Who’ll you choose: Buhari or Lord Lugard?

Stop! Do not read if you’re not a patriot! Don’t, because this is a journey into Nigeria’s past continuous existence. It’s a journey meant only for hearts where the love for Nigeria resides. The vehicle for this journey is called metonymy. A little introduction about the vehicle is needed for a smooth ride, I tell you. Metonymy, the vehicle, is a figure of speech in which the name of an object or CONCEPT is replaced with a word closely related to it, according to Britannica.com. Before some sycophants shout blue murder and call for my head on a pole, I hasten to state that the use of the name of the Daura indigene, President Muhammadu Buhari, and that of the icon of Queen Elizabeth’s repressive rule in Nigeria, Lord Frederick Lugard, is basically on the level of concept. The CONCEPTS here are Nigeria’s subsequent governments and the ignoble colonial rule which ended on October 1, 1960. By extension, Lugard, in this article, represents western values.

In today’s Nigeria, the past ambushes the present at the crossroads of bedlam, gridlock and fatality, where road safety is zero. Safety that spread on every kilometer of Nigerian roads during the colonial days has, today, yielded the right of passage to death, kidnapping and robbery on the same roads.

In the quest to expand economic frontiers, Europe’s superpowers, including Portugal, Britain, France, Spain and the Dutch, separately sponsored military expeditions to Africa several centuries ago. Slave-hunting colonialists arrived in Nigeria in the late 15th Century, openly wielding the Bible in one hand and secretly clutching the gun in the other hand. After despoiling and depopulating the land of countless virile youths, Britain handed a sucked orange of a country back to Nigerians in 1960. But then, joy shot through the roof at the fruition of independence as the nation basked in the rays of possibilities, hope and wealth. Fortuitous oil prosperity knocked on the door at the dawn of independence, expanding the coast of promise and dream in an unborn country. Nigeria wanted freedom. Fiefdom she got.

In our fiefdom, we dreamt big. Black rulers came on board driving truckloads of promises: Wealth will be shared to all and sundry nationwide! Milk and honey will flow in every household! Jobs will outnumber people! Kainji Dam will supply electricity beyond nooks and crannies! Every region will develop at its pace! Dry ports will compete with seaports! Nigeria will feed herself and her neighbors! Paradise is the Promised Land called Nigeria! Oil, natural gas, gold, tin, iron ore, limestone, bitumen, coal, lead, salt; cocoa, coffee, kola, oil palm, groundnuts, rubber, plantain, timber, sugarcane and an endless list of God’s gifts abound.

White enslavement gave way to black bondage. Soon, in the 1960s, political crisis, like a mosquito, perched on the nation’s scrotal sac. Impatience swallowed caution as a crushing blow came down hard on the sac while the mosquito swiftly ducked away. Water broke from the smashed balls, and eternal pain and barrenness set in. Soon, in the 1970s, youths fled farmlands for cities and towns, where the facilities bequeathed by the Queen were soon dilapidated due to overuse and lack of maintenance. Soon, in the 1980s, black kleptomania fully replaced western efficiency as water taps dried up, trains refused to work and rot oozed out of the aviation industry. Soon, in the 1990s, filth, roaches and rodents crawled in the crowded cities, bringing death and diseases into homes while airplanes tumbled down from the skies. Soon, at the turn of the millennium, schools became citadels of ignorance, hospitals became mortuaries and security agents became worse than bandits. Gradually, daughters became prostitutes, sons became fraudsters and assassins; mothers became adulterers while fathers turned to ritualism. And the country’s leadership faced the looting of the treasury squarely, flying in helicopters over bloody, pothole-ridden roads with their families ensconced in foreign highbrow residences and their children attend Ivy League schools.

Despite the growing hopelessness, some patriots never gave up on Nigeria. One of such patriots was Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, who died from heart-related complications on August 12, 1989 while playing for the Super Eagles in a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the National Stadium, Lagos. The Orlu-born midfielder, whose nonagenarian mother is still alive, died in vain because the maladministration, fraud, decadence and non-patriotism which he fought against, has worsened 30 years after. Okwaraji signified the very best of Nigerian football. He put nation above self. No player in the current Super Eagles team embodies Okwaraji’s patriotism, always flying himself to camp without demanding refunds. He wasn’t only endowed downstairs at the feet; he was hugely endowed upstairs, speaking Igbo, English, Germany, Italian and Spanish fluently. Unlike some unenlightened national team players, who inadvertently signed slave contracts, Okwaraji was a lawyer, who had a Masters degree in International Law, and was a PhD student as of the time he played his heart out before Nigerian fans. Okwaraji played in some of Europe’s best leagues; many Super Eagles players today play in nameless foreign leagues. The former VfB Stuttgart star will weep in his grave if he sees that the National Stadium has been turned into a big ‘shayo’ joint for beer-guzzling potbellies and harlots. Dear Sam, the local league is dead! The National Stadium is dead! It’s now a den of criminals. That rickety ambulance that had no oxygen when your heart needed resuscitation eventually ‘pafukaed’ without a replacement. Prayers now rain down ‘koza!’ ‘koza!’ from numerous prayer centres flourishing in the stadium. Sam, sports have abandoned the stadium, sex and alcohol have taken over.

It’s only on election days that the footpaths of our political leaders and that of the poor meet in Nigeria nowadays. The wives of our leaders and the wives of the poor no longer go to the same market. Their children no longer go to the same schools. Our leaders are visionary, wise and caring for their children. Recently, I discussed with elementary (primary) and junior (JSS) schoolchildren of American public schools and I discovered why the US, Canada, Europe etc are now the preferred education destinations for Nigeria’s political class. Our political class has discovered that our school system only taught dysfunctional education, not an education that propels the mind towards self-sufficiency, independence, critical and creative thinking, cutting-edge competitiveness and resourcefulness. What would you say of an education system that punishes students for speaking their mother tongues? How would you describe the mentality that permits Nigerians to wear their traditional attires only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays?

For primary and JSS school pupils in the US, Chess is a subject. Primary school pupils, with the aid of experts, build drivable cars that would be used in car-race competitions among various schools. Each primary school builds its own racecar for district, state and national competitions. JSS students take a subject called Medical Detectives which teaches students how to match DNA and fingerprints at crime scenes and how to perform autopsy. JSS pupils are also taught how to test for hearing loss, blindness, measure and regulate blood pressure and heartbeat rate. They’re also taught how to create apps. In JSS 2, pupils engage in an extensive collective project called robotics in which they make an assembly line of conveyor belt comprising a sensory car, an automatic school bus and a claw that could pick things up. In elementary school, pupils are taught how to reference articles in MLA format just as they’re taught how to conduct research in JSS. Field trips are compulsory for pupils from primary school level.

Nigeria’s political class knows that the way out of the country’s problem is functional education. But they want it for their children alone so that their children could continue the legacy of enslaving the masses.

As for me and my household, we’ll choose Lord Lugard, what about you?