SPEAKER after speaker at the National Dialogue Forum which held a few years back at Sheraton Hotel in Lagos punctuated their speeches with the infuriating refrain “if THEY allow”. And they kept you wondering who these mysterious, ubiquitous and all-powerful ‘THEY” were.
“If THEY will allow” had always been a refrain meant for the weak and ineffectual, and also for the timid and cowardly. In most cases, the refrain is a lamentation, a cry of frustration and of cowed dependency. “I would have loved to visit my Mum in the village but I am not sure if my master would allow!”
I was however dumbfounded on that occasion when some of the greatest of the greatest [please pardon the student unionism cliché] Nigerians, the eminent of the eminent were all crying “If THEY will allow” and you wonder what Nigeria has been turned into. And I asked myself “who the hell are these THEY that had all the powers to stop what most enlightened minds in Nigeria had always clamoured for?
The over centralization of all the apparatus of government had virtually brought Nigeria on its knees. We have a system that has reduced all state governors to mere prefects with virtually no say in the security matters as they affect their states. We have a system that has reduced all state governors to mere beggars who must carry their beggar bowls to Abuja every month end. And if Nigerians are now saying we do not want this unitary system, who, in his or their right senses would want to be impediments to progress?
We have experimented with an ill-digested, head-in-the wool presidential system for some twenty-two years and it had proved itself the bastion of corruption and gangsters in our body politic. Now, for example, some people are saying, we do not want presidential system because it is killing our soul. Must we now go on our knees and cry in helplessness to some gods to get rid of a system that has not worked?
We have a marriage of almost ten decades old, and up till now nobody has defined the terms of the union so that everybody involved in the marriage would recognize his or her piece of meat in the plate, and we are crying “if THEY will allow”. By Jove, who are these THEY?
We practice the worst form of federalism, and we realize that it has not worked. It will never work. And it will continue to push us down the precipice, and we are begging some “THEY” to permit us to reverse a calamitous political structure! We do not have good roads, our railways are comatose, and the entire transportation system is in shambles. We realize that if we go back to regionalism which engenders active and friendly competition, the country would be better managed for better yields of democratic dividends, and we still believe that we should go cap in hand to some gods for permission to rectify wrongs?
The truth of course is that there are actually no “They” The THEY we glibly talk about has always been in our imagination, and a product of age-long brain washing and mental conditioning. There is no part of the federating units in this country which is happy with our current pitiable circumstance. The over 400 ethnic nationalities that Lugard forcibly yoked together are all tired of the directionless union, and want a breather. They want this country to work, if we are able to work out acceptable terms for our union.
So, to talk of any “THEY” looming somewhere and bent on frustrating others is mere wild imagination.
Leader after leader, starting from gentleman Shehu Shagari in 1947, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to General Yakubu Gowon had always doubted the strength of the unity of the country as then/presently constituted. Each of these great leaders had given expression to the need to evolve a country and a NATION out of the existing ‘geographical expression’ lacking ‘basis of unity” What this translates to is that all the ethnic nationalities in the north of Lokoja [L’oke Oja] and Aja Okuta stretching east to Oturkpo and Ogoja, and nationalities in the West stretching to the lands of the Itshekri, and the South-South easily well defined and the nationalities [predominantly the republican Igbo] in the East want the present trend in Nigeria reversed so that we can create a union where every component is EQUAL to the other regardless of territorial spread and population.
When the nationalities are grouped into regions as General Sani Abacha had superbly done, each region can now decide how many administrative units by way of states and local governments most convenient for each. I am persuaded to believe that this idea of ‘THEY” is mere scape-goatism. It was “THEY” who were not ready for self government. It was “THEY” who were not ready for independence. It was “THEY” who ruined our roads with articulated vehicles. It was “THEY” who ruined our railways so that their haulage business could thrive. But some other “They” had also presided over the fortunes or misfortunes of this country!
