In the letter and spirit of the law as well as intellectual freedom and discourse, I hereby make a brief case for Nigerian Unity rather than for the fragmentation of a Hausa-Fulani Muslim Caliphate, a Yoruba Christian-Muslim-Oduduwa State or an Igbo Christian Biafra; not to speak of a thousand other micro-national ethnic groups all over the country, seething and agitating for their respective towns and villages, to become “independent states” in their own right. And the case I make in the following pages, might surprise those who know me as a PROUD Igbo man, who brooks no ethnocentric nonsense against Igbos from any quarter. But being Igbo or from any other ethnic group of people, should not rob one of common sense and intellectual honesty, regardless of what opportunistic demagogues spout. Let me start from the beginning.
Biafra was a historical accident, not a historical destiny. Most people who got caught up in the kafuffle of the pre-war crises in Nigeria and the consequent Biafran War, were swept up by events they did not originally wish for nor work towards their eventuality. For example, Ojukwu was originally a staunch Nigerian nationalist, before the events of the January 15, 1966 and the so-called “Counter-Coup” of July, 1966, catapulted him into the unexpected position of Governor of the Eastern Region, and subsequently, into the position of Head of State of the declared state of Biafra. Ojukwu and all the brilliant men and women of Igbo extraction and Eastern Nigerian origin, who followed Ojukwu into that Act of Survival and Motion of Destiny—through the declaration of an independent state called: Biafra—including my father, Honorable Justice A.N. Aniagolu (Justice Emeritus of the Supreme Court of Nigeria); were all originally fervent Nigerian nationalists, and participated in the action they did, purely out of ethnic self-defense, not because they inherently did not believe in Nigerian Unity.Rather, they witnessed their kith and kin hounded and killed like animals by savage mobs of Northern Nigerians and Northern members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
Had cooler heads prevailed among Northern Nigerian leaders, and perhaps, Western Nigerian leaders as well at the time; and perhaps, if Northern Nigerian leaders had not heeded as much counsel from their British minders; the hostilities, indiscriminate killings and ethnocentric vilification of the Igbo, not to speak of the occurrence of a tragic civil war; might have been averted and the entire phenomena could have turned out very differently. Therefore, the events that unfolded from 1967 to 1970, were not inevitable or ordained by God. They were simply the result of acts of omission and commission by retrograde individuals, who happened to come from the North, pretending to be “Nigerian leaders,” but, in fact, werestooges used by foreign minders to visit savagery on their own racial kind, in exchange for the position of “junior partners” within the imperial framework of their foreign minders. They were merely neocolonial minions, not true Nigerian leaders. One is almost tempted to say like Jesus the Christ said of his Roman persecutors: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And in this case: what they did.
It was precisely, the prospect of rescuing the Nigerian Republic from corrupt, medieval, neo-colonial stooges, that the January, 1966 Revolutionaries—Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and his comrades—staged their coup in the hope of decapitating that comprador class in order to give Nigeria, and hence, Nigerians, true national leadership they were yearning for and deserved. And in case you are wondering what a “comprador class” means, it refers to “. . . a person [or class of persons] within a country, that act as agents for foreign organizations engaged in investment, trade or economic or political exploitation.”
Nzeogwu and his comrades were not trying to establish a “Biafra” or any other independent state carved out of Nigeria. They were trying to save the Republic of Nigeria from itself, by giving it a strong, dedicated, nationalistic leadership; capable of transforming it from the blundering giant it was, into a great African nation-state that would be the pride of Africa and the African Diaspora. The reason they failed was logistical, and perhaps, providential. Their failure had nothing to do with their ideological orientation. They had their ideology right, their heads in the right direction and their hearts and minds properly focused.The fact that most of them were Igbo had nothing to do with the goals they were trying to accomplish for the country. Yet, their ethnicity was diabolically used against their noble enterprise;used as pretext for a ghastly pogrom visited against their kith and kin, which was notable in the annals of world history, for its unbelievable savagery.
