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Nigeria: Better Late Than Never, By Abuchi Obiora

It is impossible to articulate reasons for the continuous descent of Nigeria into anarchy and consequently recommend solutions to her persisting problems without taking cognizance of her unfortunate socio-political foundation and observing the points where the country hit the rock. Several Portuguese so-called explorers were the earliest foreigners to come on private business expeditions to scramble West Africa for some European companies including the Royal Niger Company, RNC, which later underwent different stages of management and organizational metamorphoses through Unilever to become the present day United Africa Company of Nigeria, UACN.

With those expeditions, the people residing within what those explorers called Niger area were referred to by their conquerors as the natives of Royal Niger territory. In that scramble, the RNC got hold of much of southern Nigeria. This was before the attention of the British government was attracted to the foreign investments of the companies owned by their citizens. As a result of the revocation of the chatter establishing the RNC by the British government, they RNC sold its holdings of Nigeria to the British government for £865,000. This amount will be said to be the purchase price which Britain paid to buy over what was to become Nigeria.

Remotely, the Brass Oil War in Nigeria and the activities of the RNC in that war had swayed public opinion in Britain against the RNC, wherefore Britons had called for government revocation of the company’s charter. In summary, Nigeria was bought over completely from a private British company, RNC, by the British government in 1899 for the sum of £865,, 000.

This was the queer foundation for the British management of Nigeria and deployment of public servants like Frederick John Dealtry, 1st Baron Lugard GCMG, CB, DSO, PC (22nd January 1858 – 11th April, 1945) who having been knighted in 1901 for his meritorious service in securing |Nigeria for Britain, was later to be simply referred to as Sir Frederick Lugard or Lord Lugard.

It can therefore be said that the colonization of Nigeria by Britain started as an international business engagement for Britain for the purpose of lifting industrial fibre and raw material to feed the emerging factories in Britain. This, naturally, brought about the ‘kill-and-divide’ and ‘divide-and-rule tactics that are meant for use to regularize as well as protect their investment bought over from one of her corporate citizens who had gone overseas in search of the proverbial golden fleece.

For this reason, the British saw Nigeria and Nigerians as a business investment for which reason they, most probably, believe that they could hand over the management of their investment to northern Nigeria, already conquered by the Fulani immigrants of 1804, who they believed, will render a better account to them than the south which was already wise and pestering them for independence. The British government must have felt that they could relate better with their favorite ethnic nationality that had no intention of a rule outside Her Imperial Majesty’s domain.

This is my opinion of the actual reason and condition precedent to the deliberate hand-over of power to the Fulani of northern Nigeria by the British.

Consequent on this line of thought, the questions Nigerians need to ask and provide an answer to is: Is Nigeria and Nigerians still regarded by the northern Nigerian Fulani as a product of trade acquired from an investor, the Royal Niger Company, by the British government who transferred their ownership rights to a surrogate master, the Fulani immigrants who had long conquered and enslaved the indigenous Hausa people of northern Nigeria? Were the ethnic nationalities of southern Nigeria also conquered by the Fulani during that expedition of 1804?

This line of thought is both serious and real and must be seen and handled as such by the indigenous ethnic nationalities in Nigeria because the ‘body language’ of the Fulani in Nigeria suggests that they regard Nigeria and Nigerians as articles of trade handed over to them gratis by the British government.

Methinks too, that this could be the reason why the Fulani have done everything to object to the clamor for resource control by a people it thought that were handed over to them together with their resources by the British government. To change this mindset of the Fulani, I still believe that amongst the panoply of solutions to this foundation problem must be either a restructure based on absolute control of resources by the geographical zones from where the resources are derived, or an outright determination of a relationship that has gone sour wherefore every region goes her way as an autonomous nation. There must be this pedantic, yet summary approach to solving the present challenges faced by the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria especially those ethnic nationalities regarded as the minorities (the cash cows) in such areas that must be related to their total control of their resources which hitherto had been hijacked by the barking dogs who presently preside over the wealth of the country.

