“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction.” ~ James A. Baldwin
Reading the essay titled, The Compatriots, written by the Vanguard Newspaper Columnist, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed that announced the formation of a new voluntary organisation in Nigeria called, The Compatriots, was very interesting and should attract a few comments. The essay opened with the list of names of the members of the Compatriots. They are names of some of the successful professional men and women, the ‘crème de la crème’ of the talking heads of Nigeria. Their chosen voluntary mission culled from the essay, are:
“a) To serve as a symbol of unity and service to all Nigerians;
b) To serve as a platform for improving the coexistence of all Nigerian communities.
c) To mobilise the best intellectual and other resources available toward assisting in the improvement of the quality of governance at all levels and in all forms in Nigeria;
d) To serve as a think tank on specific and general issues and challenges in Nigeria;
e) To work with, and mentor younger generations, so that they are better prepared to lead the nation with commitment, responsibility, and excellence.”
Here we go again, was my first instinctive reaction. I said to myself, the usual suspects are grouping together again as The Compatriots and that this is another one of those déjà vu moments. I recalled that some of the names on the list were the ‘elites’ of the country who came together in 1998 as The Integration Group. This was during the 1998/99 Abdusalami Abubakar’s discredited military government when some of these ‘patriots’ joined arms together to pursue a somewhat similar goal of national unity and integration.
As history is said to often repeat itself, these ‘patriots’ are out again under a new moniker. They haven’t learned any lessons from the past and from the fact that Nigeria was designed, not to be of any benefit to the indigenous peoples of the country; but only to serve as a neocolonial vacuum sucker of the wealth of Nigeria in the service of the economic interests of the International Bankers in the City of London.
These ‘patriots’ with disparate political and economic visions are at it again, even though they might have a ‘patriotic’ desire to serve the nation, but ultimately they can only succeed in obfuscating and confusing the political issues of the day. And moreover, they will likely attempt to apply make-believe plasters of deception over the sociopolitical and economic issues bedevilling Nigeria.
Some may ask, Why am I so pessimistic? It is because these ‘patriots’ are refusing to understand that deception and lies can neither bring unity of purpose to a polity racked with mutual suspicion nor ensure a nonpartisan cooperation for cleverly disguised ethnocentric agenda camouflaged as agreed national goals.
It is surprising that these new compatriots are also refusing, like their forebears did in the past, to learn any lessons from the errors made by the founding fathers of independent Nigeria. History has shown that each of the three principal founding fathers of Nigeria jealously hid and guarded his personal beliefs and ethnocentric agenda during the political independence negotiations with Britain. While on the other hand, the leaders were in public pretending to be working together towards the same political objectives of establishing a nation. Those leaders even wrote a national anthem that prays:
“O God of all creation
Grant this our one request.
Help us to build a nation
Where no man is oppressed
And so with peace and plenty
Nigeria shall be blessed.”
In addition, although the 1960 Motto on the Coat of Arms of Nigeria blazingly proclaims: “Peace, Unity, Freedom” but the actions of the political leaders have always, then and now, worked against the lofty proclamation. Yet, in spite of the open display of friendship and alliances across the board, some of those leaders secretly designed Machiavellian stratagems and nefarious ways and means to ‘conquer’, to ‘dominate’ or to subjugate the other ethnic groups within the same country.
With hindsight, we now know that there was no mutual love, trust, agreement or noble common beliefs and understanding amongst them. Altogether, they did not acknowledge or accept the universal principles of the fundamental human rights of everyone in the country to freedom, equality, and justice. Each of the three political leaders seems to believe that his ethnic group, in one form or another, is superior to the other ethnic groups. Therefore, only a master-servant relationship could be countenanced with the other ethnic nations. This erroneous bias and divisive prejudice are still reigning supreme today among the various ethnic nations in the country.
Unfortunately, Nigeria has landed at the deplorable mess it is today because we have failed to accept the reality that “two cannot walk together except they agree.” It is a commonly known fact that the various ethnic nations in Nigeria have different religious beliefs, different cultural orientations, and different life goals. And since the forceful political association among the ethnic nations began, each nation has been inflexible on the pragmatic need to relinquish or to interrogate any of the age long parochial traditions, beliefs and the inherited myopic worldviews.
Even among the so-called educated, enlightened and supposedly cosmopolitan elites, none is ready to discard the superstitions of their ethnic group for noble values and higher political objectives. Yet, fellow compatriots are willing to gloss over these immovable attitudinal obstacles; or they are willing to pretend, like they always do, that there is no big issue on the Nigerian Question. This is a question that is forever standing conspicuously at the centre of Nigeria’s sitting room like a big elephant, yet everyone pretends not to see it. The age long costly deception of living the lie must have to stop, if there will ever be unity, peace, progress and prosperity among the different ethnic nations of Nigeria.
If The Compatriots really mean to do good by the indigenous people of Nigeria, they can first start a serious discussion about the most peaceful way to demobilise the various militia groups threatening lives and properties, kidnapping citizens for ransom and nonchalantly killing innocent indigenous people up and down the country. Secondly, The Compatriots should place on the agenda table on how best to find the most logical, legal, rational and peaceful way to dismantle the unworkable country along the line of compatible ethnic nations with mutual historical and cultural orientations.
For over a century, Nigeria has been going through a turbulent political experience of nation building by trial and error without positive results. The political experiment of building a nation out of diverse ethnic groups with incompatible cultures has continued to manufacture and to multiply misfortunes, woes, pains, suffering and heavy tolls of ruthless hardship on the ‘citizens’. Isn’t it time that ‘Nigerians’ said to one another, we have tried but this country is not working. By now every thinking person blessed with a discerning spirit should be able to accept the inevitable truth that Nigeria, as politically designed and constituted and as economically structured and operated, can not be judiciously administered to the extent that the country can deliver and ensure lasting peace, progress and prosperity for the entire polity without prejudice and discrimination.
By now, the indigenous peoples of Nigeria should be able to see through the century old lies and deception and ought to agree that enough is enough of the political illusion of moving the country forward and the delusion of hope of a better future without first embarking on the right steps to change the offensive political systems.
Enough is definitely enough of Lies and Deception.
In The Spirit of Truth
SAM ABBD ISRAEL