By Dr. Emmanuel Onucheyo (written in September, 1994)
“African countries often consist of twenty to thirty tribes, a mishmash of mini-nations, while many tribes have been cut into two by inherited colonial boundaries. The resulting lack of national unity makes democracy almost an impossibility, economic development a distant dream, internal tension a constant fact of life”- RICHARD M. NIXON, former US President.
Post-colonial African politics are not “politics of prosperity but rather politics of power accumulation”-EDWARD LUTTWAK-formerly Georgetown University Centre for Strategic and International Studies
Any person who has watched Nigeria since 1985 will nod his head. We watched ALL the differences in our society brought into play to ensure the survival of an evil regime. When there was a problem, you were either an ASUU or Non-ASUU, Student or non-student, Military or, Non-Military, Northern or Southern, Muslim or Christian, etc. We refuse to look at issues on their principles. We should not be shedding “crocodile” tears today when the destroyers have almost completed the assignment of tearing the country apart. The present freedom enjoyed by the destroyers (individuals and agencies) means the task of restoring Nigeria is a herculean one if not impossible. The survival of Nigeria and that of the destroyers are mutually exclusive.
The preponderance of strong advocates for more than one Vice-President, rotational presidency, particularly amongst our “wise men” looks like setting the stage to vindicate President Nixon’s beliefs. Behind these views are very strong ethnic, religious, and personal interests precipitated by government’s maladministration since 1985. Also, there has been complete loss of honour amongst our elder statesmen. Most of the traditional rules have developed very strong personal economic interests that supersede the welfare of their people. The union leaders are said to have been permanently ‘settled’. These days it is not possible to have one voice for ASUU, NLC, NUT or NARTO. The consequence of these is lack of national will and direction.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Commonwealth Secretary-General, during his recent visit to Nigeria, in trying to drive a point home, likened the country to a vehicle that is supposed to be moving at 120km per but only moving at 20km per hour. He was either being diplomatic and charitable because of his calling in diplomacy or ignorant because of his location in the UK. Or better still, he is in a moving vehicle, and looking at us through the window, he assumes we are moving in our own vehicle too. The truth of our situation is that Nigeria has a knocked engine. There are no straight talks. People are dodging the real issues. People who are supposed to be moving the country out of the lock jam appear to be imprisoned by events and their past misdeeds. Without removing the bad “pistons and rings” we are carrying, it will be impossible to restore Nigeria, even if we get over the present political impasse.
Since 1985, the will to serve Nigeria has been gradually destroyed. Talk to the average Nigerian today, he or she will tell you to forget Nigeria. The government of the day encouraged personalized loyalty rather than principled loyalty to the society in general. Virtually all chief executives of government and related institutions worked for themselves and a few people in government; the result has been the destruction of all our important institutions. The lack of will makes the Nigerian case a hopeless one. Various people in the history of the world have looked at the issue of will, with respect to the development of nations. Sir Robert Thompson, a one-time British Expert on guerrilla warfare, relates National power to Will as follows:
National Power = (Manpower plus Applied Resources) times Will.
Where the Will is zero, the National Power is zero (anything times zero is zero). Our National Power must be zero or close to zero, today. Because our education system has been run down, even our manpower capabilities are suspect. The last set of well-trained Nigerians are in their late thirties to late forties, and with the present load of stress, wear and tear of the body, they cannot carry the Nigerian nation for very long. We have the resources and some manpower. Do we have the will to use them? Institutions that sustain egalitarian societies, judiciary, education, religion, etc have been bastardised in the last nine years in Nigeria. Justice Eso’s panel, set up by the Federal Government to investigate the state of the country’s judicial system ended up with drastic remarks on the judiciary. If our judiciary is in shambles, where do we go from here?
“Justice and Peace are two sides of a coin”- General Dwight Eisenhower, former US President.
If we want peace, we must seek justice.
