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Destiny of Southern Nigeria


South East Group R-L: Chief of Staff to the President , Mallam Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari, former Senate President and Leader of South-East Group for Change, Senator Ken Nnnami, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume in audience with the President at the State House in Abuja on May 31, 2016. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

The unfolding realities whereby Southern Nigeria that holds the economic and intellectual power that ought to power its destiny in the country but, ironically, is relegated to the background by the less endowed North makes it imperative for the South to forge a common front and speak with one voice in order to survive. By Southern Nigeria I mean the South-East, South-West and South-South zones.

It has got to the point whereby Southern Nigeria must partner and work together or perish. The recent Ohaneze and Afenifere rally in Enugu is a positive development that should be given full support. Southern Nigeria has wallowed in dereliction for too long instead of asserting itself.

If Nigeria must remain as one country, then Southern Nigeria has no other choice than to join forces and assume its rightful position. The balkanisation of Southern Nigeria at independence was a deliberate ploy to create division and whittle down the sub-regional power. Some historical facts will help to clarify my point.


Prior to January 1, 1914, when the British Governor-General, Lord Lugard, performed the unholy marriage between Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate, the now balkanised South was governed as one political entity. Though, Lagos was a separate colony, it was joined to Southern Nigeria in 1906 by Sir Walter Egerton to form the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. No harm.

Thus, before Lord Lugard emerged on the scene in September 1912, the Southern Nigeria Protectorate was governed by Sir Walter Egerton from 1906 to 1912. At the same time, the Northern Protectorate was governed by Sir Charles Lindsay.

The fact that there were two separate entities – the Southern Protectorate and Northern Protectorate that were amalgamated into one entity called Nigeria is a well known historical fact that is no longer the issue. The issue is why the leadership of Nigeria since independence on October 1, 1960 has been dominated by the North. Why the North has the upper hand in practically every Nigerian affair is a puzzle.

But that is just one side of the issue. The other side is why, at the dawn of independence in 1960, the hitherto united Southern Nigeria was divided into two regions – Eastern and Western regions while the North was left intact.

And to further worsen it, three years later in 1963, Mid-West Region was carved out of the Western Region, which effectively put a wedge in the political understanding of Southern Nigeria. These divisions, ever since then, created suspicion and undue rivalry between the founding fathers of the regions, particularly between the East and the West. It was like the aim was to put confusion in their camp so that they won’t agree any longer.

Thus, the first president of independent Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and first premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, apparently disagreed on every point, a development that left the South in political disharmony while the North remained one. The apparent unity in the North gave it strong edge over the South, which has remained till today.

The question is for how long more is Southern Nigeria going to remain like that. Nigerians are happy being one big and united country but with a caveat that there must be equity, justice and fairness. A situation where the North takes the lion share in virtually everything in Nigeria is worrisome.

For instance, recent events in which Fulani herdsmen appear to have taken the law into their own hand to believe that it is their eternal right to graze their cattle and other livestock across the length and breadth of Nigeria, from the North to the South, unrestricted, portends grave danger. This is more so as the Federal Government seems to be helpless and in tacit support.

With the wanton killings going from Southern Kaduna to Benue, Taraba, Enugu and Delta states, it is not known how long more these killings would be allowed to continue.

Add this to the political domination and it is clear that the South is just there in servitude. For instance, as elections are due in 2019, the dominant parties are angling for a Northern presidential candidate because there is a false belief that only a Northern candidate can be used to win a presidential election. Yes, that is true because the South is divided. If Southern Nigeria is united, the reverse will be the case.

As things now stand, any Igbo, Yoruba or Ijaw man that is still recounting what happened in the 60s – how Zik and Awolowo battled in the Western House of Assembly and how Zik sent Eyo Ita out of the Eastern House of Assembly is the new enemy of Southern Nigeria and not anyone else.

Any Yoruba or Igbo man who is still hooked to the past – how Awo’s Action Group battled Zik’s NCNC should prepare to remain the servant. The South-South group swore never to align with the Igbo but to perpetually align with the North that holds the central government; any man from the Niger Delta who still holds that retrogressive belief should not complain about resource control. The future is pregnant.

The North was able to sway over Zik and Awo to make Tafawa Balewa prime minister because of disunity or call it disagreement between the two. That historical feat remains an enigma. Is the present generation going to allow the same disunity or disagreement to keep robbing Southern Nigeria of its birth right in the scheme of things?

The days of Zik and Awo are over. The days of Eyo Ita are over. We are their children, a new generation, with new vision for ourselves and our children and our resources. We are in a new dispensation. There should be a rebirth; a new awareness of what Southern Nigeria has lost for refusal to forge a common front. The yoke of political and economic dominations fall equally on all of us without discrimination as to who is Igbo or Yoruba or Ijaw.

An Igbo proverb says if a child is wise, he will kill the person who killed his father; but if he is unwise, the person who killed his father will kill him. Another Igbo proverb says, what killed the mother rat doesn’t allow its pups to open their eyes.

Based on the foregoing, the emerging political moves by the leaders of Southern Nigeria to unite are their only survival strategy in Nigeria. As I said earlier, it has got to the point whereby Southern Nigeria must partner or perish. Partner or perish for there is no other alternative.

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