Let’s quickly assume that there was never the Northern or Southern Protectorates; hence, no need for their amalgamation into what is today known as Nigeria, what would I be and what would you be? Today, you will not be the president of Nigeria and I will not be a Nigerian because there will be nothing like Nigeria. While I will be identified with just one tag (that is my tribal tag, as insignificant as it may be in the global order of things, it is one’s primary identity), most likely, you too will.
Stretching that assumption further, will there be anything beneficial in that regard? Maybe! We will be comfortable living simply as ‘near-homogenous’ enclaves, and that’s being hopeful and modest. In the selection (or imposition) of Presidents or leaders as it would have been, especially in a clearly quasi-democratic state like ours, we will not be burdened by issues of geopolitical zoning, religious sentiments and tribal speculations (again, that’s my hope as many people would have us believe that whatever problems confront Nigeria will confront the individual entities that make her up; would I agree?), which since the inception of the incongruously amalgamated nation state of Nigeria have acted as developmental albatross. Leaders would be chosen based on mutually agreed criteria amongst the people, with tribe and religion being non-factors in the equation.
Assumptions create safe havens and with them, we have the rare opportunity to glimpse what would have been if we had done things a little differently (better, if things have been done to us a little differently and we are able to sustain it but it is not entirely too late, because “we, the people” can always choose to do things a little differently and that point will necessarily mark the beginning of a new turn for us as a nation). How so? The most foolish of us has the answers; they’ve been there from time immemorial.
The ranks of the Boko Haram insurgents keep increasing as a result of various reasons, politics, economic interests and hardship, illiteracy, higher power games, in fact and especially, obvious class difference. In the same country, many of the southerners especially people of the south-west are so educated that amongst them, you have the first African Nobel Laureate in person of Professor Wole Soyinka, you can names others and even the poorly clad guys on the streets, without a home and who pose as area boys or government pikins, in their own way have a level of education that affords them the pride of enlightened introspection and safe interaction with sophisticated elites, who have highbrow interests and tastes. While that is the case on one hand, the north on the other parades, according to national census figures, more human heads than other parts of the country, but mostly being uneducated Almajiris or graduates of that crude system (largely uneducated in the western sense). For the purpose of abolishing possible oppression (deserving or otherwise), it becomes understandable why a group will ask for the proscription of western education, especially when such requests are made with other goals in mind.
Let’s also assume that you were the President of the United States of America, will you by default deprive workers their allowances, especially Medical Practitioners, Academics, Teachers and in fact other civil servants, who are unlike you, the civil boss? Well, maybe you can. But then, you must be armed with a reasonable explanation for doing that. Certainly, you won’t divert funds budgeted for education into contracts that never get started; you won’t commission roads that are littered with potholes gapingly inviting road-users to their deaths. You won’t. It’s sad this is just a game of assumptions.
Let us assume that we run a democracy that values the sanctity of human life, moreso when such a life is that of a person who has chosen to sacrifice his convenience and possibly die for his nation on the battlefield against insurgents, will you sit to watch while 54 of your soldiers, sons of the soil, are sentenced to death by a Nigerian Army court martial for mutiny and conspiracy to commit mutiny? Too much English. Will you, as an American President, siddon look as they’re sentenced? Of course not, for even the soldiers who die on the battlefield get eternally immortalized in very special ways in developed countries. You will as a matter of fact, and that is if you still retain any modicum of decency in you, feel guilty at the death of soldiers as if you were the one who killed them.
The New Year celebration of 2012 was marked by an inglorious declaration of doom, the removal of fuel subsidy and this was immediately followed by widespread protests across the length of the country, with records of deaths, injuries and psychological stress. Mr. President, let us again assume that the safety nets promised were real intentions by the presidency to ensure that the Nigerian commoner doesn’t feel the negative impact of the removal of that subsidy, which a particular cabal made a largesse of, we definitely will not be where we are. If we stopped assuming for once, we’ll realize how long we have been taken for a ride and lied to serially.
An assumption that continued insurgency in the North of the country is an attempt to disenfranchise majority of the affected persons won’t be completely out of place, considering that the insurgents carry out their dastardly acts with almost a non-existent or marginal opposition from the military. This scenario is partially advantageous to the incumbent. And lest it’s forgotten, from the unfolding theatre, soldiers committed to fighting the insurgents with the sacrifice of their lives being sentenced to death for simply demanding better weapons to prosecute the war, botched attempt to purchase weapons of “mass destruction” (by virtue of the stated amount found on the plane) from South Africa without the consent of the military, the successful purchase of warheads by south-southerners and the continued wearing out of the military, without properly rearming them leaves much to the imagination. Wear the military out on all fronts while empowering the south-south, so that in the event of a post-election civil war, the empowered side (which was hitherto powerless by virtue of their status as a minority) will readily claim victory (and make the strides of the Biafran soldiers a child-play).
Fellow Nigerians, it is sad that many of these may remain assumptions and assumptions are not sufficient to inform the fate of a powerful country. Were they not to be assumptions, we should be content to say Nigeria is on a stormy ship (as alluded to by Pastor Tunde Bakare, a man that has earned my eternal respect) and only Olodumare, and the votes of Nigerians, can calm the sea and grant us safe harbor.