No longer at ease with Nigeria’s amalgamation -By Sam Aruleba

Filed under: National Issues |


Oh no! Foul, horrendous, thieves, vagabonds, are some of the electrifying words charging into the nerves and emotions of many Nigerians the moment the Senate rejected restructuring idea the country proposed in line to the 1963 constitution that gave much powers to the regions. The house of horror and pandemonium is indeed, at it again, doing the business of own interest as against that of the electorate. The mischievous instance of the Senate fortifying their office with immunity and dashing the hope of the Nigerian peoples by rejecting restructuring is practically an invitation for trouble in the house of unity. As it was written in the Bible, the mighty God decreed war and strife onto the generation of David and never would they live in peace again for disobeying His will and doing the unjust things in his sight. So, the Israelites have ever since been fighting one war or the other against their neighbours to this day.

Nigeria is already in that cobweb of sin against God’s injunction that social discrimination, economic deprivation and political marginalisation against my people in the South of Nigeria are forbidden. To this moreover, the Senate seems unruffled. The federal lawmakers don’t think or care about the virus of poverty and wealth distribution inequalities snuffing life out of most Nigerians. Their immediate concern wraps on protecting the humongous monthly salary per head earnings that condemned all underprivileged Nigerians to their life impoverishment. Against the tide of our collective hope and expectation, the much-talked about restructuring as engraved in the 2014 National Confab document was whimsically and frivolously discarded with by the Senate in their latest attempt to amend the constitution. Not that the people are not in tune with the Senate as in the doing things before thinking them out, the general clamour for restructuring was thought to be the last arbiter of hope of keeping the country together for longer time than necessary in the marriage of convenience we all share together.

Certainly, amalgamated Nigeria has failed to live up to its billing of proffering unity and strengthening every fabric of our co-existence. Instead, the bond further tears us apart by reinforcing a campaign of calumny on tribes and religious borders, especially in the North where more than 20,000 lives have been lost in the last decade between Muslims, and Christian residents. The insurgence of the Boko Haram sect has worsened the situation when peace has become a rare asset to the North-East of the country. Put it bluntly, the North of Nigeria could be likened to a mistletoe that would tap its roots from the plum of a cash-cow tree, eat fat on it, dry it up, and abandon it when nothing of benefit is left to admire. Mistletoes have nothing good to offer their supplier of life but relish in foxily destroying it without qualm. The North would abandon the Nigerian ship as soon as there is oil discovered in their region, and we pray, that is the case very soon. Gone with the wind is a nation where truth and justice reign. Taboo is patriotism these days. Hallowed be thy name is treasury looting, kidnapping, and killing for rituals of innocent souls with impunity. There are no leaders of substance in Nigeria to steer the wheel of the nation out of spiral fall to stupor. According to Kotter, leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there. Nigeria is short of such leaders to galvanise and treat everyone as equal and without discrimination in appointments and distribution of national wealth. Definitely, President Muhammadu Buhari is not the expected Messiah.

Pastor J.K. Aggrey once put it in perspective when he said: “I am proud of my colour, he who is not proud of his colour is not fit to live”. This is the meeting point where the North and the South see themselves as people of different colours, seeking different taste of life and a sovereign constitutional denial is indefensible as it is inexcusable. In 1953 at the agitation of independence, the Hausa and the Fulani in the North united to ask for own country that would not include the South. Their prayers led to the delay of our independence from 1957 to 1960. Also in 1967, when Yakubu Gowon was the Military Head of State, it was the same set of the Northern people that clamoured for regional governance in line with the 1963 constitution. Things have changed. The oil flow from the South has been the wealth of the North and has maximally served their purpose while neglecting the chickens that lay the eggs. For now, proposing individual states to man own ship is a fear that is not hidden by the North, but lack the courage to admit such a scenario. The centre that generously feeds them with the oil proceeds from the South would henceforth lack such power and consequently, expose the idleness and weaknesses of the people of that region. Moreover, to a more rational mind, going back to regional governance would embolden and strengthen all regions’ desire to do well. One state alone in the North could feed Nigeria with yam tubers, vegetables, groundnuts, and cotton. These basic necessities are the pillars and sustenance of human existence. Adding mechanised farming to their business would increase production, enhance better yield, generate more income, home and abroad.

Likewise, if it is true that lateness is better than never, our collective resolve to reconstruct our path to greatness should now be of immediate paramount focus by engaging the government to institute a serious and people’s driven Sovereign Constitutional Conference debate without further delay. A consolidated nation that lingers unsteadily to the world unknown urgently requires a reorientation of purpose. Unity in diversity as prescribed in the aborted 2014 restructuring document was aimed at accelerating economic development, political equity and social justice to all regions instead of hopelessly lingering together and in a unitary direction that leads to nothing but vanity. A reference point was the accelerated pace of socio-economic development recorded between 1957 and 1962 in the self-governed Western Region under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and which to this day remains the envy of other regions in the federation. Catch phrase alone does not heal wounds. Go on with one Nigeria brings no oneness as long as the North and South do not share similar ideologies to life. Previous leaders from each region unmistakably acknowledge this fact in their past public utterances when many advocated for separation along tribal lines, aspiration and social affiliations to guarantee peace and accelerated political and economic advancement. We should not pretend our ignorance that not many of the Senators we have today are of sound mind and capable of thinking laterally to effect good governance.

The people of the North who still hold the illusion that it is their birth right to rule Nigeria by oppressing the rest should always remember that nothing is forever last. Lessons to learn are there. James Thurber portends that we should not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness. Both Yugoslavia and the USSR have for long transformed into better socio-economic and political associations that concisely mirrored their individual tribal identity. Pakistan devolved from Indian union in 1947 to ensure a better sovereignty for its own people. Scotland and Wales are currently in the thick of holding referendum that would disengage their marriage with United Kingdom. Subsequently, there would be no love lost should Biafra and Oduduwa Kingdom decide to abandon the sinking ship of Nigeria and go their different ways that would at least guarantee undifferentiated nationality, social integration, economic development and even political dividends. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible. Henceforth, we should be more concerned with our character than our reputation, because our character is what we really are, whilst our reputation is merely what others think we are.

The present day Nigeria is filled with air of discontent that blows suspicion, hatred, vengeance, discrimination, and apartheid among all the tribes. With the veritable institutions of pervasive social prejudice in place, the engine of good stewardship in the country becomes stalled and the wheel of progress shackled and demobilised. Endlessly, Nigeria remains incapacitated and crippled for bad leadership.