I was born 62 years ago with the blood, sweat and tears of some nationalists; I was named by Flora Shaw in the 1980s. I suffered under the oppressive colonialism and its acculturation; yet I can still stand on my toes. I have maintained a range of natural environments, from semi-deserts in the north to the tropical rain forest in the south. Only in my womb, I encamp over 250 ethnic groups which exist till today with mutual understanding and indubitable harmonious association. In fact, I tirelessly governed 36 states. I preached balance and peace to Islam, Christianity and the traditional religion and lecture them on their importance to co-exist.
Credibly, I was a student learning under the British Masters for years where I learnt the quintessential nature of governance, the administration of justice and the regulation of a country. I graduated with a First Class Honors in Democracy and Good Governance; I also graduated with a First Class in Masters of Governance. My academic prowess and dexterity as embodied in my resume has birthed me a job in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As an intellectual person; I have authored many books namely, the 1979 constitution, 1989 Constitution and the operational 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where I opinionated certain cardinal procedural rules and ordinances for the good governance of my country.
Yes, I am Nigeria! I boastfully and tirelessly control a landmass of 928,768km² with a well-defined legitimacy and sovereignty. With my organizational skills, I organized the most populous society of people in Africa and the 7th largest population in the world. I am the most economically developed in Africa with the highest Gross National Product [GNP] in the continent. I know you will be inclined to believe with no iota of doubt that being the giant of Africa is not a child’s play but indeed a great feat.
I wish you read and digest with equanimity this chronicle of my own life. How I started, where I am and where I am heading. My best song is that which is composed in 1978 by Pa Ben Odiase;
“Arise, O compatriots
Nigeria’s call obey
To serve our fathers land
With love and strength and faith…”
I don’t know why I like this song so much but I think I do because my name is included in it. But no doubt, I love unity, I believe in service and also the labor of those (our hero past) who have fought tooth and nail to get me a space of where I am today. My favourite colors are green and white which stand for agriculture and peace respectively. I have the third largest manufacturing sector in the world with the largest agricultural output in the universe. As a result of my relationship with other nations of the world, I am committed to world peace. This is evidenced in the important role I played in the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions. Most recently, my troops were the military backbone of the UN Mission in Liberia. It is worthy to say that I was one of the main founders of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union).
I am a very brilliant and innately intelligent person who is not pedantic; I am neither finicky nor fastidious in all I do. I accept the disposition of others, fuel the voiceless and strengthen the unheard. In short, I believe in justice. But there has been a current twist in my attribute since I employed others to govern my company (the Federal Republic of Nigeria). I employed people whom I thought were competent enough to administer the power of my prestigious company and this has been the genesis of my problem.
Furthermore, I am bewildered and stupefied that my children have acceded to the gargantuan Anglophonic enunciation as an expedient communication language. They jettisoned their culture for a foreign culture which is nothing but mere deception, post-colonialism, acculturation and hoax. If I may ask, how could you love another man’s child and hate yours? How could you love what is counterfeit, substandard and valueless than the original, standard and invaluable one? When are my people going to wake up to the reality that black is beautiful? When are they going to realize that being a Nigerian is not a mistake? When are they going to be free from the uncouth and vulgar deception of the colonisation race?
Coming together of various interests in the company, unity and peace of workers, accountability and good administration are all I preached when I was in the company. But now, what is prevalent today is divided interest, insecurity, unaccountability which has resulted in diminishing the recognition of the company around the world compared to the primeval achievements.
My autobiography is not only to say of my achievements but also to unravel the mystery behind the backward state of the company (the Federal Republic of Nigeria) since I retired from governing the affairs of the company.
Fulmination, vilification and regret swept across the face of thousands of Nigerians who have suffered harrowing and distressing fates. There is a dilemma I seldom experience since I was old enough to feel what some Nigerians are passing through since inception. I will be telling lies if I do not agree that these days my emotions swing that I sometimes think of not being born here. I once thought of just finding some peaceful place on the planet to live out the rest of my day watching the drama of Nigeria like a Big Brother Reality Show. I sit in a corner with my chin resting on my palm looking at the “orere” of Nigeria as my people would say. The thick cloud of discontent with politics, politicians and even the Nigerian project continue to form a huge pall with existential consequences for a people impoverished by bad economic management, insecurity, causing pain for those who watch their family, friends and even foe yield the gift of life, in agony, as their blood run like a stream down the gutters of their neighborhood.
