It is not news that ever since the 1946 constitution which officially delineated colonial Nigeria into 3 regions: the Northern, the Western and the Eastern regions; the squabble for dominance and supremacy as was inflamed almost immediately by the violent Kano crisis; has never waned. Despite it was the idea of the British Empire to organize the very different ethnic groups into one country; it was not an idea that foreclosed a peaceful break-up after independence, if worse came to worst.
In fact, the Britons envisaged a break-up (peaceful or violent) a year or two after October 1st 1960. They saw the hatred and the disdain that the political leaders of that era had for the idea of coming together and, although they were aware that these leaders would’ve preferred a separate constitution for the northern region and a very different one for the southern region; yet they left these things in the hands the politicians to do as they saw fit.
It turns out that more than 70 years after – with no successful attempt to break-up – the hatred and the animosity for one another still existed, even to the amazement of the powers that organized us in this manner. I am sure that if faced with this kind of a situation; the Britons would’ve done either of 2 things. They would’ve worked out a template for coexisting peacefully or disband to go their separate ways. Perhaps, no ethnic group understood this problem and its solution more than the Asians did.
In 1960, the British Empire gave independence to Malaysia. Back then, Malaysia and Singapore were one country but by the year of 1965, it was clear to this country that coexisting together in a peaceful manner and to shared prosperity was practically impossible primarily because the Malaysian tribes’ concept of independence was one of reigning supremely over and above the other ethnic groups and, therefore not an ideology shared with the other ethnic groups.
So, the political leader of the people of Singapore; then a parliamentarian requested to be excised from the federation and, the request was granted. Singapore – a tiny country with a population of 1.887 million people, like the southeast of Nigeria – faced the fate of the fish that suddenly found itself on land and gasping for breath. But did they die? Of course, they did not. Interestingly, Malaysia had consented to the excising of Singapore because she strongly believed that Singapore had nowhere to run to.
As fate would have it, the man who boldly made the request on behalf of the people of Singapore was Lee Kuan Yew; now of blessed memory. The Malaysians greatly under estimated the chances of survival that was opened to Singapore back then because they despised the power that a man with vision wielded! The end of the story is simply that Singapore did survive and is today a global economic hub in Asian continent .Also, Malaysia saw Singapore’s greatness and was motivated to prosper too.
The case of our federation is hard to be likened to any human or animal example. For no people known from the ancient times to the present; have lived like cat and dog for this long. Even the animals of the zoo could not have survived living together if they did not find the common ground that they shared together or ran off from such a zoo forever. For close to 60 years, the northerners have always feared the idea of implementing any political framework that can encourage the practice of true federalism.
In 1966, when the regime of the Late Aguiyi-Ironsi promulgated the infamous decree 34 which abolished the regional structure and, centralized governance in the hands of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and head of government, the northern political leaders cried foul and threatened to pull out of Nigeria. Political power eventually came into the hands of General Yakubu Gowon that same year and, the political leaders of the north made no effort to abrogate that decree.
On the other hand, political leaders from the south have feared the idea of one ethnic group gaining dominance over the rest of the tribes that comprised Nigeria; and so have remained relentless in their demand for an arrangement that will not only encourage true federalism but will guarantee equity, justice and a healthy competition. The ideas of true federalism will surely make peaceful coexistence possible; on the one hand and, those of maintaining the status quo ante will surely lead to a break-up.
Incidentally, but quite unfortunately, the north seems to be interested in both maintaining the unitary system of administration and having an intact federation! How possible this was remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the entire drama has continued to mesmerize the Europeans who cannot correctly place where the federation was headed. So far, the stalemate has created a multibillion naira enterprise in the name of insecurity that richly rewarded the Europeans and their Nigerian counter pact.
Therefore, divided by hate; Nigeria was slowly been overtaken by aliens, most of whom were encouraged to come in so as to boost the North’s chances of electoral victory in 2015. It is not out-of-place to say that as soon as these aliens stepped into the country and noticed the kind of opportunities that abound, they wasted no time to create for themselves alone a lucrative business that will soon enable them to gain access to the corridors of political power.
They chose for themselves the following businesses: cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping and the one-chance syndicate, and looting by terrorism. And within the shortest time, they transform into landowners and rich merchants who traded on goods brought in from the middle-east. Later, they begin to contest and win elections into political offices to run the true inhabitants of the federation. Meanwhile, the true inhabitants are still lost in the ancient fights for who will dominate and who will serve!
These aliens will never stop terrorizing the federation until they find themselves in control of the government. I am saying this to the hearing of those who are happy at the turn of events especially those who are thinking of the adverse effect of this trend on Nigerians from the south. It is better we joined hands together now or we peacefully parted ways for what I see coming will be disastrous for all; regardless of the region you came from.
Take time to ponder how the mind of these terrorists works and probably contrast them from notorious kidnappers from the south like Evans, E-Money, Lucifer etc. you will find out that criminals from the north go into crime, acquire quick wealth and then go legit by melting into politics whereas those from the south get money, invest in fixed assets like properties, stocks and bonds etc. and then transform into socialites, flaunting their ill-gotten wealth around town.
We should be bothered therefore and in fact be worried that if we continued to spend our time hating one another; soon aliens will assume leadership positions and lord it over us. This has happened before in our history. That was in pre-colonial times; a period that the Europeans met a great number of African territories fighting for territory and dominance. Africa was into this when the Arabs met them and introduced the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Africa remained in that thought level when the Europeans came in, conquered a great number of territories and introduced a political system that enable them to rip off our resources in both human and material capital. Since they left, Africa has pretty much gone back to the same level of thinking. We saw what happened to Nigerians in South Africa! What we hated in one another is something that many right thinking humans cannot really understand.
Many Asian ethnic groups were merged into countries like the Africans during the colonial era but they overcame that barrier to sit at the same table with their former colonial masters in the global market today. What is Africa doing to change her fortunes? What is Nigeria doing to change her fortunes? To restructure for a peaceful coexistence is a great idea but where this is not possible; a peaceful break away is never a bad idea.
It would’ve been laughable if this was a mere story but unfortunately, it is not. Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume – the famed kidnapper from Taraba state – contested for the House of Assembly for the Ibi constituency in the 2019 elections. When aliens and criminals gain control of the police, the army, the DSS and the presidency –regardless of which side of the federation they came; – what becomes of the true inhabitants of the federation?
I am bothered by this question because when I recalled how the northern region applauded the Boko Haram sect in its infancy and correlate it with how they now struggled to get rid of them from the region, it gets me thinking if our brains was truly normal as in; with any grain of wisdom in it. Armed bandits are on the prowl but the government of the day cared less. Worse off are the governors of the north some of whom – like Governor Bello Masari – openly romanced with them in the name of amnesty.
By Comrade Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh
An advocate for attitudinal change.
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