By Fatima Stephen
When in 1914, our colonial master – Britain was busy bringing together Northern and Southern protectorates to form a Geographical entity to be known as Nigeria, little did it realise that it was putting together a nation twice the size of Egypt, three times the size of South Africa and twelve times the size of Zambia. In area, it is equivalent to France, Italy Belgium and Holland put together. Not only that from Maiduguri to Lagos is as wide as London to Warsaw. Therefore any Nation with this configuration is bound to be bedevilled with scores of problems including that of leadership. It is as if the Nation requires a leader whose intelligence is close to that of king Solomon.
Nigeria is yet to stumble upon to a daring leader that can squarely face and deal decisively with the bag log of the Nation’s problems and drive it right through twenty first century modernity. That is why people like Dr. Maitama Sule believes and said that “what is badly needed in Nigeria and sadly lacking is good leadership”. The imposing structure of the Nigerian Nation coupled with her Human and material resources most of which were discovered after independence made her an envy of her neighbours and other global powers that took part in the partitioning of the African continent which produced an entity call Nigeria.
However, either by design on the part of the European power, default on the side of Nigerians and their leaders or both, the Nation according to late General Murtala Mohammed “has been left to drift”. Our misfortune started with the fall of the first republic in the sixties leading to the demise of scores of political as well as military leaders. That was followed by a thirty months old civil war which claimed millions of lives and left behind similar number of widows and orphans. Even though the reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation effort of the Gowon’s regime has helped greatly in National reintegration, pockets of animosity have continue to rear their ugly heads intermittently and this has been a serious draw back to the Nation’s match to greatness.
Corruption is not new and peculiar only to Nigeria. However, the scale at which this social monster is growing is fast grounding the Nation to its knees. No time in the life of this county has corruption eaten so deep into the almost all the strata of the society. The practice has been legalised to the level that those in the act see nothing wrong with it while the rest of the Nation watches in disbelieve.
Political stability is one parameter of development that is lacking in most countries and Nigeria is one of them. Even the famous and much talked about great civilizations of Egypt, Indonesia China as well as the Arabs were products of political stability institutionalised by their successive leaders. In modern times, political stability is what attracts foreign investments that usually stimulate economic growth and development in many forms. That is why late Odumegwu Ojukwu warns in his book, “Because I was involve” that “Too much in too little time is as bad as too little change in too much time”.
Communal and sectarian crises which are some of the features of under development have refused to go as one crises leads to another consuming and displacing Nigerians from their ancestral homes while at the same time destroying property worth millions of naira. Even as at the time of writing this piece, the Nations is busy battling a religious crises that is fast growing into a monster. However, recent giant stride by the federal state and local governments in the affected areas is fast bringing to an end the problem in question. Military and paramilitary exercise apart, there are pockets of civilian groups (civilian JTF) as in Maiduguri who are helping greatly in identifying and destroying hide outs as well as members of the group living in such locations, the recent successful military exercise in Borno is a case in point.
Over the years there have been attempts – external and domestic – to dismember Nigeria to serve the interest of some people within and outside the country which did not produced what the detractors want. However, and in spite of everything, God who created Nigeria in the first place is the one to decide its destiny. for this reason no Nigerian should exercise the fear that the Nation will disintegrate because of unfolding political and religious crises. Yes we shall overcome.
Fatima Stephen is a mass communication undergraduate at University of Maiduguri.