ABSTRACTThe political clime of our dear nation is so entangled in many a ‘Krikum Krakum’. The high rate of death and corrupt practices, coupled with the ever-waxing consciousness of ethnicity and religious xenophobia, is quite appalling. On a regular basis, critics divulge their disapprobation of all the political inconsistencies rampaging against the development of our dear nation. These, of course, are causes of some mal-administration by some ravenous imperialist.
Even as there have been dichotomies in the views of Nigerians, as some section believe that the amalgamation has brought more blessings than evil, this author aligns with the view of the other section that the cause of the current mishmash in the Nigerian ambiance cannot be alienated from the colonial governance. These inconsistencies, of course, include: ethnic consciousness above the supposed-to-be national allegiance, religious intolerance, corruption among politicians and the citizens (an average Nigerian, youth or no youth, now has the aim of revenging and avenging any hardship inflicted on them by their leaders, by doing the same thing the latter are doing), rot in all public sectors.
Thus, this article seeks to discuss the varieties of Nigerian problems in relation to the 1914 amalgamation by the then British High-Commissioner turned Governor, Lord Lugard.
And, by a way of conclusion, this article postulates some possible means through which the web inhibiting the should-have-been-achieved development could be cleared to herald a paradigm shift in the governance of Nigeria.
In 1960, when the British imperialists decided to give their imaginary-independence, there were shouts of joy, rallies and thanksgivings. One could imagine various sessions of thanksgiving services in the church and mosques; and various sacrifices of thanks by the traditional worshipers. International communities started seeking our indulgence in various international organizations, and like a child celebrating its birthday, our founding fathers were so ebullient.
But not long did all these festivities last. No sooner had we attained independence than our politics started taking a new tow. We started having political fiasco. Our politicians took to the stage to exhibit their long-conceived corruption-proclivities. They started looting with their two hands, even using their legs to hoard some of the tax payers’ money. Indeed, they laid the foundation for every political hardship that Nigeria is witnessing and will witness.
As early as two years after independence, Nigeria started having crisis in her western region which actually strengthened the already inherent ethnic consciousness. This, of course, was the result of prolonged debilitating governance by some selfish imperialists.
To expatiate on the points sought to be conveyed to the readers of this article, it is imperative to take a bit of historical events and there relevance with the topic of discussion.
According to history, the first set of Europeans that visited the nation, the old Benin Empire especially, was the Portuguese. Rey de Sequirra, an explorer who visited one of the components that will later make up the Nigerian-State, and his antecedents, of which Jao de Alfanso was one, based their reasons for visiting the nation on the basis of exploration and their thirst to know more about other places in the world, especially Africa. They came as explorers with the motive of knowing more about Nigeria obeying the rules prescribed by the rulers of the nations they were intruding, thereby making it impossible for the indigenes to realize their imperialist motives.
Thereafter, after gaining much experience about the country, and realizing the many advantages – including natural resources – embedded in this blessed part of Africa, they introduced their trades and exported ours. The annoying part of this incident is that they procured ours at a cheaper rate compared to the escalated prices they sold theirs. They made us believe they could do so many things. In fact, some of our fore-fathers saw the British as someone from another planet.
At this point, it is imperative to note that the corruption and selfishness that is more pronounced in our political and social systems did not just start; it has been inherent since time past. During the time the European intruded on our land in the name of exploration and trade, some leaders in some parts of the country welcomed them and even went as far as positioning them (white men) in their political administration.
“Nevertheless, Nigerian rulers and peoples sought to use the explorers for personal and political reasons. Attracted by the
Superior manufactured goods of Europe – ironmongery, chains, textiles, and particularly guns – rulers were able to appre-
ciate the technological value of greater commercial relations with Europe…”( E.A. Ayandele External Relations with
Europeans in the Nineteenth Century: Explorers, Missionaries and Traders. Groundwork of Nigerian History p. 370).
These facts gave the Europeans morale that they could actually get to other parts of the country. Although there were confrontations and outright rejections from the peoples of Ijebu, Edo, Igbo, and Itsekiri, they were persistent owing to the relative successes they have made in other parts of the would-be Nigeria.
After their trade strategy, they unveiled themselves in another form – as missionaries. Although, the missionaries were supposed to be propagators of the gospel, they were actually stooges of the European government, as they were only predecessors of the imperialists. According to E.A Ayandele, the relationship which the Egbas had with the Missionaries later turned to be ‘political disaster’(p.377 of the above)as they only “…began to ridicule the traditional religion…”(p.376).
