Is one Nigeria A Dream or Reality

All protocols observed.
Thank you for having the courage in choosing this topic as it is timely to identify Nigeria‟s problems and discuss it in a forthright manner so that we can proffer appropriate solutions; so long we continue to gloss over them so long our people will continue to suffer.
Nigeria, a country of about 140 million people occupying a land area of 351,649 squared miles about the size of the state of California in the USA is an amalgam of different ethnic nationalities.
Nigeria gained independence on October 1st 1960 from the United Kingdom which account for this celebration of at a ripe age of 46 long years of existence as a nation.
Nigeria is a complex nation with over 250 ethnic groups with the main tribes being Hausa/Fulani to the north, the Tiv to the middle belt , the Yoruba, Ibo, Ijaw, Edo, Ibibio to the south of the of the country. The country is divided into 36 states and a federal capital territory rearranged into six geopolitical zones and the South /South zone being the most complex.
Nigerians are about 50% Muslims which implies that Nigeria is home to the world’s sixth largest Muslim population; about 40% Christians and rising rapidly and 10% traditional religion and dwindling slowly. In 2004 the estimated literacy rate was 68% and the life expectancy rate has dropped from 51 in 1963 to 46 in 2004.
The main problems of the country include greed, lack of transparency, accountability and corruption in government, repeated military coups with incursion of the military into government, tribalism, nepotism, inequality in the distribution of the national wealth with associated marginalization of the southern minority ethnic groups, and changing attitudes and erosion of traditional values. There is gross lack of discipline and unimaginable yearnings for foreign made & pleasurable goods by the few Nigerians who can afford them after corruptly enriching themselves. These corrupt officers due to their flamboyance became the role model of the teeming youths; and this does not augur well for the future of the nation..In spite of our problems, research has shown that Nigerians are not only the most religious
people in the world, they are also the happiest people on the surface of the earth.
Having set down this background information, I shall move on to give the overview of the
debate: Is one Nigeria a dream or a reality?
First and foremost can I state categorically to everyone here that I believe that Nigeria is an
indivisible nation under God with one destiny so that the labour and sacrifices of our heroes
past shall not be in vain? Nigeria is a land of milk and honey, well endowed with human and
natural resources; that there is abundance for the population of our nation; but that we are
where we are because of the greed, corruption and evil intention of some of our past
national leaders who have other agendas like the islamization of our nation that is
constitutionally a secular nation instead of laying good foundation for an equitable and fair
distribution of the national wealth. The other serious problem is the transfer of national
wealth to foreign banks in Europe and America thereby impoverishing the people.
For a lot of Nigerians there is a strong belief that one Nigeria is a dream. They advance very
good reasons for their belief.
International as well as local authorities have predicted doom for our nation and a possible
failure by ‘2015’ for the Nigerian State as they believe that there are sound indicators that
one united Nigeria is a dream.
Going back to the genesis of Nigeria as a nation, the southern protectorate and the northern
protectorates of Nigeria where amalgamated by the British colonisers in 1914 without any
strong reason to take that decision except for ease of governance and movements of the
produce from the north to the sea ports in the south and subsequent shipment to Europe
through the Atlantic ocean and people view this as a mistake which can be corrected today
by balkanization of the nation.
There is a lot of diversity between these two protectorates till today. Whereas the north used
to be mainly nomads and cattle rearers, the southerners are subsistence farmers. While we
have northern Moslems, the south are mainly Christians While there were many nationalists
fighting for independence from the south, the north was mainly satisfied with the status quo
hence they gained self governance in 1959 two years later after the southern protectorate
gained self governance. The colonialists tactfully handed the nation to those who least
wanted a change after a census whose figures were seriously disputed.