Some may fatalistically believe that whatever happens in human history, was destined to happen; and that is why it happened. While I believe in the existence of God, I am not a fatalist. If all that happens in human history is fated destiny, then scientific positivism is a meaningless exercise. Yet, we can empirically look at life expectancy, mortality rates from all manner of diseases, ailments and other contingencies that have plagued human existence over the eons of time, and find them greatly attenuated because of the positive intervention of science and technology; and I might add, because of identifiable changes in human norms and behavior as well.
The creation of a body of international laws that sets certain norms and adjudicates against abhorrent behavior, such as genocide—”crimes against humanity”—etc, are attempts to set human behavior on a higher plane. Religious norms, ethical norms and values, were/are, likewise, used for analogous purposes, except, that they are often subverted by self-righteous parochialism and chauvinism, which, all too often, degenerates into “my way or the highway”or a “holier-than-thou” attitude that breeds conflict and bloodletting; contradicting their high-minded purpose. A constitution of a country is also a socio-political-cum-legal document, within the context of a modern republic, designed to achieve similar objectives for the citizens of a modern republic. I will return to that matter later.
A second important point all the apostles of the various forms of national fragmentation will do well to bear in mind, is that no one of the so-called “Big Three” ethnic groups that make up Nigeria—Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani—are sufficiently homogenous amongst themselves to avoid centrifugal forces of dissention potentially being let loose within their ranks;even if they are allowed to become independent states in their own right.The same applies to the plethora of minority ethnic groups throughout Nigeria. Prior to Biafra, the mostly Christian so-called Middle Belt, was already pitted against the majority Muslim Hausa-Fulani, although they were all part of Northern Nigeria.
Prior to the January 15, 1966 coup in Nigeria, the Hausa majority in Northern Nigeria, especially, the so-called Talakawa, were already getting restive and organizing against the rule of the Fulani minority in the North. And just as surely, many of the non-Hausa, non-Fulani, minority ethnic groups in Northern Nigeria, were chafing at the bits over the ethnocentric chauvinism of the Hausa majority and the Fulani ruling oligarchy. And, most of the members of the formerKanem-Bornu Empire, who, though eventually became Islamized, were never conquered by the Hausa or the Fulani, only succumbing to the British colonialists; jealously guarded their ethnic identity as well as their relative autonomy.
And one has not even touched on the significant numbers of Christians in the North, comprised of members of each and every ethnic group within that geographic area. Hence, casually appraised from the outside, the so-called “Muslim North,” appears homogenous and monolithic, yet, more disciplined scrutiny, exposes important fissures, which will not go away if that geographic part of Nigeria were to become an independent state tomorrow.
Among the Yoruba, the same outside optical illusion obtains. Besides the fact that as a result of contact with Northern Jihadists in the 19th century, and as a result of trade and travel, a good number of Yorubas become Muslims; and as a result of contact with European missionaries, traders, educators and colonialists; many, if not most Yorubas, became Christians;they, therefore,harborwithin their ethnic ranks, potential religious combustion between Muslims and Christians.Also, there are longstanding and well-known intra-ethnic fissures within the Yorubas, between “Lagosians” (Eko),Ibadans (Oyo), Ekitis, Ijebus, Ikales, Ondos, Ijeshas and Akokos. In fact, it is arguable that the unravelling of Nigeria’s First Republic may well have originated from within the ranks of the Yoruba, before it spread to other parts of the Nigerian Federation. Still, early acquisition of modern education via contacts with the British, created a sizeable, educated, urbanized, and hence, more liberalized literati among the Yoruba, temporizing their traditionalism as well as their acquired religious orthodoxies—in Islam and Christianity.
