By Isaac Ochegbudu
It has been argued by some that the Major Kaduna Nzeogwu led coup OF 15 January, 1966 is responsible for setting the social formation called Nigeria ablaze with the fire of ethno-religious antagonism. Even though the coup had a significant touch on the county, it is totally wrong and misleading (in my view) to see it as the cause of our present situation. I have always emphasised that, even if that coup had not taken place, we would still experience what we are experiencing today. Right from 1914, antagonism has been a part of us.
There is no doubt that the present situation of Nigeria is a product of colonialism. A situation which was firmly established in 1914 by Air Frederick Lord Lugard, through the marriage of the various socio-cultural group to form Nigeria. A marriage which brought different entities together without consultation, to form a family. A family which has never been one since its establishment. The action of Lugard in 1914 created the path we walk today.
Colonial rule did not only set in ethnic antagonism (which later birthed religious antagonism) but also contributed to the serious underdevelopment of the country in all ramifications. The colonial socio-political cum economic system which was only aimed at exploitation was characterized by disarticulation, monopolistic tendencies and dependence. These same characteristics where bequeathed to the petit-bourgeoisie (which was also a creation of the colonial masters) to manage the affairs of the country after their departure.
Prof. Claude Ake noted that, the petit-bourgeoisie that were to run t the affairs of the country after the departure of the colonial masters, were never a homogeneous entity. The class was full of internal contradiction and antagonism. This is is same of their followers amongst the various socio-cultural/religious groups.
The antagonism and contradiction inherent in these class and the various socio-cutural and religious groups manifested in self in various ways through the series of events that took place before and after independence. One of which is the disagreement that came up following the motion for self government in 1953. An incident which resulted in the exposure of our disunity and antagonism which later gave birth to the Kano riot of 1953. This event revealed, the disunity of the various groups . Some of The by-products which was the attempt to seek secession by some groups.
Another event which clealy shows the existing antagonism and contradiction of Nigeria is the the census crisis of 1962/63. The head count and it’s byproducts brought about and increased the disagreement and mistrust among the people. Even the struggle for independence showed our disunity, as the various “nationalist” came under and played cultura/regionall politics. The utterances of some of these nationalist also gave an insight into this, one of them regard Nigeria as a mistake, while another refers to it as a mere geographical expression.
Aside and after the above mentioned incidents, violence of various kinds which are product of the long existing disagreement and mistrust amongst the various socio-cultural/religious groups also ocured. The most significant which is the civil war. An event that is supposed to have taught us great lessons but sadly we never learnt from any of this events especially the civil war
After the civil war, it is expected that Nigeria had learned great lesson and will put its house in oder. If these lessons were learnt, the county would have been salvaged from the shackles of sentimentality, mistrust, disagreement and antagonism which has characterised it for long and has also cause it great harm. It is also expected that, the lessons from the civil war would have placed the country on the path of greatness, just like American. After the American civil war ended, it out it house in oder and began the journey to greatness. But sadly we learned nothing but continued to make the same mistakes.
It is sad and appalling that, after more than 100 years of staying together, we have never truly been together but have continued in the our infant behavior and character.Infancy is a stage of life for every human being and any system. There are some characteristics associated with this stage of life but after sometime, it is expected that a level of maturity has been attained by the human or system which will result in its transition into another stage of life. These continues until the child or system passes through various stages of life to enable it reach full maturation. A stage were the various parts of the system is expected to have developed. It is also expected to have passed through the processes of socialisation, desocialisation and resocialisatinlon. It is painful that Nigeria has not gone past the infancy stage. Even after gaining the status of adolescent in 1960 through the attainment of independence. Nigeria has continued in ways of our founders, we have continued to wander in the infancy stage and repeatedly make the same mistakes.
It is expected that, at this stage of existence, Nigeria would have out grown infancy, seeing the the bitter fruits it has produced but we never did. It is even more heartbreaking that, we have waxed stronger in the same things that has dealt Fatal blows on us. One of the example of this the events that surrounded the #Endsars protest.
The social uproar which started in unity against police(SARS) brutality and later metamorphosed into a struggle to seek a better Nigeria, took a quick U-turn to visit as usual the very good and bad friend of Nigeria named SENTIMENTALITY. The sane struggle later become a war of ideas and words between HAUSA vs YORUBA, YORUBA vs IGBO, IBGO vs HAUSA and more sad CHRISTIANS vs MUSLIMS. To the point that some applaud the killing of armless individuals, resort to violence and dig up old graves from history. These #Endsars event was thought to be the event that will pave way for the salvaging of Nigeria but sadly it didn’t.
Another incident that shows our level of immaturity and irresponsibility at this stage, is the recent gross misinterpretations of the December 2020 Christmass message of Rev. Kukah and it byproduct. The Kukah incident exposed greatly our level of maturity, disunity and sentimentality which will (God forbid) lead to the outright destruction of the country if we continue in it.
It is sad that Nigerians don’t just learn from any thing. Just shortly after the Kukah incident, we are now experiencing another show of foolishness. A show which is more intense, it followed the pronouncement by Gov. Akeredolu that Fulani herdsmen should leave iOndo forest and the subsequent action of Sunday Igoho. A situation that has resulted in the war of words as usual and the sad call for a civil war by some persons. A call for war at this time?! The actions of Sunday Igoho and the reaction of his adversaries is a total show of foolishness. It is pertinent foe us to know and realise now that, if we continue in the path of our infancy and continue to repeat the mistakes of the past and we refuse to learn the appropriate way to deal with issues, Nigeria will be no more in no distant time.
Nigeria cannot and will never be better and develop with this attitude!WE NEED MENTAL REVOLUTION!
Isaac Ochegbudu (Freelance content writer and social analyst)