Nigeria is turning out to be one huge hope betrayed for Africans and the Black Race generally. Unless Nigeria gets it right, black men will not be reckoned with anywhere in the world. South African is doing well already but blacks cannot claim to have set that country up for greatness. Their progress will always be traced to the white rule, apartheid or not apartheid. The point is that blacks are yet to assert themselves as a collective despite some individual global achievements. African continent has to be developed and it has to be done by the blacks themselves and Nigeria must take the lead.
The reason is that most other countries in Africa are rather too small to become a medium power in any foreseeable future, including Ghana which has overtaken Nigeria in many respects. Ghana for years has been celebrating uninterrupted electricity supply, a feat that is still unforeseeable in Nigeria despite the trillions of naira already committed for steady electricity supply in the country.
No matter how anybody looks at it, the real deal and hope of Africa is Nigeria. For her huge population (7th in the world) and abundant human and natural resources, Nigeria just needs to get a workable structure in place and pave the way for proper leadership at all levels. Once these two factors are deftly addressed, within a decade or two Nigeria will break forth upon the world stage as medium power. Her potentials are just too many and obvious.
China and India are two countries that have demonstrated what strength lies in population and deployment of human and natural resources. While China is topping the world in economic development, innovations and technology, India has now become an ICT hub and a great champion.
The Nigerian Biafra civil war dealt a big blow on the nation’s unity of purpose. That war put a knife on what held the country together and everything started falling apart. The leaders need to find a way of ending the lingering feeling of the civil war still pervading the nation.
The victorious side in Nigerian Biafran war has not allowed equity and social justice to return and used the won political power and control to skew the system to its favour. This has led to the changing of Nigeria from a federal system to a unitary one. For the avoidance of doubt, the subsisting 1999 Constitution has 68 items on the Federal/Exclusive List while only 16 items are found on the concurrent list. And there is no Residual list in the 1999 Constitution to confer powers on the States over any aspect of national life.
So, it is clear from the nation’s grund norm – the Constitution – that Nigeria is now a unitary system. This is a reversal of the federal system put in place by Britain before departing Nigeria in 1960 when they granted Nigeria independence and as agreed with the nation’s founding fathers.
The nation’s problem is, therefore, the twin evil of unworkable structure and successive toxic leadership. The three factors, for which the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was elected into power, namely fighting corruption, fighting insecurity and reviving the ailing economy, have not gotten any better. Things are working well and the two factors responsible are structural and leadership.
The contradictions inherent in the Nigeria nation state and their origins and panaceas are the issues debarring development and giving oxygen to the crisis pervading the polity. A deafening cry of domination, oppression and marginalization echoes in the air in different parts of the country. Such malcontents have lead to Boko Haram terrorism, insurgency and even banditry as well as secession threats.
In countries like United States of America, China and Great Britain agitations for the creation of politically independent statehood have since been laid to rest owing to the mainstreaming of a just, equitable and egalitarian society as the final point of state formation and social stability after a long search for workable political solutions peaked at the evolution and adoption of a true democratic culture in such countries.
In countries where this kind of success is yet to be recorded such as Nigeria, the search for nationhood is continuing along the natural demarcations of ethnographies and ethnologies, and no mobilization of concentric parameters of force or centrifugal apparatus of coercion had been able to prevent such indefinitely. What this means is that until the issue of nationhood is fairly resolved, the agitations and cries of marginalization will continue in Nigeria and other countries where the national question is not fully answered. The leaders, therefore, have their work cut out for them for saving the nation and facing the task of development and nation-building.
That is the way to avoid the experience of the former European country Yugoslavia, USSR, Ethiopia, Sudan and others that were unbundled into new, small flag independent states most times after a protracted civil war. Nigeria stands a good chance of avoiding further bloodletting and can negotiate peace, unity and progress for itself by enthroning social justice.
For a fact, not all nations attained statehood through armed struggle; sometimes a war is fought and won or lost and yet status remains unchanged until the dynamics of social engagement and political engineering such as dialogue, negotiation and consensus are deftly and exhaustively employed. The Nigeria Biafra war did not resolve the problems it set out to address. Rather, conflicts have escalated in the country and new fault lines are emerging. That peaceful route is what one recommends for Nigeria.
The Liberation struggle is a two-dimensional thing: the militant and the intellectual/peaceful dimensions. The former takes the form of violence or non-violence but the later zeroes down to one strategy: the mental processes of abstract thinking and reasoning involved and ultimately in political and legal engagements.
Nigerians need to be directing their mind, body and soul to think right, say right and act right as they aspire for and pursue their sole wish for a true independent and progressive nation. These admonitions become very necessary and mystically instructive because at the moment the nation is in a bad shape and needs reconstruction to stem the tide of the pressure of poverty and conflicts and underdevelopment.
There are strong undercurrents and echoes that the Nigerian nation will someday come out fine and the way the citizens can make this happen is to help in addressing the structural imbalances (Restructuring) and also help lay a solid foundation for a secure future and establish a strong economic, political and cultural base for the future success of the country and its people.
These structural imbalances have led to the widespread cries of marginalization and somewhat justifies the yearning for a separate, independent state by regions of the Southern Nigeria where there are moves for Niger Delta Republic, Oduduwa Republic and push for the resurrection of Biafra Republic, to say nothing about the separatist Boko Haram terrorist group aiming to establish a caliphate and an Islamic republic in the North East, the rampaging herdsmen and bandits.
There is a logical positivism in Nigeria: above the ashes of these doldrums, Nigeria shall rise again as a great prosperous nation through the spiritual matrix of an own sacred destiny. But Nigerians must note: destiny is not absolute or inevitable if not acted upon. The citizens must rise, shape the leadership and the process thus build the Nigeria of their dreams.
Dr. Law Mefor, a Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist, writes from Abuja; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tweet @LawMefor1