THE WAY FORWARD IS OUR MANDATE AS STUDENTS OF CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF GHANA
I would like to begin this address, by commending the staff and students of this noble institution, and the international student association, for bringing this program; OCTOBER FIRST FEAST (OCTOBR 1st 1960 Nigeria’s Independence Day Celebration) yearly on campus. We have all left our homelands, to continue our academic life in pursuance of our future goals in this 2017/2018 academic and formative year. With all pleasure, I stand before you as a fellow student, having been given the mandate to brief you on the already known discourse. I am aware, that the international students body, comprising of other nations within west Africa are here present. And it is my hope that I shall give us all something to eschew at the end of this timely lecture.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF NIGERIA
It will be an unforgiveable mistake to say that Africans have no history by European colonial masters. The true historical account of Nigeria, started in 11000 BC. Nigeria is a west African country with climate ranging from arid to humid equatorial and surrounded by water. Hundreds of languages are spoken in this country. The country has large natural resources and deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Nations such as Benin Empire, the kingdom of Nri and the Oyo Empire. During the 11th century, Islam reached the Hausa states while Christianity began in the 5th century through the Augustinian and capuchin monks from Portugal. Shortly after the British forces invaded Lagos state between 1851/71, Nigeria then became a British protectorate in 1901. Colonization lasted until 1960 when an independent movement succeeded in gaining Nigeria its independence. In 1963, Nigeria became a republic but got coarse by the military which lasted for (3) three years after a bloody coup d’état.
These orderly advanced systems, tore the nation apart into pre-colonial administration which is a system of administration by traditional political leadership. Among the pre-colonial administration in Igboland, Yorubaland and the Hausa land, I would like to single the Hausa-Fulani land as a focal point due to the Holy war or Jihad in1804. The territory, now known as the northern region was ruled by Usman Dan Fodio and it led to the Fulani emirates. As a dictator, he divided the empire into the eastern and western sections. His son took charge of the eastern part while his brother was a firebrand Leader in the western part. In 1914, Nigeria was amalgamated when the Northern and Southern Nigeria were joined. In 1960, Nigeria had her independence. The constitution was then adopted as a republican constitution in 1963 to stay in the Commonwealth.
The name of our President is Mohammadu Buhari. We have two powerful constituted houses known as the Legislative house with (109 members) and the House of Representatives with a number of (130 sitting members). Our official language is English and no trace of a specific religion because we are notoriously religious using the words of Professor John Mbiti. Our currency is Naira and we are estimated in population for 186.053.000 million people. In fact, we are thickly and densely populated.
NO MATTER WHAT, WE ARE ONE
It will be impossible to thoroughly examine all these issues in just one article but we will do justice to the needful. According to Maya Angelou, a well-known and controversial writer and defender of African people and their culture and rights, ‘‘Diversity makes for rich tapestry and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter their color’’. In Nigeria, we continue to struggle with numerous ethnic, religious, and other diversities, and efforts to help appreciate these diversities show little fruit. However, the words of Angelou and the logic presented by her image of a tapestry, serve as a source of encouragement to continue to try, a challenge which can be assumed by students of this institution.
Since the inroad of independence into Nigeria soil since 1960 from the hands of British Colonial Masters, the nation as we speak, has been conceptualized with a bag of confusions. Hence a learned exploration is needed to determine the inadequacies that hinders the nation’s progress. We have heard so much about Nigeria such as numerous ethnic groups, over-religiousness of the people, corrupt people and the big fish known as Boko Haram. By the way, corruption is universal; It is everywhere, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Burkina Faso etc. Indeed, many people have characteristically condemned Nigeria, but if God is for us who then, shall condemn Nigeria. Thinking about Nigeria makes me perplexed.
To me, when I think of Nigeria, I imagine nature in coat of many colors, that is so GREEN and so WHITE as spotless as snow. The fact still remains, is Nigeria (57) Fifty-seven? With what? How can a nation be fifty-seven years old without active leaders, constant electricity, security, good roads, and religious prudence? How can a nation be fifty-seven years old, when University students are on strike and the youths are out there stealing to survive all because, lecturers are demanding for their basic payment?
NOT PRESSURE GROUPS BUT POWER CHANGING GROUPS
Philosophically, there are different variations of logical analysis, in the development of the society. Accordingly, Plato stressed that ‘‘public opinion is only necessary when there is no philosopher king’’. There are so many groups such as; BIAFRA, AREWA YOUTH, IPOB, ODUDUWA AND BOKO HARAM; all these groups formed together, are one of the monstrous sects, who determine the outcome of the people’s well-being not for the redemption of the people but for their own selfish interest and continual enslavement of the peoples right and privileges. Let us consider Boko Haram as a case study.
