Often, when Nigeria's ailments are spoken of, we ask for solutions. Sometimes these queries are redundant because the solution is often implied by the problem description. For example, if I say it is too cold because the door is open, you should know that the solution is to close the door.
A curious thing that can be noticed when some Nigerian 'elites' give their reasons for acquiescing with the enforced union of various West African nations (AKA Nigeria) is how the language they use (when they speak about their 'fellow Nigerians') makes it clear that their approval of this union is not based upon the same principles held by ones with an African-centred perspective.
But, it must be acknowledged that fear is not always the only reason why Africans refuse to band together as a group with distinct interests in a world filled with other groups whose interests are often in conflict with theirs. Sometimes, this refusal is based upon the mistaken assumption that they (and by implication the collective that they belong to) can go further if they show themselves to be ready and willing signatories to the consensus of a globalisation that recognises no ethnic boundaries.
This assumption is mistaken because at this moment in time, these Africans (and other powerless/surrendered humans) are the only ones prepared to devise and implement policies that are based on a truly equitable global dispensation of resources and opportunities.
Where the fear spoken above exists, it is exists as a compulsion that can be described as afrophobia and its first task, once rooted, is self-rationalisation. Everything that exists in all disciplines from religion through history will be used to construct multiple (or specific) conclusions that arise from the application of afrophobic concepts to observable phenomena.As afrophobia gradually becomes the sole operational perspective, the only acceptable solutions for manifested problems will be those with prologues that affirm the belief that the African mind by itself is incapable of comprehending the full scope of any specific problem that confronts the collective (and is as such, incapable of arriving at a solution).
But afrophobia in an African is ultimately self-annihilating since it will at the end of all contemplations, view existence itself as the root cause of all troubles. In most cases, this conclusion will be veiled with various self-deceptions until it is too late to diverge from the only logical path that all actions based upon this realisation lead to.
In other words, there is a (neccesarily unacknowledged) need to lie with all might to the Self in order that its destruction can proceed without triggering natural self-preservative instincts. Therefore, the intellect is deliberately exposed to precepts/concepts that can anasthesise those parts of the mind that usually trigger this instinct (for self-preservation).
In all cases, these ideological drugs are packaged to look like the only rational ideas (or syntax) in existence.
Afrophobia can be used to explain why ones who claim to have a primary desire to preserve the conglomerate of African nations presently called Nigeria have used (and continue to use) everything but the only thing that can ensure the accomplishment of this purpose [*].
Again : The only conclusion that makes sense, after observing how some Nigerian leaders in various fields of human activity, in their attempts to enhance unity in Nigeria, use everything but the only thing that will work, is the one that describes the conglomeration sought after by these 'patriots' as a union of those who yearn for annihilation.
This conclusion is affirmed by the fact that, when we ignore their proclamations and look instead at the consequences of their actions, it becomes clear that in most (if not all cases), those 'leaders' who proclaim the neccesity of preserving the Nigeria entity are also ones who are repulsed by the idea of a global perspective that is based upon the explicit acknowledgment of the only thing that the Africans currently called Nigerians have in common [*].
After this rejection, they more often than not have nothing else left (aside from expressions of transient youth culture, borrowed delusions of God/Allah or, explicit/implicit threats of war) to use as effective nation-building tools.
The drawbacks with the first of these tools is that by its nature, youth-culture has its greatest effect on a demographic whose members, while being highly visible, have no representation at the tables where policies are determined and implemented. So, the unity that is on view through the lens of youth-culture has little more than cosmetic value. Moreso since once past their time of youth, most will revert to modes of thinking that are similar to (or variants of) the types of reactionary conservatism that serve as interface between the current day's elders and the world.
In other words, with the exception of what happens in societies that are in the first phase of government by genuine revolutionary forces, decisions that affect entire populations are made by ones who are immune to the progressive effects of whatever youth-culture currently prevails in a society. And while it is common to see the icons of youth-culture being used by office-seekers, this co-option of symbols, language, and, other aspects will have little to no effect on how these politicians will eventually make decisions once they have succeeded in obtaining 'power'.
