Nigeria at 61 and burden of identity politics – Daily Sun
On October 1, 2021, Nigeria marked its 61st independence anniversary as a notoriously corrupt country that is the most terrorized poverty capital of the world. This does not come as a surprise to many because Nigeria’s journey to nationhood has stuttered, halted and eventually been put in a reverse mode by its political leadership over the years. The lack of national unity, which is a fundamental condition preceding any form of socio-economic development, has been a major factor militating against the realisation of the Nigerian dream of a cohesive, strong, peaceful and prosperous nation, 61 years after independence.
Convinced that the constituent peoples of Nigeria were irreconcilably different to such an extent that a united, cohesive and strong nation could not evolve from the country created by the British in 1914, Nigeria’s founding fathers negotiated an independent country with a federation structured along ethno-geographic fault lines. While, the First Republic Nigerian federation of three, and, later, four, regions substantially satisfied the requirements of fiscal federalism, its structural rigidity along ethno-geographic fault lines, which was without a mechanism for the assimilation and integration of Nigerians wherever they chose to reside outside their region of origin with full political and economic rights extended to them, effectively made Nigeria a country of indigenous tribesmen from the over 500 constituent ethnic nationalities, and not a nation of citizens.
As a representative constitutional democracy, the First Republic federation, which was structured along ethno-geographic fault lines, inevitably, gave rise to a political culture of ethnic, regional and religious identity. With identity politics entrenched in the polity, the democratic leadership recruitment process has been primarily determined by primordial sentiments of ethnicity, region of origin and religion.
Consequently, the post-Independent political leadership class of Nigeria, in their bid to retain their privileged positions, devised sundry means to deepen the dividing ethno-geographic fault lines by influencing their respective peoples to always align their democratic choices with their ethnicity, region or religion. That was how a foundation for a Nigerian state that would be increasingly weakened by the ravages of identity politics up until 2021 was laid and concretised 61 years ago at its independence in 1960.
Unfortunately, Nigeria once again embraced identity politics with the transition from military to civil democratic rule in 1999. Retrogressive in nature, identity politics is divisive, parochial and bigoted and negates every norm of modern nation-building. And if identity politics is allowed to take root in the political system of any country, as has been the case of Nigeria in the last 21 years of democracy, it will spread like a cancerous cell and sap life out of that country. Sadly, after 21 years of civil democratic rule in Nigeria, the dividends of democracy in the form of improved welfare and security of life and property remain largely elusive, no thanks to the collective wrong choices of Nigerians aligning their democratic decisions with their ethnicity, region and religion.
The purveyance of identity politics has made Nigerians accomplices and victims of corruption-induced economic dislocation and heightened insecurity. In identity politics, the seeds of corruption were sown. This is so because the only reward system for identity politics is patronage at the expense of the public treasury. Therefore, such corrupt practices as nepotism, cronyism, tribalism, favouritism and all other forms of sectionalism are legitimate cultural tools by elected and appointed representatives of the over 500 ethno-geographic groupings in government to extract from the commonwealth (‘national cake’) to their respective sections of the country. Corruption, with its debilitating effects, has become intractably endemic because, in Nigeria, the ugly phenomenon is sanctioned by culture. And with Nigeria now a ground for supremacy contests between the leading Abrahamic faiths (Christianity and Islam), corruption also enjoys the ratification of religion. If the principle of zoning and rotation of elected and appointive offices among the competing ethno-geographic groupings in Nigeria that was adopted by the Fourth Republic political leaders was meant to address the equitable distribution of resources, then it not only failed to achieve the objective but actually resulted into the equitable distribution of loot by conniving political leaders from all divides of our ethno-geographic and religious fault lines. Consequently, Nigeria’s identity-driven political process has degenerated into a criminal franchise of power grab by the political elite for self-service, to the detriment of public service.
While Nigeria may not be a failed state yet, the country is undoubtedly exhibiting mild symptoms of state failure, which include [a] the loss of control of its territories and the monopoly of the use of legitimacy of force within those territories, [b] increasing erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions and [c] inability to adequately provide public services.
It is important to note that the causative pathogen for the aforementioned symptoms of state failure is always and almost the inability of states to resolve their question of national identity as a means of achieving a united, just, fair, egalitarian and strong nation state. From British India, Somalia, Sudan to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, the absence of a political leadership that is able to rise above primordial sentiments of ethnicity, region and religion to build a nation where fairness, equity, justice and peace reign is primarily responsible for state failure.
Nigeria and troubled countries such as Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq have something strikingly in common: their leadership recruitment processes are firmly hinged on the politics of ethno-geographic and religious identity, which has given rise to sectional, parochial, clannish, bigoted and divisive leadership.
Many historians and political commentators have attributed Nigeria’s problem of identity dissonance to the British colonial misadventure of lumping together different peoples without much in common into a single geographic entity by the amalgamation act of 1914. Variously described as a “mere geographic expression” that was a “mistake,” Nigeria, it would seem, was programed to fail even before its beginning.