There is the worrying undying concept of the north started by Othman dan Fodio that he
would dip the Koran in the sea by the jihad movement. His forces were stopped at Igala the
present day Kogi State by the forces of the Ancient Benin Empire led by Queen Idia, queen
mother who was the first woman to ever go to war and by the Ibadan forces in the south
west.Ahamadu Bello the then Sarduana of Sokoto also toyed with the idea during the first republic
until his death and Ibrahim Babaginda has resurrected the idea again when he unilaterally
normalised the status of Nigeria as a member of the Organization of Islamic States (OIC)
from its observer status during his ruler ship. This move led to the resignation of Ebitu Ukiwe
from his government as the matter was never discussed in the then Armed Forces Ruling
Council. This singular move by IBB to change Nigeria from a secular state into an Islamic
State is inimical to the existence of a united Nigeria even as we speak IBB is still bent on
ruling Nigeria with a Christian as a weak vice president so that he may complete the process
of total islamization of the nation which he started in the 1987.
There is a more serious problem of radical islamazation of Nigeria today. In addition to the
Sharia law in the Nigerian constitution and the threat that some states may implement the
law when there are cases involving Christians which could lead to unrest, there is the
frequent sudden explosion of Moslem youths who kill and main southern Christians at the
least provocation.
Nigeria has experienced increased ethnic and religious violence and tensions after 12 of the country’s 36 states
adopted the Islamic Sharia law. It has been reported that over 15,000 people may have died in communal and
religious violence since the inception of the current democratic dispensation. You can see that this idea of
forceful conversion or the jihad being perpetrated by the Moslems can accelerate dismemberment of our nation if
these incessant irate young Moslems who unlawfully kill and main southern Christians living in the northern part
of our nation are not checked by security agents.
To obviate the deterioration of this tricky situation, the Federal Government should rein in
these Moslem youths who either on their own or spurred on by their elders indiscriminately
kill and main southern Christians in addition to wanton destruction of their properties
resulting from international issues unrelated to Nigeria at all. If the situation is not checked,
the Christians may review the doctrine of „‟if you slap me on the right check, I will also give
the left check as well which can deteriorate to a full scale religious conflict.
After independence, Nigeria adopted the parliamentary system of government of the United
Kingdom but lacked the smooth debating ability that made that system of democracy
effective as major policies and voting were done on tribal lines in the Nigerian parliament
and not on merit of the debates. Some of the nationalists were very federal in their approach.
Nationalists like Nnamdi Azikiwe who contested election in the old Western Region but was
unable to form a government as parliamentarians crossed the carpet in favour of their
kinsman Obafemi Awolowo. Many believed that singular act in the Western Region election
in 1957 entrenched tribal politics in our national life, which today has grown into an incurable
cancer.
In a united Nigeria, anybody who is domiciled in any part of the nation for more than two
years should be able to contest election from that geopolitical zone of the nation irrespective
of his ethnic or religious affiliation or origin. Presently that is not possible due to tribal and
ethnic politics.The governance of this nation has most of the time be carried out by the northern oligarchy
who over these years have come to see the ruler ship of our nation as a birth right hence
some present political aspirants like IBB tell Nigerians that „only God can prevent him from
becoming the nation’s next president’. Such statement infuriates and should not be spoken
in a civilised society where people have sensitivity. In the 46 years of the life of Nigeria as a
nation, the northern oligarchy of Nigeria has produced rulers but not leaders for about 80%
of the time.
From Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who was said to be the premier of the nation on behalf of
the Ahamadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto to Generals Yakubu Gowon, Murtalla
Mohammed, through President Shehu Shagari, to Generals Mohammadu Buhari, Ibrahim
Babangida, Sanni Abatcha and Abubakar were all northerners who were never mandated by
the electorate to rule as they ruled by the barrel of the gun apart from Tafawa Balewa and
Shagari.
When you compare the total period above to the period of governance of General Aguiyi
Ironsi (6 months), Shonekan(about 3 months) and Obasanjo who stepped in after the
assassination of Murtalla Mohammed in 1973 against his personal wish and desire to the
present as he is the current President of the nation. Many Nigerian believe that he was
sponsored by the same northern oligarchy to ameliorate the tension that resulted from the
annulment of June 12 presidential elections in 1993. Such rule by force by a small group of
individuals cannot predict a sound and stabilised future for our nation.
