Nigeria, giant of Africa; not as bad as you think. There's great improvements.
Nigeria, the proclaimed giant of Africa: not as bad as you think.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and the tenth largest country by population in the world. Situated by the trigger of Africa with an estimated population of 146,255,312 and covering a total area of 923,768.00sq. km; Nigeria boast of more than 250 ethnic groups and languages with 3 as the majors – Hausa and Fulani in the North, Yoruba in the West and Igbo or Ibo in the East Central. The largely spread nation is bordered in the North by Niger Republic, North East by Chad, East by Cameroon, West by Republic of Benin and the South by the bight of Guinea. Its capital is Abuja which is situated in the middle of the country.
In recent years, the name Nigeria when mentioned anywhere, calls for a precautionary attention. Many Nigerians are being embarrassed on a daily basis while traveling to other nations, while other nationals are scared of traveling to Nigeria or if for any reason, they find themselves in Nigeria, they confine themselves to their immediate destinations without exploring the goodies in the nation. It’s important for the world and intending visitors to Nigeria to know the true state of the nation; Nigeria is sound and safe. To understand the Nigeria’s case, it’s important we take a brief lecture of the history of Nigeria.
Brief History of Nigeria
There was no country like Nigeria before the 1914 amalgamation of the northern and the southern protectorates of what we call Nigeria today by Fredrick Lugard. Before then, we had four major traditional empires namely, The Calabar Kingdom which stretched into the current day Cameroon, The Oduduwa Empire which occupy the present day Western part of Nigeria, The Northern Empire which (going by it’s name) occupies the Northern part of the present day Nigeria and The Benin Kingdom which by then stretched up to some part of the present day Ghana.
The exploration and the consequent struggle for the partition of West Africa by Europe, replaced the traditional boundaries with new ones in consideration of the Colonial Masters’ interests. The business men and missionaries who arrived early into what is called Nigeria today, supported by Her Majesty, The Queen of England’s authourities, formed the ruling Masters of this part of Africa.
The Oil River Protectorate was declared after the Berlin Conference of 1885, which was later enlarged to become the Southern protectorate and comprised of Calabar (British relocation from Fernanda Po) through the Niger Delta areas to Lagos colony, including the hinterlands and northwards up to Lokoja by the river Niger. It later included the Yorubas of the Oduduwa Empire and the conquest of Benin in 1897 finally completed the annexation of the whole Southern Empires into a British consulate, thus creating the Southern Protectorate.
While the Southern Protectorate was under the British control, the north was being administered by The Royal Niger Company but they had no effective control of the large expanse of the Northern Protectorate. Consequently, the British government terminated the charter that established The Royal Niger Company on December 31st 1899 and in 1900, Fredrick Lugard became the High Commissioner for the Northern Protectorate. Lugard introduced indirect rule in the Northern Protectorate and transformed the British influence in the area from a commercially motivated domination to a territorial unit under British political control.
After serving in the Northern Protectorate for six years, he spent another six years in Hong Kong before returning back to the Northern Protectorate to conclude the unification process of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1912; and by 1914, on the eve of World war 1, he completed the amalgamation of the two Protectorates and governed them through his tested indirect rule.
During World War 1, the newly formed Nigeria was heavily taxed by Lugard and a large amount of the proceeds earmarked for the imperial defense. His tyranny and indiscriminate taxing of both men and market women contributed to disturbances and protests; prominent among the protests was The Aba Women riot or the Igbo women war of November to December, 1929 of the Southern Protectorate. Until the end of his tenure as the governor general of Nigeria, he was constantly contemptuous of the educated and westernized Africans and he showed more favour to the Moslem North than their Christian counterparts in the South. This was the making of the Nigerian nation; a product of the British effort to organize a group of people with diversified culture, languages, geographical locations and ideologies for easy administration to enable an enhanced exploitation of the uncivilized people.
The amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern Protectorate was not easy because of the individual interests of the three known Protectorates – Lagos Consul and The Southern Protectorate which later was joined together and was called The Southern Protectorate, and The Northern Protectorate. There were divergences of opinions on how to unify the three Protectorates as all the Colonial leaders were considering personal interests.