Nigeria as compared to other West African countries, including former Gold Coast (Ghana) and Liberia is not a simple case of colonization, but also includes the intricacies of a claim to an acquired and transferred business interest to one out of the many sections of the country. At least this is what the Fulani believe. In Ghana, for example, the British left Ghana, and left the resources of Ghana for Ghanaians. This is why direct solutions such as has been recommended in the foregoing paragraph must be applied.

After these foundation short comings which culminated in the dubious amalgamation treaty, the next obvious reason for Nigeria’s despicable present condition is the IBB,s S.A.P (Structural Adjustment Program) which eventually became the quickner to the step by step impoverishment of Nigerians and their  realization of the truth about themselves. IBB devalued naira by fiat in1985 from N2 to N18 to the dollar. By 1993 when he was “stepped aside” from power, the naira was exchanging for N60 to the dollar. This is the greatest tragedy that has ever befallen Nigeria since independence and amounts to the worst crime any Nigerian living or dead has ever committed against both Nigerians,  humanity and sovereign Nigeria.

On this development, one report observes that “the society was reduced to two social classes of either the very poor, or the rich rogues”. Both the upper and the lower middle classes were completely whipped out with S.A.P, and the civil and public service the entry into of which had been the dream of every young Nigerian graduate from the University, were rendered comatose. Many private and public companies collapsed. For example, the national carrier and flagship of Nigeria, the Nigeria Airways Limited, with a total debt burden of US $528 in on its demise took a nose-dive shortly after the introduction of S.A.P. in the eighties and eventually crashed thereafter as it could not continue to operate under dwindled revenue as a result of the high cost of services denominated in dollar. The demise of the national carrier rendered tens of thousands of Nigerians jobless in the same manner many factories in Nigeria spurned out hundreds of thousands of Nigerians into labour market. In IBB’s S.A.P., Nigeria hit the rock. In S.A.P, IBB became the father of a failed Nigeria.

I had observed in a previous work published in The Authority Newspaper that in spite of the infrastructural development achieved by his government (most of the  infrastructures are broken down and dilapidated), IBB will go down in the history of Nigeria as the man who sold off Nigeria and Nigerians to international creditors through S.AP, and brought about the continued downward progression of the fortunes of Nigerians, which led to their impoverishment. Since IBB sold Nigeria to America and Western Europe through S.A.P, Nigeria has not been, and can never be the same again until something is done to change the descent. Nigeria missed an opportunity to do this and hold its past leaders, described as a “wasted generation” by an online post that went viral on the Net, to account.

In an interview which he granted so many  years ago to the Nigerian brilliant and foremost journalist, Ms Chris Anyanwu, the Founder and Chief Executive officer of TSM (The Sunday Magazine), Flight Lieutenant John Jerry Rawlings, the father of modern Ghana, had hinted that Nigeria needs to clean her Augean Stable the way Ghana did, to force the country back to the track of progress. Now that that opportunity has been lost, the combined ineptitude and kleptomania of the elected political office holders, their military collaborators and usurpers of government in Nigeria coupled with the activities of the notorious cabals have landed Nigeria to a destination where the only option left to salvage Nigeria and her composite ethnic nationalities seem to be a restructure of the system, or if that fails, an outright dismemberment.

 Let us quickly visit history to understand what really happened to Nigerians, to prove the point I make. As the Nigeria business and economic landscape became increasingly risky, courtesy of IBB’s S.A.P gamble, Nigerians who were in international business were forced to indulge in dubious behaviors, including not paying for goods sent to them by their oversea’s partners when most imported payment from Nigeria (because the country’s sovereign financial rating as a result of strong naira was very high) was facilitated through D.P (Document Against Payment) or what is referred to as ‘Acceptances’ wherefore the supplying company allows the importer a certain period of grace before payment for the consignment is demanded  from the importer on behalf of the supplier/exporter through the supplier/exporters bankers.

The loss in value of naira as a result of its devaluation which accompanied S.A.P made it impossible for importers to meet up with the dollar/pounds equivalent of their import value with the mopped up naira from sales which had been concluded before the S.A.P policy adjustment. Dishonesty caused by an insensitive government policy which did not make any provisions to cushion the effect of the dollar/pound/naira adjustment, crept into the Nigerian business landscaped with the S.A.P program. Many Nigerians I knew actually wanted to pay especially as many suppliers were sensitive enough to grant them some rebates (what their home government did not do for them), but it was impossible because of  the huge volume of money involved.