However, contrary to the entrenched narrative that says Nigeria is a country of people with too much irreconcilable differences to be a united nation, historical, cultural, linguistic, anthropological and sociological evidence suggests otherwise. The peoples of Nigeria, long before the British amalgamation of 1914, shared deep and close cultural, linguistic and traditional ties within a common geographic area extending beyond the borders of modern Nigeria into Benin, Niger, Cameroun and Chad republics. A mostly mono-racial [Black] people, the various ethnic groups, tribes and kingdoms of pre-colonial Nigeria have interacted through diplomacy, trade and warfare, which served as a means of assimilation and integration of the peoples of Nigeria, long before British colonial incursion into continental Africa. There was a pre-existing traditional citizenship system in pre-colonial Nigeria, which allowed for the seamless assimilation and integration of individuals, families and communities wherever they chose to reside within Nigeria of old. If diversity were to be measured in terms of the racial composition of a geographic entity, then a mono-racial Nigeria hardly qualifies to described as a diverse country. Nigeria is best described as a plural country because the various ethnic groupings such as Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Nupe, Igala, Tiv, Kanuri, etcetera, are simply a plurality of the same one big Black African linguist and cultural family.
Great Britain, Nigeria’s colonial master, was once a Roman colony, between 43 AD and 410 AD. And like the Black mono-racial peoples of Nigeria, mono-racial White Britain was a plurality of ethnicities. Sir George Goldie, who played the biggest role in the formation of modern Nigeria, was Scottish, just as Flora Shaw, the British essayist whose suggestion was the name “Nigeria”, was of Irish ancestry. At the time of the amalgamation of the protectorates of the North and South of Nigeria into one entity in 1914, the British crown was sitting on the head of King George V, an ethnic German who was the grandson of Queen Victoria by her consort, Prince Albert of Germany, through their son, King Edward VII. Just as Nigeria’s founding fathers variously identified as Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa, so were their colonial masters individually identifiable by their ethno-geographic ancestry. The difference was the ability of their colonial masters to rise above primitively rigid territorial identification by adopting the common national identity of their shared geographical reality of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
As no nation is truly blessed by abundance of human and natural resources, the British were united in their concerted effort to shore up the wealth of their nation through the acquisition of overseas territories to expand trade and investment for the economic benefit of their homeland. This is precisely the greatest lesson the people of Nigeria failed to learn from the colonial experience 61 years after independence.
Of course,we Nigerians lacks national unity because we are an artificial
country of nations.
Besides,as long as our Hausa/Fulani muslim Compatriots are hell bent on
their quest to Fulanize,Islamize and to perpetually subjugate us non-muslim Nigerians,our unity as a country will for ever remain elusive.
The late Sage,Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Members of his Action Group
Party with their foresight had a premonition about what has become of
Nigeria today, and indeed a Feeding Bottle Federalism that benefits only the Abokis today.Lol!
Their attempt to overthrow our first Federal Government under Sir Alhaji
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was nipped right in the bud before they could
carry out their plan.
Barely a fortnight after our Independence from Great Britain, the Late Sarduana of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Nigeria,Sir Alhaji Ahmadu Bello
did go to the airwave and arrogantly enthused,quote,” This new country
called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grand father Uthman Dan
We must ruthlessly prevent change of power.
We use the minority in the North as willing tools and the South a conquered
territory and never allow them rule over us,and never allow them have control
over their future,”unquote.
How real have those seemingly pipe dreams and willful thinkings of the late
Sarduana of Sokoto have become today under Mallam Muhammadu Buhari,
who sees himself as the 3rd Mahdi of the Fulani Caliphate of Sokoto.
Currently,President Buhari does come across here like Empero Nero fiddling while Rome burned.
It is indeed a painful irony and a wicked paradox too,that while our country
is currently under a Hobbessian State of Nature,President Buhari is out there
gallivanting and globe trotting.
He travelled first to the UK,later to the USA and now to Ethiopia in the midst of
an ongoing daily banditaries, killings,kidnappings et al,all over the country.
In his most recent Independent Day Address to the people of Nigeria,the President wasted not a single word on the ongoing daily anarchy of banditary, ethnic clensings, kidnappings and pogroms all over the country by his
Jihadist Killer Squads;the Ansaru,Boko Haram, Killer Fulani Herdsmen and the
But rather, the President’s main concern is about the challenge posed by our two Great Kwa Avatars;Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho against his Fulani
The agitation by the duo,for the Self-Determination of their respective Great
and Noble Kwa People,the Igbos and Yorubas is seen as a threat to our
Feeding Bottle Federalism,which benefits mostly the Aboki parasites.
But our Leaders of NINAS have at last spoken out and their voices are the voices of the Indigenous Kwa/Bantu people of Nigeria.
“Vox populi vox Dei”!
The voice of the people is the voice of God!
Nigeria We Hail Thee.Lol!
No to the status quo ante bellum!!
Down with Fulani Islamic Hegemony!!!
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