Nigerians love to talk about their nationalist with a deep longing, wishing they were still with us in order that we continue to enjoy the benevolence of their rare traits. Those nationalists inherited a healthy baby-nation in 1960, from the British colonial administration. Six years later issued erupted and there was a civil war.
The fact that there was a civil war in just six years of independence should tell us that perhaps those leaders were not exactly what we thought they were. Rather than simmer down our despicable issues continued to flourish, reaching a point where the nation is perpetually at war today. At different times, it is either Sharia Killings in Kaduna, tribal and religious conflict in Jos, or war of emancipation in the Niger Delta, or cattle theft and killings of revenge in Benue and Enugu, or voodoo killings in Nassarawa State. Yes, the revolt just gets relayed from one state to another like a baton in a tract event.
These continued problems underscore the character of every Nigerian, stretching back to the so called nationalists. If there was any good in the years directly following independence it was the remnant of colonial legacy.
One man who saw and played a role in the politics of the years following independence, and who is still alive today, is Alhaji Maitama Sule. In his oratory speeches he constantly and flawlessly eulogizes the impeccable traits of his contemporaries, until he was cornered recently by a BBC journalist who noted that he had seen video footages in which the “saints” of Nigerian politics were said to have been seen carrying smoking guns. At that point the orator was compelled to make an admission in which he agreed that there were streaks of corruption there were, nonetheless, not as fanatical and crazy as what we see today. In the same interview a tape was played of another man who witnessed the politics of the early 1960s narrating how members of the opposition parties were denied agricultural loans, and even killed for their political views and beliefs.
The most important thing to note about the revelation is that the issues we faced today were actually sown and watered by those pioneers of a politically independent Nigeria. So, all Nigerians must address one issue: the lowest level of patriotism that is, perhaps, fantastically the greatest in the world.
But our issue is deeply rooted and as treacherous as a land underlain by booby traps. It became so entrenched because it has been allowed to flourish for over half a century, and as such it has grown to be a culture, a lifestyle, a band wagon that everyone wants to be part of.
Today, though, we have a rare personality who has the will and fearlessness to face and tackle our problem until there are just signs that it once existed. The patriotism and courage of President Mohammadu Buhari, for long, has been impressed in the consciousness of Nigerians, but it is just that we have pretended to be ignorant of it. It is often said that the taste of a pudding is in the eating. With Boko Haram bitterly marking the climax of our soaring complacency, it is clear that millions of Nigerians have now fully tasted the consequences and are now turning to Buhari while he is still alive.
Buhari made promises: fighting terrorism, fighting corruption, improving infrastructures, reviving the economy and creating jobs. In the past, series of administrations serially fooled Nigerians, and at the end of the first year when there was nothing to show, people are simply fed with blinding rhetoric’s. Nigerians would aware that the persuasions were rhetorical, but would have no option than to fold their hands while hoodlums and gangsters continue to intensify the rot. In the first one year of Buhari as an elected president, however, there are things to show. All territories from Boko Haram have been retaken, and the refugees, the insurgency has created, are now returning to their homes.
When the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, boss talked spoke on radio sometimes this month he said the anticorruption war has recovered more loot than the commission has ever recovered since its creation in 2003. Extraordinary men do extraordinary things.
However, the burden of Nigeria is still too heavy for one man. Luckily, Nigeria is a nation of 170 million men and women and should be able to carry the burden, with unanimity and concentration of efforts.