To say that Nigeria is a lucky country is an understatement. To also say that Nigeria can  survive is also an understatement. Nigeria will surely survive.

Let us recap and recall the circumstances that led to the creation of the great country called  Nigeria, when Great Britain amalgamated the Southern and Northern Protectorates on the 1st of  January1914.

It was in Britain’s strategic economic interest to integrate these diametrically opposing  protectorates and merge them into one “United Nation”. Britain at that time did not want any  colony that would be termed “liability” or unproductive hence she “imperiously” selected  Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Sierra Leone to be her colonies in West Africa. This area then  became British West Africa. If Britain wanted to colonize the whole of West Africa she had one  of the most powerful navies- the awesome British Royal Navy, to do it.

Britain wanted territories that were viable enough to feed her industries with raw materials as  a result of the industrial explosion which was an off-shoot of Britain’s industrial revolution.  Britain strategically manouvered Nigeria’s amalgamation to have access to the raw materials of  groundnut, hides and skin, tin, bauxite from the Northern Protectorate which she felt would be  easier to ship through the Lagos port. Well, do not forget that Britain dictated the prices for  all our produce even to this day.

Britain created several other countries as they created Nigeria in January 1914. And like all  human creations, imperfection was paramountly displayed in all these artificial creations.

For instance Britain and the Allied forces redrew the map of Europe and created “new countries”  after the capitulation Adolf Hitler in September 1945.

Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were also two revelations of the 2nd world war. These two  countries were carved out of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and initially put under the  protectorate of the USSR. These two countries came into existence in 1945 and by 1993 they had  ceased to exist as a result of the dynamics of revolutionary incompatibility. They also ceased  to exist because of the crash of Bolshevism and the splintering of the former USSR state in  1991. Just on 22nd July 2010 Justice Hishashi Owada sitting at the International Court of  Justice in the Hague (Netherlands) declared that Kosovo has not breached any international law  by declaring itself independent from Serbia on 17th February 2008. The 90% Ethnic Albanian  Kosovo are mainly Muslims while the Serbians are Orthodox Christians. And Serbia is one of the  six states Yugoslavia was split into in 1993.

We have not heard the last of Unilateral Declarations of Independence (UDI) from that region of  Eastern Europe.

So to say that Nigeria is a lucky country is an incontestable understatement.

And I know that those invisible hands that have held Nigeria together since its creation will  not tire or slumber despite the vexatious strain Nigeria’s lack of patriotism has put on the  union.

It is unfortunate that Nigeria was created on a lopsided political tripod with structures which  were more confederational than federal.

The three regions that came out of the amalgamation were so powerful with even more powerful  leaders that rendered the centre effeminate and incapable of moving the country forward. These  strong regions unavoidably led to the fratricidal Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970.

Is anyone still doubting that Nigeria will surely survive the present regional war being waged  by some ultra-conservatives in some parts of the country? How many nations have survived such  gruesome wars as we have done?

My conclusion is that Nigeria is being held together by a divine string which no part of this  country can single handedly snap up.

We shall use some countries as models to demonstrate that Nigeria with the right leadership can  move from its unenviable and despicable “Developing Nation” status to a fully developed state.

We shall use South Africa and Singapore as model states Nigeria should strive to emulate. The  two countries have one factor in common – good leadership.

Today, the only  difference between Nigeria and South Africa is leadership. President Nelson  Mandela is today the most revered human being in the whole world. This is not only because he  spent 27 years hewing stones on Robben Island but because he is the symbol of South African  patriotism, nationalism and a stoicism that can only be compared to that of Socrates who  willingly drank hemlock to prove his patriotism.

Nelson Mandela became President immediately after he came out of prison and refused a second  term despite an overwhelming national request for his continuance. Thabo Mbeki took over and  resigned honourably in his second term. South Africa is the country to beat in Africa. With  just 50 million population and over 50,000 megawatts of electricity, South Africa has today  become Nigeria’s 2nd colonial master, completely taking over the Nigerian economy, a very good  pay back for extricating her from the strangulating jaws of apartheid.

In Nigeria today you find South African businesses dominating our banking, fast foods,  communications, television and trade generally. Nigerian traders now swarm to South Africa  instead of London, Hong Kong, China, etc.

