Nation building devoid of wishful thinking

Nation building devoid of wishful thinking

The country called Nigeria has continued to unravel in distasteful ways, considering the potentials that abound in it. As the novel Coronavirus continues to demystify leaders and countries around the globe, Nigeria is not left out.

It has exposed the scandalously inefficient and notoriously irresponsible leadership, afflicting the country in jarring proportions. There is no gainsaying that life after COVID-19 will be as tough, if not tougher than the horrifying discomfort currently being experienced.

A global recession looks inevitably certain. Considering our monolithic oil-dependent economy and crass anthropology of consumerism with little or no production, the harsh realities of post-COVID-19 ought to make one shudder.

Politics influences the economies of nations. Countries that desire economic prosperity need to imbibe a political philosophy whose object is of the common good of the people, and it will develop a good political arrangement to attain the status of being well developed.

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Going by the plethora of resources, the clemency of its weather for Agriculture, its rich touristry sustainable by its delectable cuisines, Nigeria has no business with indigence, let alone being the headquarters of it.

The impoverishment of Nigerians is due to its dangerously defective political arrangement. An arrangement that concentrates power and the wealth of the people in the hands of the government, that is not accountable to the citizens, will inexorably leave many of its citizens in abject penury. A country where such is the case has a great potential to become a failed state.

Nigeria has failed in the onerous task of nation-building due to its refusal to learn from the political upheavals of its chequered history, from the colonial era to date. Before the colonial invasion of the area now referred to as Nigeria, there were several societies with different cultures and systems of administration.

These societies were forcefully joined together to create the contraption called Nigeria. In other words, we are Nigerians by force, and not by choice. However, we lost the opportunity to successfully assume the task of nation-building at independence, by failing to determine the terms and conditions of our collective existence, which was in part due to the mutual suspicions and friendship of expediency of the principal political actors of that era.

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We have never asked ourselves whether we want to live together, and how we want to live together, despite the bromidic remark that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. In the 19th century, the United States of American President, Thomas Jefferson, came up with the values shared by the colonies that make up the united states.

These values – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – is the foundation of what is known as the American dream. In Nigeria, what does the man from the North have in common with the man from the Southeast? Do they have any shared ideals?

Unsurprisingly, the realities and aspirations of the ethnic constituents of Nigeria are diametrically opposed to each other. Assuming the task of nation-building is impossible under such circumstance. To build a virile nation, the political arrangement must also be critically examined to be one that uplifts and not impoverishes the citizens.

The current quasi-federal and unitary system of government currently in place has to be abolished for genuine federalism.  A structure that concentrates power, resources and wealth of the citizens in the government at the centre, is not federal. This stunts the development of the federating units and is a recipe for unrestrained corruption.

This is why the office of the president is a coveted trophy that different affiliations – ethnic, social, religious, political – scheme and jostle for. As long as restructuring remains elusive, it would be wishful thinking to talk about nation-building, because it will be difficult for us to have shared core ideals that we strive to attain.

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As long as we do not have shared core ideals as a people, the twin evil of ethnocentrism and religious fundamentalism will always be our unwanted companion.
In a country where one is discriminated against based on one’s “native land” in matters of education, employment, and political appointment, will only succeed in further entrenching division and bitterness.

Is it not ludicrous to say Franklyn Ofoegbu, who was born in Ibadan, and has spent almost three decades of his life there, is not a native of Ibadan? It is an expensive ignorance of the English language to say so.

Sacrificing merit on the altar of ethnic and parochial considerations has been a cog in the wheels of our quest to build a nation, and has dragged us further into the abyss of underdevelopment. Nigeria is a praying country.

Whether it is a Godly one is another thing entirely. However, in praying for anything and everything, we often forget that nation are not built or developed on miracles.

Collapsing the distinction between grace and nature and our abhorrence for the good use of reason in the practice of our faith has been our bane. This is why countries such as Malaysia, United Arab Emirate, Singapore, and India – just to mention a few- left us behind as one of the laggards of the world.

To build a veritable and virile nation, we need to get our politics right, our relationship with each other right, and our relationship with the government right. Merely praying, or idly hoping for a utopian Nigeria to materialize de novo amounts to wishful thinking, as our present disillusionment with the state of the country’s affairs indicates.


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