Who are the ‘THEY’ preventing the actualization of the submissions contained in the National Conference held late 2014???
And as my cerebral Aburo Dr Gbolade Osinowo opined last week during my courtesy visit to his home at Ijebu Igbo in company of my cousin El-Hadj Wale Bakare, ‘the so-called ‘They’ cannot be regionalized or ethnicised. The ‘They’ are special interest groups that dot the skyline of Nigeria everywhere.’ As far as he was concerned there are people who are always opposed to progressive ideas or whatever ideas that would not translate into cash or advantage for them. The ubiquitous and usually anonymous ‘They’ always have collaborators, agents, Godfathers, and enforcers.
However, as far as one is concerned Nigeria and Nigerians must get rid of these nameless ‘They’ who have for generations taken the whole country for a ride and have continued to cow down the majority who live in awe and fear of their assumed invincibility.
No one should ever refer to any group of people as the ‘They’ who impede progress in this country, or ascribe to any group of people a superlative that suggests that any such group is above the laws of the land.
As observed inter-alia the concept of ‘THEY’ is just in the wobbled imagination of those who believe in it. It is the imagination of those who hold the erroneous view that some people are more equal than the others.
Time is now ripe for those who have lived in perpetual fear of imagined superiority of the so-called ‘They’ to free themselves of the long held inferiority complex and insist that Nigeria can only be run on equal terms and that whatever is good for the goose should be good for the gander. There should be no second class citizens in the land of the free.
The Enugu massacre
We bring the concluding part of this piece below
I do not want to talk about the obnoxious bill being currently dangled before our very eyes in the National Assembly simply because if such a corrosive bill is allowed to see the light of the day Nigeria should kiss the United Nations good bye. The Fulani herdsmen Grazing Bill will certainly tear Nigeria into shreds. The conflagration and explosion that will visit its operations will set the country on fire.
Those who have armed the herdsmen terrorising the whole country should be warned and be told in unmistaken terms that there are wealthy people in other communities in Nigeria who can purchase AK 47 and more deadly weapons and arm their own ethnic nationalities to the teeth. The mayhem that is sure to result from this national recklessness will make Somalia and Rwanda experiences a child’s play.
The Federal Government and all the Security and Intelligence Agencies must nip this crisis in the bud. The Federal Government should compel the cattle owners across the land to create grazing areas specifically restricted to their communities. Cattle farmers should invest in fodder technologies and in other methods of providing feeds for their cattle. That is the way it is done in other countries of the world.
It is their business. The cows are not owned by the Federal Government. It is not Federal Government owned corporation. The Federal Government does not create special lands for yam or fish farmers.
No business men and women should be given preferential treatment in this country. And no one should be indulged to feel that he or she is above the laws of the land.
Anybody caught with AK 47 and other lethal weapons should be arrested, dispossessed of their arms and ammunitions and be prosecuted and severely punished.
The Fulani herdsmen have been classified as the 4th most dangerous terrorist group in the world. We cannot pretend that all is well when we have Wicklow on our thumb. We should not wait for the day when other ethnic nationalities resort to self help. We should not wait for the day when militia groups emerge from other nationalities to terrorise the home base of the Fulani herdsmen.
There is tension in the land. We should not allow the so-called political correctness to blind us to truth and reality of our circumstance. Nigeria is on the precipice. There is so much inter-ethnic suspicion. It is because we still enjoy little graveyard peace that we are able to talk of fuel scarcity, electricity epilepsy, massive unemployment, bad roads and several other deprivations plaguing the country. If we should be careless to add anarchy to our headaches, then we are finished.
The Fulani herdsmen should stop taunting the cobra by fiddling with its tail. No section of this great but doubly unfortunate country should be allowed to continue to terrorise other sections with daring impunity and chase people away from their homesteads while the Federal Government is looking the other way.
Enough is enough! Trouble is asleep, let Yanga not wake it up!!