The incessant use of force by the northern military elite to govern our nation after coups,
counter coups and sometimes palace coups does not augur well for a united nation. Can I
stress that coups are inimical to the wellbeing of a nation and they are unlikely to be
successful anymore in Nigeria. Any group who embarks on a coup now will have a
disintegrated Nigeria in his hands as tribal grouping have done so well in organizing their
people like the Arewa to the north, the MOSSOB to the east and the OPC to the west. And
the various groups in the Niger delta including MOSSOP, MEND and others who are very
willing if pushed any further to go it alone as an independent nation. And I quickly add that
there are many powerful nations standing on the wings to give these „new independent
states‟ recognition due to their mineral resources if the worst should happen to Nigeria.
The problem of the Niger Delta has grown over the years as a result of lack of foresight and
neglect of the region that lays the golden eggs which has made multi-millionaires out of
many northern past military rulers like IBB while the inhabitants of the Niger Delta wallow in
misery and poverty with total lack of basic necessities of life like pipe borne water, electricity,
schools and health infrastructures. The various rulers of the nation have only succeeded in
presiding over the division of the national cake without sourcing for other means of
generating national income apart from oil and its exploration and exportation. Every retired
general fight today to get an oil block so that he can enrich himself, his family and his
friends when the Niger Delta masses and in fact Nigerians in the north as well live in abject
poverty and squalor.The large international corporations have made matters worse without exploring for oil with
due care to the environment. As a result there is total environmental degradation in the
region depriving the inhabitants of the area their traditional means of livelihood as they
cannot farm as the soil is polluted with oil and fishermen can no longer fish as the rivers
have also been polluted with oil spillage. You can now see why the youths of the area have
taken to kidnapping to eke a living. If this situation is allowed to degenerate further, it can
ultimately lead to dismemberment of our beloved nation.
There is a ray of hope in the horizon as the present government has set machineries in
motion to obviate the suffering of Nigerians in particular the people of the Niger Delta. There
have been recent enlisting of increased quota of the people of this region into the Nigerian
Army, Air force, the Navy and the Police. A new university is being established in the area,
the Petroleum University of Nigeria, and through the Niger Delta Development Commission,
more funds are being channelled into the area to alleviate the suffering of the people. When
all these projects bear fruits, it will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the people in
the region as it will increase the employment opportunities in the Niger Delta. Both State and
Federal governments and the traditional leaders in the area should alley the anxiety of the
youths to take their minds off criminality. The Federal government should adopt a softly
humane approach as high handed approach will increase the tension in the region.
The ultimate goal of government should be the improvement of the living standard of the
people of the region and in fact improving the living standard of all Nigerians, explorations
while protecting the natural ecological state of the region, employment opportunities and free
flow of information from both sides i.e. from the government to the deprived people of the
region and an effective channel should be created for the deprived people to air their
grievances to the government instead of drawing attention to themselves by kidnapping
foreign oil workers.
There is some worry though as on occasions, the money earmarked for these developments
channelled through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is being re-
channelled to private bank accounts and other private enterprises to the detriment of the
people. The immediate past governor of Bayelsa state DSP Alemeseyegba is presently in
detention for allegedly enriching himself from the government coffers and not soon after that
the wife of the present governor has been indicted by the EFCC for money laundering. In the
suit the EFCC named Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of Bayelsa State Governor Goodluck
Jonathan, as an accomplice in an N104million-money laundering case involving one Mrs.
Nancy Ebere Nwosu.
The EFCC in suit number FHC/ABJ/M/340/06 filed on August 21, 2006 at the Federal High
Court, Abuja alleged that the governor‟s wife was the one that instructed her agent to
launder the huge sum in a First Bank of Nigeria account number 3292010060711 held in the
name of Nansolyvan Public Relations Limited‟
These are serious allegations as money met for the development of a deprived area is being
re-channelled by indigenous leaders of the same area. This behaviour calls for vigilance by
the people of the area in ensuring that good proposals of government are implemented for
the benefit of the people. If all the people police all the people all the time, the incidence of
corruption and criminality will drop precipitously. As we speak some other governors from
the region are under serious investigation for sharp practices by the EFCC. It may be a wise
move for the government to use youth leaders and people in the region to monitor projectimplementations in the region. Secondly some youths in the area who are involved in oil
bunkering have hijacked the genuine struggle of the Niger –Delta people and have used the
opportunity to create chaos so that their business can thrive. These group of youths when
caught must be severely dealt with.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has estimated oil reserves of 27 billion
barrels (over 2.6 percent of global proven reserves). With recent finds of oil off shore by
Total PLC, Nigeria may account for about 3% of proven global reserve. Given Nigeria’s
location and ports, the country should be an economic hub for western and central Africa.
