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RESTORING NIGERIA’S MISPLACED HONOUR

April 6, 2011

BEING AN ADDRESS BY ADEBOWALE OJOWURO AUTHOR OF THE CRISIS OF RELIGION ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF YORUBA DESCENDANTS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA, HELD IN NELSPRUIT ON SATURDAY, 11th DECEMBER 2010 AT THE KABOKWENI CINEMA HALL

“For us in Namibia, the name Nigeria is that of a pillar of Africa’s Freedom and Independence. Nigeria is renowned for being at the forefront in the battle for Africa recognition in the global arena… I recall with a great sense of gratitude how in the past I visited Nigeria quite frequently as a freedom fighter…” – President Sam Nujoma of Namibia

These were the likes of motivating tributes and honours for which Nigeria is well renowned when I was growing up. Majority of you here today can attest to the truth of this piece of information. I have, after careful considerations, decided not to include any of the miserable and shameful media headlines for which the notoriety of Nigeria as a nation is now universally proclaimed; because, I do not desire to ruin the mood of several attentive participants in this occasion.

Adebowale Ojowuro

A thoughtful patriot who often reflects on the state of the Nigerian nation cannot help but notice the appalling status of national shame that has recurrently become apparent in our fatherland since half a century of its independence from colonial rule. The fact can no longer be denied that our national honour has been relegated entirely into mere paper accolades and praise songs of political bandits and capitalist criminals. Those excellent tributes, such as, “Pillar of Africa” or “Giant of Africa,” that would genuinely emanate from reputable leaders throughout the world, has now become a once upon a time honour that presently eludes Nigeria like chalk and cheese.

Fellow compatriots and distinguished guests, it is with great sense of humility that I stand here before you today to re-echo it once again into your ears that our country is disappointingly a backward nation; and this is a fact with which we are very much familiar. At this stage, however, after fifty years of self-governing, what we obviously do not know is the proper step forward.

During his lecture on Nigeria’s contribution to International Peace and Security on the 12th of October 2010, the High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to South Africa, Ambassador Mohamed Buba Marwa, re-echoed this fact yet again to all Nigerians resident in South Africa in a clarion call for policy proposals, aimed at getting Nigeria into the right direction. He affirmed: “Whatever perceptions that might exist about Nigeria; the real picture is much more complex. The 50 years anniversary presents the opportunity for a thorough interrogation and analysis that unravels the layers of what Nigeria has been, and to provide policy options in terms of the direction the country should potentially take, given its challenges and resources.” This is the call that has truly informed my preference for this discussion topic today.

As a matter of fact, the preferred topic for this occasion as suggested to me by the Hon. President of this great association is: “My Africa, My Pride: A Celebration of African Culture, Value, and Dignity.” (With emphasis on the Yoruba culture). However, on a second thought, I decided to change the topic discussion, because I perceive it as utter sacrilege and absolute disservice, should I stand before you all to paint deceptive pictures of what the African culture is truly not. This is not being cynical in my judgments, but I sincerely do not see anything worthy of celebration amongst the remnant of what is left of societal values and dignity in the Nigeria of today. It is irrational beyond absurd to celebrate a culture that is more and more becoming desolate and subverted in downright discontent by its own people.

It is common knowledge that our culture as Africans has terribly been battered and eroded by imperialist, and finally laid to rest through the able support of several credulous Africans to give room to the pre-eminence of foreign culture over our ancestral heritage. The true picture of what is left of us as a nation is sadly that of a failed cultural legacy. We are undeniably in sheer deficit of any revered heritage that we can truly bequeath to generations yet unborn as our edifying ancestral tradition.

Half a century into our independence, the case of the Nigerian nation is very much a tragic one. Regrettably, the story of our nation has been that of unrelenting disaster that’s grossly invested in worthless civil war, brutal military dictatorship, and callous religious and ethnic conflicts. The story of Nigeria in the last fifty years is that of sheer poverty and hunger, despair and total economic collapse in the face of enormous natural and human resources. Allied to these extreme levels of desolation are unimaginable colossal frauds in the corridor of power. And the end result of these outrageous official swindle is complete breakdown of the society that is today called Nigeria.