The last of these tools (i.e. war) is also ineffective because the violent struggles that are spoken of by the types of people in question are not the sorts that are embarked upon for the purpose of uniting disparate populations under one all-encompassing and timeless idea - i.e. war with an objective to manifest benefits in all spheres of human activities for future generations in all parts of the realm.
While the 'victors' of the one big war fought in the Nigeria GNS did have one overiding theme to motivate them, that theme remains as undefined beyond slogan value today as it did back then : "Nigeria must be one." To which I now say, "Yes, OK, I hear you - but why must Nigeria remain one?"
Note that there is a very good answer to this question and, note also that it has never been given (talk less of acted upon) by those who still yodel this one line 'National' Mission Statement.
The fact is that the wars threatened (and often embarked upon at local level) by our ideas-bereft 'patriots' are fought for the type of fake power whose only purpose is the creation of environments that are conducive to the gathering of loot.
We have seen (and can see) several examples of this kind of war in several African 'countries'.
The first requirement of any entity that intends to preserve its life and its place in the worlds is self-recognition. This self-recognition requires that we know as much as possible about ourselves at any given time. It also demands that we do not rest upon what we know at any given moment but instead strive with every step that we take to know more about ourselves and, about our place in the human universe.
A fundamental characteristic of all forms of life is a desire/need for self-perpetuation. Therefore, a body will do all that it can or, all that it has to do in order that its survival is ensured - sometimes beyond natural bounds.
There have been various theories proposed by those who want to give a good explanation of why Nigerians (and other African collectives) continue refusing to do what needs to be done to ensure their survival as a collective. Of all these theories - the one that sounds closest to the truth - is the one that says Nigerians are not pressed to act for the betterment of Nigeria because Nigerians do not have that collective sense of self that compels ones in peril to act with the urgent neccesity that comes with a recognition of existential danger.
Again : a body will do all that it can or, all that it has do in order that its survival is ensured; all bodies follow this rule with the exception of ones suffering from a debilitating/terminal depression or, those who are infested with rebellious cells of cancer - it should be noted that cancer multiplies because as bodies themselves, each cell follows the rule that requires all to seek self-perpetuation. For the collective intelligence directing these rebel cells, the fact that its instructions will eventually cause the end of its host body's life is an irony whose nuances, were it capable of that level of thinking, would most probably be irrelevant. At the end, the cancer cells achieve that which they were created for.
Going by the above, we might conclude that the body currently called Nigeria is either suffering from a debilitating/terminal depression or, that it is a host to cancerous cells. If neither of this is true, then we might have to revisit the description of Nigeria as one body; in other words, we might conclude that there really is no such thing as Nigeria.
If this last is an accurate description of the true state of affairs, then we ought to ask why we as individuals (and as members of collectives whose existence far outdates the arrival of the phantom called Nigeria) are still wasting precious time play-acting when the demands of the real world require our urgent attention.
But as we seek an answer for this question, we should keep in mind that due to its relative longevity and monopoly not only of the stage but also of the real world beyond the stage, this play-acting has become so deeply intertwined with vital nodes of the actual world that we now have no other choice than to give it the same regard as we would give to something that is wholly real.
In other words, things that were once mere phantoms have now acquired so much mass that we cannot now devise solutions for the real world without also looking to manufacture similar in the world of make-believe.
Fortunately for us, it is possible that we can safely do this and still come up with effective remedies as long as we never forget that we are manoeuvring between an actual and a virtual world.
So, we may start by asking (again) a question that is relevant regardless of whether or not Nigeria actually exists : Who owns what we call Nigeria?
Nigeria can be likened to a fine piece of real estate. It contains enough land for farming, for building palaces and playgrounds and, under the earth, there are all sorts of valuable minerals that can be used to build industrial enterprises. Now, there are two sets of people who believe themselves to be the sole owners of Nigeria. The first set are owners by virtue of mortgage - an agreement similar to a 500 year loan (estimate) that will require the lender to pay back 3/4 of all earnings for the rest of his (or her) natural life.
