On 1st October 2021, Nigeria will celebrate Independence Day with march-pasts and speeches by dignitaries. But our leaders are oblivious to the fact that Nigeria of today is not the country that was birthed on the same day in 1960.
The terms and agreements of that independence–for which our fathers risked their lives by opposing, cajoling, and pleading with our colonizers to set us free–are no longer applicable in Nigeria.
What is clear to me is that the 1966 coups d’etat were not just a military takeover of government. They were, in reality, disguised recolonization of Nigerians by a military cabal. Nigerians did not invite the cabal, whose members are proteges of colonial powers and probably have foreign backers.
Colonization is the takeover of a geographical area and its population to exploit the human, material and financial resources thereof to the benefit of the colonizers, by use of threat or military force. The coups d’etat of 1966 took not only the government of Nigeria, it took away our Independence. The military cabal that took over the government and has been there for the past 55years, were not our saviors, they were our conquerors!
The current generation of Nigerians are victims of a collective Stockholm Syndrome. If you were born after 1966, or were young like myself, this oppressive governance system, which has never really benefited Nigerians, is all that we ever knew. Some of us actually now believe that this is the normal way a government should run. No, it is not!
Let me recount some of what the composite nationalities agreed to at Independence–to allow for peaceful co-existence and their mutual developments–but which were lost to the overthrow of Nigeria.
1) We lost of our ancestral land, therefore we cannot even repair roads that link our towns because it belongs to a federal government that we did not give the land to.
2) We lost control of the resources in our land. At Independence, what was negotiated was that the central government has the right to a tax on mineral resources found in the land of any region. It cannot own it.
3) We lost the control of the use of our taxes and internally generated revenues to use for the infrastructural development of our towns and cities.
4) We lost the ability to conduct our own elections and choose our own representatives, since elections are centrally controlled and can be manipulated from the center.
5) We lost our independence to control and manage our own developmental plan and progress since everything is handed down as instructions to us from our rulers.
6) We lost our voice- No one is listening to our complaints and cries for change, dialogue and a reversal of these anomalies.
7) We lost our ability to defend ourselves–as all powers have been centralized and we are at the mercy of our rulers. Any dissenting voice is a candidate for assassination by the fifth columnists.
8) We lost our prosperity and our ability to create wealth for ourselves, because of being entrapped in a system that is not designed for our benefit but that of our rulers.
9) We have lost the strides in development and emancipation that we were seeing in our nation at independence and the forward relentless march towards modernization.
10) We have lost everything if we do not rise to demand our Independence back and take up the struggle to liberate our nation from our conquerors.
So, on this Independence Day anniversary, let us rue the independence that we lost and resolve to put an end to our state of arrested and truncated development and progressive regression.
Let us demand from our internal colonizers a fresh independence. Let us seek a restructuring of Nigeria back to the country we all agreed to at Independence in 1960. No nationality in Nigeria ever agreed to this unitary by force arrangement that has crippled our development.
It is time to stand up and be counted.
Dr. Gbola Olagbegi is a consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist