Today’s State of the Nation Broadcast is aimed at unveiling the true enemies of Nigeria. Please lend me your ears as  we  separate chaff from grains, tares from wheat, villains from heroes, and perverts from patriots. Turn your Bibles with me, if you will, to Isaiah 5:20-24 (NKJV), a  text of Scripture that, in my opinion, captures today’s  theme, “Unveiling the True Enemies of Nigeria,” in its entirety:

20Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!
22Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
23Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!
24Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, So their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Fellow Nigerians, I welcome you to a new decade in the 21st century. About a hundred years ago, our founding fathers began the quest to build a great nation. The 1920s ushered in the decade of Nigerian nationalism when, for the first time, Nigerians began to embrace the possibilities of nationhood. The frameworks of the Nigerian state had been laid with the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914. However, six years post-amalgamation, our forebears still regarded themselves not as Nigerians but  as  Edos, Ijaws, Igbos, Kanuris, Hausas, Yorubas, and so on. They still viewed themselves as diverse local tribes under the rule of colonial masters. However, a shift began in the 1920s as the policies of the colonial masters brought economic and social hardships upon the  people.i Under the leadership of patriotic founding  fathers, the Nigerian people began to craft a sense of national identity.

In 1923, one hundred years apart from  2023, our next election year, the first Nigerian political party, Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), was established by an illustrious son of a priest, Olayinka Herbert Macaulay. For those who may not be aware, Herbert Macaulay was the grandson of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, an Anglican bishop from Osoogun (in today’s Oyo State) who translated the Bible into Yoruba. Herbert Macaulay took the first steps towards forging a nation in which Nigerians, no matter the part of the country they hailed from, and no matter their tribe or religion, would identify themselves first as Nigerians.

By so doing, Herbert Macaulay became the first of  the founding fathers of the would-be Nigerian nation. Spurred by the movement pioneered by this man, a coalition of Nigerians from across the nation came together within one decade to begin the cause of  wresting the soul of Nigeria from the stranglehold of colonialism on the path to forging a new nation. Following the leadership of Macaulay, one source states:

The forces unleashed against the British were now diverse, including soldiers who had served in World War II, the media, restless youth, market women, educated people, and farmers, all of whom became committed to the anticolonial movement. Political leaders resorted to the use of political parties and the media to mobilize millions of Nigerians against the continuation of British rule.ii

In the course of traversing the nation and mobilising Nigerians under the aegis of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), Herbert Macaulay fell ill in Kano and later died in Lagos but not without passing the torch to coming generations of patriots. Notably, the creation of the NCNC in 1944 was a joint effort between the then eighty-year-old Macaulay and the forty-year-old Nnamdi Azikiwe who would go on to become Nigeria’s first president in an independent Nigeria Macaulay did not live to see.iii

Where Herbert Macaulay stopped, the likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe, H.O. Davies, Ernest Okoli, Margaret Ekpo, Eyo Ita, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa and Funmilayo Ransome- Kuti picked up the mantle. But our founding leaders were subject to like passions just as we are, and they had their moments of doubt. From the young Tafawa Balewa who dismissed the concept of  Nigerian unity as “only a British intention,”iv to the equally young Obafemi Awolowo who described Nigeria as “a mere geographical expression,”v our founding fathers were initially far from convinced about the prospects of nationhood. However, at some point in their respective trajectories, our founders encountered the possibilities of Nigerian nationhood. In those defining moments, they embraced the promptings of destiny and it came into their hearts to build a nation.

To read this entire speech, download here; PRESS_BAKARE_Tunde_SONB_January_2020