 It is an irony that, according to the revelations of the book, “The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by Mr. John Perkins, both the Head of State, the government officials, and the phony government they operated reaped huge profit in SAP (profit which they used to buy-over identifiable blue chip companies as well as build posh real estate around the world) while impoverishing Nigerian commerce and the business men involved in it.

Short-changing in business and acts referred to as ‘419’ started in Nigeria with S.A.P wherefore some of our colleagues then in business who also imported from Taiwan and Hong Kong in those days when China and Dubai were not yet in the scene, caused their lawyers to publish their obituaries and communicated with the suppliers on behalf of the ‘deceased’ families, to evade what obviously they would not have been able to pay even if they had sold off their villages. Drug dealing and drug cartels also found space in the Nigerian business landscape as a result of S.A.P.

One of my very wealthy friends whose dubious source of wealth I knew which he knew that I knew, once called me by my fond name as we were having a good time somewhere and said ”….I had to do what I had o do”. I saw that as a confession and quickly reminded him that he should direct his confession to God who have the capacity to forgive him, and not me.

 I have gone to this length in my explanation to prove that the problem with Nigeria including the “sharp” practices and crimes for which her citizens are notorious and detested all over the world is caused by both her foundation and S.A.P which have created a whole lot of marginalized and desperate people, as well as failures by consecutive governments as a result of ill-conceived policies. Nigerians must do everything to change the status quo which is the cause of all the problems of the country. It may cost something, but definitely not the lives of all of us at the same time. Those Nigerians who will be living after the change has been effected will hold their heads high and be proud that they are good human beings living in normal human society.

Nigerians, a patient lot, have consistently been taken advantage of by their criminal governments, who, according to the same viral post earlier mentioned have not been able to provide Nigerians with common electricity in sixty solid years of waste of the country’s resources. The patient dog, they say, eats the fattest bone, but not in Nigeria where the people, proverbial patient dogs, wait endlessly for the bones to fatten, while their leaders, smart ones, continue to pick up the bones which fatten up their bank accounts.

Then came about insecurity which was an overshoot of massive unemployment. An online expose purportedly issued by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, a retired senior police officer and a former head of the anti-craft agency, EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission), traced the origin of banditry in Nigeria, incriminating both the government and some individuals still in government.

If that information which went viral is true (the government and the individuals mentioned in that expose have not issued any statements to disclaim the information as of the time of submitting this discourse for publication), then, Nigeria is in real big trouble. It will not be wrong therefore, to suggest that both for inordinate ambition and ineptitude; the government has sown the seed of anarchy and destruction of a country, Nigeria which it put itself under oath, to protect and preserve. Nigerians remember very well that the dreaded Boko Haram started quietly this way through misplaced ambition of a former executive governor of Borno State, Amodu Sheriff, to use criminal elements to take-over and retain power in the state.

By the way, one serious reason why corruption and ineptitude prospers, becoming intractable in the polity, is the lack  of unanimity in opinions reflecting patriotism in Nigeria by Mass Media Operators and Practitioners. Journalist as members of the fourth estate of the realm are torn between tribal and religious cleavages so much that it becomes an impossibility to have a consensus amongst them on how their watch-dog activities may be applied to Nigerian politicians from different tribes and religions.

For example, such revelations are published by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu which are more dangerous than the Watergate scandal which ousted President Richard Nixon from U.S presidency, would have been taken up as a matter of national urgency and priority by different media houses till the last truth about the story is completely dug out and used to mount pressures on a government openly caught in the treasonable felony offence, as it indulged in illegality, to take a bow from governance. One would ask: on what better reasons than these can an impeachment procedure be instituted against an erring President? I remember very well like it was yesterday the vibrant role played by the united American media houses and journalists to uncover the many cover-ups of Richard Nixon which he and his associates in crime cleverly weaved to escape the prying eyes of Americans.

