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To make Nigeria a nation state

By Felix N. C. Oragwu
28 December 2016   |   3:07 am
What should now be done is for all leaders of all the ethnic nationalities comprised in Nigeria to reach out with sincerity to one another and tell each other frankly the home truths of why Nigeria...

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From 1970, following the end of Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, Nigeria was again kept together by the continuation of military rule and military dictatorship until October 1979 when Nigeria tried once more with civilian democratic administration. This did not last long because it was overthrown again at the end of December, 1983.

Following the end of the Civil War in 1970, it became obvious and clear that for Nigeria to exist and survive as a nation state in unity, peace and progress, requires a Consensus True Federal Structure Arrangement as no Nigeria’s constituent ethnic nationality (majority and minority population) seems to be ready to replace British Colonial domination and control with the control and domination of any other Nigeria’s ethnic power block or combination of such power blocks, be it Northern Nigeria , Western Nigeria or Eastern Nigeria Power Block, respectively no matter the geographical size, power or population of such power block.

The continuing political agitation, conflicts and challenges have now been sustained by the various political blocks using such tools of war for such purpose such as innocent youths involved in MASSOB, IPOB, AVENGERS, MEND, MOSOP, Boko Haram, Marginalisation, Islamisation, Cattle Herdsmen Insurgencies and what have you, which can only be resolved by a sincere and truthful dialogue of all the ethnic nationalities Nigeria has been facing since the end of the Civil War of 1967-1970 till present (2015). Violence is not the answer, see what happened to Sudan. Now the two ethnic nationalities in the South which fought Muslim North Sudan are now on each other’s throats.

In the light of the above history and present realities in Nigeria, it will seem to me that the sustenance of Nigeria’s nation state in peace, unity and progress is contingent on all Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities (majority and minority) and other Nigeria’s stakeholders, being able to come together to freely agree (no coercion, no force, no manipulation, no quarrelling) on how to live together as one nation in real unity, peace and progress. This suggestion is almost similar to how United Kingdom of Great Britain of England, Scotland and Wales respectively came into being as one nation state in 1707 and how Canada of English Speaking and French Speaking nationalities came into being after the American War of Independence and have continued united and making real economic and industrial progress. This is what Nigeria should do and quickly too bearing in mind that all Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities be it Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Ibibio, Ijaw and what have you, are equally guilty by what at present divides Nigeria as a nation state. This is the painful truth.

In my view, therefore, the resolution of Nigeria’s endemic political instability and the challenges of unity and real development, therefore, may lead to the following constitutional arrangement namely:

. making the Federal Government a Coordinating Centre of Common Services rather than a Controlling Centre with responsibility for the common national services such as the Armed Forces, National Police, Citizenship, Customs, Central Banking, Immigration, Foreign Affairs including foreign trade, National Education Standards, National Industrial Goods Standards and National Scientific Research Standards, respectively;

. making the federating units (which should reflect the interests and aspirations of respective various ethnic nationalities (large and small), and other relevant stakeholders) have primary control and responsibility over their land and natural resources, education institutions (at primary, secondary and tertiary levels), agriculture, industries and economic production, internal (state or regional) security, internal economic supporting development infrastructure of electricity supply (leaving Federal with the National Electricity Grid), internal roads and internal economic development supporting infrastructure among other specific internal infrastructure;

. sharing National Revenue among all the tiers of governments based strictly on mutually agreed ratio of derivation and in proportion to what each federating unit contributes to the sustenance of the Nigerian Federation to ensure healthy competition among the federating units in economic and industrial production activities;

. organising an all embracing national dialogue or conference of all the representatives of the ethnic nationalities (large and small) comprised in Nigeria and other relevant stakeholders as happened under British Colonial administration in 1951 at Ibadan, Western Nigeria to resolve Nigeria’s constitutional problems sincerely, equitably and by consensus/agreement of all concerned.

The above must be achieved not by demonising or denigrating any Nigeria’s constituent ethnic nationality as the Devil, as it is clear that all the ethnic nationalities comprised in Nigeria (large and small),as can be seen above from our history 1914-2015, have all contributed equally to what now divides Nigeria. No ethnic nationality is guiltier than any other in what has divided Nigeria since the travails of Nigeria’s Amalgamation in 1914.

Any talk by any ethnic nationality of exit from Nigeria is misplaced, unhelpful and undesirable as all Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities comprised in Nigeria have a lot to lose in the unlikely event of Nigeria’s disintegration as a nation state.

What should now be done is for all leaders of all the ethnic nationalities comprised in Nigeria to reach out with sincerity to one another and tell each other frankly the home truths of why Nigeria as a nation state from our history is not moving forward and what to do for Nigeria to do so in harmony and not by brick backs or denigrating one another. This is what we should let our youths, born during and after the civil war know and understand, instead of selfishly using and wasting them in all kinds of insurrections, such as Avengers, MASSOB, IPOB, etc., as canon fodders to fight self-serving partisan political power wars, for our uncaring and self-serving political leaders.

Therefore any effort or attempt to resolve Nigeria’s Endemic Political Crisis for a united and peaceful nation sate should first seriously reflect on our above history from 1914 taking seriously into account all the issues and happenings clearly stated and canvassed above.

It would seem to me that any attempt to avoid addressing the enormity and complexity of the above Nigeria’s existential challenges with sincerity, vision, truth, courage and determination is a disservice not only to the good of all Nigerians but also to the continued existence of Nigeria as a united and peaceful nation state. Nigeria, as a real united and peaceful nation state, is a Great Treasure we (Nigerians) must keep for the good of the African continent.

• Oragwu was head of Research Planning/Coordinator of Technological Services in the now Defunct State of Biafra, 1967-1970.