No basis for unity in Nigeria?
As many educated people who had been around the world and know Nigeria and her peoples personally would very easily understand, the country has great potential for progress and world leadership in everything. However, this has not been the case in practice. The many people who belong to this class of knowledge are not politicians in Nigeria. It is such knowledgeable and sensible politicians, or others who are wise enough to appoint such people to assist them in this job of political leadership, that will be able to do so. But what do we have in Nigeria? Ignorant people hardly educated about many things, joining politics by chance, through the many rather silly military interventions, through thuggery or any of the other Nigerian methods, have been our popular brand of politicians. On getting there, they appoint others even more uneducated, tribalistic, fanatical or with other hegemonic qualifications to be such advisers to them. And they would usually have numerous varieties of these advisers as well as many layers thereof for this same numerous departments of advisers! It will be good if these politicians are persuaded to realize that all these “avenues for more money to our people”, “our boys and girls”, is not the intelligent way for truly self and other serving; and so, of good politics. Moreover, it produces such economically draining and impoverished countries as we now have!
Because of this way of our politics, and so failing to pursue the common good of everybody in the polity, evenly, we have continued to disintegrate as a people and as a country. The product of this in now a further “Nigerian country as a mere geographical entity but not a nation” where we are perpetually at war with ourselves; and the people instigating and fuelling these evil progressions as our leaders, are ever ready and progressing in doing this. They would seem to have no relatives who can advise them against all these evil tendencies. Or perhaps, their morbidities have gone so far that they are no longer able to listen to anything good, to understand these, to repent of their past unhealthy tendencies and so to begin to lead us aright. On the contrary, they will rather go to war, as they had been preparing for and believing in! That notwithstanding, we must keep appealing to people who know these politicians or can talk to them, to let them know that there can be a better way other than these methods of amassing money for self and “their people” to be able to bribe or howsoever else corrupt everybody else.
One of them has been known to say that every Nigerian has a prize at which he can be bought! So, for these people, no politician in Nigeria needs to be working for the common good; only just able to bribe any of them! This way of working for the common good, evenly, is what leads to true immortality, whether politically, socially or spiritually. This is the only way to produce a country that even they will be truly happy to be in; to talk less of others and the world at large. Any other way otherwise is to live in this war cabinet government system of governance. Only the place called hell by all spiritual and religious persuasions works in that way. And there is no doubt that those who create such hell for the people they are supposed to be leading politically, will most likely continue in that state of being hereafter!
Democracy and good governance is the only way to work for the common good. It works by way of equality of citizenry, the rule of law and due process, employment by merit, affirmative action for the disadvantaged and the otherwise marginalized segments of the society but not by one or multiple obnoxious favouritisms thereof. This is how great nations are produced. This is how happy nations are produced. Anybody who desires to be in active politics but does not know this needs prayers, better education or the other helpful assistances by relatives and other people who love and have access to these people to do so.
All Nigerians, especially socio-cultural and religious leaders who have access to those politicians, must try to do this to these relatives and associates in politics, for their very personal benefits. Other methods of mutual knowledge, love and comradeship across the ethnic nationalities will need to be properly promoted for this purpose. The Unity Schools and the National Youth Service Corps were programmes that were created to promote these values. But as we all know, the hegemonists have also stolen into these programmes and thoroughly bastardized and sectionalized them; with all sorts of divisive interests. This is why the basis of our unity as a country has steadily declined to the point that hardly anything of it exists now except in the hearts of very few ones! What a pity!
On the 29th of July 1966, a supposedly honest gentleman called Yakubu Gowon made a national broadcast to all of us. One of the most unforgettable contents of this was that “there was no basis for Nigerian unity” from what he saw of it then. He was only accepting the headship of the Nigerian Military Government apparently being forced on him, to try and hold Nigerians together until they would be able to sort themselves out as to how they should go. However, within the next few hours or perhaps only a day or two, he was also apparently “taught” to say that “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done!” This became a repeated mass media slogan, followed by another one of “Get On With One Nigeria!” This latter was understandably explained to him to be the “prophetic” meaning of his name of GOWON. He then completely swallowed his apparently well felt and honest statement that he did not see then, any basis for Nigeria’s unity; and he was only going to preside until Nigerians sorted themselves out on how to go! How sad things can get when we are unable to stand for the truth that our inner conscience reveals to us!
That disappearance of the basis of unity has continued non-stop since then; even though the seemingly now helpless Gowon would seem to have tried to reverse these by the two programmes stated above. Those who know our most dear Yakubu Gowon must plead with him, now that he is so old that there will be nothing to lose by coming out and saying the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to come out now and tell these to us so that we may maximally be benefitted from it. “Prayers” (that is, this his brand of “Nigeria Prays” programme) alone, would seem to me and many of us as a lame game, which will not work without confessions on these burning issues of Nigeria and her unity.
To conclude, Nigerians – especially the truly educated, the spiritual and the progress-loving people – must realise that without persuading and getting these their politicians to repent of these multiplications of mutual hatred and destruction of any basis of unity in Nigeria, there will be no reason for the politics that they are doing. All of it will lead to more chaos calling more for the dissolution of the country; which fact is staring us in the face. Further loss of lives in this country as it keeps going, will surely be on their heads in time and in eternity.
If however they repent in time, and return to building a country of mutual love, justice and equity, pursuit of the well-known common good of all, the rule of law and less hegemonies, nepotism, tribalism and the silly arrogance of the ignorant and the fanatics, there may return any chances of holding anything together in what is left of Nigeria now. Again as they say, a word should be enough for the wise and those who desire wisdom! So, let this be!
Asuzu is a retired professor of public health and community medicine, University of Ibadan.
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