Monday, 12 June 2017 19:51

Restructure Nigeria or risk disintegration of the country

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RESTRUCTURE NIGERIA OR RISK DISINTEGRATION OF THE COUNTRY

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

Look around Africa and what do you see?  You see that not one, let me repeat, not one African country is well governed. That is correct, not one African country is well governed.

Because of this reality there is now a general belief in the world that Africans cannot govern themselves correctly; it is believed that the black man does not have leadership and management skills and, therefore, cannot correctly govern himself.

If you live outside Africa, you probably have heard this view told you to your face. I doubt that you can be in the USA and Europe without realizing that white folks have total contempt for Africans leadership and management skills.  As they see it, African leaders are really sub-human beings and are thieves; Africans seek public offices to go steal their people's moneys not to govern them right. They steal their people's moneys and park the moneys in European and American banks.

African leaders come to the West to enjoy well-built cities and infrastructures but do not replicate what they see in the West in Africa.

If they are sick they go to Europe to seek medical treatment but why not build good hospitals in their countries that can treat them and other Africans in Africa?

What exactly is the matter with Africans, anyway? Are they really not intelligent as racist white folk's claim that they are? If they are marginally intelligent what would it take for them to realize that they need to govern their continent right?

Don't they realize that mankind is watching them and after another fifty years and no African country is well governed, what folks currently suspect, that Africans are sub human beings who do not have the intelligence to do anything right, would be believed and folks would give up on Africans and accept that they cannot govern themselves well.

May be a new political ideology would emerge that says that Africans are only good as slaves and a new scramble for Africa begins whereby non-Africans  go to Africa and enslave Africans and use them as slaves to work on plantations built in Africa by white and Chinese folk.

Alternatively, some people could argue that keeping Africans alive is superfluous; they would say that Africans are useless and that machines could be used to do the work needed done in the new Africa owned by Europeans and Asians.

The world has the means to wipe out all Africans in a month and can do it if it is believed that Africans are sub-human beings who cannot govern themselves, and are no good in science and technology.

I can actually see folks wanting all Africans killed and Africa turned into a wildlife preserve where Animals roam in the wild and folks from other continents come to it on safari to see animals in the wild.

Any number of things could happen to Africans if they refuse to govern themselves correctly. One of the things that would not happen is for non-Africans to accept Africans habitual excuses for not doing anything well.

Folks have heard the excuse of colonialism and neocolonialism, how Western capitalists deliberately keep non-Western countries down, want them to be raw materials producing plantations and have their raw materials shipped to Europe and transformed into manufactured goods and those shipped back to Africa and sold at exorbitant prices.

We have heard about the idea of metropolis, center and periphery. May be those ideas were true in the 1960s.  Today, many Asian countries who obtained their independence right around the same time that Africans did are industrialized and their standard of living is almost at the same level as those of Europe.

If hitherto colonized Asians could industrialize their countries, folks would no longer listen to the excuse that it was colonialism that underdeveloped Africa and that it is neocolonialism that keeps Africans backward; something else is keeping Africans backward; that something else is Africans themselves.

The evolving belief is that Africans lack the ability to govern themselves right. James Watson, the co-discoverer (with Francis Crick) of the DNA already said so. This may not be true but as long as it is a plausible explanation for Africans perpetual backwardness Africans ought to have thought about it and possibly felt shame at been perceived as unable to govern themselves and tried to develop their countries. But, no, everywhere Africa is worse than it was during European colonial rule of the continent.

Forever, Africans complain that African countries were artificially put together by Europeans. We are told how European powers gathered at the 1884 Berlin conference and simply divided up Africa and that ensuing African countries were put together to serve European economic interests. We have heard how different tribes are logged together to form artificial countries without considerations for the people.

To start with, let it be known that most countries were put together by non-indigenes. Celtic Britons were conquered by Rome and when Rome fell Germans (Anglo Saxons) took over the Island; then Scandinavians (Vikings) came and finally the French in 1066 conquered and ruled Britain.

France was originally the country of Celts (whom Romans called Gauls) but later was taken over by Franks (Germans).

The Iberians were conquered by Rome and when Rome fell the country was taken over by Visigoths (Germans) and was for seven hundred years (711-1492) ruled by Arabs.