“Na wa o, shufering and smiling as the iconic Fela Anikulapo calls it. The point is even in the face of wahala we still laugh. This country faces challenges in all spheres thereby leaving citizens with dashed hope. “We are Nigeria”, “you are Nigeria”, “I am Nigeria” and “we all are Nigerians”.
Furthermore, CORRUPTION has eaten deep into the bone and marrow of Nigerians. Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It is one of the genesis of our problems as Nigerians. Corruption is a global menace but Nigeria suffers most of all. It starts from the government down to the citizens. The Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics has it that in 2020, 40% or 83 million Nigerians live in poverty. Without arguing further, corruption is the major cause. According to Hannah Easley, “this country still has many steps to take in order to successfully defeat corruption and continue developing”.
Being a Nigerian in the present time is demanding as they need a bold move to correct bad policies, rogue politicians, power-hungry demagogues and the old who have packed our democracy into their “Agbadas”.
According to the Transparency International Corruption Index, Nigeria is ranked 149 in 2020. It is demeaning that between 2011 and 2015 over $3.6 billion disappeared from Nigerian public coffers. Unfortunately, this stolen sum resulted in a loss of potential roads, schools and homes planned for construction. That perhaps requires only one-third of the stolen funds.
Moreover, the menace of UNEMPLOYMENT In Nigeria has fostered unsavory fates to the masses. According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in 2019, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria was 23% and the underemployment rate was 16.6%. Another statistics put unemployment in Nigeria from 1999 to 2020 at approximately 9.01% increasing drastically year in year out. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria presently is confusingly high. Nigeria has the most robust economy in Africa. But reportedly in 2019, it has an overall employment rate of 25%, with an additional 20% of its 186 million people being underemployed.
In addendum, one of the major problems confronting Nigeria and Nigerians is the problem of CRIME and TERRORISM. Nigerians in the present time can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. According to the Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria has 8.31 indexes in 2020 which increased from 6.31 indexes in 2011 growing at an average annual rate of 3.69%. Living in the present day Nigeria is like sleeping in manger and waking up in danger, it can be compared to living within the arc of a circle.
Aside from the above problems facing present day Nigeria, there are other problems ranging from unaccountability of political office holders, insecurity, maladministration, economic instability, problem of national unity, problem of patriotism, injustice, problem of leadership, just to mention a few. Which way is Nigeria?
The current prohibition has fed us with delicacies of uncertainty, hopelessness and desperation. But the glory of the future, the liveliness and enjoyment of Nigerians will depend vastly on the joint exertion of might and strength of both the citizens and the government. We must all strive to build a healthy nation. That reminds me of one of the greatest poems ever. Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson, an Englishman; it says “that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but stronger in will. To STRIVE, to SEEK, to FIND and not to YIELD” never to yield! The Nigeria we want can only be actualized not in our dreams but by the effort we all exert. Since it is the joint effort of both the government and the citizens then the government should not jettison her part likewise the citizens should also maintain the status quo. They should not exhibit any act that is in tandem to national unity as the betterment of the nation is the betterment of all.
Despite the current cacophony of ethnic jingoism, sectionalism and secession, I believe that the vast majority of people in the country consider themselves to be first and foremost Nigerians. We cannot wind back the hand of time and simply realign along tribal lines. We cannot undo the commingly that has gone for generations. This premise is to modify the received knowledge and a cliché that Nigeria is an artificial construct foisted on us by the British and if this conventional knowledge is not corrected the possibility of hope in the actualization of our future goals will be unattainable.
The historical performance record of our political leaders has been stunningly sub-par, but we the people should not now abdicate our own duty of responsible citizenship. As citizens, we must take into cognizance that which we need to contribute to the growth of the country.
Being a Nigerian in the future will not be a different thing from this present time. The future can be likened to “TOMOSOKO”, dusk sun; the type that deceives young farmers and makes them think it is midday when evening has come. We Nigerians are in the future already.
The possibility of hope as a future Nigerian is nipped in the bud. Being a Nigerian in the future is just an imagination since no one knows whether the continued existence of Nigeria will be extended into the future. With cries of secessionists, terrorist attacks, lack of unity, unaccountability, maladministration, corruption, insecurity and the likes. The various Nigerian groups might still resort to breaking of ties which may deter them from co-existing in the future.
In conclusion, being a Nigerian in the past is sweeter, being a Nigerian in the present is bitter, and being a Nigerian in the future to me is better and greater only if we will let it be. We are Nigeria, You are Nigeria, I am Nigeria and we all are Nigerians.