Thursday, February 01, 2007

NIGERIA- A LOST CAUSE? (THE POLITICS...THE POLITICIANS)

The Nigerian Series was originated by Nilla to take on topical issues about and in the country. From week to week, it will be hosted by different bloggers, allowing as wide a range as possible of participation.

My view of the problems that beset Nigeria is one not obscured by idealism. I lay all blame at the doorstep of the rulers of this country, the politicians who have with single-mindedness looted the country at the expense of development. In my eyes also, the soldiers who have ruled are no different from the mis-managing pols. As Araceli once pointed out, those responsible for the decades-old crippling of the country should be labelled rulers and not leaders.
Some regard Nigeria as a failed state, some as a seriously ailing one, but apart from those in denial, all agree the country has serious problems.


A point one should note is that faces might have changed in Nigerian governments over the years but the guiding spirit has remained the same. It is not a spirit that looks to the well-being of its people.
Can any deny that the ideals of the Northern People's Congress (NPC) of the 60s was not continued by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the 70s and 80s and into the present century by the People's Democratic Party (PDP)? Or that the tribal Western Nigeria party, the Action Group (AG) did not evolve into the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and then into the now incapacitated Alliance for Democracy (AD)?
The same people, fulfilling the same programmes, looking out mainly for themselves, regarding the country as chattel suitable only for looting.

My position on the country is this- Shameless politicians have almost without exception gutted the country with no sense of decency and as a people, we no longer expect those in authority to serve us or better our collective lot.

General Elections in Nigeria will take place in March of this year and already voters card machines have been found in the Ibadan home of the thug-lord, Adedibu, the self acclaimed king maker of Oyo State. There shall be no prosecution of this blood-thirsty geriatric who is protected by the Presidency as there was no prosecution of the simpleton, Chris Uba who abducted the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chris Uba on behalf of himself and his brother, Andrew, an aspiring governor of that state and aide to the President of Nigeria . The examples are too many to be placed on one post: The President and Vice President accusing and counter-accusing each other of claims of corruption, claim after claim, going on and on... The dreamers, 'Upstarts' like Pat Utomi with radical and life-changing positive ideas will never be allowd to take the throne, let us not deceive ourselves.


The question: Where do we, as a people, take it from here? What do we do about the thieving politicians who would rather die than give up the goose that lays their golden eggs? Already we hear of the amassing of guns and ammunition by men who would rather die than yield power
Is Nigeria a lost cause? Do we get off this sinking ship or can we save this land?

17 comments:

Nilla said...

I don't agree with you on laying all blame on the rulers.

{Will be back....got to get to work}

LondonBuki said...

I agree with you!

I always (jokingly) say that the only thing that can help Nigeria is God wiping out ALL those in power now and reinstating "New Blood".

I can't do anything for Nigeria, not at this stage in my life (I am doing things for ME right now)... Even later on, what kind of influence am I going to have when I don't plan on being a Politician? Yeah, yeah some people might say "We" should do something for the country, After they say that, can they please tell us WHAT we should do... It's discouraging when you see Good people being assasinated just because they have Nigeria's best interests at heart...

I am one of those that say, "God Help Nigeria". I am loving Nigeria from a distance. Things might change in the future but until then...

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

(Please forgive me for the lenghtiness of my response).
It is clear that corruption is the common denominator to ALL Nigeria's problems. I agree that our 'leaders' have failed us, but that is because we as a people have allowed them to fail us. I do not feel that we have collectively decided to take the steps necessary to wipe out the scourge.

That being said, I believe that there is still hope for the country. In response to Nilla's question not too long ago, I suggested a few options to attacking Nigeria's problems. I will only mention one as I feel it specifically addresses your post.

"We must acknowledge that no matter how much we love Nigeria, there is an entrenched status quo that works to the detriment of the masses and the benefit of a select and corrupt few.

...it will therefore be important to circumvent the status quo and establish structure ... outside the realms of those who only care about themselves. Nigerians who crave change must separate themselves from those who benefit from and maintain the status quo. We must individually and collectively achieve success in whatever fields we chose to follow ...

