Opinion: Nigeria Is A Lie – By Titus Orngu

Nigeria is both a geographical and political entity. As a geographical entity, it has a latitude of 9.082°N and a longitude of 8.6753°E with two major rivers, the Benue and Niger, running from the northern parts through a confluence at Lokoja, to the Atlantic Ocean in the south. The climate is tropical with variable rainy and dry seasons, depending on location but generally devoid of extremities. The entity suffers no natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones but once in a while, because of the negligent attitude of the Nigerian, experiences floods here and there.
The geographical entity is blessed with arable land for farming but the Nigerian contrives to import food, even from her neighbours in the desert north like Mali and Mauritania!
The geographical entity is blessed with abundant mineral resources prominent of which is crude oil. But instead of the mineral deposits being a blessing, they have turned out to be a curse. With her abundant crude deposits, the Nigerian has refused to process the crude and benefit from the available byproducts. He elects to sell the crude, and import refined products at exorbitant rates. The Nigerian is like a farmer who sells his yams only to buy pounded yam from the same woman he had sold his yams to.
In the part where there are huge gold deposits, instead of the people being blessed by the natural deposits within their grounds, they have become game to the exploiters. The people are killed wantonly while their gold deposits are raided by mercenaries.
The political entity was cobbled together by one British adventurist called Lord Lugard in 1914. Since then, like every building with a faulty foundation, Nigeria has been struggling to stay alive.
When Lugard wanted to bring the Northern and Southern protectorates together to form the political entity we have today, he was wary of the very educated Westerners and the independently-minded and industrious Easterners. He, therefore, contrived to place his whole entrapment in the hands of the amenable North who, at this time, always obeyed their emirs without question. His thinking and belief were that the Northerner would be easier to operate his indirect rule policy.
So, right from conception to birth, the political entity has been a lie. If you look closely, you will see the lie in all facets of the political entity called Nigeria. The Northern Hausa/Fulani have maintained a hegemonistic hold on the political life of the country believing the leadership of the country is theirs to dispense as they so wish. It was this mindset that led to the annulment of the 1993 election which till today, has been adjudged as the freest and fairest election ever conducted in this country; an annulment that was to later cost the presumed winner, Chief MKO Abiola, his life.
Following the return to democratic rule in 1999, the north reluctantly decided to cede political power to the West to ‘compensate’ for the death of her illustrious son. But they handpicked the westerner who would be tied to their apron strings while he held the political power. Whether Chief Obasanjo was all they thought he would be, is debatable. The General proved he, truly, is a General. And that did not go down well with the North.
Reading the handwriting on the wall and the general displeasure with the fact that an infidel has had to preside over the believers; and knowing full well that it would be difficult for that to happen again normally after him, Chief Obasanjo ensured that an ailing Umaru Yar Adua was his successor with a southern Vice. We are all witnesses to the trouble that GEJ had in being Acting President when it was clear that Umaru Yar Adua was unable to carry out the functions of the office of President. The novel ‘Doctrine on Necessity’ was invoked to make him an Acting President and shortly afterwards, the substantive president when Yar Adua finally died.
The machinations and manipulations that led to his having a term of his own are not the concern of this piece. But in the end, he did have one of his own with the belief that he would have completed the turn of the South and return power to the North. When, therefore, he opted to go at it again in 2015, everything was thrown at him to make him unelectable. It got to a point he truthfully declared he was the most insulted president in the world. As true as it was, it is good to note that he did not exactly cover himself in glory during his tenure. Be that as it may, he lost out to the anointed northern candidate, General Buhari, who was seen as the ‘one-stop-solution’ to the malaise plaguing Nigeria. Eight years of his rule will surely leave Nigeria worse; for even now, she is worse than when he took over in 2015.
As Nigeria marches toward another general election, the lie is more glaring. All the major political parties had in their constitutions, a zoning arrangement that would let political power rotate amongst the regions. In as much as this is not the best, it had been used to good effect till this time when the East felt it was their turn to produce the president.

In the build up to the nomination process for the political parties, the northern hegemony contrived to make the political parties jettison their zoning arrangements so that head or tail, one of them would emerge as the president come 2023. At the PDP convention, this was on full display when Aminu Tambuwwal ditched his long-time friend and political ally, Nyesom Wike, and aligned with his Fulani brother, Abubakar Atiku.
The convention of the APC was deliberately pushed forward so that the party would react to PDP’s candidate. Now, it is left to be seen who the party would throw up as their candidate. In a country where politics has been monetized, the party is sure searching for a moneybag that would match Atiku dollar for dollar. Herein comes the greatest of lies.
Since time past, we were told children are leaders of tomorrow. But the fathers of yesterday are not allowing the youths to aspire to leadership positions. What with the exorbitant cost of ‘Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms’? How would a youth who is not ‘politically exposed’, muster the millions required to get these forms? No wonder, political leadership has now become the exclusive preserve of children of politicians. The only credential most of these children hold is being children of politicians!
No country with the kind of complexities Nigeria has ever goes forward with the kind of approach adopted by Nigerians. Take the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Burundi, for examples. The United Kingdom, with the Scots, Welsh, Irish and English, have allowed these nationalities to run as independent countries but administered under the name Great Britain with headquarters in London.
Switzerland is made up of four major ethnicities- German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romansh- and the presidency of the country rotates from one to the other. This arrangement is enshrined in their constitution just like the power sharing arrangement in Burundi, the Arusha Accord, is in the Burundi constitution.
The lie that is Nigeria is no less evident in the behaviour of Nigerians where a 14-year old child cannot be admitted into the university but a 13-year old female child can be married; where a School Certificate holder cannot be a Director in the public service but can actually become the President; where unarmed protesters are shot at and killed but bandits and kidnappers are called to peace parleys; where terrorists are rehabilitated while their victims languish in refugee camps or villages without any form of care; where the person who should keep the funds safe for use of the rest ends up embezzling 170 billion naira of the funds; where universities are looking for 32 billion naira while a political party raises 29 billion naira by sale of forms in under two weeks; where hundreds of billions of naira are spent on school feeding when the schools are shut and the children actually in their parents’ home fed by the parents. It is most evident where you are told there are over 500 nationalities and 3 main religions but the heads of almost all federal government agencies are from one ethnicity and religion as if there is no intelligent and competent person from the other 499 ethnicities!
Nigeria has to stop being a lie. And Nigerians have to wake up to put an end to this. The time is now!

– Orngu is a public commentator and analyst

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