African Union Students’ Club (AU) Ahmadu Bello University zaria officials paid a courtesy visit to one of the prominent elder state man in African, Ambassador Maitama Sule; one time Nigeria Ambassador to the United Nations. He was part of the African Nationalist that founded the African Union. The visit was to give us insight on panacea to African contemporary issues. EXCERPT: The history of political development in Nigeria and African indeed is very interesting. With the problem now facing us, it is only appropriate we should look back there and see how it started and what have become of it.
Today, in Africa and what will African become in future with all these problems around us? This is the question that keeps coming to the mind of those who care. In other to profound answer to this question, one has to go back history. The purpose of history at any time is to know the past, so as to adjust the present and plan the future. Life yesterday gave birth to today and today will give birth to tomorrow. Life is a continues exercise. Nature those not provide any vacuum, that is why in one time when there was this policy of the government which said only the new breed should take active part in government and the old should be wiped out.
I did not accept that because the best organization throughout the world at the cost of history of nation building is come-off both old and the young. You need the maturity, wisdom and experience of the old as well as the dynamism, radicalism and youthful exuberance of the young. New breed without the old will breed greed. And perhaps that is why we are having problem in Nigeria today, because the old have been discarded. But some of the old have become so greedy that they succumb to the much nature of the greedy young people. We have made so much liberty. However, although they have painted the present picture black but am still optimistic.
Ours was a decent society. We started very well especially Nigeria. We are very much respected. Nigeria in the first republic, were ever loved, admired. Our country leaders were respected. Indeed our first prime Minister sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was chosen to be among the best two leaders in the developing world. The other was President Nehru of India. We have five leaders, Dr. Azikwe, Awolowo, Sarduana, Tafawa and Aminu Kano. They were good leaders in political institutions. The country then was morally sound. Corruption was very negligible. I won’t say there was no corruption.
There was but it was negligible. There was respect for elders and constituted authority. We are our brothers’ keepers. That was how we started. But today, the institution of family has broken down. Those cardinal principles are now to its lowest degree. Honesty has become meanni less. There is meaninless in philosophy; in security; in polity; chaos in politics; immorality in society; corruption in economy and even in frustration in art and lack of creativity in literature. Everything that has beginning has an end. Only God has no beginning no end. Everything that has reach it climax is bound to come down.
The ugly things that are happening around us will one day come to an end. We will get out but how? We need to have a kind of revolution, not bloody revolution, not violent revolution. I am not advocating for that. I am advocating for Cultural Revolution, re orientation, change of attitude and we can change this country for the better. If we have a good guide, good leader; a good leader will be able to install good discipline to the society. We will be able to raise the moral cone of the society, we will be able to fight corruption, give the country a sense of direction. This is my hope.
But you the youth, the potencial leaders of the country are the answer. You are the vehicle of change. You are the vanguard of revolution that I am advocating for. But you need a guide. You need leaders who are responsible, reliable, conservable, intergrity, patriotic; people who have concern for the people. Mohandas ghandi, led a peaceful cultural revolution with philosophy of satyagraha – non- violence resistance. He achieve independence for his country ( India) the second largest. With all the problems we have today in Nigeria; tribalism, ethnicity, religious bigotry and so on.
Murtala Mohammed gave Nigeria a sense of direction, Buhari in twenty month of reign was able to install discipline in the society and gave the country a sense of direction. Both of them did not kill to achieve that, but the quality they have; make them to record that success. If we can get good leaders we can do it. Before the clamor for independent for Africa, some African leaders met in London. Kwame Nkrumah, Nyerere, Dr. Azikwe, Jomo Kenyatta, they started forming movement for independent for Africa. They came from different countries in Africa but they have a common objective; the attainment of independent for their respective countries.