THINKING OF (57) FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS
Since independence in 1960, Nigeria has witnessed its share of conflicts, including the 1960-70 civil war when the southeast tried to secede Biafra. The numerous and attempted coup have often had a regional/ethno-religious undertone. We have heard so much about the phrase Boko Haram which means ‘‘Western education is prohibited’’. The group have caused havoc and immense setback in the north and especially in the northeastern region. Are you aware that the number of refugees in Nigeria, amounts closely to that of the number in Syria due to Boko Haram. Pray for Nigeria in distress. It is true that Kidnapping is a very lucrative business in Nigeria and other forms of criminal atrocities. These heinous crimes happen daily in our streets and neighborhoods. There is a need to overcome, these fifty-seven years of internal national challenges, and our search and mandate as students of Catholic University College of Ghana, cannot end in the four-walls of the classrooms alone.
We need to put on our seat belts, not with fine clothing but by allowing ourselves to be transformed by what we are taught, and at the end of our studious engagement, the onus is on us, to revamp Nigeria, not only with good speeches, but with prudent and teachable positive attitudes as students and as leaders of today and tomorrow. As future leaders, do not let Nigeria slip into wrong hands either by our vote or by our support for the wrong ideologies and for the love of a patriotic party. Dear friends, fifty-seven (57) years is not an easy journey at all. No be small tin!
OVERCOMING ECONOMIC RECESSION
Is Nigeria’s Economic Recession an issue? To me, it is an issue with a RED-FLAG’’ standing at each river-banks in Nigeria since the advent of democracy from 1999 till date. According to National Bureau of economic research, defined economic recession as ‘‘a significant decline in economic activity, spread across the economy and lasting for more than few month, visible through the wholesale-retail sales, industrial production, employment, real income, and gross domestic product’’. In general, it is a declined by a long-lasting increase of unemployment, drop in stock market, negative growth in GDP and decline in the housing market. Let me also add by saying that economic recession is less severe than economic depression because in 1949, the United States suffered economic depression with a GDP of 1.7% and unemployment rate of 7.9% which was caused by a substantial fall in fixed investments and may have been caused by the world war II.
We experience Economic Recession because of the fall in federal reserve. Economic recession in my opinion is relative although it is also a delicate tool in measuring success and failures. Having come to know what economic recession is all about, it is important to note that economic recession is not to be understood as fixated problem to all Nigerians, Ghanaians, and other nations here present, but we must rethink economic recession by putting a stop to ridiculous spending formula which can be traced to the unaccountable leaders outrageous spending, who by their administrative lapses, led us to this economic pitfall. As a student, spend wisely. There is a story of a young boy named Chukwuemeka, who carelessly spent his GH₵100 on his clothing, trying to look good with nice shoes and quality perfume. Shortly after he resumed back to school from Nigeria, he went hungry and walked down the aisle of his hostel canteen with a cashless wallet.
Having spent all that he had, he realized how useful his academic materials was of essence to his semester exams. To me, the beginning of him receding has started and I cannot say it is caused by the exchange rate of the day that made him go penurious. This story, reminds me of the British adage that says ‘‘penny –wise and pound foolish’’ which means that we must be extremely careful about small amount of money and not careful enough about larger amounts of money. Do not end up like Chukwuemeka, who spent more than he could chew.
As students, be judicious in spending. Do not for no reason blame your leaders, who cannot be fully trusted by their economic promises on a yearly unfilled budgets. If, you have anything that keeps you busy and earns you pretty cash for kenke or banku, do that job well and ensure you are on the right path to financial success. Never you sit in the wall, always make hay while the sun shines. If doing business will distract your academic performance, plan it in your mind and on paper and execute it after school.
Overcoming the nascent Economic Recession is unavoidable because, over the last years in Nigeria and beyond borders, it has simmered. It is a well-known fact that Nigeria is the largest producer of Oil in Africa, but all that good news plunders in history books. Of what good is a nation, that can produce natural product and cannot properly account for the generated revenue? We celebrate fifty-seven years while the central bank of Nigeria and international monetary fund is suggesting that Nigeria is in the stage of Economic Recession. It will not be fair if, I stand here to criticize Nigeria without suggesting the recent growth in my opinion.
Only recently, in the second quarter of 2017, there is a positive growth in GDP. But it does not mean that the nation is clearly out of Economic Recession. I would like to appraise Nigeria because, Nigeria is not a state for Economic Recession and cannot be a nation that economic recession has taken place. Furthermore, economic recession is ambivalent and existential but we must not forget that economic recession is a deliberative worldwide agenda. However, some factors such as reduction in real salaries, increased inflation rates, highest interest rates, accumulation of debts, unemployment rate, poor economic planning, policy conflict, high taxation, implementation of treasury single account (TSA), bad economic managers, religious and ethnic rivalry, and the biggest terror of all that plundered Nigeria to recession more; is Boko Haram. All these put together, diminishes the return of progress in fiscal earnings.
