country are more or less the same. All the political play-makers from the North and South are birds of the same feather. In varying degrees, they have feathered the nests selfishly and, nepotically speaking, of their own people. In fact and indeed, both Northern and Southern leaders who have presided over our national affairs centrally have played the roles of nepotists and of ethnic and tribal barons and lords. And in several instances many of them ended up giving sparse infrastructural developments to their geographical regions against far better ones that they gave their ethnical homelands. But there may be tiny exceptions.
The late Obafemi Awolowo of Western Nigeria of our first republic and Ahmadu Bello of Northern Nigeria also of our first republic did not, infrastructural-wise, develop their respective ethnical homes, their respective ethnical homelands of Ikenne and Sokoto to the total neglect of their respective regions.
They did the best they could to open up their vast regions – economically and otherwise. But they still experienced developmental debacles. In fact, minority ethnical groups in the two regions dreamed several times of rising in revolt in order to liberate themselves from the yoke of the majorities – the major ethnical groups in the regions. The same feelings of uneasiness and anxiety occurred in Eastern Nigeria of our first republic as well..
But the first republic years were glorious years compared to what came thereafter starting from the years of the soldiers. The goal of the soldiers was the exact opposite of our first politicians, our founding fathers. The soldiers presented themselves as occupying troops of Nigeria and behaved as if we were in their trap, as if we were rabbits and rats in their trap. Their respective governments dreamed for us their dreams that trapped us indeed as preys regardless of some of their developments – road construction, bridge-building and other sundry economic and educational and recreational structures (that have since collapsed) – , but these in the main were centred in their respective ethnical and regional power bases and blocks.
The power of force, of the one man who is the sole owner and user of power, was what we learnt, in the main, from the respective military governments that have shown us their eyes and nostrils. They never really gave the people their
ears for they heard only their own echoes and noises in their tiny
circles. They were not in the real sense of the word and term the corrective regime that they proclaimed their respective coup de tat regimes to be.
The respective assignments they gave themselves were poorly executed. They were in no way exemplary. All our current damning disgrace derives from the military guns and their mythic corrective regimes.
The corruption everywhere about us today, the fraud everywhere about us today, the insecurity everywhere about us today, were caused by the military people whose regimes and governments never truly affirmed the sovereignty of the Nigerian people. Many of these civilian geniuses are in control of our current petrol, politics and economics where they are displaying their considerable talents in a number of operations that are wrecking, wreaking and
cracking our country.
From North to South, from West to East, from anywhere and everywhere to the Niger Delta of boiling trouble the geniuses are there to deliver powerful blows at true champions of freedom and change that will prepare Nigeria and our peoples for deliverance and liberation for shining modernity and inspiring growth.
These powerful people are garnering worthless titles everywhere in the land today with their blood money that they also employ to decorate their homelands with worthless structures that they cannot conveniently assess because there are no good roads to get there. But we must develop the great persistence of spirit and ingenuity to get out of the very tight spots they want to put us. We must display exceptional courage that will enable us to resist them and smash them out of reckoning – politically and otherwise.
What I am at pains to point out so far is that the men and women who have ruled and commanded our lives as rulers and leaders are the trouble and problem with Nigeria.
If we must liberate Nigeria, we must courageously liberate ourselves from them. Indeed, our leaders and rulers have been our country’s bane. Re-structuring of Nigeria will not liberate Nigeria. What we need are leaders who will enable us to resist future ethnic conquerors of our country.
We need leaders and rulers who must re-structure their brains, thoughts, visions, sentiments and interests in order for us to enjoy ad infinitum our joy of unity, development and progress in diversity. We want men and women who must be members of the new brigade and society, members of the new order that will enable every Nigerian to bear witness to a new, liberated Nigeria by their actions – regardless of where they come from. Nigerians must fight and do what they must do to give us a liberated Nigeria where none will exploit none, where everyone must be treated equally, where everyone must disavow the notion of putting his or her hope in anyone other than oneself.
• Eminent poet, Prof Tony Afejuku, public figure of several parts, radical activist and front-line columnist and distinguished University of Benin teacher spoke to Hendrix Oliomogbe on Nigeria at 56