After attaining victory in three previous attempts, the European powers thereafter, sort to legalize their intrusion by coming with their real intension – imperialism. They, after gaining authority from the Berlin Conference organized by the German Chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck and Premier of France, Jules Ferry, came with full force using the missionaries as propagators of their selfish motives. They ascribed to themselves the position of God who could dictate what a people could do and could not. They sought to erode every form of ‘Africanism’ from the people because of their phony belief that their culture is supreme and brought their civilization when in actual sense, research shows that African civilization is as old as the other types of civilizations.
After the conference of 1884/’85, and the British government has been legally arrogated the power to colonize the nations in the Niger area, the British exhibited their lack of plan for her new colonies. Firstly, the areas were not directly under the auspices of the British government. They were ruled by some British company. Secondly, between January and June 1900, the British showed to us that they were administratively unprepared for us; hence, they didn’t know the kind of government that would fit their new colonies. They first brought in the direct rule system and then, the indirect rule system, which I refer to as prevention after infection. Shouldn’t they have understood the kind of government that would fit their colonies before rattling and clamouring for governance over them? Inadvertently, this led to the deficient legacy among their prodigies (Nigerian leaders) who plan after failure. Or do they even plan at all?
After the introduction of the indirect rule system which, according to its apologists, respected the Nigerian culture, the British began their reign of autarchy – another reason many Nigerian leaders see no harm in vetoing the wishes of the masses. They introduced sentiments by portraying some centres better than others. The people were forced to abide by the rules they were not party to its crafting – another reason the government of Nigeria has found no sin in enforcing constitutions on the people and saying that “we the people of Nigeria”, when reverse was the case.
Finding their Adolf-Hitler-rule congruent for their colony, they further compounded their woes by joining the various divisions of the Nigeria Area together. This, of course, they did without consulting with the people to live under this new umbrella. The people were confined to live together as one without orientation of any sort; without being introduced to the challenges in living together as brothers and sisters with people they have looked upon as strangers prior to that moment. Would you blame an Igbo man if he doesn’t truly love a Yoruba man? Or would you castigate the Hausa man for loving the Igbo man half-heartedly?
Even after amalgamation, they continued sponsoring ethnicity in the nation making the amalgamation an issue of the lips and book; not necessarily a matter of the mind and sincerity. Thus, relegating Nigeria, with all the resources she has, to this state of impecuniousness. They have done their bit and have left the nation to wander in this wilderness of retardation, 54 years after independence.
As we know that the motive of this article is to state the relationship of the 1914 amalgamation with the Nigerian problems and thereby proffering probable solutions. This article seeks to group the solutions into two faces:
With the inclination that the 1914 amalgamation was a joke, as it only amalgamated the boundaries and gave us a unified name, it is imperative that the nation has a new and authentic amalgamation. Before this, there will be orientation on the need to stay together, and the need for everyone to have a sense of responsibility and belonging. It will erase any such move as that of the aggrieved Biafrans between May 1967 and January 1970. Everyone will understand the reasons why they should attack the problem in one region as though it affects everyone. I, as a Christian will understand why I should live together with my Muslim brothers and vice-versa. Matter-of-factly, there will be religious tolerance. I will understand why I shouldn’t think of myself as the owner of the land. Every Nigerian will understand why there will be no need to hoard resources when other states can benefit from the proceeds of such. There will be no tribal loyalty at the expense of national loyalty. The various communities will provide shade for their brothers from the tribes when the need arises. Imagine a Hausa man run into the house of a Yoruba man requesting for shelter over night. You already know!
Introduction of a true Nigerian legacy
Though America was colonized by the British, they decided to chart their way and devise a congruent means of dealing with one another. Instead of Nigeria to follow suit, we have subserviently became stooges of the British. Like the British government in 1900, we made two mistakes. 1) We didn’t realise that the regional government we were practicing was not apt for our system until there were speculations that some region was planning secession. 2) We didn’t see the frailties in the British Form of government in place in Nigeria until 1979 – 19 years after independence.
Solving these problems is very cinch. We could just call a conference and let the components that make up this great nation chart their mode of existence. If indeed we practice democracy, which according to Lincoln is government of the people, then we should let the people discuss everything that they need and expect from the Nigerian government.
This will lead to the erosion of tribalism and ethnicity. Everyone will understand that they willingly submitted themselves and willfully accepted the name Nigerian as the name they want to bear, not the name they were forcefully given by an intruder.
- By OLUSESI OYINDOLAPO OLUWADAMILARE