Nigeria @ 56: Tribute To An Indivisible Sovereign State
Akosu Emmanuel Lubem
The area that is now Nigeria was carved out to Britain at the Berlin conference for the partition of Africa (November 1884-February 1885). For the purpose protecting its territorial integrity and securing stronger administrative control over the indigenous people, the British introduced what it termed protectorates. In 1861 they created the Lagos colony which effectively became their operational headquarters and administrative hub. Others been the Oil Rivers Protectorate which was later renamed the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1900 the Northern Nigeria protectorate was created to cover the entire area North of Rivers Benue and Niger.
Nigeria as a country effectively came into being in 1914 when Fredrick Lord Luggard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates. In 1947 the British authorities split the country into three regions- North, West and East. By 1957 and 1958, talks for independence became heightened. This was in addition to the significant call by Anthony Enahoro, representing the West when he moved a motion in the legislative council for independence in 1956. Preparatory to independence, conferences were held in 1953, 1954, and 1957 in London and Lagos.
In 1957, the 1954 Constitution was reviewed paving the way for elections for the Federal Government in 1959. Independence effectively came on October 1 1960. With Alhaji Tafawa Balewa the Prime- Minister and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe as Governor- General by 1963. And the three regions of North, West and East in place manned fully with administrative structures in place for a had commenced in the first regional / parliamentary system of government. In 1966, military officers led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu carried out a coup d’etat on January 15. Shortly after six months on July 29,1966 major General Aguyi- Ironsi who was Head of State was ousted through a coup d’ tat and killed in the circumstances leading to the emergence of General Yakubu Gowon, under whose watch Nigeria fought an inevitable civil war from 1967-1970 To maintain its sovereignty. At the ouster of Gowon in 1976, General Murtala Muhammad became President steering the affairs of a nation effectively. But his eventual assassination led to the full take over the Military Government by his Deputy General Olusegen Obasanjo who ruled and prepared the way towards civilian democracy in 1979.
Shagari Shehu became the first Executive President in a Presidential system of government and administered for fours and on return for another four year mandate, was overthrown on January 1983 paving the way for General Muhammadu Buhari who despite his brief tenure of less than two years was widely acknowledged for his zero tolerance for corruption and has penchant discipline and sanity around public circles. General Ibrahim Bdamosi Babangida took over and led the country for 8years, handed over to the Interim National Government, ING led by Chief Ernest shonekan. The ING was short lived however as General Abacha over threw the system in November 1993. General Abacha’s sudden demise in 1998, paved the way for a smooth transition to democratic rule entrenched by General Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1999. When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became the elected Executive President from 1999-2007, he led the country through another unhindered democracy transition for eight years and handed over to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua whose sudden but unfortunate demise led to the emergence of his Deputy Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2010 to complete this former’s four years mandate. Jonathan was later elected in the 2011 general elections and on completion of his tenure sought for another term in 2015, but couldn’t sail as the reins of power was for the first time won by an opposition party in Nigeria through the ballot in 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari emerged a popularly elected President on the heels of noticeable public disenchantment from the people over a government they believed had not really lived up to their expectations since the return of Democracy in 1999. The people had accused the past regime of monumental corruption, economic sterility, leadership and political failure which had bought them to an un bargained status in their socio-economic lives. So they largely voted in favor of the opposition APC in the 2015 polls.
Buhari came with a triumvirate open to focus on the economy, corruption and security. But how far all these has been achieved still remains an its attendant recession, it is believed by government circles and analysts that the past regime had squandered common wealth and crudely with little political will to have saved for rainy days. This was in a time when crude-oil which accounts for over 90% of the nation’s wealth sold at over 2 million barrels per day at a rate of more than $100 per barrel. But such fortunes were crudely amassed by the leadership leading to an controllable recession which the country continues to grapple with. In addition to Niger Delta militants nefarious activities through pipeline vandalism the destruction of major oil facilities, completely leading to economic sabotage and fall in fortunes the situation in Nigeria has further aggravate and take a complete toll on the nation’s economy. Government unfortunately is not with better choices than to solely resort to other non- oil revenue sources in the country.
In the area of security, the government accords itself the worth to have won the war against Boko Haram insurgency , and other packets of internal ethnic clashes especially the strange Fulani marauder acts of bloodletting on vulnerable sections of the country especially Benue State.
Boko Haram which had hitherto taken control of over 14 local governments in the North-East of Nigeria is at the moment been decimated with only an apparent among soft targets. The sudden resurgence of self actualization demands and breakaway been sought by other ethnic sections and groups such as then IPOB, MASSOB and the renewed Niger Delta militancy had further raised deeper concerns and aggravated the already precarious security situation in the country.
Leaving a determined government hewed at maintaining its sovereignty and making meaningful marks on the lives its citizens. These trying times have really placed the government almost in a state of dilemma, yet determined to address these internal challenges of security, apparent corruption is where the government seem to have been overwhelmed with cases. It has indeed depleted common wealth and no doubt brought Nigeria to its present kneels economically and virtually pervading all facet of public life in the country. It is common in the Judiciary, Executive and Legislative the private sectors of life; banks inclusive. Some of the corruption cases to have apparently eaten deep is the famous Dasukigate , the multi-million security contracts given to repentant militants and $13.7Billion under NNPPC (2009-2012).
Illegal withdraw of $2.2 billion from ECA Account and 11.6 Billion missing from LNG dividends. Over and $20 Billion of oil revenue not remitted, billions missing in NNDC, corruption cases of both past and present Governors, the NIMASA fraud and recently, the over and 30 billion Dollar stashed by former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan been investigated by EFCC.
If the fight against corruption is eventually won, Nigeria would be the lot for it. So a fight against this vice that has robbed the country of its ideal status of as one of the biggest economy in the world must be sustained and supported by all and sundry.
It is worthy of note therefore, that inspite of all the seeming challenges inherent in the economy, religious and ethnic diversities of over 250 ethnic groups, social agitations, various, sometimes unhealthy demand for self determination, sometimes mutual suspicions, Nigeria has continually remained steadfastly strong, indivisible, united front to the admiration of many nations of the world including the same western doom Sayers who predicted its breakaway prior to 2015.
It is equally gratifying to note that at the recent UN General Assembly the world would in an uncommon manner stand still for a nation like Nigeria which in time past had been scorned and disdained by her neighbors and other western giants including US and former colonialists, Britain. First the US President, Barack Obama had hailed the President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort at Sanitizing Nigeria and secondly the UN Seeretary General Banki Moon would put a pat on the Nigerian President and say that ‘world Leaders respect you for what you are doing in Nigeria’.
Now if the world views us circumspectively in this manner, we owe it as a point of patriotism to honour our pledge with Nigeria and keep faith with its present leadership and her patriotic efforts at making our country a celebrated global brand.
AKOSU EMMANUEL LUBEM
WROTE FROM ABUJA , NIGERIA
TEXT : 07038578549, E-MAIL [email protected]