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The sins of Britain


If Nigeria is plagued by a myriad of problems today, there is need for introspection to unravel the root cause of national stagnancy. When a supposed raining season is shrouded in a deep drought, all manner of devices are needed to ascertain the genesis of the trouble. Nigeria has come of age and if at 59, things are still the way they are, and sadly still the future holds no certain hope of alleviation, it calls for a genuine concern by all well meaning citizens. Perhaps the greatest calamity to have befallen Nigeria is its colonization by Britain. That particular country laid the foundation of all woes that betide the nation and the time has come to let the entire world into numerous atrocities committed by Britain culminating in the deep mire Nigeria has now found itself.

Failure of Britain to recognize and respect the individuality of each component part brought under the unholy alliance of 1914 is at the root of the problems facing Nigeria. If France had behaved the way Britain did, it would have lumped Togo and Benin Republic together but even though the population of the two if combined will still not march that of Lagos, yet France allowed each to be. Britain however, propelled by the strong desire of exploitation would only consider its own gains at the expense of building a future disaster.

Some have argued that the long years of independence ought to have been enough for the nation to put the blame game behind and move forward, and that inability of the nation’s leaders to get their acts right is the main cause of visible retrogression. However such view even though appears sensible and rational ignores the fact that mending a broken clay pot may end up an impossible mission. Sometimes some damages done are beyond any repairs no matter whatever efforts are dissipated. Indeed as far as Nigeria is concerned any meaningful change can only occur through direct divine intervention. The reason is not farfetched. Those already enjoying immense benefits from the false contraption will never allow any measures that would upset the system from which they derive maximum comfort.


By 1914, thinking more about its own advantages, Britain amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates and so brought together strange bedfellows. In its interaction with Nigerians, the British ought to have noticed marked differences among all the regions that were brought under one umbrella, and the fact that since both the aspirations and dreams of each of them differ, working together would eventually prove very difficult. Then again while drafting the constitution for the fledgling nation; Britain ignored the need to include the secession clause in the event of any of the members wishing to pull out. Accepted that some Nigerians were against the insertion of such clause while some advocated for it, an intelligent umpire must have been able to know the proper thing to do in such circumstance and the nation would have been saved a lot of embarrassment when agitation to pull out of the federation later began to threaten the corporate existence of the entire nation.

As if enough damage had not been done already, the British also ensured that the learned Nigerians well grounded in the issue of governance, and who would have led the nation to the so much desired Promised Land never got the baton. Rather, those who initially stated their non-readiness for independence and even walked out of the proceedings got the British nod, and since then the nation set out on a wrong footing, fifty nine years after still groping in the dark. Now, it’s clear beyond doubts that the grand design to keep Nigeria undeveloped was orchestrated by Britain. With a large population of completely heterogeneous and totally divided citizens, how Nigeria hopes to wriggle out of its nagging predicament remains to be seen. A nation comprising a section peopled by a bunch of saboteurs and outright dishonest beings living off the state and circumventing whatever process is put in place for the advancement of the nation and another section of highly opinionated set of beings who never accept other people’s opinions but are ready to die while defending falsehood, and yet another section of strange beings malleable enough for any purpose under the sun always positioning itself for easy manipulation, for all these to be clustered into a nation is a sure antidote for stagnancy.

Right now, finding the right solution to a visible quagmire is most difficult. Whatever move is made by anyone from any of the component units are viewed with suspicion by all the others and having a leader acceptable to all is utterly difficult. Epileptic power supply has grown up with the nation like a sacred tree, most infrastructures comatose while the entire nation is not better than a ravaged and sacked territory. The incumbent government has had to resort to massive external borrowings to fund most of its projects having inherited a thoroughly plundered economy from those who felt building their individual pockets was wiser than dissipating energy on national growth. Not their fault though, it was the same fire ignited by Britain that is still burning and now trying to consume the entire nation.
Oyewusi wrote from Lagos.


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