The awareness of ones history determines the level of knowledge,interest and participation. It is a guide through what was, and reviews what should be and not be.
There is a powerful Igbo proverb that says ‘’A man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body’
A creditable proverb of Late Chinua Achebe, a great man, an inborn literatus and renowned author masterfully gifted in all genres of literature, and told stories with depths from historical ocean. It must have been a calculated mistake Chinua never won a Nobel Prize. He was most qualified like any other Nigerian. author, and even standard to have won it amongst authors in Africa.
His book, There Was a Country, is a documentary of the ills and hearty wealth of West Africa. In his words, ‘The rain that beat Africa began four to five hundred years ago, from the discovery of Africa by European through the transatlantic slave trade, to the Berlin Conference of 1885’. The arrival of the European evolved Africa into an imposed barbaric nature. The European powers precipitated what we now call ‘scramble for Africa which created new boundaries that did violence to African ancient societies and resulted a tension prone modern states’.
A peaceful continent that was once flushed with decency and respect for deeply cultured sentiments, metamorphosed into a cultural volcanic waterspout.
Our beloved West Africa was handled by Britain. It was a big chunk of land with awesome prospects amassed in wealth, a tasty morsel to munch. And became Nigeria ‘Like a piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party’.
Before the advent of the colonial masters, the West ‘Oyo and Ife strode majestically’. The Benin kingdom heightened ‘artistic distinction to a new level, ‘The Southern protectorate was home to some of the region’s most sophisticated civilizations’, ‘The Northern part was the stool of several kingdoms which ‘Shehu Usman dan Fodio and his jihadists absorbed into the Fulani Empire’.So be it, this is the point to detect that just as Rome was not built in a day, so did the uprising of the Boko Haram insurgents did not revolutionized in the 21st Century.
It has been at the bedrock of the Northern part of Nigeria. And across the Niger River all other regions flourished. In later history,the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates inextricably complicated Nigeria’s destiny. ‘Animist, Muslims and Christians alike were held together by delicate, ‘some say artificial,lattice’ In the highlight of the quote, religious bigotry has always been an antagonistic issue to be curtailed and implemented by law to be respected by all of the above religious groups.
As we praise and admire the British, let us also remember and laud the Nigerian nationalists,those who had burning desire for independence and virtually fought for it. I say it with conviction, if those who protested for the emancipation of West Africa were alive to rule this nation; they would with goodwill leadership because they knew perseverance and endurance to get to this stage, this present time of independent sham.Nigerian Politicians do not possess the habit of ruling themselves not to add, our country Nigeria. To them it’s a gamble of ‘politricks’ a ball game with high profile dribblers.
When Obafemi Awolowo returned to Nigeria from England and was greeted with a picture that the powerful political domain was in disarray-sidetracked by partisan and intra-ethnic squabbles and he glued by their ethnic pride. It was a question of, if you cannot beat them, you have to join them. For instance, take a look around you and see politicians flying from one political party to the other like tattered waving flags all in selfish bid to secure their political career in the nearest future. Everybody wants to belong. To always dine with the power holders and not fall back to walk in busy hard streets alongside the ordinary citizens, which is impossible in their realm of thought and existence. But when it’s time for election campaigns, they level shoulders,and construct flowery deceitful speeches to magnet the votes of the less privilege, at that point they can smear their white kaftans in the gutters posing as like minds. They want much more to munch on the national cake, by legal or illegitimate warfare, by nook or by cranny; avarice is their poison, deceit is their antidote.
The situation is irreversible till date. Corruption is the offspring of independence. When West Africa was about gaining its independence, it was on a platter of Gold. Other countries of the world fought for their freedom, they dripped blood and sweat to be free from the European chains,that is why today they are developed and prospering because they knew and felt the pains of what it was that got them where they are. But to the weakling giant of the continent, freedom was handed to like babies due for their morning cereals, but fed at noon time, an inappropriate hour to eat from its very own plate, not in lew of the hour glass of nature, a violation of fundamental human right. That change ‘’therein proved most unlucky’ it was too easy and that has made leaders to be indifferent in their duties, because they didn’t tussle with strength to embrace liberty, in accordance miswielding it.
Without gainsaying it, the rigging of election, electoral corruption began at the cradle of Nigeria’s dawn of a new era. The Colonial masters educated our leaders on how to cheat in choosing a national leader. It is almost hypocritical that UN would summon the foremost party presidential flag bearers to sign a peace pact on a violence free election.
When recounted by Achebe, Colonialists fledged the banes amongst our politicians’ far back as it was in the beginnings. The European masters acted the benevolent messiahs, handing over the stolen keys of our primitive pristine ancestral land,over tea and cookies independence day, a date that rigged Nigeria’s first civilized election. Before the eve of independence, a new governor general from the Sudan, Sir James Robertson, until he; God bless Achebe for this records: “Played an important role in overseeing the elections (or lack there off).
