National cake is a common phrase every adult Nigerian may have come across one way or another. It refers to the funds accumulating from crude oil or elsewhere, however they be summed up; all monies that revert to the federal government which at its disposition it may redistribute to other levels of administration. I say this without bothering about the technicalities of that political economics. Such money usually goes to the federal government from where it is redistributed to states, local governments, ministries, parastatals, individuals and so forth. The truth is that it is public fund, which for some queer and incongruous reasons, is only accessible to a few. Those few are of the political class or those appointed by them. National cake mentality is one of the economic cancers killing the Nigerian state; it is a pathological syndrome which infected the political class from the colonial masters and administrators. However, it is clear that the major constituent part of national cake is oil money. These politicians understand oil money as gains from Nigeria’s natural resources which at the hands of government officials are free; benefits upon which government ‘guided-scrutinized’ expenditures are based. The national cake takes care of all government expenditures through sharing.
What is often referred to as corruption in Nigeria is the failure of any government official to spend such monies in ways acceptable to institutionalized public fund manipulation. Oil money takes care of everything, that no one bothers to know if there were other ways money is or could be made for governance and development in Nigeria. Oil money or free money is national cake. In other words, the Nigerian economy is a “sharing economy” (another way of saying consumer economy). National cake mentality is one of the reasons why politicians in Nigeria understand elections as a must-win affair; a win which gives them access to the national cake, a win which guarantees their being counted among the privileged few who may share of it. Every politician learns how best to reassure the electorate of his/her fitness and readiness to wrestle from the grip of government his/her constituency’s fancied share of the national cake, never mind whether or not at the end those innocent voters had anything to call their eventual share. National cake syndrome has made the basic understanding of federal government to be the conspiracy of a privileged few against the vast majority of the populace. Particularly, the governors, senators and house members or any other public office holder are the self-styled people’s champions everywhere reminding and re-assuring them of their own share of the national cake.
National cake mentality is the reason why government in Nigeria has shut down at all levels except the federal level which is the primary custodian of the national cake itself. National cake is the reason why the average Nigerian understands government job as securing a place to be positioned for a share and not an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the nation. It is the reason why politics has become the best paying job in Nigeria.
From time to time when government promises to fight corruption but at the same time overtly and covertly sets up governance on oil money, therefore national cake, they show gross ignorance of what corruption is. National cake syndrome is the fore-runner of corruption in Nigeria; it is the reason why some are more Nigerian than others and the medium through which public fund end up in the hands of thieves and looters. National cake is the beginning of regional and ethnic politics; the cause of one of the most ridiculous and wasteful investment in human history where oil is drilled in Bayelsa and refined in Kaduna. National cake is the reason why human efforts and innovation is stifled in Nigeria and merited excellence through hard work and fair competition crushed; leaving the whole nation a bunch of beneficiaries waiting endlessly for the politician-benefactor’s return to have a good lunch. National cake is the reason why workers in Nigeria won’t work unless they are assured of their individual gains; the reason why tribal origins is superior to competence and merit. National cake is the reason why our president must come from a particular part of the country in the name of zoning; a kind of soft-landing for sectional consciousness; the reason why the government especially federal government runs as a center for benefit-sharing with the players having no bounden duty to the citizens except serving the crumbs from the table as benefits one hasn’t right to after all.
National cake is the reason why no region of Nigeria can develop on its own, no matter their natural and human potential because development is tele-guided by the Federal Government via National cake. National cake is the only way to keep Nigeria one and push back any agitation to negotiate our continued coexistence. It is clear to me that there will be no true democracy, or will there be the Nigeria set to take off until all the generation that fought the genocidal war of 1967 – 1970 die out or release their hold on Nigerian politics; they invented the National Cake mentality and have been using it to hold the illusion of the one Nigeria of their craft, but in truth this is the foundation of corruption which many in government are either ignorant of or are unable to resist the lure of taking their last bite and sleep on while Nigeria inexorably stumbles into the phase of a formidable beginning which must happen.
Until Nigeria and Nigerians get done with the illusion of the national cake, until we are cured of that disease, we are not yet ready to begin the journey to nationhood and development. Raw as the crude oil is, so raw is the money that comes from it and raw money does not account for any kind of wealth.
However, since we seem to like the cake, national cake is possible. Nevertheless, God is not going to bake it for us like he gave us Petroleum. It is the people of Nigeria, who are laden with the duty and responsibility of baking the national cake and unless they do, the idea of the national cake will remain an illusion; a deliberate mental delusion they all have decided to slump into. Fortunately each region of the country has been naturally endowed with at least one of the ingredients for the best of cakes, so let them bake the national cake.
Like it is going to be the cake after all, in baking the national cake, let the Hausa-Fulanis come to the baking with the flour, let the Yorubas hasten with the eggs, let the Igbos come along with the butter, let the Ijaws provide the sugar, let the Efiks come with the baking powder, let the Urhobos provide the milk, let the Biroms, the Tivs, Ibibios, Kanuri, Annag, Nupe, Igala, Kalabari, Manga, Badawai, Bade, Gade, Igede, Bokyi, Bjagham, Etsako, Agatu, Edo, Esan, Alago, Gbari and all the different tribes and ethnicities of the nation provide the ingredients and services for the baking and meet with each other at the kneading table before the baking. Then and only then shall we seat together to bake the cake by our free choice. It is this cake which shall be our common bond, the beginning of our fraternal coexistence. It is only then shall we have begun to define ourselves, our politics, and our nation.