*By Fola Aiyegbusi*
I have never been a fan of independence anniversary celebrations by African countries as it is not only slavish to me, it is equally demeaning and belittling in my opinion. It is an acceptance of inferiority. It still beggars belief why Africans call the recovery of their rightful inheritance, an unjustifiable occupation and usurpation of their political rights, “independence”. It is exactly the same as claiming that Mungo Park discovered the Niger River while as a matter of fact he met people there living by the River bank. Echoing the late Zimbabwean leader, President Robert Mugabe, Africans need to do a rediscovery of identity, personality and self-esteem, all of which we seem to have lost and keep losing everyday through our actions and inactions, leaders and the led together.
It was emotionally instructive watching the black lives matter demonstrators in the United Kingdom and America canvassing for the dismantling of the statues erected in the memory of some dead white men of yester years simply for the ignoble roles they played in slave trade in hundreds of years back, yet the actions of our people in this contemporary world in Africa, especially in West Africa, with special reference to our country Nigeria is that we are still under slavery. The slavish mentality is the norm. African leaders take instructions from Western Leaders as if they are school pupils. America and the United Kingdom meddle and interfere in the domestic issues of African Countries as if they are still under colonial rule, especially since the beginning of this particular democratic dispensation in Nigeria. It is more appalling in this administration as it was in the last too. I have not seen nor heard where any Nigerian Ambassador or High Commissioner in Europe and America interferes in the domestic issues of their host countries like the British high Commission and the American Embassy persistently do in Nigeria. I am pretty sure that very soon they will begin to interfere in Chieftaincy and land matters in Nigeria.
Suffice to say that Nigerians themselves are the cause of this abnormality. It could be appallingly amazing sometimes when one sees Nigerians go to the embassies of America and the UK to demonstrate on matters that are purely domestic as if those countries does not have the same matters they are battling with in their respective nations. An extremely very condescending action. Did the Nigerian Ambassador to America issue a statement on the killing of George Floyd by policemen in the ‘’I can’t breathe fatal incident”? If the obvious premeditated murder of George Floyd had happened in an African State or third world country, what would have America said? Does this not teach us to solve our problems ourselves?
Why are we not seeing that Western democracies are using the concept of “election monitoring” in turning our political actors and regulators to fools who cannot act without being supervised? In a belittling and demeaning fashion, some Nigerians are in the habit of calling on President Donald Trump of America, a remarkable racist who has not hidden his dislike and disdain for Africans and black people, to help intervene in purely domestic issues of which exactly same are prevalent in the America he presides on, and he could not fix it, but rather he keeps fuelling it .The same President Trump is alleged to have claimed that he may not concede defeat in November if he loses the election, so how does that make him different from President Museveni of Uganda who has tuned Uganda into a “Monarchy”, President Alhassan Quattara of Ivory Coast who is battling to fraudulently change the constitution of his country in order to perpetuate himself in power for an unconstitutional third term like the former President Obasanjo unsuccessfully did in Nigeria, or former President Laurent Gbagbo of same Ivory Coast who lost election and had to be forcefully chased out of power for the same Quattara?
It is generally hoped that Americans will be more sensible in the forthcoming Presidential election in November by voting out Trump and save America itself and the rest of the world a whole lot of embarrassment. It may not be out of place to say our attitudes are slavish in every ramification. There is need for self-discovery, right mental attitude and determination for self -control. The white man is not genetically better than the black man, therefore he is not in any way superior. How many African heads of State is Donald Trump better than? By deliberately impoverishing African countries through policies designed to keep them in perpetual poverty, western countries have continued their colonialism indirectly through aids and grants. More like, obey and receive tactics.
The above summarises the reasons for my not being a fan of independence anniversaries by African Nations. Be this as it may, the greatest threats to the Nigerian State today are the “conflict merchants of Nigeria”. They seem hell bent in destroying a country that has given them all in terms of everything under the sun. They were the ones that had the opportunity of scholarships from the Nigerian State. They came to government at relatively young ages and they are still in government. They have held sensitive positions in government in the past and most have failed to make impactful and positive contribution, but today are the greatest critics of the same process which they have contributed to enormously. Nigeria made them all, but today they are at the forefront of destroying Nigeria through their actions and inactions. They are the merchants of the fault lines. In order to get attention to themselves or seek patronages for business, they must play the fault lines card. Religious bigotry and tribalism are used as main weapons knowing fully well that the two are the most sensitive and volatile in the tripod of our fault lines. Quite unfortunately, because most Nigerians suffer collective amnesia, therefore we lack sense of history as we often deify them when they make pronouncements forgetting that they were the ones responsible for whatever state the country may have been today. The only viable industry for them now is to profit from Nigeria’s inability to properly manage her diversity by promoting ethno-religious and political conflict in the country.
As Nigeria celebrates on 1st of October, one cannot but wish her well since we do not have any other country except this, but have we fared well? This answer is a yes and no, but we could have done better. On the principle of cause and effect, the Military coup attempt of January 15, 1966 was an “arrow” shot into the heart of the corporate existence of Nigeria, while the eventual promulgation of the unification decree by that Military government of General Ironsi by abrogation of regional governments and centralising power to the federal government helped “pushed in the arrow”. Suffice to say, all present day problems and agitations in Nigeria of today is as a result of that inglorious action. This action to me was grievous than that which Fredrick Luggard and his wife Flora did in 1914 by the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates as a single entity as we now have it.
I will like to align with the school of thought that the Jonathan Administration’s constitutional conference report should be implemented for Nigeria to move forward. It is still a mystery to me while former President Jonathan convoked that constitutional conference and threw the report into “dustbin”? Even though there were misgivings about the representation, quality and spread, but it is generally agreed that the recommendations from the conference might go a long way to address some of the agitations prevailing in the present day Nigeria. The most prominent of which is the devolution of power from the Federal to the States. The others are resource control, state policing, imbalance in the present number of States in the federation, serious imbalances in revenue sharing which resource control will surely redress, a review of the present political structure and a host of others. A consideration of the report may surprisingly bring succour to this frightening threat to the peaceful co-existing relationship amongst the regions of Nigeria.