On 1/1/14, Lord Lugard issued the following proclamation: ‘from today, all the country from the sea to near the desert in the North and from the French
country in the West to the German Kameruns in the East shall be one single country under one Governor General so that there may be no jealousy or rivalry between the North and the South and all may cooperate together for the advancement of peace and prosperity. It will be my earnest endeavour to promote peace and justice for all men, to protect every man in the observance of his own religious faith and to administer equal justice alike for great and small’.
The proclamation was full of good intentions. But the hearts of men, including colonialists are ordinarily deceptive and what people avow are most often at variance with what they practice. Anyway, neither peace, nor cooperation, nor prosperity, nor advancement, nor justice alike for great and small, nor freedom to worship as we like, has been the lot of Nigeria and Nigerians since the days of Lugard to the present day. Of course Lugard was responsible for the unfortunate outcome because the amalgamation was not done in the interest of the constituents and even at that, he had some favourite children among the potential contenders for power and influence. Consequently and unfortunately, Nigerians, are, after 100 years of the Lugardian declaration, wondering aloud what to do with the ‘mistake of 1914’ which birthed ‘a mere geographical expression’.
Our history in the last 100 years of being frozen together (as against being melted together) has not been awe-inspiring. In 1960, we became independent, ruled by an openly reluctant North. There was political crisis in the West, a coup that some people conveniently christened an Igbo-coup, the threats of Araba by the north, the coordinated and officially sanctioned mass-murder of southerners and mostly the Ndigbo, 3 years of Biafran war of Independence, a long period of military interregnum and the return of civil rule in 1999.
Between 1999 and now, during which we have had 16 years of un-interrupted civilian, our experiences have also not been exciting. Corruption has become a citizen of Nigeria and through that some individuals are now richer than Nigeria. Our political culture promotes parliamentary pugilism and disregard for the common good. The integrity of the country is being challenged by a group of demagogic fellows who have declared war on Nigeria and are attacking ferociously from the Maiduguri axis.
The so-called Fulani-herds men are also on the prowl while there are other flashpoints of violence across the land. There are also millions who are not armed but who feel that they have been seriously short-changed out of the resources of this country because of the political/economic model we have adopted.
It was under these circumstances that former President Jonathan suddenly empanelled the national conference. Before the conference, there was an undeclared and un-moderated debate by Nigerians about what to do with or to Nigeria. Some people feel that the nation should be divided because we have nothing in common and that the division should be between North South and
I ask: which north and which south?
Some argue that our strength lies in our size and diversity and that we should optimize what we have. Others feel that we should adopt true federalism but which one is true federalism? Contingency theory teaches that federalism is only true to the environment and that is why we have different federal systems across the globe. Some argue that Nigeria is wonderful the way it is today and that landmass should be the determinant of everything. They forget that Japan, small as it is, is the 3rd biggest economy globally.
Others want 100% of their resources but they forget that everybody has his own resource and none of the greatest countries in the world today depends on natural resources. They depend on human capabilities: intelligence, ideas and information. Anyway, Jonathan and PDP were not successful in the 2015 elections and an apparently unprepared APC is on board and implementing the conference resolutions is not on their agenda.
Professor Eni Njoku(Ebem Ohafia, 6/11/ 17) studied in the Universities of Manchester and London taught at the university of Ibadan and became the first VC of UNILAG in 1962(aged 45). Following the dispute between the Senate and Council over his non-reappointment in 1965 and the resultant crisis, he resigned his appointment and moved on to UNN. It is on record that one Kayode Adams was a key player in the Eni Njoku protests, (against Professor Biobaku) when the students believed that the new appointment had ethnic colouration.
Thus, during the Eni-Njoku days, people lived and worked wherever they wanted; competence mattered; where you hailed from was not a key issue; students fought on principles and the senate was strong enough the resist the council. It is instructive that the key ‘protestant’ was one Kayode and he was protesting against the appointment of a Biobaku because he believed that an Njoku was good enough. Things were not perfect but it was the golden era in Nigeria. So, how do we move forward; how do we re-create the Eni-Njoku days, when we lived in brotherhood even though tribe and tongue differed?
