What was done that should not have been done
Our History is made up of three chapters. Chapter 1 is entitled “What was done that should not have been done”; Chapter 2 is entitled “What was not done that should have been done”; and Chapter 3 is entitled “What is to be done?”
There is need for some general comments before dealing with each chapter in separate columns. Chapter 2 could be collapsed into chapter 1. Our History would then be told in two chapters. But this would not be fair to Chapter 2 of our History. This is especially so because those who write about Chapter 3 do so without writing about chapters 1 and 2. Some call for a proper federation as if ours is not enough of a federation, a federation, thanks to the military, is devoted to a unitary state, like the United Kingdom. We can demand a different federation devoted to a different end.
Some writers call for a Revolution. Our federation was devoted to ensuring that the Hausa/Fulani are in charge of our united federation, like the United Kingdom is united under the English people.
In the first place, our population was skewed to reflect a northern majority. The British colonial officers who counted us counted what they wanted us to be. We were a democracy. In a democracy, it is a number’s game.
The country was divided into three unequal generally ethnic based regions – Hausa/Fulani in the North, Yoruba in the West and Igbo in the East. In each region the dominant ethnic is allowed to spread itself in its region. This logic will allow one region to spread to the rest of the country in the 2020s. By 2050 it would be a settled matter that Nigeria is a united federation led/controlled/governed by the Hausa/Fulani.
Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England are allowed to have their own football, nay Sports teams and to compete nationally and internationally. But are not allowed to declare war separately since it could lead to the break up of the united federation. Each ethnicity has solidified into four and can only reduce. In the case of Nigeria, we have destroyed the ethnic power of the ethnic groups by creating more states.
At the beginning of the federation each federating unit was allowed to have its own political party that could contest for power at the centre. Only the Northern Peoples’ Congress with a built in majority could capture power at the centre. Too late, Obafemi Awolowo saw that he had bought an impossibility. He needed a bigger political base but the Action Group could not do it.
No, the bribes did not happen when the civil war was already on, according to the explanation of the modern day Biafrans. They want to believe that it was only after Chief Awolowo was released from prison that he betrayed the Igbo because of Northern bribe to be president of Nigeria.
The boundaries of the three regions, with the Northern Region bigger than the two others put together was not good. But these boundaries were determined in competition with other European colonial competitors. Africans did not participate in the determination of these boundaries. By the time the Nigerian internal boundaries came to be determined the colonial government was already in control. They determined what boundaries they wanted between the regions. For instance, the emirate of Ilorin was lost to the Yorubas. And when a piece was chopped off the Cameroon, it went to the Northern Region. While Northern Region grew bigger, Western Region grew smaller, if such a development was possible. A new region, the Mid-West Region was carved out of the Western Region.
The Eastern Region was the smallest of the three regions. Its population had gone all over the country occupying political positions in the other regions of North and the West. The Northern majority ensured that the Hausa/Fulani could not be challenged in the North.
Once the international and national borders were settled, the future internal politics of Nigeria was settled. Colonial servants of the British empire have left behind in their memoirs how they helped the empire to do what it wanted done.
Nobody bothers to count people in Nigeria any more. We go by summaries. While the British colonial officers were in charge of the census, there were no crises. But once the Nigerians took over, it became impossible to confirm the figures as the North wanted.
The recruitment of soldiers into the Nigerian army was not left to chance. Thousands of illiterate persons were enlisted into the army. The ones who were in form five or thereabouts were recruited as officers and given commissions in the army. Or navy. Or airforce.
Many of these fellows are still very much alive.
In spite of this agenda of Hausa/Fulani to rule the united federation of Nigeria, it was not a popular agenda owned and sponsored by the Northerners. If it was why would the Northern elite invite the British to help them end Nigeria after the assassination of Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. It was the British who calmed things down letting them know that they still kept best cards in their hands.
Who did what they shouldn’t have done? Somebody had to want something for what became Nigeria. It was a place waiting to be cornered into a geographical area! Those who should have countered the British colonial officers with their own vision of what the country should be fell in with the British colonial officers. Given their weak positions in the power equation of the times, they did not possess the power to contest the agenda of the British colonial officers.
There was no way the Africans could have pursued two objectives at the same time. They could not have pursued the objective of ethnic solidarity as well as African solidarity. This would have meant that the Yoruba would have taken possession of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons instead of Chief Awolowo going to form the Egbe Omo Oduduwa from which would emerge the Action Group. It was with this political party that Chief Awolowo would hope to develop first the Western Region and then the whole of Nigeria. It would never happen.
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