The USA was conquered by the British and is today composed of people from all over the world. No excuse is given that Americans are from different tribes that cannot get along with each other; Americans are socialized to a common cultural and constitutional frame of references.

The two Americas, North and South America are composed of people from all over the world. The different tribes in these countries are not used as excuse for not governing them right.

In Nigeria there are many tribes; the major ones are Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Kanuri, Edo, Ijaw, Efik, Urhobo, Idoma, Tivi, Nupe and the small tribes around Jos Plateau.

Clearly, these groups are different from one another and it is difficult for them to get along with each other and identify as one people. That excuse contains a germ of truth.

But is 60 years of post-colonial self-rule not enough time to have solved the problem of internal structure of Nigeria? If Nigeria is to remain one, and it ought to do so, shouldn't Nigerians have restructured the Nigerian boondoggle and made each tribe a state?

Nigeria could have been restructured to have twelve economically viable states where each major ethnic group is a state and smaller tribes put into states provided that even the smallest ones is each made a county within a state with many tribes in it.

Twelve states is a reasonable structure for Nigeria. Each of the states would operate like US states do, with total control over its resources and the citizens pay taxes to support the central government.

One can see annual 20% flat income tax required of each individual Nigerian to support the central government. Other types of taxes can also be initiated, such as sales taxes, corporate taxes etc.

Each state could have a governor serving five years for two terms limit; a unicameral legislature of no more than fifty members, serving five years with four terms limit.  One can see an indecent judiciary.

At the central level one can see a president elected to serve five years with two terms limit, and a unicameral legislature elected to serve five years with four terms limit; one can see an independent judiciary headed by a supreme court (followed by appellate courts and districts courts).

In terms of the economy one can see a mixed capitalist-socialist economy where the public provides education for all citizens up to university and technical levels and provides all people with publicly paid health insurance and beyond those and a few other things leave individuals to fend for themselves.

One can see a robust mixed economy within a social democratic political context; one can see a country where laws are made and vigorously implemented and corrupt politicians and other criminals caught and sent to jails and prisons.

What exactly is so difficult about this realistic political structure for Nigeria (replicated in other African countries with multi ethnic units)?

Why are Africans unable to do the simplest of things and instead keep on being stupid and expecting the rest of the world to respect them despite their stupidity? No one would respect Africans for as long as they are unable to govern themselves correctly.

Now, let us talk about the Biafra bugaboo. Igbos want to form a separate country that they call Biafra.  The question folks have not asked is whether Biafra is a viable country?

Prior to Frederick Lugard, a British colonial administrator, using British might to put all Igbos into one political unit, Southern Nigeria, Igbos did not develop Igbo wide political structure. Each Igbo village or town pretty much ruled itself.

Igbos had no precolonial sense of all Igbos being in one country. To the present they have not developed a sense of nationalism where they put Igbo interests ahead of their clans' interests.  We have each Igbo identifying with his clan, such as Owerri, Mbaise, Mbano, Umuahia, Aba-Ngwa, Onitsha, Nnewi, Enugu, Orlu, Okigwe, Ikwerre, Asaba, Agbo and so on.

Each Igbo works for the good of his self, his family and to some extent for his clan's interests. There practically are no Igbos who actually identify with all Igbos and work for the good of all Igbos.

Igbos talk shop about Biafra but what they do is work for the good of their respective clans.

Each member of a clan's idea of governance is to redirect the resources of Igbo land to develop his clan and give work to people from his clan but not to other Igbos.

When Nnamdi Azikiwe, a man from the Onitsha clan, ruled Eastern Nigeria practically all good jobs went to his clan members. He had no infrastructural development that one can see.

M.I Okpara, as premier of Eastern Nigeria, appeared to have somewhat transcended clan identification and located some developmental projects in areas other than his Umuahia clan.

In terms of psychological structure, Igbos have primitive and wild individualism. Each Igbo considers himself an individual and independent; he does not work for the group but mostly only for his self and his immediate family (wife and children).

The Igbo works hard but generally it is for his immediate good but not for other Igbos good or for the good of other human beings. Each Igbo wants to succeed and be seen as "Ogaranya", a big man. He is motivated by desire to be a very important person, a VIP. He wants to go to school, have a good job and or steal money and build a mansion in his village and that pretty much sums up his life style.  Igbos do not work together or for the good of all Igbos.

