NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY CANNOT CAPTURE ABUJA OR AFRICA
Farouk Martins Aresa
Once upon a time, we were told there was a virgin land of Abuja where there were no indigenes or settlers. It was going to be the best place for the capital of Nigeria. We accepted a bloody lie. There are no mumu left in Nigeria and they are now demanding a state of theirs to be called GBAKKA. This notion that opportunistic influx of economic fortune grazers can deny indigenes of their rights by democracy is freaking Nigeria out.
Today we have not learnt much, have we? We forget that the war was triggered by 10% kickbacks corrupting our polity with absolute power to rig elections by impunity. Abuja builders, imagine well managed grazing management technics with desert reforestation.
The wonderful delicate symbiosis of Hausa known for their honesty, Igbo for hard work and Yoruba for accommodation are slowly disintegrating. It was how we won the hearts of fellow Nigerians and fellow Africans. Nigeria was the bread basket and our generosity went beyond South Africa. We rested on our laurel and became complacent. We did not build on the prowess of Chike Obi or Awojobi for African engineering giant of the future.
Nigeria discovered oil since the fifties but in the twenties we cannot build a refinery locally. While signing all these contracts to build all these mega projects, there was no enforceable binding agreement that we wanted Nigerians trained, we wanted technical schools modeled on these projects, so that our people can build their own in ten or twenty years without paying others in fifty years to come and build another one.
Instead of creating enabling locations for the most informed or hard working Africans in their individual villages and cities, we have turned them into economic refuges all over the world; and other Africans that used to welcome Nigerians with accolades are turning against them. Nigeria had all it takes to make it unique as the worldly pride of Africans. If Nigeria cannot save itself, how can it save the black race? Diaspora Africans asked.
African countries look at us as the most fortunate “spirits” that ever lived but can never get its acts together for other Africans to follow. Without any special skills, anybody can buy and trade. Nigerians are not needed in Africa to do just that. As soon as they have their own teachers, lawyers and doctors, there is less need for non-indigenes to lord all over others in Abuja or Africa. It was time to diversify into adaptable technical skill needed.
Apart from loss of highly trained and expensive brain drain to greener pastures needed locally, we wasted essential resources by opportunity cost. Half of what was spent on pen pushers and Abuja could have been invested into enabling environment as satellite towns off Abuja, Kano, Owerri, Lagos, Benin etc.; and leave the rest to the technicians and hardworking Nigerians willing to move into the neighboring lands for development.
Imagine how many Abuja could have sprung up into commercial centers in the four geopolitical regions instead of busting, overpopulating and grazing in Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu, Bayelsa, Lagos and Oyo states. We have governments that hunt its people down with their neighbors for breathing space, while politicians sat on fats collecting royalty and ordering finished products as if money can buy it all. A fool and his money nko?
Well, that is then. If Nigerians can turn bus stop into a town, imagine what they can do with enabling bush. There must be a solution now. Sorry, we have not learned. Projects are still being built entirely by imported engineering that built Ajaokuta Steel and Eko Bridge that cannot be adapted into Eko Atlantic. We fold our hands wondering if these new car plants in their infancy are going to survive or killed as we did assembly plants in the 80s with exotic imports. We are consumers of expensive fat and producer of none.
Abuja must teach us enough lessons that we are in the age of self-determination and the only survival in any environment, are those with special skills needed but must be adapted to Nigeria to prevent a brain drain. If our adapted skills work to build Nigeria as a showcase to the rest of Africa, other countries would have to pay inconvenience or bush allowance to get a Nigerian to leave home. That is what we pay foreigners for.
If people in Calabar would not stay put and allow others to take over their land, why expect those in Jos, Ilorin, Owerri, Lagos, Accra or Pretoria to play dead. No democracy will make people abdicate their place of origin so that new comers can rule them, unless they have some unique skill that will enhance the culture and progress of local people. If you rob their back, they will rob your back. But if you scratch their face, so would they.
Jos problem is a bigger symptom of what is going on in the whole Nigeria that has spilled past the border into other African countries. We used to go into those countries as Lawyers, teachers, doctors or even miners. What we have failed to do is develop our technical skills beyond these areas to remain relevant in engineering development with our abundant resources. So foreigners are filling the void Africans ignored; but still buy.
There is a great demand for technical skills all over the world, even in United States. But if Nigerians cannot provide it in their own Country, how can they provide it to other African countries? This is how we spent our fortune building a brand new federal capital displacing “mumu” indigenes, without giving them or Nigerians technical know-hows to be replicated in other villages and towns at home or Africa. What a missed opportunity.
After sending Niger Delta warriors to overseas training, Fulani warriors would ask for their turn without dreaming of any grand project that would employ them when they come back. Yet, we ignore other Deltans or Nigerians more productive. The projects we dream about is not the types that employ those we trained but to employ those trained by other countries as CUSO (Canadian Unemployed Shipped Overseas). Sorry O Canada!
Hey, some people might say. These mumu already owned, pampered and bribed by the oil companies cannot even stop gas flaring after repeated regulations and agreements were broken. But if we say foreign companies intentionally preyed on our politicians’ short sightedness so that we could be their repeated customers for life, some might say we are paranoid. Speaking of looters, don’t they fly exotic cars overseas for service?
If we come to really think about our misfortunes and failures, it falls on wrong priorities not lack of adequate planning. Not on some great academic or technical skill that were not available to those whose priority was our independence. Our failings have been manmade out of greed and instant gratification by those that could not build on the achievements of past leaders.