March 23, 2023

The late literary icon Prof. Chinua Achebe declared unequivocally that the trouble with Nigeria is leadership. And ever since this declaration in a memoir some years past, many intellectuals filed behind this conclusion that Nigeria could have fared well save for the bad, incompetent leadership. Looking at this superficially, one is tempted to subscribe to Achebe’s findings and won’t hesitate to become a disciple of this opinion with the zeal of evangelicals. Let me state it clearly that I don’t intend to rob shoulder with Achebe and many Professors drumming this Nigerian diagnosis. All I expect from you is to examine my opinion dispassionately without prejudice and become aware of this matter. This could help us come to a different conclusion, and set our gaze on the best way of salvaging whatever is left in this geographical space. 

Achebe’s findings just like others who arrived at the same result came from the acknowledgment of Nigeria as a possible governable nation. The very acceptance of this hotchpotch of a contraption called Nigeria without due consideration of other vital factors in her formation led to Achebe’s result. Anyone who looks at Nigeria from the same pedestal as Achebe, will definitely see only leadership as the trouble with Nigeria. This is why I don’t blame anyone afflicted with this imperception, for there is no other logical possibility. But let’s get down from Achebe’s pedestal and step our feet on a historical mountain from where we can survey and draw concrete evidence to refute this Nigeria’s summary once and for all.  

Nigeria, a multiethnic society with three main nationalities, namely, Igbo, Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba did not mutually and freely accept to form a nation. The formation of Nigeria is purely out of coercion. The British wanted Nigeria as a venture, they had the guns and amalgamation will be profitable. From the beginning mutual suspicion existed, and none of these ethnic key players were comfortable with the other. And in everything they were dissimilar, culturally and otherwise. They were better left as individual nations than to indulge in creation of trouble that will perennially become to a joke called Nigeria. The seed for the trouble with Nigeria was sown by this very contraption, and this had defined the rest of Nigerian history. 

The root of bad leadership, corruption and multifarious ills that plague Nigeria is tribalism. We can recall in history that the quest for Nigeria’s independence in late 1950s was kicked against by the Hausa/Fulani on the ground of their backwardness. The Igbo and Yoruba wanted independence; they wanted the white man gone, but the Hausa/Fulani refused because they said they were not yet prepared. It was obvious that amongst these three main ethic groups the Hausa/Fulani were very backward with terrible literacy rate. The British being very astute bequeathed leadership of Nigeria to the Hausa/Fulani tribe, the less smart among the three. With this the prospect of Nigeria’s growth and development was from the beginning hampered. Since 1960 which of the tribe has been in leadership more than others? There is no doubt tribe played a decisive role in Nigeria’s fate; the best tribe and the required fairness in Nigerian leadership choice was torpedoed by the British who still remains great influence in Nigerian government today.   

The second factor which is incontrovertible is the very fact that Nigeria nation is a black nation that is predominantly black race. When Prof. Onyemaechi Ogwunweze, cited German as composed of the same tribes like Nigeria and yet fare in good governance, I see false equivalence. First, he didn’t note the historical precedence as a factor capable of shaping the future of a country. He could have established how German’s intertribal warfare that set ground for the quest for nationhood is comparable to colonial subjugation and perpetual servitude to a colonized nation? What are the things that propelled the nation to the present state? What leverage can a country count on as she evolves and grows? Is German capable of being in her current status if she had risen from the ashes of colonization and sham independence? 

Nigeria as a black nation has a fundamental problem just like other black nations. I have tried not to question black man’s intelligence or, whether there is an African philosophy. But if I don’t do that, how can I explain the underdevelopment that is predominant amongst black nations? How can I explain the poverty, parochialism and unwillingness to be truly independent? Achebe believes that Nigeria can be governed since in his opinion Nigeria is a formed Nigeria. What he didn’t realize was that Nigeria is just a name of disunity tribes set on the ocean of world map that headed to the rocks. 

You have to have a nation to talk about leadership. Nigeria is a phony setup with the wrong precedence. The tribalism and black mentality are the resounding trouble that militated against progress in Nigeria. Nigerian leadership is a consequence of tribal imposition by the British who never let go of the strings on the Nigerian government. Firstly, there is no genuine unity and oneness amongst the tribes. Secondly, the tribes that made up Nigeria are not there by choice but by force. Thirdly, Nigeria can’t go against her nature of being a black African nation. Nigeria does what she knows: working against every progress. Before you accept Achebe’s conclusion, think about tribalism as the trouble with Nigeria!  

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