The Igbo, already well-known for their traditional aversion for monarchical rule, which British colonialists tried to mitigate by means of so-called “Warrant Chiefs,” have their intramural competition between towns, clans and sub-clans; sometimes, right down to neighboring villages! This is especially so, where there remain lingering prejudices between Igbo sub-groups such as so-called Wawas and so-called Ijekebes. And since Igboland has been divided into “states,” for some, those “states” have become the new boundaries of their loyalties, spirit of competition and sense of obligation.And within those “states,” there are new contentions designated in terms of cardinal points: north, south, east and west!
In political science, there is a well-known theory that one of the best ways of keeping a lid on internal dissensions within a nation-state of competing domestic entities, is to manufacture an outside “common enemy” they can all unite against. That way, they are distracted from their internal differences, and their energies and angst directed towards the outside “common enemy.”
However, no sooner has the outside “common enemy” been vanquished or for whatever reason(s) disappears, than the sublimated internal fractures crack open anew, and sooner or later, “the center may not be able to hold,” and “things may fall apart!” In other words, the recreation of a Hausa-Fulani Muslim Caliphate, the recreation of a Christian Biafra, the creation of a Christian-MuslimYoruba Oduduwa state, independent of Nigeria, or following upon a mutual dissolution of the Nigerian Federation; no matter how economically viable they may or may not be on their own, will not necessarily become panaceas for peace and tranquility within and amongst those proposed entities. Consider, for example, the latest case of nation-state implosion: the Republic of South Sudan.
After a twenty-two year long civil war, between the predominantly Muslim Northern Sudan and the largely Christian Southern Sudan, in which the Arab/Afro-Arab North was pitted against the Black African South (in which, large quantities of crude oil deposits were discovered); the civil war ended with the establishment of an independent state in southern Sudan, the so-called: Republic of South Sudan. Everyone was elated, except, perhaps, Northern Sudanese; yet, the long drawn out civil war between northern and southern Sudan, had, in effect, presented southern Sudan with a “common enemy,” masking deep divisions between southern Sudanese themselves! To cut a long story short, in 2009 a referendum in southern Sudan made clear their overwhelming preference for complete independence from northern Sudan. And on July 9, 2011, the independence of the Republic of South Sudan was declared and celebrated with requisite pomp and circumstance. Yet, hardly had the independence of South Sudan been declared and the “common enemy” of Northern Sudan become a thing of the past, than the primordial divisions within South Sudan began to rear their ugly heads. Suddenly, we moved from civil war between the North and South of Sudan, to civil war between Southern Sudanese!
Who could have guessed that the ethnic differences between the Shilluk, the Dinka (the single largest ethnic group in South Sudan – about 35% of the population), and the Nuer (the second largest ethnic group in South Sudan), to name the major ethnic players in South Sudan’s “new” ethnic conflict within its newly configured national borders, of South Sudan’s approximately sixty-four ethnic polyglot; were as primordial as to generate a new round of anarchy and mayhem by parties who had barely gotten done with a protracted civil war that consumed the lives of about two million people, with their “common enemy?”Hardly had the gun powder cleared from the barrels of the guns once trained on their Northern “common enemies,” than they were blazing away against their fellow Southern Sudanese! Is there a cautionary tale in the experience of South Sudan, for the North-North, North-East, North-West, South-South, South-West and/or South-East of Nigeria?
When Christians are dealing with Muslims, they are all Christians. When they are left to themselves, they divide into sectarian denominations: Catholics, Protestants, Episcopalian, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, etc. One of the bitterest wars that was ever fought in European history was the Thirty-Year War over religion; and two Christian European states—Spain and England—fought each other bitterly; one Catholic, the other, Protestant. When Muslims are dealing with Christians, they are all Muslims. When Muslims are left to themselves, they divide into sectarian denominations: Sunni, Shiite, etc. An eight-year brutal war was fought between two Muslims countries: Iraq and Iran. One, predominantly Sunni, the other, predominantly Shiite.Even as this piece went to press, a savage proxy civil war is being fought out between Yemenite Shiites and Sunnis, at the behest of Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. In present-day Nigeria, we see the same sectarian tug-of-war fraying the seams of Northern Nigerian Muslims.
