In his book published in 1984 titled “The trouble with Nigeria”, our beloved and late Chinua Achebe stated that “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.” Who dares argue with an intellectual giant and literary icon? The world immediately picked up the refrain, and Nigerians – especially the elite – quickly became disciples. Biafrans would not go against Achebe’s conclusion about Nigeria. To the very last, our Dede, Achebe, having carved this dictum in the stone of literature, and buoyed by the acceptance of it by many, especially his peers, would not budge from it.
But, Achebe was wrong – very wrong. The trouble with Nigeria is actually one-Nigeria. It has nothing to do with leadership, failed or not (fact is, it is failed), absent or not (truth is, it is absent). The real problem with Nigeria has everything to do with one Nigeria. But this piece is not about Achebe (may his brave soul rest in peace), beyond setting the context, beyond starting from common ground.
Eventually, people began to understand and admit that no matter who you send into the Nigerian government and more generally, into Nigerian politics, he or she will become useless while there – which is not even the worst thing that happens. He or she will actually end up corrupt (even more corrupt if they were that way before), beyond imagination. Yet, he or she will not want to conclude their term but must find ways to continue to latch on to that obviously accursed office-system which serves no one else but them. It doesn’t matter whether they go in military boots or sandals or polished shoes; it does not matter if they wear religious habits or priestly collars or stethoscopes around their neck, or professional wigs on their head, or prefer skirts or trousers, be they baba or gaskia: the result is the same—not much gets done to help the people; all energy (very little is required for this) is devoted to diverting wealth and resources to themselves in an open orgy of corruption. What has leadership to do with this? Nothing.
Today, perhaps as a result of the above, people are now talking (non-seriously) about “restructuring” rather than “leadership academy” offered in UK, US, Dubai or China. You would think they actually understand?
Let’s restate the problem in several ways. The problem with Nigeria is one Nigeria. The problem of Nigeria is one Nigeria. The problem that is Nigeria is one Nigeria. It has nothing to do with leadership – lack nor failure thereof. It is a structural problem. One Nigeria is a structural problem. The problem is an unworkable structure …much like insisting that a square peg has to plug a round hole.
So, if now there is noisemaking about restructuring Nigeria by some Nigerians (which, by the way, is being ignored by those who have an upper hand in the mess called Nigeria), are we to assume that the lesson is finally learned about the nature and substance of problem Nigeria? Not really. What we have in those singing the restructure chorus is a sycophantic group whose idea is to disfigure the peg to try to force it into the hole; or disfigure the hole to forcible accommodate the peg. In the end, the hole is not plugged and both the peg and the hole are spoiled (although the sycophants are willing to be the ones to take the disfigurement). The problem does not go away. The problem is not going away.
The sooner Nigerians accept that there is no basis for one Nigeria (there has never been; and there will never be, considering everything that is going on now)— the structure is all wrong – the sooner the problem will go away, and the sooner the different peoples can regroup within each its own respective sovereignty, from where they may build consenting, equitable and mutually beneficial international relationships with one another.
Biafra is the result of that realization and understanding, along with its acceptance. Biafra means facing the facts of unworkable Nigeria and acting wisely and with practicality: to your respective tents, peoples in Nigeria, that you may yet survive one another and live to thrive separately. Biafra is Wisdom.
Biafra is here to stay.
A Biafran Citizen.