Without chroniclers, it is easy to forget history. Chroniclers recount yesterday and today for the present generation. Hence, we are put in the know about the twists and turns of each epoch. James Odife’s Sedated from Within: The Challenges of Underdevelopment in Nigeria does this and more.
The trajectory of Nigerian politics since its foundation is explored in details by the author, and, beyond presenting the gravitation of the political convulsions, it interrogates some of the decisions made by politicians that have brought the nation to a sorry path. The book presents a mirror with which Nigeria can see itself, nay
teems with recommendations on how a sleeping giant can rouse itself from bewildering slumber.
A few of the articles in the book were written within the last decade with different presidents at the helm of Nigeria and specifically addressing topical issues of those periods. But one will find them useful, for the issues still have bearings on the polity.
Recounting the dawn of independence –the birth of hope –in the opening chapter, the author remarks, among others, that the first generation politicians were more of committed crusaders who confronted the colonialists, unlike the politicians we have today, “… who could have negotiated a large pay-off to enable them walk away from the entire independence struggle” (p.14).
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But, along the line, things began to change as tribal politics was introduced in the country, with Chief Obafemi Awolowo masterminding a flurry of cross carpeting at the Western House of Assembly in 1952 when he saw that the Zik-led National Council for Nigeria and Cameroun possessed the majority to form the government.
The operations of the major political parties of that era are also examined in this chapter. The subsequent 29 years of military rule in Nigeria is discussed in the next chapter as a mixed bag. The author regrets that the worries of 1966, including disunity and distrust, which invited the military, still live with us today, showing that we are incapable of dealing with the issues.
The annulled June 12 1993 election, won by MKO Abiola, is revisited in the book. The circumstances leading to the enthronement of Chief Mathew Obasanjo as the next civilian president after another gale of military incursion to politics, are thrown up.
In the seventh chapter, the author x-rays the first part of the issues in the polity. Once touted as one of the happiest peoples on earth, the author observes that Nigerians have since become less than mirthful in so many ways. He writes: “… the history of Nigeria since independence in 1960 has been that of shattered dreams and fading hopes” (p.267).
With the failures of successive Nigerian governments, the author laments, Nigerians have become the butt of jokes on scams and fraudulent transactions.
They are also arrested and killed for drug related offences in various parts of the world, while many have died in ill-fated Mediterranean crossings from Libya to Italy.
From the compulsive proselytisation of the Hausa/Fulani Oligarchs of other groups in the north of the country to the Boko Haram menace, the author is dismayed that our politicians have continued to sow the seed of discord in Nigeria. In the ninth chapter, where the author addresses the Massob and Ipob agitations, he contends that, since the massacres of the Igbo in 1966, the easterners have become mere pawns in the hands of the Hausa/Fulani in the north of the country.
Towards the end of the book, the author tackles issues of national budget and stagnation, restructuring and, above all, sustaining the dream of One Nigeria. The book recommends, among others, a federation with six federating units to be known as regions based on the present zonal structure, headed by an elected vice president to coordinate a General Assembly per zone.
Sedated from Within: The Challenges of Underdevelopment – Author: James Odife, Year: 2018, Publisher: Goldfoot Services, Abuja, Pagination: 267