Beyond doubt, our development as a nation has plainly not progressed at an expected pace in the last fifty years. The remnants of what Nigeria now possesses as integrity is nothing more than what I would term as artificial and paper-reputation. I have again noticed the torrent of these cosmetic and misleading praise-songs as they flood several media publications throughout Nigeria during our recent golden jubilee. In the actual sense of it, these bogus compliments are nothing near authentic; rather, they represent misleading accolades of political bandits and economic parasites in their grand design to loot Nigeria dry of its oil wealth. The loose ends of these deceptive praise-songs for the present day Nigeria confine greatly in sinister massage to the inordinate egoism of our uncivilized leaders who would credulously succumb their extreme self-interest to the fancy of such cosmetic sycophancy. And in return would award over-inflated contracts in outrageous figures as rewards to these organized bandits of praise singers, for a job well done.

Our backwardness as a nation is not a secret to the entire world. The signs of our lack of development are also very obvious to us, and we know it like the midday sun. The evidence of our deficiencies as a nation, whether in matters of government and economy, education and technological advancements, social cohesion and lack of respect for state laws, or our chronic indiscipline as a people, and so on, is very much apparent to us and the entire world.

We truly know that the trouble with Nigeria is predominantly the failure of leadership. We are also very much aware of the fact that the recurrent failure of leadership in Nigeria has subsequently metamorphosed into failure of followership. And, for the most part, our lack of development as a nation has perilously hanged on a quantity of dubious and filthy conducts, which we have oddly modelled into our national life as acceptable norms. This is the major tribulation that now stares us in the face on daily basis in our country.

As Ambassador Marwa has rightly said, “Whatever the perceptions that might exist about Nigeria, the real picture is much more complex.” It is more complex to explain the peculiar characters that are typically of Nigerians in any position of trust, or in any place we may find ourselves? It is of enormous remark how vastly bizarre anomalous run in our blood. Our apt to steal state funds and manipulate conventional systems is second to none on planet earth. The same is our propensity to shady deals, fraud, and appalling crimes. It is sincerely more complex for anyone to understand how these oddities have taken strong root in our culture and in our bloodstreams.

In my own assessment, the core complexities that chronically afflict the Nigerian society today lie mainly in these three tribulations – Ignorance – Indiscipline – Faulty Governmental System.

  • The level of societal ignorance that resulted in the collapse of rule of law and moral values is exceedingly high in our national order.
  • Gross indiscipline that culminated in collective failure to uphold, in high esteem, the precious values of our civil rights and obligations.
  • And thirdly, our faulty federal system of government is too large and ineffective.

The recurring incidents of gross maladministration of the Nigerian nation by successive governments are lucid substantiations that practically betrayed the high level of societal ignorance that’s very much prevalent in Nigeria vis-à-vis the business of self-rule. We simply have no clear understanding of how to run a democratic state as at the time our colonial masters approved the system of government for us. Evidently, unto this day, we still do not have any clue as to how we can efficiently run a democratic state.

To several of our ignorant and uncivilized leaders in Nigeria, democracy is simply the opposite of what it entails. Democracy in our society means despotism, tyranny, absolutism, and official corruption; rather than being a system of government that provides for social equality. Democracy to Nigerian leaders is authority stealing, embezzlement, election rigging, political thuggery, economic sabotage, and the ‘share-money’ syndrome, commonly known as, “Egunje.” And to the Nigerian followership, democracy is simply the removal of brutal military dictatorship that gives room to free-for-all anarchism, societal commotion, ample disorder, and gross indiscipline that is totally devoid of any trait of social cohesion.

Our federalism is needlessly too large, except for giving employment to too many executive rogues to take charge of ample state funds. Thirty-six states in the federation means thirty-six Executive Governors and their Deputies, with their retinue of aids. It means 36 State Assemblies, 36 Speakers and their deputies, outsized senatorial seats, excessive state ministries and commissioners, and endless executive offices for political bandits in a country with such an outrageous level of corrupt culture. How then should we expect anything other than complete breakdown of society as in our present state?

The Nigerian national Coat of Arm adorns the most inspiring motto I have ever come across in the annals of human civilization: “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.”But, in practical demonstrations, this inspirational slogan has no real meaning in our society. The contrary of its valid sense is the case for Nigeria. Our unity is rapidly dying out due to the menace of recurrent ethnic conflicts, and threat of secession from differing ethnic groups on the indictment of government for gross oppression and marginalization. On the other hand, our faith is unbelievably delusional, blind, and utterly sightless to a very baffling fault. We have gullibly allowed the stronghold of organized religion to breed very awkward delusions in our subdued mind of reasoning, to the detrimental level that has made us to be so irrationally contented with not understanding the world we live in. All over our land, as I speak now, the way to God for the entirety of Nigerians is ridiculously dependent on adherence to the creeds of foreign religions. And, day by day, our peace is troubled by constant religious conflicts; where sectarian extremists recurrently murder one another over rival interpretations of religious dogmas. In short, our progress as a sovereign state has ineffectively witnessed very chronic retardation since the last fifty years of independence.

