Short-sighted separatist agitators
Those “wise ones”, who had authoritatively “decreed” the disintegration of Nigeria, must be laughing quietly at current developments: the spate of insecurity engulfing virtually every region of the federation.
The disintegration of Nigeria is what they are wishing for, the collapse of the possibility of a predominantly black nation ranking among the important nations of the world. Remember, they have always believed themselves to be members of the superior race who cunningly enslaved our peoples, as well as colonized “inferior” nations.
When Nigeria fought a civil war between 1967 and 1970, the rest of the world was not looking at our nation from the prism of future greatness. On the other hand, the young African nation was still perceived as the burden of the British, the erstwhile colonial masters, who played a major role in ensuring that Nigeria remained one nation. Were there to be another senseless war today, there is bound to be a U-turn. External influences will conspire to partition Nigeria into very small and, somehow, subdued nations!
I take the position, even when it could be unpopular, that the amalgamation of Nigeria should not continuously be visited as the problem. Any nation that would play an important role in world politics must have, among other indices of national power and prestige, the compliments of size and population. A nation can only expand by merging with adjoining territories, and not with some distant cousins. If the British had not created a massive nation for us, visionary Nigerian leaders should have attempted it. There would have been no space in America for those rushing daily “to deliver their babies” if that important world nation had got no space for others if it had remained the 13 states it was at independence in 1776.
The problem with Nigeria has been principally that of leadership, a thesis competently articulated by the immortal Chinua Achebe in his book, “The Trouble with Nigeria” Our nation has had a great misfortune with a string of post-independence purposeless leaders, more ethnic than national in their orientations. The military ones have been ordinary in the art of managing a plural society. The immediate reminder that the civil war of 1967-70 had not concluded matters came in April 1990 when an attempted coup challenged the very essence of our nation, with the coup leaders announcing a temporary expulsion of some key states of the north from the Nigerian federation. Crude military leadership of General Sani Abacha would later give rise to quite a number of disruptive ethnic militias.
But I would like to say that it has not been all gloom for our nation. We have had an uninterrupted civil rule since 1999, and the general mood is that the nation will not trade that development for any opportunistic military intervention. We have, during this period, had two elected presidents from each of the major divides – north and south. If one must be brutally honest, the system has not been that hegemonic as it previously was. However, it must continue to be emphasised that no component unit is superior to the other, and this must continue to be reflected in political appointments that show balance in both quality and quantity. Henceforth, our preoccupation should be to get true democrats into democratic politics while limiting the space for opportunistic politicians. Of course, democracy cannot fully deliver its dividends if the larger electorate remains docile participants. Opportunistic politicians cannot be bothered if the nation was brought to its knees, not least because everything is about their selfish objectives.
By the way, there were allegations or insinuations that the agitation for Biafra by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was sponsored by disgruntled politicians. Coming into existence soon after the 2015 elections, with crooks and rascals who had embezzled public money turning it into an anti-Buhari movement, such allegations or insinuations could hardly have been over-exaggerated. Buhari himself has not helped matters with his rather docile attitude to matters that touch on ethnic sentimental issues.
Be that as it may, the unending agitation for the break-up of Nigeria by pro-Biafra elements and now the agitators of a Yoruba nation under the leadership of Professor Banji Akintoye and the tirade of ethnically-directed insults and abuses that go with it must have propelled the so-called coalition of northern youths to at different times, issue a “quit notice” to their Igbo and Yoruba compatriots in the north. The import of the quit notice is a reminder of how integrative Nigerians have been over the years. There are northerners in the south as there are southerners in the north doing their businesses.
Nigeria has the potential to be great; the component units are a lot more interdependent than many can imagine or would want to admit. There are challenges we must collectively and patriotically seek to resolve. Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping, herdsmen nuisance, ritual murders, robbery, and corruption, are major problems that transcend ethnic and religious boundaries. They are problems that can only be resolved by the collective will of Nigerians and a leadership that is both purposeful and patriotic. The possible disintegration of Nigeria cannot be a peaceful one. The separatists could end up being worse off than they were if they did not succeed in their otherwise suicidal mission.
Dr. Akinola wrote from Oxford, United Kingdom.
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