But for history and records that point us to events of yesteryears when Nigeria sought her independence from her former Colonial Masters, the younger generation would have venerated the so-called founding fathers of Nigeria. At one point or the other, we’ve been compelled to ask questions that border on the antecedents and activities of those who we regard as and call Nigeria Founding Fathers. The question then arises. Were those so-called Founding Fathers truly nationalistic?
To have answers to these nagging questions, I reached out to my close friend, a retired Colonel in Nigeria Army. My Colonel friend has consistently strived to groom me on what he calls States-Craftsmanship. He described it as seeing nationhood above everything. I enjoy him lecturing me along those virtues of patriotism, respect for constituted authorities among other national values. He went as far as sharing some of the basic orientations the soldiers have. He once opined that those with military background are the best people emotionally trained for national assignment, obviously because of those basic trainings he feels the soldiers have that ordinary citizens do not have. I share his sentiments to some great extent.
Before we became friends and before I started off on the course he takes me on, I pledged to be a loyal student of his. Above all, I requested that I would learn better if he allows me to have a mind of my own and think my way and possibly ask my ‘myopic’ questions about leadership when I need to. He agreed to that. It was a deal with us.
Last week, going by events unfolding in the polity – From Biafra ‘sit at home order’ to ‘Arewa Youth eviction notice’ of Igbos residing in the ‘North’. I was concerned because like him, we have always sat to discuss Nigeria and issues bedeviling it. We have put nationhood above sentiments of tribal, regional and religious affiliations. He has ‘initiated’ me into the State-Craftsmanship Cult. At least, so he believes.
During our discussion, I bluntly told him that I refused to share the belief that Nigeria has Founding Fathers in those people we describe as such. He laughed. In his usual characteristic, he wanted to shut me up. Typical of a solider and their ‘obey the last order’ life-style. I remained strong-minded. After all, he believes my own opinion should count. I reminded him I was never a soldier like him. That I’m only a stakeholder and a Nigerian who believes in Nigeria and everything Nigerian.
Off the shores of Nigeria, I have defended Nigeria as though I have greatly benefited. I have conceptualized ideas that aided in averting dangers in the polity even though the credit went to those with ‘louder lips’. I have had audience with the likes of the former INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega where I shared my ideas on how to diffuse electoral violence. Part of the “Peace Accord” ceremony between former President Goodluck Jonathan and the then APC Presidential Aspirant and now Nigeria President Mohammadu Buhari could have been the offshoot of that discussion. I have reached out to the former IG of police to intimate him on how he could build a stronger Nigeria Police with great reputation by partnering Nollywood Producers to rightly position the image of Nigeria police, leveraging on edutainment programmes. I have shared ideas with agencies saddled with the responsibility of promoting investment in Nigeria on why they should not allow the Western Media tell our own story as a nation. I have shared my intellectual concepts wherever I can. Little wonder my Colonel friend believes that I truly think Nigeria.
While it’s acknowledgeable that Nigerians fought hard to gain independence from British domination, it could as well be believed that the ‘crusaders’ of this freedom did not fight any course beyond freedom from British dominance. They were leaders who were preoccupied by the thought of how their region could gain upper hand in all the socio-economic and political structures that made up the federation. Even if there are things said and did to make one believe that some of them thought about Nigeria and its unity, the regional consciousness dwarfed every such effort at the end of the day.
This was the issue I raised with my Colonel friend. He knew I had strong argument. He, though bluntly accepted my position that our so-called founding Fathers did little or nothing to promote unity in diversity. He accused the British to be the ones behind promotion of sectionalism and favouritism in the polity. I agreed with him, but challenged him that our so-called founding fathers were ready tools in the hands of desperate and cunning British Colonial Masters.
Till date, all they failed to do haunt us. The unity they failed to promote is causing the agitations and the burning hatred raging in virtually all parts of Nigeria.
The way forward? Colonel asked me. “Let’s collapse the old order and consciousness built on selfishness, one-sidedness, fallacy and inequality. “Do you mean restructuring?” Colonel asked me. I said “Yes”, and “NO”. “Yes”, in the sense that we need to revisit and conceptualize possibly a home-grown specie of democracy that suits our need; our yearnings and our diversity. We need to do something outside what the Colonial Masters foisted on us. We need possibly a whole new Nigeria where I feel more Nigerian than Igbo; where he feels more Nigerian than his region. Where the President feels more Nigerian than Fulani. “This is my concept of restructuring”. “ No”, because any restructuring that does not tend to unite us and promote the virtues of social coherence, tolerance, unity in diversity and Nigerianness would collapse the existence of our true nationhood. We agreed, the former is worth giving a trial. Nigerians need a better and well structured Nigeria. For the now, we don’t have a great nation we are willing to die for. Until that happens, we would continue on our blame games of “Igbos stirred the war, Middle Beltans fought the war. Hausa Fulani benefitted from the war and Yorubas sold out in the war”.
Our founding Fathers were simply regional champions who lacked nationalistic qualities. Instead of promoting the virtue of tolerance, unity and harmony in the polity, they promoted the vices of favouritism and nepotism. They sought regional dominance and loyalty possibly for sole purpose of being relevant for economic and political gains.
Their actions and inaction’s yesterday has bred the divisiveness, the regional consciousness and the glaring hatred where Nigerians can kill for their region and hardly can give anything good to true nation building other than bleeding the common wealth and resources of all Nigerians through official and political corruption.