Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria

Nigerian Nationalists, Struggle for Independence and the Present Rot in Nigeriaalt

I beg to differ on this undue emphasis about the ‘sacrifices' of our nationalist leaders. While not trying to diminish the fact of their achievement of independence for Nigeria, we need to clarify the extent and scope of their struggles for independence in Nigerian which should not be confused with the struggles which were matters of life and death in most of the African countries before independence was finally achieved.

I am reacting to an article I read on NVS by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde titled ‘Nigerians: The Desperate Attempt to go into Exile' where the writer noted that ‘Almost fifty years after Awolowo, Dappa Biriye, Azikiwe, Osadebay, Balewa, Ikoli, Enahoro and hundreds of extraordinary men and women risked their lives so Nigerians can be free from the manacles of humiliation, servitude and oppression -- we are back where we started: struggling. Today we struggle against tyranny and want; we struggle against fetid social conditions and diseases; we struggle against ignorance and mental slavery. We struggle for the most basic of all basic human needs. And so, one cannot but believe that the goal and the labor of our nationalists have been wasted'.

This is very true indeed and he was spot on but in as much as I have no problem with according respect to our nationalists (I still admire persons of integrity like Pa Enahoro who is still struggling for a better Nigeria when his mates are sitting on their armchairs and reminiscing about the good old days. Gani Fawehinmi and Professor Wole Shoyinka also came to mind in the same mould as Pa Enahoro), I think the struggle for independence in Nigeria and the contribution of the nationalists who became the political elite after independence needed to be further clarified and compared against the struggles in other countries and how the struggle for independence has shaped the psyche of the people in these countries.

The thrust of the article was commendable in that it highlighted the plight of Nigerians who are running out in droves to go to other countries in Asia, Europe, Far and Near East, Africa and Australasia with the believe that any other country must surely be better than Nigeria as presently constituted and governed. I feel affronted that a country like Kenya could recently go on the airwaves to talk about ‘easing immigration restrictions' for Nigerians to stay in Kenya! This is a country that has virtually nothing and depends on agriculture, tourism and foreign aid to survive and you are ten times more likely to be killed, robbed or mugged in Nairobi, its capital than even in Lagos where we thought crimes have reached levels that are not tolerable.

Yet, Nigerians flood to Kenya in droves, looking for the proverbial ‘greener pastures' with the attendant risks of harassment and humiliation from police and immigration officers that are even more corrupt than our own much maligned police here in Nigeria. It is the same story in Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa and even Zimbabwe, with the highest recorded official inflation rates in the world at any time in history of mankind. Nigerians still go to Zimbabwe because they believe their dreams could come true there rather than at home. All these smaller and poorer African countries deign to look down on Nigerians because they find it difficult to believe that all the stories about Nigeria being the so-called ‘giant' of Africa were not true and that the Nigerians trying to enter their countries are not criminals.

I was once harassed in Addis-Abbaba, Ethiopia of all places while on transit from Sudan to Nigeria. Once I confirmed my nationality as a Nigerian to the Receptionist, he insisted on holding on to my passport till I was ready to check out and go to the airport in the morning while the passports of Africans from other countries were not collected. I refused and a shouting match ensued. I cursed the poor guy and informed him that he must be stupid if he thought I would leave Nigeria to come and stay in Ethiopia. I asked him if Ethiopia was that good, what were his sisters doing prostituting themselves in Dubai and other Arab capitals and why are his brothers serving as cleaners, janitors and gardeners in the same Dubai. The issue was resolved by the Manager whose spoken English was better than that of the Receptionist. The Manager informed me that the hotel has had cases of Nigerians on transit through Addis disappearing from the hotel and not joining their flights and surfacing later on when they have been apprehended by the police. I informed him with all the dignity I could muster that I was not one of those and will not stay in Addis even at gunpoint but the point made by the Hotel Manager was that, even if I was not desperate enough to do it, there are other Nigerians who have done it and others who would try it.