The tiny East African country of Somalia, is still trying, in fits and starts, to dig itself out of the hole of a protracted civil war that has consumed close to forty years of that country’s modern history. A country that is 99.9% Muslim, speaks the same language, and outwardly, has all the hallmarks of homogeneity that many modern nation-states, would have considered a blessing in disguise. Yet, they managed to find enough differences between and amongst themselves, in the form of clans, that they have, so far, been unable to pacify themselves. No one should take any solace in the fact that the person who sticks a knife in their back or denies them a roof over their heads, steals food from the mouths of their childrenor clothes from their backs, comes from the same geographic part of the country as they do, speaks the same language they do or has the same hue of skin!
A third important point is that I am tired of elected officials, such as Executive Governors of states within the Nigerian Federation, making the fictitious and tiresome case, that the reason for their failure to govern their respective states with probity and imagination, with transparency and equity, is because some distant non-Igbo, non-Yoruba, non-Hausa-Fulani or non-whatever else; is holding them down because of their ethnicity! Yes, a good case can and has been made, that Igbos have been short-changed in federal appointments by the Buhari administration; that federal roads and bridges in their part of the country have deliberately or inadvertently been neglected; that they have been short-changed over the number of states they have been allocated, given their population; etc. But for Executive Governors to use that as excuse for their malfeasance within the confines of their own states, ethnic groups and constitutionally permitted executive authority; is to try to make fools of enlightened Nigerians. Yet, even as their states suffer from lack of development, chronic unemployment, deficiencies in the supply of electricity and clean, portable water; sub-standard medical services, primary schools that look like livestock pens; and intra-city roads pork-marked with potholes; they manage to prosper themselves and to continually posture and pipe up about phony wars between “their people” and their supposed “common enemies.”
I will only listen to an Executive Governor, who I can see he or she is doing everything possible to develop and improve their state, getting all hands on deck, whoever they may be and wherever they may come from, then I can say; okay, there goes a genuine leader. Look what he or she has done with the little he or she has, imagine what they can and will do, if they get all the help they need from the Federal Government or from whomever? Until then, I have nothing but utter contempt for the charlatans who pretend to be the leaders of their people, while systematically plundering the state or national till! It should be a thing of great shame that a country like Nigeria, that has the highest number of educated people in Africa, and is certifiably the most educated immigrant group in the United States; with first class doctors, working the world over; that our President has to shuttle, back and forth, between Nigeria and the UK for medical treatment! Not to speak of so many “ordinary” Nigerians trooping back and forth to India for medical treatment, simply because we refuse to create within our own country, state-of-the-art medical facilities that can cure us at home and spare the capital and dignity of our nationals in foreign countries!
Nigeria’s problem, therefore, is not simply the geopolitical fact that we are together in one nation-state, like mismatched pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.Our problem is twofold: an entrenched corrupt leadership at the local, state and federal levels of government; and the fact that we have failed, and continuing to fail as a nation-state, to properly habilitate modern national citizenship. And the primary reason for that twofold problem is that our so-called leaders, most of whom are actually leeches, know that if that dysfunctional status quo is righted; they will automatically become irrelevant.Their gaudy parading of ill-gotten wealth, their medieval personality-cult following, shameless trips abroad to enjoy the rationally created modern infrastructures of other countries, their insensitivity towards their own people, their lack of faith in the potentialities of their own people, and their childish indulgence in conspicuous consumption as a way of showing off their “power,” “influence” and “authority,” which, only serves as comic relief for other countries and peoples, many of whom come to Nigeria and other developing countries to extract the resources they need to make their own countries better places to live and to visit.
