We Are Not a Mistake - An Independence Day Message By First Baba Isa

First Baba Isa, Legal Practitioner
“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”
― Steve Maraboli

Some Nigerians still consider what happened in 1914 as a mistake. They refer to the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates of 1914 by Fredrick Lugard as “The mistake of 1914.” They believe bringing together a people so diverse in culture, religion and tribe to form one country is the cause of all our problems.

If you listen to this guys talk you will think that Nigeria is the only country on earth that emerged by such happenstance. They will make you believe that every other country began by every member and sector of that country accepting to become a member of that country prior to their emergence. But this is not true. Nations happen by chance; countries evolve out of circumstances just like ours. And the success of every nation state depends largely on what citizens do with their independence not necessarily with the factors that brought them together before independence.

Go and read the histories of nations and you will find out that America, Italy, South Africa and other great countries where born out of circumstances you will consider ugly or a mistake. Let’s stop making excuses for who we are and how we came to be and take responsibilities for our today and make our tomorrow bright.

I believe that if the British had left us alone we would have evolved to be great, maybe not together as the present entity called Nigeria; but the British didn’t leave us alone, they colonized us, they brought us together, they named us Nigeria and now, here we are. This is our destiny and the truth is to be great as a nation is a choice that we can make.

I have a friend who is a Major in the Nigerian Army. Whenever we visit his parents, the mother takes pride, in a remorseful sort of way, in telling us how my friend’s conception “just happened.” It wasn’t planned. In other words it was a mistake. She was a student then and did everything she could to abort him. But my buddy simply refused to come out. Today he is an officer in the Nigerian Army and everyone is proud of him. You can’t look at him today and dismiss him as a mistake. Let’s begin to see Nigeria this way.

It was Paul Coelho who said, “When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”

The most pathetic thing is when you hear people who were born in the 80’s and 90’s talk about the “The Mistake of 1914”. I nearly puke when I posted an article online once and a young woman I know personally and who was born in 1991 came up and commented passionately about “The Mistake of 1914” being the cause of all our supposed problems. This is really pathetic when you consider the fact that it is her generation that should be brimming with the highest hope for this country. We have been sold a lie. Those who are ruining this nation are looking for who to blame and the Amalgamation of 1914 is just a scapegoat.

We should take responsibility for the future of our country. We have been put together, let’s stay together and work together; I think that is how it was destined to be anyways. Even if you split this country into 36 other countries following the present state structure as your basis, many ethnic groups will still complain of not being consulted and will call it a mistake and will want their own independence. “The Mistake of 1914” is just an excuse. Let’s reject it.

And what if the amalgamation was really a mistake? What if lumping us together was really for the selfish interest of Britain? For God sake we are over 100 (or 57) years now! People make mistakes and recover. People fail and are betrayed and recover. Is 100 (or 57) years not enough time for us to recover? Shouldn’t we focus on ways to progress rather than on excuses not to? If your conception was a mistake, will you allow your life to be a mistake too?

We must take responsibility for the future of our country; each of us in our small corners must begin to build the country of our dreams, the very kind of country we always complain we don't have. This responsibility is ours and we can't afford to fail.

Firsts Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and Leadership and Governance Enthusiast.
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