Regrettably, political instability and military coups, combined with inept economic
governance and endemic corruption, have squandered Nigeria’s advantages. Since
independence in 1960, only about 14 years have been democratic government.
To secure their power base, past military governments enacted repressive economic policies
and undermined the rule of law. It is only in the last few years that there have been changes
in the national fiscal policies that will attract investment and employment opportunities
thanks to President Olusegun Obasanjo for identifying and placing a Diaspora Nigerian in
the person of Dr Ngozi Okojo Iweala as the nation‟s finance minister a complete square peg
in a squared hole who did a good job worthy of emulation before her sudden resignation.
The Index of Economic Freedom ranks Nigeria as a “mostly unfree” economy due to high
trade barriers, heavy regulation, and excessive government intervention. Instability and
misguided economic policies have curtailed foreign investment outside of the oil sector. In
the last two years, the economic policies of the present administration has somewhat
changed all that, making Nigeria an investment friendly nation which will translate into
employment for the people thereby reducing tension, violent crimes and robberies amongst
the populace. What is baffling to some of us is that those who led the country into the wrong
direction for example devaluing the naira and taking the IMF loan in spite of the outcome of
the national debate by Nigerian intellectuals that Nigeria did not need the loan as we had a
huge windfall from the sale of oil at the time are still fighting to rule this country and complete
the ruination of the nation.
IBB did not only take the IMF loan, he devalued the Nigerian currency the naira and enriched
himself with the oil sale wind fall and refused to testify in the Justice Oputa panel peace and
reconciliation panel. Due to strong feelings of opposition to IBB‟s rule, his second coming if
he succeeds which is unlikely might lead to the disintegration of the Nigerian nation.
„‟Islamization of Nigeria for which he is a strong advocate, is not going to be an easy task
due to general people‟s awareness today and the heightened alert state of the world. If it is
tried by force, the end product is probably going to be worse than what obtained in Bosnia –
Hzegovinia.
Whereas transparency International’s 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Nigeria as
the second most corrupt nation in the world, {CPI Score relates to perceptions of the degree
of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10
(highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt)}. In 2005, Nigeria ranked 152nd position out of the 158
countries studied. This is a small positive shift in position for the nation but a giant step for
our country. President Olusegun Obasanjo has pledged to end corruption and adopt
appropriate economic reforms, but vested interests who are determined to maintain the
status quo oppose changes; hence the EFCC has been described in various terms as beingselective in its operation and as an arrow point of the president‟s immolating machinery.
Presently some steps have been taken to introduce transparency and accountability in
government, although only moderate changes have been seen in budgeting practices,
contract awards, monetary policies, privatization, or public service reform‟‟; and we hope
these modest changes are not reversed after elections in 2007 when a new leader steps in.
Corruption and notorious governmental inefficiency as well as a harshly repressive military
regime characterized Abacha’s reign over our country, turning it into an international pariah.
A UN fact-finding mission in 1996 reported that Nigeria’s “problems of human rights were
terrible and the political problems are terrifying.” You all will remember the role NADECO
played during Abacha‟s regime broadcasting into Nigeria from a hide out. With mobile
phones everywhere today and the internet accessibility, such government will fall quite easily
if that is what the people desire. .With this level of awareness amongst the populace, a
repeat of Sanni Abacha‟s regime will accelerate the disintegration of the Nigerian nation.
During the 1970s, Nigeria had the 33rd highest per-capita income in the world, but by 1997
it had dropped to the 13th poorest. The latest report in 2005 placed Nigeria as the 26th
poorest country of the world in spite of our oil wealth there should be hope for Nigerians as
there is improvement using these indices (World Bank GDP Ranking). The hanging of writer
and leader of the MOSSOP Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995 because he protested against the
government was condemned around the world and that single event contributed in no small
measure in turning Nigeria into a pariah nation. The action was as wrong as the timing
during the Commonwealth Heads of Governments meeting in Auckland New Zealand. It is
obvious therefore that it is not repression that will solve the Nigerian and Niger-Delta
problems; it is only dialogue with the spirit of understanding, mutual trust, accountability,
transparency, love and sensitivity that will resolve the issue of the problem of derivation and
resource control.