A fourth issue I wish to address are the so-called “Armies” of African countries, perhaps with the circumstantial exception of the Republic of South Africa. They are little more than celebrated police forces. Almost all of them lack a domestic “military-industrial-complex” to back up their armed forces, therefore, their so-called national defense systems, are merely “cash-and-carry,” off-the-shelf outfits of military hardware purchased primarily from Western countries. Those military hardware, purchased at the economic expense of the welfare of the masses of peoples in their countries, can neither be used to threaten Western countries nor be used to defend against them. They probably cannot sustain full-fledged wars between African countries, not to speak of armed insurgencies within their respective states. Witness, for example, the difficulty the Nigerian Army has had, trying to militarily defeat a rag-tag religious insurgency—so-called Boko Haram. And so, who, then, are our so-called national armies designed to fight against? The simple answer, sadly is: the people!
That was exactly how the European colonialists conceived of them and raised them: to cower, contain or crush revolts and rebellions—justified or not—of the people against the preoccupations of their extractive colonial states, which they called: “keeping the peace.” That legacy has, unfortunately, continued, primarily because those former European colonial states, have not been effectively transformed into nation-states. The comprador elites, who, by hook or crook, capture the administrative apparatus of those postcolonial, neo-colonial spaces; protect themselves from the people, with their celebrated police forces, in the name of national armies; exactly as the European colonial extractive states had done nearly a century and a half ago!
Hence, the armies of most, if not all postcolonial, neo-colonial African states, are not “people’s armies,’ but Praetorian Guards for their comprador ruling political elites. “Those handpicked soldiers [Praetorian Guards] are most famous for serving as the sworn bodyguards of the Roman ruler . . . but they were also used as a jack-of-all-trade force in the service of the Empire. Guardsmen fought alongside the [Roman] legions, put down uprisings, pacified rioters and served as security at gladiator shows and chariot races . . .” (history.com)Yet, every once in a while, the very same Praetorian Guards overthrew the rulers they were supposed to protect, and install one of their own or someone they approve of, as the ruling man of the hour. At other times, such “palace coups” by the said Praetorian Guards, are masterminded by foreign paymasters, and those Praetorian Guards become local foot soldiers for foreign imperial designs. It is arguable that from 1966 to 1993 (with the exception of the first coup of January 15, 1966 – because the plotters of that coup did not seek to install themselves in power as rulers), a period of twenty-seven years; Nigerian politics was dominated by the machinations of her Praetorian Guard, at the measurable expense of not only democracy, but the sound economic development of the country.
This fourth issue of celebrated police forces in the name of national armies and their role as Praetorian Guards, brings me to a fifth important issue: the need for and indispensable value of national scale. There are only four African countries that have the national scale to have any weight of consequence continentally and on the international level: Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia and the Republic of South Africa. I call them Africa’s “Quadratic Equation.” The Republic of South Africa would not have made the cut except that its mid-size population, is coupled with the fact that it is the most industrially advanced country on the African continent; thanks to the self-serving integration of its white minority community into the global technocracy of the Western World, during the centuries of Apartheid. The other three members of Africa’s “Quadratic Equation,” are demographic giants, especially, Nigeria. And let no one sneeze at that,for scale matters—in economics as well as in international politics. No matter how well governed a small country may be, even if every brass farthing of its national income is judiciously put to use in the interest of all the citizens of the country;small African countries such as: Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Togo, Benin, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi, and so on and so forth, can never become powerful states in the international multi-state system. They are simply too small to make significant difference. They do not have enough mass for a large cubic displacement in the sea of continental and global politics.
