The Country That Never Was

Nigerians have been inundated with tales of how “God destined Nigeria’s composition”. How it was our destiny to be a country, despite its glaring unworkability, and how we must choose to live as one, whether its convenient, or not.

The truth is that, despite the fact that our founding fathers had a dream, to lead a nation that will prosper, though tribes and tongues differ. Our founding fathers were aware of the fact that unity is possible in diversity, and that we can make our differences an asset. They were aware of our disagreements, but there was a general desire to make things work, regardless. They were not deluded about the enormity of the tasks ahead, rather, they were willing to ensure that the pitfalls were avoided, and that they never lose sight of the ultimate goal: building a nation that worked for all, whether from the east, west, north or south.

Our founding fathers knew the journey towards the country they dreamed of would be long. But it would be worth it. For their children, and generations unborn. That country, sadly, has not materialized. And, it may never materialize.

Many of those that had dreams of an ideal Nigeria, who breathed and lived for the actualization of a great country, have died with their dream. Some were ironically murdered by the very country they fought their whole lives for- a sad irony. All of Nigeria’s founding fathers have either died in regret of a country that never materialized, or have forgotten about the dream altogether. The project has simply refused to work.

What is the problem with Nigeria? Blessed with abundant human and natural resources, with a rich blend of so many diverse cultures, Nigeria, of all nations is most suited to bloom. Weather? Almost perfect. Rainfall? Moderate. Soil? The best you can find. People? Hardworking. Creative. Accommodating. Add that to the rich resources deposited underneath our grounds, it almost seems God deliberately wanted us to be the envy of all other nations. Nigeria was designed, by all indicators, to be a resounding success. Somehow, rather, we have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Our country, by all indices, today, is a worse place to live in that almost any other nation on earth. Infact, depending on the indices measured, most of the states below us are those practically in full blown wars: Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Syria. It is with these failed states that Nigeria shares the same statistics on issues like power supply, quality of roads, healthcare and access to quality, uninterrupted education. And Nigeria is not at war. At least, not officially.

Nigeria has failed at almost everything. Its huge population should have been an asset (one in ever four African is a Nigerian), but its not. It’s rather reasons for government to claim goodies can’t go round. The abundantly massive hydrocarbons inside beneath our lands has rightly been termed a curse. We import all of our fuel, and our crude in itself has led to uncountable deaths, both by the effect of the degradation of the environment, and the violence attached to oil politics. Nigeria still cannot provide enough electricity to drive any industrial motion, no matter how slow. Nay, even domestic needs like watching of television and refrigeration of water and food can’t even met by government power. At an abysmal four thousand megawatts being generated, and much less being eventually transmitted and distributed, Nigerians have to provide almost all of their power needs by themselves.

Perhaps the greatest problem with Nigeria has been its ridiculous imbalance. Nigeria is such an imperfect union. There is no equity, nor fairness in dealing with all tribes. Some regions simply assume superiority, and demand obeisance from the others. What is worse? The regions that put most food on the table are the most impoverished. The most educated is the most shortchanged. The most ingenious is the most marginalized. And the most vulnerable, is the most oppressed. The “Federal Character”, a devilish sharing formula, devised to ensure equity and balance, only comes into question when the ruling regions likes. At every other time, all Nigerians are equal, but some Nigerians are more equal than others.

So, millions of skilled Nigerians are leaving the country in droves. Because the country is now designed to only work for few. The few who belong to the tribes that matter, or know those that matter. Nigeria has been turned into a country that will not work for you simply because you are a Nigerian, but because you know the right people.

In that case, let every one return to their tents. Let us stop pretending we are a country if the system is made only to favour a few. It is this truth we have refused to tell ourselves. Because we know this truth will set us free. Free from the lazy access to the Commonwealth a very few enjoy. And, that, they don’t want…

So, we’re still stuck. Stuck in a country, that isn’t going anywhere. This is not what our founding fathers died for.

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