BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
Mathematically, Nigeria is said to be 59 years of post-independence in
the sense that it was on October 1st 1960 that some foreign occupying
forces (Great Britain) retreated by general consensus of both the
occupier and the occupied.
It was on that day that political scholars reckon that Nigeria gained
flag independence with the lowering of the Elizabethan or rather the
union Jack which is the baptismal name of the British flag.
As an aside but certainly critical, do you know that the first mistake
those who received the flag independence made was not to have baptized
our National flag? The Nigerian Flag unlike its progenitor is nameless
but embodies symbolism.
That aside, another gross error of judgment made at independence was
the short sightedness in not renegotiating the terms of the union
which was consummated in 1914 when the southern protectorate was
unified with the Northern protectorate in what political historians
chose to call amalgamation.
From the sketch of historical accounts, it doesn’t appear that the
amalgamation agenda was borne out of a genuine national consensus but
was rather a business idea by the British colonialists to maximize
their drive for more natural and human resources to enrich their local
economisand previsely their agroallied industry. For instance, most
Nigerians are not aware of who were the witnesses at the so called
amalgamation of 1914 or was our head shaved in our absence? Why are
there no known indigenous witnesses to the signing of the
amalgamation treaty or was it purely a British affair?
The secrecy surrounding this 1914 amalgamation looks like a conspiracy
of the British to maximize their drive for natural resources from all
parts of Nigeria and to stop any incursion by other foreign force
This mistake of history by our ‘heroes past’ to renegotiate our union
or to at least brainstorm on the necessity or otherwise of the
continuous existence of Nigeria as an entity or otherwise, still
hobbles Nigeria and is the fundamental source of the groundswell of
disagreements and discontents amongst the divergent segments of the
contemporary Nigerian society. This is the origin of the current
agitation for self determination and/or restructuring. Still dwelling
on the fundamental symbolism of the 1960 independence, let us revisit
the National flag of Nigeria and examine its import and philosophy.
First, we note that the symbolic meaning of the green, white, green
flag with vertical stripes represent Nigeria’s natural wealth, while
the white band represent peace.
However, as Nigeria has become a grown adult at 59, it is safe to
state that those two symbols of natural resources and peace have
eluded the millions of Nigerians who have now become endangered
species, deprived, oppressed, marginalized and made vulnerable by the
government whose legal mandate is to guarantor safety of lives and
property of the citizens.
The natural resources of Nigeria have become like curses on corporate
Nigeria even as peace is an illusion.
One British journalist who spent four decades covering the energy
sector in Africa, wrote a big book he chose to call crude continent,
in which he narrated how the discovery of rich natural resources of
crude oil in Nigeria, as well as few other African nations, sparked
off serial corruption on the part of African leaders. As I write, the
communities whereby these huge natural resources are found are
impoverished, their environments devastated, raped, polluted and
regularly vandalised by multinationals with the government as a
necessary collaborator. The people of Niger Delta are today facing
social injustices the scale that is unfathomable but yet their
backyards are the habitation for much of the National wealth which
only less than 1 % of Nigerians made up of politicians and their
surrogates share amongst themselves.
Not long ago, anyway the United Nations office on drugs and crime
(UNODC) made a presentation in which it estimated that as at a decade
ago, nearly $400 billion of Nigeria’s crude oil revenues have all
been stolen by successive political and military leadership of the
Take for instance, one of the most brutal dictators to have graced
Nigeria as a military despot stole nearly $5 billion which was found
in few of his many unknown accounts and this late dictator, General
Sani Abacha, successfully hid these massive quantum of cash in foreign
jurisdiction at the time Nigeria was a pariah state under different
global wide sanctions. You can then imagine how much would have been
stolen by governments of Nigeria under the periods that the country is
not under any form of sanctions including now that the country is
marking 59th year of independence.
Just look at who is 59 but still her citizens are so poor, endangered
and buffeted by all kinds of bloody violence whilst the government in
place look the other way whilst Fulani bandits, armed kidnappers,
terrorists have continued to unleash devastating violence on the
public space with countless casualties.
Ideally, a child who is 15 years of age is no longer looked upon as a
child, and so you wonder why at 59, Nigeria is such a very dangerous
place, made so by incompetent political leaders and a whole lot of
uncharismatic followers who do not bother to press on for the
protection and respect of the constitutionally guaranteed human rights
which are enshrined in chapter 4 of the Nigerian constitution.
This constitution which is a sacred code of conduct is currently
defecated upon by those who wield temporary political power.