When Igbos start businesses they invariably are sole proprietor type. If they try partnerships their partners steal their capital; they generally do not establish corporate business.

As we all know, sole proprietor businesses tend to die with the death of their founders. Igbos are simply too egoistic to work in business teams.

In political activities, Igbos are characterized by each seeking office for prestige purposes, to enhance his sense of personal importance and seldom works for the good of all members; they want to be the president of the group so as to boast that they are important persons; they derive importance from social position not from what they do for society. Igbos are probably the world's most narcissistic and self-centered political actors.

Igbos are extremely self-centered and selfish; they are pragmatic to a fault; they are opportunistic and unprincipled; they will do anything to become rich and if that means circumventing the law they would do so.

Do whatever you can to make money and have other Igbos see you as a rich man is Igbos primary motivation in life.

If that is the case, and it is, one knows that if Igbos were to secede from Nigeria and form Biafra that each Igbo would work for his own good and not for other people's good. In that situation there would be extremely rich and extremely poor Igbos.

In a situation where no one cares for others, the poor would join criminal gangs and kidnap and hold their fellow Igbos hostage for ransom payment.  They are already doing so.

Igbo land would become criminals' haven. There would be no law and order. Igbo land would be like current Somalia and South Sudan. Anarchy and chaos would reign everywhere.

In my opinion, if you really want to govern Igbos correctly, you may need a strong hand that uses brutal force to compel Igbos to work for the group. Igbo land needs authoritarian and dictatorial leaders for a few centuries, folks who use draconian force to stifle Igbos wild individualism and teach them to develop collective spirit; left alone, as they currently are, I doubt that so-called Biafra would be a success.

If Igbos secede from Nigeria, given what we know from Nigerians past behaviors towards Igbos, other Nigerians will ask them to leave their areas.

In response to what they said is Igbos irritating call for secession, some Nigerians want to call Igbos bluff by asking them to leave Nigeria. Arewa, Northern Youths, have already given Igbos the ultimatum to leave the North by October 1, 2017. Yorubas and other Nigerians are probably going to follow suit.

Thus, the millions of Igbos living outside Alaigbo would descend on their little enclave and try to eke out a miserable living in it. Many will turn to criminal activities to survive.

The best hope for Igbos is for them to remain in present Nigeria or other larger political structure so that they have large space to operate in; their small territory is simply too little to feed all of them

If you compare Igbo land to the size of small countries, such as Israel what you are missing is that those countries have mechanized agriculture and can extract more food from each cultivated acre of land; Igbo farming is still subsistence based and is meant to feed the family of the farmer but do not produce surplus to feed city dwellers.

It should also be borne in mind that Igbo land is probably the most densely populated part of Africa. We do not have accurate census of Nigeria but I estimate that there are probably about 35 million Igbos. Visualize them trying to survive on land about the size of the Los Angeles Area in California. It will be nasty, I tell you.

Malnutrition and starvation are looking at Biafrans! In case they have forgotten, Igbos must remember their people with kwashiorkor during the civil war (1967-1970). Smart people do not fight several civil wars in fifty years!

Igbo land is perhaps no more than 150 miles from East to West and from South to North, from Igwe Ocha to Agbo, from Umuahia to Nsukka. All things being equal, Igbos are best served to remain in Nigeria.

But all things are seldom equal! Saying that it is probably best for Igbos to remain in Nigeria does not mean that the present status quo in Nigeria is tolerable. We all know that since the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970 Hausas, Fulanis and Yorubas arranged to have Igbos marginalized. They essentially keep Igbos out of decision making points in Nigeria. They deprive them of political power and certainly prevent them from access to wealth.

Whereas most of the money with which Nigeria operates come from the Niger Delta and Igbo land (from oil) most of that money goes to the North and West and very little of it goes to the East.

Most of the oil fields are given to Hausas but not Igbos. Simply put, Igbos are treated like orphans in Nigeria and we all know it. We ought to not deceive ourselves about the political lay of the land in Nigeria. Igbos are a defeated people and are marginalized. To the victors go the spoils of war.

