Nigeria: Any Development That Quarantines Man Is No Development
Actually this is a quote: “Any development that quarantines man is no development”. Indeed, it was a sing-song quote of Prof. Eddy Egbo, whenever he was lecturing us in our undergraduate days in the early 1990s (1991 if I can remember correctly) at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (ASUTECH then) on “Politics of Development”. He also further posited often at that time that “man is his needs, and any development that does not take-care of man's (all citizens minus none) basic needs, is no development”. Indeed, he asserted unequivocally that all developments must be geared, first and foremost, on man's (every citizen's) basic needs, before emphasizing on other “exoteric-developmental directions”. He (Dr Egbo then, now Prof. Egbo) vehemently and vociferously taught us that when any kind of development does not first emphasis on, and actually take-care of the basic needs of every (all) citizens, that development (government plan, policies, actions, etc) has quarantined man. And that is why the third world nations (which Nigeria remains a visible and prominent member) have remained underdeveloped—due in the main, because they do not focus their developments on the basic needs of man (every citizen minus none) first, before the exoteric and other elephantine projects.
All these initial understanding in mind, we therefore need to ask these relevant questions as a follow-up: What is Development? What is Quarantine? And last but not the least, what is a Basic Need? Herein too, we shall also try to itemize some of the basic needs of man (every citizen minus none).
According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, and Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Development means: gradual unfolding; fuller working out; developing of land, etc; growth evolution of animal or plant; full grown state; stage of advancement; the process of gradually becoming bigger, better, stronger or more advanced in: economic activity, event, new plan/product, improvement, building process, houses/offices, etc. Quarantine means: Isolation imposed on persons or animals that have arrived from elsewhere; impose such isolation on, put in quarantine; to keep a person of animal apart from others for a period of time (in case they are carrying a disease). Basic need means: Fundamental (need); standard minimum (need); the most important or most necessary (need).
Encapsulating the relevant words further—that is in their definitions as they relate to this concise essay, for Development, we will settle for its definition that means: stage of advancement; the process of gradually becoming bigger, better, stronger or more advanced in economic activity, event, new plan/product, improvement, building process, houses/offices, etc. For Quarantine, we shall use the definition that means: to keep a person or animal apart from others (for a period of time). For basic need, we shall be most comfortable with the definition that affirms it as a: fundamental need or a standard minimum need or the most important or most necessary need (amongst all other needs) of all human beings (minus none).
Then, the consequent question that obviously arises after all the above understandings are: Since Nigeria's independence in 1960, have all the developmental strides and policies in the country kept a majority of Nigerians—especially in their fundamental and most necessary need(s) apart (i.e. quarantined Nigerians) from the real developmental indices or not? Let's be truthful in our answer! Have the generality of Nigerians—the totality of its citizenry benefitted from her so-called developmental projects: that should have advanced them, made them better and stronger in all ramifications of life? Also, let's be truthful in our answers!! Last but not the least question: Have all the basic needs (i.e. fundamental, standard minimum, most important and necessary needs) of all Nigerians, like: food, shelter for all, clothing, education for all, medical care for all, employment, water, electricity, all transportation modes, all communication channels, security of life and property, etc, being provided and improved significantly (making them available, affordable and in abundance)—thereby making them proud to be bettered and advanced citizens (that is when compared to citizens of other advanced parts of the world)? Let us also be truthful in our answers!!! Indeed, truth is bitter; truth is life; truth is constant; truth frees us all from all kinds of bondages and shackles. Therefore, what is the truth in all our questions here?
Our truth—that is, the truth of all of us (all the citizens of Nigeria) should be the truth and only the truth; because truth does not have different colors and shades. Indeed, truth is the truth every time, everywhere. Methinks that a thorough and proper analysis of all the so-called developments and developmental strides in Nigeria have not bettered and advanced the generality of Nigerians; nor have they solved (not even minimally alleviating) their quest for the improvement in their basic (fundamental, most necessary and minimally required) needs to exist as citizens; and therefore, has quarantined them—indeed kept them apart from a better life that all citizens desire and deserve. Is this the truth or not? If this is the truth, that means our government and all the people of Nigeria must (repeat: must) work extra hard to better and advance (develop) all Nigerians; and stop keeping them (all minus none) apart (i.e. quarantining them) from being seen and felt as developed—when compared to other parts of the world which are considered developed (for now or forever). Indeed, the first and foremost thing to do is that all their basic (minimum, most necessary and fundamental) needs must be improved, advanced and bettered without equivocation if we (Nigeria and Nigerians) could be seen and considered to be developing or developed. This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Written by Ejike Kingsley Osuji.