It was Lord Lugard’s idea and the Imperial Majesty concurred,the Northern and Southern Protectorates should be amalgamated for ease of political hegemony and economic exploitation.And Lady Shaw,the elegant and exceptionally witty wife of Lugard cobbled a name together for the new born colony,and that name was Nigeria and it still remains Nigeria.This happened a little above a century ago.Pundits and parapsychologists who are adept at projecting the future never believed that the contraption will survive a decade not to talk of a century.The union was not meant to survive let alone endure.
The mix was of different hue and variety.About 300 tribal groups,with only 3 as the dominant forces,who all have a history of internecine wars were forced to become bed fellows,knowing fully well what happens when bedfellows are strange,the colonial overlords definitely are blessed with a cruel sense of humour.Even with the best of intentions,how to make a sleeping giant with parts that does not rhyme or synchronise with each other function effectively will not only be a tall order,but a mystery.Upon the fusion,the Colonialist entrenched a unitary government trying by artificial insemination to blend the fundamentally different and diverse people into one entity.It didn’t work and it wasn’t going to work,because the process itself was not only inorganic and devoid of consensus building,but was also dishonest.It was in the interest of the Crown that the union remains hanging loosely in a state of disorder,so as to pave way for a peaceful condition of exploitation of the resource of the people at a maximalist level.
And indeed the union has so much in terms of natural resources and the overlords had a field day in the expropriation of those resources.Not only that,the act of colonialism itself is a violation of the right of the colonised people,because they are never consulted in decision making that affects their welfare or wellbeing.The fact that they are rated below the metropole subjugated and subdued inside the cocoon of imperial powers is an attack on the dignity of the colonised people,because when you’re colonised,you have been enslaved.Lack of freedom and sovereignty was the needed entry point for the metropoles to unleash the most vicious,savage and atrocious domination of the locals.It was therefore deliberate that the colony must remain under a state of perpetual undevelopment.
300 years of slave trade,added to about 60 years of colonialism,Nigeria’s march towards self actualisation has always been impeded and deliberately retarded by those whose mission was to deliberately make it a fat cow.Millions of Nigerians who themselves are Human Resources were made to develop the plantations of the Anglo Saxons and the minerals of Nigerians were fed into their industries to fuel the growth of their own economies.The arts and artefacts of Nigeria whose historical and cultural contents spans a couple of millennia were even stolen by those who claim to the world that they are of the best in manners and by the 1960s,they had surrendered to Nigerians a country full of fury,indignation,rage, turbulence and exasperation.The country is divided,its leaders confused and its people melancholic,sorrowful and desolate.The Colonialists had carted everything away,even the integrity of the nation was not spared.They even planted their stooges in leadership.After their exit,those local elites that succeeded them began to fight each other.They started to pitch everyone against each other.All the tribes in their hundreds started demanding for power,there was mistrust.The infighting was unnecessary but the Crown needed such diversion to be relevant under what is called imperialism or neo colonialism.The Crown invited the leaders to its capital and like school boys,the leaders responded and off they went to London cladded in full regalia to showcase their allegiance as dutiful puppets.The Crown gave them biscuits and tea as breakfast and took them to a place called Chatham House,where the ego of ideologically blind will be massage and a manual of how to develop Africa based on the thought processes of the metropolitan colonial overlords will be handed over to the leaders.They will advise them against welfarism and ask them to adopt Bretten Woods ideology of privatising education and health so that government will not be saddled with governance.Our leaders were forced to believe that government had no business in managing its institutions for the benefit of the poor and that it must privatise,in layman’ language sell the people’s commonwealth to a few crooks who are deemed to be monguls and in the end the monguls resell to western capitalists and use same talakawas funds to buy mansions in western countries.
Lord Lugard was a clever man,bu the Crown was more clever.They had brilliantly taken the local culture of the new leaders and gotten them assimilated into their own culture and smartly make their own culture seems more alluring and project it as more global and modern.As it is with Africans,the Nigerian leaders dumped their value system and adopted hook line and sinker western values including those that were useless to Nigeria and also those that were inimical to its growth.The new nation that was awarded sovereignty with the right hand,had been dispossessed of same through the left hand.Just like I said the colonialists are dexterous when it comes to such skills.
