• Thursday, February 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria: In search of a new and workable order

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The much hyped 2015 will come and go prediction or not. Nigeria’s problem is ORDER, what should and what should not be, not 2015. The Royal Niger Company had its eyes on palm-produce as a much needed raw material for its emerging industries. They found it in the south, precisely, in what we call today, south-south/southeast. They used Asaba as beachhead to get to the sea and from the river Niger, they coined the name Nigeria for the oil-territories just by inserting, ‘ia’. Their trade boomed, they needed manpower, it was available, not by negotiation though, but by coercion. Slavery began and evolved into a trade, meaning, all they needed- men and material- were available. Then they settled in Calabar as capital to drive their twin products: men and oil. Men having become commodities, they looked for more and found them in the west and cocoa too. Trade expanded, then movement to Lagos. They moved northwards and found more and groundnut too. All these became British territory under the Royal Niger Company that had metamorphosed into the United Africa Company (UAC). Maybe, they had in mind a United Nations Company, because in course of their engagement, they found these were different peoples inhabiting different places, but being in Africa, they called it United Africa.

Notice that it was about commodity and territory; the quality of humans was discounted. They amalgamated the territories into one country in 1914 for 100 years, at least on experimental basis and kept them together by might. That’s why some say, Nigeria expired on Dec. 31, 2013. By 1960, the territory, now largely expanded, was granted independence by their masters. The old colonial order expired.

At Independence, the people rejoiced because, they were ‘free’. As a little boy, I still recall waving the green-white-green flag given to all pupils and songs praising Zik, Awo and Ahmadu-Bello as giants who sent the colonialists away without a fight. Well, the rejoicing was ephemeral. Not long after, the human factor surfaced; the might holding them together was ‘gone’ and their eyes beheld their differences. Some saw unity-in-diversity, some diversity-in-unity. The later prevailed, turmoil birthed, none to effect order because ‘all-animals-are-equal, conspirators emerged, coups and counter-coups, then civil war and now ‘patch-patch’: tack-it-here, patch-it-there. Under such disorder, corruption found habitat? The conspirators have thrived for 40 years and more; now that order has expired. No matter how the progenitors try, it has. When colonialism expired, the colonialists left; now it’s the conspirators’ turn, what would they do? It’s about change; it comes, it comes; resisting it is skiing on slippery grounds; you can’t but crash ghastly.

In Sokoto, it’s search for the right order: Governor Wamakko moved from ANPP to PDP and now to APC- just a rover driven by ambition on the highway to disorder. His deputy, Mukhtari Shagari practices some measure of principles, namely, ‘PDP made me, I can’t abandon it in time of trouble’. Both captains are in the same ship of state, the result is Katakata. Is it a surprise that the supporters of both are up in arms? The good news however is that these things are not isolated: at some point, some Boko fighters will come in and being humans, will find themselves on both sides. They too become split. For APC and PDP in Sokoto, it’s a straight and open fight between political prostitution and steadfastness. A new order will emerge.

In Rivers, it’s rebellion against authority. Amaechi is rebelling against Jonathan’s administration and Wike in turn, is rebelling against Amaechi with the police in-between. Amaechi says police commissioner Mbu is the problem and should be redeployed, but force-men go by rules of engagement, meaning that 20 redeployments will produce the same handling. The real issue is: he drilled a hole in the pot of his people, something begins to leak and they aren’t happy with him, so, whatever he sees, is their reaction. Watching him closely, his picture is sympathy for the old conspiratorial order. Like Wamakko, he’s tailoring his ambition towards that order and changing tracks to match albeit, without gauging the pulse of his people away from those of his yo-yo-chanters. More prudent would have been, work with the authority and effect a desired change from close range. This isn’t his choice.

Now hundred years after, water has known water; oil has known oil; water will go with water and oil with oil; both, when they’ve added their condiments, can form soup. Precisely, zones with common spirit will get together as a body but reach out to others on agreed terms of engagement. That way, they develop at their rate without paying the hard price of forced unity. At the centre, all will decide how? That’s the runway for Nigeria’s tomorrow.

By: Onyebuchi Onyegbule