Restructuring: Awo’s honest message to Nigerians
The words of the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo are still very much fresh in our minds and instructive to the Nigerian authority. The government of Muhammadu Buhari needs to consider the true restructuring of the fractured federation. The present structures are very defective, weak and unsustainable. Nigeria is a nation in search of its true identity. It is gratifying that the administration of President Buhari is killing corruption in Nigeria. Nigeria is painstakingly going through a difficult phase of her life. As the saying goes: no pain; no gain. Awo’s evergreen words on marble are auspicious in the present state of the union: After rain comes sunshine; after darkness comes the glorious dawn. There is no sorrow without its alloy of joy; there is no joy without its admixture of sorrow. Behind the ugly terrible mask of misfortune lies the beautiful soothing countenance of prosperity. So, tear the mask! Nigerians should tear the mask of bigotry, intellectual laziness, self-induced problems and hopelessness.
I am not an advocate of a national divorce but an agitator for solid triforce of the geopolitical structures of Nigeria. Nigeria is a troubled marriage that needs the sitting together of the stakeholders (suitors) by mediators to discuss her reunion; or amicable and peaceful dissolution. Our unity in diversity has been battered by so many years of misrules. The sociopath leaders in politics and religion who have bracingly ruled Nigeria have got no respect for the masses and the people they rule or shepherd. The fundamentals of the Nigerian economy are weak and the country is currently in recession. Nigerian economy defies any known economic logic. The country’s infrastructures are in comatose by decades of neglect and the wailers among us want economic abracadabra in a jiffy!
Retrospectively, under colonialism, the brutish British under the leadership of Lord Lugard conjoined Nigeria earnestly for their own administrative convenience. After more than a century of our pseudo-union in 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan, the then circumstantial president celebrated our futile centenary amidst wide spread corruption. This was celebrated with nothingness under our national and divisive canopy. Awo’s theory and exposition about Nigeria as a “mere geographical expression” is still very tenable in the present structure. Our leaders have made nonsense of our rich diversity through religion, ethnocentrism and egocentricism. Nigeria is more polarised along these nuances now more than ever. The previous administrations had missed and messed up a lot of opportunities to truly restructure Nigeria. The restructuring of Nigeria will correct every perceived age-long problems. Without equivocation, our leaders have fractured our union. The status quo is untenable and unsustainable. Nigeria is a nation that has been sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Nigerian leaders for decades have been robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Nigeria is a microcosm of a village whose inhabitants live together with Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). A beautiful village with human and material resources that refuses to veer away from the famished road in her journey to the unknown. Our unity in diversity has been toyed with for a long time. Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa and other ethnic nationalities now coexist in pseudo-union; a state of mutual suspicion. In the diaspora, every time you tune in your cable television or you listen to national public radio, it is always bad news about Nigeria. Our country has become Hobbesian state where life is short, brutish and nasty! In a nutshell, we should celebrate our success at home for the world to celebrate us. It’s time to get serious! In the last three decades, the country has lost some of its finest human resources to Europe, Asia and America. We do very well in our various professional callings. When we are outside of Nigeria, we are one Nigeria; when we are in Nigeria, we are more polarised along religion and ethnicity. We are subsumed in self-aggrandizement. Yet, our untapped resources and potentials are subdued and waste away with queasy imagination. Our impeccable academic credentials are stultified. We preoccupied our minds with nothingness and other mundane affairs.
It is high time Nigeria invoked the spirits of our nationalists to resuscitate and encourage the stakeholders to restructure the country; so that their labour will not be in vain. Since the Nigerian independence, our brotherhood has been built on a shaky stand. The country’s corruption continuum has morphed into an institutionalised malaise. Buhari should see his distinct administration as another unique opportunity to bring Nigeria together. There should be a credible sovereign national conference to discuss all those national idiosyncrasies that are tearing us apart. Our marriage of convenience should be redefined to meet the 21st century challenges. A note of caution, do not call this admonition of restructuring an attempt to exit Nigeria, but call it a communal discourse for internal cohesion and national integration. This is the time to tear the mask of suspicion and hopelessness. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo has given us the roadmap and political formula to attain the much anticipated, acceptable and tenable state of the union in his various political activism, intellectual resources and wisdom. Literally, this is where the minds of these true leaders should meet to foster an enduring national security and development. The results of true restructuring should produce regional police; give every state in the union autonomy to flourish with its potentials and resources.
As Buhari’s envisioned government walks a fine line, he should be reminded that Nigeria is a country full of so many contradictions. He will be discouraged, but a disciplined mind knows his onion as a means to an end of his vision. Buhari must be focused and transactional in his approach as he tries to transform and salvage Nigeria. Our story should be, the history rewritten; a future reassured. Anything short of a true national conversation to assuage the aggrieved and bruised Nigerians will amount to the postponement of the evil days. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Nnamdi Azikwe, the late Tafawa Balewa and other nationalists’ struggles and sacred admonition should be our means to an end, not an end to itself. Nigeria is a hub of tourism and a destination for global commerce and industry. This is the time to jettison our naughtiness; come together with clear vision of the future, and restructure Nigeria with honesty of purpose and courage. We should discard the 19th century bureaucracy in order to meet the 21st century challenges. Through our courage of convictions and honesty, our mundane problems are solvable. Our unity in diversity should be explored to make Nigeria a cynosure of all international eyes; and make her a prosperous nation again. It’s doable.
• Balogun wrote from Arizona, United States of America.
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