BY KANMI ADEMILUYI
THE past has not been edifying since we obtained independence on the first day of October, 1960. For that reason; it is better to face the future. The use of the phrase matters; for “Let us face the future” was the seminal” offering for the consideration of the people of Britain”, being the path-changing manifesto with which the Labour Party unexpectedly won the post Second World war Election of 1945.
It was an astonishing unexpected feat. Nobody, including the Labour Party, had remotely expected that Sir Winston Churchill, the war hero “saviour of the nation” and near deity could be defeated. Against the run of play however, Sir Winston was resoundingly defeated in an epic landslide.
The manifesto of the Labour Party in that pivotal election in 1945, not only led the party to victory, it changed the course of Britain’s history. The cause and effect reverberated around the world. Men and women as diverse as Pandit Nehru, Obafemi Awolowo, Kwame Nkrumah, a very young Nelson Mandela amongst so many others were enthused by it.
We should hope for such a decisive sea change as we celebrate independence day tomorrow. For there is a confusion about what many have come to see as ‘flag independence’ and the failure of the post – colonial state to deliver what had been expected.
Such a critical intersection makes one to recall the observation of a budding young journalist who went on to great reckon, Karl Marx.
Observing the tragic – comedy unfolding in the government of President Louis Napoleon Bonarparte in France, Marx observed in commentaries that changed political analyses forever that “Men make their own history but they do not do so of their own free will, they do so under circumstances and in a situation which they will not have wanted or desired. In the process, the norms, the traditions of the generations that have long gone they weigh like a NIGHTMARE on the souls of the living”.
Marx’s statement continues to haunt succeeding. In the case of Nigeria, it is certainly nightmarish. For apart from the self-serving, as well as the delusional, there is a feeling of guilt and remorse about the truncation of the hopes of independence.
The dividends expected are uneven. What had been anticipated was a new society based on a balanced federalism anchored on equity, fairness and social justice. This is in stark contrast to what we see around us and it is a crying shame.
The time has come for a reboot. Whoever takes over next year must decisively, with in the words of President Obama “the fierce urgency of now” embark upon a new beginning.
The can has been kicked down the road which means that very difficult decisions long postponed must now be made. The new president must not be shackled with the obsession with a second term. The mindset of “one good term deserves another” and similar balderdash will not help in making very decisive and electoral inconvenient decisions.
To return to production and generate revenues, there must be a return to the ethos and the spirit of the 1960 and the 1963 constitutions. With the terms of trade turned against us, there is no alternative.
The report of the Oronsaye committee on the costs of the machinery must now be implemented. The corruption-inducing multiple exchange rates must be eliminated and replaced with a single rate. The racketeering called ‘subsidy’ has to go. The state must also muster the political will to end oil theft. The in-tray for the incoming president will be fully loaded with contentious files needing decisive often unpalatable decisions.
Nigeria needs a democratic spring to have the national rebirth necessary for survival. We can only hope that in spite of the cynicism, we will have our own “cometh the moment cometh the man” moment. With a demographic youth bulge, it has better be so.