The Aftermath of the Nation, Nigeria
Nigeria was divided into four provinces for easy administration; The Lagos Colony, The Northern Province, The Western Province and The Eastern Province with some part of Cameroon. After the Second World War, many parties broke out of what was formally known as National Youth Movement NYM, a movement formed by Nigerian Elites with Herbert Macaulay as the president and Nnamdi Azikiwe as the secretary. And by 1951, a new constitution was made to elevate the provinces to regional status. So, each of the party was dominated by each region: The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) which was later reformed to The National Council of Nigeria Citizens had control of the Eastern Region government, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) had control of the Northern Region, and the Action Group (AG) had control of the Western Region. The Eastern and Western Regions attained self-governing status in 1957 and two years after, The Northern Region joined.
Between 1957 and 1958, a delegation of the Premiers of the four Regions was led by Sir Abubakir Tafa Belewa to the Lancaster House in London for the struggle of the country’s independence and on October 1, 1960, Nigeria received independence from Britain. Azikiwe was appointed the governor general while Tafa Belewa continued as the head of the democratically elected parliament which he had won under the NPC. By 1963, Nigeria became a republic with Nnamdi Azikiwe as the first republic president.
Some Reasons Why People Dread Nigeria
In 1966, a group of army officers carried out the first military coup and the consequences led to a prolonged civil war which started in June, 1967 and ended on 15th January, 1970, between the seceding Biafra and the Federal troops leaving over a million people dead.
Immediately after the war, there was an oil boom and a lot more states were created and funded with the oil revenue. Nigeria’s attention was drifted from the agricultural sector, coal mining and other solid minerals to oil exploration. Foreign firms scrambled for oil fields and the military junta made a fortune out of it, thus setting a criminal pace for subsequent leaders. So many military regimes came and went leaving scares on the walls of the nation.
The Niger Delta problem had been there for over the years; so many have lost their lives in the struggle to survive in the Niger Delta areas. Ken Sarowiwa and his kinsmen were hanged by the military junta for asking for a fair treatment to the Niger Deltans, the owners of the land where the bulk of the notorious Nigeria Oil is being tapped. Today, the struggle has taken a new dimension: the youths of Niger Delta has been forced into using arms to protect their territories from further degradations without adequate compensations to the indigenes of the land.
The loots from the federal purse has enriched a few people who seem to lord over the masses and this trend has pushed many young men and women into different kinds of crime to transform into the affluent few. Fraud, Drug trafficking and other international crimes has been added to the local crimes to further bastardize the ailing image of the country.
Political manipulations and disorders are part of the problems facing the country. Then, politics in Nigeria was like a battlefield where one must kill the other to survive; lots of rigging, political thuggery and assassinations were norms in the game.
Religious crises that often occur in the country are another area of concern. Many people have lost their lives through these incessant fracases between the Moslems and Christians in the Northern part of the country. The latest crisis in Jos Plateau is one of such situations where many innocent people die because of religious disagreements. Other causes of crises in Nigeria include struggle over ownership of Lands and properties.
To add more salt to the injury of Nigeria, the Abdul Mutallab suicide bomb attempt came to worsen the already bartered Nigerian image. Although Nigeria has never experience any suicide bomb attack, or has not been involved in any controversial suicide bomb matter, it has been listed by the United States as a terrorist nation.
As if all the stress on the poor Nigerians were not enough, the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo imposed a sick and ailing Yar’Adua on the country before his exit. For several months now, President Yar’Adua has been incapacitated from executing his duty as the president of Nigeria due to his delicate state of health. His absence caused a lot of hullaballoo that it took pressure and Pro democracy groups some tough time and a lot of demonstrations to weaken the cabal and the ailing President’s kitchen ‘cabinets’. Today, the presidential duties have been handed over to the vice President Goodluck Jonathan to act on behalf of the President until he recovers. That was another victory to the Nigeria democracy.
The Nigeria Position
Nigeria is a nation just like the United States of America, Britain, Japan, Russia, Norway and India etc, but the difference is that the name ‘Nigeria’ is younger than all the rest. There are symptoms associated with growth and anything that grows must pass through that process. The brief history of Nigeria above will explain to anyone that Nigeria is undergoing a normal process which many of the great nations of the world passed through at one time or the other.
To be on the right track, it is important to take into consideration the traditional, spiritual, emotional, physical, financial and economic drain and torture meted on Nigeria and its people for over two centuries by the British and its allies. When they gave Nigeria independence, all their fraudulent, partiality, inhuman and arbitrary egotism was inherited by the class of Nigerians whom they handed power to and their successors (now indigenous people) began another form of colonization in disguise. The cause of Nigeria’s crises can still be traced to the neo-colonialistic hold of Britain and its Western allies on Nigeria and its people.