There is a reason small, scrawny guys are never hired as personal bodyguards or bouncers in or at nightclubs. Size matters. Yet, as critical as size is to effectively dispensing with security details, so does smarts. A little guy who is very smart, may not be able to beat up a big guy who is dumb; but he may be able to outwit him. That, after all, is the essential moral of the David and Goliath fable: intelligence or smarts, combined with the favor or blessing of God, which the possession of superior intelligence may be its tangible evidence, can make the difference between victory and defeat, between the little guy and the giant! Still, in the international political economy, both size and smarts matter, not one or the other; if a state actor hopes to play an effective role in the major leagues. The ultimate purpose of alliance systems, is to create bigger political, economic and military systems, that enlarge the capability of any one member of such alliance systems; thereby, magnifying the power and capabilities of such alliance systems, making them more effective instruments for offensive or defensive purposes! Or, if their preferred objective is to create larger economic markets for the exchange of goods and services—that is, for purposes of trade and commerce.
The very serious game of international politics—of ‘big power’ politics—in the major leagues, as opposed to the international politics of “small powers” in the minor leagues, belongs to the big boys—the hegemons—in and of the global political system; especially those who have learnt to effectively combine size and smarts. Africa must produce her own power brokers in the major leagues of the global political system, or be forever condemned to playing with the little guys in the minor leagues. And that objective cannot be achieved without the emergence of thoroughly nationalized modern state systems among Africa’s “Quadratic Equation:” Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and the Republic of South Africa.
In point of fact, if Nigeria were to be halfway better governed than it is currently, given its population, natural and human resources; it could become an important player in the major leagues of global politics. And God knows that the “Black World” could do with one or two of its own “major powers” in the global system to stake a claim for our kind like those of other hues! And I am not rehashing the old argument that the “balkanization” of Nigeria bodes ill for the African continent and the African Diaspora, and therefore, “One Nigeria” should be maintained at all costs, even at the cost of the crime of genocide as happened during Nigeria’s Civil War. I am a firm believer in a “Social Contract” between the state and the people, in which the state is at the service of the people and not the other way around. Hence, if through tyranny, profligate governance or treasonable acts against the people, the empowered agents of the state on behalf of the people, fail to live up to the oath of their office; they break the “Social Contract” between the state and the people; and hence, forfeit their right to the loyalty and support of the people.I am, however, arguing that if the individual and collective rights, liberties and creative productivity of the citizens of Nigeria, are judiciously safeguarded and effectively deployed within the strictures of our federal configuration, it will augur better for us all as Nigerians, as well as for the African continent and the African Diaspora.
Still, President Lincoln of the United States, once said that: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And equally true is the fact that: a government that stands in the way of its own people, cannot expect to see progress! Such a government—local, state or federal—if it fails to join hands with its people to bring about progress and development; should, at the very least, get out of the people’s way! For someone who does nothing to help, but, at least, does nothing to hinder, may well be doing the person endowed with innate abilities some good, by letting them get on with their work and progress. The worst case scenario is a government that not only fails to help, but makes a cottage industry of hindering the progress of its people that wish to help themselves! And what should the government do to help? If you are in government and you have to be given an answer to that question, then, you are most definitely part of the problem, not part of the solution! For the only reason why you should have gotten into government in the first place, is to help the people, no more no less! But I will tell you all the same. Provide clean, portable water, steady, reliable supply of electricity, the rule of law, safety of person and property; then, get out of the way and watch the people of Nigeria go!
One of the greatest presidents of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once said that ‘the only thing Americans have to fear is fear itself.’ But I fear that Nigerians have, or should have, at least, one greater thing to fear than fear itself; and that is: ignorance! Because even worse than the fear engendered by fear itself, is the fear engendered by ignorance!Most human beings fear the unknown, but we should fear even more what we wrongly believe to be true about our fellow Nigerians, especially those who are not members of “our own people.” And prejudice, which is the father of stereotype, especially towards other groups of people outside “your own people,” is mostly founded on ignorance. And fear, fueled by ignorance, provides fertile ground for political demagogues, opportunists and entrepreneurs to thrive. And they come in all ethnicities, mother tongues, religions, guises and garbs!
