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The essentials of a federation and its governance

By MC Asuzu
12 April 2021   |   3:22 am
If anybody living in Nigeria as a Nigerian is 40 years of age, has completed secondary education properly, but has not started to try to study the history of Nigeria so as to understand where its present miserable existence ....

If anybody living in Nigeria as a Nigerian is 40 years of age, has completed secondary education properly, but has not started to try to study the history of Nigeria so as to understand where its present miserable existence is coming from and what they can do towards its solution, then I will not know what to make of such a person. I will be unable to know if such a person is really intelligent at all. If the person appears to me to be actually intelligent in spite of not doing this study of Nigeria’s history for his needed understanding, then, I will be persuaded to try to find out what the evil that has stopped him from doing this must be coming from.

Definitely, the people who decided to remove history from the general education curriculum in Nigeria did not do so for any good reason whatsoever. They could not have done so for any good reason, because as everyone would know, wisdom has it that those who refuse to learn from history are prepared to repeat all the mistakes of their kind in those regards and to do so at very much more expensive or disastrous outcomes. That is what has no doubt become of Nigeria. That is where those people who have deprived the younger generations of Nigerians from knowing their history have deliberately brought us to!

With the level of socio-political woes that has befallen Nigeria, contributed to a reasonable extent by this blanking out of her history from the general education, most reasonable people in the country have agreed that we would do well to not waste time concentrating on those evil pasts. We should especially not waste time in looking for anybody to blame. However, we must just learn only the essentials of what went wrong so that it will enable us to find out what to do to repair those wrongs. Then, we must make haste with those needed repairs as fast as possible. Those are exactly what I intend to do with this rather very short article.

In these regards, we must know that all the white people from Europe who came and colonized Africa all did so for clearly very selfish interests of their own, as individuals and as nations. While they were leaving, they ensured to leave behind, cultures and institutions that perpetuate those their selfish neo-colonialist interests in these African countries. By these means, the indigenous selfish (individual and smaller corporate) interests that these colonialists have left behind in their continuing interests are in many places worse than those original European original colonial masters against the African peoples. The elements and evidences of these abound for those interested in studying them. But as already observed, pursuing these negative purposes has been seen as not helpful things to do. So, we must not do them. In not pursuing that path of our underminers and the depth and varieties of these evils, we will benefit from the eternal understanding that those who do wrong usually do not understand the full extent of the evil that they were doing. For if they did, as Homo sapients, they would obviously not do so. Moreover, if we were the ones in their various positions, we would probably have done as much evils, even if not more! So, we may not in all right conscience do anything to go in that direction. Otherwise, our own evil will become many times over those past ones all put together.

So, what are the essential facts that we should know about the inadequacies of our colonial pasts that will help us to get our acts together and then move most positively in the direction that we should be going? I believe that two of those areas of basic knowledge of our historical facts are important: 1. Our so-called “heroes past” in Nigeria, all knew about those historical facts and inadequacies; 2. They all failed to find the fully positive ways to lead us away from those. We must learn these facts very well. Then, we will respect them still but immediately turn over the correct leaf and get going, trying to get the right things done; well in contrast to what they had done. Ahmadu Bello recognized the selfishness of the British in creating Nigeria in 1914 and consistently called that historical fact of Nigeria as “the mistake of 1914” which should be corrected. There is no evidence that he did anything positively to correct it healthily. Because of the “mistake of 1914” and in stating it in his own terms, Obafemi Awolowo described Nigeria as “a mere geographical expression but not a nation” in any sense of such a word. While Nnamdi Azikiwe is not recorded as describing this unhealthy Nigerian history in any words of his own, like both of those two of our “heroes past” he knew of it or them; but also did nothing decidedly positive to overcome it. They all went on patch-patching the whole thing; and for Azikiwe, this may be because Nigeria as huge as it was, was good enough for him to continue with his “Zik of Africa” personal project with the likes of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Emperor Haile Selassie, the Nwalimu Dr. Julius Nyerere and all those Pan-Africanist leaders of that time.

With all these less-than-objectively positively progressive pursuits of our heroes past in repairing the colonial errors concerning Nigeria for the common good of all Nigerians, they arrived at our independence in 1960 with the minimally acceptable parliamentary democracy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, the truth of that minimum acceptable country that these leaders settled with at our independence is that a federation is a country of independently viable nations that are organized such as to be able to go away as such, if the principles of a federation were no longer to be obeyed by any member of the federation. That is the true nature of a federation.

In 1960 at our independence, we had a federation of three semi-independent units of the Eastern, the Western and the Northern Regions of Nigeria. Each of these nations had control of their resources, had their ministries as well as ministers in charge of them, had their independent ambassadors in every country of the world that they desired to do so in, irrespective of the overall Nigerian federal ambassadors in such countries. These federation units only paid the agreed percentages of their nationally generated revenues to the Federal Government at Lagos for their use in running the federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) within her exclusive legislative list in any such federations. That is what we started as a “fully independent African nation” with. This was the minimum good that we achieved from the “mistake of 1914” at our independence. Things have literally gone worse ever since then!

If we must truly make progress as a nation, this is the minimum good that we must return to as a nation. Then, we will put to rest all the mistakes or evils of both the colonialist Europeans as well as our local neo-colonialists; and begin to most positively start the agenda for the common political good of all Nigerians. That is the essentials of a federation as well as of its governance. There is enough evidence in Nigeria today to know that this is what all genuine Nigerians are yearning for by all the sensible political agitations around the country. Only the neo-colonialists are very clearly opposing this reality; and they will do very well to stop doing so! God bless the up-coming and true Nigeria!