If Nigerians are being molested, harassed, humiliated and intimidated in Africa, then we can imagine what they are going through in countries like China where thirty Nigerians were executed recently for undisclosed offences and then cremated by the Chinese authorities. The Nigerian government spouted the usual lame rhetoric and the matter has been forgotten. Thousands of Nigerians are rotting in jails in Asia for immigration-related offences and are tried in courts where English are not spoken. Most were found guilty of offences they never committed because they were not able to defend themselves. Travel to North African countries and you will see young girls in their teens from Nigeria prostituting themselves for two dollar a pop to Arab boys and men.

My main disagreement with the article was only on the mention of our nationalists and the impression created that they risked their lives for this country. I do not share that sentiment. I am of the school of thought that believes that Nigeria got her independence too ‘easily'. I am against colonialism in all ramifications but a bit of struggle and some bloodshed while struggling for independence would have prepared us better to deal with the present rot we are experiencing in the country.

Our nationalists never 'risked' their lives as the article claimed. If you do a comparative analysis of struggle for independence in countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Algeria and recently, South Africa, you will discover that Nigerians were handed their independence on a platter of gold. Our elders never had to go into the bushes as rebels to fight the colonial masters unlike what happened in the other countries like Kenya (Mau Mau), Namibia (SWAPO), South Africa (ANC) and Zimbabwe (ZANU-PF) and this is the source of the problems we are having today because our minds are not conditioned to fight injustice.

Nigerians have turned to asylum seekers today because of the political class and their bacchanal tendencies, but it will be very difficult to get them out because we have no history of struggling against injustice. It is easier to coax a cow to lay eggs than to convince Nigerians of the need to fight for their rights. They prefer to 'leave everything for God' while their lives become meaningless and the political class continue with the looting.

The efforts of the religious classes in the struggle for independence in places like Kenya, Zimbabwe, Algeria and South Africa never happened in Nigeria. We do not have any religious leader, dead or alive, who spoke and ranted against colonialism, oppression and corruption like Arch-Bishop Tutu of South Africa for example. Our religious leaders are busy preaching about ‘possessing' our empty ‘possessions' and waiting on ‘the Lord' for our miracles while they smile to the banks and live like pop stars. The self-anointed ‘religious leaders' in Nigeria (Christian and Muslim) are too busy reconciling their bank accounts, investments, assets and cozying up to the politicians to get import waivers and giving the same political leaders ‘anointing' to think about speaking out in unambiguous terms against corruption that has made the majority of their members paupers whose lives are not worth anything.

Although some of the nationalists were detained and some jailed for short periods. Nigeria cannot boast of a freedom fighter in the mould of Robert Mugabe, Steve Biko or a Mandela or the school children of Soweto (of blessed memory) who were mowed down in their hundreds while protesting against apartheid in South Africa. Most Nigerians has never had occasion to protest against anything but whine, grumble and according to Fela Anikulapo all they do is ‘suffering and smiling'.

In the days of yore, student activism used to be a vehicle for imbibing the spirit of struggle against injustices of the ruling class but this has been corrupted. Did anyone note the conferment of award for ‘excellence and leadership' on Umaru Yar'adua by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) recently? It does not get worse than that.

The writer can be contacted on tapper972000@yahoo.co.uk



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Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
Eire posted on 11-02-2009, 05:14:05 AM
Someone please give this man a CIGAR! What a splendid analysis of the real truth about Nigeria's nationhood and the lack of struggle that made us weak and passive! Writer got it down to a T.

Thank you sir for such an amazing response, not many articles are written here daily that capture the essence of what Nigeria was and is today and the the very core issues that place us where we are.

One little addition thou, (and I am not sure if the writer is themselves caught up in this in die-hard way as many Nigerian intellectuals are) is the issue of religious and idol worshipping. Apart from the fact we were never trained to resist oppression we were also trained to be obsessive of God and religions to the extent our very reason for being Nigerian have now been placed solely in the hands of a God that has never been empirically proven. the same religion that were used by Arabs and whites to enslave and colonise Nigeria is now the biggest thing going for Nigerians to save their lives, well-being and nation!

