It can hardly be doubted that Nigeria – the state – is in a precarious position. Naija – the idea – seems to be flourishing, after a fashion. We seemed to be locked in a cyclic battle of according blame/responsibility for the survival/non-survival of the Nigeria. Who is responsible for Nigeria? What ails Nigeria? Is it a leadership problem? Or a followership one? I fear, however, that we are attempting to resolve complex matters by addressing simplistic questions. It is like trying to use a catapult to catch a raging lion. Without understanding the nature and purposes of a nation, its history, and the core of nationhood, we will be attempting to build a house by starting with the windows.

Because state demarcations are an artificial construct, there are no absolutes, all governance, democracy and the human rights frameworks are doing is to seek a suitable balance between authority and liberty. A stable nation requires enough authority to ensure sufficient control of resources and human behaviour, but not too much authority that it becomes oppressive; enough liberty to enjoy resources created and dispensed, but not too much that it results in anarchy. Both the governed and the governing create this balance by pulling in opposite directions. If there is any slack this will result in overcompensation. This balance cannot be created by only one side. The balance cannot be sought only during elections. If the nation has not been created by this push and pull, how can it possibly be maintained by it? The problem of Nigeria is that we have people in leadership positions, people in followership roles, but no leaders, no followers and ultimately no Nigeria.

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