The year 1914 remains a remarkable date in the historical architecture of the nation Nigeria which until then was primarily a set of geographical locations occupied by different nations and peoples with their unique cultural nuances, governmental structures, economic systems and strikingly also were their well formed social orientations and mental dispositions.
Their existence as separate entities afforded them the best of opportunities to endlessly ventilate their unique capabilities at the most beneficial levels.
For instance, the north were chiefly known for their exploits in agriculture (both agronomy and nomadic animal husbandry); the east for their peculiar and well entrenched entrepreneurial competence which seemed to be hereditary; the west also thrived in agriculture with an appreciable leverage in commerce and industry and other unique traits held for the remaining parts of what has become the nation Nigeria.
In summary, these nations both inland and littoral territories were in my opinion strategically positioned for progress (like their counterparts in Europe) with their perceived and inherent potentials until for purely administrative and economic convenience of the self-acclaimed White Masters who had earlier engaged them in transatlantic trade decided to fuse them together following the amalgamation of 1914 thus dislodging their well entrenched social systems and governmental structures and made them subservient to the central rulership they did not choose.
A confluence of perils has assailed this great nation since after the British interlopers arranged this marriage of convenience (theirs not the people’s) which could best be described as a Forced Union.
The inability to successfully weld together body, soul and spirit of all the constituent parties has inadvertently or maybe intentionally left her tottering at the seams an art which could be more artfully described as “living on the brink.”
Speaking from the benefit of hindsight, Nigeria in spite of the unstable marriage seemed poised for greatness as she shot forward by sheer grit and inherent innovativeness of her people to the acme of economic and political prominence in Africa which earned her the well deserved sobriquet “Giant of Africa.”
Furthermore, leaning on the strength of foresight her towering growth was undoubtedly projected to make her a major world player on the international scene – a vision our founding fathers held as a sacred ordinance and road map which they had hoped that by some fortuitous act would have been preserved by their peers and successors but unfortunately this was not to be as the unresolved political puzzle at the point of the Forced Union like the proverbial Achilles’ Heel jolted her offtrack.
As a result, a series of coups and counter coups reduced her to a stage for unbridled display of bloodletting as some of her parts strove to assert their claim to power. Then followed series of civil unrests, ethnic pogrom and religious wars seemingly justified by the name of ‘God’. The result of this malaise is mutual mistrust across the nation, the emergence of political parties and elements with a mish mash of political orientations that benefit only them and their lackeys, economic downturn, poor social infrastructure, nepotism and other unimaginable traits that strain the bounds of reason and propriety to the extent that many have lost faith in her present and future survival.
Already 56years and counting the Giant of Africa still seems unable to come out of her silhouette and take her place in the comity of nations as a world player. To my mind, 56 years is too long to walk on the brink and still expect to be great because what is stopping us is not stronger than what is propelling us therefore to exit the brink we must of necessity employ the tool of ‘choice’ to decide whether we are to walk once and for all off the brink to collapse or to progress which is what nations usually do.
At this point I choose to take a break from the hue and cry and ask a poignant albeit pertinent question; “How do we take Nigeria off the brink and place her feet squarely on the door to progress?”
Without any desire to pontificate on this issue, I would like to first of all as a quintessential personification of patriotism posit that the decision to continue to exist as one nation should be put to a referendum before the peoples parliament to decide and not for a coterie of people in the corridors of power. That way whatever outcome would be adjudged as a free election of the people and thus put an end to the longstanding issue of Forced Union
– that said we have to contrive a national dream (no matter how the fundamental issue above goes) which defines us as a people instead of carrying on with labels offered voluntarily and unnecessarily by interlopers. The kind of national dream that gives equal rights to her citizens irrespective of class, creed or ethnicity thus paving the way for only the best and brightest to occupy leadership positions across the country.
– the issue of resource control should be tightly positioned on its head with the centre playing a lesser role. However corporate governance must be upheld to build in accountability and equity in the process.
– massive infrastructure. development that will link and adequately connect every part of the nation by land, air and sea. Which of necessity must include the critical components of regular, efficient power supply, high quality education, good housing, good health care at an affordable rate for all…at least these are the basic responsibilities of government.
– aggressive LEADPRENEURSHIP development which will lead to the emergence of a generation of innovative entrepreneurs with enlarged leadership capacities that will in turn engender accelerated economic growth and development. (A project my NGO, Youthful & Useful International has been dedicated to)
– among other things put in place a legal system that adequately punishes offenders and promotes those on the right side of the law…of course in addition to a reward system that serves as an incentive for hard work/smart work
In conclusion, walking on the brink may look like a fine art until a good artist paints a full picture of it and then perhaps we will then realize the full implication of not being what we are supposed to be simply because we were not bold enough to take a step off the brink to the space meant for us…I choose to paint the picture that should guide us appropriately; the way out is in our choice and what we do with it.
Mr Frank Uzo
Founder; Youthful & Useful International