Anyone who says all we require to resuscitate our educational system is proper funding is grossly understating the facts. For the purpose of an example let us look at our Universities today. Two decades ago, anyone wanting to stay in academics had to have a first class or second class; (upper division) degree. These standards have since been abandoned. We now have “professors” who have lower degrees (third class and possibly pass degrees). These ‘’professors’’ have acquired all kinds of powers within the academic institutions. A number of them have become Vice-Chancellors. How do we expect these “professors” who have evaded standards to keep standards? Is it any surprise therefore that we have admissions and examinations malpractices? How many of our lecturers claim they have PhDs when really they do not have? They live within the campuses and nobody questions them. Who will remove these bad “piston and rings” from the Universities? It is no exaggeration to say that the mess we are in today is a Military cum Academic conspiracy. The proof-every agency in the presidency since 1985 had or has a professor under it.
“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in Education” – JOHN F. KENNEDY -former U.S. President.
Religion in Nigeria has become a convenient banner, under which all kinds of inhuman atrocities are committed, and totally irrelevant as a guide. Having acquired all kinds of wealth, by all kinds of means, Nigerians build religious edifices in their homes or in various locations and harass helpless citizens with provoking noises and loud speakers. It looks like Nigerians have got to the states where they think they can bribe the Almighty with their stolen wealth. How do you rescue such a society?
A few years ago, five or six years back, a religious leader at an army Day Church sermon said that the Almighty would have to apologise to Sodom and Gomorrah if He did not punish Nigeria. It was not clear what he had at the back of his mind.
Major Orkar during his abortive coup accused the military leadership of homosexuality, amongst other perversions.
The gravity of these allegations and their repercussion for our country did not worry us, if the allegations were true. The Holy books, have clear penalties – CURSE be on societies that practise these perversions. If the allegations are true, will God bless this country? The African tradition abhors homosexuality. Some people believe that the mess we are in today is a curse.
We have witnessed the greatest erosion of our traditional values. The average secondary school student used to want to build a good name. He or she wanted to be a Newton, Faraday or Gandhi for his village or his family. Since 1985, our values changed drastically to emphasize wealth. Wealth has become the prerequisite for leadership, NOT up-bringing and personal credibility. This has paved the way for all kinds of people and characters into leadership. In the armed forces, today, once you are a “fine” officer, nobody looks at the background you come from. You got posted to all levels of leadership positions. Leadership is about taking care of people. People who grew up under strange conditions are street smart, and have all the survival instincts but. NOT love and care to rule people. Such individuals should not be trusted with people’s lives. We must study the background of our future leaders.
History has provided enough evidence to show that leaders of strange upbringings brought destruction on their societies.
Roman Emperor NERO CLAUDIUS CAESAR (37 – 68 AD) was said to have an unclear parenthood. He became an Emperor through adoption by Emperor Claudius. He ruled with a vanity and irresponsibility that antagonized most sectors of society. He neglected the affairs of state and corruption set in. He was notorious for his cruelty, murdered his wife, Octavia to marry Poppaca. He was responsible for the great fire of Rome. He was said to be playing music while Rome was burning. He committed suicide.
Shaka The Zulu (1787 – 1828) had a similar background. He was notorious, and ruthlessly expanded his possessions. Shaka was stabbed to death by his half-brothers.
Under some African customs, people of no clear parentage should never rule or lead people. The gods do not “know” their blood. Such people tend to swear a lot, knowing that no harm will come on them from the gods. Similarly, leaders involved in any perversions brought damnation on their people.
The heartless Carthaginian ruler, Hannibal (247-282 BC) was said to be involved in the practice of homosexuality. He ended up committing suicide to avoid retribution.
It will seem to me that for the restoration of Nigeria there must be retribution for those who have participated in the destruction of this country, and they must show some remorse for their offence, (not the arrogance they are going about with). This is the only way Nigeria can be respected in the world community again. Retribution will resuscitate people’s will to serve Nigeria. There should be reactivation of our institution through fair play, merit, maintenance of standards and traditional values and upliftment of the “higher values – freedom of speech, travel, worship, and choice”. The question then is do we have anybody that is capable of overhauling our engine.
Dr Onucheyo is a concerned citizen who wrote from Abuja, Nigeria. He can be reached via 07031883232 and firstname.lastname@example.org