On a day like this, one feels obliged to write. Not to satisfy mere intellectual enquiry but to clear the air on a pertinent national issue. Albeit to gauge and guide public opinion.
It’s not news that Nigeria got its independence from British rule on 1st October, 1960. It’s also not news that the political inheritor class – Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafewa Balewa, etc “fought” for the attainment of the said independence. But what is new and perhaps rarely falls into the synthesis of general knowledge in specific and public opinion in general is the nature of independence we were given. This and more shall be the preoccupation of this thesis.
I guest you are on the know of the moving forces that congealed around the nationalist movement leading to the attainment of our sham independence? If this is considered a common knowledge, we shall proceed to x-ray and bring to the fore the thrust of our treatise.
The extant literature are replete with vicious conjectural explanations that fan the embers of praises and celebration that presents to its readers ‘we-all-won’ scenario of independence. But the reality and apodeictic truth remains that this isn’t the case if we conceive of independence beyond the cliff edges of the mere abolition of ‘white rule’.
When we cash in and delve into the rigors of Lenin’s Imperialism – the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Nkrumah’s Neo-colonialism – the Highest Stage of Imperialism, Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Ekanem’s Underdevelopment Problematique in Contemporary and Precolonial Africa: Beyond Walter Rodney’s Theory of Technological Arrest, Igwe’s How Africans Underdeveloped Africa, etc some durable explanations can be made.
Independence in the strict sense transcends the mere abolition of white rule. It transcends governing oneself, of having nominal national leaders, of having all apparatus of state, of having national symbols, of sending ambassadors to all countries, etc. Independence is a much encompassing variable with ramifications on several spheres – political, economic, social-cultural, military, etc.
The nature of Nigeria’s independence and that of African countries defies the logic of sovereignty – that which is tied to the apron-strings of industrialized capitalist states from where its growth, development and expansion is conditioned. That whose internal dynamics are determined and shaped from outside. That whose integration in the world capitalist economy and participation in international trade and commerce is shaped by the international division of labour via its consignment to monoculture economies and specialization on production of raw materials for the core nations, serving as market (dumping ground) for finished goods. One which has made the nation an importer of everything including toothpick. That is, it’s structured to be a dependent economy. The thorny issue is that in a situation like this compounded by the unfavorable trade between the core and periphery backed by the Britain woods institutions (World Bank and IMF)), it will be ill thought to expect progress. For if economic power is centered outside of national boundaries, political and military power is centered outside too.
Notice also that aid, investment, loan, multinational corporations, etc have conspired to torpedo and nullify Nigeria’s claims of independence in furthering exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed world, and increase rather than decrease the gap between the rich and poor countries of the world. All these reinforces and congeal around imperialism and neo-colonialism. In addendum to this is the periodic removal and installation of leaders who support western geopolitical interests.
It was in light of this that Claude Ake described Africa’s independence as ‘Flag and National Anthem Independence’. By this, He sought to capture and reflect the fact that though we were granted “independence”, we only have flags and national anthems as evidences of our independence while we’re still colonized economically, politically, culturally and socially.
The most worrisome is that since the attainment of our sham political independence till date as we mark 58, our basic needs of quality education, roads, electricity, pipe born water, meaningful life, etc have remained the same. Does this show we have made progress? We can place this squarely on our collective misery and exegesis of our agonizing hardship and untold poverty amidst plenty on our political class who have refused to legislate and drive home for us all the dividends of democracy and good governance.
Are we by our thesis advocating for autarky? No. No nation is self sufficient. We’re advocating for the removal of structures of industrialized nations that work and hinder our progress, the ability to exercise choice in the international arena, and the ability to determine our path and destiny. We’re advocating for peoples democracy that will work towards its removal and the attainment of good life for us all. We’re advocating for sound leadership backed by an undying political will. We’re advocating for a situation where every foreign investment done in Nigeria falls under portfolio investment, to guarantee technological transfer, training of the local work force and transfer of necessary skills, and to avoid capital flight.
This is a time to reflect on our journey thus far!