Selfishness is the problem
The problem Nigeria is facing now has its root cause in one thing, especially among the leaders and elites, it’s the problem of egocentrism. Our people are selfish to a fault, selfishness has become a national disease. People are ready to kill others only to have what they want. This disease is among the rich and the poor. It is among Yorubas and Igbos, Hausas and Fulanis. It is what is killing us, it will kill any nation if allowed to flourish as it is in Nigeria. We need to teach our people to live by another set of values. Our people must be taught that sacrifice for others is more important than self seeking ambitions.
Our people have not embraced brotherhood and brotherliness. We have not seen ourselves as one. We think it must be a mistake that God created us and put us within same geography. We are always striving and fighting one another instead of building together. We would rather fuel selfish ambition than the collective ambition. We would rather take what belongs to everybody rather than fight greed and ensure that everyone gets what they deserve. We would rather steal from the collective pocket than distribute equally and equitably. We would rather tear our brother down than build our brother up. We would rather take the position that others deserve rather than allow others enjoy what we enjoy. Selfishness is the problem. Closed-mindedness. Me! Me! Me! That is our primary problem in Nigeria.
That is why no African nation is a first world nation. That is why no black nation is a developed country. That is why African leaders have no leadership trait or bone in their body. That is why the citizens are not doing better than their leaders. It is the same disease that has infected all the strata of our society. It is this exact reason, the disease of selfishness that is behind the cry for Oduduwa, and Igbo nations. Everyone is trying to see for his own good rather than the good of his brothers and brethren. Tribalism and parochial nationalism will only continue to lead us into the ditch.
If we continue like this what we have at the moment is what we will always have, we will always be limited, self destructive, tearing each other down from any height of greatness. We will always live in our poor, degraded environments. Our homes will always be small. Our nations will always be small. Our hearts will always be small. We will continue to live in a bottle. Our passports will continue to be looked upon with disdain. Our visas will always have no power. It will continue to lack the power to take us far. Only because we have refused to pay the price of unity, because have refused to work together as one people. We are skilled only at destructive diversion, only always looking for new ways to break away, and tear down our common wealth. We Africans have not learnt the art and skill of collaboration, forming alliances, networking and effective partnership. We look down on others with disdain as if we are better than them. The Igbos think they are better than the Yorubas, meanwhile the Yorubas themselves are thinking they are better off than the Igbos, and so it goes on and on.
To create the African Union which is functional and not just a mere organization, we need to humble ourselves before one another, learn to honor others above ourselves, that is the only way we can survive in modern world. If we do not find urgent ways to do this, the rest of the world will eat us for lunch, and there will not be much left for dinner. In the modern world, only countries that are stronger and bigger can make the difference.
Now you know why the rest of the world is constantly throwing baits to the best among us, and fishing them away from our continent, because they want to take our best people, add them to their population, become bigger and stronger so as to hold their ground in international geopolitics. Look at China, what has made China to become the most progressive economy in this world right now? It is because of their size, they are so big first numerically and that brought about the size of their economy too. Our population in Nigeria is what has made us the biggest black nation in the world and the richest economy in Africa. Just by the virtue of our population alone, it is our destiny to be a great nation. Why should we destroy that greatness, why should we choose lesser destinies for myopic and selfish reasons. Why should we kill our potential even before it manifests.
When I listen to Yoruba people talk about the need for restructuring of Nigeria, and their arguments, it is obvious that these elites are simply looking for a way to pocket the resources of their region. When these people talk about restructuring Nigeria, what they often mean is been in charge of their region’s wealth where their numbers are limited, so they won’t need to share with people from other regions, they will also not need to give any explanations whatsoever to the common masses. The common argument these secessionist groups reference is the old Western region and the achievements of Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group. They don’t tell their gullible followers that the wealth that was there during the time of Awolowo is no more there now, where are the farmers in South West, where is the timber industry, what of the cocoa industry, where is the agriculture? So you’ll break away to emptiness and poverty. The most challenge will be where is the present day Awolowo with all his extraordinary qualities as a leader and a human being?