By being independent of the status quo, we will not have to succumb to it in order to make the changes that we seek for Nigeria."

I strongly believe that by working outside government channels, as much as possible, Nigerians may be able to achieve the development and progress they seek. The goal si to render the government as impotent as possible and thus give positive politicians an opportunity to rise to the occassion.

Omodudu said...

The present rullers rule Nigeria because we all have refused to fight. We take everythign thrown at us in the name of hope, optimism and religion.
The fact that we clap for the first guy to pull up in a S55 without question if, at least a piece of that car was purchased using money that would have gone into our healthcare and educational programs. Rather than blame the shameless politicians why not blame the timid 'us'. Also remember that the Nigerian system does not give enough system for the leaders to even do well. this is a story for another day. I wish I had more time to respond to this.

laspapi said...

I didn't think you would agree with me, nilla. Waiting for you.

@ london buki- Your statement, "I am loving Nigeria from a distance" makes absolute sense to me. Many have been singed badly for standing too clsoe to the Nigerian fire.

@ solomonsydelle- "The goal iS to render the government as impotent as possible and thus give positive politicians an opportunity to rise to the occasion." The Nigerian system is one in which both the private and public sectors rely on the heavy patronage of the government. A withdrawal of this leads to the ineffectuality of the sector/industry/individual in question.
If there's a way around this, thus rendering the machine impotent, I'd really like you to find the time to let me know. It might be the only way out of the deep hole the country has dug itself in.

@ omodudu- Maybe Nigerians suffer from a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome where the abused identify with and "understand" the issues their captors have. It must be the reason we worship those who've robbed us blind.

Donzman said...

The problem started with the day some white men in Europe decided they can create a nation. A nation of 250 ethnic groups and some stranger decides to fuse them and turn them into a nation without their consent. How do you expect the nation to work without divide?...The different ethnic groups who make up the nation did not come together to form it.

The country was run as a business by the British. On independence we didn't bother with rectifying it. The subsequent Governments continued to run the country like a business and consolidated their enterprise with the Land Use Decree of 1978.

Until we do what the Ijaws called for in 1998 i.e. a Sovereign National Conference where all the ethnic groups involved can come together, I do not see a way. How do you expect people to diligently lead a country neither they nor their forefathers had a hand in forming?...The only nation they know is their families and ethnic nations, those are the ones they'll serve.

So ehh, blame the British for their short sightedness.

Nilla said...

When you say all the rulers are to blame, are you referring to the rulers at the national level alone or are you also referring to rulers at the state level, local government etc...?

Knowing your country, if all the rulers you're blaming are taken out of the equation that equals Nigeria, do you think Nigeria will be better, or the people that would end up being the new rulers/leaders would be corrupt (either before becoming leaders or while in power)?

Sorry I'm asking those questions.


Nigeria is not a lost cause.
It's just that some of the people that are capable of making a change are too comfortable where they are to bother about making a change. And also like Omodudu said, some or all of us are too timid to do anything. Also a group of us probably don't truly believe we deserve better than what we are getting.
And finally you have the group of Nigerians that are just waiting for a miracle, without doing anything or even in putting in any effort.

How would you then lay all the blame on the rulers?

laspapi said...

donzman has identified a major issue. According to research and polls done here, the "Nigerian", irrespective of where he is from, regards himself as a man of his tribe first, before seeing himself as one from the country.
Therefore, a man is Ijaw, Ijebu or Tivi first and looks out for the interests of his tribe before seeing the Nigerianness in himself.

When the superpowers at that time casually carved up the continent at the Berlin Conference, they took little notice of Donzman's observations, leaving some Egun in Nigeria while others stayed in Benin, some Hausas in Nigeria and others in Ghana (Ghana has Hausa too) while the Bakassi area was casually slashed in half. These 'crazy' demarcations abound all over Africa.

A Sovereign National Conference? The aftermath will not leave this country the same.

@ Nilla- "If all the rulers I'm blaming,are taken out of the equation that equals Nigeria, do I think Nigeria will be better?"
nilla, you'll have to study donzman's observations- "Nigeria is an inequation".
As for these rulers, you also miss my point when I say the same people have been ruling for close to 5 decades-the same associations, friends, loyalties. They answer only to themselves and their needs.

