By Prince Charles Dickson
“Sà á bí olóògùn-ún ti wí;” meaning, ‘invoke it exactly as the maker of the charm instructed’
To understand Nigeria, you need to appreciate where it came from. In 1900, Britain officially assumed responsibility for the Administration of the whole of what we now know as Nigeria from the Niger Company. And then, gradually over the years British protectorates were established throughout the territory.
In 1914, the protectorates were amalgamated into one Nigeria. Actually, there’s one additional detail that bears mentioning. In order to take over the territories from the Niger Company, the British Government paid 865,000 pounds. A huge amount in 1900. So let’s establish a simple truth. The British didn’t travel halfway across the world just to spread democracy. Nigeria started off as a business deal.
For them, between a company and a government. Incidentally, the Niger Company is still around today, only it is known by a different name, Unilever. But that’s another story.
What is balanced in a nation that is sorely divided across religious lines, yet richly blessed but abused by her leaders such that followership is blinded by the divide and rule tactics bequeathed to us by our colonial masters. I ask 80% of my readers today, how has a Muslim presidency or a Christian presidency, benefited us, Nigeria is worse off, Boko Haram is wreaking havoc, kidnappers, who are graduates, are doing theirs in the south, bandits are doing theirs. Nigeria is a business, one big business!
We have become so blinded by the fact that when we fill forms one must either be Christian/Muslim, and some nasty variables, it has become ingrained, so even an armed robber that is filling a form must necessarily identify with one faith and an ethnicity, these indices are as useless as they come. With all those Christians in the parastals are they any better as agencies, or should I throw up more controversies, like is a Christian leader better than a Muslim leader, who steals more, are we not same Nigerians that voted Abiola en masse despite his faith. Well some answers to my postulations are like trade secrets, na so business dey be.
What is the problem with Nigeria, who is the problem, today I dare say that the problem with Nigeria, is Nigerians, part of our problem, is simply put, ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘you’, ‘them’, ‘they’. The problem with Nigeria actually is you and me! A business gone wrong, trust issues, no profit, or profit reserved only for a few.
Nigeria, ideally is one of the best places to live in, it is not a Police State like so-called Western Democracies. In Nigeria I can urinate anywhere and not get fined or arrested, I can get a ladder and climb the electricity poles and effect a change of power phases, that is if the problem is not from the nearby power transformer which anybody can repair with dry wood. What a business?
Many people for good reasons had seen in Mr. Buhari some form of change. A lot of us had lost hope in the system, the structure, the leadership, but with each passing day, it is becoming obvious that Nigeria may be just an empty plastic cup, to light to hold a cup of coffee cold or hot, because the terms of business terms were not well outlined, partnership not properly negotiated.
We are running a business that is devoid of purposeful leadership, the business called Nigeria does not have leadership and nor a people that have collectively gone about bringing economic prosperity, industrial strength, intellectual pride and dynamism. Our business is a circus of both leadership and citizenry.
What kind of business can thrive without fast paced infrastructural development, rapid push in human resource development, healthcare delivery, with approximately over 50,000 graduates expected out yearly, and only 3% possessing a chance of a job, with time the remaining 97% slowly becoming an unemployable lot with redundant qualifications and no form of entrepreneurial educational.
The business called Nigeria, lacks education, health and development with all the wealth, we are breeding terrorists, frustrated young men, sad mothers, senior citizens that daily curse the business because we have refused to give them their dividends, children without a hope for the future in light of public school utilities and abductions.
This is the business called Nigeria, the rich, poor, and everybody cries and laughs almost at the same time; the difference is the swing of the pendulum. The Nigerian big man makes a law, those wanting to be Nigerian or already big men proceed immediately to look for a way to break the law; he explores loopholes and escape clauses, like the Immunity clause used for stealing.
Ordinary Citizens would do it their own way, they would jump queues on no-excuse, they would do u-turns on an expressway, stop in the middle of the road to say hello to a long lost friend without parking.
The pain of this essay, despite all there are those in this business, Nigerians in their millions that want to be good for the right reasons. Those Nigerians, not easily understood because they will not give bribes, all their actions are in line with tradition, society’s good norms and rationality. They largely are old now, although a few young ones too, and most times reside in rural areas, though a few too, stay in urban areas.
They are generally good and untribalized, they believe in the principles of live and let live. These Nigerians are neither the bottom power women nor the moneybag men like you and me. They strive daily to remain patriotic and committed to the Nigerian business despite the reality, they are disciplined and are hardworking, and they battle the stark reality that as patient dogs they may never have any bone left.
These sets of Nigerians suffer from the Nigerian experiment because of the larger majority’s inability to curb greed, inability for me and you to be fair and rational towards other people’s perspectives, opinions, positions and interests.
My continuous inability to make sacrifices for the common good, and your unwillingness to respect our institutions means that if others do not stand as a people and resolve to fight for what rightly belongs to Nigeria, the problem with Nigeria will continue.
The mutual distrust is a stench, we are all living a pretence, census figures is a faith/ethnic issue, once a list is out we are looking at who is Muslim/Christian, and from Kano or Imo. We are in trouble, BIG trouble, as there’s no way out of this entire business of phobic Christanisation/Islamisation. Speed trains all over the world, locomotive is it in Nigeria, until we realize, what really our problems are, the churches and mosques would increase and so will our woes, are we really ready to move beyond our mediocrity of fasting/praying on issues mentality, and know that, the husband of a mother is a father, if the charm is not administered as instructed, if the terms of the business is not discussed, negotiated and adhered to, from one story to another and—Only time will tell.
*Dickson, writes via thewillnigeria.com