Various countries have adopted diverse strategies to tackle their socio-political challenges at different times in history. Some fought it out (Nigeria?); some broke up (Sudan), some broke down, (Somalia) some fought, got tired of fighting and talked (Philippines, Turkey).
Ultimately, the various elements must agree that it is in everybody’s interest to be together and this understanding has to become a part of the national DNA. In the recent past there have been peace agreements between the Philippine Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (16/10/12), the Turkish Government and the Kurds(30/9/13), the Myanmar Government and the Kachin Independence Organization(11/10/13), Central African Republic and the Seleka rebels (10/1/13) and Yemen and Houthi rebels (20/9/14), In Sudan, which has a lot in common with Nigeria, the center could not hold and after 30 years of civil war, and they voted to go their separate ways.
In Spain, there are also separatist tensions from the wealthy north-eastern region of Catalonia where they are demanding for resource control. The options being considered are a velvet divorce, confrontation or a more federal constitution. Of course we are all aware of what is happening in Ukraine where Russia-inspired spirit of independence is destabilising a small a fragile neighbor.
Nigeria is large and diverse but cannot compare with India with a population of about 1.3bn and 815m registered voters and29 states in 2014. Well, Nigeria of about 150m people has 36 states and about 20 ‘strong cases’ for more states.
The United Kingdom, (which was the ‘Great Britain’ when it manufactured Nigeria) is made up of three consenting ‘members’, England, Scotland and Wales, with their separate parliaments. They have been together for about 307 years and from all indications, the union has worked and benefited every member. However, the Scots still wanted total independence but they failed to make it at the referendum.
All these instances show that the world is not at peace and that countries have to look for ways of moving forward in peace so as to attain some development and an acceptable standard of living for the people. It is becoming obvious that force has not achieved long-lasting solution. In Nigeria, the argument has been between those who wish that this ‘marriage of strange bedfellows’ be dissolved and those who argue that you don’t go about dissolving a 100-year old marriage. Some have even seen the hand of God (no longer the hand of Lugard) in the whole affair and equated the event of 1914 to a Catholic marriage. But it could not have been a Catholic marriage because the partners were not joined of their own accord, there was deception on the part of the initiator of the marriage and no Reverend Father was involved! These are enough to annul a marriage (though the Catholic Church does not grant divorce!)
In 2005, the US National Intelligence Council forecast that Nigeria would break up in 2015 while in 2011, the US Center for Strategy and Technology forecast that Nigeria would break up by 2030. Ghadaffi, the late weird Libyan leader had even declared that Nigeria should be divided into North and South. Nigeria’s ranking in the Failed States table has continued to worsen, from 54 in 2005 to 14 in 2012. Some Nigerians also assert that there was a 1914 Accord that declared that Nigeria was on a trial run for the first 100 years and that it was the responsibility of the peoples to now reaffirm or reject the Lugardian statehood. And given the various socio-economic challenges that confront us daily, many Nigerians argue that we should annul the nationhood.
Nigeria’s continued existence has always been questioned. The north had repeatedly called for ‘Araba’; the Ijaws wanted to opt out ‘not because they loved power but because their conditions were peculiar and the authorities did not understand their problems (Isaac Adaka Boro, 1966) while the Orkar coup placed the question at the center of its agenda. However, the first practical expression of that question was the Biafran war of independence which ended 44 years ago. Incidentally, those factors that led to that avoidable chapter in our chequered history-iniquity, inequity and the Igbo question- are not only still with us, they are getting more complicated. By the time Karl Maier declared that ‘This House Has Fallen’ in 2000, we were confronted with the Niger Delta wars, the complex minority crises especially in the Middle Belt, the OPC war against everybody , the Sharia question, the deafening cries of marginalisation and domination across the land and the disenchantment of the populace.