I am a strong believer that most, even if not all, of the petty and major prejudices that becloud our thinking and get in the way of rational and effective government in Nigeria, can be done away with by means of EIGHT primary weapons: (1) an inviolable judiciary—that maintains its moral integrity and jealously guards its independence; (2) a properly professionalized and modernized armed forces, organically anchored to an indigenous ‘military-industrial complex;’ (3) a revamped educational system—especially at the primary and secondary school levels; (4) a firmly institutionalized system of democracy and meritocracy—especially in the government’s civil service and in the awarding of contracts; (5) the institutionalization of a national language policy; (6) a deliberate and systematic campaign that encourages and promotes inter-ethnic marriages; (7) the erection of a firewall between state and religion; and (8) the drastic minimization, if not total eradication of corruption in government. I would be willing to bet my life on it, that if the foregoing eight instruments are effectively put in place, in one generation, Nigeria will become a very different country; and most of the prejudices, fears and ignorance that currently animates our national debates, politics and society, will die a natural death.
The “ethnicization” or tribalization of Nigerian politics as opposed to its progressive nationalization, is a major obstacle to progress. The constant effort to “pack” the most strategic and powerful positions in government with “your own people,” rather than with the best men or women; creates a vicious cycle of the replication of the same old politics, regardless of the passage of time. In fact, so institutionalized has that practice become in Nigerian politics, that the measure of how well a politician performed in government, in the eyes of “his or her people,” especially at the executive level; is how many of “his or her own people” he or she has been able to appoint to important positions in government! The politicians’ “own people,” feel disappointed in “their own man or woman,” if he or she does not deliver on that practice of nepotism. The politician—especially at the executive level—is wedged between trying to protect himself or herself in the course of his or her kleptomania in government, by surrounding himself or herself with “his or her own people,” and failing to deliver for “the people,” because his or her nepotism, more often than not, clashes with and undermines professional expertise and efficiency.For, in such a system, personal loyalty becomes a more valued attribute than professional expertise and efficiency.
The nationalization of Nigerian politics, as opposed to its continued ethnicization or tribalization, would insist on the best man or woman for the job, regardless of their ethnic origin, political or religious affiliation. Once Nigeria replaces the politics of ethnic primordialism with the politics of nationalization—of modern citizenship—the Nigerian state—through its government; and hence, Nigerian society, will be freed from the debilitating clutches of that anti-nationalist, anti-modernist preoccupation. The sum of the parts of a whole, mathematicians tell us, is always greater than the parts that make it up. A modern Nigerian nation-state, founded solidly on the equal treatment of all its citizens before the law, the protection of the life,liberty, property and “the pursuit of happiness,” of all its citizens, without regard to ethnic origin, gender, creed, political or religious affiliation; with a clearly defined modern development agenda, pursued with single-minded devotion and determination—in the private and public sectors—can and will bring about, in a decade or two, a turnaround that will surprise even the worst cynics among us.
Still, I can hear some cynics among the ranks of our rapacious political elite, one or two of their paid hirelings, “dog-catchers” or “errand boys”—snickering and saying: ‘who is he to talk, he has been living in the United States for all these years, what has he done for Nigeria or for his state of origin?’ And to such cynics, I answer: ‘For all the years I lived in the United States, I earned an honest living, wrote fifteen books and counting; some of which have done and will continue to do duty, explaining our history and culture to untold numbers of people in the United States and around the world. I taught literally hundreds, if not thousands of American students, as well as students from around the world; about Nigeria, Africa and the world at large; the complex and complicated histories of human civilization in antiquity and in contemporary times. I educated and enlightened them, many times, having to find creative ways to explain away the graft and ineptitude of the likes of you in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa . . . and you know your selves! Even more importantly, I raised two wonderful daughters: one a practicing attorney, and the other, about to enter Medical School. I am well-respected in the city and state of my domicile in the United States; because of the contributions I made to the Nigerian and African communities; and I have numerous awards to show for it. And, I will gladly stack up those achievements against anything cynics like you have done, though you have been living in Nigeria or specifically in my home-state for the same duration of time!’