Fellow countrymen, self-criticism is the beginning of self-reform. In the wake of another general election coming up early next year in our country, there is no better time to unleash a great deal of outrage and criticism against a corrupt political class than now; except we are in total accord with the current state of our nation.

As is usual in any customarily corrupt culture like Nigeria, the likes of this outrage are easily distorted and labelled as nothing more than dismal and unpopular noise of disgruntled elements and political losers. Unfortunately, our position is very hard to defend and very hard to garner support in a society that’s deeply immersed in utter corruption and misconduct over the last fifty years. How pretty much rewarding it would be if dissenting voices begin to intensify against corrupt practices in the Nigerian political arena, as a prelude to sensitizing the voters’ choice in our forthcoming general election?

Fellow countrymen, you all will agree with me that the entire world has now entered into the New Age of Reason. Now is the time for us to wake up from the nightmare of unlimited disgusts that compelled several of us into self-exile on foreign lands. The time has now come for us to resolutely begin to take the bull by the horn, and wrestle the power to govern our dear native land from the hands of uncivilized people who have foolishly misused their position of trust in the last 50 years.

Now is the time for great multitudes of Nigerians in the Diaspora who have witnessed true democracy in action in the civilized world to begin to assemble their humble selves into mastermind alliance to foster true development for our nation. We need to sound the clarion call very decisively to our new leaders back home that we can no longer afford the misfortunes of political misrule in our society. The way forward for us is now.  Any patriotic citizen that truly loves Nigeria should, with all sincerity of purpose, encourage the masses to engage in collective reproach of the nation’s political leaders; rather than the ridiculous defence of our national failures that is usually common amongst our people.

Anything that all Nigerians in the Diasporas can do to weaken the stronghold of the old political brigades in Nigeria should be conscientiously done to flush these old crooks out of politics in our fatherland; and this in the end might be our greatest contribution to the progressive development of our dear native land. The time has now come for Nigeria to regain its lost glory as the “Pillar of Africa,” and begin to take giant strides that are comparable with the outstanding successes of the civilized world.

Here comes the big question: What hope is there for Nigeria? From my personal analysis of the current state of the Nigerian nation, the direct answer to this big question is that of a resounding yes. Oh yes! Nigeria can be back on its feet again as the ‘Pillar of Africa’ if we genuinely inculcate the foremost factor of nation building into our national life – discipline.

It takes a nation of disciplined people to embrace and uphold their native culture and religious identity in the uppermost esteem. That, you all will agree, we don’t have any more in our society. A nation of people with astute discipline will always cultivate a dignified respect for state laws, doing all things the proper way, and to the best of their ability; and this also is another chronic deficiency in our national life. In whatever tempo of change that life may bring at any given time, a nation of disciplined populace will always strive with grand dynamism in keeping a steady pace with the reality of life. The reality of life that seriously confronts Nigeria today is to wipe out the ills of our society. The foremost is to reform our mischievous and ill-discipline manners and decisively expel the utterly corrupt, greedy, uncivilized, old, and dim-witted politicians of past eras, completely from our political landscapes.

Go to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, etc, and see what their civilized leaders have done with their oil wealth in their respective countries. Go to Russia or Germany and see what their leaders have done with the money they are making from their steel products. Come to South Africa to see what on earth South Africans have done with Gold money. Very unfortunately for Nigeria, our case is awful and heartbreaking, as our oil wealth has all been stolen into several private bank accounts in Switzerland and other foreign countries.

In civilized nations like Europe, the Americas, South Africa, China, Japan, Korea, etc, their foremost culture is discipline; and this is the ultimate teacher that governs their everyday lives. As soon as we Nigerians make discipline our ultimate model, the high hope for our country will begin to restore in practical manifestations.

I thank you all for listening.

Your friend in reason

Adebowale Ojowuro, Author of The Crisis of Religion

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anthony C. Kaine permalink
    April 7, 2011 8:37 am

    I could not finish this address but I surmise it well tell the true story of Nigeria position today and the workings of the criminals who ambitiously seek to find their way through to the contracts commit searies of trisonable offences against the country.

    It is really time we tell those in power and those who support them the truth about the way we feel and and the way we are being projected to the world by their actions and the great harm they cause the nation.

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