This analogy reads like a joke but, if the interfaces between Nigeria and its so-called trading 'partners' are examined, it will be found that this "joke" is closer to reality than any of the normal descriptions we are given. So, we (the borrowers) are proud to call ourselves owners (one way or another) of Nigeria. This in spite of a mortgage whose periodic repayments have been designed to extend not just past our lifetimes, but also far into the future of several generations yet to be born,
Which leads us to the second set of people who view themselves as being the sole owners of Nigeria. These are the entities who issued the extortionate mortgage.
Now, since these two sets cannot be the sole owner at the same time, it is obvious that one of them is self-delusional.
A maxim known to all who wish to advertise a product is that the language and imagery associated with the product is what sells it. If these two are well-designed, then the product's desirability will sometimes even overcome functional shortcomings. Unfortunately, those who would sell the idea of a Nigerian nation's desirability to the peoples in the geographical space called Nigeria still remain unable to get either language or imagery right.
In fact, they quite often get is so wrong that they will even use mutual loathing/self-loathing as a selling point when trying to get their idea across. As in: "Crooks come from all parts of Nigeria."
You hear this and you think, "So these people think we should stick together because we are all capable of producing malfunctioning human beings?"
Is this not the principle behind leper colonies?
Is this Nigeria that they are selling therefore not some type of a leper colony?
Do I want to live in a leper colony?
Do I really intend to bequeath ownership of a leper colony to my descendants?
The basic truth behind the current existence of Nigeria is known to most of us and it is as follows : Without the Nigerian government, there is no Nigeria. So, what is the Nigerian government? It is a set of cabals whose most powerful members are serving or ex-military/paramilitary men (and those closest to them).
If it is true that without the Nigerian government there is no Nigeria, then the Nigerian government (i.e. the cabals that are the Nigerian government) is Nigeria.
And if it is true that the Nigerian government is Nigeria, then what are the 99% of people in that geographical space?
Many call themselves Nigerians, many are proud to do so but, they are no more Nigerians than a goat owned by the Agbekoya family is a member of the Agbekoya family.
The challenge facing those who would build a nation in that geographical space starts with removing the structural elements that enable this separation of the population into "owners of Nigeria" and "property of Nigeria" - its foundational ideal. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the current Nigeria project in the 1950s, those with the genuine intention to build a nation in the geographical space entered into partnership with those whose only purpose was to take over ownership of Nigeria from the British.
A huge mistake from which one very important lesson can be taken : you should never engage in any sort of enterprise with partners who have a different mission in mind from what motivated you to get into the game. Even conversation with these opposite people should be limited because at best, you are wasting time and, at worst, you are wasting valuable time. So, ones should talk to such people only for as long as it takes to fully reload the guns...
All invitations to examine compromises should be handled with the following fact kept in mind: throughout history, the people who have achieved their aims are ones who have never compromised. They have bided their time when they recognised the need to do so but, at the earliest possible date, they return to the original mission. This unbending attitude is what ensures that one who knows what he/she needs will get that thing in the end. On the other hand, ones who have no idea what they need will always eventually settle for what they can get.
Such always end up losing at the end of the day.
Which brings us to another sensitive subject in Nigeria today. This is the matter of indigene rights. Of which the most interesting thing is as follows: we find that wherever the subject of indigene rights are being discussed, the most fervent apostles of doing away with these rights are ones who are themselves dislocated (physically or psychologically) from their land of origins. Now, while there may be some sympathy for their situation, the more important thing to keep in mind is that they are a minority (i.e. most Africans in Nigerians are still directly connected to their ancestral lands) therefore, there is no logical reason why the angst of a minority should be used a reason for depriving the majority of their natural rights.
Yoruba in particular will not accede to having their rights of ownership over their lands challenged because, most Yoruba have no interest in making permanent homes anywhere outside their own natural country. Therefore, they will never accept giving up their ownership rights in exchange for some undefined and still hypothetical rights as members of a non-existent Nigerian nation.