The generality of the rulers are rotten and therefore the whole barrel should be discarded. (Don't ask me in what manner yet) When Bola Ige was made the Minister of Mines & Power, he swore to give electricity to Nigeria in 6 months. He underestimated the pervasiveness of crime and was frustrated out of that ambition, going on to be killed as the Attorney General with no one ever arrested.
Nigerians-Too timid? Too comfortable? Too cynical? Too faithful? Whatever one might think, Nigeria is in the grasp of a massive conspiracy. Agatha of Inside Out yesterday said she covered the eyes of her daughter as she drove past a body still smouldering in Surulere (Onile Gogoro) from being burnt with the aid of a car tyre. 3 hours later, as she returned, the body was still there, less than 200 metres from the Surulere local government. These are things we build into the psyche of 7 year old kids here. Who do I blame? Do I go carry the burnt fellow into the trunk of my car and look for were to bury him?

The apparatus of the system is not there for the people. Ask any car driver in Lagos who daily, has to run the gauntlet of corrupt policemen, Road Safety Officials, KAI officials, LASTMA, Self-appointed Local Government road sentinels, "Yellow Fever" and Armed Robbers.

If there is no clear-cut plan, the enormity that is the Nigerian problem will break you. It has done this to many.

Maybe we should let Solomonsydelle explain what she means by "...it will therefore be important to circumvent the status quo and establish structure ... outside the realms of those who only care about themselves."

If she can show a way no one has thought about, I'm all for it. Please write as much as you can, Solomonsydelle, its a forum for such things.

Aimie said...

I love how we Nigerians love to speak grammar. We never get tired of theorizing about politics and economics. As for me, I don tire! We need to stop talking and start walking.

I have no doubt whatsoever in my heart and MIND that there is hope for Nigeria and that Nigeria WILL rise up from this slump and become a better country. I believe that anything is possible.

I also know that the problems in Nigeria have been caused by many factors and continue to exist because of complex and multiple factors such as Colonialism, Bad leaders, corruption, neo-colonialism, tribalism e.t.c. And it is counter productive to try to pin point a single cause of our problems. It is a waste of time unless when you find the single cause of the problem you are then going to go and change it. Either that or you are a PHD student in the Social Sciences and thats what you do for a living - talk.

I am often amazed by our inability as humans to dream big. As far as I am concerned we can achieve change in Nigeria if each one of us purposes to do something for the country, regardless of how small it may be. After all Muhammed Yunus (Nobel Prize winner) is doing small things that are making a big impact in the world http://www.muhammadyunus.org/
http://www.grameen-info.org/book/index.htm

A friend once said that each one of us must react as though if we do not do something then no one else will.

laspapi said...

aime,
I need to know if you've started reacting/walking, and if so, show us the path. We're in search of answers...

Atala Wala Wala said...

I'm not going to propose a solution here, but I'll throw out a few questions that lead the discussion in an interesting direction...

Does everyone here know that most developed countries were as bad as Nigeria is right now about a century ago? Yes - I mean they wer afflicted with many of the same problems Nigeria has today - election-rigging, bribery, corruption, poor sanitation, low public health standards, etc. Yet things are very different today in most parts of these countries.

Anyone care to volunteer how such change might have come about?

Aimie said...

@ Laspapi,
I have started walking. I don't feel its right for me to tell you what you should do for Nigeria because your talents are obviously different from mine. So ask your self what you can offer and do it.

As for me, I am a poet and my current project involves poetry.

I have a friend (she's Ghanaian though) who organized a talent show to raise money for Ghanaian children orphaned by AIDS

Here is an article of a Nigerian who is putting in her own time
http://www.the-latest.com/aids-sparks-cultural-awakening
Even though the money she raised was small ( in some our eyes), it was a step in the right direction because little steps lead to big steps and usually the biggest challenge is actually that of starting something.

If you go to Bella Naija's website you'll see under her list of inspirations Nigerians who are doing their own part.