These politicians violate the constitutional rights of citizens with
Politicians treat the citizens as if they do not matter in the
But reading the latest book by Michelle Obama called “Becoming”
will prove the statement that a 59 year old adult must behave well
because even at the age of 15, Michelle who would go on to become
America’s 44th first lady and wife of USA president number 44, Mr.
Barack Obama, was looked upon as an adult.
She wrote as follows: “BY THE TIME I was fourteen, I basically
thought of myself as half a grown-up anyway – maybe even as
two-thirds of a grown-up. I’d gotten my period, which I announced
immediately and with huge excitement to everyone in the house, because
that was just the kind of household we had. I’d graduated from a
training bra to one that looked vaguely more womanly, which also
thrilled me. Instead of coming home for lunch, I now ate with my
classmates in Mr. Bennett’s room at school. Instead of dropping in
at Southside’s house on Saturdays to listen to his jazz records and
play with Rex, I rode my bike right past, headed east to the bungalow
on Oglesby Avenue where the Gore sisters lived.”
The question we need to answer is why at 59, the Nigerian state and
her overspoilt political elite still behaves like a toddler going by
the crude type of political leadership in place?
The straight forward answer is the general lack of will power by the
citizens to stand by their rights as provided for generously in
chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution and the willingness of the people
to be oppressed by the same persons they elect to govern.
I will not hesitate to state that although as at 1982 or thereabout
when the intellectual oracle from the black world Professor Chinua
Achebe wrote his smallest book called “The Trouble with Nigeria”,
it can be argued that basically the fundamental crisis of
underdevelopment of Nigeria was caused by poor leadership.
Here is what Professor Achebe wrote: “The trouble with Nigeria is
simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing wrong
with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else.
The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders
to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example
which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”
But fast forward to 2019, Nigeria’s problem is both poor leadership
and lethargic followership.
Take for instance, in 2015, during the general elections as well as
the 2019 polls, majority of voters succumbed to the temptation of
mortgaging their consciences for bags of salt, rice, wrappers, and few
cash which were freely distributed to would-be voters by those seeking
the mandate of the people. Also, at 59 Nigeria has the World’s most
incompetent electoral commission and the World’s most compromised
electora and judicial systems that aids heist of ballots during
elections in favour of any incumbent President vying for re-election.
Any wonder then that Nigeria at 59 is almost behaving like a failed
Now some governors negotiate with armed bandits and mass killers.
Today, the Federal government goes about freeing detained boko haram
terrorists and even reintegrating them to live eye ball to eye ball in
the same communities whereby they committed genocide, all in the guise
that they have repented. Victims of these heinous crimes are
marginalised and overlooked whilst the criminals are glamourised and
celebrated by politicians. Just look at who is 59!
These are constitutional violations. But the political leadership of
the 59 year old sovereign nation see nothing unethical or criminal
when they wined and dined with armed bandits. The abnormal has been
normalised by the political class who as we speak are drinking
themselves to stupor with expensive champagne and strong wines even as
90 million Nigerian citizens have become absolutely poor with the 59
year old Nation becoming the poverty capital of the World only last
As earlier stated, the primary issue of lack of a national consensus
as the basis for our unity still haunts us like a ghost.
Nigeria at 59 needs to work out strategies for restructuring to fix
the broken society and to make all component parts to truly have a
sense of belonging.
Just look at who is 59! yet all the top national security heads are
from one section of Nigeria and are all moslems.
This distorted and sectional formation of national security team
violates the Federal character principle as contained in the
constitution which I will cite shortly just as the incapacity of
government to safeguard the lives of Nigerians constitutes serious
breach of the constitution.
Specifically, section 14(1) (2) (3) state that: “(1) The Federal
Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of
democracy and social justice.” (2) It is hereby, accordingly,
declared that: (a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from
whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and
authority; (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the
primary purpose of government: and (c) the participation by the people
in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions
of this Constitution. (3) The composition of the Government of the
Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall
be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of
Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command
national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance
of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional
groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
As Nigeria marks 59 of failed promises and aspirations, let the people
resolve to become resilient and to consistently demand accountability
from the politicians notwithstanding the clear threats to their lives
by armed security forces manipulated by the elites to kill the people
who would resist their oppressive and tyrannical tendencies.
We must repossess the nation by insisting on the obedience of the
constitution and the strengthening of the institutions of democracy.
Let us say no to the EVOLUTION OF A STRONG MAN AS NIGERIA’S PRESIDENT
BUT TO WORK TOWARDS ESTABLISHMENT OF SYRONF AND ENDURING DEMOCRATIC
INSTITUTIONS. Fellow Nigerians it is a mournful independence
*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria
(HURIWA) and blogs @www.emmanuelonwubiko.com ;
email@example.com ; www.thenigerianinsidernews.com