To build a nation you must have a citizenry with a slightly higher than monkey IQ, a citizenry that can comprehend science, human relations, religious trickery and other social-political machinations. Sadly religion and cultural practices means countries like Nigeria are still kept in such darkness that it might take generations to open the eyes of majority of the citizens.
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
posted on 11-02-2009, 09:45:54 AM
Dear Mr. Olaide Omodeyi:
Greetings! Frankly, I enjoyed reading your essay. Nonetheless, there are a couple of items I object to. The first caution: my essay was not about our Nationalists and/or about their struggle for independence; and I also did not make a comparative analysis of independence struggles in the continent.

The road to independence was NOT the same for all African countries that were formally colonized. Some countries achieved independence through ARMED-STRUGGLE; while other achieved theirs through NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT (with the colonizers or somewhat through the then League of Nations).

Either way, nationalists had to fight for their independence based on their experiences and circumstances. While it was necessary in Algeria, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau/Cape Verde and Mozambique to take up arms, it was not the case in Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana and Cameroon, for instance. In other words, the strategy they used was dictated by several factors, including the native-conditions.

Contrary to your assertion, my essay does not contain "undue emphasis about the ‘sacrifices' of our nationalist leaders." In fact, you acknowledged that my essay, "highlighted the plight of Nigerians who are running out in droves to go to other countries in Asia, Europe, Far and Near East, Africa and Australasia with the believe that any other country must surely be better than Nigeria as presently constituted and governed."

You went on to say that: "My main disagreement with the article was only on the mention of our nationalists and the impression created that they risked their lives for this country. I do not share that sentiment. I am of the school of thought that believes that Nigeria got her independence too ‘easily'." Well, I see no basis for your objection.

Our nationalists did indeed "risked their lives" during the struggle for independence. You could argue that the risk they took was not as grave, life-threatening, and drawn out as in some other countries. In other words, you could have anchored your objection -- if at all your objections are warranted -- on the degree/level of risk they took; but you cannot argue that they took NO risk or that their lives were never in danger during the struggle for independence.

Finally, you said, "Although some of the nationalists were detained and some jailed for short periods. Nigeria cannot boast of a freedom fighter in the mould of Robert Mugabe, Steve Biko or a Mandela…" Sure, most will not argue this and other points you raised. But they were not part of my essay. It was not part of my essay. The section (of my treatise) you quoted merely served to provide a context and/or continuity.

I thank you for reading me. Do have a wonderful week.
Cordially,
Sabella Abidde
http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/sabella-o-abidde/nigerians-the-desperate-attempt-to-go-into-exile.html
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
Akuluouno posted on 11-02-2009, 10:24:10 AM
I do not blame the author for not having cases of violence in the course of our struggle for independence to reel out because Nigeria has no history. There has been no conscious effort to document the history of Nigeria so that generations yet unborn will have a document showcasing the labours of their past heroes so that they will be proud of their country.
There were not only struggles against colonialism, but there were also struggles for independence. Many traditional rulers both in the North, East, West and South resisted colonialism while the Aba Women's riots and Enugu Coal Miners massacre were all vicariously linked to the fight against colonialism.
It is just that along the way the British did what they have honed very well in their former colonies and used a combination of tactics to enthrone their own order on Nigeria before they left. They never left happily but reluctantly with a vow to perpetually punish all those who made it difficult for them to govern Nigeria indefinitely through a combination of mischievous acts - which the day Nigerians are able to disentangle will see the nation move rapidly towards its marked destiny as the hope of the African
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
Mad nigerian posted on 11-02-2009, 12:35:29 PM
Good article.Note for author.The countries where there was a violent struggle for independence,like Algeria,Zimbabwe and Kenya had one thing in common-WHITE SETTLERS.Nigeria?How many whites settled in this country,and took lands belonging to Nigerians for farms?
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
Law Mefor posted on 11-02-2009, 15:31:42 PM
I do not share in the sentiment that there was ever any nationalist struggle in Nigeria. What we had was an agitation to replace colonialism with indigenous tyranny and domination of one region by another. Show me those you call nationalists and why you designate them as such and I will show you a misnomer.
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
Eace posted on 11-04-2009, 08:07:21 AM
If this article's intention is to assert that there were no nationalist struggles in Nigeria - this is untrue. As Sabella noted, 'struggles' are different, as are the results. Can one honestly compare the situations in Zimbabwe etc with the relative national freedom Nigerians have?