By 2008, things had gotten so bad that Tunji Bello had to draw our attention to a 1776 book by Edward Gibbons which traced the collapse of the Roman Empire to the ‘over-centralisation of power, worship of religion instead of God, heavy investment in arms for security of the rulers when the real enemy is the decadence of the people, greed and deliberate destruction of ethics, morals and social values’. As I regretted in 2009, ‘the leadership is still visionless, shortsighted and criminally parochial and selfish; they still continue to manipulate the quartet of ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and ethnicity; there are still individuals and groups who want to corner more than their fair share of the commonwealth and the follower-ship is still ready to tolerate all this. (Ik Muo; Nigeria: Shaken, Stressed or Failed? 10/8/09)
Former President Jonathan continuously assured that the unity of Nigeria was non-negotiable, that the psyche of the people did not evidence divisive tendencies, that it was too late to separate after 100 years of marriage and that the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 was an act of God. Many others supported his views, including late Dora Akunyili, in her last public intervention; late Solomon Lar, in his 53rd Independence Message (just before his death), Fr. Kukah who held that with too much money to be stolen, the thieves (elites) won’t even contemplate a broken country and Sule Lamido who argued that Nigeria could not breakup because the elite had a stake in keeping the country exactly as it is: weak, confused and easy to exploit.
Those who insist that Nigeria should be divided argue that no unfair or unequal arrangement will survive; that no nation is ‘too big to fail’ as in the cases of ancient Roman and Greek empires or the modern USSR; that what happened in 1914 was not a marriage but a colonial and economic affair while Ozekhome’s kidnappers prefer the Somali Model: breaking Nigeria into smaller units to be controlled by different armed gangsters. Others argue that Nigeria did not result from a contractual arrangement where willing adults enter into agreements on how to relate and resolve resulting disputes and that 100 years is nothing compared with 300 years of the UK from in which the Scots wanted to opt out.
The JDPC averred that it is a polygamous family ‘where the 36 and half wives and their children subconsciously think that the man may die anytime soon and are working assiduously to grab and divide the man’s assets or worse, force him to write his will with eyes on the man’s only source of wealth [oil] which they pillage and stow in safe havens abroad (Press Conference: A Better Nigeria is Possible, 16/3/13). Soyinka is against unity at all costs, arguing that people should be free to opt out of any union and regretted that rather than go the civilized way- plebiscite, we wasted an estimated 2m lives through bullets, sickness and starvation to preserve a European myth. It is lack of maturity.
Even then, the real question is whether we were one before and whether we are one now. The amalgamation was negotiated for, but not by us; Tafawa Balewa referred to ‘the southern people’ as intruders and boldly declared that the unity was not for the north, Awolowo saw Nigeria as a mere geographical expression while the Sardauna of Sokoto saw it as a mistake. That was in the past. Even today, nobody thinks about the national interests. Every group has its own agenda and interest while the nation is just there to be exploited.
A third group is of the view that we should stay together but on the condition that we do the right things. This is the group that argues that we should squarely face our challenges. Many years ago, Chief Bola Ige (the Minister of Justice who did not receive justice) declared that the two basic questions facing Nigerians were whether we wanted to remain as one country and if so, under what conditions? This third group actually feels that the answer to the first question is positive and goes ahead to address the second question. The extant constitution declares that we have solemnly agreed to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons on the principles of freedom, equality and justice. Some in this group argue that the constitution has not lived up to its billing and rather suggest that we should go back to the 1963 constitution.
