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NIGERIA : A COUNTRY IN SEARCH OF NATIONHOOD.

BY: CHRIS EDACHE AGBITI, ESQ.*  

 Published December, 27th, 2009

It was the Evil Genius himself, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida who let out the Freudian slip in the heydays of his military dictatorship that the economy of Nigeria had defied all economic logic and wondered why the country had not collapsed. Many Nigerian political leaders, patriotic and unpatriotic alike, may have wondered in similar vein either in public or in their closet why nothing works in Nigeria . Indeed, an average Nigerian is always skeptical of every governmental initiative as he thinks that it will follow the same doomed path of failure just as others before it.

Now, flowing from the above backdrop, it becomes imperative to ask why the management of Nigeria’s political, economic and, if I may add, social components of the system does not always produce the much-desired end result of improving the welfare and creating happiness for her citizenry? When a question such as the one above is posed, it is always very tempting to jump up with explanation bordering largely on the all pervasive cankerworm of corruption. While one completely admits that corruption is indeed a cankerworm ravaging the system, it is however a parochial view as it overlooks the fundamental causes or factors that leverage the degeneration of values in the system, which factors are capable of predisposing an individual in the system to think only of the benefits he can get from it and nothing about what to do to improve the system. In explaining the above, a construct of Nigeria as a group may be helpful. An individual mechanically existing in a group to which he has no sense of belonging will find it extremely unattractive to work to sustain or improve the fortune of that group. Such an individual inexorably thinks of those benefits he can get out it even if it means having to milk it completely dry.

Such is the fate of Nigeria in relation to the conduct of its leadership class nay, its citizenry. Unlike its counterparts in other climes, it is unfortunate that close to half a century of its existence, Nigeria is yet to find its bearing as a country capable of fulfilling the purpose of its existence to its citizenry. The reason for the above is no far-fetched. There is no bond or attachment holding the leadership class to any group cause and in this case, national cause. I am talking of the abysmal failure of the leadership class to make any conscious effort at nation building, as the commanding forces in the successive regimes all busied themselves in strengthening their attachments to their respective ethnic cleavages rather than embarking
on nation building.

Nation-building herein conceived refers to all those conscious governmental welfarist actions targeted at inculcating a uniform consciousness among its various peoples with their cultural, historical, linguistic and territorial diversities, with the aim to evolving a common identity. Common identity crystallizes where an individual, as a member of a sovereign entity has imbibed a sense of belonging and commitment to the realization or sustenance to the ideals of the system.

Nigeria is in dire need of nationhood. The challenge of evolving “a nation” as it were, out of the present geographical entity called Nigeria has become a compelling imperative. Our status as a sovereign entity is nothing more than existing in a mere institutional structure with power to exercise authority within a jurisdictional and territorial purview. That fact must not be seen as an end in itself. A country exists in order to realize the ultimate goal of nationhood, otherwise, it will begin to serve two unintended but inevitable purposes: one, as a mere contrivance convenient for the privileged class to exploit the system for its sole benefit without sparing a thought for how it could help to improve the system. And, two, a breeding
ground where hatred for the country is nurtured among the under-privileged class, owing largely to undelivered dreams and expectations from the system.

This trend of affairs can only be reversed where, by good governance, a citizen of Nigeria begins to feel a sense of partnership in all the initiatives of the government in the system. In such a situation, the citizenry is easily galvanized into organizing himself and taking such actions to support every well meaning initiative of the government geared towards making the system to work. Otherwise, there may be no hope of getting to the end of the tunnel in our collective grope. The present state of affairs where the welfare (and even lives) of the citizenry count for nothing to the leadership class will only help to create a sense of detachment from the system as a whole while greater allegiance is owed to family, ethnicity and religion at the expense of national cause.


* CHRIS EDACHE AGBITI, ESQ. IS A PORT-HARCOURT BASED ATTORNEY IN THE FIRM OF THE AMAZING GRACE PARTNERS, No 320, (IZZI CORPORATE SUIT), ABA ROAD , PORT-HARCOURT



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