Any good student of Nigerian history will notice that the country has been on a downward spiral since independence. All the gains in economy and international prestige evaporate within a few years. That has been the trend since independence.
Independence came in 1960 and the euphoria of independence brought out the recklessness and planlessness in most of our leading politicians. They became clannish and ethnic in their quest for power and self-aggrandizement. The army boys saw it and struck in a coup d’etat.
The first coup was a sort of political cleansing but too many politicians escaped from the tribe of the chief coupist so it was tagged a sectional coup.
Losses and the nihilism occasioned by that coup wiped out all Nigeria saved from not paying taxes to Britain and spiralled the nation into war.
After the war, enter General Gowon’s administration with his famous myopia of not knowing what to do with money. The so-called oil boom spelled doom, then one coup let to the other until Obasanjo returned power to the politicians and their thugs in 1979.
Whatever motivated Buhari to take over Government from Shagari and his NPN party in 1983 was definitely not pure nationalism as we could see from the clueless way his regime handled the economy and other aspects of nationhood in spite of having a surfeit of economic experts ready to provide direction for the nation.
Another series of coups and then the political experiment that birthed June 12. Abiola won the polls but lost his life.
The nihilism continued with General Sanni Abacha, the man reputed to be the most “maximum ruler” Nigeria has ever had. But the next military general was a gentleman by the name of General Abdulsalami Abubakar who organised elections within a few months of assuming power and handed over to Obasanjo; a sort of tribal or ethnic compromise, considering the demise of MKO Abiola and the loss of his “Yoruba” mandate.
The Obasanjo, YarAdua and Jonathan years had their challenges but they were somewhat the golden years Nigeria has had since independence.
Telephony; banking and finance; agriculture and other sectors of the economy were upbeat. Nigeria was the fastest growing economy in Africa and the largest economy too.
Then in 2015, the year American intelligence predicted that Nigeria would break up, nihilism set in again. Everything went south and we are talking about the southern side of the performance and progress graph. Exchange rate now rocks N500 plus to one US dollar. About five brands of security threats face the country. Food prices are at an all-time high. Borrowing and foreign debts have mortgaged the very future of the nation to the indebtedness tune of more than N150,000 per citizen if indeed we have 200 million Nigerians. Jobs are scarce and the few available jobs cannot deliver financial stability or job satisfaction. The middle class has been wiped out. Only struggling families and a few comfortable homes dot the landscape. The few very rich Nigerians can only enjoy their wealth when they travel abroad because inflation has chased most high quality products away from Nigeria. The annihilation of Nigeria is almost complete.
Separatist movements have sprung up all over the country including up north where political power and national control resides. The north is asking for Arewa Republic. Ijaw National Movement; Ibom National Movement; Indigenous People Of BIAFRA; Oodua Republic; and Niger Delta Republic are some of the new nations struggling to spring out of Nigeria today. But the president says he is sworn to defend the unity of Nigeria with his last breath.
What is the solution to this downward spiral? Can there be a permanent solution? Is Nigeria still redeemable?
Before we proffer solutions, let us evaluate what could become of Nigeria if the situation we are living with persists.
1. Nigeria will become more unattractive as abode for its citizens. Indeed, the exodus has been on for a long while and Nigerians in diaspora make up a very significant percentage of immigrants all over the world especially in America, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and South Africa. Many other nations have very noticeable Nigerian communities.
2. Standard of living, especially quality of food, Healthcare, education and social values become more and more deplorable.
3. Insecurity intensifies with heightened deviant behaviours and violent crimes.
4. Pockets of anarchic communities run by illegal community Dons will spring up.
5. Dwindling government revenues and capacity for governance.
6. Society begins to shun public office due to the enormity of tasks involved and public disdain for government officials and politicians, just as Nigerian Police continues to battle to salvage its reputation and good name from several years of infamy and opprobrium.
7. Illegal small arms boom in the country and violence and crime increase with actual sections of the country becoming illegally autonomous as we can see with Boko Haram seizing communities and local government areas in Borno State, Nasarawa State and Katsina State.
8. International scorn and disprespect leading to further capital flight, especially human capital and absence of foreign direct investments.
These projected destructions and much more will certainly come on our country Nigeria if urgently required precautions are not taken. Indeed, we can see most of these indices of doom manifesting in the polity already.
1. Nigeria must return to the regional system.of governance and true FEDERALISM if anarchy will not spring all over the country in a very short while. People are stretched to the limits.
2. Aside from a quick return to regional governance and federalism, every possible effort should be directed towards the restoration and strengthening of our social and economic institutions especially the schools, law courts, security systems, religious and moral norms and practices, traditional heritage and the stools that guard them, special industries and sectors like the agriculture sector and local manufacture, with special emphasis on proper unbundling of electric power and energy generation.
3. Politics and political.offices should be redesigned to represent social service and not-for-profit systems. Nobody should earn more than a good name and positive posterity from holding an elective office. The current situation makes political.offices a sort of business venture. It should not be so. People should come to political power to serve those who have elected them. Buying and selling with our polity and political offices as commodities should stop.
4. With the return to regional government, a single tier national assembly should be the norm. Regional assemblies should work with their regional house of chiefs and local council chairmen and pass day to day laws for the regions while issues of national import should be thrashed at the federal Assembly or Senate with input from the regions before executive assent at the federal capital. Governance is not rocket science. Even our local markets are very well organised and properly run with good principles on a daily basis.
5. Specially damaged areas like the armed forces, police and education sector should be restored with expertly designed five-year programmes. Where there is a will, there is a way.
6. Finally, a national rebirth programme with elaborate citizenship programmes with history and civics well taught in schools and community centres should be put in place.
This article is not omniscient. Other fine ideas can be added and the ones suggested here can equally be fine-tuned.
If we fail to take necessary action now, there may not be a Nigeria to govern by 2023. Now is the time to enter the emergency room with Mr. Nigeria and his wife’s evil.pregnancy. If we do not, we shall soon be saying as they did in the Bible, “To your tents oh Israel (Nigeria).”
God bless Nigeria.
Agbasi is an advertising practitioner and ‘mult-preneur’ based in Lagos. Can be reached via email: email@example.com