Nigeria’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was about $248 in 2002–lower than in
1970 in constant terms. The present activities of the Niger Delta Militia that often disrupt oil
production have dramatically affected the Nigerian national economy in which the oil sector
accounted for 65 percent of budget revenue, 95 percent of exports, and 20 percent of the
GDP in 2004. The implication of the above is that any serious problem affecting the oil sector
will set the index of the Nigerian national economy spiralling downwards. This realisation
should lead to an urgent call for diversification of the national economy to include other
export products like agricultural products. Cocoa, rubber, cassava, oil palm trees are crying
for attention and investment. Okomu Palm Oil Company is at the top of the Nigerian stock
exchange presently debunking the saying that money does not grow on trees. Money will
grow on trees especially in southern Nigeria if efforts are made to develop the agricultural
sector of our economy. Such advice will probably land on deaf ears as Nigerians generally
like quick results and profits since agricultural investments take a long time to mature and
yield profits.Free and fair election is a sine qua non for national stability. In a situation where the
mandate of the people have been stolen, or when a position have been purchased from a
god father for a godson, then the yearning of the electorate becomes secondary as the god
fathers dictate the tunes of events in the nation at all levels of government. There is
therefore the erroneous belief that when the god fathers are satisfied and happy, it translates
into the electorate being happy and satisfied which is not the case.
Those who will actually make a difference in governance of the nation are scared to take
part in the election process as they fear for their lives. To succeed in elections in Nigeria,
you have to have a small „army‟ to ward off attacks from your opponents which make
electioneering an expensive and dangerous process in Nigeria.
Nigeria is one of the rare places on mother earth where majority of progressives, good and
honest people usually run away from politics for fear of untold consequences to themselves
and or their families.
There is need therefore for the re-orientation of the attitude of the Nigerians in the north of
the Niger and Benue Rivers as regard their relationship with their southern brothers.
There is need for liberalisation and opening up of the north and their minds for the total
integration of our nation. Recently one of the northern states went to South Korea(State
withheld) to recruit medical staff who were ultimately found to be the equivalent of doctors
assistants in Nigeria when there are very many Nigerian Doctors seeking employment from
the south. How could that state governor explain his attitude as a Nigerian? Such behaviour
and attitude shows we despise our own nationals and our educational system. In situation
where southerners are employed by northern state governments on contract until there is a
qualified local „boy‟ and the southerner is relieved of his post an attitude which does not
augur well for a united nation and it should be stopped or at least discouraged.
There is another problem when Nigerians are seen as being settlers and non-indigene in
some regions of his own country. This is widespread in Nigeria in both north and south of
the country. It is a delicate issue that needs intellectual analysis by the National Assembly. A
Nigerian should be indigenous to anywhere he likes to stay in the country as it is practised
by the Edo of Edo State who are very welcoming to fellow Nigerians.
The inability of the Nigerian national conference to solve the recurring problem of adopting a
workable revenue allocation formula for the nation is a sore point that will keep recurring until
it is dealt with in an acceptable manner to the people of the Niger Delta in particular and all
Nigerians in general.
The bill is currently before the national Assembly and it has been recently revealed that the
Federal government has tampered with it in its favour. Presently; Federal government takes
56 per cent, while all the 36 states share 24 per cent and 774 local councils take 20 per cent
of the total revenue of the nation in spite of the Supreme Court ruling. This makes the central
government too rich and too powerful to the detriment of the state governments.The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission recommended 46% of the
national revenue for the Federal Government. You can see the lion share of the national
revenue goes to the central government hence every group is keen to control that centre.
Apart from the above, revising upwards the percentage of the revenue that goes to mineral
producing states as suggested by the national conference will ease the tension and the
anger simmering amongst the people of Niger Delta in particular.
