Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable ~ By Abdulrazaq Hamzat
The phrase, Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable came into existence in 1959, during the debate of whether or not, to include separation clause in the independent constitution between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikwe.
Dr Nnamdi Azikwe coined the phrase to advance his position on the need for Nigeria to aspire for collective greatness beyond myopic consideration.
While Awolowo argued that, separation clause should be included in the constitution to give room for regions willing to explore Independence if they are unhappy with the arrangements in the future, Zik on the other hand argued otherwise. He stated that, once Nigeria is a united country post Independence, it’s unity is not negotiable and no separation clause should be included in the constitution to avoid unnecessary balcanization on clownish basis.
Some people have erroneously claimed that the phrase, “Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable”, came from the military, but this is not true.
Personally speaking, I love the phrase because, it is not only firm, it is also universal. Unity, by nature is not negotiable. Even between countries, unity is still not negotiable because, no matter how much you fight with your neighbor, sooner or later, you both will come to the realization that you must unite. That’s why every country, including South and North Korea are always talking about it despite their years of hostility.
So, I love the term, our unity is not negotiable. It is a universal truth that is just being reemphasized here in Nigeria.
For me,i enjoy every bit of Nigeria, it’s challenges and the opportunities.
It is my decision that, while I will continue to work to expand the opportunities in Nigeria, I will equally continue to work to strengthen it against it’s obvious challenges and under no circumstance, will I allow my voice to be silenced, no matter who disagrees with my position and no matter how many they are.
Everyone has the right to their views, but I choose to see only the positive things in Nigeria.
I made this decision because, the positives far outweigh the negatives and no one has been able to prove otherwise.
You can’t force me to be sad about Nigeria with some disjointed views, you can’t force me to be unhappy or less optimistic. To change my perspective, you have to provide superior information and context. Until then, I find Nigeria enjoyably optimistic and I will defend it as promised in our national anthem.
While growing up, I made promise every morning at school to defend the integrity of Nigeria and you know what, we all made this promise and unfortunately, not many are fulfilling this promise.
Meanwhile, I have never worked with or benefited from any government in the country. I have never been a beneficiary of government appointment or contract, but I will never seize to fulfill my promise to Nigeria.
If you observe carefully, the loudest critics of Nigeria are people who have been benefiting from government all of their lives and their criticism of the country is often from personal interest and quest for personal advancement.
Yes, I have been a victim of the system in the country. I was once expelled from the University for standing against maladministration, corruption and abuse of office. I have been arrested, intimidated by a state government and as a matter of fact, N10billion defamation lawsuit was once filed against me by a former governor and former senator for speaking up against human rights violation, but still, I stand with Nigeria. Conduct of individuals, whether in government or outside of it should not be used against the country.
It is my resolve to continue to protect the corporate integrity of Nigeria, always, against the destructive narrative of some people.
While It’s your choice, to see what you choose to see about Nigeria. What you see, maybe different from what I see and we may be seeing differently, even when we are looking at the same thing and you cannot impose your views on others.
I have examined all claims by the various groups and I do not see any fundamental flaw in Nigeria. All I see are semantics.
I have gone through the Constitution many times and I do not see any insensitivity in the manner many are talking about, apart from few things here and there. Ofcouse, those few things matter, but not in the manner many exergerate.
So, if I say there’s no flaws in Nigeria, what then is responsible for its slow pace of development?
To put it straight, Nigeria is not making the desired progress because of poor leadership and poor followership. Nothing more, nothing less.
Our lack of progress has nothing to do with a flawed union or constitution.
All of the issues we are raising as flaws in our constitution are not flaws in the real sense, they are possibly honest insertion, out of sheer patriotism.
We talked about resource control, fiscal federalism, decentralization etc, but in the first republic, each region was controlling its resources, power was decentralized to the region and what came out from it? The 12 days war led by Isaac Boro from Nigeria Delta, which metarmophozed into Niger Delta Militancy. Military coup, which killed many brutally and the eventual Civil war that claimed millions of lives. All of the above came out from a decentralized Nigeria and a Nigeria, where each region was controlling its resources.
My position is very simple, no matter our renegotiation, if our quality of leadership and followership didn’t change, we will have the same issue.
So, instead of focusing on the semantics, why not focus on the source of the issue and address it once and for all?