Akuluouno gave the appropriate answer - our struggles and our history have not been well documented and hard as it may seem, we are steeped in ignorance of our past...Until the lion becomes the story-teller, the tale of the hunt will always exalt the hunter.
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
PAPIG posted on 11-08-2009, 03:26:28 AM
Yes Nigerians do not have it in their character trait to FIGHT INJUSTICE AT ALL LEVELS.

Nigerians believe fighting injustice is a job for the FELA ANIKULAPO-KUTIS, GANI FAWEHINMIS OR THE WOLE SOYINKAS. They believe that GOD TIME IS THE BEST. This was true of some so called NATIONALIST FIGHTERS and present day NIGERIANS. This is the real reason why our country is controlled by MURDEROUS THIEVES.

GOD has blessed NIGERIA and gone to other less endowed countries. FELA AND GANI did the work of a WHOLE NATION and now that they are gone, the PEOPLE are again WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE THEIR PLACES.

The people lost EKITI STATE to murderous thieves also known as the PDP and they are waiting for GOD to save them from these same criminals in ANAMBRA STATE in a few months.

UNTIL THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES WAKE UP THE PROGNOSIS FOR NIGERIA IS HOPELESS. AS YOU MAKE YOUR BED SO YOU LIE ON IT!
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
Adesuwa posted on 09-18-2010, 06:18:25 AM
Your concern for our great country, Nigeria is quite appreciated. Patriotism should be emphasized, Yes. We must lead by examples. The leaders probably do not know where they are going. But we know. They have lived their lives. let's show them the right way by our actions. It therefore means that we are responsible for our country. I believe in God and I know that with God 's help we will move Nigeria from a state of penury to a state of abundance.
Every human being by himself on this earth is selfish. Even the man that commits suicide. He kills himself because he loves himself too much and cannot bear to see himself suffer. It takes a man that truly fears God to help others inspite of himself.
I must contribute my quota to building a stronger and greater Nigeria that we all can be proud of. As a teacher, I must be an example to my students, teach them patriotism, loyalty to others and to Nigeria.

Wherever you are, be conscious of your responsibility towards nation building. Others are watching whether you know it or not and will follow your footsteps. So take the right steps.null
Re: Nigerian Nationalist Struggle For Independence And The Present Rot In Nigeria
Applec3 posted on 04-26-2012, 03:54:26 AM
good article , i agree with you that nigeria got her independence on a platter of gold. Infact at 1960 when Nigeria got her independence , there was nigerian nation instead what we had was each region mistrusting each other. Our nationalist fought for their individual regions and not the common cause of Nigeria as a Nation. That is why till date there is yet a united Nigerian nation. They are indeed the cause of the leadership crisis we have in the country today, because it all started in 1960 after independence.
Infact credit should go to our traditional nationalist people like Jaja of Opobo, Nana of Itsekiri, Dappa Pepple of Bonny e.t.c who fought the bristish to a standtil to wade them off against the exploitaion of the economic resources of their lands.and it is indeed sad that our youths of today are already towing the line of the so called leaders of the country., or how do one explain the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) conferring an award for "excellence and leadership on the late president Umaru Yar'dua on what basis?
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