I also have a friend who is setting up a scholarship fund.

I know that us talking and theorizing is also important. But as for me I don talk sotay I don study philosophy . Abeg lets all do the littlest we can do.

I think that for a while we all grew up feeling powerless, thinking that without money, or power or fame we can't make a difference but thats a lie we can all make a difference in our little way.

I also agree with atala wala wala. We often forget that colonialism is only one half of our history.

So basically the challenge is for us to sit down for an hour or however long it takes and pick our brains asking ourselves what can I do?

laspapi said...

@ atala wala wala- are you insinuating a kind of French revolution?

@ aimie- "So ask your self what you can offer and do it."

Well aimie, as I told Nilla once,I'm doing my bit, I think. I've had guns pointed at me and my cast over stage works I wrote critical of the government, had another performance filmed without permission by state security agents who only stopped when it became a fracas, written and produced plays critical of the military (while the soldiers were in power), the politicians currently in power and the Nigerian class/society structure.
I was General Secretary of the Lagos State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors, considered by the Guardian Newspaper as the person most likely to write a stage satire of OBJ's 3rd term ambition, and I am the only playwright of my generation who, in his works, directly addresses the political situation here.
I've been told to run, hide, change play titles by family members...

HIV- My play on HIV, Gbanja Roulette, is recommended reading at the University of Ibadan....
I'm doing my bit.

Yet the things I do here add up only to a small drop in the surge that is Nigerian activism. Funmi Iyanda with all her good looks and fashion sense is one of the most vocally critical of the inequalities in the Nigerian system, Reuben Abati, Bamidele Aturu, Ebunolu Adegoroye; lawyers, poets, journalists....The list is endless.
But sometimes illumination can be found in philosophy and discussions like this one. There is constant activism going on here and I am not only in the procession, I'm carrying a banner.

ps. Since your forte is poetry, you might want to link up with a friend, Tunde Oladunjoye, Editor of the book- "Activist Poets-Anthology from Nigeria's Prodemocracy Campaigners".

Aimie said...

@Laspapi kudos to you

Now concerning a French revolution...I am not down with a bloody revolution. A velvet revolution which toppled communism in Czechoslovakia is more like it.
Revolution is just one way

laspapi said...

In comments about change in Nigeria (on many blogs), I often get the feeling people are asking for change, the hard way, without being direct. Aimie's is the first actual mention of a velvet revolution, which might work in almost every other country. Here? I'm not so sure.
Whatever ways you know, Aimie, please share. It might be the catalyst to positive change.

Nilla said...

@ AWW
Yes there are countries that were as bad in the past and are doing much better now.


To get a positive change, we have to really really really really really want that change.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Laspapi,
Sorry, I haven't been back here since last week. In rssponse to my comment, you mentioned

"The Nigerian system is one in which both the private and public sectors rely on the heavy patronage of the government. A withdrawal of this leads to the ineffectuality of the sector/industry/individual in question."

I see your point but still believe that this fact does not necessarily hinder my idea. It was done in India. The Indian government was ineffective in creating change as rapidly as was desired by Indian business. What happened? India experienced a 'revolution' (to borrow Aimie's term). Businesses strove towards financial success by depending on an asset outside the realms of the government - intellectual technology. Think about it. IT does not depend on infrastructure like roads or hospitals only educated individuals and the internet highway. India now boasts companies that dominate the global business economy.

If Nigerians can equally find a way to circumvent our government, we can successfully establish ourselves and gain power. Power, in the hands of those with an interest in changing the status quo, will man independence. independence to put money behind serious political candidates. Independence to build schools in rural areas, independence to create jobs for the many well educated and talented Nigerians.

Of course, my suggestion is not the be all and end all of Nigeria's needed cure. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that it can and will play a useful role in effecting change. Sorry can't go into much more detail on the idea I have proposed. It is still a 'work in progress'. But I hope that this was helpful in flushing it out for you and promise to let you know when I finally lay out detailed steps in the process at my blog.

Great job on the discussion series, by the way. Please stop by nigeriancuriosity.blogspot.com as I host the next edition in the series on 02/09. Take care.