In this group are Cardinal Onayekan who holds that If we want to stay together, we should arrange our affairs in such a way as to achieve our deserved greatness and provide leadership for Africa; Chido Onuma believes that negotiating or renegotiating Nigeria is more important than fighting corruption or providing infrastructure because these are only possible if and when there is a nation; Bishop Adewale Martins who argue that various ethnic groups and stakeholders must agree on the best way to leave in peace and harmony and Oby Ezekwesili who believes that we should renegotiate our values our vision, and the integrity of Nigeria. Professor Elaigwu is of the view that we are stuck here together and the way forward is to work out conducive compromises which would prevent the federal pendulum from swinging furiously between centripetal and centrifugal forces, while Ben Lawrence believes that we should design a more viable means of coexistence in a widely divided nation where several ‘unknown soldiers’ are on the prowl. These unknown soldiers include the Boko-Haramists, unemployed graduates, poverty stricken Nigerians who observe the opulence and squander-mania of the rich, Niger Delta environmentalists, and other groups like Lagos area-boys.
So, do we break up, break down or talk seriously and genuinely on how to move ahead as a united entity? Those who argue that we should divide because we have nothing in common should note that the all-Moslem, all-Arabic Middle East is in total disarray. The crises in the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan axis and the experience of South-Sudan have shown that separation does not solve all problems. Switzerland has also shown that people ‘who have nothing in common’ can also live together peacefully in abundance. The case of Rwanda where the Tutsis and Hutus who share the same language, culture, tradition and mode of dressing makes it obvious that trouble is not caused by diversity because even people who are the same can create trouble for themselves.
Those who use the marriage metaphor also do not get it. Marriages contain provisions for divorce and even the legendary Catholic marriage contains conditions for nullity or annulment. Those pleading long period of togetherness should remember USSR of those days and the UK of today. Those who want us to stay together because of the advantages of size also fail to realize that size per se is not the key determinant of national progress and success. China and India are (GDP per Capita of $7800 and $1700) are not better than. Norway, Estonia ($104000 and S18260) and Zimbabwe are small, but while Per Capita Income is $104000 in Norway, it is $18260 in Estonia.
For those who want us to stay together or go our separate ways because of oil, I refer them to a World Bank report on Wealth of Nations which concludes that countries become prosperous because of their intangible assets and not due to tangible assets [natural or produced]. These intangible assets are the skills and knowhow embedded in the labour force, ability to efficiently invest the rent extracted from its natural resources, natural trust which exists among members of the society, ability to work together for a common goal, quality of formal and informal institutions, savings and maintenance culture, the extent to which the citizens have confidence in the laws of the land and abide by them and patriotism: both the extent to which citizens trust and support their government and the extent to which the government trusts and supports the people. So those betting on oil are backing the wrong horse because the oil curse is real! So, where do we go from here?
Truly, we cannot go back to Eni Njoku days. The world has changed so much since then and as one Benin trader admonished his colleagues you cannot go yesterday! But we must make efforts to improve the situation of things for present and future generation. It is not an easy task but we must give it our best shot. We must admit that things are not well with Nigeria. I do not agree with conspiracy theorists that the whole world is wishing Nigeria evil or else they would not be continuously prophesying the break-up of Nigeria. Even the Economist (The world in 2014) graded Nigeria as a VERY HIGH RISK country (the worst grade), along with Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine and 13 others.
Incidentally, those countries mentioned above are already on life-support. We have not ‘fallen’ but we will soon get there if we continue at the rate we are going. Nigeria is a diverse country but we are not yet a Nation. Under the circumstances, the diversity that should be a source of advantage becomes a spring board to crises that have been the fate of Europe from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Eastern Europe in recent times. So the problem with Nigeria goes beyond the failures of government to govern. The crux of the matter is that there are circumstances favourable to balkanization and that the insensitivity of our leaders and inequity in the system further fuels these tendencies.
