Recently I have been inundated with articles of prophecies by “prophets” and notable Nigerians who foresee Nigeria disintegrating. Many people agreed with this and have sent me private messages saying some of our passion is misplaced and Nigeria is not worth the trouble of saving – nothing to celebrate, they say. Please do not be offended when I call all this arrant non-sense.
I begin by quoting from a book, “Our Hopes, Our Dreams – A Vision for America”, by Gary L. Bauer. I only laid hands on this book yesterday, 6th of October 2009.
“Historians and philosophers have come up with many ways to judge a great nation. It’s possible to look at the size of its GNP, the strength and reach of its military, or the gleam of its cities. By those measures and many others, America is a great, great country that has drawn millions of pilgrims across stormy seas. But it’s also possible to measure a nation by the health of its children and the strength of its families, by the safety of its streets and the values of its culture. On any given night in America, too many children cry themselves to sleep. Too many long for the arms of a father who isn’t there; too many have been damaged by pornography, drug addiction, or venereal disease; too many have been abused and exploited. Too many families are broken, too many schools aren’t educating, and too many homes have bars on their windows. By those measures, the United States is falling far short of our Founders’ dreams”.
He went further to provide some poll results. Over half of Americans believe their country is heading in the wrong direction – and they are not talking economic terms, but rather, the state of Americans’ hearts and soul. So, even though Bill Clinton left America with 8 million new jobs and a sound economy, people still thought something was wrong. Even after George Bush went into two wars and proved America was still the world’s only super-power, people felt something was wrong. Even after voting him out of office and bringing the much prophesied and expected change, majority of Americans are now beginning to say Obama is not the Messiah they yearned for. This is the America we compare ourselves with. So, what is really wrong?
This is the measure of the problem Nigeria is facing today. Many people asked for leaders with integrity, but they would not go out to vote Gani Fawehinmi as President of Nigeria; they could not even deliver him his own town. We asked for a righteous leader, but Chris Okotie got less than 100,000 votes in each of this presidential bids. We recognise Pat Utomi’s intellectual credentials, but he only got 18,000 votes all over Nigeria, with over 50 million registered voters. Many of our pessimists neither have voter’s cards or got up from their sore backsides to vote on election days or remain to see the votes tallied. Then someone comes up and declares Nigeria will disintegrate.
With all respect to our members with Architectural or Building Engineering degrees, and seeking their input if my summation is in error in those lines, I will attempt to use the building of a house as an analogy of our nation in development.
A house is a structure that consists of 4 primary dimensions;
The Foundation The Pillars The Walls The Roof.
Each is critical to the full development of the house and they are built in subsequence. That is, the foundation comes first, then the pillars, then the walls and finally the roof. Furthermore some necessary sub-structures come together for the aesthetics of the house to become manifest. Like;
Windows Plumbing Electricity Furniture
In between all these is an instrument called the “Scaffolding”.
Now the following indicate the usefulness of these dimensions to our house of Nigeria.
Our Vision and Values are our Foundations Our Laws are our Pillars Our Citizenship is our Walls Our Faith is our Roof
The windows, plumbing, electricity, furniture are all the social services and amenities (Programmes) that we require to enjoy the beauty of the building but they do not define the building. The scaffolding is a tool that helps whitewash (brand) the building, but its absence will not affect the integrity of the structure.
What has gone wrong in Nigeria is that the four foundational dimensions stated above were never developed in proper order. They were not developed by the competent and certainly were never developed with an eye for the destiny of this nation. The white people amalgamated and ruled us under a name, and under a British Parliament, but left us with a name and three regional parliaments - a bad foundation. Our inherited Laws did not take into cognisance our cultural values as a nation and were designed for the Anglo-Saxon temperament and historical realities. When we moved into the American governmental methodology, we came to the same impasse; The American constitution was developed by a group of people with common background in Europe, who were looking in the same direction. Nevertheless, 50 groups of settlers amalgamated rather than disintegrated, forming the United States of America.
Our citizenship was dual. Parents were careful , following their community leaders teachings, to brand their children first as Yoruba, Ibibio, Kanuri, Igbo, etc, before they grew up to find that they were born and live in a country called Nigeria.
Our faith was not consolidated around a nation, but around our groups. All our national religions are not even of domestic origins, and our domestic religions divide more than they unite. So what would have been our roof of faith is several layers of asbestos, designed to protect each group according to their level of communal growth within our nation state. The scaffolding of external aid, advice, help, IMF, World Bank, AU, UN, etc, are only of temporary benefit and cannot help us overcome very defective origins. Thus, with a defective foundation, it goes to say that people expecting all the social amenities of electricity, good roads, health, sound education, etc, are wishing on a star.
George H. Ashiru (
NIGERIA: Town Hall Meetings Project (THMP)