In the beginning there was an amazing dream and the dream was called Nigeria - A Nation so beautiful and diverse, so great and rich in blessings and resources, where citizens prosper and live in organized and perfect harmony, with mutual respect, justice and equity serving all as a common platform.
And then the elders came together deliberating on how best to accomplish this dream and how best to deliver on the promise which they had beheld in their hearts and hoped to see with their own eyes. And there were many ideas but no consensus on the way forward, one that would be a universally and mutually beneficial course of action.
After many moons, bitterness, ambition and strife had taken roots in their midst and the elders and leaders now had no trust for one another nor did they have a common purpose or agenda. Priorities shifted, alliances fractured and with it the harmony of the dream became lost. Yet the dream persevered!
After many more moons, the bitterness, ambition and strife earlier conceived had given way to hatred, angst and struggle and there was now no place for cohesion, no common voice but rather a cacophony of dissenting voices. There were now selfish interests to be satisfied and parochial agendas to be fulfilled. Malicious manipulations and malevolent back-stabbing became the new political order.
The political climate deteriorated and was soon characterised by bitter struggles and political wrangling. Outright wickedness, ethnic manipulations and selfish gains prevailed. Envious conspiracies, betrayals, parochial manipulations and malicious lies became the new standard for political warfare. Eventually there was bloodshed which culminated in a civil war! And the dream that was dreamt, …was very soon shattered!
It has been several decades since the civil war now and the transition period for Nigeria has been a sad and painful one! We have been plagued by problems on all sides. Again and again, we have had to put up with a recurring cycle of corrupt, depraved and reprobate leadership, amputated and convoluted agendas, economic incapacity, social decadence, less than stellar image and now, terrorists in our midst! Today, the fact that the Nation is currently a ship sailing without purpose or direction and its officers are deeply engaged in criminal and illicit acts of epic proportions, to preserve their wealth and positions, only serves to make our situation even more desperate!
The truth be told, the nation that was dreamed and for which many made the ultimate sacrifice is long dead! The nation we had all hoped for was not the nation that we all grew up accepting as ours. The dream of a great nation, which had actually been in metamorphosis for 50 years, has finally unraveled and now the larvae’s cocoon has burst open and the final outcome? – A Nation that is dead on arrival! Nigeria is the butterfly that never quite made it out of its larvae stage – its potentials, beauty and purpose wilting with it in the throes of birth!
While it may be the end of a dream that never was, it is yet needless to mourn because the still-birth of a deformed fetus may yet signify crystal moments of clarity, moments of realization that may yet bring about great zeal and impetus for new hope and a fresh beginnings! My generation must find renewed vigor and determination to help undertake the vast opportunities for a new beginning and develop great aspirations for a new era. It is now our calling and duty as heirs and scions of the nation to build and forge a society that will be our vehicle to achieving our dreams for ourselves and our children - the true birth of a real nation!
An interesting truth that I have to acknowledge is as thus - that the many problems of Nigeria, stem from its conception, its beginning and its roots. A weakness in the conception of the Nation state as a whole, which very much like a weak foundation has reared up its ugly head in the latter stages of development! Whilst the founding fathers squabbled and immersed themselves in egotistical, ethnic and sectional struggles, there was an absolute disregard for the careful implementation of the principles guiding the dream that Nigeria was never to become, thus ensuring that the new nation’s promise was soon derailed and its potentials for great success was lost in the shenanigan that was thereafter conceived!
Today, Nigeria is a pseudo-federation of 36 states to which 774 local governments belong. Because we are a federation in name only, the question of how revenue will be allocated in a just and equitable way arises. For 50 years this question has been the bane of all our problems! Huge sections of the nation often being wickedly and unjustly marginalized and other sections being overtly favored – a pivoted policy which has been the main reason for an absolute lack of unity, resentment and civil unrest. In the hands of old time guards, national schemers and devious leaders, the military has historically been nothing more than a tool to use to advance their dubious objectives.
Democracy has been a recent source of pride for the nation, even if the actual application of the democratic principles being brandished are not being practiced. A democracy that could be, at the very best, considered unrepresentative, lopsided and perverted! The current state of affairs in the nation is a testament to the inherent shoddiness, weakness and unsuitability of both our democratic process and our adopted method of governance!
We need to recognize that democracy is a culture, first and foremost, before being a method of governance. The problem with democracy in Nigeria, and indeed in the rest of Africa, is that democracy is a foreign concept and culture, one that has been transplanted to Africa but without all the necessary and mandatory support mechanism to ensure its success and survival.
