Nigeria, what is the way forward?

Nigeria, what is the way forward?
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I don’t complain about politicians. Where do politicians come from? They don’t fall from the sky, they come from Nigerian parents, homes, churches, mosques, schools, universities, businesses and they are elected by Nigerians. It is the best we have to offer. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you are going to have selfish, ignorant leaders. Nigeria is in a conceptual crisis: there is a potpourri of country, state and nation. A country is a territory; it is not necessarily a nation. On the other hand, a nation is an association of peoples; it captures diversity. They are captured and identified by their shared core values, on the strength of which they establish a constitution, and that creates institutions that make up the state. Because they are the state, states derive her power from them. Sadly, we have confusion, we think the nation is the state or reduced to the state. We have a country quite alright but there is no nation; we have institutions that collapse nation into the state, and power is in the state, a wrong notion which takes power away from the people. The state is the person rather than institutions that are a derivative of the constitution that is representative of the people.

What are our core shared values? What binds us? How are unified? What we have is a state held together at gunpoint, the reason we have all the agitations. The state is stronger than the citizens, we are moving in the wrong direction. We have no shared core values. In fact, there are no values, except we talk about football whose ‘god’ presides over many of the affairs of Nigerians. The state is oppressing the citizens, and the people don’t have the power; we are not practising democracy, because until we have people power, everyone can get away with whatever they do. The rhetoric of one Nigeria, or the muscled narrative of the unity of Nigeria-is-non-negotiable, is like the politics of printing a multiple-colored naira at the price of a dual color dollar. People have shed their blood and died for Nigeria, yet we are still stuck in the gimmicks of de/tribalised jingoism, our intelligentsia are riddled with solving problems we don’t understand and refusing to address the minor issues.

Irritating questions such as who is a Nigerian, what is Nigeria, how is Nigeria, bedevil us. We have a country, a territory to be proud of, but indeed no nation; an empty shell, no engine. We have built nothing and wonder why we have built nothing. For example, on the strength of salt, a wrapper and tee shirt, a leader emerges.

Our case makes me ask, would you rather be rich in a poor country or poor in a rich one? My country is one that has defied logical measuring. Without shared values, we will still be food for the lions because the many Nigerians who really want to be Nigerians; who think, eat, sleep and wake Nigeria are perpetually beset on all sides with this reality: “Okay, I am Nigerian, and the real issue aside many little squabble in the 2023 general election is which part the president comes from and the faith of he and his running mate.” In Benue, it is the Tiv versus the Idomas vs others; in Kogi, it is the Ebira versus Igalas. In some cases, it has even degenerated to no Catholic has ruled our state, and in others we cannot allow the Muslims to continue. None of these debates has brought the much-needed development for a nation because the values are mundane, it pitches us with a very visible structural divide.

Because we are structurally deformed, and not a nation, moving forward cannot happen. We need to go back and enquire of the ‘gods’ where the rain started and until then, there will be no forward as we continue to check how many SE, SW, SS (which by the way is an anomaly), NE, NW, NE are on a list before we check whether they are qualified. We still suffer a COVID19-like disease called Federal Character in a characterless state, still plagued by terms such catchment area, and educationally disadvantaged (by who abeg) We pride ourselves in our state of origin, yet are minorities in many cases in the so-called state. We debate which region is poorest, and which feeds the other. We cannot move forward while on the wrong path. Are we ready to retrace our steps? Only time will tell

Dickson, PhD, is Team Lead
The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre)



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