A Centenarized Nigeria by Nelson Egwoyi

Nigeria is polygamous; a cacophony of ethnicity; and people conversant with the matrimonic variance of the word have unsavory tales to tell about their experiences. Be that as it may there are also some unusual tales of bliss too thereof. This aptly depicts our beloved country Nigeria. Those that fall under the former categorization have even mouthed the need for a revolution.

This writer had a prior conviction that revolution was impossible in these times; given the strengthened nature of the modern State and its instruments of coercion. But the Jasmine Revolution propelled from Tunisia has dispelled such notion. Agreed the spring in the Arab Africa was impetused by the homogeneous nature of these States; in Nigeria it a nullity to envision such for reasons too obvious.  I am not a sage-but nevertheless trust me!

In as much as we cannot thread this path, nor the erstwhile Soviet Union’s trajectory; and given our shared experience with the Americans, We as a people should pronounce and accentuate the positives of our shared experiences- it has been argued that we do not have a shared experience as a people; and that for instance that at our independence was not won on the basis of a warfare. But be that as it may, we must strive to promote a peaceful and enhanced co-habitation.

Our Country, my Country, your Country has a chequered history replete cite-able instances to buttress. Yes our leaders have under- performed.  Yes there are avalanche of un-motor-able roads- despite these and other challenges- we should at least be heartened when we pass through a smooth road, so too when we encounter a structure or institution that is functional. It is a reminder that at least there is an array of hope in our odyssey – lofty examples to give hope to our seemingly helplessness.

Yes without doubt our elites have collectively failed. Among them we have children of the very poor. Of course there are the very few from prosperous families. But the bulk of them are from indigent backgrounds. By this I do not mean to disparage or offend sensibilities but to sound-out that they should have done better given their backgrounds. They ascended on the magnanimity of a functional system; but regrettably, once they become ensconced in their new found status-what did they do? They removed the leader! And made it an exclusive preserve to which they alone have the prerogative. A shame on them. They crippled a vibrant system that prodded them up. Their children now school abroad, they now hospital abroad – a collective shame, we need to bring them to their past – a beneficial past they have destroyed – out of a non-strategy.

Our resolve therefore should be that our elite needs to reconnect to their roots more, they need to re-strategize from their negative intent. They cannot live in isolation, despite their pretenses  they are from these climes and must live by the dictate of the circumstance rather than those they have crafted.

In this malaise, we also have a culpable followership, what we have done as the lower rung reeks of unforgivable acquiesce. We cheer at an opportunity of a meet. We must stand resolute without being overtly abusive of doing the right thing. We should not be the rented crowd when that need arises.

When we conscientize our self adequately, then can we begin to look forward to the Senegal, Cote’Ivoire, and Ghana, recent political experiences. An incumbent and a ruling party can lose an election based on the people’s conviction.

We need to embrace citizen advocacy in it varied forms. This will bring about the much chorused “bottom up approach” in policy formulations.  For instance Nigeria has a pool of talented writers. But like my teacher once told me nobody can write the perfect essay. What am I trying to say? We should not be intimidated by these array- we the reading public- yes we can express an opinion- we must therefore not be restricted by our seeming handicap- we must express ourselves to be heard- this shall form the kernel of our advocacy! If the elite refuse to don their thinking cap, we must help them and if the followership does same – it becomes more difficult- but we must also help them.

Now our centenary is nigh – come 14 January 2014, we would be 100 years together as a people.  a 100 year old amalgamation. No use elucidating on this I assume we all know. The Lugardian contraption however our opinion – has lasted a century! And there is no way you will talk about Nigerian Centenary without mentioning Lord Lugard. It is inevitable, agreed we are variously sentimentalize by the outcomes – but we must not oblive the strategy that brought about it- yes strategy – the Brits wants an administrative convenience and learning from the financial implication of their experience in Sene-Gambia – they do not want to administer such a large area separately…so we have  Nigeria..Our beloved country! We are here – let make the most of it!
We must highlight our deficiencies as well as accentuated our pluses for a leveraged and live-able future. No need dwelling for too long on the negatives. From our experience there are the nay Sayers and the hallelujah choristers – let strike a middle chord for once and make progress from thence.

Whatever the sentiment, let climb the middle pedestal. Knowledge is eclectic borrowing from once source to another. Civilization is built upon borrowed experiences. Take Norway for instance; it is not spending its oil revenue, saving it for upcoming generations. It has also evolved an indigenous technology for its oil industry. We should borrow the positives from lofty examples such as this.  This has become imperative-there is oil everywhere now – even arid countries: Chad,  Namibia and Niger have oil – so too our neigbourly Ghana – we should seriously think an exit off an oil dependent economy – strategy is very key.

America is presently contending with the Chinese ascension – not minding that the  ascension was instigated, by and during the advent of their super CEOs- super Chief Executives with mind-boggling remunerations- they were expected to deliver super  performances – these CEO looked for all avenues to boost profits and reduce cost. They thus established industries in areas of low labour cost and taxes. China was the pioneer beneficiary-which conversely stimulated the growth in China.

I am not an economist-trust me-but I have learned that great economies are built on linkages – we need to speak to ourselves more – part of our drawback is such that: if Mr. A. start producing pure-water to certain success-everybody would hop into same business . People would abandon prior businesses (some passed unto them) and say: “Ol’boy na pure-water dey reign now ooh” and promptly  proceed to do pure water. Before you know it the business is saturated! The same is applicable to occupational trend, now you have proliferation of certain professionals. People go to school with a preconceived lucrativeness of certain courses. Now you have that would be creative engineer in a banking hall; and a potential legal luminary in the engineering field.

So too with the trades-the talented plumber, carpenter etc who finds space in the Okada phenomenon- people are not even learning trades these days- they just hop on an Okada and earn a living.  We need to rekindle our value system.

There have been various interpretations but this is where we live! The contemporary Nigerian grapples with several issues, rent, school fees, shrinking incomes, tokunbo this and that, power outages, comatose public institutions, perpetual temptation to leave the country etc,. Yea we must admit that ascendibly, things have gone wrong – now we don’t have the middle class anymore – if you are not up there you are simply struggling. Some even argued that we would have been better off under colonial rule – and cite later independent African countries as examples. I do not know what to believe anymore.  

Given the imperative of the centenary, my humble summations are that: We must not only rethink Nigeria in the context of local challenges but also on pedestal of the ever changing global geo-strata – GMO, Shale Oil, terrorism, drones, Global warming, big brotherhood  with fellow African Countries etc.

We must all add to the dialogue our expectations. I know there are so many sentiments; we can all relive our interventions. We must have a bond of our fond memories of our existence within the centenary.

Like someone rightly noted; there are only two sets of Nigerians: the good and the bad, which could be found in both axis: North or South. No matter how sentimentalize you are if you look objectively within your domain you will find these ilk.

What then should define our essence? That is my centenary question- what then is yours-what is ours? We need to take into cognizance the very essence of the centenary. We must reconsider its import– ruminate on its core – and not its festivity.


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