(This is an edited essay written in 1998 as “The End of the End”. The issues it addressed then are still relevant to the sociopolitical situation of Nigeria in 2017)
The death of Chief M. K. O. Abiola in detention in 1998 on the eve of his release, (so the government’s spoke-persons said), by the military government of Nigeria brought back the memory of October 1974. This was the time when the late Tai Solarin, the extraordinary activist of his time, wrote the famous short essay titled ‘The Beginning of The End’ to rally together all lovers of democracy in Nigeria. This was Tai’s immediate reaction to Major-General Yakubu Gowon, the Military Head of State, who announced that the proposed date of 1976 earlier earmarked for the handing-over of political power to civilian administration has been postponed.
As a matter of historical fact, it was indeed the end of the reign of Gowon’s government. He barely lasted 9 months before his kinsmen, friends and enemies ganged up to send him packing into exile in 1975. Gowon was a classic example of a ruler who lost touch with his subjects because he allowed sycophants to clog up his senses with unrealistic tales of success, acceptability and popularity.
The title of this essay is slanted heavily on the sentiments that informed The Beginning of the End by Tai Solarin. However, the situations of Nigeria have unfortunately regressed further from “the Beginning of the End” to The End of the End. This means the unpalatable suffering in the land has reached an unbearable state. It is either to break or to bend the jinx holding down the country but the status quo of an insidious political arrangement has got to disappear forever.
It is quite clear to all keen observers of geo-politics that Nigeria is again facing another epic moment in her tragic short history. This is another time, when the wisdom of keeping Nigeria together as a country under a unitary system of government that was first put in place by the Macpherson Constitution of 1947 is in doubt. Although, the founding fathers of independent Nigeria fashioned a brilliant Constitution that gave ample autonomy to each Regional Government to manage its affairs as it deemed fit but the prodigal sons in military uniform set it aside to revert to the unitary form of Administration by decrees in 1966. Since 1966, Nigeria has been administered as a Unitary Government even though it is called Federal Republic of Nigeria on paper.
The question about the future of Nigeria as presently constituted and managed has again become more contentious since 1993 when the despotic government of Babangida unilaterally nullified the result of the only open and fair election ever conducted in Nigeria. If the election was allowed to run its course, it seemed to hold a lot of favourable promises for a new beginning to the Peoples of Nigeria.
Nigerians, by the pattern of voting that deliberately made religious and ethnic considerations of less importance and the result of the election that showed a national acceptance of the victor, seemed to have come of age. Nigerians seemed ready and were eager to learn to live together under a climate of freedom for all; to accord respect for each other’s cultural differences; and to offer a loving hand of fellowship, devoid of prejudice, to each other as sensible human beings.
By the outcome of that election, Nigerians seemed to have recognized and have accepted each other’s natural weaknesses and natural strengths; they seemed to have resolved, despite all their shortcomings, to work at overcoming these natural fears and prejudices, which were products of amenable cultural differences; they seemed to have come to a realisation that these unexamined fears were born more of ignorance about each other’s traditions and cultures than anything else; and they seemed to have recognized that they have more things in common with respect to individual or collective pursuit of basic human needs for happiness and a good life.
Then and to the dismay of every Nigerian, the Powers That Be, (the unelected, invisible, and clandestinely constituted ethnic cabal), who have sunk their teeth on the jugular of Nigeria since the Amalgamation in 1914, decided that the people of Nigeria, collectively and individually, were lacking in wisdom. They adjudged that common Nigerians could not be trusted to make a right decision of such great importance of democratically electing a President of their choice. This obnoxious and faceless group that is made up of unknown elements among us, with a tersely written and an unsigned letter typed on a plain sheet of paper, announced their covert decision to suspend the release of the results of the election that M.K.O Abiola/Gana Kingibe had won. And that was it.
Everybody in Nigeria was expected to accept the annulment of the election with equanimity and with due deference to the wisdom of these hidden rulers of Nigeria. The Powers That Be have spoken and nobody should dare raise a query or ask questions. This is the nature of the ethnically discriminatory and ethically disparate country to which every citizen is ceaselessly being called upon to defend her unity and to uphold her honour and glory.
The Doctrine of Unity is the only political philosophy and the almighty guiding principle of the Nigeria State. The doctrine of unity has been encrypted in the so-called Constitution, in the National Anthem, in the National Creed as well as in the individual psyche of Nigerians. It is the unity of Nigeria that is adjudged paramount, sacrosanct and a must-have Holy Grail for Nigeria. The right of every Nigerian to equality, liberty and justice is never considered to be equally important. Every policy, every program, and every project of government since 1960 is couched and geared towards the singular goal of ‘unity of Nigeria’. The unity of Nigeria with a borderless geographical space in the north of the country and a deliberate unquantifiable national population. And of course, the welfare of a purposely designed and unquantifiable number of people within Nigeria is never a primary concern of government and it is perfunctorily addressed whenever the hands of the rulers are forced by circumstances.
Just like in the time of Yakubu Gowon, the hidden, faceless and unaccountable powerful personages are holding political guns to the head of every Nigerian as they demand for total submission and obedience to their aimless and ungodly hegemony. The hidden leaders have become so befuddled with the air of self-delusion that claim to have absolute control over the life of the people.
