Prof Boniface C E Egboka
Nigeria is, now, at crossroads in terms of unity, security and nationalism; many issues have arisen, posing enigmatic questions on whether Nigerians can still make it well and possibly-move forward in nationalism in a genuine love for the country. Insecurity of life and property are rife; the police seems to be overwhelmed while the military are commonly seen in the streets on duty from place to place. The present ways and manner Igbos who are the worst victims together with some other ethnic groups are being maltreated leave much to be desired; it does not augur well for true nationalism. The Igbos and these ethnic groups, the so-called minorities, are unduly-suspected and never trusted, no matter how hardworking and sincere they play their roles in national service. Even in situations where their contributions are transparently-apparent, their efforts are hardly-appreciated. Pre-dating the vicious Nigeria-Biafra war, during and after that war up till today, the Igbos and some others have been consistently-maltreated by the larger Nigeria most unfairly. This write-up evaluates the potential greatness of Nigeria to develop as a nation of inclusive progress; the sad fate of the Igbos and some ethnic groups in Nigeria; how they have been maltreated and marginalized by fellow Nigerians all these years; and the safe ways forward for progress to be made. There must be a change of attitude by all parties concerned. The Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and other ethnic groups and some Igbos must change their negative attitudes against the marginalized mainstream of the oppressed people in Nigeria.
One is fairly-seized of the knowledge of the socioeconomic potentials of the human and material resources endowments of this country, Nigeria. Our country can be safely compared in terms of having abundant human resources, large geographical landmass, stable geostatic platform, extensive demographic variability, bounteous mineral and water resources etc. to such nations as the US, Russia, China and Canada. But in terms of human and material development, we are awkwardly lacking in infrastructural needs and services and are poorly-lagging behind these developed countries. We even compare poorly with nations we ought to be competing with such as Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Brazil etc. There are nationalities in Nigeria such as the Yoruba and the Igbo that seem to be dragged backwards in their efforts to advance in development. Nigeria has abundant, talented and quality but heterogeneous human resources be it Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, Efik, Ijaw, Ibibio, Tiv, Kanuri, Idoma etc. (over 250 ethnic nationalities) that can be skillfully-welded and properly-blended into a finite homogeneity of an effectively-working humanity; but this is yet to be done by any government. We have abundant mineral deposits, surface water and groundwater resources; but all these treasures have been highly-mismanaged in failed socioeconomic good and services by our successive governments. Our nationals have progressive and freewheeling entrepreneurial drives/spirits that have never been-harnessed for needed national development. Our leaders, since the military-nuisance-ingress into the Nigerian body politic through coups/counter coups as well as during the post military era up till today, have Balkanized the country into unserviceable sub-national cantons. This was done by reactionary means of ethnicity, Stateism, sectionalism, religious dichotomy, socioeconomic deprivations of marginalized ones and divisive politics of gerrymandering, poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, indulgence in habitual/vicious fraud and corruption, low values placed on human life and people’s material possessions that are frequently-destroyed without mercy and remorse from time to time in different parts of the country. Arson, daylight robbery, murder, assassination, religious fanaticism, deprivation of the poor, internecine lies and blackmail, fraud, corruption are destructive features that up till today are still common in Nigeria.
Both the military and democratic governments all these years, do not seem to have given any hope of improvements on national growth; the country has degenerated from one problem into another. Their use of British colonial governance of divide and rule can never work for positive national growth and stability; it is destructive and reactionary politics for the Yorubas to band together with the Hausa-Fulani or any others to group-selfishly-rule the rest of the country to total neglect of majority of the population. There tend to be everlasting fear, helplessness and hopelessness for the common man nationwide as these negatives in political firmament tend to badly-railroad events/issues, pro/con destructively, from one place to the other. These negative events depict movement of political reality on a reverse gear. Our leaders must realize that undue marginalization of nationalities as being done to Igbos, Efiks, Ijaws, Tivs, Idomas etc. through the Yoruba/Fulani-Hausa alliance, by denying them socioeconomic-cum-material resources, is most unwelcome. There have been futile attempts at trying to decimate their peoples and lands; the Nigeria-Biafra war experience and the recent invasions of farmlands by Fulani herdsmen are very bad/sore case examples; these are unhealthy acts negating national growth and development.