The Federal Government 56 per cent seems unjustifiable. The enormous revenue at its
disposal is drained by corruption, leakages, cronyism and rent-seeking and diversion. With
roughly 80 per cent of its earnings spent on recurrent expenditure, the nation‟s infrastructure
is comatose and living standards are generally depreciating. Too much funds for the centre
fuels bitter political rivalry among the nation‟s federating units. The National Assembly
should be strictly guided by the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court judgment
of April 2002, in handling the new bill.
This recurring issue if not morally and thoughtfully dealt with can fuel disintegration of the
nation.
We can live in peace as a nation if we adopt national re-orientation of attitude to fellow
Nigerians, looking at fellow Nigerians as brothers,
Re-orientation to de-emphasising tribalism and ethnicity in our body politics
Re-orientation to glorify Nigerian made products and curtailing our craving for foreign made
goods.
Re-orientation of Nigerians‟ minds to invest in the economy of our nation rather than taking
the people‟s money to foreign banks.
Re-orientation of Nigerians to abhor corrupt and sharp practices in our national life and be
satisfied with one house, one car and one wife if possible.
Re-orientation of the attitude of the major tribal groups in Nigeria in a way to avoid
marginalization of the smaller ethnic groups.
Re-orientation of attitude of Nigerians as regard the sharing of the national wealth with the
introduction of a more equitable distribution formula of the revenue accruing to the nation.
Re-orientation of the attitude of Nigerians to facilitate economic progress of the nation.
Re-orientation of Nigerians to invest in agriculture and therefore facilitate employment
opportunities for our people.
Re-orientation of the northern oligarchy of Nigeria that the Nigerian nation belong to all
Nigerians and not to a select few.Re-orientation of Nigerians in a way to have free and fair elections where the leaders
actually have the mandate of the people to govern rather than godfathers purchasing
positions for their godsons with stolen mandates.
Re-orientation of Nigerian youths not to use a rich flamboyant man as his role model and not
to develop a compulsive urge to make money by any means.
Total re-orientation of the Nigerian military to protect the territorial integrity of our nation
rather than dabbling in politics.
There is need for Nigerians to be more vigilant to counter religious extremists in our
population especially as the major religious groups were both imported into the nation.
The problem of national security should be the duty of all Nigerians and should not be left to
the armed forces and the police alone. Our people should police the system in a way to
guarantee the safety of life and property of our people.
Above all in this recommendation is the need for total education of Nigerians to value life,
love self , love our nation and Nigerian traditional way of life and religion instead of becoming
fanatical about the these imported religion which has no semblance of our national traditional
life.
Nigeria is neither attractive as a single entity nor as different ethnic nationalities. This, for
obvious reasons is because either way, the same people will live within. The sheer size of
our nation and the large population is the envy of many nations. One in every four Blackman
is a Nigerian and should be a cause for joy and national pride and not a national curse.
No society will survive when most of its leaders and elites believe that charity begins abroad
by so wickedly robbing their own people only to deposit the loot in foreign banks for the
benefit of foreign nations.
Only ignorant and wicked leaders can rob the people they are supposed to serve to lubricate
foreign economies. An eminent Nigerian in one of his interview believes that such leaders
must be suffering from an acute overdose of inferiority complex who are proud to build
greener pastures in foreign countries when their own people are dying daily due to lack of
pasture. The belief that charity begins at home guarantees growth, progress and
development; the belief that charity begins abroad assures self-destruction and national
disintegration.
Indeed, any society that encourages capital flight, embezzlement of public funds, corruption,
abuse and misuse of public property in its midst is guilty of committing crimes against
humanity.
The greatest hurdle presently for the Nigerian nation and the current democratically elected
government is to conduct a free and fair election in 2007 and ensure a peaceful handover of
power to another elected civilian government to perpetuate a democracy in the nation.Nigerians look forward for a leader, who is detribalised and not ethnically biased, should be a civilian in the real sense and not an army general masquerading as a civilian in agbada. A leader who can make his government all inclusive without bias of religion, party affiliation or geopolitical zone in choosing his cabinet; that the best Nigerian patriots serve their people in peace and harmony and put to shame the evil prediction that our nation Nigeria will not survive 2015.
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