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Our Nigeria

October 15, 2010

My Nigeria” a book by Peter Cunliffe-Jones sounds promising according to these reviews: here and here. You can watch the book launch on YoutTube. Cunliffe-Jones’s BBC article, to mark Nigeria’s 50th anniversary, struck a chord. In the article, Cunliffe-Jones compares Nigeria and Indonesia, noting similarities and a major difference:

“Nigerians fight every day, of course. They fight for survival, to put food on the table and to get by. But have they put real pressure on their leaders?”

How do we manage wonders Richard Dowden? By good luck?

“The answer is a frantic, often brutal and dirty scramble for education, work, money and power between 120m—or is it 140m?—people. It’s a vast cauldron that seems to produce hotter, sharper, more creative and energetic human beings than anywhere else in Africa. Those who succeed indulge in stupendous exhibitions of power and wealth.”

The last sentence is jarring. It depicts an every person-for-themselves-God-for-us-all attitude. Can we endure that for another 50 years? Impunity, consequence of an utter disregard for the rule law, festers indifference and frustration. Still, Dowden notes:

“In June I witnessed a furious debate at the British Museum on the question “Why isn’t Nigeria a cultural, political and economic superpower?” An angry man accused one of the speakers, Father Matthew Kukah, of complicity in genocide. In his final flourish, he proclaimed: “But, Father Matthew, if you were running for president, I would vote for you!” The audience, about half Nigerian Londoners, collapsed with laughter. Father Kukah gently replied that “If someone is not angry, we ask, ‘Who is paying them?’” Rage, laughter and courtesy all at the same time—only Nigerians could manage it. It is how they, and Nigeria, survive.”

Will we survive on that triple dose of rage, laughter and courtesy? Let’s get real. Some measure of democracy isn’t bad medicine. Fr Kukah notes in a recent interview, in preparation for his new book “Witness to Justice: An Insider Account of Nigeria’s Truth Commission”.

“It is only democracy that can resolve our problems, even with all its imperfections. The only way we can continue on this road is to continue to support the institutions of democracy, continue to encourage politicians to behave properly and to nudge our country on the path of democracy and freedom.”


Question is: are we hopeful enough and willing to put our thumbs were our mouth is? Time to put our “can-do spirit” to test. It’s possible!

“New technology aids campaigning, giving power back to people and giving the possibility of positive change. Political reform is possible, and it is Nigerians themselves who will decide the direction the future takes.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 1:35 pm

    Hi there. Nice post – a fuller version of Richard Dowden’s ‘Good Luck’ article can be found on the Royal African Society website

    Also a written report of Peter Cunliffe Jones’ book launch can be found here

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