RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA TO HAVE THE “REAL ONE NIGERIA”
The country Nigeria was not in existence until 1914, the nation Nigeria was created by the British Colonial masters. The creation of the country called Nigeria by colonial masters in 1914, has led to over hundred years of agony, conflicts and wars leading to bloodshed. The bloodiest of these wars is The Biafran War that lasted about three years from 1967-1970. The war was as a result of failure of the then Head of state Gowon to implement what they agreed in Aburi Accord with Ojukwu and others and also mass killing of Igbos in the North. Ojukwu attempted leading the Eastern region to secede from Nigeria. Biafran War is not the only war fought by nation since 1967 -70, there has been several years of Military rule, Terrorist insurgency(Boko Haram), militant, Fulani Herdsmen, Niger Delta Avengers, IPOB, and different groups fighting for one thing or the other, corruption and poverty abound. Some of the faulty foundation of the creation of the country Nigeria was introduced during the British Rule from 1901-1960.
There has been question upon questions contesting the fundamental to the existences and legitimacy of the country called Nigeria. There are areas of conflict which includes but not limited to control of the state and federal power, resource control, inter group relations, and Citizenship. These have indeed causes of disunity in Nigeria and divided the nation along ethnic, religious and regional division. Looking at the current political issues in the country Nigeria, it could be described as one of the most confused and divided country in Africa.
After the end of pre-colonial political system in Nigeria, there has been issue of identities that have gained greater political significance, especially in contestation over citizenship, are those indigenes, non-indigenes, migrants, and settlers. These categories have ethnic, communal, religious and regional origins and have evolve from an entrenched system of discriminatory practices in which non-indigenes, migrant and settlers are shunted out or denied equal access to the resources, right and privileges of a locality, community, town or state to which sons and daughter of the soil exclusionary access. This ranked citizenship has provoked violent conflicts, political problems, disunity all over the country Nigeria and goes to the very heart of the National question. These have cumulatively provoked various forms of self-determination agitation by different groups especially The Igbos from the Eastern/South States. The pre-colonial political systems and post-colonial country’s history since independence suggests that Nigeria’s federal system and polices are deeply flawed resulting in the rising violence economic instability, poverty and disunity in Nigeria.
RESTRUCTURING THE NIGERIAN FEDERATION
It is on almost all breaking news in Nigeria now, people and groups calling for restructuring Nigeria. Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka joined the argument by calling for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation. Soyinka strongly believes, the nation’s sovereignty is negotiable. Atiku also agreed that, the decentralization of the nation would ensure healthy rivalry among the component units. He disagreed with past leaders for their non-negotiable stance and added that their stand is diametrically opposed to development. “I am on the side of those who say that we must do everything to avoid disintegration. That language I understand. I don’t understand Obasanjo’s language. I don’t understand Buhari’s language and all their predecessors saying the sovereignty of this nation is non-negotiable. It’s bloody well negotiable and we had better negotiate it. We better negotiate it, not even at meetings, not at conferences, but every day in our conduct towards one another,” Soyinka said.
Also the former Vice President and Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC maintained his support on the breaking news all over Nigeria of the need for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation when he launched a blistering salvo that provided the spark of interest on the subject matter. From his point of view, the structure of the country is seriously defective, as it does not provide the enabling environment for growth and progress among the 36 component states of the federation.
The former vice president spoke against the conditions of renewed agitations by militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). He recalled how Nigeria once operated a federal system at independence that allowed the regions to retain their autonomy, raise and retain revenues, promote development, and conduct their affairs as they saw fit, while engaging in healthy competition with others. “Agitations by many right-thinking Nigerians call for a restructuring and renewal of our federation to make it less centralized, less suffocating and less dictatorial in the affairs of our country’s constituent units and localities. As some of you may know, I have for a long time advocated the need to restructure our federation. Our current structure and the practices it has encouraged have been a major impediment to the economic and political development of our country. In short, it has not served Nigeria well, and at the risk of reproach it has not served my part of the country, the North, well.
