Raising A New Nation From The Ashes of Nigeria ~ By Okey Samuel Mbonu
Former Presidential Aspirant, Okey Samuel Mbonu, calls for a total rebranding of Nigeria, and a change of name from Nigeria to the Republic of West Africa.
On Thursday November 27, 2019, former 2019 Presidential Aspirant Okey Samuel Mbonu, delivered remarks at the Nigeria National Leadership Conference (NNLC) & National Economic Empowerment Summit (NEES), organized by the Carpenter Foundation, held at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria Headquarters, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The below is the full text of Mbonu’s remarks:
Raising A New Nation From The Ashes of Nigeria
I must start by commending the organizers of this Summit, especially fellow compatriot Dr. Ayodele Favour; the man who has refused to give up on Nigeria.
I wish to acknowledge the Special Guest of Honour, the legendary Prof. Wole Soyinka, a man we have all revered for a lifetime, as a man of great integrity, conscience, and ultimate patriotism.
I also wish to acknowledge other distinguished speakers today, including Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin. I want to acknowledge some of my fellow new-generation leaders here, including Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Hon. Tope Fasua, Hon. Emmanuel Etim, and others…. I also thank the ladies and gentlemen of the press, and the distinguished audience for being here.
All Protocols observed.
Building a Sustainable Nation
Five Dozen years ago, our forefathers wrested this piece of West Africa from the British Empire. They wrested this land so that we can fully control our affairs, and live in peace, liberty, and prosperity.
After several years of military intervention, our political elites willingly jettisoned the parliamentary system, which was bequeathed to us by the British, and in 1979 adopted the US Presidential system. The trouble today, among other related factors, is that we have refused to copy the system we adopted correctly.
Human progress since the beginning of time has been based on copying the best model of any human endeavor, until society finds something better. For example, the original means of communicating our thoughts, writing as we knew it, which is the precursor to the internet of today, started not far from here, via our own Egyptian hieroglyphics. Writing remains the basic model for communication.
Finally, the wheel we use today which was invented in ancient Mesopotamia 5500 years ago, has remained man’s best means of mobility.
If we cannot reinvent all these great models of human progress, then why are our leaders trying to indirectly reinvent democracy, by clamping down on the four cardinal elements of true democracy, which include: 1. Freedom of Speech & Freedom to Peaceably Assemble; 2. Freedom of Religion; 3. Civil Liberty & Freedom from Fear or Insecurity; and 4. Freedom to Vote our conscience and elect the right leaders.
What Is True Democracy?
Democracy may not be perfect, but until the world finds something better, it is currently the most accountable form of government. Democracy incorporates the necessary separation of powers, so that each branch, from the Executive, to the Legislature, to the Judiciary can all checkmate each other. Sadly, that is apparently not the case in Nigeria today.
Further, if we do not reform our current electoral practices, to make our votes count; whereby a little boy or girl from Akwa Ibom, or Zamfara, Or Onitsha, or Ijebu Ode, can freely run for the presidency of this republic, based on the content of their character, competence, and integrity; instead of based on what tongue they speak, or what religion they worship; then we will clearly be going around in circles, with a small number of political and economic elites, and a massive number of poor disenfranchised people, who will eventually react out of frustration, hunger, deprivation and insecurity.
Some say we the new-generation elites are just “blowing grammar”, but we have seen the results of having incompetent, political misfits, who do not “blow grammar” lead us. Thus in this 21st Century, Nigerians do not have Electricity; nor public running water; nor sufficient roads, and certainly nor reliable communications services, the engine of the 21st Century. Electric Generators would not power a 21st Century economy; nor would personal boreholes supply sufficient public water (let us hope those multiple boreholes do not begin to trigger earthquakes in the future).
