By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
In 1963, the Trinidadian writer CLR James released a second edition of his classic 1938 study of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution.
For the new edition, James wrote an appendix with the suggestive title ‘From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro’. In the opening page of the appendix, he located the twin Revolutions of Haiti (1804) and Cuba (1959) in the context of the West Indian islands: ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’. Thrice James uses the word ‘peculiar’, which emerges from the Latin peculiaris for ‘private property’ (pecu is the Latin word for ‘cattle’, the essence of ancient property).
Property is at the heart of the origin and history of the modern West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the European conquistadors and colonialists had massacred the inhabitants of the West Indies. On St. Kitts in 1626, English and French colonialists massacred between two and four thousand Caribs – including Chief Tegremond – in the Kalinago genocide, which Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre wrote about in 1654. Having annihilated the island’s native people, the Europeans brought in African men and women who had been captured and enslaved. What unites the West Indian islands is not language and culture, but the wretchedness of slavery, rooted in an oppressive plantation economy. Both Haiti and Cuba are products of this ‘peculiarity’, the one being bold enough to break the shackles in 1804 and the other able to follow a century and a half later.
The above narrative is not for the feeble minded and needs a certain depth of understanding to relate it with Nigeria, the nation, her leadership and the people, kindly follow me carefully and let’s journey briefly and share thoughts.
In the early days of this administration, our beloved President Muhammadu Buhari, started by blaming the not too Peoples Democratic Party PDP for our economic woes; everything wrong was because of them, we waited ages to get a cabinet running, and all that while we forgot that there’s no difference between the PDP and the now very autocratic All Peoples Congress APC.
The President further blamed Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, and Jonathan for the near destruction of Nigeria @60 but he could not blame himself…It is sad how we discuss Nigeria with a sense of fatalism, everyone is to blame for where we are but ourselves, so we keep the blame game on. Even as British Broadcast Commission BBC pidgin service was regaled with our well-orchestrated blame game as it reported “Muhammadu Buhari dey blame Nigeria police for security palava”. The police blame the citizens, the Nigerian Army blames the Navy, Navy blames Airforce, Civil Defense blame Vigilante, while bandits and terrorists kill all of us and we blame everyone.
Our education is at it’s abysmal lowest, poor infrastructure, poorly motivated teachers, pupils and students fixated on Big Brother while Buhari blames the decay in education facilities on past administrations. He also blamed lecturers for the ASUU strike last year.
On health, our president blamed Jonathan for bad hospitals, six years after office and we have not reversed the trend, even as COVID19 raged on, it was unavoidable that we blamed the pandemic for the economic challenges. But our President conveniently also pointed fingers at floods which he said have caused large scale destruction to farmlands and impacted negatively on efforts to boost local production in line with the administration’s policy to drastically reduce food importation. Our president blamed middlemen for the food price increase, and we wonder if middlemen just joined the market supply chain of food.
Our insecure state has been blamed on the instability in Libya after 42+ years of Muammar Gaddafi’s reign that is now affecting the Sahel region. Mr. Buhari blamed the late strongman’s henchmen, and afterwards he blamed the Int’l Borders for insecurity, our sharing land borders with Benin, Cameron, Chad and Niger; and maritime boundaries with Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Saotome and Principe, was to blame.
Tired of blaming these borders and countries, we upped the ante, as our President Buhari blamed the Internet for the rising spate of insecurity in Nigeria, of course we cannot discountenance the threats posed by cybercriminals, online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists in the country. But it was not enough, the President blamed Muslims for Boko Haram, he blamed the victims of Kaduna attacks for being attacked.
The President equally blamed the Civil War, and Military Rule for our poor economy, and disruptive growth. Ironically he was military and so also a part of the problem, for which we seek solutions, his times and cohorts are not to blame, after all he really did not fight in the war and he was not exactly the charge de affaire in 1983.
With low oil prices the President blamed our economic crisis on the opposition, when he was done with that he took to blaming Niger Delta militants for drop in oil revenue. Yet we want to diversify and we are stuck with oil.
President Muhammadu Buhari came hard on auditors in the country whom he blamed for the poor corporate governance in the country.
I recall in 2019 the President blamed his schedule for absence from the presidential debate. We blame-blame and blame the blame. It’s all a blame game, the sad reality is that, ‘The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly Nigerian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history’.
In Akon’s song, Sorry, Blame It on Me, I niched the lines a little differently to sound this way if we don’t have leadership that can look us and say as life goes on they are taking responsibility, that realize everything they do is affecting the people around them
A leader that understands that there are some problems and is not too blind to know the pain Nigerians go through. A leader who won’t show weakness but will apologise for being wrong and say I am the reason for your pain and we can put the blame on me, while I am working on the solution. Everyone is at fault but no one is taking the blame, just imagine if only the President would take the blame and responsibility, be accountable to govern us, loads would have changed, but here we are at this level, from which—only time will tell.
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