The topic and the essay in this section was dictated by a classified advertisement published in The Guardian on Sunday on 11 October 1998 by the Integration Group of Nigeria. This group, as well as other groups quietly working round the clock in Nigeria, must be commended for their efforts in putting out intelligent and sensible case for Nigeria as we search for solution to the political imbroglio or stalemate. However, the Integration Group seems to have got the principle wrong or they have not given much thought to the principle from which their analysis and solutions are derived.
First the name of the group, Integration means merging or amalgamation, which can be done in many different ways. The amalgamation could be of equal or of unequal entities. In both cases a particular group among the separate groups to be integrated must and should initiate the process of integration. In the case of Nigeria, is it the weaker group in the polity who desires to be integrated because of the need to secure protection? Or, is it the stronger segment that initiates and desires integration in order to suppress, subjugate, and dominate the weak members?
Why should two separate entities seek integration – is it the host-parasite or host-host or parasite-parasite type of integration? What is the manner and purpose of integration? Is it meant to make sharing or co-operation or robbery or competition within and/or outside the polity more efficient or more destructive or more oppressive or more edifying?
There must be a purpose, a goal and the means of integration. Is it the physical transportation of one group from one place to another? Is it going to warrant the suppression of one culture or belief or language or institution for another? These and many other questions were supposed to have been answered by the Integration Group before they came out with a shopping list of demands.
On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the seven-step shopping list of demand placed before Abdusalami Abubakar except that they were focusing their energies and attention on the wrong person. The following is the summary of the demands:
- A Nigeria with true democracy in a united and peaceful country where justice, equity and fairness are applied to a people indiscriminately;
- A nation with true federalism;
- A nation with a balanced military and national security structure;
- A nation that upholds fair citizenship rights;
- A nation where revenue sharing is in line with true federalism;
- A nation where every zone has a fair chance to produce a president;
- A nation that offers a strong and enduring economic structure.
At this point in time and after the recent experiences, for any Nigerians to expect military personnel in whatever guise to accept and to act on this demand is really showing the authors in a bad light as men and women living in fool’s paradise. Why are Nigerians ever so frightened to call a spade, a spade? What draws out the anger in this writer, was this last statement at the bottom of the advertisement, “The present administration has clearly demonstrated its sincerity and capacity to bring about positive change in the country…”1
Haven’t Nigerians heard this kind of statement before on and on up till June 8 1998. The same was said of Babangida, and of Buhari-Idiagbon. Why are the Nigerian elites so sycophantic? Why do they have the belief that they need to pander to the whims of any illogical Nigerian occupying an ill-gotten throne of Head of State of Nigeria? Why are the Nigerian elites unable to stand up for the truth in all and in every situation regardless of the personal consequences?
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the efforts of these groups of Nigerians are commendable. However, it is when we review the motives and the operating values that dictated their thinking and actions that we can understand the true intention of their ideas, propositions and actions. Personally, this writer feels very uncomfortable when, at this stage in our history and with the on-going unpalatable experiences still vividly fresh in our minds, he finds any Nigerian going out all the way to fawn around any military personnel (officer?) in Nigeria. It is therefore natural to hold any action of such Nigerian with great suspicion. It is often said that experience is the best teacher but this is only applicable to those who wish to learn.
What lessons have Nigerian learnt about military personnel this past 32 years? Can the entire Nigerian Military persons be trusted with power or money? Are they honourable persons? Are they people of virtues? Are they incorruptible? Are they above board of temptation, greed and fraud? Do they have, either singly or as a group, any moral or any ethical principle? Are they good role models for democracy? Are they good role model for anything except greed and gluttony? If after 32 years, every moron and imbecile in Nigeria cannot answer all the above questions sincerely and objectively and come to an emphatic conclusion with a capital NO as the answer then what have we learnt so far? What then is the worth of our collective experiences in the hands of the prodigal sons and daughters in khaki attires?
Therefore for the Integration Group to build this beautiful shopping list on the flawed shoulder of the incumbent soldier who happens by accident, (so they all say), to occupy the illegal military throne of Nigeria is still begging the question. This is a betrayal of the people of Nigeria or a lack of capacity to allow intelligent reason to dictate actions. Nigerians should be able to understand by now that nobody – military or civilian – can give anybody in Nigeria justice, equity and liberty. These are precious rights and the desire to seek after them would evolve naturally when a person becomes enlightened enough to understand their meaning.
