Nigerians, at this stage, need to be helped to understand the predicament of their situation by recalling the history of the nationalist struggle in Africa and in Nigeria in particular, prior to political independence. What were the main motives for the struggle? And what were the methods adopted by the nationalist who fought for political independence from the colonial governments? This exercise is necessary to make Nigerians think and to intuitively deduce whether the whole struggle was worth the pain and the sacrifice after all.
Let us note the following statement by Awolowo in the same book mentioned above, “The history of British rule in Nigeria…is characterised by a policy of aimlessness, drift and want of imagination. It is dangerous to behave irresponsibly with the political destiny and general well-being of a people.”11 If in place of ‘British rule’ we substitute military rule, is there anything significantly out of place if this same statement is applied to the present situation of Nigeria. This was one of the premises that fired the spirit of nationalist struggle. It will be silly of this generation to believe that the whole struggle was merely about a white man-black man prejudice. It was not, at least on the side of Africans. It was about the inalienable right of every man to liberty, justice and human dignity.
What is therefore the difference between a British colonial rule and a Nigerian military rule if the present situation is put into context? This is why begging, pleading with, and pandering to any military personnel in power in Nigeria will not solve the problems. Nigerians must demand as a matter of grave and sacred importance a right to govern themselves. The military government is a mere front for the ubiquitous unrepentant feudal hawks who were greatly pampered by the British colonial rulers and who were made to believe that they were special and could therefore be trusted with political power to protect the British interest in Nigeria. And so far, haven’t they done that?
It was therefore a misguided move for some Nigerian democrats to have run to the British government seeking support to dislodge Abacha, who was a mere second-degree puppet that got too big for his borrowed shoes. Was Abacha dislodged? Were any of his accounts in Europe seized or frozen to put pressure on him and his cohorts? No, of course, even with all the atrocities and abuses he perpetrated, he was still a preferred choice to any of the truly educated class of Nigerians. The truly educated black man is never a trusted ally of the western powers. These breeds of Africans have since the beginning of Nationalist struggle in Africa been placed under careful scrutiny and continuous surveillance.
Under this unwholesome hypocritical global climate, Nigerians must learn to seek solace in their own power. The power of ideas must be put to test in Nigeria. Is it true that ideas have a momentum of their own once they are planted? If it is true, let those who have seen the light of liberty, justice and equality come together for the planting season and let nature do its work of growth as we continue to water and nurture these ideas to fruition. This is the season of sowing and planting. Every trained and inspired mind must be put on deck for this sacred duty.
Nigerians have no other option at this eleventh hour to the millennium. Nigeria cannot continue to wallow and fallow in ignorance when her sons and daughters have the wherewithal to plant in their own special fertile field, the precious seeds of ideas, which they have humbly collected all around the world. The Nigeria’s own Garden of Eden must be created and planted now at our own backyard. Nobody will or can do this for Nigeria. The principle of self-interest, which is the foundation of the world economic order of the twentieth century, forbids such altruistic notion or action of genuine assistance. The reigning global powers are keener than the Nigerian feudal lords to maintain the prevailing economic and political status quo. So any Nigerian who expects a genuine helping hand from the western world is still suffering from a bout of ignorance common to the simple all-trusting, the gullible, all-believing and the naive non-doubting and non-vetting African race we have mentioned above.
Let us start in earnest to debate vigorously edifying ideas and to put a stop to the loud and empty beer-parlour type of dialogue found in every community in the land. Let us always remember that there is nothing new in this world and so let us start from the premise that some people somewhere have passed through our kind of present dark calamitous experience. The questions we should be asking are: is there anything we can learn from the experiences of other nations and peoples? Can we borrow these experiences wholesale or can they be adapted or re-fashioned to suit the Nigeria’s peculiar circumstances? So let the thinking Nigerians begin the search for knowledge. There is no alternative way than to seek and to find solution to the social, political and economic problems facing Nigeria at this moment in history.