Nigeria is a giant standing on the wooden legs because we have been cursed with accidental leadership (Balewa, the various soldiers, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and even Goodluck). Buhari appears to have been prepared, considering the number of times he sought the presidency but recent happenings creates serious doubts. We have also had accidental public servants like El’Rufai; lootocratic plutocrats; (the greedy 1% that worship the god of money, who treats the nation as a conquered territory to be voraciously exploited) and the virus of destructive parochialism which promotes mediocrity and ‘everybody for himself’ mentality. The followership is docile, ask no questions and clap for the plutocrats. Most of these evils are traceable of true the absence of nationhood
It is relevant to note here that there are clamours for greater dispersal of power, self-determination and sub-national empowerment across the globe. At times, Non-State Actors cash in on this situation. Some of these tendencies have been addressed by force but eventually, negotiation and discussion have been the ultimate solution. Even the UK government begged the Scots to vote against ‘porting’, showing then with facts and figures, what they would benefit by staying together. The fact is that countries are trying to manage these divisive tendencies. Every country will disintegrate when the divisive [centrifugal] forces overwhelm the uniting [centripetal] forces. What are the uniting forces in Nigeria? Who is even building unity and encouraging the uniting forces? The main uniting force is oil money and this is not equitably shared.
Even now, we are already suffering from an advance case of oil curse, more so as the unpredictable price has fallen by more than 50% in recent times; it thus becomes a source of discontent. Our size and diversity does not provide synergy and economies of scale; rather, ethnicism and parochialism are encouraged. I believe that we should do something urgently to reverse the trend, and that ‘something’ should not start with balkanization. We should try to make Nigeria a land where no man is oppressed, where we stand in brotherhood though tribe and tongue differ, where people are free and safe to pursue their legitimate ambitions and where everybody should benefit from the union and be proud to be a Nigerian. This is not about laws, laws and more laws!
Our values as a people and the values of those in government need a drastic makeover. The purpose of public service is just for public service; not for aggrandizement and building everlasting political and business empires. Look at the roguish pensions which our governors approved for themselves with that of Lagos being the highest (estimated to cost the state N1bn in the first year). All of them contain provision of salaries, houses, cars, medicare and personal staff for life-and these are just for serving 4 years. These are people who find it difficult to pay minimum wage of N18000, pay pensioners or provide basic medical services to their people.
An examination of the impeachment dramas that preceded the 2015 election shows the values and qualities of our leaders. In Adamawa state, for instance, the Governor wanted his son to succeed him just as Bamanga Tukur wanted to install his son while the speaker, Umaru Fintiri wanted to install himself. May be, they based their actions on the Rufai theory: that his wife was qualified to own Abuja land-just like any other Nigerian. . Nigeria cannot move forward if people in public positions do not act in the public interest. This is a matter of personal values and integrity and there is a little that the laws and constitution can do about that.
We must also treat individuals, groups, tribes and associations equally and equitably. There is too much deification here and the way issues are handled depends on who is involved. Last year, the House of Representatives abandoned their legislative duties to discuss the ‘insult’ meted out the Speaker (an attempt to search his car was in Kaduna). We all know that the governor who attempted to ‘sell’ Obamas senate seat ended up in prison; the immediate past president of France, underwent public investigation for mere ‘influence peddling’ while the immediate past MD of IMF was arrested and tried for merely attempting to ‘play’ with a lady in the US while, Mr Coulson, the media adviser to Cameroun (British PM), was jailed for18 months for phone hacking. Nobody should be above the law! As Professor Soyinka advised, if we are to remain as a country, we have to treat one another as equals; we have to accept the same set of protocols, without anybody claiming immunity or act with impunity to hurt the rest of the nation.
Treating individuals, groups and nationalities with the same level of concern and compassion, and handling issues objectively irrespective of who is involved concerns the government, but it also concerns the governed. What is happening in the North East is horrendous enough, but is not up to 5% of what happened in Biafra, which was an all-out brutal war, supported by the ‘civilized world’ against a people who were pushed to the wall. Even since then Nigerian soldiers have been engaged in all forms of internal peace-keeping operations. Then nobody talked of a marshal plan or rules of engagement.
