Owners of Nigeria and their multiple worlds
Most of those wielding political power, today, in Nigeria – at the local, state and federal levels – need to be ‘applauded’ for continuing ‘faithfully’ in building more solid structures on the foundations, laid for inequality, by their predecessors. They have succeeded in contributing to the creation and sustenance of two different worlds for the (oppressors) owners of Nigeria and (oppressed) others.
At this juncture, we must state as always, metaphorically, that the mentioned reality is not, and should not be simplistically, in a pedestrian shallow-thinking manner, only ascribed to an Obasanjo, a Yar’adua, Jonathan or Buhari! It is, and should be treated as, an inherited and deliberately-sustained colonial legacy; because past/current misleaders have been ‘lucky’ to inherit a large number of people that made/make up a ‘conquered’ docile populace unable and/or unwilling to ask questions and take misleaders to task.
Those in government appear to only have contenders in those who are either meandering towards joining them in sharing from the perceived ‘war booty’ or are struggling to replace these misleaders in the same manner of replicating and furthering the agenda of sustaining the already-created two different worlds in Nigeria. Without mincing words or being comical, the country has been, and is still, a “Turn-by-Turn” (Anyhow) Limited!
In an earlier intervention, we said and still maintain that “…..our people, of course, already had the propensity, through groupings, to oppress each other long before [European] colonialism but also eventually inherited the legacy of oppression left behind by the colonialists and instead of dismantling it, they went ahead to retain, strengthen and entrench it…..” To be fair, we are aware that most of the colonialists were foreigners who came to this part of the world for their (hustling) ‘businesses’ with the mindset of “all is fair in war”.
Thus, like elsewhere, it should not be news that they created their world within the geographical space they named Nigeria. Some lived like Lords, extracting resources ‘home’. To them, home was outside of Nigeria! What is still marvelling to us is that most ‘Nigerians’ that took over from them were/are worse in this regard. In fact, the actions/inactions of those in power in Nigeria depicted and still depict them as foreigners! Or how do we describe a local government councillor, who, on getting into office, moves out of the neighbourhood, where he was voted for, to where ‘elites’ reside?
People in government, in Nigeria, today, still see themselves as conquerors (the way most colonialists saw themselves in the past) that must not be questioned nor challenged by the conquered mere mortals. Certainly, they are dark-skinned colonialists of today! This country has always been an ‘occupied territory’ right from European colonialists’ time through those of the military until today! Is this not so?
This conflict-spawning reality is a major reason why successive governments, in this country, have been weaponising poverty through different means. They have a mindset that is still stuck in the feudalism epoch while their governance approach is that of fascism. Their words must be law; so they want in the 21st century! These same people that benefited from public benevolence in health, education, and other social facilities, are the ones now advocating for privatisation and commercialisation of the same public assets.
These poorly-funded public facilities are already abandoned! They are now meant for only the conquered mere mortals that are ‘without’ human rights! With all the well-intentioned advocacies, why are Nigerians still this docile? Undoubtedly, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (1938–1997) and his Afrika 70 really understood the suffering masses of Nigeria when a track entitled “Shuffering and Shmiling” was recorded in 1977 and released in 1978. Yet, in 2023, Nigerians (most especially the masses) are still suffering and smiling!
They even support their oppressors to victimise their potential liberators! They have been sufficiently constrained and conditioned to the level where what dominates their thinking is how to ensure the next meal! For many, surviving in today’s Nigeria is really a miracle! The country is not only trapped; so also are most of the poor inhabitants! The very limited economic opportunities are drastically declining due to senseless government policies! Nigerians are increasingly giving up on Nigeria! The defining spirit/mood of Nigeria’s youths/other age groups, now, is that of moving out of the country (by any means) in droves!
This zeitgeist is simply termed “japa” on the street! Living in Nigeria is truly frustrating! So, many are being pushed to “japa” but who will solve Nigeria’s challenges? These frustration-induced mass departures from Nigeria, especially by professionals in all fields, do not bother Nigeria’s misleaders! The country is really in trouble as those in power have not only sustained the two worlds in Nigeria but also have their safe homes out of the country. As said earlier, they are foreigners!
They loot Nigeria’s treasury and stash away the illicit wealth in foreign lands. They, their family and other loved ones treat themselves abroad. Their children/wards are trained in institutions abroad using resources illicitly obtained from Nigerians’ collective patrimony. This is why they are perpetually at ‘war’ with disadvantaged Nigerians. Surreptitiously, it has always been a case of ‘them’ against ‘us’! Investments in public health/education are not of priority to these foreigners. Hence, they have decided to go on an all-out-war against any person or group that call their attention to, and hold them responsible for, the decay in any public facility.
For instance, these fascists have tactically but illegally ‘criminalise’ agitations for rights in the way they have been dealing with Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Although, there are cases in the law courts, we have said severally and will continue to remind all, that strike is NOT the problem but a symptom of a deep Weltschmerz in our public universities; once this is treated, strike will be gone!
This union (ASUU) has been on patriotic struggles to compel governments to honour collectively-bargained and mutually-reached agreements aimed at improving the country’s fast collapsing public universities. What did this government do? It simply resorted to force; a reminiscence of the military era! Is this a democracy? Really? When brawn and brain are in a contest, we know which will eventually win! Well now, the foreigners that call themselves Nigerian leaders have democratised poverty and created their own world but have not been, and will never be, able to prevent Mother Nature from democratising death!
Erakhrumen currently teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.