To understand the meaning of justice, freedom and equality puts a natural burden on you to make a demand for them as a right and as a prerequisite condition for future life and existence. Anything short of this will never be good enough for you anymore. There is no way anybody can insult your intelligence by offering deals to compromise you or money to buy them of you. It can never happen when a person has come into true knowledge and has become truly awakened to the truth of life. Nobody can bestow or give as a gift these virtues. They are indeed virtues and they are the only virtues worth fighting for by any sane human being who refuses to go by the corrupt title common in Nigeria today – the human beasts. These virtues are the foundation on which any life worth calling a life ought to depend before it can lay a claim to the status of the living alive and not of the living dead.
Consequently, for the Integration Group to keep treating a group of marauding soldiers who have been identified with stolen properties or commodities with kid gloves are signs of serious fundamental moral decay of the Nigerian society. That the few sane Nigerian elites don’t feel a moral outrage at the rape of their fatherland by these morons in uniform gives me the jitters. A thief is a thief anytime. A thief is anybody who steals. A thief becomes a robber when force is used in the business of stealing. The Nigerian Military Armed Forces in its entirety are thieves and armed robbers.
They have robbed every Nigerian of his or her fundamental human right to self-determination and self-rule. They stole the innocence of Nigerians who were God-loving, trusting and honest people. They pillaged and robbed our land of all God-given resources for the aggrandisement of themselves, their families, their friends and their collaborators. They ruined us all and they took the last piece of clothing that covers our shame from our back. Yet, in spite of these atrocious heinous crimes, some Nigerian elites still find it within their heart to fawn around them, to pander to their bloated ego, to jump at their beck and call and to debase their manhood and womanhood by prostrating in obeisance to the silly ungodly demands of the prodigal sons. This is an unforgivable betrayal of the people and this country.
The Nigerian elites can be defined as the groups that possess a smattering literacy skills and the category that is often classified as middle class in some countries. In classical terms they are supposed to be the neither poor nor rich group. It is to this group, the Nigerian Integration Group should be addressing their shopping list and not to those in the corridor of stolen power in Nigeria. This group of Nigerians should come out right now from hiding and from every nook and corner of their hibernation. This is action time.
Karl Marx was given a prescient message to this group of people in the 1860s of Europe but they floundered for lack of knowledge or because the time for the fulfilment of that message was not ripe. Marx who could not see the prophetic import of the message given to the world through him led the people astray in his eagerness to bring the revealed truth to fruition. Marx cocked up and got his name mixed up with violence. The message of Marx is now due for fulfilment but not in the method Marx envisaged. Nigerian elite must come out of their cocoon shells. Your parasitic life is over. You must rise to this memorable occasion in the hours of need of Nigeria. The country of your birth needs you now. What are you expected to do?
Now listen, do you remember that a good number of you enjoyed scholarship either from the state bursary fund or other state subsidy for your education? Now is the payback time. There is no free lunch in nature too, just as the Americans love to say under their capitalist system. Nature blesses every act of man regardless of whether it is good or bad and it richly multiplies it too. Now Mr Middle Class Elite of Nigeria, this is the time to show that all the cost spent on you at the Higher Institution and Colleges are not wasted expenses after all. Your job, right now in Nigeria, is to be able without any prodding to seek to understand, interpret and enlighten the general masses of Nigeria on the true realities of the situation of Nigeria. You should stop taking solace in Mosques, Churches, and beer parlours where you incessantly pray and talk about divine intervention and speculate about the signs of the coming of the Messiah to Nigeria.
For your information, each of you is a messiah for Nigeria. You are first and foremost a messiah to your family and your household. The pooling together of the knowledge and actions of your types within your community also make you altogether messiahs to your communities. This is the time to use your mind, your brains and your imaginations to learn and to understand the fundamental problem of your environment. Nobody can help you to solve these human-made problems flowing all around you and almost enveloping you to extinction. These problems were made by the stupidity of man and they will also have to be cleared by the hands of men under the guidance of the wisdom of The Almighty. To keep an idle vigil of waiting for God to come from heaven to do a man’s job is a total refusal of responsibility contrary to the divine Will. You must wake up from your deep slumber. Enough is enough of this lazy and negative mental attitude.
