By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Title: What a Country!
Author: Peter Nandi Bette
Publisher: Authentic Press Nig.
Reviewers: Ita Akuku and Nweh Mu’Jafreh
“What a Country!” is an emotional outburst of discontent flowing from the pen of a Newspaper Columnist, an Educationist, an Administrator, Teacher and Good governance Advocate, as part of his contribution to fostering unity in his father land, Nigeria.
In writing this booklet, “What a Country!”, Peter Nandi Bette relied primarily on Newspapers, Magazines, and online portals like Sahara Reporters etc as his primary sources of information.
It is thus a pleasant irony that at a time when most people in the society have not only gone crazy in the hunt for money, thus relegating reading culture to the background, we have the like of Peter Nandi Bette who painstakingly assemble facts from various sources to provide enough food for thought for any reader .
He has thereby, at least, redeemed us from the hurting indictment of Mr Ray Ekpu,a foremost Journalist and one of the founders of “Newswatch”, Nigeria’s first newsmagazine, who once said that Nigerians hate Record Keeping so as to obliterate the evidence of our ills. For, “What a Country!” is an impressive piece of good Record Keeping.
It is worth registering straight away that this 5-chapter booklet has come at a critical time when the pendulum is swinging and weighing heavily in the direction of ‘fragmenting’ Nigeria into several republics, rather than uniting her into one indivisible nation.
True to type, in this booklet, Peter Nandi Bette does what has endeared him to those who have been opportune to read his newspaper columns, or his regular contributions in the social media. He employs simple diction in “What a Country!”. This makes for easy understanding. Like the good Teacher he is, Bette’s style of free-flowing narrative puts the booklet in the un-put-down-able class, once the reader opens its first page.
In Chapter One captioned “Why are we like this?” the Author portrays Military dictatorship in Nigeria in the Machiavellian garb. For the power-hungry man in khaki uniform, the end justifies the means as his shoots his way to the highest office in the land.
In his determination to occupy Aso Rock, for instance, Gen Sani Abacha dammed the consequences and put in jail the likes of Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, former military Head of State and then a member of the Common Wealth Eminent Persons Group; Major Gen Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, former Chief of Staff, Supreme Head quarters; Nosa Igiebor, Editor of Tell Magazine; Beko Ransome Kuti, Chairman, Campaign for Democracy; prominent Lawyer, Gani Fawhenmi etc.
The Chapter recalls profligacy that went on in governance due to the impunity that reigned during the military era and laments that even in the present democratic dispensation, things have not drastically changed. Against all odds, Corruption is thriving.
Chapter Two “What a Country”, which gives the booklet its title, takes the reader down memory lane and recalls the Nigerian penchant for primitive accumulation. There is an historical recap of the Babangida era when well thought out socio-economic development programmes like DFFRI, SAP etc rather turned out to become avenues for a privileged few to plunder our common wealth to the detriment of the welfare of the rest of the citizenry.
In “If only we had known”, which is Chapter three of the booklet, the Author recalls with nostalgia the developmental strides made by the various Regions in the First Republic, during which time Agriculture was the main driving force of the economy. He laments the evolution of Oil as the main source of revenue for the country; the distortion of the concept and practice of Federalism; the recent global recession in the oil industry and its unfortunate attendant consequences on the general well-being of the nation.
Bette employs chapter Four titled “The time is now” to gauge the present state of health of the nation. He identifies Corruption and perceived marginalization in the distribution of the nation’s resources as the root cause of the current Separatists cries in the South East calling for the sovereign State of Biafra and the attendant reactions from other parts of the country. He advices the appropriate authorities to do the needful to ensure justice and peace in the land.
In the final Chapter captioned “Dissenting Voices from within” the Author presents some dissenting opinion on the quest for Biafra as made by some prominent Nigerians of Igbo stock who caution that common sense should prevail at moments like this. To them, a good Nigeria is better than a good Arewa, Oduduwa or Biafra.
In summary, “What a Country!” is a compendium of very salient facts, and an exposition of how corruption has not only held down Nigeria, but has sewn a seed of discord among the various ethnic groups of this country.
Incidentally, this explosive booklet, rich as it is in content, does not have a corresponding eye-catching front cover page, just as the reader has to strain his eyes to read about the Author, and the summary of the book on its back cover. There are also a few typographical errors on pages 56, 58 and 59 which may likely be due to the printer’s devil.
Be that as it may, “What a Country!” is a compelling reading material for all. The political class, opinion leaders and students of contemporary Nigerian history will find this work very informative, educative and intellectually stimulating.