Unfortunately, most of these agitators are poor students of history. Even with the exceptional leadership qualities of Awolowo the Western region was still plagued with so many problems that it took the intervention of the Federal Government to rescue it from an all out civil war among the Yorubas themselves. What the Oduduwa agitators don’t talk about is that It was not just success that was recorded when we had the regional government, but the troubles they also recorded are there for the records. The foundational problem of our people remained even during Awolowo days, even he as great as he was couldn’t tame the egocentric and selfish disease of our leaders. It was the complex conflict of that region that eventually sent Obafemi Awolowo and his colleagues to jail. Infact, Awolowo’s Action Group could not survive the heat. The party kept breaking up into factions until they went into extinction. Friends, this is a brief history of the regional form of government some people are calling for. When next you hear about restructuring this is where they want to take us back to, the wild, wild west of western Nigeria. God forbid…
What are the lessons?
Let me restate emphatically here that Yoruba people found it extremely hard to govern themselves, not just in the days of Yoruba wars, or Kiriji war, they couldn’t even do it after independence when they had their own region. Instead, lives were lost on a daily basis so much that the central government took over the administration of the western states in that era. The resulting chaos eventually led the whole country into a bitter civil war, the aftermath of that war is what we are still grappling with today.
A resurgence of a section of the Action Group Party rebranded into Unity Party Of Nigeria for the 1979 elections when the military government finally decided to give way to democracy. Unfortunately, it was still the Yorubas that frustrated the efforts of Awolowo to become the President of Nigeria. That second republic didn’t last long, some of Yoruba sons and daughters were responsible for the military intervention that truncated the young democracy. A new pan Yoruba group formed called Afenifere, most of which transformed into a political party called the Alliance for democracy towards the 1999 elections. At that time, Alliance for democracy was quite a popular political party in Southwest Nigeria as it seemed it was an offshoot of Awolowo’s Action group and UPN.
What happened again? Barely four years down the line, Alliance for Democracy suffered another implosion. In April 2003, five out of six incumbent governors who served on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy defected in one full swoop to the opposition People’s Democratic Party. Since then, the Southwest has suffered several instances of political siege and drama. Again, let us ask our leaders, what happened? Was it that they no longer believed in the ideals of Awolowo that made them implode? What are the scorecards of those who led us as governors, commissioners, local government chairmen, senators, house of representative members, House of assembly members etc? Are they not all Yoruba men and women? Can the Southwest be described as a paradise in comparison to other geopolitical zones? Are we living up to expectations of our forefathers in the Southwest? I’m afraid not. So what is the future the Oduduwa proponents offer that’ll be better than the history of what we had? Where is the master plan, what if the roadmap, where is the vision?
As far as I am concerned, the strongest argument for a Yoruba nation would have been that the Southwest in the last years had been so developed by the current and past serving leaders of the zone such that no other geopolitical zone compares. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Despite the fact that the Southwest has been led mainly by Yorubas themselves, I see little or no difference between the Southwest and every other zone in the country. All of Nigeria is suffering the same, meaning that our challenges are the same, we need to face them together and overcome them with a combine vigor and energy. All we can see in the Southwest is still the same corruption, egocentrism, fraud, dishonesty and brazen exploitation as it happens in all other parts of the country. Yorubas have not distinguished themselves as honest leaders, capable of developing their own estate.
You will agree with me that the scorecard of our present and past leaders in Yoruba land is nothing to write home about. Very low, in fact. If we secede and become Oduduwa Republic, where are we going to shop for new leaders? Won’t same old batch of leaders still become our new Presidents, ministers, governors etc?
If we want to demonstrate that we are a different people and ready to govern ourselves, let us first of all make the Southwest a paradise. Let us strive to show how different we are by our results.