Even though South Africa did not go beyond the group stages in the last 2010 world cup it  hosted, it came out more honoured and celebrated even than Spain that won the World Cup. This  is due to the almost perfect management and execution of affairs from the beginning to the end  of the football mundial. It is perhaps unknown to most Nigerians that South Africa spent only  $5bn to build 5 new stadia and refurbished five other existing ones. Nigeria would have used  $5trillion and with almost nothing to show for it as all our legislators and ministers would  have gotten enough to build personal estates there from.

The difference is so clear between South Africa and Nigeria. While South African presidents are  stepping down willingly, Nigerian presidents are only “stepping aside” and scheming for “third  terms” with most of the presidents and vice presidents owning personal universities while in  office. Truly, Nigeria stinks to high heavens. Today our Ambassadors are all practicing  businessmen and they are not hiding it. Nigeria has lost all sense of international value and  decorum.

Singapore’s story is perhaps the 8th wonder of the world. From a small fishing village to one  of the most developed economies not only in the Asia but also in the world; from a “Third World  to a “First World” nation. And the motivating factor behind this incredible feat is its  leadership. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959-1990 and he did not become a  millionaire at the end of his 31 years tenure but made his country incredibly prosperous to  warrant Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and even Russia (believe it) to request loan  facilities from a tiny country like Singapore. Russian Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzkhov under  President Mikhail Gorbachev visited Singapore in February 1990 and requested for a $50m  facility from tiny Singapore.

Of course if Nigeria manages her economy very well, even 1st World countries will come to  borrow from her and court her friendship because Nigeria is one of the most naturally endowed  nations on earth. But how can such a vibrant, selfless leadership emerge from a “zoning” crazy  country like Nigeria? Singapore had its unity problems too and in August 1970 it announced its  National Integrative Ideology called “Rekunegara”. This ideology was meant to make all  Singaporean people advance together towards a just and progressive society through belief in  God, loyalty to king and country, upholding the constitution and the rule of law and the  promotion of moral discipline, tolerance and mutual respect.

NIGERIA TOO CAN ADVANCE TOGETHER TOWARDS A JUST AND PROGRESSIVE SOCIETY, THROUGH BELIEF IN GOD  (NOT KILLING IN GOD’S NAME), LOYALTY AND UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RULE OF LAW (NOT  RULE OF THE THUMB) AND THE PROMOTION OF MORAL DISCIPLINE, TOLERANCE AND MUTUAL RESPECT.

Zoning in Nigeria has encouraged mediocrity, injustice, and retrogression, lack of mutual  respect for minorities and the absence of the fear of God. In a recent newspaper interview a  Northern political leader blasted Nigerian minorities and advised them to accept their fate and  support Northern Nigeria in its continued retrogressive dominance of this sleeping giant of  Africa. Or how can Alhaji Tanko Yakassai explain the fact that the North has ruled Nigeria for  38 years out of its 50 years as a nation and still wants to rule for another 8 years to bring  the Northern tally to 46 years while Southern Nigeria would have ruled for only 12 years?

This unbridled and negatively skewed injustice forebodes danger for Nigeria as the North is now  poised for war with their “zoning or nothing” declaration. Is the North implying that Nigeria  will not survive 2011? If so, how will the North survive as a nation when all the Northern  groundnut pyramids are now history?

Perhaps Tanko Yakassai and Inuwa Wada would for the first time in their lives de-emphasize  “Northern Nigeria” and emphasize “Nigeria” and stop Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s mad  Hitlerite ambition from destroying Nigeria. Just last week, General Babangida played the  “Northern Hero” by asking for the immediate release of Major Mustapha from prison. Babangida  was merely playing to the gallery to win Northern support to back his ill-fated presidential  ambition.

But surely history will judge the likes of Babangida, Tanko Yakassai, Inuwa Wada, etc. and  Nigeria will still remain one united, indivisible and economically vibrant nation that will  command world respect if we find the right leadership.

Northern Nigeria has its pedigree of accomplished administrators of the younger breed. The Nuhu  Ribadus, the Attahiru Jegas, the Lamido Sanusis are a better options to the infamous and  Machiavellian imposter that Gen. Babangida is.

For now I believe the President Goodluck Jonathan for 2011 is a veritable option and I am  convinced he will carry Nigeria to the next level just as newly sworn-in President Benigno  Aquino III of the Philippines had promised to deal (even with his life) with the corrupt cabal  that had held the Philippines hostage since independence.

Surely Nigeria will survive if we turn to God and find the right leadership.

So help us God – Amen.

•Ben writes from Lagos. May be reach on  e-mail: bennanaghan@yahoo.com