In spite of all the ups and downs of Nigeria and the few bad eggs that have chosen to smear the image of this great and blessed nation, there are positive developments every day and as I am writing now, Nigeria is not what you think it to be.
Politically, Nigeria has finally alienated itself from military intervention into politics and now on the way to true democracy. Some pressure groups are at work to make sure that Nigeria drafts a constitution because what they call constitution now is a super imposed document enforced on Nigerian by the military. There are improvements in political activities now as contestants are made to argue their differences openly before the media.
Educationally, a lot has been done to improve the standard of education as against the military dictatorship era when no one was allowed to criticize their policies. Economically, Nigeria has done pretty well and most of the debts owed by previous regimes have been paid. Although the economy is still experiencing some pull back because of the activities of some imposters in the government, there is every hope that things will fit to shape when the true Constitution takes effect.
Recently, the government led by the acting president, vice President Goodluck Jonathan, have put some strong security checks on the religious crises prone areas to bring calm and peace back and to assure the people of their protection as Nigeria citizens. Most of the causes of the crises are political but they hide it in the cloak of religion.
Security, the Nigerian Army and Police is the best and the most efficient force in West Africa. They have led many peace keeping operations in Africa and the United Nations and have always returned with awards. The impact of the Nigerian forces in Liberia, Sierra Leone and host of other countries cannot be over emphasized. There has been drastic reduction in the number of Nigerians involved in drug, fraud and other related crimes.
In conclusion, Nigeria has so many potentialities that could attract foreign investors and visitors. The large span of the Nigeria country is filled with numerous tourist attractions that could make it a Tourism nation. There are unlimited opportunities for investment in every aspect of the economy. Nigeria has not explored up to ten percent of its natural resources so there is a great opportunity there and there are so much arable land for mechanized farming if you wish.
The Nigerian people are such a friendly and hospitable people who are filled with love and care for any visitor. The Hausas will entertain you with their salivating menus and traditional dances that could keep you happy through out your stay with them; the Yorubas are so rich in cultural heritage, hospitability and will do anything to make a visitor or an investor enjoy his or her stay in Nigeria; the Ibos are so fond of visitors and could dazzle them with their traditional performances, traditional cuisines that will make the visitor or investor feel at home. There are numerous other ethnic groups whose hospitality could surpass that of the above major groups. So, the question is, where do the bad image of Nigeria stem from?
The above analysis will convince you that a vast majority of Nigerians are peace loving, caring and law abiding citizens. The Niger Delta Militancy is a struggle by a cheated minority who owns the land where the bulk of Nigeria’s oil is being tapped. This people build huts on top of pipes conveying wealth from their land to enrich other parts of the country. They need attention and once that is done, it’ll be over.
The percentages of the bad nuts are so little though they’ve succeeded in making a great negative impact on Nigeria. For example, the case of Abdul Mutallab; this young man was brought up in Britain and indoctrinated in Yemen to bomb the United States of America. Where does Nigeria come in here? Is it because he was born in Nigeria? I bet you, if Abdul Mutallab was brought up in Nigeria, he wouldn’t have ended up a suicide bomber. After all there are American and British born militants and suicide bombers.
You are welcome to Nigeria, a home of opportunities and occupied by caring, loving and God fearing people.
By Godwill Agomoh Paul.
For further readings:
Brief History of Nigeria: http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/history.html
Nigeria travel guide http://www.worldtravelguide.net/country/200/country_guide/Africa/Nigeria.html
The Library of Congress: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ngtoc.html
A brief history of Nigeria: http://www.spainexchange.com/guide/NG-history.htm
Online Nigeria: http://www.onlinenigeria.com/politicalHistory.asp
Brief History of the Nigeria Army:
Nigeria still tops, but shares drop value.(West Africa): http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-197810942.html
Nigeria: bellwether of African democracy: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-101862463.html
Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta:. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_for_the_Emancipation_of_the_Niger_Delta
Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_for_the_Actualization_of_the_Sovereign_State_of_Biafra
Aba Women's Riots (November-December 1929): http://www.blackpast.org/?q=gah/aba-womens-riots-november-december-1929
Nigeria's achievements: a new rating: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5327/is_318/ai_n29251623/
Major Activities & Achievements: http://www.forum.org.ng/achieve
President Yar’Adua lists achievements as Nigeria celebrates Democracy Day: http://www.nigeriafirst.org/printer_8868.shtml