All these developments are unmistakable signs which show that Nigeria is on the brink both morally, economically, and politically with the consequent breakdown of social order. Additionally too, on signs of decay, eye-witness but unconfirmed reports from Owerri, Imo state, have it that Fulani bandits actually effected the prison break in Imo State. It is instructive here to observe that, for once the opinion of the executive governor of the state who should know better than anybody in the state he governs, Senator Hope Uzodinma, (he neither denied no confirmed the Owerri eyewitness accounts), who said that the IPOB did not effect that jail break, differed from the opinion of the Federal government who, through the Nigeria police, summarily arrived at the conclusion that the IPOB conducted that prison break.

In a previous work, the Kaleidoscope had warned that the federal government should make hays while the sun shines by nipping the descent to the abyss by Nigeria in the bud before ‘fifth columnist’ operators complicate the security situation in Nigeria. Right now, it seems that we are at the spot where we have to manage the dis-informing, and mis-informing tactics of fifth columnists. For the fact that I don’t see the possibility of the present government effectively managing such a web of complex security situation in Nigeria because it lacks both the desire and political will to do so (it may also be both complacent and complicit) where Nigeria goes from here is a matter for speculation by whosever that loves her.

There is also the possibility of a second reason for that jail break by whosoever that did it: to make south east, especially Imo state ungovernable by pushing up that jail break as a valid reason for the intervention of the federal authorities and the Nigerian aimed forces in the south East. This line of thought becomes plausible when one considers the quick response of the Nigeria Police Force who have not been able to conclude investigations on the murder of so many high profile Nigerians including an Attorney General of Nigeria (Chief Bola Ige, 13th September 1930 – 23rd Dec 2001) who was assassinated while still in office (clear 20 years ago) to come up within twenty four hours to tell Nigerians that the IPOB facilitated the Imo jail break. This is a grave insult to the Ibos, and I am sure that nobody can risk that type of insinuation, that rubbish, childish line of thought in the south west.  Seems now that the Igbos look too cheap for the people who want to demolish them.

It is weird and tantamount to intimidation of the Igbos for the immediate past Inspector General of Police, to crush the IPOB who immediately disowned that mischievous action shortly after it happened, without conducting an intelligence work on it, and at the same time exonerating both the Boko Haram  and the Fulani Nationality Movement who had openly in statements that went viral, claimed responsibilities for both the downing of the Nigerian Air force plane and the assassination attempt on the Benue state governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom.

With the airstrike also in Akwa Ibom state after that at orlu and other fishy projects of the federal government in both the south east and south south, including the strange security arrangement being presently floated for the south east under the auspices and equally strange unconstitutional toga of “Expanded Security Meeting”, the south east and south south understand that there is a grand plan to call a dog bad name in order to hang it. Let me remind everybody that the Igbo’s were never conquered during the time of our forefather. Woe betide us if we allow ourselves to be conquered in our time. So, make no mistake about this, any attempt of military subjugation of the south east and south south in order to achieve a political conquest and economic destruction of those areas (which is their ultimate wish borne out of jealousy) in 2021, will be massively regretted by those who initiate it.

There are so many reasons which should account for this observation, including the important reason that both the south west and the Middle Belt are properly defined as to what they want in Nigeria. People who had thought that Nigeria is a football field where they have the privilege and freedom to score in the two goal posts should understand that the game has changed to reflect fairness in the play

My late father, Alachedo Obiora used to say that he who slaps one, two, three or more people at the same time has uncannily brought forth a mob action upon himself. So shall it be for whosever that thinks he can militarily subjugate sections of Nigeria in 2021. I wish them no luck, so I advice that rather than pursuing the dangerous option of levying wars against different ethnics nationalities in Nigeria who have finally decided that the injustice meted on their fore fathers must end, the government should quickly consider the viable option of restructuring Nigeria to reflect a loose relationship that meets up with the desires and aspirations of Nigerians before they employ the natural affiliations obtainable in the regions where they sojourn to  walk away from what presently is called Nigeria.

It is better late to grant a peaceful resolution than never  to have an opportunity to do so.

Abuchi Obiora


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