It is high time Nigerians stopped tempting God with their incessant prayers for a divine intervention when the solutions are close by. What else do Nigerians want from God? The Almighty God gave Nigeria the most beautiful country in Africa as well as the most blessed with both natural and human resources. The climate is glorious from tropical to mild temperate conditions and the lands are exceptionally fertile before they were foolishly destroyed with fertilisers supplied by foes who still pretend to be friends. So, what else do Nigerians want from God?
All the streets of Nigeria are now over-laden with houses of worship, which in this time of economic difficulties have become houses of exploitation. They have become places set aside for the fleecing of the gullible, the hopeless, the heavily laden and burdened Nigerians. Rather than use these houses to serve as places of refuge for the economically poor and the emotionally troubled they have become The Houses of Horror on earth. How long shall Nigerians keep on with their foolishness, even among the so-called educated?
This is the time we must develop pragmatic ideas and strategic actions to rescue ourselves once and forever from both the internal and external colonial slave masters. Let us say enough is enough to this careless rigmarole of beating about the wilderness of ignorance by both the blind leaders and the lazy followers. This is action time and Nigerians must save Nigeria for Nigerians. Now is the time. Every hand must be on deck for this sacred duty both to us and for the sake of our posterity.
Finally, let us borrow a statement from Reuben Abati’s column in The Guardian on Sunday where he wrote on the Crazy Trains of Death. In that article he concluded as follows: “Government must do something positive and quickly too…and proper measures should be taken to prevent trains from running into people, cattle and vehicles. If that means closing down the entire railway, until those measures are in place, then let it be.”12
This writer has nothing against writing about train, telephone, airports and aviation etc. to which Abati of recent had given some valuable time. They are issues that are just too far behind from the priority facing Nigeria at the moment. Let us face it; Nigeria has no government except if the universal concept of government has changed in Nigeria. It is therefore a waste of valuable time when writers of Abati’s calibre still have the opinion that there is any institution in Nigeria to whom they could forward a shopping list of requests.
This reminds me of one of those cheeky adages among the Yorubas that says, ‘The ungodly bearded Imam or Reverend Gentleman was burnt to death in hell and someone was still asking whether his beard, the trade mark of his holiness and purity, arrived safely in heaven.’ A country that has no constitutional government or to be magnanimous, that has a non-accounting military administration (an occupied-force – it is worse than a situation of no government) for almost 32 years and yet commentators are still fond of talking about lacklustre public services and institutional negligence.
Haba! Let’s get serious and be fair. However, what we intend to do is to borrow the words of Abati and re-present them as our own shopping list, as follows: ‘Crazy Governments of Death’: “Nigerians must do something positive, and quickly too…and proper measures should be taken to prevent government agents from running into people, cattle and vehicles, if that means closing down the entire government, until those measures are in place, then let it be.”
This advice, if adhered to, will just be in line with the thinking of Thomas Paine when he wrote on the Origin and Design of Government in General. Even though he took his bearing from the English Constitution yet he could not see anything but trouble in government. He says, “society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse the other creates distinction. The first is a patron the last a punisher.” He went on to add that “society in every state is a blessing but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one;” He continued, “for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without a government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”13
Now imagine a situation in Nigeria where the people had no hand in the purported government acting on their behalf and ungraciously inflicting severe punishment on them. Isn’t that a double calamity? There is a need for Nigerians to reflect on the whole purpose of government. It is not good enough just to accept the colonial arrangement of government as the ideal and the only way of conducting society’s affair. There must surely be another way. This is a task worthy of recommendation to all thinking Nigerians. Let us seek together that new or alternative way.
Summary and Conclusion
The social, political and economic devastation of the aforementioned ruin of the state is very much visible around us. Nigeria must have to embark on deliberate creative processes at various fronts for the re-building of both the physical ruin and the psychological ruin. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the physical ruin is easy to repair as long as financial and human resources are available. It is the spiritual or psychological ruin that will give us some difficulty. And yet without first taking care of the spiritual aspect our re-building effort of even the physical ruin shall be in vain. It is in this context that this writer will like Nigerians to receive the message of this treatise. It is simply to urge all offenders and all criminals who participated in the debauchery of the British-Nigeria state to accept their guilt and to seek forgiveness from the people of Nigeria.
