This Nigerian state
A MAN had told me that I was too ‘young and smart’ to be so ‘preoccupied by ethnicity,’ and my reply to him was in the following words: ‘You won’t understand, you’re not a minority. Nigeria is not a fair state.’ Permit my outburst, although obverse from the widely accepted ‘Nigerian reality,’ this is frank.
This Nigerian state is a tragedy, a tragedy of theatrical proportion. This Nigerian state is a majority-run fiefdom, a fiefdom whose sole objective is the exploitation, slaving, oppression and suppression of the minority. Throughout my adulthood, as short as it might be, I’ve struggled to be Nigerian. I have striven to be Nigerian, but the Nigerian state, being a fiefdom as it is, has decided to see me first as an Ogoni, then as a Niger Deltan. This Nigerian state has deemed it a necessity to see the Niger Delta and indeed other minorities as one to be conquered, its people one to be oppressed and suppressed and its resources one to be explored and exploited.
This Nigerian state as is currently structured is what I can best call a post-colonial state, a state that has astonishingly moved from white colonialism to black colonialism. This Nigerian state is a typical example of an oppressed, being freed by his oppressor, turning around to be the new oppressor. To those who have adjudged it a hobby to call out others who having seen the flaw called the Nigerian state and deciding to question its unjust and dishonest nature, the late Chinua Achebe has this to say about you: ‘It is because their case is hopelessly weak and they know that the verdict can be nothing other than guilty.’ To those who’ll be quick to say that I’m ‘blinded’ by ethnicity, I’ll be quicker to educate them that ethnocentrism is simply the glasses of necessity which aids in the understanding of the reality of this Nigerian state.
According to Achebe, ‘the most commonly enunciated Nigerian ideal is unity…the second ideal…is faith.’ And using his analogies, let us first talk about the so-called ‘unity’ of the Nigerian state.
To those who are quick to pitch the Nigerian state as united, I ask, for what purpose? It was Achebe that said ‘Unity can only be as good as the purpose for which it is desired.’ He went further: ‘Obviously it is good for a group of people to unite to build a school or a hospital…but supposing a group of other people get together in order to rob a bank.’ So of what purpose is the unity of the Nigerian state? The answer lies in the later part of Achebe’s parallelism. The so-called ‘unity’ of the Nigerian state is one of robbery. It is a parasitic kind of ‘unity’ that has continued to thrive with active and willing connivance of the elite/leaders among the oppressed who through a distortion of their reality and a complex which has driven them to seek approval from their oppressors have continued to be actively involved in the vicious raping and plundering.
Faith, the second idea, Achebe said was as ‘good as the object on which it reposes…faith is alright provided it is to be placed in something acceptable’ the Nigerian state in itself is unacceptable and as such has turned out to be one that has left the minorities faithless. An oppressed cannot have faith in his oppressor to free him from oppression, faith in this instance lies with the oppressed and in his ability to emancipate himself. The minorities that make up this fiefdom called Nigeria have faith, faith not in their oppressors, but faith in themselves. The ability to emancipate lies with them and it is only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ they’ll ever emancipate themselves.
The Nigerian state as it is at the moment is in dire need of restructuring. The Nigerian state should as a matter of national emergency be restructured from a fiefdom ‘run’ and ‘managed’ by the majority with total disregard for the minority to one where the minority and majority, though ethnically divided, are both first class citizens of the Nigerian state. Anything short of this restructuring will be akin to the continued dropping of dry twigs on an already huge pile of dry twigs; one day a match will be lit. Until this Nigerian state is restructured, its position on this keg of gunpowder remains unshaken; when and where the spark will come from will not be unconnected with the minorities whose faith no longer lie with the Nigerian state, but in themselves.
• Nubari is based in Port Harcourt. Twitter @Saatah