The treatment of Igbos is pretty much like the treatment of Germans after the First World War. In 1918 Germany was defeated by the allies. The ensuing Versailles treaty tried to reduce Germans, the most vigorous race in Europe, to slaves. Within two decades they rose up and caused another war, a war that even though they lost it destroyed Europe and gave rise to the USSR and USA as the world's superpowers.

By the same token, defeated Igbos are treated as slaves. The desire for Biafra is actually rooted in Igbos perception that they are second class citizens in Nigeria.

If human beings, not apes, ruled Nigeria, and they studied history, they would know that you cannot reduce the most vigorous African tribe, Igbos, to slave status and expect them to accept your ill treatment of them forever.

Initially, Igbos responded to their shabby treatment by sending their children overseas. Thus, today Igbos are found in every nook and cranny of the world. But in Nigeria Igbos are treated as if they do not matter.

That ill treatment will eventually lead to the fall of Nigeria. Unless Nigeria accommodates Igbos as equal citizens Igbos will continue agitating for Biafra.

Even though, as pointed out above, Biafra is probably not Igbos best option, as long as Igbo are treated with disrespect they would keep asking for it.

People will get to a point where they prefer death to living as slaves.

Hausas, Fulanis and Yorubas must realize that if they continue doing what they are currently doing to Igbos they would bring the Nigerian house down on their heads.

In the meantime, they are actually breeding the instability that characterizes Nigeria, for Igbos will resort to any kind of activity that does not work for the good of their Nigerian oppressors, just as they did not cooperate with British colonial masters.

Igbos will not cooperate with their Nigerian colonial masters. No one likes to be ruled by others. People seek freedom and liberty and will kill you if you stand on their way to getting it, as Nigerians do to Igbos.

It is actually stupid for Nigerians to believe that Igbos would accept second class citizenship in Nigeria, in a country whose independence from Britain they fought for. That Nigerians believe so shows that they are probably as unintelligent as white folks say that they are.

Every caged animal looks for an opportunity to regain its freedom by flying away. Igbos are currently caged in Nigeria and are looking for the opportunity to escape from the Nigerian cage, to regain their inherent right to freedom to live as they see fit without been told what to do by those they consider inferior to them, Hausas, Fulanis and Yorubas (they are not superior to those groups; one is just reporting what many Igbos belief).

Despite Hausas having political power in Nigeria, individual Hausas are actually not economically doing better than individual Igbos!

There are more Igbo college graduates than graduates from other tribes. There are Igbos teaching at many US universities and holding powerful jobs in the USA.

For now, the salient point is that it is in the best interest of all Nigerians, Igbo included, for Nigeria to restructure the country and have twelve states, have real fiscal federalism and have competence be the criterion for hiring people to work everywhere in Nigeria.

Merit for getting what one has must become the dominant mode of deciding who gets what in Nigeria. Failure to do so and continuation of the present situation guarantees that Nigeria will remain the bedlam it is.  If things do not change, Nigeria will collapse and each tribe goes its way.

The resultant mini states, in my opinion, is not good for Africa. Africa needs to unite; Africa needs to become one federation, Africa federation where each major ethnic group is a state.  Africans ought to work towards making Africa great.

But despite ones idealistic wish for United Africa Federation (UAF), if Nigeria's short sighted so-called leaders continue on the present trajectory they are on they are going to produce another failed African state.

As soon as Nigeria runs out of oil, so that there is no money to be stolen by the kleptocrats that rule it, and with which they pay the military, the country would not be able to pay the military to keep the country together. At present, sometimes they go for months without paying their civil servants!

Without payment the military will disintegrate into bands of armed brigands and law and order would break down and Nigeria bites the dust.  This needs not happen!

I certainly do not like to see a failed African country. We can prevent it from happening in Nigeria by restructuring Nigeria and by beginning to govern Nigeria as if the leaders are actual human beings with brains in their heads not the monkeys and baboons with no idea of how to govern their land that currently govern Nigeria.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD

June 12, 2017

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(907) 310-8176

Dr. Osuji teaches at the University of Alaska, USA; from tomorrow, he will be in Europe for the summer; he can be reached at 1 (480) 509-8660.

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176