By Chiedu Uche Okoye
The Lugardian contraption called Nigeria has come of age. Hasn’t it existed for over acentury? It was in 1914 that the Southern and Northern protectorates were amalgamated, and the geographical space was called Nigeria. So, Nigeria is a disparate political entity and a conglomeration of ethnic nationalities. And for a considerable length of time, the geographical space, which was christened Nigeria by Flora Shaw, was a British colony.
Upon our attainment of statehood and political sovereignty in 1960, the departing British colonialists, who were amenable to the northern people’s political domination of Nigeria helped Alhaji Tafawa Balewa to become the Prime Minister of Nigeria in 1960. He overcame his political betters like Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo to become our Prime Minister in 1960.
The British imperialists had clandestinely enthroned the northerners’ political hegemony and dominance of Nigeria in order to achieve their selfish and sinister goals.It’s they who institutionalized the perverse and monstrous culture ofimposition of political leaders on Nigerians, which has led to the emergence of mediocre political leaders in Nigeria. That’s why after the collapse of the first republic and the end of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, a political dark horse called Alhaji Shehu Shagari beat Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Aminu Kano, and Ibrahim Waziri in the 1979 presidential election. And Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was helped to power in 1999 by the king-makers and northern interests to placate the indignant Yoruba people over the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election. Again, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, who won the 2007 presidential election, confessed that the election which brought him to office was marred by electoral fraud.
We should note that Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, who were beneficiaries of Nigeria’s egregious culture of imposition of leaders on the populace, squandered the opportunities offered to them to transform Nigeria positively. And they couldn’t entrench enduring peace and unity in Nigeria, which is the bedrock of national development.
Today, Nigeria is stuck in the mud of underdevelopment because it hasn’t been led by its best politicians since it became a politically independent country. However, a country’s development is intrinsically linked to the quality of leadership provided to the citizens by its national leader. The economies of Malaysia,Singapore, and other great Asian countries had been leapfrogged to a dizzying great height because their leaders possess political ideologies, moral probity,and leadership qualities. A good political leader, who is a visionary, imagines the type of country he wants, and works assiduously and patriotically to build that country.
So, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first coming or incarnation as our civilian President, millions of Nigerians thought him to be the Messiah, who would revamp our economy, evolve our own technological culture ,which will be predicated on functional educational system, and entrench peace and unity in the country. And not a few Nigerians felt that his leadership of Nigeria would be a departure from Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s clueless, tardy, uninspiring, and corrupt administration. We believed him to be the political leader, who would root out corruption in Nigeria and bring sanity to our systems of doing things given his ascetic nature and distaste for corruption.
However,President Buhari’s occupation of the highest political office in Nigeria has led to his demystification. Under his watch and guidance, Nigeria is steadily and progressively going to the dogs. In his first term in office, Nigeria’s economy slipped into recession. It came out of it soon after, however. Nigeria,as a country, which has oil resources and humongous population, has not witnessed rapid economic progress and technological transformation under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. Today, owing to the mismanagement of our economy, millions of Nigerians have been reduced to sub-humans.
The worsening economic situation in the country has made millions of Nigerians become vulnerable to joining terrorist groups like the Boko Haram and others. The impressionable young northern people who joined Boko Haram had been indoctrinated with distorted teachings of Islam which fire them up to levy war against the Nigerian state. Aren’t we aware that the unresolved Boko Haram incubus poses a great threat to our continued existence as one indivisible country? In addition to this, the Fulani cattle Herders, who are classified as a deadly terror group should be checked; otherwise, their murderous deeds will plunge Nigeria into a huge conflagration, which will cause its disintegration.
President Muhammadu Buhari should up his game as to the leadership of Nigeria in order to improve the people’s living condition and ignite the rapid economic and technological growth of Nigeria. He should wean himself off ethnocentric proclivities and religious bias and initiate pragmatic pan-Nigerian policies,the implementation of which will transform Nigeria into a developed nation-state and assure us that he is not a sectional leader and divisive figure.
Until President Buhari starts doing the right things, Nigeria will continue to grope in the dark for national redemption and salvation from the debilitating forces of national disunity and underdevelopment.
Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State