Six years into independence,things fell apart and the centre could no longer hold.The battle for the soul of the nation was heralded.It was meant to happen.Since the time of Lugard till independence there had been more than 6 constitutional conferences and more than 7 post Lugard conferences just to determine the national question.By 1966,no one was able to arrest the slide into war because for the more than 300 ethic groups because there was a contest of what constitutes the national question when it resides within the prism of the diverse ethnic nations.It was therefore no surprise that the big three fell into serous schisms and divisions.And the war came and like most wars,it ravaged the country.It was a miracle that the war ended but the khaki boys continued with the hegemony having long overthrown the civilians who could not agree on how to govern despite their numerous trips to London to take lessons on constitutional matters.
The khaki boys had a good time.They annexed the nation and enjoyed its resources alone.That was their undoing.Their allies,the civilian political class became unhappy and unleashed radical pro democrats on them.After the military had nearly milked the cow dry,the men with the flowing gowns and impeccable suits once again came on board.But old habits die very hard.They too abandoned the cause of the people and went into a wild jamboree with the resources of the nation as if tomorrow will never come.They looted,pilfered,plundered and ransacked the entire economy and the country stood very still.Pronto the khaki boys re emerged and another round of despotism,absolutism,tyranny and dictatorship were unleashed on the people.What is it with nigeria that nature continues to frown all the time against its people,since 1914? Don’t forget,Nigeria has the longest ideological transitions from underdevelopment to development in history and yet remain a dependent and castrated state.After some years,the masses and the progressive wing of international coalition chased the military away but not until a moribund constitution was foisted on the people.Rather than act as a true compass,the constitution itself became the problem.It was hazy and very unclear on issues that were germane to development .Fiscal federalism remains clumsy,the position of settlers vis a vis the indigenous peoples is unclear.The role of local government is in confusion,the federal seat is overawed with more than what it can carry on the exclusive list and rather than solve the problems,that constitution becomes the problem.
However alongside the constitution is also the problems of the new elites who found themselves awash in a new petrodollar rains.They spent close to N1 trillion on light and there is no light.They spent more then N2 trillion on health care,there is no hospital.They spend $6M on water projects,the local still drink water from the streams.They declare emergency on education,yet public schools have collapsed.They allocate billions annually to buy food,but the governed are hungry.For the past 100 years,each of these years comes with happy birthdays on October 1st but the locals are never happy.It is on record that only the elites clink glasses to celebrate Independence Day.Why not?Their children are secured in terms of employment because all the industries belong to them.Money spinning institutions employ their children secretly,while those of the masses are left stranded.Scholarships to study abroad are reserved for their children,while those of the masses end up as bus conductors and public dancers for peak milk whenever they want to market their products.Their children junkets via air travels while the masses enter caravans with camels and donkeys to travel within.60 years of independence and the old crises are being regenerative.The story today is about weeping and gnashing of teeth and this has led to a cacophony of cries for self determination by ethic nationalcities.Nigerians are so divided along ethno religious demography that no one is sure of the other person.Insecurty is so palpable that no one is sure of tomorrow,let alone sleep with two eyes anymore.Kidnappers are having a good time and other criminal elements are having a field day.It is another birthday for the nation,who will celebrate this time around?….Yes,the leadership class will celebrate,after all the resources of the nation is being used to support their luxurious lifestyle.If per adventure,any one says to you happy independence,that person must be an elite,who is well fed and has his family tucked away in the GRAs.As for the downtrodden whose 6 year old is hawking groundnuts without any future because he cannot educate his child,if you tell him happy independence,chances are he may not understand what you’re saying and he is correct,happy independence are for those who have tilted the fortunes of this country for their benefits.Therefore if they wish you happy independence,smile at them then remember the multi dimensional poverty foisted on the masses which you belong to and reply;do you mean independence from military rule ?
By Yusuf Dankofa