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A peep into Owhoko’s The Future of Nigeria

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The Future of Nigeria is a historical analysis of the nation called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The book is written by Michael Owhoko, a middle-aged Nigerian, who witnessed the military’s truncation of Nigeria’s dream to be a prosperous and united nation state.

Ever since Britain created Nigeria, in 1914, from communities with differing backgrounds, the nation has been wracked by problems. The Nigerian Civil War, fought from 1967 to 1970, is just an example of the violence that has bedeviled the nation. With the Nigerian people issuing a sustained call for change; it is clear that the people are not satisfied with the current system of government.

As the country’s Attorney General’s opposition to Operation Amotekun indicates, Nigerian leaders have not responded to the discontent in the land. They have not seen the need for holding a referendum to decide the fate of the country, an outcome that would have served them better.

Author Owhoko maintains that a referendum must be conducted if Nigeria is going to have any chance of stepping away from the precipice of disintegration.

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According to Owhoko, with a referendum, the government will not only make headway on overcoming the challenges, but it will regain the trust and confidence of the people.

The Future of Nigeria is in paperback; it has 112 pages and published in 2018 by Book Venture Company LLC, Ishpeming, United States. The book was first published with the title: Nigeria on the Precipice: Issues, Options and Solutions. It had to be rebranded into the new title because of additional information. It has nine chapters, a preface, an introduction, a conclusion and endnotes of four pages. Indeed, the future of Nigeria is predicated on various factors among which are: history, culture, belief systems, and the system of government, sincerity of purpose, judicial system and political ideology.

How these factors are administered within the context of equity and justice will determine the future of the country. As a multiethnic and diverse cultural society; this heterogeneous nature of the nation makes Nigeria eminently qualified for true federalism like in Germany, Canada and the United States.

I am splitting this nine-chapter book into three. In reviewing the first three chapters as section one; we’re concerned with the historical development of Nigeria, the federal system as an acceptable contractual system of government and the introduction of the present unitary system as the origin of Nigeria’s problems.

As noted earlier, the complexity of the entity called Nigeria is a product of incompatible behavioral patterns induced by powerful cultural elements. Of these elements, ethnicity and religion constitute the clog in the country’s progress. Those elements shape and influence opinion and impact negatively on the decision making process at all levels in Nigeria till today. Consequently, as the various ethnic groups struggle to live harmoniously with one another, the more it becomes clearer that the cultural and religious differences constitute challenges to national harmony and peaceful coexistence in the country.

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These difference more than other considerations are responsible for the retardation of development in the country despite the enormous financial resources available to the nation. This makes Nigeria a country where citizens, including the political class, work at cross purposes- even where it is glaringly evident that their positions are inimical to the general good of the country.

In the Nigerian reality what keeps manifesting in every sphere of life is insincerity both in the practice of religion and politics. Even the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps designed and introduced by the Federal Government to engender national integration among Nigerians, hasn’t been able to achieve its objective. Paradoxically, rather than foster unity, the programme has become an albatross, creating awareness of the deep animosity and incompatibility of the various ethnic nationalities owing to the cultural differences in the polity.

Manifestations of these untoward behaviors emerge during interactions at various geographical areas of deployment and assignments where ‘youth corpers’, as participants are fondly called, have first hand experience of segregation going on in the country. With the exposure of this well educated class of Nigerian youth to this distrustful process, the country risks a bleak future.

This situation is particularly intractable when attempts to reengineer a restructured federation, aimed at removing threats to unity. Fail due to sabotage from entrenched interests benefiting the status quo. As things stand in Nigeria now, the federation isn’t working. Making it impossible for the country to attain her full potential. Unless we act with courage and discuss frankly the basis for our continuous existence as a nation state, we may as well prepare for the dismemberment of the Nigerian federation.

The Federal system of government bequeathed to us by the British and which we operated in the first republic fitted perfectly into Nigeria’s diverse cultural and ethnic composition.

“There was a considerable level of autonomy amongst the regions, with both the regions and centre deriving their powers from the constitution. The powers, duties and responsibilities were clearly spelt out under the exclusive, concurrent and residual lists in the constitution. This is the essence of federalism, where there is a clear sphere of constitutional scope of operations for each of the federating units and the centre.

“Were it not for the coup of 1966, when the military struck and altered that system of government, Nigeria would have transformed and grown into an enviable polity amongst its peers on the African continent and in the world. The federal constitutional arrangement at the time tacitly encouraged each region to develop at its own capacity.”

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The second section is as interesting as the first, if not more. Led by the challenge of petroleum resources, the prospects from solid minerals and the rise of agitation over the neglect of the oil producing areas. Paradoxically, the Niger Delta region from which oil is produced and which plays host to various oil companies, isn’t accorded the required attention commensurate to its contribution to the economy. And this is all the more important due to environment degradation caused by oil exploration. Thus, the neglect of the oil producing environment caused the inhabitants of these areas to press special funds for the oil spillage bedeviling these communities.

Thus, militancy emerged as a result of frustration in the Niger Delta. The demands and suggestions from the Niger Delta people that are at variance with the ruling majority group are usually viewed as unpatriotic, selfish and subversive. They don’t see anything wrong in using the resources from the Niger Delta to develop the rest of the country, despite the subsisting precedent where 50 percent derivation was applied to natural resources found in territories occupied by the majority ethnic groups.

The Future of Nigeria is so interesting that space isn’t enough to make a total review without leaving new facts to discover yourself. Owhoko, the author, is an authority on Nigerian politics and society in the postcolonial era. He is from the oil producing Delta State. A media and public relations practitioner, Owhoko has worked in banking, oil and gas and in the media. He earned his degrees in political science and mass communication and is the publisher of an online newspaper. He is the author of four other books on politics, oil and gas and feminism.

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