Nigeria – Revisiting 1914

National-conference2014 will be 100 years since the amalgamation of southern and northern Nigeria into one country.  Many have called this an artificial contraption and we have the Biafran war of 1967 – 1970 as one of the strongest testaments to this.  This war, which pitted ‘Nigeria’ against the Igbos called into question the idea of “one Nigeria” such that when Gowon made this his war-time mantra, it must have sounded somewhat hollow and ill-advised, especially to those on the receiving end of the violence.

But the story is longer than that.  The January 1966 coup was called an “Ibo” coup by northern military officers who launched a “counter” coup in July of the same year.  This immediately preceded the pogrom and massacre of Igbos in the north, which according to some accounts claimed 30,000 victims in 3 months.

Ken-Saro Wiwa from Ogoni (from whose land oil is extracted to feed Nigeria) rose to ask for self-determination for his people, so they could have a say in how the money was spent.  They wanted some money to develop their people, whose land had been made barren by indiscriminate and irreplacable oil exploration.  A military head of state, Sani Abacha had him murdered.

Obafemi Awolowo in the West was a leader of the Yorubas.  They did not completely trust either the north or the south in the time leading up to the civil war, but deft calculations made them decide to root for the north, for the time being, and lucky they did, for that side won the battle.  The suspicious and mutual resentments all round remain however.

The north remains under-educated, impoverished and in the main religiously-blinded, in a society where faith is mixed with politics in a gun-powder-and-dangerously-ignorant mix.  The poor among them are victims of their own few elite, who take advantage of culture and religion to keep the rest in poverty.  They do little to help themselves.  It is little wonder that land is fertile ground for Maitasine, Boko Haram and the next “boko”.

Yet, people continue to call us a nation.  Country we may be, knocked together for the convenience of a rapacious west (read, Britian, France, Germany).  They knocked us together in hopes of gains for themselves, never caring for any ethnic affinities or relationships.  To them we were just numbers and a place to farm.

We have never as a nation had a discussion.  Can we not have a discussion?

No one says we cannot succeed in existing as a nation.  We just might do it, but under what terms and conditions?  When the civil war broke out, in order to sow further discord and prevent the Igbos having alies in the South, Gowon split the country into 12 states.  Since then, the divisions have continued.  I have now lost count of how many states we have.

Confederation might have worked.  It might still work.

I am not fooled that President Goodluck Jonathan has called for a “National Conference”.  He says it will not be “sovereign”, meaning that there will be no-go areas.  It reminds me funnily of a similar limitation Soldier Ibrahim Babangida imposed on the puppet senate he had accompanying his military government during the death throes of that regime.  You may discuss agriculture and tourism, but never government.  Jonathan does not have the balls to call the type of national conference Nigeria needs, for in doing so, he may be sweeping the carpet right from under his feet.

I suspect any small committee of “eminent Nigerians” who come together to discuss Nigeria’s future.  It will become the same “mutual admiration society” “ulterior motives” jamboree, the like that go on daily in the lower and upper legislative chambers.

If we decide to split into several parts, it does not make us enemies.  India and Pakistan did it.

Admittedly, it will be much more difficult in our case, for along what lines will you recommend a split?  It cannot be along religious lines because the north abounds with millions of Christians.

Along what lines therefore?  That is what we the people (not a committee) must discuss.

Perhaps we need a referendum, right?  I hear you sneer… but we did have a credible election so perhaps we can count properly the votes of a referendum.

Whatever happened to past census results?  Stay on point sister, stay on point…

 

5 thoughts on “Nigeria – Revisiting 1914”

  1. IF I WAS THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA
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    1. I will send a strong delegation headed by the Vice President to Cameroon , Chad and Niger to inform President Paul Biya, President Idriss Déby, and President Mahamadou Issoufou. They are to be informed of the urgent need to wipe out Boko Haram elements in their domain or face all out war and invasion of their country by Nigeria.

    2. Close all borders for 30 days needed for house to house search of the entire borders of the North East geopolitical zone.

    3. Pay the armed forces personnel to be involved in this operation their salary and allowance upfront for one year.

    4. Issues armed forces personnel involved in the operations bullet proof vest and night vison operation kits. APCs, Tanks, Helicopter and fighter jets

    5. Update and issue a copy of the Rule of Engagement to every persons involved in the operations.

    6. Order the Nigeria Sat (NIGCOMSAT) to point its cameras 24/7 on the North East geopolitical zone and send images of Boko Haram camps and movements to Defence Ministry.

    7. Issue the order for the deployment of 200,000 armed forces personnel to start operation ” Thunder fire Boko Haram terrorist”

    8. Address the nation after 30 days to confirm that the operation was successful.and that all borders are now open.

    9. Promote all armed forces personnel involved in the successful operations.

    10. Issue bravery medals and 25million naira to the family of those that died in action.

    No leader should stand by and see fellow citizens slaughtered in vain. This must stop even if it means war with Cameroon to end this Boko Haram madness.
    Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

  2. Uncle Ginger, I strongly feel that not all of our six geo-political zones will be “smaller Ghanas”. I am sure of the South West and South South beating Ghana (if they become independent countries) on all parameters.

    The South West which may go with the name of Federal Republic of Oduduwa may have its federal capital in Ibadan, and its commercial capital in Lagos. The Ghanians are no match for the Yoruba nation.

    The South South with their oil reserves will instantly command the highest GDP in Africa. Its citizens will automatically become millionaires and live with the comfort and pride the citizens of United Arab Emirate or Saudi Arabia enjoys.