Generally and historically, Africans have a culture of perpetual, lifelong leadership and this propensity is emanated in the pivoted practice of democracy that is witnessed in the continent. As evidenced by a majority of African nations, leaders hardly ever find the preposition of handing over power to another, an attractive one. For them, the oath of office is too often confused with the wedding oath – ‘till death do us part!'
Democracy has many advantages but it is not without a host of other disadvantages – most of which are very prominent and possibly destructive in the early stages of its development. The best and most practical approach to democracy is to foster a culture that is founded on a solid and stable foundation of justice, equity, accountability and the rule of law. Democracy itself needs a solid foundation in other to be successful. Democracy is like a valuable seed that needs, requires and demands certain optimal conditioning to grow and bring forth fruits. Without which there can be no fruits, no survivability and a low mortality of dreams can be guaranteed.
It is also important to point out that although democracy may be a well traversed course to good governance, it should however be understood that democracy in itself is not equal to good governance. The common man’s hope is therefore not necessarily hinged on the promise of democracy but on the delivery of good governance and the actualization of the gains thereby accomplished. Also, the fact that democracy is a possible route to good governance does not make it the only means to good governance. Thus, it is important for a people to be free to evolve whatever form or style of government best suits their culture and belief system.
The reality is that Nigeria currently has neither the foundation nor the ingredients for evolving a culture of democracy. Nigeria as we know it today is barely a nation – one that is fighting for the survival of its own identity and co-existing constituents! Democracy has no place in the hearts, minds and culture of a people whose primary focus on a day to day basis is the basic and simple objective of finding a means to survive and ensure the survivability of their children and family in a hostile and malevolent environment!
What Nigeria needs at this point is leadership – good, sound and prudent leadership! Not democracy, not plutocracy or any other form of esoteric government. What is most needed is leadership which is strong, intelligent, forthright and determined to bring about real change, growth and development. Such a government, in whatever form it may come, is however best served if its subjects are allowed to freely enjoy the merits of good leadership which include freedom of speech and expression, the rule of law, justice, equity and accountability in government!
For the next phase of Nigeria’s history to be well written, Nigeria must address the question of its identity and its constitution. We must assemble a constitutional assembly which should be constituted by having two or more representatives from every local government in Nigeria. However, this cannot be done successfully until the people that matter feel motivated to join in, until those who are exposed, those who have gleaned from successful and progressive societies, until the enlightened and the educated elites, make the concerted effort to get involved. Until the dynamism, ebbing capacity and fecund imagination resident in the hearts and minds of a younger and untainted generation is tapped and unleashed!
The fundamental question of what constitutes a local government must be answered! What are the parameters for adjudicating the creation or elimination of a local government? With an approximated population of 140 million and 774 local governments, Nigeria must define the parameters and indices which will give the basic concept of local governance and constitution a universal meaning and standard! We must decide if population, geographical apportioning or even common identity/language will be the basis for determining what a local government constitutes. Such important national indexes cannot and should never be left to the haphazard wimp and caprices of demented politicians and power drunk usurpers!
When the final sign of life would have been squeezed out of the nation in its current form and the smoldering embers of struggle and change that is sure to come would have succumbed. Out of the ashes of its catastrophic ruin would hopefully arise, well preserved, highly motivated, brilliant and astute, young unpolluted minds! Men of integrity, ideas and great ideals, who will rise up and contribute heart, mind and effort to building a nation worthy of our dream! We should be willing to take that which we all have experienced, what we have learned and that with which we have been gifted, applying it to the noble task of nation building - To build a nation that is noble, just and equitable for all!
Such is the calamity that has befallen Nigeria in the last few decades that we are now at the point where we need to develop or better still, re-develop just about everything. We will have to engender a new culture in several aspects of the uniquely Nigerian culture – this may include fostering a new sense of belonging and pride in the Nation, engender new social values, develop a new culture of public service and accountability, cultivate new standards of work ethics and productivity and more. There must be a reasonable level of human development and communal awareness before the successful implementation of a democratic process and the consequent positive impact it could have on a people.
We must put heads and minds together and come up with a way of defining a future for a nation that is suffocating in its own filth! Mandatorily, this generation must find a greater purpose, one that is selfless and sacrificial. We must first understand the challenges of our calling before we can successfully apply ourselves to the noble task ahead. Victory can be ours in spite of the immensity of the disaster that has been foisted upon us!
It is with this realization that I have come to the conclusion, as many may have, that it would be of critical importance for like-minded people to come together, creating a platform upon which solutions and positive agendas may be accomplished. Coincidentally, Professor Wole Soyinka, only recently launched a political party (DFPF) that was effectively targeted towards this same purpose. It is my belief that with reasonable participation from the younger generation, the educated bourgeois and the marginalized intellectuals, the nation’s plight and wilting future may soon be revived so that the sun may yet shine again in our motherland.