Continued from Part 1
‘Truth gains more even by the errors of one, who with due study and preparation thinks for himself, than by the true opinion of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think. However unwilling a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, and frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth’. --John Stuart Millls. On liberty.
igeria was created by the British, at the peak of their power, just before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. At that time, the British Empire spanned the world from Australia to Canada. It was a country created to serve her Majesty’s pleasure and the best interest of the British Empire. The objectives were to maximize profit, retain power, continue domination of its people and achieve the most economical way to exploit its human and material resources. No thought was given to the interest of the people, their liberty, diversity, and way of life. As second class British subjects, who inhabit the colonies, they were not expected to know what is right for them and certainly had no part in the decisions that would define their life and destiny.
It is therefore in these selfish and imperialist motives for the creation of Nigeria that I will attempt to locate the seeds for her failure. In bringing people of diverse, religion, ethnicity, attitude, traditions perceptions, and ethics together, for the sole purpose of making them easier and cheaper to exploit, Britain created a conducive environment for human prejudices, mistrust, subterfuge, greed, corruption and many other primitive instincts to flourish. It laid the foundation of the intractable inter-and intra-ethnic, and religious conflicts that has characterised Nigeria and led to its failure today.
First, it differed to the north without safeguarding the south, even though its experience in the Middle East had taught her that religion, especially Islam is divisive and can have a prejudicing influence on the mind. Britain found in indirect rule, a cheaper and easier way to control the empire and paid very little attention to the liberty of the colonised people which it holds highly for its own citizens. It endorsed a system that practically made slaves of the people and kept them in ignorance to make them easy to exploit. To achieved this, its officials differed to people they could control and who they were certain, were of such intelligence not to reason in a manner that would threaten its hold on the country. It provided only education that would be necessary for the people to be used in the colonial service. In a way, the British chose people who could not be described as the best Nigeria could offer. Britain loves people who obey orders, do not ask questions and simply do as they are told; no matter how unjust or ridiculous. Its aim was simply to create an effective instrument of administration that would enable it to achieve its imperial objectives, no matter how unjust, atrocious or selfish.
It is therefore not surprising that quite very early in the history of Nigeria, many people saw the colonial service as a place for not very independent minded people. Even today, this has not changed. Britain does not encourage independent minded black people to flourish in its institutions. Blacks that make it in British establishments are often those who have bought elite education or prepared to forget who they are, accept a master servant relationship and the idea that everything British is superior to everything African. Its system stifles innovation in Africans, restricts opportunity and sometimes out rightly discriminates against African worldview. Even when superiority of African perspective is very clear, the prejudice that nothing of superior value can come out of Africa still persists in very high quarters in Britain. In reality, it has always been like this, right from the time of slave trade, when African chiefs sold their subjects as slaves for guns, gun powder and Whisky.
The British society is not egalitarian. It is difficult to achieve much without a reference, no matter how intelligent or qualified you are. This is the nature and reality of Britain. A very micro managed country where everything is regulated to the minutest details. They ensure that only the very well educated, in terms of the school one attended, and who are loyal to the establishment, gain power. This is really because it is a monarchy and independent minded people are a threat to underserved advantages, institutionalised injustices and inequalities. They find independent minded people threatening and tolerate them, until they can cut them to size.
In creating this marriage of strange bed fellows in the name of Nigeria, and excluding the type of people it uses to run its own government in Britain from government in Nigeria; Britain ensured that the worst of Nigerians will hold on to power to enable it to exercise influence to its advantage. This has ensured that companies like shell, have continued to explore and drill oil in the most environmentally destructive way and manner. They have continued to flare gases and failed to address the catastrophic environmental pollution they have caused which has damaged a significant part of the Niger delta mangrove region, and imperilled the health of the people. Life expectance in oil producing regions of Nigeria is very low and infant mortality very high. Today, the region is a sea of oil, making it the world’s worst environmental pollution and oil contamination.
Sadly, but not surprising; no Nigerian government has been able to hold Shell to account in Nigeria as Shell makes sure that one of its own is always at the centre of Nigerian government. Whereas shell has paid over thirteen million dollars ($13M) dollars to the state of Texas to settle 409 safety violations and two billion $2bn to settle law suits stemming from the blast at Texas City refinery in 2005, it has not as much as admitted culpability in the destruction of the Niger delta mangrove. One can only imagine how many safety rules Shell has violated in Nigeria. Today, Nigeria has a president from Niger Delta region whose primary concern does not seem to include the environmental disaster in the region. Does anybody think that if Jonathan does not clean up the Niger delta region of oil pollution that it will ever be cleaned in this life? The world saw how President Obama held Shell to account during the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. How can a country survive and develop, when its government, because of complicity in corruption; cannot hold those who destroy its environment and violet its law to account?
