50(96) YEARS ON: WHOSE CHILDREN ARE WE?
Here I go again looking at the past years of confusion. There are years of being fatherless, years of heedless straying from the paths of cohesion and purpose. There have been very long years of intentionally refusing to admit the truth of our misbegotten state so as to find a way out of the woods for our selves and the nation.
I know you would have been wondering since we started this discourse if some individuals Nigeria projects as founding fathers are not our fathers. I know they could be, but I know what I am talking about is a father, not fathers.
If you say Nigeria has three fathers, that means you have admitted that Nigeria is an abnormality. There is no individual that has three fathers. It's one child one father. I bet you, if you have more than one father, you are unfortunate. The society won't understand you and you will live in confusion within yourself on who to obey and to be guided by. That is exactly what Nigeria is suffering - psychologically and socially.
Yes, they talk of Zik, Awo and Sardauna. I heard it said some number of times, especially when he died that Zik is the father of modern Nigeria. But before it could crystallize, some felt it would be attribution of supremacy to his person and by extension from the way we reason, his ethnic group. We dropped that and also dubbed his positions as Governor-General and President as ceremonial. But when Zik was Governor-General he was Commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the nation. Yet, that was ceremonial. That made me ask what does it take to be 'unceremonial' head if the C in C is just a ceremonial person. It was part of our antics not to have a father so that we don't listen to anybody for guide.
In Igboland, they deride Zik, but some of us honour him till death. They say he didn't do much for them, meanwhile in far back 1954 he had conceived the idea of building a university for his people to develop them the way he was developed. In 1947 he had developed himself to open the first indigenous bank, which he later gave the same people of his in 1957. They said he didn't do much and those of them that did much and loved Igbo more than Zik stole all the money in the bank he gave them and ACB went out of existence. That university he built for his people, they have run aground because they love the people more than Zik. They didn't see him as a father. Nigeria saw him as father of the Igbo only. And Igbo saw him as nobody.
In the west, Awo gave his all - developed his people through free education, made sure the common man had hope and elevated the people intellectually. His people appreciate him for that but refuse to emulate him on that. They preach awoism, but practise it not. Ask leaders of the people today from the West why Awo is only in their mouth even after benefiting from his kindness and away from their minds and they will send thugs after you for saying the truth. They love Awo but can never try Awo's experiment.
Like Zik who built the university in Nsukka and not his Onitsha, so Awo built his for his people at Ife and not his Ikenne. Likewise, Sardauna showed his leadership qualities and built his university for the people at Zaria and not is Sokoto. He thought of centrality to his people. But those that preach Sardauna today, will uproot an institution from where it had been to their town to demonstrate they are in power. To Sardauna, all human beings from the north were fit and qualified for liberation. But after him, the sons of Sardauna by association use his name as political capital but would never come near doing what he did. Why is it so? Because we have never seen these people as fathers. If we did, we would have emulated them. In the North today, only the children of the royal family deserve anything good. And an emir asked a soldier sometime why he annoys him by preaching that everybody should go to school. He asked the General, if everyone goes to school the way you people from the South preach, who will serve my children when they become emir? Think about such reasoning in today's world. But from what we read, such was not in the Sardauna philosophy.
They will build high towers anywhere and emblazon their images on them like the shrine of Diana of Ephesus. That makes no sense. After engraving their images on your rocks, did you engrave their principles in your minds? The answer is no.
It is not in dispute that we copied none of these people we in lip-service elevate as fathers. Who among these men that tell us to celebrate these icons ever thought of imitating them even in one aspect of their lives? They are only their children on the day they want to ask for your votes. They use their images as marketing bait on their billboards and discard them forever after bullying and killing to be declared winners. How many of these men we claim to be our role models looted the treasury of the people. The only one among them that was known for amassing wealth never elevated his interest above public good. He took care of himself and the society, giving much more to the society than he took. Some of them were totally selfless. I can't remember, even when growing up in Zik's Onitsha, those chains of mansions whose ownership is traced to Zik. Think if you know any in Enugu or Lagos or overseas. I was a little boy in Onitsha when Jim Nwobodo was governor in Anambra State and that government built for Zik the Inosi Onira Retreat, the home where he was buried later. He only had Onuiyi Haven in Nsukka and nothing more. So, before you unveil Zik's image at TBS, ask yourself as a leader, if you are like Zik.
How much do you steal from government purse from every imaginary project? How many buildings do you have in Abuja alone, or Lagos, overseas or even on the seas? One soldier ruled Lagos and left office to float an airline larger than the Nigeria Airways when it was alive. Did we ask him where he got the money from? And that person will tell you he adores Zik, Awo and Sardauna or Tafawa Balewa? Deceit.
Because no father sired us and we decided not to adopt any or learn from those that have fathers, hoodlums keep taking their turns to rule us over and over. Those we used their names to pass social studies in primary and secondary schools still want to come back and show us leadership. What a shame for fatherless people who were never taught that there is time for everything - service and retirement.
If we had a father, we would have taken instruction from his ideals and fought these men and stoned them in the streets even in violence to leave us alone. They refuse to manage Nigeria and refuse to collapse the project. Their refusal to manage is borne out of their incompetence, which they won't admit. Their refusal to collapse it is because they love the booty of bad conglomeration and won't want the party to roll to a close. They preach one Nigeria here and go out to sow division for their benefit. Today, the suture and stitch have lasted too long to be separated. But I am afraid, we have no father to teach us to mend fences and live right after 50 or 96 years.
If we had a father, he would have taught us that we have unique qualities we can integrate and make a great stride. The Yoruba man's religious tolerance is legendary. The Igbo man remains a case study in resilience and friendliness to strangers. The Hausa/Fulani man is a role model in modest ambition devoid of greed. That is the average of them.
If we had a father or we adopted one, we would have learnt to instruct the Hausa/Fulani to adopt Yoruba's religious tolerance; the Igbo to discard his greed gone amok and adopt Hausa/Fulani's modest and straight aspirations. At the same time, the Igbo would have given his friendliness and accommodation of strangers to the Yoruba. The blending would have worked wonders, and Nigeria with such integrated hybrid qualities would move the whole world in the direction she wants.
We would have boasted like President Andrew Johnson of USA who told a daring preacher who ordered him to repent or face hell fire that 'with men like you in America I can conquer the whole world.'