Neither amalgamation nor colonisation is our problem, By Chukwudi Ohiri

Posted by News Express | 16 September 2019 | 600 times

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I have read a lot of books, articles and commentaries on how Africa and, especially Nigeria’s underdevelopment and backwardness resulted from colonialism and specifically, the Amalgamation of 1914 (in the case of Nigeria). A recent article on social media emphatically sought to find out who signed the Amalgamation Treaty, highlighting how our foremost nationalists were either too young to have signed it or were outrightly not born at that time.

I can boldly and unequivocally state that the problem is not who signed the treaty. After all, similar treaties were signed from Malaysia to Singapore, India to South Korea, Japan to China, Ghana to Rwanda, South Africa and many more. The real problem is: Having woken up to the realisation that we are of diverse nationalities, tongues and cultures, what have we done to ensure peace, progress, development and most importantly, a harmonious cohabitation, the way other countries we all envy today did? Enough of this blame game over amalgamation and colonisation.

Since 1960, the white man left us to do our things our own way. They gave us freedom (no matter how warped) to write our own code of conduct, constitution and political cum economic ideologies, have we shown any sense of purpose and courage to take any meaningful leap away from the foundations we considered faulty? The answer is in the negative. Instead, we have continued to amplify those things that would rather divide us instead of tapping on the strength that emanates from diversity. Hardly had the colonisers left than our leaders (and followers alike) started pursuing sectional and ethno-religious interests at the expense of national cohesion. Yes, the foundations might be faulty and deliberately laid for parochial motives, but we had the autonomy to take a quantum leap away from the snare that entrapped us.

The Americas we all court and envy today was a desolate land. It was only populated after the 1492 voyage of discovery by Christopher Columbus and the rest. People from Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East and all over the world with different cultures, religion, ethnicity, tongues and orientation found themselves (most of them not by their own volition) in the Americas. Today, they all see America as their first and only home. There is relative peace and harmonious cohabitation there. There was a collective will of both the leaders and the led to make the best out of their “unsolicited” predicament (the same way Nigeria’s Amalgamation bequeathed to us an unsolicited union).

Every literate Nigerian knows that America is referred to as a melting-pot of diverse nationalities and cultures because of its history of diversity. Yet, when America sneezes, the whole world catches cold. How come? Leaders with vision inherited the land and turned it into what it is today. Leaders saw the dire need and desire to either unite or perish. Only a handful could boast of being originally Americans, otherwise known as aborigines. The followers found themselves trapped in the mesh and resolved to make it workable. They too had worse experiences of racism, segregation, tribalism, marginalisation, wars and every other challenge that confronts nation-building. They all buried their differences in a “foreign land” to pursue a common goal - making their country a place to be. Enough of this blame game, fellow Nigerians.

The problem is you. The problem is me. The problem is with our crop of leaders from 1960 till date, not just Buhari. The problem is with followers from then till now. We are collectively guilty, and until we all resolve to be good leaders and followers, there will be no dawn for Africa nay, Nigeria. Until identity politics is expunged from national life; until merit overrides nepotism and ethnicity; until there is justice and equity in sharing of national cake; until we get leaders who would see him/herself first as Nigerians before ethno-religious origin; and most importantly, until we all resolve to take advantage of our diversity for the growth and development our nation, knowing full well that this is our one and only home, we will continue to wail and mourn till eternity. 

Another civil war will further prolong our already long walk to freedom. Change of government from kettle to pot will continue to push us backwards. Until we all determine to make where we find ourselves our home, peace will continue to elude us till eternity.

•Ohiri, a Public Affairs and Social Commentator, writes from Lagos. He can be reached via; 08060321965.

Source: News Express

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