Tomorrow, Nigeria, my country, will mark its 53rd anniversary as an independent country. Yes, ‘independent country’. On 1st October 1960, history has it that Nigeria became independent from British colonialism. The British colonialism of Nigeria was one of indirect rule and distortion of the culture and history of the peoples of Nigeria. An example of distortion is the history that it was Mungo Park that discovered River Niger. The British chroniclers deliberately omitted to write that beforengo Park arrived that there were people with settled lives living along the River Niger. These people were, mainly, great fishing men who sailed the length and breath of the river eking their living. There were Kingdoms founded by some of them along the river. Another example of distortion, names of indigenous places and persons were changed. That’s why the capital of Alhambra State today is Awka not Oka, capital of Imo State is Owerri not s ttoday Owerre, capital of Enugu State is Enugu not Enugwu, etc.
One undeniable fact is that the British did not prepare Nigeria for independence. For instance, by the time of Nigeria’s independence, there was no university in the country. There was only a university college at Ibadan, which was an appendage of University of London. It was Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe that established the first university in Nigeria: the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The motto of the university, which is to restore “The dignity of man” speaks volume of the British policy of denying Nigeria education. I have always maintained that education is the solid foundation of any modern nation. Put it this way, the super structure of any modern State. Science and technology, military science, economic prowess, etc are all products of education.
Ironically, in Nigeria, today, education has been relegated. Some say abandoned. This accounts for the incessant strike actions in our higher institutions. Is not shocking that with all the wealth of Nigeria, our educational system is in poorly funded and in crisis, especially the public sector. The evironment for conducive learning is lacking. There are no modern updated libraries and laboratories for learning. School hostels are unsafe, in all ramifications. Is it not a national embarrassment that armed criminals, whatever name called, could easily gain access to College of Agriculture, Yobe and snuff lives out from more forty eight students? I read that the number has increased to seventy eight. This is a tragedy. Within the same axis, I also read that seven persons were killed hours thereafter by armed men. The killings were along Damaturu – Maiduguri road. In some countries, these callous killings will cause rumpus in government and cost some high ranking public officers their positions. Not in Nigeria, I can hear some say.
The first duty of government in every organized society is to protect lives and properties. Protecting lives and properties make it possible for citizens to enjoy their human rights. Right to life is a mere academic expression in any society where the government is, to a large extent, unable or incapable of protecting lives and properties. One is worried that this is becoming the situation in Nigeria. I must confess that I am still alarmed that Nigerians cannot say whether the leader of Boko Haram is dead or alive. If Mr. President, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, cannot say so, who will?
If the Federal Government, despite its armada of security fails to celebrate the independence day with the usual pomp and pageantry in the full glare of Nigerians in Eagles Square, Abuja or Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, it is a clear message to us, the citizens, that we are not safe. One security that the nation will inevitably confront in future Is the consequence of arming vigilante groups, which operate like private militias. Today, there is increase in armed vigilantism across the country. I pause to ask: Which way, my country?
No matter the confidence government gives us periodically, the insecurity of lives and properties in Nigeria has become one huge issue that requires proactive and decisive lawful steps to tackle. However, it should not be a guise to violate the fundamental human rights of innocent persons, especially political opponents, social critics, human rights activists, etc. I support bringing those who constitute terror to society to law. It behoves on us, as a nation, to demand that all forms of armed terror should be frontally tackled. We should not politicize or ethnicize it. Nigerians deserve the right of peace.
I dedicate this short post to the families of all innocent Nigerians who lost their lives to terrorist and militant attacks. We must, as a people that cherish their liberties and llives, stand to demand that government, at all levels, should fulfil their obligations to us. We must appreciate that bad governance knows no tribe, ethnicity or religion. It hurts all, except those in power and their cronies.
In conclusion, I suggest that the Nigeria Police Force is unbundled and that the definition of terrorism in Nigeria be widened to include provocative looting of public treasury. The little looting still be crime under our the criminal code and the penal code.