African Outlook Online


Nigeria: Children of Independence (Part 2)

Nigeria: Children of Independence (Part 2)


By Femi Akintunde-Johnson, Lagos

Is it not a mirage, our hope, that as Nigerians our children should have a sense of belonging anywhere they choose to dwell in the country? Of course, since we their fathers, and our own fathers could not thumb our chests that we truly feel at home everywhere in Nigeria, we can only play the ostrich if we expect our offspring to believe they have a nation to love and behold.

The other day, I was discussing with a university don about my daughter’s chances of having a spot on the merit list in that year’s university admission roll. The cut-off point for the merit list was not yet out, but I was curious to know what fate was planning for her. My dream was for her to gain admission without having to prostrate at the Vice Chancellor’s office, or any such ritual. He asked what state she ‘hailed’ from. I said Kwara State. He was not sure if Kwara was part of the “catchment area” which could come in handy if she didn’t make the “the-main-the-main” merit list. Alas, only Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti and I think Ondo were on the list!


What does that mean Prof?  “Well,” he replied matter-of-factly, “if she comes from any of these states, she’ll easily make the list even if her total is two or more off the mark for the general merit listing because of the special dispensation available to those from those areas. They form the bulk of our primary catchment areas”.


“But my daughter is a virtual Lagosian. Her parents were born in Lagos, in fact her mother is a full-fledged Lagosian from an Isale-Eko family,” I protested feebly.


“I see, but you wrote Kwara against her name… she cannot now claim Lagos State…” he said clearly enough. Message sent, locked away.


Fortunately for me, my daughter’s luck held up, she made the merit list, by some stroke of grace. And there was no need to seek alternative means, or to abandon that track, and seek openings elsewhere… more expensive and less satisfying for me.


However, the moral of the story is that you can have a family built on little lies and dramatic re-write of personal history. It is possible, and I suspect a number of people are in the same uncomfortable lacuna - where siblings officially come from different states of the federation - for the immediate satisfaction of meeting one quota or the other, in the quest for acquisition of knowledge. Ironic?


It will not be imaginable if in one family one child is from Kwara State and the other two are from Lagos and Oyo States - and all in the same university.


Now, what are we teaching our children? That being truthful is not cool; that a country which does not recognize your inalienable rights as a resident of a locality (however long it is), and thus grants you the rights of indigeneship; but places logs in your path to plainly show you up as alien in your country – is not exactly worth dying for, fighting for or being truthful with.


In another country that cherishes the development and nourishment of its manpower, the location of your birth (i.e. place of birth) automatically bestows on you the rights and privileges of indigeneship (and this cancels out the depravity and delusion of settler/owner dichotomy) that has wasted countless lives and properties in our country.


Why do we abide stubbornly by foolish laws and conventions that basically reduce our ability to grow and prosper effectively and randomly?


Why should I be consigned to a state I have never seen, lived or affiliated to in any form possible simply because one soldier, decided, by a flick of pen, that some lands are better off being lumped with an existing state – or what have you? How can I originate from a state where on closer scrutiny down to two or more generations is found to have been a watering hole for some traveler-farmer or traders whose thirst for migration was phenomenal? Where does one trace his true origin from? Which persons can truly and finitely lay claim to a particular locality in a fast-fluxing ecosystem that had been impacted by wars, natural disasters, internecine distortions, etc.?


The fickleness with which we slander our children’s future, and effectively downgrade our country’s chances of making it as a great nation is bewildering. Merely looking at the wastage our leaders have piled on this nation, and their unending threats to continue their wooly-eyed insanity makes one shudder at the reason why we are called backward nation, in conspiratorial whispers.


Sorry, I cannot see light anywhere in these dark tunnels, my generation can hardly hope for a great future, how much less our children?


First thing first: We must remove foolish laws, and not pretend all will be well, if we do nothing… just in a matter of time.  We cannot be that foolish. We cannot be a fool at 52. Grow up, Nigeria!



A Nation Shamed By Seething Madness

The hearts of true patriots across the globe go towards the families, friends and acquaintances of the 46 young souls wickedly executed in Mubi, Adamawa State on October 1, 2012 for reasons yet unclear; and the ill-fated UNIPORT Four hacked and lynched over alleged stealing of telephone sets and/or laptops (on October 5, 2012). We cry as a nation diminished by these unjustifiable and devilish actions; a people traumatized by cascades of heinous devastation and butchery all across our blood-drenched landscapes. We totter from one devastating incident to another – a situation made more terrifying by the apparent helplessness of our helmsmen.


While we mourn with those who mourn, we should never trivialize the deaths of these young people and many others cut down in their prime all across the killing fields of Nigeria, by growing silent in our anguish and sweeping the very horrible acts under the carpets of public amnesia and indifference. We must all raise our voices, stoke the fire of ceaseless agitation and protests until the wicked perpetrators of these brazen murders are exposed, prosecuted and dutifully visited with the full weight of the law.


Beyond the gang of evil men that supervised the two killings, we must investigate the roles played by law-enforcement personnel, the so-called vigilantes and Aluu communal ring of admiring onlookers. Every participant in the Port Harcourt horror should be thoroughly interrogated and dealt with appropriately. While the grieving students of Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, and the University of Port Harcourt are prevailed upon to moderate their sorrows with the words of China’s most famous philosopher and political theorist, Confucius: ‘’We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.’’


The rate and coldness at which extra-legal hurricane justice is spreading across the lands give impression that our rulers have lost control of the ship of state…just as all have become their own local governments (providing for self almost all basic amenities that define fair living standard), the Nigerian people appear to now want to be their own police force, military brigade and such units of coercion and repulsion. In a land where the government makes itself look like an uncaring, bungling road-side mechanic, the people (unled and unaccountable) do as if they have a right to take spanners and hammers to knock anyone out of existence.


Our people must not allow the atrocious conditions and seeming hopelessness of living in Nigeria to lure them into swapping their humanity and innate goodness with dark wickedness and malevolence. We must not surrender to the encroaching breeze of poverty and disillusionment in such a manner that we now have no qualms murdering and strangulating our children, friends and neighbours at the faintest excuses. No manner of crime, no level of official complicity, no resentment or provocation adequately justify inflicting instant jungle justice on one another without due process of fair hearing, independent appraisal and the whole gamut of the rule of law. We are not murderers; we are not anarchists; we are not terrorists (even in spite of the brutal efforts of Boko Haram); we cannot therefore afford to add bloody names to our long list of inglorious ‘achievements’ in the global village.


The ‘government of the people’ must start to sleep less and protect the people more proactively, both the rich and the poor. Nigeria must no go on like a giant mistake that cannot be corrected.


Femi Akintunde-Johnson is Writer, Journalist & Author and can be reached via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.