As for communications and data, US mobile phone service, which even the poorest American has, allows one to have unlimited access to data worldwide, including while traveling overseas, for one low price. And yet, in Nigeria, even a comparatively privileged person, cannot afford “unlimited” data, as it is in many countries, but rather has to pay thousands of naira by the week, to have access to the internet, a 21st Century necessity. Data is so expensive in Nigeria because the regulators at Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), have allowed the Telecom Companies to write whatever rates they wanted because the regulators hands may be tied. Thus non-stop 24 hour data usage in Nigeria is currently a mirage.
Examples of Democracy
The world’s best example of Democracy to date is the United States. We consciously adopted the US model but we are practicing it upside down. It is equivalent to driving on horse-shoes, instead of wheels. We cannot get anywhere like that. In true democratic federalism, the various states would be like independent countries. As a result, every state would control its education, its police, and its economy. The various original 13 English colonies that formed the United States were basically independent colonies or countries.
The US federal government and the states do not sell any minerals, whether Oil, or any of the many minerals in the United States; rather they just enable and encourage economic activities, and just collect taxes from citizens and corporations across the states. That taxation is sufficient revenue for running the wealthiest economy on the planet. The fierce competition between the US states to attract business and generate more corporate or individual taxes to their states, is the economic engine of the US.
The Complicity of Nigerian Citizens in their Own Rape
Because most of us new-generation leaders have had recent experiences of actually running for the highest office in the land, we are now mostly authorities on the Nigerian electoral process. Thus, I would authoritatively say that besides the failures of the current leadership class, the citizens of Nigeria have also been complicit in facilitating the problem!
Almost every recent candidate can testify, to the arduous task of seeking for votes in Nigeria; where majority of the citizenry would not only refuse to volunteer for a campaign, but would rather ask candidates for outright inducement, in order to even hear the candidate out. If you were running under an established Party then every manner of Party operative sought inducements from the candidate.
A time comes in the life of every generation, when the old must give way to the new. Old ways of doing things, or old ideas must be abandoned for progress to happen.
A time comes when progress becomes a matter of outright survival; fellow patriots, that time is now, because there is a “fierce urgency of now” in our affairs. The current government has until 2023 to finish their job, and because some of us are persons of dignity and character, we shall accord them the dignity and respect to finish their term in peace, without inciting the nation into violence. However, our job is to ensure that there is a new beginning in 2023.
From Nigeria to the Republic of West Africa
Available research indicated that when Flora Shaw, Frederick Lugard’s girlfriend, suggested the name of “Nigeria” she meant, “Area of Darkness”. It is not clear whether she meant our cultural practices, which were considered uncivilized at the time, or our color’ as in our melanin; nevertheless, it was not a complimentary name.
Thus, because the various inhabitants of this West African region of disparate kingdoms, where not consulted properly in creating the nation of Nigeria, most of them never fully developed patriotism, or a strong passion for the name “Nigeria”. Fellow patriots the time has come to change our country’s name to the “Republic of West Africa”!!!
There are many reasons I will advance for this name change, but it will take another lecture to enunciate it all.
However, suffice it to say that as at today, Nigeria has more internal strife and hate than it can handle, our international baggage and reputation are in shambles, and we have little or no patriotism right now. Most Nigerians are beholden to their tongue or religion, and we refuse to cultivate passion or patriotism for the country.
But since we’re all West Africans, and there are numerous West Africans pouring into our borders daily, the moment we formally adopt the name “Republic of West Africa”, we will immediately become known as one of the most resource-filled regions of the world, and potentially one of the world’s powerful nations, occupying a strategic corner of Africa! We already saw how we shook the region when the borders were closed; though the motive for the closure remains suspect. From the moment we become the “Republic of West Africa”, a new pride and international reputation shall arise; and eventually, little boys and girls from Zamfara, or Anambra, or Ijebu Igbo, or Calabar; shall join hands, and contribute according to their capacity, and also equally benefit from the goodwill of others in this republic.
We must make efforts so that according to the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom!” And let us ensure that government of the people, by the people for the people, does not perish in our hands!!
Thank you! Thank you Patriots! Thank you fellow West Africans!!