In addition to the above, Religion, especially Islam became the greatest obstacle to the attempt to forge a united nation out of Nigeria. So far, it has frustrated all attempts at nation building by draining the loyalty people should give to their country. While the south was eager to build a democratic Nigeria under the rule of law, the north was determined to create an Islamic Republic under sharia laws. Nigeria therefore became a case of a car with two drivers who are struggling for the steering to enable either take the passengers to their preferred destination. They spent the time fighting over the steering and have not gone very far from their starting point. They cannot leave the car because they believe it is the car they want. Those who ask to be let out of the car are forcefully made to remain. A few people in car get what they want and make the most of the cramped car, but majority of the people wants to move on so that they can get on with their lives. This is the dilemma of Nigeria and after 50 years of going nowhere, one of them has realised that the only way he can take the car to his preferred destination is to kill the other and has formed a group which is now killing some people in the car in a form of ethnic cleansing. So far, the other passengers who want to take the car to a different destination are surprised, perplexed and wondering what has gotten into the other partner. They delude themselves that the killings and destructions are perpetrated by mad elements in the other group not knowing that it is part of a strategic plan to gain control of the whole car and drive it to the promise land of Islam where sharia laws reigns supreme.
They are able to apply violence freely without remorse because their religion gives them the justification for the prejudice that fuels their murderous instincts towards those who are different from them. Its teachings, like those of some other religions, have no room for equality, tolerance, diversity and liberty of conscience, which are the constructs on which free strong and prosperous societies are built. It is a religion that sanctions the compelling of people to do things simply because somebody claims it is what God wants. It gives them the justification for the terror and wanton destruction of lives and properties which they engage in in the name of Jihad. It ensure that their fellow members, even when they have become enlightened through education and can see the immorality, wickedness, unjustness, primitivity and unacceptability of their actions and logic, cannot condemn them because their religion teaches that no Muslim should condemn or punish a fellow muslin for killing an infidel. Which would probably explain why the powers that be in North Nigeria have not found the courage or outrage to condemn the genocides and ethnic cleansing been perpetrated mainly against Igbos and ethnic Christians in north Nigeria.
No religion, no matter what it claims God told its founder, which sanctions such hatred, prejudice and violence against others that do not agree with its beliefs, can offer a recipe for peace. This is the dilemma and tragedy of Nigeria. I do not hate Islam. My attitude to religion on the whole has grown to the point, where I can make a clear distinction between the values of God, and the prejudices and ignorant dogmas of religion. I retain my awareness of the capacity of all religions for good and evil in equal measures. I am able to see the good the bad and ugly in all regions and take from them what would enable me treat all men and women as brothers and sisters, irrespective of colour of their skin, language, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. What I oppose strongly without apology, is the teaching of a religion that blinds men to the evil and monstrosity of their actions and conditions them to justify wickedness, self-centredness, barbarity, and hate in the name of God. Islam has demonstrated this is greater measure in Nigeria. Today, Islam is doing in North Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Middle East, Somalia, Sudan etc. what Catholics did in Europe in the dark ages. It has cowed the world with violence. Its army of volunteers who are ready to kill for the slimiest excuse are ever ready to do her evil bidding, and no one raises their voice against the inhumanity it has unleashed on the world in the name of God.
Christianity on the under hand has provided a cover for very dishonest men to hide their evil nature and continue to perpetrate evil because they claim to be doing the work of God. Christianity has been privatised in South Nigeria and it is wash with churches where ignorance and exploitation is perpetrated. It would seem that Christianity has dragged south Nigeria back to the cave of ignorance, that the more the number of churches in a town in south Nigeria, the higher the crime and unemployment rate and the worse the poverty indexes. This is not because of its teaching, but because of the way those who benefit from the offerings, present what they claim to be the truth. Religion teaches people that engagement in religious rituals and belief alone can atone for all their evils and make people to concentrate in their forgiveness, instead of the pain and suffering they have caused by their sins and how to make amend.
To be continued.