Let me start my preamble with a succinct and in-depth incisive historical analysis by a revered and cerebral Clergyman (Bishop Kukah), who is an authority on political dialectics and social contradictions in Nigeria. Therefore, I reproduce part of the excerpt from one of his numerous lectures to give direction to my perspective on the topic of this discourse.
University of Jos Convocation Lecture delivered by Rev. Dr. Matthew Kukah at the University of Jos Multipurpose Auditorium, 22 June 2018.
“As a rogue state continued to exploit its citizens, what we have had and still have is a nation too divided and distracted” – Broken Truths: Nigeria’s Elusive Quest for National Cohesion.
“I am nostalgic about the days of Bala Usman and his radical movement, which enabled the generation of the time to address the primary contradictions and then set up a higher ideological platform that enabled scholars to unite and confront the secondary contradictions of a rogue state. The dreams of a non-sectarian society articulated by the Left have been replaced by the divisive rhetoric of those who now use religion and ethnicity to further divide our society.
As a rogue state continued to exploit its citizens, what we have had and still have is a nation too divided and distracted, a nation whose elite has been caught up in fighting so many little civil wars and squabbles that it has had no reserve energy to fight the larger war against the real enemy, the rogue state.
As it rides roughshod over its citizens, the Nigerian state leaves in its wake, death and destruction. Rather than unite to confront it, its citizens continue to compose dirges in their vernaculars as they bury their dead, lamenting about marginalization. We now face the predicament of the axe and the forest trees, namely: The axe was felling the trees, and all the trees kept falling as the forest disappeared, but the trees could not rebel against the man hewing them down because the trees said that the handle was one of them!
From independence to date, we have lived with horrible leadership and we have excused the rogues because; they are our tribesmen, our fellow religionists and that those who raise their voices are enemies of our tribe or religion. Unlike Frost’s traveller, when we got to where the road diverged, we opted for the comfort of taking what seemed the easier road. Instead of the high road, in Michelle Obama’s rendering, we took the low one.
Choosing the road less travelled was too difficult. This is where we are now. So, what have been the consequences of these choices? It is to them that I now want to turn very briefly”.
As the author of the above speech, which I reproduced verbatim the excerpt turned briefly to elaborate on the choices our forebears made, I humbly pause to focus on the realities on ground today.
From those choices, which true to human nature and social psychology, we could not explain today, we owe a duty to make new choices since ever. However, over the years we fear to face the truth of the realities of our own time. A nation like any living organism grows through different stages of development.
In the process of this growth and development, the unpredictable nature of human behaviours and history anything happens. Hence, the imperative of constant interactions between the human elements who are the owners of sovereignty.
Because we refuse to sit around the table of unity in the spirit of nation-building, we are afraid of the truth. Because we refuse to respect and implement the resolutions of past half-hearted talks, we are stuck with the choices of our forebears. Following the political history of Nigeria, two critical processes of nation-building and development have proven a Herculean task, population census and elections.
It has been so and will be so as long as the political elite continue to wave ethnoreligious symbols in place of issue-based national discourse. A nation that cannot articulate means of auditing accurately her population cannot equally manage it. It then spills over to its elections and becomes catastrophic. The elections in itself, which is a product of democracy defies all principles and tenets of the concept in Nigeria. In its place, the Nigerian political elite over time chooses to transplant the negative variance.
Their choice of democracy, of course, and their style of economic management, have been the final bane of the country. A political system with low political culture exacerbates by clueless prioritization of policies cannot lead Nigeria to a new level. I may not have to elucidate on these two focal points of nation-building and development for my reading audience to go in retrospect and conclude.
At every election year, results of faulty electoral processes must be contested in election tribunals through the appellate court to the apex court. This tradition foisted by the negative variance of democracy and flagrant abuse of power by state actors and non-state actors are correlations of a rogue state.
To remediate this near anomie condition of the rogue state, a renegotiation of the sovereign state must be the first choice of this generation. According to Frantz Fanon, “every generation from its relative obscurity must free itself” Therefore, it is incumbent on this generation of the Nigerian youths to liberate itself and chart a new direction for posterity as leaders of tomorrow.
The philosophical charge of the Revolutionary Frantz fanon sounds loud and clear today more than ever to the Nigerian youths. There is no doubt today that the youths have betrayed the mission of its generation. Over time, successive generations refused to interrogate the older generation by holding them accountable for the fundamentally deficient economy and politics of ethnoreligious sentiments.
Hence, the Nigerian youths must seek to fulfil its mission by disengaging their minds from the distractions of the illusion of “Get Rich Quick” mentality ravaging the society. Media imperialism has made abundantly available in the enticement of crass materialism to the youths. This instrument of globalization has in no small way undermined their interests in the political consciousness of alternative change.
It is on this note, I recommend; “The New Nigeria Manifesto: Alternative Strategy to Resolve the Country by Collective Effort” to them. They must realize that to transform Nigeria is not the job of a right man, but to compel politicians to justify why they should be trusted with political power. They must learn to understand that; the rogue state today is overstretched by centric fugal forces controlled by non-state agents and actors. These elements are members of diverse economic rational status groups competing for the soul of the rogue state.
It is now incumbent on the youths to rescue the rogue state from riding the people into anomie. This noble course shall lead them into the future they ought to be leaders.
Comrade A. Ameh is the National Convenor, Generation for Change Africa Initiative