‘Memory is not a passive depository of facts, but an active process of creation of meanings’ – Alessandro Portelli
Nigeria’s developmental frailties have been largely episodic. One moment, Nigerians band together with one voice supporting the Super Eagles during continental tourneys, and on some other days, especially during elections and sharing of resources, some sections of Nigeria awaken ethnocentric and ethno-religious or primordial sentiments.
The Nigerian archetype today, is basically ethno-chauvinistic. A Nigerian public official or citizen is more likely to be favourably disposed to his ethnic kind than a member of a neighbouring or distant ethnic/ethno-religious groups when discharging statutory duties or seeking help in a dyadic relationship. This is noticeably evident at police checkpoints, banks, immigration points and federal ministries and parastatals, and many other civil ‘meeting’ points in day to day socio-economic and political interactions.
Carl Jung, a psychoanalyst, (in Jungian theory) described an archetype as a primitive mental image inherited from our earliest human ancestors, and is supposed to be present in the collective unconscious. The exhibitor of such characteristics may sometimes be unaware of this very important guiding principle of human interactions.
Ethnic Chauvinism is described by cultural anthropologists as the excessive love of one’s own race/ethnicity; hence, all other races/ethnicities are looked down upon as inferior. When one starts carrying too much pride in one’s language and culture, it is called religious chauvinism. Linguistic chauvinism is the idea that one’s language is superior to others. Linguistic chauvinism is the now extinct habit of Greeks calling anyone who did not speak Greek as a barbarian.
The average Nigerian believes, both openly and in the deep unconscious, that economic development is bound to happen in his state or local government of origin if the governor or president is an indigene of that geopolitical zone. If it does not transpire as thought, if development goes according to statutory provisions of federal character principles, the governor or president becomes vilified and stigmatized as a failure to his own people. Nationalism is experienced only with lip-service. Nigerian leaders have been seen to harp on national unity vehemently as a reminder to be loyal to the Nigerian cause instead of their different ethnic preferences. Limited or zero knowledge of Nigeria’s history has emboldened detractors and bamboozled the citizens, confounded investors and stunted meaningful, productive, dialogues.
The problems of today’s Nigeria are enmeshed in the foregoing analyses of the ‘Nigerian archetype’. These growth-stunting attributes became more prominent just before Imperial Britain granted self-rule to an independent, ‘sovereign’ Nigerian state and snowballed into political unrests, pogroms, and a civil war and subsequently, stagnation of developmental strides.
Any attempt to understand Nigeria as things stand, without comprehending its archetypal and ethno-chauvinistic attributes will be tantamount to journeying to Erehwon. Such revehent thought-processing sometimes affect ease of doing business, voting behavior and other social interactions.
Nigeria’s growth seems to be stunted and retrogressing after fifty-seven years of independence from Britain. These undesireable occurrences are inherent in every Nigerian’s worry. Why have growth indices been negatively experienced in such a promising country with stupendous wealth in both human and natural resources? Why has power supply for instance defied all known remedial efforts to make it available for industrial development and human capacity development? Why do Nigerians go abroad for ‘greener pastures’ when their own ‘pastures’ are actually ‘greener’ than their destinations’?
Long after the Northern and Southern Protectorates amalgamation in 1914 by British Colonialists and subsequent ‘Independence’ or self determination in 1960, Nigeria is still literally ‘groping in the dark’? Why do we keep hearing things about Northern Nigeria as if we are still in pre-1914 Amalgamation separately created nations?
If we are truly one united indivisible entity, why do we hear things like ‘’North Must Rule or Nigeria Will Divide?’’, ‘’ South East Has Been Marginalized For Too Long’’, ‘’We the MiddleBelt Are Not Part of the North’’?
Why have our census figures, required for developmental planning and thus fair and equitable distribution of resources, been controversial from time immemorial?
Why are Nigerians in Bayelsa State delineated into eight local government areas when they are the fourth largest producers of crude oil, and Kano State with a single digit percentage contribution to the Gross National Product (GNP) is delineated into forty-four local government areas ensuring that Kano gets more federal allocations thirty-six times more than a Bayelsa State?
Why are roads in the South East less cared for, than roads in other Geopolitical Zones? Why are admission requirements into secondary and tertiary institutions different for all the geopolitical zones and negatively skewed?
Why does an Nnamdi Kanu call for the actualization of Biafra and an Ango Abdullahi threaten an Arewa readiness to break-up Nigeria if so and so happens? Why is an Annkio Briggs among others preaching self-determination of the Niger Delta people and why does a Yinka Odumakin champion ’Oduduwa’ causes?
Why do Nigerians describe anyone who obeys the rule of law as president weak, and the one who disobeys court orders as a strong president who has ‘integrity’?
These and many more mind-boggling questions will be answered after reading this book.
Nigeria: From Genesis to Revelation will offer sundry insights into, and empower readers to understand, the origin of the Nigerian national quagmire so that problem-solving efforts can be better proffered by stakeholders in the obviously creaky Nigerian project. It is a chronicle of Nigeria’s political and contemporary history.
Numerous journals, articles, books and news magazines have been published both in soft and hard copies about the Nigerian problem, but none has been meta-analyzed and presented as one readable matter covering virtually every epoch of our national existence as Nigerians.
It takes more than isolated analysis to help present- day Nigerians overcome the perils of sleeping with our proverbial roof on fire. For every Nigerian who needs to understand why we are drifting—or on the verge of—or derailing from, our growth path and pointing accusing fingers here and there, a prognosis of our predicament will assist us in offering long-lasting solutions.
The message is solidly factual, mostly historically accurate, and culturally informed. It includes contemporary real-life stories and insights from a wide spectrum of past and present actors in the Nigerian developmental annals.
Anecdotal records and archival research into the Nigerian archetypal past will help to enlighten the reader on how and why we got here, and why we seem to be taking five steps forward and thirty steps backwards.
The era of self-deceit is passing. This trend of dominant selfish political lifestyles began in the late 1950s and even though it initially provided an enabling environment for massive socioeconomic development initially, it later engendered political and economic underdevelopment just after the civil war. All these occurred in the midst of plenty owing to mutual suspicion, hegemonic bigotry and political confusion, religious intolerance, and recycled lies about population census figures, an incontrovertible prerequisite for planning and administration of nations.
A cursory glance at Nigeria’s situation presents to the observer, possible solutions if all parties are willing to play ball – It is a case of singing with the choir or howling on our own.
If a Ghana that pays Nigeria for gas supply to power their electricity distribution needs should enjoy better power distribution than Nigeria, then something is wrong. A man without feet doesn’t need shoes. Before that happens, an artificial pair of feet needs to be provided before shoes can be worn, just like the Blade Runner of South Africa.
After reading this book, the answers to the posers will out like a rainbow of hope, not despair. Hope in a long-lasting resolution of the Nigerian question if the world chooses to be sincere to itself. That truism is incontrovertible. World peace can be better achieved if potential conflicts are well managed and nipped in the budding stages.
It is not enough to balk at glaring failures of governance and national structural defects without endeavouring to address the problems. Nigerians and the international community owe themselves a duty to converse in a non-directionless manner for the same purposes. Ethno chauvinism and international apathy will only serve to exacerbate the conundrum.
NOTE: This anthology is a compilation of colonial records and thoroughly researched historical archives.
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