In spite of gaining ‘independence’ 56 years ago from colonial rule, Nigeria as a country, still remains an entity groping in the dark in search of socio-cultural, political and economic harmony. The country is still bedeviled by the same old deep-seated contradictions inherent in the polity resulting in a country where every aspect of National life is in some sort of quagmire or the other.
Looking at Nigeria historically, the entity tend to typify what Eugene O’Neill meant when he said, “there is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again-now.” And like Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” - seem to be the case with Nigeria, 56 years after gaining independence from colonial.
The question, whether Nigeria is truly independent or not, (politically, economically and culturally) is as fresh as if 56 years was just yesterday in our National discourse and existence. This is why some have described the ‘independence’ as mere ‘flag independence’ and the country itself as ‘toddling’ or ‘crawling’ 56 years after independence.
The truth is that the entity called Nigeria is currently blemished by a bleak history and even worse a bleak future; this is because the current circumstances provide no glimpse of hope and no idea of a better tomorrow. The reasons for this reality is based on the tenacious grip to political power by a political class that has largely been self-serving, parasitic, greedy, incurably corrupt and repressionist since the colonialists ‘left’ the reins of power to them.
This political class has thrown up itself in different forms from military dictatorship to civil dictatorship disguised as ‘democracy’ in a manner which have made story of the country ‘a tale of woes’ with very little to celebrate; politically, economically and socio-culturally.
The ruling classes have continued to ride roughshod over the sensibilities and sensitivities of people with bare-faced impunity leading to a country that has been on perpetual catastrophic equilibrium waiting to tilt into the abyss or extinction since becoming independent.
Without any iota of doubt, Nigeria as a country remains a geographical expression like Chief Obafemi Awolowo posited and its faulty foundations remain shaky owing to the historical reality that Nigeria and Africa in general were indeed partitioned at the bayoneting ends of the guns of colonizers, for the convenience of their exploitation and subjugation of the people.
The inherent contradictions in the polity constantly rear their ugly heads perennially as if to direct our National attention to what is fundamental to harmonious co-existence on all plains, i.e. culturally, politically or socio-economically, but the lack of a selfless political leadership with will that could steer the ship of the country out of the doldrums has always been a bane till date.
Nigeria, politically and economically remain within the tenacious grip of a ruling class that have maintained and displayed the same ineptitude, maladministration, corruption, impunity and insensitiveness for decades resulting to the painful situation of existence of majority of Nigerians. A situation where the 1% rollick in affluence and control the commonwealth of the country while the 99% wallow in abject poverty and despair, in addition to unemployment; a health sector in doldrums, a neglected education sector topped with insecurity of lives and property.
The hardships that Nigerians are going through continues to be compounded by the neo-liberal dictates of the IMF/World Bank and that has made access to basic needs required for humane living impossible for the vast majority.
Presently, it is very glaring that our country, Nigeria, is at a dangerous precipice with the present economic repression characterized by the increased sufferings and excruciating pains of the ordinary poor, working and toiling people who constitute the majority.
The skyrocketing increases in the cost of the very basic needs of life; from food to water, fuel to health services, dwindling income to rapidly increasing unemployment and under-employment rate etc. all stem from the prevalent, progressively receding economic situation. A situation the government has admitted it is ‘helpless’ and ‘hapless’ about.
The economy of the country prior to the present recession had been rudderless or directionless and this is in spite of the fact that the indicators were there for the handlers of the Nigerian economy to see before it assumed the recent dimensions.
And because there seems to be no direction, because the economy seems to be at best on autopilot, and at worst under the spell of a powerful magician, the problems emanating from the cesspool of the past keep rearing their ugly monstrous heads, becoming ever more resilient as they expand in scope and scale.
There is practically no aspect of Nigerian existence that is immuned to the decay created by the political/ruling classes since 1960 with their ineptitude and greed. It has always been the poor, working and toiling Nigerians who are the majority that have had to bear the brunt of a jaundiced generation of political hawks’ mode of governance.
It is the exploitative and oppressive mode of governance that has been forcefully sustained by the Nigerian ruling classes that is directly responsible for the state we are in as a country; where water, food, shelter, electricity, education, health services, motor-able roads and the other very ordinary but basic requirements to exist as a human being appear to be an ‘abomination’ to have.
Whether under military or civilian rule, it has been a case of each political leadership not wanting to ‘rock the boat’ of underdevelopment and sub-human existence while maintaining the status quo responsible for obtuse manner Nigeria has been led since 1960.
56 years after independence is more than enough to have moved Nigeria forward significantly in terms of development beyond the sad and pitiable situation it has been put to by its leadership’. This is why Nigerians must wake up from their slumber and take their destiny in their hands, for it is only the people; the masses, themselves that can alter society in their own interest.
The ruling class has no interest in resolving the obviously unbalanced socio-political and economic equation that stare us in the face, for they know that the solution lies in taking them off their ‘high horses’ and stripping them of their undeserved ostentatious living. Their disinterest has been demonstrated empirically and graphically enough by both past and present political leadership who are constantly united in their agenda to maintain the status quo that makes 1% extremely wealthy and the 99% extremely poor via the mode of governance they have perpetuated and perpetrated since independence.
The present ‘government of change’ is just like the other past ‘leopard’ governments that governed with false pretences. It is on daily basis revealing the reality that it is only a new bottle and not a new wine. It lacks the will to act profoundly along the lines of what is fundamental to the very existence of the country.
Resolving the Nigeria’s situation must transcend ‘comesticism’ and sloganeering. Politically, and economically Nigeria must be restructured. Nigeria and Nigerians must move away from ‘repeated starts’ at nation building.
Recently, renewed calls for the restructuring of Nigeria’s body polity were made in some quarters which brought the undying National question to the fore again, but we must not be confounded by some of these calls. The calls for restructuring also need to be interrogated, to understand the motivations and core purpose of the seemingly justified call. Circumspection on all the labyrinths of issues over the National question is very imperative, so as not to fall into the pitfalls of the past.
Without any iota of doubt, the call to restructure Nigeria is neither the exclusive preserve of the ruling class in their intra-class factional struggles, nor is it a new call. It is a call, a demand, a bargaining weapon of choice, in their now covert, now overt intra-class skirmishes.
The truth is that no matter how Nigeria is restructured, the fundamental issue will remain about the social emancipation of the vast majority of the people. Any form of restructuring that is not achieved side by side with the social emancipation of the component units of Nigeria will amount to naught. Such achievement will make no significant difference in National life and the lives of majority of the people who would still remain oppressed and exploited in any arrangement that emerges from ‘restructuring’ designed and controlled by the present ruling class i.e. the representatives of the political and economic status quo.
In the final analysis, we believe that the much advocated Sovereign National Conference (SNC) is the beginning of true nationhood; the alternative is to keep an unstable geographical expression pretentiously described as country but lacks the socio-moral and political capacity to run under a common constitution since it was constituted under a defective and illegitimate arrangement. To achieve an SNC requires a people in defiance and willing to overhaul the system politically and economically in the equation called ‘Nigeria’ which has persistently been described as a ‘lopsided’ arrangement and ‘marriage of convenience’ in some quarters.