Unfortunately, when you go through the length and breadth of Nigeria, it is very hard to appreciate any difference among our peoples, Nigerians are basically the same people with the same issues and challenges. Perhaps the visible differences are our vegetation, landscapes and the languages we speak on the streets. Apart from those, our infrastructures, mannerisms, value systems, selfishness, dishonesty and way of life are not different. We take and order bribes in the Southwest, as they do in every other geopolitical zone. We are as corrupt as every other part of Nigeria. Some of our sons and daughters still engage in rituals and killing their fellow humans for money. No, we are not different.
Therefore, the argument that we will suddenly become a different breed once we secede is quite weak. If we are going to be a different nation, let that difference start from now. Let us showcase to the world what we are capable of manifesting. But for now, who we are is what is currently manifesting. The current state of our streets is a replica of what we are as a people.
When it concerns unity, are we more united than other regions of Nigeria? I do not think so. Just as has been stated, even within the Afenifere group itself, there has been several fights and factions. According to the Afenifere group, “the last earthly regret of Pa Abraham Adesanya (a recent leader of Afenifere) was not leaving one united Afenifere behind, like Awolowo and Ajasin past leaders before him did”.
If Afenifere, a group that comprises of some of the foremost Yoruba sons and daughters struggles to keep itself together, how will the so called Oduduwa Republic succeed as one entity? A myth and mirage indeed.
Here is my observation, it is Nigeria, a country which many Yorubas hate at the moment, that is making them not to focus on the hatred they have for ourselves, it is Nigeria that’s holding them from self destruction for the time being. What is keeping the Yoruba nation together at the moment is Nigeria itself. We have not realized our own internal crevices in Yoruba land, because we have been focused on the hatred we have for other part of the country. The moment we no longer have that, we will focus the hatred on ourselves, just as some of our supposed elders in Yoruba land are already doing. From these observations you will agree with me that campaigning for Oduduwa Republic now is asking for trouble. Let’s rather change our complaints to what really matters, the eradication of egocentrism, selfishness and untamed greed from among ourselves. Without removing these evils from both leaders and followers, we can only imagine what’ll happen in an Oduduwa republic where everyone is only looking for their own good. The selfishness and corruption among our leaders will be worse than what we see now in the present Nigeria. The same evil will raise its ugly head in case of restructuring, it’s all still about the small elites monopolising the wealth of the region, while the poor masses keep prostrating before them for some crumbs that fall out of their tables. The evil of egocentrism in Oduduwa Republic will be so horrible that it’ll be the worse of its kind in the world, especially with our culture of not challenging elders. Those so called elders will become the nouveau riche of the land, and since you cannot question them, their excesses will know no bounds.
My fellow Yoruba people don’t be deceived to think that those agitating for Oduduwa Republic are thinking about you, no, no, no they are only thinking about themselves, the positions they’ll get, the money they’ll have, the contracts etc. As for you ordinary “Mekunnu”, the poor peasants and your children, they’ll recruit you as their drivers, cooks, cleaners, maids, and forced labourers. They the elites will be proud of their new nation because now they don’t need to go to Abuja again for allocations, they now have everything they need right at their doorsteps. It is greed that’s driving most of the agitators for secession be they Yorubas or Igbos, same evil that has destroyed Nigeria, they now want to take it to another level. We all well meaning Nigerians must say an emphatic No to their selfishness and self destructive ambitions. This is one passion of Awolowo, you can’t but love the man, he was incurably in love with ordinary masses and he lived his life for them. We all must go back to that his passion. Listen to his words:
“We have in our midst about 1,000 rich Nigerians who in the past cleverly rigged the sources of the wealth of our nation, and we are now tactically poised to oligopolise all the munificent avenues of riches that may supervene now and in the future. The rich, and the highly-placed in business, public life, and government, are running a dreadful risk in their callous neglect of the poor and down-trodden.”