    Dear Mr. New Author,

    I strongly disagree with you on your view that the British (Colonial Masters) are to be blamed. We all need to get over this and fact reality. Your future is in your hands to build as long as you cast away the shackles of your past. We are not the only former colonies/protectorates of the British Empire. There are many former colonies/protectorates and I will list those that are very successful and great in the world:

    1. United States of America

    2. Canada

    3. Australia

    4. India

    5. South Africa

    6. Ghana

    7. Hong Kong

    8. Singapore

    9. New Zealand

    10. Malaysia

    11. Jamaica

    These countries where colonized, raped, and pillaged as much as was done in Nigeria yet they put their past behind them and through patriotism built a nation that is world class.

    I agree with you that corruption is a problem in Nigeria but I prefer to deal with the root cause which is lack of patriotism and brazen injustice in the land. If you want to know brazen injustice go to Olobiri in Bayelsa State where oil was first found in Nigeria. There are many “Olobiris” scattered all over Nigeria.

    We must not try to reinvent the wheel. Only a fool wantS to learn from his own mistakes. A wise man/country learns from the mistakes and successes of others.

    1. We can learn from Egypt in the area of making a new constitution. You will note that referendum is a given and has been a given In any democratic state involved in such.

    2. We can learn from Scotland in the area of peaceful and democratic secession from United Kingdom. Scotland is holding a national referendum on 18th September, 2014 to decide if they will secede from the United Kingdom or not. You must note the need for referendum here again which is the practice of all truly democratic states.

    If we are a democratic state then we cannot run away from referendums. The will of the the majority of citizens is greater than all the three arms of government put together. This is a sacred truth.

    I end with a quote from President Barrack Obama “Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of people calling for change, Yes we can”.

  3. Corruption is the main source of Nigeria’s problem, it has been since inception.

    Think about it, Nigeria was actually made up by the British for the betterment of their own country, they took our lands, resources, made us slaves even pay our own people to enslave us, they displaced our families our cultures and corrupt our innocent world.

    Every crime you see in Nigeria today was first introduced by the British,

    Ginger got it bang on the dot, in those days Britain thrived at the detriment of Nigeria and many other countries including some part of the United States, there is a long list of British colonies, see the list here http://www.britishempire.co.uk/timeline/colonies .

    Most British colonised countries I know are more undeveloped with high crime rate, political and economical instability etc, very few of them are successful today like Australia.

    It is arguable that the British, out of selfish interests, carelessly created Nigeria for the purpose of their own gain without the thought of Nigeria’s future.

    Dividing Nigeria is a welcomed idea and I’m positive that having a referendum at this stage is a good start.

    But as mentioned above, you need uncorrupted and patriotic citizens to stir Nigeria to a better direction.

    On the other hand there are people that don’t want Nigeria to progress because they are comfortable with the way things are because they also thrive at the expense of the counties misfortune . These people are the face of the British, they constantly hold Nigeria into ransom, milk it of it’s riches and still continue to enslave it’s people.

    There should be a cap to what asset or riches people should have in Nigeria, call it unfair, but we can use the rest of the money to rebuild the country, or countries should we say.

    Although it’s not going to be a walk in the park, but the best way forward for Nigeria is to “CAREFULLY” and cleverly undo what the British did and re-find ourselves.

  4. Okechukwu, I bow to your superior arguments and I agree with you on many points. You are right, India and Pakistan is a “bloody” example. I also like the fact you see there may be strength is maintaining some kind of “unity” among the confederated parts.

    Your point on a referendum is key as well.

    Czech Republic and Slovakia are two different countries now, mind. A six-region split of Nigeria will produce smaller “Ghanas”…

  5. We need to talk and put our house in order to truly become a nation. I feel the talking should start in the six geopolitical regions and let each region produce its Constitution. These regional constitutions should be subjected to referendum in their regions of origin. A 70% yes vote must be required for the regional constitution to be accepted and become active. Finally a maximum of 50 representative from each of the six regions should come to Abuja to negotiate a streamlined unified constitution which must be subject to referendum. A 70% yes vote must be required and if this mark is not met then Nigeria should become a confederation based on the six regions and called the The Nigerian Union and as much as is possible made to be similar to the European Union. The six new countries should negotiate a defence pact between themselves to counter any external aggression and as much as is possible made to be similar to to NATO.
    The above personal view enables us to remain one, be a nation and also use division for strength, progress and development.
    Your example of India and Pakistan is not the best as the two countries have been involved in four wars since their split. We must all be united to say NO to war ever again in Nigeria. The best example for us is Czechoslovakia that peacefully split in 1st January 1993 into the Czech republic and Slovakia. The two new countries are still best of friends.

    Another option I have thought about is for a truly great leader to arise and unite Nigeria and make it a nation the way Otto von Bismarck did to Germany. Also we can learn from Malaysia where one party (Barisan Nasional) has democratically remained in power since Independence in 1957 (56 years) by having a national spread and most importantly by properly negotiating a fair and just deal and power sharing with every tribe and interest groups in the country.

    Democracy means nothing without patriots. Democracy does not build a nation. It is patriots that build a nation. Men and women who will willingly lay down their life than see their country cheated in anyway. China is not a democratic country but they have the most patriotic citizen and hence have achieved developmental miracles before our eyes. If China can get its acts together just from Independence in 1st October 1949 (Only 11 years older than Nigeria 1st October 1960) we can do same.

    I am Nigerian and proud and see a great future for our country if only our leaders can grow up and become patriots.

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