However, these have recently become key issues because different people are involved. When a self-serving emergency was declared in the Plateau, clothed with all forms of illegalities, people clapped for the Federal Government. When the Niger Delta was burning, the Arewa Consultative Forum urged the government to live up to its responsibilities and urged the soldiers to fire on. When there was a partial emergency in the North East, the same people raised alarm and castigated the government and the peace keepers. The same ACF warned that increased military deployment is naïve and is not a superior option to the slower and more tedious option of dialogue, negotiation and reconciliation. What is good for the geese is also good for the ‘gizzard’. We are all aware how Local Governments and constituencies are distributed across the country. We also saw the cut-off marks for Federal Government Colleges in 2013 which was 139 for Anambra, 133 for Lagos and less than 10 for Sokoto, Yobe, Taraba, Kebbi and Zamfara!
Another important step is to understand our past, make amends where possible and resolve that the future would no longer be a continuation of the unpalatable present which is an unfortunate reincarnation of the past. An attempt was made in this direction through the Oputa Panel, which was unfortunately ambushed and sabotaged. An aspect of our past that requires re-visitation and restitution is the Igbo/Biafran affair. It is a self-evident truth that Nigeria and Nigerians treated Ndigbo and Biafrans very wickedly and unfairly. That issue must be addressed for Nigeria to move forward. This involves admitting what was done wrong, and apologising (because government is a continuum).
The issue of compensation will also come up-even if it is a token. The Dutch did so in Indonesia while UK did so in Kenya. If foreign colonial powers could admit their wrong doing, apologise and pay compensations, why wouldn’t Nigeria do so for what it did to its brothers? Even Bangladesh has set up war-times tribunals for its civil war of 1970s. But Nigeria is still living in denial and has never accepted that anything went wrong! It is true that history is always written by victors. That is why failed coup plotters are executed while successful ones go on to become ‘Presidents’, billionaires and statesmen! But winning the war is not the same thing as winning the peace or ensuring reconciliation.
The Biafran affair is ‘the original sin’ that has been left un-acknowledged and un-repaired and continues to haunt the country. And that is why anytime Biafra is mentioned, people become hypersensitive. We all saw how the film version of Half a Yellow Sun was tossed up and down in Nigeria even though it has been released abroad (a wasted effort given the internet open space). Whether the Nigerian government borrows the apology authored by Femi Aribisala or pays N2.4trn compensation as demanded by South East Delegates at the National Conference (who also demanded N400bn, for their brethren in Delta State) the issue is that it must do something because the ostrich mentality will not do.
Wole Soyinka has declared that ‘People must learn to confront their history. They must be truthful about their own history however negative however unsavoury. (Because)If you don’t accept the past, be honest about it, you will never transcend it and you will repeat it. This is the lesson we fail to learn. Yinka Odumakin also averred that ‘We are paying heavy cost for covering our wounds with bandage without any medication and it has now become gangrenous. We cannot wish these things away a social problem is not resolved either by pretending that it does not exist or ascribing it to the wrong source. Beyond Biafra, there were also other peoples that were unfairly treated like Odi, and Zaki Biam.
We should learn from others. On 28/7/14-Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia with a telegraph; a war that lasted 4 years, left 16m dead and destroyed the German, Habsburg, Ottoman and Russian Empires. At Leuvan, (Belgium) a special celebration was held in honour of 248 unarmed civilians killed by German soldiers in August 1914. The German authorities initially did not agree that it was guilty of the shooting But in 1950s a team professional historians from West Germany and Belgium worked together to ascertain the root and it was agreed and accepted that Germany was at fault. This incident involved only 248 civilians. Who has even bothered to establish the truth of what happened to the Biafrans-before the war in the north, during the war and even after the war? Even straight forward matters like who fired the first shot, who released Awolowo, what was agreed at Aburi or what happened in the Western House of Assembly that introduced carpet-crossing, have become contentious.
