By Ambassador ALIYU BIN ABBAS
Once upon a time, we used to have a country—a nation of boundless promises and potentials. In the heady days of independence, Nigeria stood as a beacon of hope, not just for its own people, but for the entire African continent.
It was a time when our manufacturing capacity was the envy of the world, our medical facilities were sought after by people from distant lands, and our universities were revered institutions of learning and inclusion. But today, as we look back on that golden era, we can’t help but wonder what went wrong.
In the years following independence, Nigeria thrived in various aspects. Our manufacturing sector, for instance, boasted of internation brands such as Leyland Nigeria, which produced Land Rover cars, a testament to our industrial prowess. World-class medical facilities in Lagos and other major cities drew patients from as far as the Middle East, establishing Nigeria as a hub for healthcare excellence.
Our universities, like the University of Ibadan, were not only centers of learning but also symbols of inclusivity, serving the diverse tapestry of our society.
So, what happened to that Nigeria? How did we go from a land of opportunity to a nation grappling with dysfunction, corruption, and ethnic tensions? The answers to these questions are complex and multifaceted, but the truth is that Nigeria, as we once knew it, is no more. We are living in the aftermath of dashed dreams and squandered potentials.
As we confront this reality, it’s time to consider a way forward—a radical reimagining of the geographical entity known as Nigeria. The idea of dismantling the failed state and renaming it “West Africa” might seem unconventional, but it carries the promise of a fresh start. Under this proposal, West Africa would become a confederation of states, emirates, and kingdoms, each with a degree of self-determination. This format would acknowledge and honour the complex tapestry of ethnic, tribal, and religious identities that make up our region.
The name “West Africa” itself implies a geographical location rather than a narrowly defined nation-state. This cosmopolitical ideology, inherent in the name, automatically implies a commitment to diversity, freedom of expression, and inclusivity. It embraces the richness of our cultural mosaic while providing a unifying umbrella under which our varied identities can coexist.
The benefits of such a transformation are numerous. By decentralizing power and allowing for regional autonomy, we can address long-standing grievances and foster a greater sense of ownership among our diverse populations. A confederation model could also pave the way for economic cooperation, shared resources, and more effective governance.
Furthermore, a renamed West Africa has the potential to inspire similar transformations in neighboring nations. Ghana and Cameroon, for example, might see the benefits of joining this confederation of states, contributing to a more stable and prosperous region.
Of course, the path forward will not be without challenges. It will require a willingness to let go of the failed state structure that has held us back for so long. It will necessitate dialogue, compromise, and a shared vision for the future. But if we truly want to recapture the spirit of our nation’s early days—the sense of hope and possibility—we must be bold enough to reimagine our collective identity.
In the end, the name “Nigeria” is just that—a name given by a white man’s girlfriend perhaps due to its origin, it was already destined for failure. The essence of a nation is not defined by its title but by the unity, purpose, and aspirations of its people.
As we look back on the Nigeria we used to have, let us also look forward to the name brand – West Africa, we can become—a region that honors its diversity, empowers its communities, and embraces a future of shared prosperity and progress.
ALIYU BIN ABBAS is the President of National Youth Alliance