They got inspiration from an African leader who came before them Dr. Aggrea of Africa of Ghana. He was proud of being and African. He use to say “I am proud of my colour. Whoever is not proud of his colour is not fit to leave”. They all made it. Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe made the greatest contribution to the attainment of Nigeria’s independence. They were into politics to serve their people and not to be served, to give and not to take. They were in politics with sincerity and honesty of purpose. Their main concern was their people and country.
Although, they were different in politics, religion, tribe, they agree to accommodate one another so that they can move the country forward. In Africa, when independence started, there was no single or one continental organization. Kwame Nkruma of Ghana advocated for a continental power and African command. However, some countries including Nigeria did not like the idea. They said it was too early and that we needed to have more time to accommodate one another. However, because of these differences, Nkruma led radical countries that want the entire continent to unite to form the Casablanca Bloc.
Nigeria led other countries to form the Monrovia Bloc. In June, 1960, at the conference of Independent African States meeting in Addis Ababa, where the two blocs were brought together, I had the privileged to lead the Nigerian delegation and in that conference, the Nigerian delegation moved a motion calling for the merger of the two blocs to form a continental organization. The motion was adopted and that marks the beginning of Organization of African Unity (O. A. U). In 1961-62, a meeting was held in Accra which brought into existence the O. A. U.
Nigeria started well and was even part of the three countries predicted to be in 15 to 20 years become so developed and will join the industrialised nations of the world. The other countries were India and Brazil. Today India has made it! India is a nuclear power, India manufacture computers and produce military weapons. All these they achieved in spite of their differences in religion, tribe, etc. Brazil has made it also! Today, Brazil manufacture cars, planes, ships and accidentally, Brazil and Nigeria started their defence Industries the same year. But, the Nigerian defence industry is today busy producing furniture……….. hat has gone wrong? Failure of leadership…….. In 1961, I was invited by the students of Ibadan University to give a convocation lecture, and in that lecture, I told them I could see two problems facing Africa in future; the political system in Africa which to me was alien to Africa. The democracy we are practicing in Africa is Eurocentric not Afrocentric. Democracy is relative. The cultural orientation of the people should determine the kind of democracy to be adopted. Germany, U. S. A, British e. t. c all has different kinds of democracies. Therefore, African democracy should be African. It should be Afrocentric not Eurocentric.
So, I foresaw that there will be problem with democracy in Africa because we borrowed it in total. We did not consider our culture. Before the white man came, we have political systems in Africa and I believe that the systems were democratic. We have a system where the Chiefs throughout Africa were the head of council. And the council was made up of people representing all the tribes in the society. Every interest group was represented. There was no formal opposition distinct from government. Everybody has a hand in government Multiple parties built partisan political interest end up in party favouritism of his own people and neglect others.
It leads to tribalism and other political socioeconomic vices. The concept of Afrocracy will be difficult to introduce because we have been so brain washed. We have imbibed European custom. It will be difficult for us to go back to the past. However, with or without that system, we need good leaders who may adopt good leadership style. It is the leadership that will make it succeeds or fails. If we have produced leaders with integrity or fear of God, who will not lie, leaders not looters, we will succeed.
The dreams of our founding fathers have not been realized, the dream of Africa that will be built, or beneficiary, developed economically and the economic force to be reckoned with. That will develop economically and not politically. That was the dream African Leaders have. These problems are the same all over Africa; these words no longer exist in our political dictionary, retirement, resignation and alternation. They are no longer there. Anybody that happened to be in office or power or position will have his way and will want to perpetuate his stay in office until death do us part like church marriage.
The youth, you can bring about the desired change; for the future is yours. You can make it or mar it. Don’t succumb to the evil imagination of our political leaders who will want to use you to achieve their selfish ends. You will be spoiling or modifying your future. You will inherit bad future. Be patriotic, realistic and pave the way for good future. You will inherit a glorious future and it will be good. Be as good as the former leaders. The joy of a dying father they say is the presence of a worthy successor. You need to groom him, trained him, impart on him and tell him how to avoid the mistakes of the past.