Hello folks it is nice to have you here on #thoughtivityguest once again. Our regular guest contributor, Dr. Abimbola Lagunju is back again this week. In his piece for today, he continues his discussion on an issue that he has continually written about, the killings in Northern Nigeria. However, away from the crisis, he also puts forward his thoughts on how Nigeria can become a developed nation on par with America. Today’s piece was first shared on his blog. Read and be informed
Crises in all forms and shapes that have defined the Nigerian existence since independence have induced, even in the most patriotic Nigerians, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness of our situation. Nigerians have become fatigued from irresponsible leadership, reckless, visionless and dishonest political class, lack of infrastructure and services, absent state institutions and existential uncertainty. In order words, Nigerians collectively suffer from what can be termed “Citizen Fatigue”, a socio-political psycho-somatic illness.
Nigeria has never really had any peace in about fifty-one years of its existence. The Civil war was a spill-over from the ever-boiling crisis pot. We have no recollection of any moment in our history of which we can say we are proud. We have no historical moments of national lucidity for which we can evoke nostalgia. We have no recollection of peace and security. We have no recollection of when anything ever functioned the way it should.
This geographical entity conceived in mischief in 1914 and born into chaos in 1960 has never been able to find its way to nationhood. Calling it a failed nation-state is assuming that it is a nation-state in the first instance. One can only fail an exam if you appear for it. Nigeria as an entity has never appeared for the nation-state exam. Nigerian politicians have always made sure that Nigeria is always absent. It takes more than a flag, currency, people herded behind borders and a horde of marauding politicians (civilian and military) to call ourselves a nation-state. Nation states are built on sincere collective will. It is this collective will that is at the origin of the phrase: “We the people….”. There is no “We the people…” in the contrivance called Nigeria. The trademark of Nigeria is disunity in all spheres of our existence – ethnic, religious and political. I dare ask, what really unites us?
And their “We the people…” wherever it is written, cannot even be described as a declaration of good intentions because nothing of our 50-year existence attests to any good intentions. What have the politicians done in all these years but to highlight and bring to fore all our differences? If ever a collective will tried to emerge (as in June 12), the politicians destroyed it. Where are the institutions that probably would have nurtured and safe-guarded this declaration of intentions? They are also in crisis. We know about how the Police, the judiciary, the parliaments, the banks and other state institutions have betrayed the trust of us trapped behind the frontiers of this country. What hope do we have? What visions can we build for our children’s future? The politicians have no answer to this, and worse, they have no clue whatsoever. They have made the unworkability of our contraption so evident that Nigerianness is very alien to our thoughts. Our debacle stares us in the face. Nigeria is a political experiment gone haywire. This is the worst case scenario any citizen can find himself/herself in.
Despite the “Citizen Fatigue”, many Nigerians in recent times have been expressing their fears for the present and their uncertainty in the future and have been proposing different solutions. Many are aghast at the bombings attributed to Boko Haram from one section of the contraption, militancy from another section, kidnappings from another section, and armed robbery from yet another part. It appears that evil in all its possible forms has taken permanent residence in Nigeria and each evil form has chosen in which part of the country to reside. A child born into chaos, nurtured in chaos can only beget chaos. There must be a way out. Enough is just enough.
Among the plethora of solutions to solve the present predicament that this geographical entity has found itself, the most commonly proposed in the media are revolution and convocation of a sovereign national conference. Revolution is not workable in Nigeria. There is nothing that unites the people, not even deprivation or poverty. There is no common front. Further, history has shown that leaders of revolutions always turn out to be worse than those they chase out of power. And besides, who will lead the revolution anyway? Some intellectual safely tucked away in diaspora or a local activist? Even our own local experience has shown that newspaper activists or self-proclaimed revolutionaries are not to be trusted with power. In one of the Southwestern States, there was a governor, who until he was elected as a governor was a regular columnist in the Nigerian Tribune. Believing that he meant what he was writing about, people voted him in as a governor. As soon as he got elected, he forgot about his idealistic articles. He joined the reactionaries! What did he do to alleviate the suffering of the masses? Nothing!
The convocation of a Sovereign National Conference to jointly define the conditions of our continued common existence or the parameters of an amicable break-up looks attractive in our present situation. But who will convoke this SNC? Who will be invited to this SNC? Will it be the same dishonest, corrupt and continuously recycled members of the discredited political class? Will the political class even have the courage to convoke this SNC? The answer is No! The necessity for this SNC is not new. It is something that has been staring at us in the face for the past 50 years and none of our rulers has ever had the courage to put this agenda on the table. There is a Yoruba proverb that says, “Orisha, b’o ba le gbe mi, kuku fi mi sile bi o se ba mi”, which loosely translates into “Orisha, if you cannot add value to my life, better leave me as I was”, but this Orisha, our vicious political class will not add value to our lives and do not have the courage to leave us as were before the drunk Lugard and his girlfriend entrapped us behind the borders to serve the Empire. His successors, our rulers have simply continued the legacy of their British ancestor. There is almost no possibility that a SNC will ever take place in Lugardia, I mean Nigeria.
There just might be another solution. But before we talk about this solution, I will like to state what I suppose majority of us desires as citizens. Firstly we want real democracy, where we count. Secondly, we want strong and incorruptible institutions that are not manipulable by any government in power. Thirdly, we want basic services and basic infrastructure. And lastly we want corruption to disappear from our lives. Our political class cannot deliver any of these. They have shown and proved to us that they cannot. And these are the minimum deliverables that we expect. If our politicians cannot deliver them, then we have to look elsewhere.
The United States has what we, as ordinary citizens want and desire, and we, on the other hand have what they need badly, which is oil. As an alternative to revolution or the convocation of a SNC, Nigeria can ask to become the 51st State of America. An offshore state, that functions and is ruled like any other American State. Then we will have the dollar as our currency, fly the American Flag and forget “Arise O compatriots”. We will be independent but within the framework of the Constitution of United States, which we copied and have failed woefully to implement as a nation. This is not a return to colonialism. We shall have the same status as any other state in the US. Many of our politicians and bankers already have properties in the US, and some are US citizens, and according to Wikileaks, our politicians low and mighty regularly give their “sitreps” (situation reports) to the American Ambassador in Abuja. They have inadvertently opened the way for Nigeria to become the 51st American State. And Lugardians (I mean Nigerians) will not need a visa again to go to any part of the world.
The best way to go about creating a new Nigeria is through a United Nations organized referendum. We cannot trust any of our politicians, even Professor Mahmudu’s INEC with this responsibility. They know that when we become US citizens, many of them will go to jail for a very long time.