To Atiku, the call for restructuring is even more relevant today in the light of the governance and economic challenges facing us. And the rising tide of agitation of some militants requires a reset in our relationships as a united nation. Some may say that we are saddled with more urgent challenges, including rebuilding our battered economy, creating jobs, fighting corruption and securing our people from terrorism and other forms of serious crimes. He believes, however, that addressing the flaws in our federation will help us address some of those very economic and security challenges facing this country.
He maintained that Nigeria must remain a united country. Our potential is enormous. But he also believes that a united country, which He thinks most Nigerians desire, should never be taken for granted or taken as evidence that Nigerians are content with the current structure of the federation. Making that mistake might set us on the path of losing the country we love.
Let me quickly acknowledge that no federal system is set for all time. There are always tensions arising from matters relating to the sharing of power, resources and responsibilities. But established democracies have developed peaceful mechanisms for resolving such conflicts, bringing unity in diversity, among the Citizens and tiers of government. Atiku recognizes that negotiations and compromises are eternal,” the former Vice-President submitted at a book launch on “We are all Biafrans”, written by Chido Onumah in Abuja
Yakubu Gowon views
Also Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, says there is nothing wrong with restructuring the country provided it is done within one Nigeria context. Mr. Gowon said this when Shehu Sani, the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja . Reacting to calls by some Nigerians to restructure the country, Mr. Gowon said there was nothing wrong with restructuring. He recalled that Nigeria was restructured under his leadership as the head of state with the creation of states in 1967. “We can restructure within one Nigeria context. I did it in 1967; we created states to stop eastern Nigeria from seceding. “We had to do something to ensure the fear of their seceding did not exist; a serious issue of a part of the country wanting to breakaway when we already lost a part to Cameroon. “If we had allowed the eastern region to go away, the map of Nigeria would have looked funny; it would have been tilted one way. “So, we decided overnight to break the fear through the creation of states. If we had to save the country that was the only way to do it. “We also ensured that no state was too big or too small to threaten the unity of the country,’’ he said. Mr. Gowon, in 1967, announced the creation of 12 states, namely, North-Western, North-Eastern, Kano and North-Central states. Others are, Benue-Plateau, Kwara, Western, Lagos, Mid-Western, Rivers (a South-Eastern state), East-Central and East-Central states. The former head of state added that the call for true federalism by some Nigerians was also not a bad idea, as long as it was done within the context of the nation’s unity. “What is true federalism? As long as it means respect for oneness of our country, it is alright, but if it means to breakaway, it is not my way of thinking’’, he said.
WHAT THEN IS REAL ONE NIGERIA?
I am looking forward to seeing THE REAL ONE NIGERIA which till today is just a mirage. The ONE NIGERIA we have is just in a textbook position, used in conferences, used by government official, and politician for selfish reasons or political ambitions. I insert OBY EZEKWESIRI tweet that “our failures ends when citizens north, south, east, decide that we deserve a new Nigeria that offers equal opportunity to all thrive” this will be the time we have THE REAL ONE NIGERIA. The ruling class should stop deceiving themselves that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable; the reality on ground is that Nigeria has no unity to negotiate or not to negotiate. Nigeria comprises of communities of different cultural background which the colonial master did not think about their culture, norms and values other differences into before the 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorate. These communities were not consulted to find out whether they are ready to live as ONE NIGERIA. There were always ethnic, religious and political conflicts, as a result of this FORCED MARRIAGE. If the present Government want to bring and promote national unity, the have to first negotiate with different regions and get them agree to belong to ONE NIGERA. Just like, Soyinka said. “It’s bloody well negotiable and we had better negotiate it. We better negotiate it, not even at meetings, not at conferences, but every day in our conduct towards one another,” Yes we need to concentrated on things that brings us together on our day to day activities, how we relate to one another in the churches, markets, neighbors and everywhere we found ourselves”.
