The text you are about to read is a letter I sent to Ibraheem A. Waziri in response to his article published on Sahara Reporters which I decided to share here. Please kindly note that you may encounter some grammatical and typo errors. Enjoy.
I was a patriotic Nigerian, I used to wear Nigerian colors as muffler, or the green-white-green badge on my suit, sometimes even putting the Nigerian flag on my car dashboard, I used to feel sad when ever I saw any bad news coming out of Nigeria, I used to tell my friends that Nigeria will be okay soon, and our problems will soon be over. In fact, some people used to say I am not a real Nigerian, for the reason that most Nigerians are good at black-painting the country, and some even claimed to be from another West African Country, a lot of Nigerians don’t want to associate themselves with the country.
Suddenly, I stumbled upon some mysterious posts and comments mostly online and on local news media made by some people from Southern Nigeria, whom are mostly from the South East, for the simple fact that they too are Nigerians, and they allowed themselves to be called Nigerians, and were indeed carrying the Nigerian passport, it fancied through me that those types of posts and comments are not actually made by a Nigerian. It is a mystery to me for the fact that I always believed we are one, and we will stand by each other any day. I decided to run a routine check to see if really they are from Nigeria, some of them linked their accounts with Facebook which makes it easy to confirm someone’s identity, I did what I did, and I was convinced that 100% of those posts and comments were made by Nigerians.
I am sure you want to know what those posts says and what the commentators were saying that really baffled through my belief of Nigeria as a nation. I haven’t bothered to save them or give them a 4th look, I have indeed went back several times to check if they have withdrawn their statements, but they never did. Since the troubles of insurgency started in the North, I have always thought it is a Nigerian problem, and everybody will stand up to fight what is eating us, the Nigerian-Taliban-Styled group is not good for even the average Muslim they claimed they are fighting for, including me, I never supported them, and I will never do.
We’ve heard since childhood, “A rise o compatriots, Nigeria call obey, to serve our fatherland” we have been calling Nigeria our fatherland, and have been pledging to serve it, but right now, at this moment, I don’t think I can fulfill this pledge, and I think my belief about Nigeria is gradually phasing out, until it is completely phased out, I will still claim to be from Nigeria, but not necessarily a Nigerian, the bond that makes me a Nigerian is no longer attached to me.
Mere comments or posts cannot make me so out-turned about my country, they cannot make me lose hope on what I was referring to as my beloved country, mother of Africa, giant of Africa, and so on. But with Achebe’s book (Edit: There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra), which I read from cover-to-cover, I knew I was in a trapped country, where ethnic tensions, tribalism, religious crisis, and political crisis, have found a firm place of shelter. It is not what I read that baffled me, it is the author, the person whose intellectualism has taken a center stage among the global educationists and there is outcry for more of his work since “Things Fall Apart”. If all what the South East intellectuals like Achebe did was to clearly “Jihadize” where I came from, without referencing to the very root of which even the Western nations acknowledged, that of poverty, illiteracy, and lack of social and human development in the North of Nigeria, Mr. Achebe went ahead to show the world that Northern Nigeria is something sort of an “Axis of Evil”. Is this the kind of books that Mr. Achebe want our children to read, is this what Mr. Achebe is telling his people in the South East, of whom so many have regarded him as an icon?
These and more led me to check on my past leaders, what have they done wrong? Most specifically the Sardauna/Balewa era, it was full of hope, it was clearly defined that Nigeria is a bondage of North/Southwest/Southeast and later Midwest, each region with their distinct leader and having hold of their beliefs, conservatism to the north, liberalism to the west, and liberal conservatism to the east, etc. I watched a video on Youtube. I was then left so confused, because Sardauna was clearly telling us that we cannot trust the Igbos, I was so confused that I had to repeat the video so many times just to make sure I get the message right, it is quite fortunate of me that I watched the video just when I was about to reply a comment which claimed Sardauna was a “tribal cog-head”. Those are the types of comments and posts I see everyday, but this time it is not only on the Internet, but in a book, written by a classically well known and respected author. I was checking my self thoroughly, and in a much jeopardized situation when I watched another Youtube video, of which this time around of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s official visit to the US, it quickly changed everything.
My journey as a young man, being born in the late 80s witnessed 7 presidents, in every effort I made to look back and view anything good beyond Balewa and Sardauna, it was empty, I couldn’t find anything, I started asking myself some questions, why were they killed? Who did they killed that they deserved to be murdered, were there no courts at the time they were killed? I immediately saw anger, jealous, brutality, evil, fanaticism, tribalism, and quest for trouble as the only possible answers to my questions, no amount of corruption can lead to Prime Minister be killed without justice, it was a clearly viewed antecedent and aim, which was to get rid of those good looking, educated, visionary, decent, patriotic Northern leaders, Balewa was clearly patriotic to Nigeria, of which he held, Sardauna was clearly patriotic to the North, of which he held, both of them were fighting for what their people want, Balewa was looking for anything good for the whole country, without regard to religion, tribe, or any differences, on his entire journey to the US, Balewa delivered several speeches, but he never emphasized or talk specifically about the North where he came from, he was simply a Nigerian. That was then, after that everything changed. It was Mr. Achebe’s people who connived with some criminals and did what they did, they brutally murdered my leaders and my heros.
This is my present view of Nigeria, where I came from, it is like seeing yourself in a mirror, Mr. Achebe has clearly shown whom our enemies of progress are, to me and people like me, there is clearly a lack of sincerity in every step they took. But now we have our eyes opened, and we know what people like him think about us, and his so-called educated people that call us with anything they can imagine to be worst to our feelings. Is all we can do sit back, relax, and watch until what Sardauna said in that video come to us? Perhaps it is their dream, it is what people like Mr. Achebe want, their future “colony”, and we, their future “slaves”. It is going to be an internal colonization this time. Yes, this is exactly what I am thinking now, thanks to Mr. Achebe and his new book.
Our children are in great danger, we are not safe, we are surrounded by people whose true color is clearly unknown to us, and we cannot trust them even to our dogs, not to talk of our own children, and grand-children. I am so much inclined to think that really what I thought Nigeria was, it wasn’t, it was never, we were just made to think that way, but it is now clear to me that I am not a Nigerian, I am simply a Muslim, Fulani, Hausa speaking, from Kano, these descriptions are completely true to the best of my knowledge, and pledge with all honesty that I will be faithful, loyal, and honest to my tribe, my religion, and our true allies, and any country that these properties may form now or in the future.
This is my true self now. I wish my people will wake up, I wish they can see what I saw, I wish their foresight will take a turn to an open minded reasoning where the “One Nigeria” mentality will be dropped aside, see the opportunities that is clearly slipping away from us, see through the visions of our past leaders, like our Sardauna, like our Balewa. I wish we can rise to the challenges by ourselves and seek true recognition of what we represent, I wish we can raise our flag with complete patriotism and shared values, I also wish our future generations will pray for us everyday and remember us as their most revered and respected leaders. I want a new nation to be born, so that I can once again wear mufflers, and put flags on my car dashboard, and pin the badge on my suits, and answer without hesitation where I come from.