Especially not a 'nation' where one ethnic minority believes that it has been granted the "right to rule" by some foreign deity. Therefore, those who are hoping to use this discontent of a minority as a way to turn lands that do not belong to them into exploitable capital are doomed to fail.
And in speaking of foreign deities, we must not forget the other reason why we are told Nigeria must not be divided: this is the quasi-religion Lugardism. Adherents of this faith believe that "what God, in the shape of the British empire and its representative on Earth (Frederick Lugard) have joined together, no man should put asunder".
However, like other reasons given for the continued existence of Nigeria as one corporate entity, this too is not supported with any reason-based explanations.
When engaged in nation-building, threats, mutual loathing and false/shaky quasi-religious beliefs are amongst the poorest building blocks that could be used. But we find that in Nigeria, these are the main types of blocks that are put one on top of the other as the process continues - blocks that can only build an empire and, if there is one thing we have learned from history, it is that all empires will in time fall apart.
So, what those who claim to be building "a nation" in Nigeria are actually doing is constructing a thing that does not have the capability to last.
Nations outlive empire because they are built on common ideals and a common vision of the collective self. They are built on a mutual respect and deep love for that common vision of the collective self. The purpose of the nation-builder therefore is to create or enhance processes that will enable those who were previously seperated to become ones with a common self-image that is inspirational.
Unfortunately, Nigeria - with its detrimental use of the weapon called federal character, its infection with the "born to rule" virus and, the inability of its central powers to respect the rights of component parts - is far from becoming one nation. Nigeria is nothing more than a disguised empire and as such, like all others before it, it will eventually fall apart.
So, here is the joke that those who would keep Nigeria one have been playing on themselves: The nation is the only form of human communal organisation that has the consistency to last through time. However, Nigeria is not a nation. It is an empire and, if you would truly make Nigeria a nation, then you would have to convince others of the rightness of your aim. You need to do this so that they too can share your desire. In other words, what is called the nation is something born out of shared ideals agreed upon by all because the benefits that would come from their implementation are understood by all and, desired most fervently by all.
Where you do not have such well-articulated and desirable ideals, you will never be able to cause a mass of people to become a nation.
Now, so far in Nigeria, there are no such shared ideals. Not even a single one. Even the African weakness for bowing to the supernatural - a tendency which may have been mainipulated for the greater common good - cannot at this moment serve since the most assertive forms of religion that exist in Nigeria right now come from Abrahamic sects that are increasingly antagonistic towards each other.
Therefore, in the absence of the one shared ideal that can serve as foundation for the idea of a nation, Nigeria can only take the form of an empire and, empires are temporary structures that can only be maintained for as long as one has superior force of arms.
The key word in the above paragraph is "temporary". What is superior today will eventually meet its match and then, it will meet its own master. However, if you can conquer the mind with an idea, then no force of arms (however superior) can supplant the place of that idea in the heart.
In other words, those who wish to create one nation in the Nigeria GNS need superior arguments that can change the minds of those who say they no longer wish to be their "fellow Nigerians". If they cannot find these arguments and/or, if they do not have the intelligence and patience to devise these arguments, then Nigeria will never be a nation. It will only be an empire and, throughout human history, it is the destiny of all empires to eventually collapse or, fade away.
The joke that so-called patriots of the entity currently known as Nigeria have been playing on themselves is that every argument they present only serves to antagonise those who they should be seducing with superior arguments. When they are not repelling with words, they are infuriating with foul actions. And when they are done, they will return to wistfully fooling themselves with lyrics about their Nigerian 'nation' - lyrics that sing the praises of a contraption that was primarily built to ease exploitation - a contraption that still remains a non-productive hell for a majority of its inhabitants.
[*] : A fact that has two interlocking parts :
- Africans are distinguishable by phenotype.
- Africans are (and have been for millenia) a group with distinct obstacles and interests in a world filled with other groups whose interests are often in conflict with theirs. As a result of unwillingness by African leaders to base their interactions with non-African rival groups on a recognition of these conflicting interests, overcoming structural as well as imposed obstacles has remained difficult.