IBB Is Right, The Political Class Divided Nigeria
The advancement of any society revolves around its politics. A system, putrefying and governed by chaos, tells much about the politics of that set-up. A society cannot rise above its politics. Human, economic and social development begins with the right politics. Where politics falters, the country fails.
In ‘The Partitioning of Nigeria ahead of 2023’ of July 7, 2021, I said: ‘’Avarice and prejudice drove European conquistadors to carve up much of Africa like cake. With the gradual end of the transatlantic slave trade spurred by the industrial revolution in Europe, the trespassers, possessed by capitalist fiends, sought sources of raw materials for their industries and markets for their manufactured products. These encroachers considered Africa as ‘’terra nullius’’ – a vast land belonging to no one –, so they struck, usurping natural boundaries and turning brothers into strangers. All for greed, prejudice, and arrogance.’’
’But nothing changed after the European raiders left Africa. Only the skin colour and facial features of the oppressors varied. Colonialism by aliens gave way for colonialism by natives; black-on-black oppression. In Nigeria’s case, the worst form of colonialism steeped in prebendalism, carnivory, nepotism, tribalism, corruption and predation took root. Nigeria’s political class are a hybridised version of the European colonial masters.’’
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), former military ruler, piqued my sentiments when he said in an interview with Arise TV on Friday that Nigeria’s political class are not distinct from the colonialists who entrenched a divisive structure to perpetuate their interest.
IBB: ”If you look back; if you take a place like Baga in the north-east; the Igbo man, the Yoruba man travelled up to Baga for trading; he lived very comfortably, he lived very well with the people around there. If you go to Lagos, the same thing; there are Yoruba, Igbo, who hold political appointments at local levels and live very well with the people.
“I think we, the elite, did not succeed in imbibing that culture (culture of unity) for the country; so we rather live with the culture that the Europeans handed over to us — Northern Nigeria; Eastern Nigeria; Western Nigeria. We had in 1963, mid-west, but we did not build ourselves as a nation. The political elite then that were being developed, they run back to their cocoons and accept that, yes, I have to be a thing or do this or that. Till today, unfortunately, the political class are not really into this seriously, and say how do we build a nation?”
Today, those of us who evangelise for a united Nigeria are scorned by a section of Nigerians. The argument is that Nigeria’s unity is tenuous and asphyxiating. But we must keep doing the Lord’s work, proselytising for unity because a united Nigeria remains the most viable venture for all.
In ‘The Yoruba have won their agitation’ of July 22, 2021, I made postulations on why a united Nigeria guarantees freedom to exist for all, especially those subsumed as ‘’minority groups’’.
I said: ‘’A united Nigeria remains the most operational means of preserving and protecting the variegated interests of those within the territory. While the ‘’big three’’ — Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba – jostle for sectional dividends, they forget that there are other groups — the presumed minority ethnic nationalities — in the phylum. Nigeria has over 250 ethnic nationalities, but are the supposed small lot lesser citizens? Should the interest of the ‘’big three’’ be the governing aspiration and grail of other groupings in the taxonomy?’’
‘’Have we asked what the Affade in Yobe state; the Afizere in Plateau state; Afo (Eloyi) in Nasarawa state; the Baushi in Niger state; the Boki in Cross River, the Annang in Akwa Ibom, and many other classes under the Nigerian family tree want? Some apostles of secessionism have even conscripted these ethnic nationalities into their abstract territories by fait — without considering their peculiarities. The arrogance of the Igbo, the Yoruba and the Hausa is largely responsible for the parlous state of the country. Nigeria should not rise and fall on ‘’this big three’’. Nigeria is bigger and stronger than any of this group on which the country currently pivots. A united Nigeria guarantees freedom – to exist — for the small ethnic genus.’’
We need to sanitise or even deodorise our fetid politics. Our predatory politics is killing Nigeria softly. Politics of winner takes it all and loser returns to the trenches to plot on how to bring down the house through insecurity; politics of blood, broken bones and death; politics of corruption, looting and vandalism.
We do not need to start crusading for unity after every election cycle if we get our politics right. If power is seen as a trust and a tool for pragmatic change by political actors and not as means to pursue vendetta against opponents or to amass prodigious wealth, we will not need to bring out the vuvuzelas in every new administration to wail for unity.
Our political leaders must realise there is always a point of no return. They must not let Nigeria totter to this point.
By Fredrick ‘Mr OneNigeria’ Nwabufo