The attitude of the elite criminals in our midst that is still trying to con and befuddle the people of Nigeria as to a fraudulent claim of innocence is uncalled for. Every Nigerian can tell who were their friends and who were their enemies during this saga. Each community knows whom among their sons and daughters made it and who didn’t make it. Even though the moral and ethical values had collapsed, yet each Nigerian is capable to differentiate what is right from what is wrong.
There is no doubt that every community in Nigeria will have no problem to denounce stealing either in the household or in the state as a good ethical practice; to abhor murder either of friends or of enemies; to reject fraud or pen robbery or armed robbery as a business practice; to condemn vulgar ostentation and wastefulness in household or state; and to reject calumny, blackmail and barbarity as strategic institutional weapons of the state for the maintenance of law and order. Yet these are the sins Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha along with their cohorts stand accused.
Therefore, for any Nigerian to believe that all these things can be swept under the carpet without repentance, sanctions and forgiveness is a puerile delusion. All those who stole from our treasury and who continue to wallow in super-abundance while your fellow compatriots are in want, you are definitely taking an unnecessary stupid risk against the anger of the people when it finally boils over.
All those who built and live in fortified and well-guarded bunkers all over the country with money corruptly made from over-invoicing scams of government contracts, foreign exchange speculations and manipulations, dubious bribery and frauds, and many other such illegalities and are still pretending that Nigerians are unaware of the source of this loot, don’t wait for the anger of the people to boil over before you make amends.
All our cruel secret agents who became lapdogs of the powers that be for the sake of bread and butter, it is high time you recanted and told it all to the people everything you knew about your masters if you want forgiveness from the people.
We must heal the land by truthfulness, repentance and forgiveness. No sinner can go unpunished. It is better to come forward to confess and to seek forgiveness than to be forced to do so.
Those of you who are sitting on uncountable fund that can never be used in ten lifetimes, turn it all to your community after truthfully confessing where it came from. Seek their understanding and forgiveness after a truthful confession. Don’t attempt to lord it over them because you are in custody of stolen booty. You must show a sense of remorse and humility if you want the community to accept your albatross burden.
If you are still in doubt about the uselessness and futility of the burden around your person, let us borrow from the wisdom of Socrates, the father of western philosophy:
“Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible and similarly reputation and honour, and give no thought to truth and understanding and the perfection of your soul? … I spend all my time going about trying to persuade you, young and old to make your first and chief concern not for your bodies nor for your possessions, but for the highest welfare of your souls…. Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessings, both to the individual and to the state”
This is the true way forward. This direction has never been trodden before anywhere on this planet but Nigeria shall blaze the trail for others to follow. It is the definitive mark of the beginning of millennium of peace on this planet. Nigeria is the epicentre of a mighty spiritual revolution on earth. The above suggestions at a glance may look unrealistic and impossible. But it is the way of The Spirit of Truth that has chosen Nigeria as its campsite for the global operation of cleansing, love and peace. This is the way Nigeria shall follow. It is the path of truth, knowledge, love and peace.
May every penitent sinner in Nigeria find peace and forgiveness. May The Creator of Heaven and Earth forgive you as soon as you humbly seek the eye and the mercy of The Lord. May you find mercy, compassion and forgiveness from your neighbours and families. And may the light and grace of The Lord that passes all understanding heal and bless our land and our souls from now on and forever more.
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
11th October 1999.
11. Obafemi Awolowo, Path to Nigerian Freedom. 1947. p.22.
12. Rueben Abati, ‘The Crazy Trains of Death’ in The Guardian on Sunday. Volume 15, No. 7,301. November 8, 1998.
13. Mark Philp (ed.) Thomas Paine: Rights of Man and other Political Writings. Oxford University Press. 1995. p. 5.