Is Nigeria Still Redeemable?

By Dan Amor June 3, 2020

Is Nigeria Still Redeemable?

Every real nation state is an historical product. It is, in Marx’s celebrated phrase, “the official resume of the antagonism in civil society”, but under historically determinate circumstances. As such, it is the product of the historically specific constellation of class relations and social conflicts in which it is implicated.

It may, therefore, indeed, it must, if it is not to rest on its monopoly of the means of coercion alone, incorporate within its own structure, the interests not only of the dominant but of the subordinate classes. In this quite specific sense, then, every real nation state has an inherently relative independence, including, as well, the independence to understand the dynamics of its self-made domestic crises. In consequence, therefore, the general characteristics of the Nigerian nation state today may be seen in terms of the enormity of its domestic crises and social contradictions.

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Therefore, those who murdered Nigeria, and are still killing its residues include, but not limited to: a big and comprador bourgeoisie that has abdicated its political aspirations and allied itself to semi-feudal interests; a discontented small and medium bourgeoisie made up of a certain class of professionals and intellectuals, potentially revolutionary, but which hesitates to renew the struggle for its national liberation. There is a sleeping working class which is supposed to be the prime revolutionary force but which cannot define clearly its trade union tasks and political aims.

There is a large crowd of youths, the student body that constitute about 60 per cent of the national population, which has abdicated its responsibility of serving as light to the national ideal due largely to intellectual dishonesty, ignorance or docility arising from poverty of ideas. There is also, a peasant mass of small landless factory hands, artisans and motorcycle operators otherwise known as “Okada riders”, who need a clear vision of their tasks and a framework within which to organize their own action in unity with the working class. Above all, a group of shameless, opportunistic and sadistic Generals (retired and serving), domestic tyrants and usurpers who, because of their prolonged crime against the people of this country, do not want political power to shift to its rightful owners for fear of being probed. And, of course, a handful of totalitarian Devils called traditional rulers who, having been aware of their gross irrelevance in a democratic society, strive to ally themselves with dictators, expired warlords and anti-democratic elements in power in order to entrench feudal power in the local government councils, the state and the nation at large.

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It is in this context that we must examine critically the way forward to the present logjam in the country. It would be recalled that the deepening crises that resulted in the Nigerian Civil War were the aftermath of the cumulative anger of the forces of real change against the reactionary superstructure that was the First Republic. After the bloody civil war, and thanks to the oil boom which provided them with the rare opportunity to line their pockets, the military rulers in collaboration with the agrarian mercantile big bourgeoisie, together with a small sector connected with industry, tied their future more and more to the semi-feudal structure inherited from the colonial system. Because of their quantitative and qualitative weaknesses and the fear of the workers’ movement and the surge of the masses, they were, at the beginning, disposed to ally themselves with whatever was acceptable of foreign monopolist capital, then in the process of conversion to a neo-colonialist framework.

The present situation in which the nation finds it difficult to point to one remarkable advance politically, socially and economically, with a bleak future, is characterized by a complete capitulation of all the progressive forces in the country. In spite of their white lies and deception over ideological divisions, Nigerian politicians speak ironically with one voice: “let us share the loot and let the rest of the people go to blazes”. Their collective position in constitutional matters is only a result of this capitulation.

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Turncoat reductionists who mouthed revolutionary and progressive sloganeering in the past are now helplessly eating their words because they are calling the shots. It is precisely in this sphere that the class interest of our rulers is very clear in relation to the neo-colonialist and semi-feudal forces that have held the country hostage over time. Which is why we should not harbour any illusions as to their pretensions to an enduring and durable democracy. True, this political capitulation is counterbalanced by real economic advantage for them. Without doubt, trade tariffs and fiscal policies have safeguarded and tended to foster the fundamental interests of the bourgeoisie at the expense of the popular masses since the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and privatization by the Ibrahim Babangida military junta in 1986.

Again, the Generals, because of their limited knowhow, are comfortable with the same parasitic role as the semi-feudal elements (sons of emirs, obas and obis) and have, out of sheer laziness, handed all economic privileges to foreigners operating in the country made up of Britons, Americans, dubious Lebanese, Chinese, Indians and others, who control the oil and gas sector of our economy. One of the Generals, who apparently has money more than his love for the country even reportedly boasted openly that he made about $1billion from an oil well, and having spent $500million on overheads, he did not know what to do with the other half.

While this continues unabated, our intellectuals who are supposed to be the trainers and producers of the manpower needs of the country continue to see themselves steadily and inexplicably impoverished. These highly educated Nigerian academics and professionals constitute one of the factors that make the world refer to the Nigeria as giant of Africa. They are visible in such fields as science, literature, journalism, sports, law, medicine, etcetera.

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Unfortunately, these exceptionally gifted Nigerians have been forced into self exile having been denied all they wanted most at home: an atmosphere devoid of injustice, tribalism, oppression, discrimination and nepotism. They are denied at home, an atmosphere that would not reward mediocrity at the expense of excellence; an atmosphere that does not celebrate retrogression in the name of a subterranean quota system in which an accountant becomes minister of education while a professor of education becomes his assistant; an atmosphere in which dreams and dreamers flourish unfettered.

Ironically, in Nigeria, the gap is widening between the numerous contending social forces and the minority who control capital in the field of industry, banking, technology and oil and gas. This is the reason why, strange as it seems at first glance, the lackeys who got the political power on a platter of gold at independence were not even capable of assuming the positions that neo-colonialism was going to offer them.

They think it is the looting of public funds that matters. One cannot imagine a situation where Arab nations that could not stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria at independence will recolonize Nigeria in spite of our huge human and natural resources. Perhaps, it would sound like an exaggeration to vigorously criticize Nigeria as an empty society in which, among other things, members of the middle-class wander aimlessly across the barren terrain of a consumer culture. But it is glaring that with the kind of leadership materials being foisted on the people, the country would rather continue to waste its dreamers.

Some of our professionals are so proficient in their respective fields that many countries would pay a fortune to have them. Yet they remain without respect here in Nigeria as they labour daily under conditions that astound them. Whenever they cry out for attention the powers that be reply them in ways that make even notorious sadists cringe in embarrassment. Small wonder then that many of them have fled to nations where talent is not regarded as a curse, just to survive.

In the present circumstance, it would be a fundamental error to believe that our politicians who see power as a tool for personal aggrandizement and self enrichment could be loyal to a democratic calling just as it would be illusory to expect them to undertake the task of economic liberation. It is therefore imperative for all progressive minds to come together, irrespective of party affiliation, and do everything humanly possible to resolve the socio-economic contradictions that are threatening to destroy the very string that binds us together as a nation.

Never again will the progressives allow themselves to be led by semi-feudal elements-members of the reactionary faction of the Nigerian ruling class- whose major preoccupation is to take the country back to medieval servitude. We must note the fact that these apostles of feudal revival will always use tribal and religious shibboleths to cause confusion as they would rather want the country to continue to wallow in a morbid attitude that incinerates flowers that attempt to bloom. We must meditate on these contending forces that have brought our country to its knees and close ranks to halt the downward slide of Nigeria. This country is still redeemable for the sake of the future of our children.

  • Amor is an Abuja-based public affairs analyst