At independence, threw his weight behind Abubakar Tafawa Balewe, who had been tapped to become Nigeria’s first prime minister”. Sir
James, stayed on in Nigeria, else why every other British were leaving the country for their soil. “I remember hearing Azikiwe comment years later on those events. He was asked in a small gathering: ‘Why did Sir James Robertson not go home, like the other people who were leaving?’ and he replied “well, when he told me that he was going to stay on, I said to him, Go on, stay as long as you like” ‘The laughter that followed did not obscure the greater meaning of his statement’.
In short, he stayed back to oversee the rigging of the election. Later it was revealed that Harold Smith, a noble man, ‘had been selected by no other than Sir James Robertson to oversee the rigging of Nigeria’s first election. It was said that despite the alluring gift of ‘riches and bribes’ which is tempting to a knight, he declined being part of this ‘elaborate hoax to fix Nigerian elections’ he was dealt with because his disloyalties ‘cost him this job career and reputation’. How I wish most electoral officials could epitomize Smith’s honesty.Relinquish greed, and conduct the election with decent dispensations, it sure would do Nigeria lot of fair dealings.
Between six years of manipulation, Nigeria was a whirlpool of corruption and distortion. So saying, corruption is not an embryo of the 21st century but the
forefathers of our colonial masters. The social malaise in Nigerian society was political corruption. The structure of the power struggle among the ethnic groups disintegrated the nation. Of course, whenever those who were in power wanted to achieve incessant political ambitions, their tool was to pledge kingship coined by tribal sentiments, to their prospective supporters.
The Easterners wound up with an idea to build a one Nigeria, but the first to boot against it were the Northerners led by the ‘Sardauna’ trailed bumper to bumper by the Awolowo clique that had created the Action Group. ‘The Northern Peoples Congress of the Sardaunians was supposed to be a national party, yet it refused to change its name from Northern to Nigerian Peoples Congress, even for the sake of appearances. It refused right up to the end of the civilian regime’ The North has always been obsessed with power,a born to rule phobia, intoxicated with the idea that it’s their right heralded by the colonial masters at independence to rule over other territorial poles in Nigeria.
Fronting that aside Northerners, no other is fit to rule. All thanks to the British who made sure that the tail light of their imperial dictation,power was bestowed on the ‘Conservative element in the country that had played no real part in the struggle for independence’ The North was the colonial best friend because they were fragile to dally with. This action has caused chaos due to the unbelievable election swindle.
It was in that situation Wole Soyinka was charged with holding up the Ibadan radio station and removing the premiers taped speech. Triggered by the insatiable quest for power, coups became the jackboot’s spoils. Nigerian families became hostile guests in their fatherland, alien to the fact that we should form a bond as one people united by a specified heritage. The situation is no less sickening and disheartening. It is nauseating when one ethnic group feels it’s a right to consistently rule over a multi ethnic society.
In all of these, I mourn for the lost and gullible generations. I pity those who do not question their background, correct the past and rewrite history in positive light.Europe refined our savagery,adorning us with civilization. But here we are, look into the mirror and see the reflection of a miserable society, scrambling for developmental growth to innovate a greater nation. We do not have a foreign master anymore; we are our own leaders and structures.
The dais of leadership should interchange within all the poles of Nigeria, including North and West,not excluding East and South. No group is a minority group, we are all one formation.
Divided we fall, united we shall stand. The USA was alleged to have said Nigeria may divide come 2015, but they have disclaimed that comment declaring it as false. That clarified enough, accepted. The ball is in our court to uphold our beloved nation.
Vote not fight, enhance violence free election at all cost,let’s save our country from being a laughing stock for other global villages. We are not the worst nation of the world. Others are far more disunited, assaulted by dire plagues. We have been denied the purchase of weapons to fight against terrorism by our so called friendlies who have the ends and means, but why? Now that’s a big deal. Our oil market has lapsed;now that’s a great food for thought to brainstorm the steps forward.
The training of our Nigerian soldiers was aborted by the US because we could not produce the equipments they requested, how could that have been possible? What kind of tools were required;Sophisticated or local equipments? Let us ask ourselves these questions and seek answers,to unveil solutions to such national short comings, and what about our Naira?
Chinua, God bless his soul was a man endowed with wisdom.Wisdom is the principle thing, get it and everything else falls in place. Great preservation of history by a father of African literature. What would you want to tell of your own past? Should we play history all over again or write a bright future?
Vote not fight, use your head, and think ahead.
Author: Gift Amukoyo.
First published in Well Of Wealth With Gift at http://skytrendnews.com/index.php/column/saturday-column/6430-well-of-wealth-with-gift-who-engineered-the-rigging-of-nigeria-s-first-election-breeding-corruption