As Africa’s most populous nation marking her anniversary, I am asking the Nigerians here present, if, we celebrate today as a family, what are your proudest and saddest moments about Nigeria? Going forward, have we all taken out time to understand the views in the media, the hashtag comments made about Nigerians. It is not all ill-fathered comments are true of us but since it is of essence to deliberate about Nigeria today, I would like us to break the chains of colonialism and slavery of thought; anytime we celebrate independence. Standing together with determination, resilience, passion and hope, are the ingredients that will make us get better and great again. What makes you proud of your nation, is how you live out your life despite the ‘bad name’ for our strength lies in ethnic diversity. A firebrand musician who is a constant critic of the government Fela Anikulapo Kuti suggests that, we are suffering and smiling and the world can’t take that away from us.
Again he says; ‘‘everything I do wrongly is an experience…to be honest and truthful in all endeavors is an experience, not a regret’’. On October 1st 2015, I listened to a CNN broadcast when someone twitted; what makes Nigerians proud is; inborn resilient spirit. He continued by saying, ‘no matter how difficult things may seem, a Nigerian will always find his /her way’!
THE PROBLEM WITH NIGERIANS
The problem with Nigeria and Nigerians today, is that we have not learned from our fifty-seven years with problematic history. We recollect on each independence as a day of memorial by doing all that is expected of us; but we have failed to implement and interpret the signs of times especially in resource control. Overcoming fifty-seven years of success and failures for me, is a challenge to all youths in this reputable institution. There is a need for us to learn, unlearn and relearn our history from older generations. As students, we represent a new generation like Caleb in the scriptures in numbers chapter 14:24 who was trusted and had a ‘‘different spirit’’. Due to this spirited motivation, the future hope for, and promised by the Almighty, is only for trusted and faithful ones like me and you. Celebrating fifty-seven (57) years is not easy. However, we must rid ourselves of all forms of jealousy, maliciousness, envy, greed, insolent pride, gossiping, covetousness, unnecessary anger, improper communication to our parents, teachers and to one another in our hostels on campus and off-campus. If you can, avoid being cautioned on the things that are against the rules and regulations of an institution.
As long as study in this Nation Ghana, it is a must to abide by the dictates of the law under the jurisdiction of the law. If, Ghanaians are doing it, please do not join them so that your story will not affect those that are trying to be comfortable in their studies. Most of us left our homelands to specifically study, have we all been studying? Some of us come here and attend all religious groups, excessive social gatherings, and spend less time to think of our last days in school and hereafter. Socialization in fact is good but do it with limits. To all my fresher’s, do the reason why you are here and every other thing shall be added unto you. Ask for a pen and you shall receive, seek for knowledge and you will find, knock the doors of the highest heaven and I am sure, he will hear you and bless Nigeria.
We must also learn how to manage our ‘toxic emotions’ and not letting our emotions run wild like an untamed beast in an uncivilized zoo. In fact, think before you act. We all have our temperament; but we must be mature about acting out when things go wrong. Do not be a perpetrator of evil by your bad attitude instead, be a pro-life in ethos and praxis. Be sensitive to ethical responsibility. A preferred ethical imperative suggests that in dealing with toxic emotions, ‘‘act in such a way to eliminate toxic emotions or reduce the toxic level such that your actions do not generate or transfer such toxicity on your neighbor’’. This echoes to the universal Golden Rule ‘‘Do to others as you would want done to you’’.
For fifty-seven years, we have witnessed a crack in democracy and how it has crippled the effects of substantive change. Not everything seems to be working in the downstream sector and all the oil bloc within the country. Agreeably, there is no perfect system of government and no perfect people. We have listened to this address in the last few minutes and I believe we all have gleaned a few insights about Nigeria and the mandate given to us by scholars and on the challenges that beehive National sustenance and impending growth. I will suggest, that Nigeria should be considered as a study under the nations of the world because the things that happens in Nigeria cannot happen elsewhere both the good, the bad and ugly are of grade one.
I stand to be corrected but we are all witnesses to these things. It is my hope and prayer that as we have all come together to witness this remembrance feast, that God will raise for us, the one, who is to come and rebuild and reintegrate Nigeria and traumatized Nigerians from the pitfalls of Economic Recession, and that our Nation Nigeria and Ghana, will learn how to cultivate Catholic University brand of Students, who will transform their nation back from the ranging storms of Economic Recession, to the greater glory of God. If Nigeria ‘JAGAJAGA’ remind yourself that: ‘Naija don sweet bifo; Naija go sweet again.’
MAY GOD BLESS THE UNITED NATIONS IN THIS GREAT CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY!
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY FELLOW NIGERIANS
WRITTEN BY: ONYEJI JUDE IKECHUKWU
FACULTY: RELIGIOUS STUDIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
ASSOCIATION: INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ASSOCIATION (ISA)
DATE: 1ST OCTOBER, 2017; ON THE OCCASION OF NIGERIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION ON CAMPUS
LECTURE VENUE: LT. 2