We have huge deposits of natural oil and gas that have been driving our socioeconomy to debilitating state. The enormous financial resources generated from oil and gas since we struck oil to flow at Oloibiri in Bayelsa State have not much impacts shown in terms of long-lasting infrastructure nationwide except for development of Abuja and few State capitals and urban centres. The petroleum industry have been our bane of environmental destruction of the Niger Delta as well as enthronement of massive societal fraud and corruption nationwide. We have bounteous surface water and groundwater resources and yet “water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink” whether in urban centres or rural areas. We continue to chase our waters away from the Nigerian environment through misplanned and poorly-managed construction of dams and irrigation schemes in northern States and beyond. Look at the fates of Lake Chad which has dried up to over 90% of its water body in the past ten years; and the River Niger waters that are equally-threatened. Nigeria has abundant mineral resources particularly in the northern States where illegal miners have their field days at mining and sales of precious minerals without licences and payment of taxes; meanwhile they regularly cause unaccounted deaths of natives and destruction of immediate environment. Imagine the annual deluges of destructions caused by floods, soil and gully erosion, landslides and environmental pollution that have ravaged mainly parts of the southeast and southsouth areas. Look at the poor funding of our educational and health systems all over the country. People are poorly-educated in the primary and secondary schools as well as in tertiary institutions as the financial backups are abysmally-low. Most of our public health institutions are poorly-established and attended to such that the nearby mortuaries are of more service than the hospitals; almost every medical practitioner has a thriving Clinic with portable mortuary dutifully-attached. The basic infrastructure of roads, electricity, hygiene and sanitation etc. are generally-lacking nationwide. Agriculture is neglected; rural farmers are left to practise on their own with little or no funding for support. The government- and privately-owned industries are almost abandoned to operate on their own with little or no water and electricity supplies with paucity of funds; most of them operate with private boreholes and electricity gensets while some factories have been shut down. The worst victim of the entire degrading process are the youths: many have poor families who find it difficult to train their children; the youths are exposed to poor educational opportunities; there are hardly any sustained programmes for healthy development of youths even though there are Federal and States Ministries of Youth Development; there is a rabid problem of youth unemployment that is approaching a scale of time-bomb that may explode eventually any day; there are millions of Nigerian youths roaming widely all over the country and overseas while some are languishing in refugee camps or jails in foreign lands and our governments seem to stand and stare helplessly; many youths have become maimed or killed in wars, riots, arsons kidnappings and ethnic/religious/etc. disturbances because of pervading poor security that is prevailing.
One would have expected that any government preaching about TRANSFORMATION (PDP) or CHANGE (APC) agenda would find a durably-sustainable manner to manage the prevailing misfortunes in our socioeconomy into a lasting developed economic-legacy. The leaders in this administration must discontinue their present efforts at insistence on and indulgence in threats of military solution to national problems instead of taking recourse to dialogue as in a democratic process. The country has earlier engaged in brutal wars that have left her worse on both short and long run. The coupists/counter-coupists in the Nigerian Army and their military adventurers did more harm to governance than good; the PDP governments in their 16 years of governance did not do so much in transforming our lives; the present APC administration within one year in office has not shown encouraging signs of their desired changes as volubly-promised during the last elections. Where do we then go from here? Leadership is made of a sterner stuff, humility, selflessness, a man-of-his-word Philosophy–in-needs-and-deeds, a giver and doer to the poor, lowly and infirm etc. We can start from today to get our national acts together; eschew all vices, internecine hatred and reach out for virtue; think of our country first before ourselves and our own ethnic group/State/church/religion etc. That is, we must imbibe nationalistic attitudes in our lives; be a bona fide citizen of anywhere/place one lives in Nigeria; create one more State in the Southeast Zone; operate our financial resources strictly as annually-budgeted for; create job opportunities for the youths; ensure qualitative and compulsory primary and secondary school education for all Nigerian children; provide basic utilities of roads, electricity, potable water supplies equitably-nationwide etc. The Federal government should bring out the last national Conference Report, the Oputa Panel Report and reassess the contents and implement aspects that would enhance national unity/stability. The APC governance has golden opportunity to turn around the fortunes of this country into an everlasting good for the people/generations unborn. These efforts, if considered and carried out judiciously, would eradicate decadence and possibly move the country forward along the progressive path of national growth and development.
- Prof Boniface C E Egboka PhD, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org