By Nwachukwu Ngige
King Darius I (522 – 486 BC) was the fourth in line and the greatest of the kings of ancient Persia, today’s Iran. During his reign, the empire covered the entire Middle East, modern Turkey and parts of Balkans, India and Asia. His ambitious plan to overrun and annex the city states of Greece, however, met the waterloo at the battle of Marathon where the highly spirited Athenians inflicted a debilitating defeat on the Persians in B.C 490.
But that did not detract substantially from Darius’ greatness. His outstanding leadership was distinct in his attitude to the conquered territories. He wisely avoided being a destroyer of territories that came under his flaming sword. Through proper integration rather, he preserved and copied good developments from these nations, building the unique strength of his kingdom on the excels of discoveries and scientific strides of former enemy territories. This could be seen from these instances.
When Egypt came under his conquest in B.C 489, he moved in with Persian scientists to understudy the renowned Egyptian artistry in science and medicine. He also copied the Egyptian 12-month calendar year. In Lydia, whose King Croesus, Darius put in chains, he adopted the Lydian coinage. And after defeating Sumerians in long drawn battles, he borrowed its cuneiform system of writing.
Kindly fast forward to over 2000 years later when the Allied Powers emerged victorious in the Second World War. Even though Hiroshima and Nagasaki were completely razed, the U.S carefully spirited some of the best Japanese scientists into the USA.
Fast-forward to a little above 20 years later. Biafra was an African wonder. A people forced into war to save themselves from well-planned genocide, turned the most difficult of circumstances into attainments never before witnessed anywhere in Africa. The “black” Biafran scientists proved to the entire world that technological invention was not exclusive to the grey matters of the white Caucasians, the yellow Mongolians or the brown Asians. In Biafra, which was under land, sea and air blockade in a vicious surveillance supervised by Britain, Russia and the Arab world, grenade launcher was locally built. In Biafra, armoured personnel carrier as well as four different types of armoured cars (red devils) serving different purposes were also invented. The Biafrans also manufactured armoured tanks, mobile artillery machine, and the mother of all weapons, the Ogbunigwe! Do you know what? The Biafran scientist turned and modernized a private jet into a bomber. In the same national space about 50 years later, a Nigeria Minister of Science and Technology talks about the nation being self-sufficient in manufacturing pencils by 2019! The same man whose brothers in Biafra literally went to the “moon.” There is something wrong with Nigeria!
Let’s attempt an explanation with this contrast. Contrary to the far-sightedness of Darius and the fore-thought of the Americans, the Nigerian civil war leaders unfolded a scorch earth programme in post war Biafra. Being hegemonically incensed, ethnically challenged, blindly suspicious and impishly jealous of the Biafran scientific revolution, the poorly educated, backward-looking Nigerian military rulers, in connivance with their brilliantly satanic civilian collaborators squandered the opportunity to launch Nigeria into a world power. They destroyed the gains of the Biafran war, hoping the Igbo alone would suffer it.
Nonetheless, do a fast track to Buhari’s administration. He appears to have learnt from the mistakes of the post war Nigeria. Where many had thought that with the frenetic condemnation of the PDP and its leaders, the current government would banish not only persons but projects associated with them, Buhari has done otherwise. Like Darius I, he chose to adopt and copy the good in the party he defeated in 2015. His determined policy of completing all inherited projects has been to the immense benefit of all Nigerians.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) started the Abuja metro line as well as the Abuja- Kaduna Rail line. Today, Buhari, however, has pulled them to a completion. The PDP started the Port Harcourt Airport but Buhari completed it. The Treasury Single Account, the completion of many power projects, as well as, many other successes of the Buhari government are linked to the efforts of the previous administration. He has, therefore, proven that government is a continuum and that no matter how bad a situation could be, something good could be salvaged. In summary, while the Buhari regime takes the credit for completing these projects, tributes should not be denied those who initiated and in some cases did over half of the work. Diminishing such efforts is to move forward with head backwards, unable to see the future. This can shrink excellence and blur foresight. After all, Darius did not disfigure the Lydian coinage just to steal its originality nor did he destroy the Sumerian scripts to turn the cuneiform into his invention.
Nwachukwu Ngige is an Abuja based journalist