When I moved to Benin-City, I then realized that Bendel (derived from Benin & Delta regions) was not a person but a place where I now resided. I also realized to my amazement that the Bendel I always wanted to meet was already in me because I was not only a Bendelite by descent, but I was from its capital- Benin City. This was the earliest 1980s and I began to see why it was really number one. We won most of the state and university sporting events despite obvious cheatings against us. We always had the highest cut-off marks in JAMB, WAEC, and Common Entrance exams, despite the fact that we are one of the fewest and the last to have schools built on our land by the British colonizers. We also had one of the best road networks in the country because the ever migrating Igbo traders always told us that one of the ways to know when you enter and leave Bendel is the difference in the quality of the roads. Bendel was also the cultural center of the nation as it is to this day, not just because it has one of the oldest Kingship families in Africa (Benin Monarch-about 900 years), if not the world, but also because of its bronze arts (FESTAC as an example) and its documentation in history even by Europeans. What about UNIBEN (always nicknamed “UNIBEST”) who just came second among Commonwealth Universities in the world, despite the fact that it was just built in 1970?
It was when I moved back to the United States as a college student that I began to understand the greatness of any nation and society, and the failure of Nigeria as a country. I began to understand that you only get what you are worth. No one is going to pay you or respect you more than you are actually worth. A nation that prides itself on fairness of law, vision for the future, and open-mindedness based on change will always dominate those that abide by lawlessness, self gratification, and tradition. While the United States has implemented Civil Rights laws to deal with racial and discrimination issues, and Affirmative Action laws to deal with inequality by giving women and minorities a chance in the work place, Nigeria is still doing the stupid and visionless WAZOBIA system. WAZOBIA is an inferior Nigerian ideology that claims that everything Nigerian must be headed, perceived, or viewed from the angle of the three major ethnic groups – Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo. They are supposed to produce all the presidents, have all the major and strategic offices, have all the solutions to the country’s problems, and whenever there is anything Nigerian outside the country, they must be in-charge. There is nothing wrong with being the leaders, but you must have success, progress, and accomplishment to show for it.
The European civilization has now realized that discriminating against certain citizens in their domain means that they are not fully exploiting and utilizing all of their human resources to their fullest potential to generate superior economic and political might. The European’s sport leagues are filling their sporting franchises with people they once called inferior, FIFA even wants more spots for African nations, France is looking at new ways to make life more conducive for their immigrant Muslims, America is trying to do the same for its immigrants, the United Nations want third world nations to have more power at decision tables, even the United States is about to have a woman (Hillary Clinton) or a Black (Barack Obama) as possible presidents. What about Nigeria, the so called “Giant of Africa?” We elect the same old unchanging WAZOBIA leaders, who devalue the currency for no reason, who take development loans but no infrastructures to show for it, who give up oil-rich Bakassi and Lake Chad with the hope of getting international support when an unconstitutional third term bid for presidency comes around, who refuse to nominate a qualified woman (Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) to the UN even when requested for. Do not forget that you are given what you are worth. Why is Nigeria always given visionless and military-related WAZOBIA leaders? It is because that is who we really are and that is exactly what we deserve. We are as a whole, a visionless, selfish, and closed-minded people. We have chosen tribalism and tradition of power over intelligence and accomplishment for future generations.
It is time Nigeria gives up its useless WAZOBIA mentality that has enslaved the masses by giving us valueless leaders and stagnant policies. Do you know that as a Bendelite, when I am among the Yorubas they call me “Igbo” and when I am among the Igbos they call me “Yoruba.” These major ethnic groups refuse to accept the fact that Nigeria is superior to their backward WAZOBIA realities. What about giving the southern minorities a chance? These are a people whose domain produces 90% of the country’s income but have no access to the income, its refineries, or getting jobs at its headquarters. These are the people that lead in any state or university sporting event. They are the once with the best educational results and highest exam cut-offs. They also have the historical and cultural reference for the nation. Doesn’t common sense tell Nigerians that there must be a God hidden treasure in this vicinity? When I say treasure in this vicinity, I do not mean the WAZOBIA created Governor of Edo State called “Lucky Igbinedion”. I say this because the infamous criminal – Lawrence Anini was even of more value to the lives of Bendel people until Igbinedion miraculously came to the scene during Babangida/Abacha’s era.
Please, Nigeria should please give this people a chance to take Nigeria to great heights that even the Europeans once cherished in their achieves. Despite all odds working against them, they have still managed to raise their heads above water to stand their grounds and fight for what belongs to them. They can only do so much without the aid of the rest of Nigeria by Nigerians removing the shameful veils of WAZOBIA and giving them the mantle and foundation to stand upon. They resisted colonization better than anyone else and I believe that they are the ones to lead Nigeria towards greatness against all odds. After all, through out history, a lot of great things came from minor and remote places. Can you remember Jesus of Nazareth, Muhammad Ali of Louisville, Kentucky, or God choosing the Jews because they were the fewest of all peoples (Deuteronomy 7:7)? Be wise and you will reap the fruits of wisdom.