A German-born poet and physiognomist, Johann Kaspar Lavater, about five centuries ago, envisaged the dynamism of the world early enough. It’s like this intellectual acumen had Nigeria of today in mind, when in solo mood, insightfully challenged himself; “What do I owe to my times, to my country, to my neighbours, to my friends? Such are the questions which a virtuous man ought often to ask himself.”
Not listed in order of importance, but the likes of Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, Herbert Marculay, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and Chief Anthony Enahoro held the British imperial lords on the heat of furnaces, just to ensure the dreams of not only a free Nigerian nation, but a democratic and prosperous country for all citizens irrespective of ethno-religious mix or affiliations.
Plus or minus, today’s Nigeria is a descent into everything not just odd, but against the spirit and soul of great fathers and leaders of this nation, from whom the same contemporary Nigerians tie their ancestry. The succeeding leaders and the ruled have become so corrupt and wicked to Nigeria to the extent no positive virtue is worth any attention. Just very few Nigerians today sit and think about a Nigeria of tomorrow; the majority unashamedly shun the progressive path for this nation.
No Nigerian can convincingly explain the violent assault on Nigeria, from within, these past years, from various geo-political angles. Before now, Boko Haram Terrorists held Nigeria for nearly seven years undeterred, and rather waxed stronger, with weapons which dwarf arsenals of Nigeria’s security forces, compelling soldiers to flee at the warfront.
Niger Delta militants have weapons which make mockery of Nigeria’s security agents and when bombs detonate on any oil facility or installation, whole communities go into flames, symbolically burning the economic wealth of their country. Oil bunkering is so freely done and the ready markets are outside the shores of Nigeria from supposedly saintly nations.
Armed bandits and cattle rustlers violently besiege rural communities in Nigeria, kill and maim, loot and curse the owners of the looted properties. And in calm, dissipating shadows, voices in the recess of their hearts murmur “go to hell, Nigeria”. But have these incidents not woken country people to consciousness or expressed enough, the external conspiracy against the Nigerian state?
But Nigeria, this beloved country, cherished and adored by millions of her citizens, far in number than the few armed miscreants, displaying incendiary madness, is the same country denied legitimate sale of these lethal weapons by the same western nations who manufacture them.
The natural question is; how do Nigerian outlaws acquire these weapons from the same West, which deny Nigeria legal purchase of same? These are not weapons sold for peanuts; it requires mouth-watering sums of foreign exchange and so, who is the sponsor of these outlaws for the serial acts of violent aggressions on the Nigerian state?
Instead of acts of progression, some Nigerians connive with foreign allies to mortgage the prosperity of their country; sell their own conscience, pride and peace, preferring to return home as Princes or Princesses without thrones to inherit.
It is to these prodigals that German poet, Kaspar Lavater asks the probing question that after all the brutal and beastly adventures on their own nation and by implication, their very selves, what they would tell their consciences and souls, in sober reflection when they honestly ask, “What do I owe to my time, to my country, to my neighbors, to my friends” in the 21st century Nigeria?
The answer to a conscience, usually untainted by any external force would sincerely tell them with a silent voice, “You have wronged your country, your neighbours, and friends and failed ultimately to impact on your world in your life-time.”
Despite its status since independence, Nigeria, an oil-rich state on the African continent, cannot compare herself to lesser Arab nations with same natural wealth. Nigeria ranks foremost on chat of developing countries in the world, years after independence. She keeps borrowing from either the World Bank/IMF or Paris Club to augment internal expenditures.
Even with external borrowings, some disgusting Nigerians loot the borrowed funds to stash it in bank vaults of the same western countries. At best, what they give back to Nigeria nay Africa is pittance in the guise of foreign aides in health, power supply sectors and some community borehole projects. These are disguised ways the West have tried to economically re-colonize Nigeria.
The West has now convinced them to bring the economic sabotage closer home. Therefore, the endless militant agitations in the Niger Delta and the refusal of both the ethnic militias and their leaders to listen to the entity called Nigeria, expresses the extent of the steepness into it. It is the prime reason Nigeria has remained a giant of Africa in name.
The Western nations know, allowing a black nation so richly endowed as Nigeria to flourish, is simply just harmful to the rest of the World. And to keep this giant tied to the stalk, they must have to destroy its coherence, by cashing in on the prevailing divisions. So, smaller African countries, which got self-rule after Nigeria, are far ahead of Nigeria in development, while her citizens are not proud enough to preserve the little they have, but shamefully prefer to destroy it.
So, if western imperialists are not sponsoring internecine wars among us, they romance disenchanted groups in the country and arm them with weapons against the state. The singular mission is to shatter the peace and unity of the country to create excuses to impose neo-colonialism on Nigeria.
As Africans, Nigerians have always cherished their age-long customary virtues of honesty and love for one another. Imperialists of any configuration should not be allowed to erase these values. And until Nigerians re-embrace them, the dream of a great country would forever elude the people.
It must not be forgotten that some elements in our nation are being satanically armed to stimulate the sort of Arab spring rebellions. But thereafter, these countries have never found peace and joy either as divided nations or same countries. The time to cherish this sovereignty is now under President Muhammadu Buhari.
****Kolawole PhD, a University lecturer writes from Keffi, Nasarawa State.