Beyond the soft matters of personal values, equitable treatment of all, acknowledging our past wrongs and making reparations where possible, there are hard issues that must be addressed, if we are to become a nation. One of them is the form of government. Nigeria has been described as a multinational nation. Experience over the years and across the globe teaches that a union of diverse peoples can only move forward when these diversities are recognized in the way government is structured and run. Centralization does not work because it leads to separatist and sub-nationalist agitations. Our constitution, however imperfect it is and whether it was written by ‘we the people’ or solely by Professor A. Yaduda and his personal secretary, sees Nigeria as a federation and federations are basically decentralized political arrangements.
However, the exclusive list in the USA is less than 20 but in Nigeria it is almost 70! Certainly, something is wrong. We should stay apart a little bit and take a breath of fresh air rather than staying together to be suffocated. People will also organize their affairs in the ways that create value for them so that while Kano sponsors mass weddings, Bayelsa can grant amnesty to cultists, Lagos can decorate the environment for big men and drive poor okada riders into the nearby ocean while Yerima goes back to Zamfara to cut off more hands in the name of Sharia [Islamizing by law] or team up with BH to islamise by force.; the Ombatse prayer group in Nasarawa can continue to take their blood oaths and use force if that is what they want while MASSOB will continue to sing its songs and distribute its flags.
We also need to have strong institutions, not strong men running the institutions. Iniquity, inequity, unparalleled corruption, poor governance, ‘oga’s boy syndrome’, do or die politics and unfair distribution of our commonwealth among the constituent units are all caused by weak and compromised institutions. If the law enforcement and judicial systems were functional, anybody who designs and approves roguish pension for himself will be called to other; any public servant who turns government into a family business will be in jail before the transaction matures while anybody whose greed or other personal tendencies are against the public good will learn the lessons the hard way.
In South Africa, the Public Prosecutor investigated Zuma, a sitting president over the $23m renovation of his Nkandala home, found him guilty and reported that he unduly benefitted from enormous investments in non-security installations. That is the role of a strong institution. To support strong institutions, we also need observant, agile, committed and engaged populace. Without that, the elite will always take the society for granted. Why they do not do so in the US is because the people will shout and the institutions will act! Docility and apathy do not go hand in hand with democracy, justice and dispersed development
All is not right with Nigeria. Nigeria has been built on fraud and deception: the merger was not based on the interest of the constituents; the reason for the amalgamation was not made open and some parts were given undue advantage over others; the creation of states, local governments and constituencies have been fraught with inequity which particularly castrated the Ndigbo, and eventually the southern parts of the country.. Some people are not benefitting equitably from the Nigerian enterprise and a unity that benefits some and suffocates others in a brazen manner cannot work. Those who hold that Nigerian unity is non-negotiable are definitely not facing socio-political reality. Even families discuss and negotiate their terms of togetherness!
There must be a change of mindset and nobody is more patriotic, more Nigerian, than the other. We have been rooting for EFA (Education for All); we must root for another EFA (Equity for all)! This is not a new treatise. In 1969, shortly after his release from prison, Soyinka defiantly declared that to keep Nigeria one, justice must be done. He restated this position in you must set forth at dawn, when he declared that the only basis for unity is only: equity between the constituting parts; political parity, also known as political justice for the parts within the whole. This old vow is still relevant today; we cannot run away from it!
So, which way Nigeria? Break up like Sudan, break down like Somalia or move forward in peace based on justice, acknowledging the right of different people to some degrees of autonomy over their affairs so that rather than being suffocated together, we give breathing space to ourselves? The choice is ours. Dividing Nigeria is not a full proof solution but in the absence of equity and fairness, it may become the only option.
As for those who feel that there is no problem because they are having the best of the bad Nigerian situation, those who exploit the status quo to satisfy their greed and opulence and are not willing to work towards a better Nigeria here is a warning and advice for them: Woe to you; you will be the first to be exiled and your feasts and banquets will come to an end! (Amos, 6, 1-7)
Ichie Ezechikwado Ik Muo; PhD, FCIB
Department of Business Administration
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State
Published in the brochure for 2nd Eni Njoku lecture, 18/8/15 (organized by Igbo Students Union / Ndigbo Lagos, UNILAG main auditorium)
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