These leaders are yet to see that the era of their age-long shenanigans is over. They cannot see that the veil of ignorance has been lifted away from the faces of the ever-trusting people of Nigeria. They are oblivious of the fact that Nigerians have been very faithful this past 67 years but that the hidden rulers had time and time again taken the people for granted.
The secret rulers are unmindful that Nigerians have been very loyal and wholeheartedly trusting, almost to the point of stupidity. Yet, the so-called leaders could not offer in return a shred of commensurate compassion for the neglected people to ameliorate their suffering, hardship, poverty and very low and unacceptable standard of living.
Unfortunately, the Nigeria “imperial rulers” have actually taken it for granted that Nigerians are indeed stupid. The pseudo-emperors have refused to acknowledge the sacrifices of poor Nigerians who have given their all, their souls and their everything to this accursed British creation. Despite all the odds stacked against Nigerians, the common people still hold on with a strong hope that there will be positive changes from their rulers along the way.
The thieving and looting-rulers could not appreciate all the sacrifices that most Nigerians have made in order to make this unholy contraption of a Country to work. But these so-called leaders have continued to collaborate with their foreign and local masters and have willfully and continually trampled on the wisdom and the faith of the common people. The rulers seemed to have sworn, and are actually prepared and indeed very ready, to ride and milk the willing Nigerians to death.
Now the Peoples who are hitherto called Nigerians have lost faith in everything called Nigeria. They have waited long enough for the creepy class of Nigerians who labeled themselves leaders (traditional, political, military, professional, civic, etc.) to redeem themselves to no avail. The common people are now making a passionate demand for personal freedom and for political self-determination as ethnic nations.
The word freedom everywhere in the world has been a signal of the beginning of a revolution. It is the beginning of actions that have great potential to radically change and transform the people from the status of a slave to that of a free-born; from being a servant of another man to being a master of one’s own; and from throwing off the yoke of slavery and oppression to embrace the comfort of liberty and the living joy of freedom. This is a dangerous omen for all fake and unpopular rulers. The signs are ominous and the result, if history will serve us right, can never be favourable to the renegade cabal who has been ridding with cruelty on the back of the people’s ignorance and fear.
In the words of P. J. Proudhon in a treatise titled What is Property: An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government, he writes,
“The more ignorant man is, the more obedient he is, and the more absolute is his confidence in his guide. … At the moment that man inquires into the motives, which govern the will of the sovereign – at that moment man revolts. If he obeys no longer because the king commands but because the king demonstrates the wisdom of his commands, it may be said that henceforth he will recognise no authority and that he has become his own king.”1
The Peoples of Nigeria under the colonial rule were sought out to make decision on the kind of government they would like to have. There was extensive consultation from the district/divisional levels to the provincial/regional levels, and every Nigerian was encouraged to contribute to the preparation of the 1951 Macpherson Constitution and particularly to the 1953-54 and 1957-58 constitutional conferences.
But what has been the experience of Nigerians since 1960, a clique of power-driven, power-loving, godless, wicked, selfish, myopic, visionless people who are devoid of all virtues or excellence have imposed their will on the people. They imposed a non-workable Constitution that strangled the free will of the people. The ungodly imposition of a fictitious and covertly enslaving Constitution has driven the people to the brink of injustice until the people cannot take the insult anymore. The long-suffering people of Nigeria have now turned around to face their oppressors, eyeball to eyeball, and are prepared to fight back.
Of course, these cowardly, god-forsaken and immoral people should be scared. The French revolution was a good example of the nature of trends and ways the anger of the people could go when it finally boils over. Why aren’t these treacherous leeches and so-called leaders learn from history. Why are they so mentally vacuous and unable to apply their brains and minds for glorious deeds in the service of the people? Why are they so obsessed with the collection and hoarding of material treasures which will be devoured in no time by “moth and rusts”? Why?
There is no sane answer except that every generation in a particular society seems to go through its own cycle of tutelage, that is to say, a learning period must occur before growth and maturity can be secured and sustained. But why is Nigeria and Africa in general seemed to lag behind on the human evolutionary journey? That is, if there is truth in the creation story that says, all persons in the world regardless of race were created at the same time or that humanity came from the same source.
Anyway, on the Nigeria’s situation at this time in history, the people/nations of Nigeria are now stringently making purposeful demand for individual and ethnic rights to freedom of choice and for political rights to self-determination as a multi-cultural country of many indigenous nations. How should the people of Nigeria go about this life-changing choice?
Are the demands for political and socio-economic self-determination reasonable? Are they achievable options?
Is there anyway these demands could be done peacefully without leading to war and bloodshed and without disturbing the status quo or the existing way of life?
Is the present malevolent way of life in Nigeria, ridden with insane and out of this world corruption, worth defending in any way at all?
Is Nigeria still a feasible country as presently constituted? Has the country got any future capable of providing for the safety, protection and welfare of all and not just a few of her people?
What is the cost and benefit (social, economic and political) of the endless pre-emptive battles of each ethnic nationality against the fear of political domination by other ethnic nationality?
What is the cost of the pervading paranoia and the ever-deepening vigilante forces manned and equipped against other ethnic groups that flow out of this phobia of political domination?
Is it still a feasible option to insist that the people of Nigeria cannot have a good life or any life at all without being forced together in the way they have been this past 100 years?