opinionBy Ayegbe Isreal Ebije
Unless we allow one centenary remove the memory of the birthplace of Nigeria. Unless we want to continue in ignominy, groping in the dark looking elusively for a pathway as a nation, we must revert to doing the right thing as far as reconstructing the missing links that has plunged Nigeria into its present miasma. One of the first steps therefore is to fix the first capital city of Nigeria and city of amalgamation Zungeru in Niger state.
As plans for the 100 year anniversary celebration of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorate of Nigeria steam off towards 2014, the Chief Servant and governor of Niger State, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu has urged the President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to first consider Zungeru, the then colonial capital where the amalgamation ceremony first took place.
According to the governor who doubles as the Chairman, Northern States Governors' Forum (NSGF), the best place to host the celebration is at Zungeru, adding that a befitting centenary monument be mounted there as a candid and virtual reminder of what the town stood for. Indeed Niger State has proved beyond reasonable doubts that it does not only represent accurately the first five letters of Nigeria but also reflects a veritable symbol of the entire country. producing at least three leaders Nnamdi Azikiwe, Military president Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.
The stitching process must begin now. Nigeria has allowed so many forces to shred its garment of unity in piecemeal. The center is quaking and the very core of the amalgam is flaking off on account of regional, religious and prebendal Tsunami that might leave no memory for tomorrow's generation.
Yes the 2014 centenary celebration must be anchored around its birthplace Zungeru. Yes, it is the duty of the federal government to create a city, a monument in Zungeru as a symbolic shrine that will forever remind Nigerians of how far they have come. Yes, Zungeru can be the Mecca were Nigerians and their leaders irrespective of language, religion or creed can go and establish contact with the concept that amalgamation intends for our great nation.
It is sad that most Nigerians are tied to the lapses inherent in our amalgam. It is indeed sad that we have so much expended our energies condemning colonization, but what we condemn mostly is the colonization of Africa by whites, and most time manage to forget what our own fellow Africans have done to Africans.
If we fail to condemn the colonization of Africa by Africans, we must be hypocrites to condemn the colonization of Africa by the colonial masters. They ( the colonists ) are gone, most of them like Lord Fredrick Lugard were soldiers of fortune, they have fizzled out but Africans with worse intentions for their own people are still on the prowl, sucking the entire system and hoping to leave nothing behind for the future (at least after the whites left we still have resources to use).
No policy or decision is perfect but the decision of individuals involved. Blaming most or all of our problems on the alleged failure of the amalgamation will never take us anywhere. Let us tease out these problems allegedly caused by the colonialists so that we can advance lasting solutions. It is difficult for us to move forward when the past is allowed to consume our time to plan for a greater and prosperous future. Let us therefore never continue to attack the amalgamation without also seeing our own effort in making the system imperfect.
Inconsistencies may have marred the idea of our amalgam but the major challenges confronting our nationhood is often the result of the interaction of political, economic and social instability, frequently stemming from bad governance, failed economic policies and inappropriate development programs which have exacerbated ethno-religious difference.
Once we can identify ourselves as Nigerians just the way we do each time the Super Eagles are on international debut then all the imaginary and physical barriers will collapse and we can go the distance in the area of development and unity.
The concept of amalgamation itself is located in a system under work in progress situation. Amalgamation in its simplest definition means merger! Merger means fusion and in most cases there is no perfect situation or perfect merger but good minds to evolve perfection.
The Statue of Liberty in New York USA, Eifel Tower in Paris, France, Trafalgar Square in London, Britain and many more of such great monuments are reminders of different historic events. Good thing is that they are overtime a temple, symbolic and represent the potency of events in the past from a glance.
Sadly, the culture of having symbolic memorials seem to elude Nigerians. We are only interested in building images of negatives rather than creating physical representations of historical events, that which has the power to strengthen our failing unity.
We have a lot of Zungeru's across the country that have been allowed to rot. Leaders must lend their voice to join Dr Babangida Aliyu in calling for a revival physical but with deep emotional coloration. That Nigerians must learn best practices and physical representations of historic events is part of the lessons. Sadly, some of the monuments are in decay; all these must be revived. All efforts at making Nigeria work must be stimulated and sustained.
-Ebije is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Niger State on Media Analysis.