Opinion

Saatah Nubari: The Problem With Nigeria [@Saatah]

What is the trouble with Nigeria? The late Chinua Achebe gave his answer to this question as: “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership”.

The leaders, the elites; these are the new clichés the “elites” and “leaders” themselves give as answers when confronted with the question “what is the trouble/problem with Nigeria”. It is either we’ve failed to understand the question itself; we do not understand the “problem” itself; we understand the question but have been betrayed by our diminished comprehension of the intricacies of the Nigerian state; or we understand the question but have chosen to instead go for the ornamental but ineffective option of being hypocritical. It won’t be out of place to find Nigerians who fit into all categories mentioned above—it somehow, funny as it may sound, makes them feel “intellectual”.

Nigeria is unrivalled when it comes to complexity. If I had my way, I’d have a Faculty of Nigeria in all Nigerian Universities with departments ranging from “Religion and Ethnicity”, “Activism and Politics” and maybe “Intellectualism and Hypocrisy”.

The trouble/problem with Nigeria is not leadership, its leaders or its elites—these are all products and creations of the real problem(s) of Nigeria—muddling them up is the by-product of not understanding the real problem(s).

The problem with Nigeria is in its foundation—in the process that produces its leaders. The problem with Nigeria is in the way it is structured. The problem with Nigeria is in its ethos “Unity and Faith”, as appealing as it sounds, it is too vague and weak to hold. “Justice and Honesty” should be the principles that should guide this Nigerian state and like Saint Augustine said: In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organised robbery?

The problem with Nigeria is hypocrisy. You’re more likely to find a Nigerian mount a podium and say something like “The problem with Nigeria are its leaders and elites”, “Nigeria has never been divided before” but it’s virtually impossible to find a Nigerian brave enough to say something like “The problem with Nigeria is ethnic injustice”, “The problem with Nigeria is that a particular ethnic group has taken the position of oppressor while other ethnic groups have accepted the position of oppressed” or that “Nigeria is unjustly structured” why? Because the earlier narrative fetches you applause (Retweets on Twitter), you get called a patriot, an intellectual, win awards—Heck, might even get you nominated for the Nobel peace prize—but the later gets you an “ethnic bigot” tag, you get accused of “hate speech” and sometimes “treason”.

The problem with Nigeria is not its leaders as is widely hypocritically stated. Putting into consideration the fact that leaders emerge from ordinary citizens and that theses ordinary citizens all undergo same processes, it’ll be flawed to place the problem of an entire country on a select few—if it were rightly put, the leaders have only gained from the problem of Nigeria which they’re just a product of.

The problem with Nigeria is that the kind of democracy we practice is one that is faulty, doesn’t fit our complexity and as such is unjust. The problem with Nigeria is that a “Majority rule” kind of government will continue to fuel grievances in a setting where the “minorities” bear the burden of economically and financially sustaining the Nigerian state. The problem with Nigeria is that it is structured to give unjustifiable advantage to a particular ethnic group in a manner that places it authoritatively above 249 other ethnic groups.

The problem with Nigeria is not its leaders and elites. They are a product of a flawed process that includes ethnic stereotyping that has classified Nigerians into rulers and subjects; oppressor and oppressed; first class citizens and second class citizens. The problem with Nigeria is that its justice system makes use of faulty weights and the Justitia holding those weights is not even blindfolded.

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Article written by Saatah Nubari is on Twitter @Saatah

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