In the years after 1960 Nigerian Independence and many other African nations’ independence, the most resented action in Africa was “meddling in Nigeria’s or African Affairs” by “Colonial Powers” or other nations. No foreign power would comment on Nigerian/ African affairs without hearing from politicians and National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS). They would match to the foreign nation’s embassy to demonstrate. Market women would come out to protest. Labor unions would call out labor to denounce the “foreign interference.” Guarding Nigerian sovereignty was everybody’s responsibility.
How things have changed.
This generation that did not attend any of Zik’s public lectures or listen to Mbonu Ojike’s lectures or Awolowo’s, or any of the nationalist speeches are now ready to sell Nigeria to any foreign government or association and are inviting them to take over Nigeria. I have not heard anybody protesting that any nation is interfering in Nigeria’s affairs. What I hear and see are people “reporting Nigeria” to UN, to US government to EU or anybody who would listen. I get the impression that Nigerians are tired of independence. They want to be ruled by another nation. We seem to want a white man at Aso Rock or even all the way back to Ikoyi in Lagos Island. We seem to want the parades in Lagos Race Course once more. The irony of this is that the people who are clamoring for this did not even witness those events. An example of what I have in mind is the recent 12 Northern Governors’ meeting in Washington DC in which they “reported President Jonathan” for escalating Boko Haram’s menace. They apparently want Mr. Obama to call Mr. Jonathan to order. Before that it was reported that APC had wanted US to summon Mr. Jonathan and APC leadership to DC to discuss how the 2015 election would be conducted and to discuss modus operandi. In other words they want the sovereignty of Nigeria transferred to DC.
They want a big brother.
The question is how were previous crises resolved? What would Zik, Awolowo, Ojike and Abubakar say or feel in their graves. I am glad we would not be able to see their reactions for I feel they would lose control. After the 1959 deadlocked elections, the three leaders were seeking alliances with only one thing in their minds: how to resolve the situation, preserve Nigeria as an entity and yet not involve Britain. In other words they sought internal solution. The merger of NCNC and NPC was so that the North would not feel isolated and decide to secede. It worked.
Why this turnaround from seeking internal solution? Why this quest for foreign intervention or appeals to the military to take over? Why this change in attitude.
I think the answer lies in the weakness of our institutions, particularly the Nigerian Supreme Court. There is no institution Nigerians believe that it could step in and resolve a matter in the best interest of the nation. In the United States all parties believe that the US Supreme Court would try to be fair in matters of grave national importance and all parties would bow to its decisions. Examples abound: Gore/Bush deadlocked elections, Obama Health Care decision, etc. The losing party did not like the decision but ended all contention after the decision was announced.
Nigerian leaders need to come to the realization that somebody has to have a last say on national matters. But for Nigerians to come to this realization, our institutions have to demonstrate effort to earn this confidence by establishing institutional pride. Judges would begin to demonstrate real independence ignoring the entreaties of the president or the legislators. Legislators must begin to think in the national interest in serious matters rather than how to overthrow an elected government without resorting to elections. APC’s recent call to its members not to pass budgets, not to approve presidential appointments, etc., is examples of efforts to overthrow an elected government. Constant threats to impeach governors for political disagreements rather than for felonies are other examples. Refusal to resign from critical positions by ministers or the governor of Central Bank or court judges or other constitutional offices provide more examples that have lead the loss of faith in our ability to govern ourselves and the demand for a big brother beyond our control.
One of the proffered solutions has been the dismemberment of Nigeria. This solution would only multiply when Nigeria is dissolved. The north would continue in this mold as a separate nation for its citizens are as guilty of the ills of Nigeria as are the would be Oduduwa, Biafra, Edo, Ijaw, Tiv etc.
The destiny of One Nigeria lies in Nigeria’s hands. The nationals need to create institutions that would govern them and learn to respect those institutions.
If Nigeria is amalgamated into US, it would only be a matter of time when a new generation of Nigerians would start the agitation for independence. It is the duty of living Nigerians to prevent such a fight in the future.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts
April 4, 2014