The first change expected of you will be in your desire to seek and search for true knowledge and wisdom. You must be able to ask and seek answers to the following questions:
- Why is Nigeria in this mess?
- What did we, the people of this land, do wrong?
- Is there anything even at this late hour that can be corrected and set right by me or my family or my community or my ethnic group?
- Is there a need for sanctions – punishment or rewards – or forgiveness or repentance for everyone that did wrong or good?
- Who should do the forgiving? Who should do the punishing? Who should do the rewarding, and so on and so forth?
It is at this level of rigorous mental exercise that creative ideas can emerge.
Unfortunately, this is the area every Nigerian is avoiding. Nigerians would rather go to the church or the mosque or the drinking joints to do the same rituals over and over again than engage their minds in realistic and constructive analysis that could lead to pragmatic solutions and actions.
To my friends in the Integration Group, Nigerians at this late stage does not need to be integrated. We have had one integration or amalgamation too many. What Nigerians need and seriously need is self-sovereignty that derives from personal liberty not group liberty. Every Nigerian must seek in a peaceful non-bloody manner personal liberty and personal rights to self-rule. This is the duty of every living alive-Nigerian not of the living dead-Nigerians. The idea of looking up to any so-called leader to purchase liberty for other Nigerians is unnatural. It leads to perversion and eventual enslavement.
The evidences abound all around the world particularly in Asia where particular families dominate the political space of a country because their ancestors procured national independence from the colonial government for these countries. In any polity as soon as anybody starts to feel or become indispensable in the struggle for liberty, there will be trouble ahead for that polity. In a natural situation, each individual in a polity must have a role to play in the establishment of a nation.
A democratic sovereign nation can only evolve when individual sovereign members in the republic offers freely and voluntarily without any compulsion or blackmail, to align, to associate, and to form allies with other like-minded people in the spirit of common love and respect for one another and solely for the purpose of developing, maintaining and enjoying the fruit of a commonwealth together. It is the voluntary pooling together of individual liberty that constitutes a true sovereign nation.
However, in the case where the individuals within the polity have no liberty in the first instance whoever therefore negotiates for freedom from another superior master, does so as the owner of the group and not as equals and partners of those within the geographical space. This is the scenario that promotes kingship, ruler-ship, kingdom, feudalism, aristocracy and despotism. The person who emerges as a ruler would definitely own all. The power the ruler holds and wields henceforth becomes a sovereign power similar to that which the owner of an estate or of a flock of animals or beast or of a cargo of less human beings, the type the European of the 1800s called lower race, commands.
The individuals within that type of polity has no right whatsoever except those given by their masters, the sovereign. Therefore, the members of such a polity, whatever names they are called, Republic, Union, Democratic, Socialist, Parliamentary, have a limited and substantially controlled human rights. This is a perversion of all that is true and of the divine order in the universe. It is unnatural since every creature is created as a unique, individual, independent being. Any design to subject one human being under another either because of superior intelligence or physical strength or any such locally adjudged important talent is unnatural and is frowned at by The Creator of life.
The Nigeria middle class is therefore the vanguard of the new nationalist struggle. You have a divine duty to bring down those who have stolen your life, your rights, your properties and your dignities. The moral and ethical outrage you are feeling should be directed at all those who have impoverished you, your parents and your loved ones both physically and spiritually. This is a battle you cannot afford to be exempted. It is the battle for your dear life and it should be an honour for you to participate whole-heartedly without being drafted into it by anybody. The decision to join hands in battle against the evil of our time should not take too long to make by all those who have opened their minds and hearts to understand the causes of the national problems.
In the section on the ‘Uncivil Society’ in To Your Tents O! Nigerians, we have touched at length on what you need to know and what can distort your perception and judgement. It is expected that after knowing the cause of an ailment, the next step would be for the sufferer to seek a cure. The national cure at this stage is repentance to be followed by prayers of healing through the power of The Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth. The next stage of the battle should be left to The Creator. But as recruits in the battle of truth you will remain on standby, though not in idleness. You should actively and continuously continue to seek and search for the truth of life until called into action by the power of The Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Truth shall guide and direct you into whatever area of action that best suit your talent. In the mean time and like the Boys’ Scout motto says, ‘Be Prepared’.
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
27 JULY 1999
1. An advertisement by the Integration Group of Nigeria placed in The Guardian on Sunday of 11 October 1998.