It is not fit, nor proper to jump into the conclusion that the Nigeria State is an accidental amalgamation of loose Emirates, Empires, Protectorates and colonies. The making of the Country was never accidental, but a deliberate work of some people. So much work was done to tidy up the loosely related sub-nations into one, more than what pessimists would want us to believe. While the issue of amalgamation is not for debate here, the mechanism of the system the amalgamation produced is.
The inherent ambiguities and contradictions in the system, the thought system, the mindset of the people right from the word go; all seem to be designed in a way that will stunt the growth and development of the Country. The system we run here isn’t designed to work; and it is glaringly unworkable. The late visionary leader, Pa Obafemi Awolowo was the first person to note the incongruities in the nation’s system mechanism. He was dead on target when he described the Country as ‘a mere geographical expression’. Nothing is ever more apt than this description. Papa only fell short of declaring the Country apparatus as unworkable. However, what is painful now is the opinions and comments of those who were guilty of fostering this anomaly on the people.
The Country, as presently structured or configured simply cannot work; she is designed to go down, in a free fall, and nothing can stop the fall, and ultimate failure. From inception, the Country is built on false premises. False indices were used while configuring her. And naturally, nothing built on false indices lasts. However, what is surprising is how the Country has managed to survive up till now.
But, except one is hiding the truth, we all know what bound the Country together till now – corruption! From North down to South, sincerity is almost non-existent, save what each individual gets from the system. Exploiting the system to feed fat on the Country is what binds our leaders together. They all seem to be united on this. The Country has been surviving mainly because she provides good, fertile grounds for grand corruption to thrive. And the monster called corruption did thrive.
The United Nations, that amorphous World body, ought to know better. The body cannot be said to be unaware that retired Army Generals who once governed the Country had practicably shared the Country’s commonwealth amongst themselves. Former Military rulers and Military Chiefs allocated gold fields in Zamfara State to themselves. Their civilian counterparts are no different. They, in conjunctions with their fronts, own the global system for mobile telecommunications, they own Oil Blocks, the privatized DISCOS, in fact, here we should be talking about what they do not own. But conversely, the world body seems to be fighting a psychological war of attrition with the common people of the Country. Last year, the body first declared the Country World’s Capital of poverty. How can Nigeria and her citizens be categorized among the poorest people in the World. This is definitely a mischief!
Whatever the parameters used in arriving at the notion of World Poverty capital statement cannot, realistically be acceptable, in the face of sound logic, to be true about the country. Just look around. What stares one in the face are plethora of opulence and extreme ostentation. A country where dozens of her citizens own the largest fleet of private jets in the world cannot, in good conscience be said to be poor. A country that just held a general election where money was deployed in a most disgusting manner can never be said to be poor. No, I disagree. That country, this Nigeria, cannot be realistically said to be poor. We are not poor, simplicita!
Ironically, joining the loud mouthing of the poverty anthem were some clerics, particularly of the Anglo-Jewish faith with the motivational speakers turned preachers mounting the pulpits and belching out all manner of nonsense to hypnotize their congregation. The end game, of course, is to fleece them of their means. If the system mechanism works, ceteris paribus, no preacher would amass such humongous wealth as to be acquiring private jets, as if buying the 1982 Volkswagen 1500cc model! But here we are, grappling with a dysfunctional system.
Again, a few days back, the same United Nations thought it was sending another shock waves round the world, when it released what it considered an estimated population of the country. According to the world body, there are some 201 million Nigerians. If one may ask, doe this figure include those in the Diaspora? Does this figure capture the nomadic Fulani herdsmen? Are the ubiquitous ‘Area Boys’ factored into this obvious lie?
The lie in the population figures keeps haunting us, burning our fingers, and staring us in the face, year-in, year-out! Let’s realistically analyze the nation’s population figures. In the run down to the last general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood told the nation that 84 million plus Nigerian registered to vote. This is in spite of the noise of multiple registrations here and there. And when voting eventually came, less than 30 million people turned out to vote. Let every rational thinker make his deductions from here. Another angle to look at is the number of registered GSM subscribers in the Country. The National Communications Commission, NCC, recently said about 160 million lines are registered, out of which about 120 million are active. We know the multiple numbers our people hold, some having as many as four, five, even six lines! Yet, the numbers did not reach the UN’s 201 million. We still lie to ourselves.
The truth of the matter is that padded population figures hardly can help any country to grow. We base our planning on these false figures, hence no planning will work. Budgeted funds will, as usual, always end up in individual pockets. Little wonder, the country boasts of legions of wealthy individuals without any known reasonable sources of livelihood. They are rich, really super rich, and yet cannot be dragged into the tax net, since there is no means of assessing their income.
Nigeria, as a critical member of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, sells about 2.4 million barrels of Crude Oil per day. The Country’s Bonny Light is about the best in the industry, and so in good demand, when international politics does not isolate the country. At any rate of selling, whatever the daily fluctuations in Crude Oil prices, Nigeria is not poor. It is the internal contradictions embedded in its mechanism that are dysfunctional, thus holding her down. And if these obvious inherent contradictions embedded in the system are not resolved, the future is bleak, so the time for that systemic resolution is now.
The system that allows the charlatan, but full of wile and subterfuge, to prosper, but manacles the hard working and brilliant minds, is a time bomb; a system that promotes mediocrity and nepotism above ability and competence is bound to implode. The country as presently designed to favour subterfuge and artful dodgers more than any sincere enterprise. This has driven the majority of the youths into the infamous Yahoo scam frenzy, pushed the girls into pseudo-prostitution, and left a lot of otherwise upright citizens bereft of integrity.
Prince Afolayan Adebiyi, a Political Strategy and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos. ([email protected])