The REAL ONE NIGERIA is the one where if one part of the country is in trouble we collectively sort for solutions, if a part feels marginalized, government took it upon themselves to look into what the agitations are, proffer solutions, explain and persuade them to see the benefit of living together as a country. But where that fails, there is no REAL ONE NIGERIA. Those asking for Biafra and self-determination must be call to hear and address their complaints. From little I know about these Biafra agitators, all they want is freedom and equal opportunity to compete with other tribes. Not where they are treated by other tribes in other part of the country as slave or second class Citizens. There should be frank effort by the Government to promote National unity, provide lasting solutions to identified causes of disunity in Nigeria. Some of these causes like tribalism, favoritisms, treat and intimidation by the so called host state of Igbos outside Igbo land.
It is a known fact that there are calls on daily news, this day Nigeria news, Vanguard newspaper, Punch Newspapers, Sahara reporters Nigeria news, social Media etc.; calling for Nigeria restructuring even after restructuring in conferences and ASO ROCK, without change in attitude and conduct to one another, there would be no REAL ONE NIGERIA. The sure ways to promote national Unity is for the Government to be committed by enacting laws that clearly states the right of Nigerian Citizens and ensure every Nigeria Child understands his rights as a citizen and anybody that violets such right could be sued and punished under the law. Workable laws on this area will promote National Unity and protect the fundamental human rights of every Nigerian Citizen and punish whoever violets them no matter his status in the society. By the time people witness some people punished as a result of citizen and human right violation the inter group relations in Nigeria will be restored.
The REAL ONE NIGERIA cannot be achieved by Gowon opinion of stopping Biafra from seceding by introducing divide and rule among Biafra states, where he said “So, we decided overnight to break the fear through the creation of states. If we had to save the country that was the only way to do it. “We also ensured that no state was too big or too small to threaten the unity of the country” well these would not work now, as BIFRANS are wiser. They have come back to fight for a common goal. Thus the emergence of the group called Indigenous people of Biafra. They are found in the following states: – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and others. I look at what Gowon did or provided as solution the first time the Biafra agitation started as a temporary and it did not stand the test of time.
No wonder Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, frankly said in one of the Latest Nigeria news, on the agitation in the South East and the so called South South and declared that Biafra cannot be defeated. Soyinka added that: “the agitation did not come to him as a surprise”. On Channels Television, Soyinka said, “agitation for Biafra will never go away as Biafra is an ideology” He said “I remembered I wrote an article during the war and I said at that time that Biafra cannot be defeated. People misunderstood what I was saying. You may destroy the people that carry the idea on the battlefield, but, ultimately, it is not the end of the story”. He proposes to government that instead of issuing threats to the Biafra agitators, it should rather go to the South East and find out why they are agitating for another country and see what it could do things that will promote National unity. “Go into that environment and ask what are those things we can do to make you content, to make you feel part of this entity. Listen to some other ‘Biafra’s’ and ask them why the want to stay, But, don’t go around saying the sovereignty of this country is indivisible, it is not negotiable. “That type of language would only make matters worse”, Soyinka said.
WHEN CAN W E HAVE THE REAL ONE NIGERIA?
When there is federal presence in all the regions in Nigeria. Even development:-, International Airport and sea Port in South East region.
When there is freedom, equal rights and justice to all Nigerian Citizens, they are treated like others and not second class citizens in any part of the country.
When the Nigerian government kills the spirit of Biafra, bring in the real ONE NIGERIA by addressing the complaints of Biafra agitators, fix their roads, and provide electricity and other basic infrastructure.
When south East region is allowed to produce the next presidency of the nation Nigeria and given friendly environment to do their business, give federal appointments by merit not on where you come.
When there are laws that provide and define the right of every citizen of Nigeria. When there are laws that protect the fundamental rights of Nigerian Child and punishment for whomever that violates these rights.
Until the above mentioned factors are addressed, unity in diversity in Nigeria cannot be achieved. It is the inability of country as Nation to strategically look into the issues discussed in this article that causes disunity Nigeria. There will be no REAL ONE NIGERIA in so far as all these factors militating against Nigeria Unity are not considered.