ONE NIGERIA? AM AFRAID!
The scramble for Africa was led by Goldie Taubman, referred to as 'father of modern Nigeria.' It was after him that Lord Frederick Lugard came on board to initiate the merging of the Southern and Northern protectorates together in 1914 though, strictly for the economic benefit of the British. It is after this unholy merger of very distinctive states, peoples of different religion, culture, belief, language without their input that has thrown the country into turmoil, confusion and bloodletting ever since. It is on record that millions of Nigerians have been murdered, millions more are still suffering and dying under severe effects of the 1914 mistake by the selfish unification of the colonies that today make up Nigeria. No doubt, according to history, the states lived in peace, practicing their unique and God giving cultures until the British conquer-to-rule spirit pushed them to Africa and they did what they did without our interest at heart.
There are several unprecedented and unprovoked ethnic, communal, religious, political killings, maiming and destruction of property since the so called amalgamation of 1914 took place. Till date what looked like a spontaneous, sporadic rioting of Muslim mobs has metamorphosed into organized Islamic jihadist groups with hierarchical structure, formal trainings and huge funding to support the slaughtering of fellow Nigerians for committing the sin of been a member of another religion or ethnic group. Our pioneer indigenous politicians fought more for self rule from the British and did not consider whether indeed and truly Nigeria is one, united country or not. They failed practically to look inwards and tap into the gains of a country, Nigeria, a land of many independent nations, great hope, progress, nations with immense resources at its disposal, natural, human resources but they blew up the chances because of their myopic, selfish, ethnic and religious consideration first, to nation building which changed the course for Nigeria.
One of the reasons we have not managed to find an escape route out of the tragic mess of our history is that we have not 'Taking Nigeria Seriously.' The Nigerian theatre from 1914 till now has been very disheartening with many things no longer at ease. Our national unity, loyalty, allegiance and patriotism have become a mirage yet, we are pretentiously hanging on to the mantra of one Nigeria. Nigeria is not and cannot be one when a part of it continues to kill because their religion must dominate and, charging that power is its inalienable right. Here today, let's not pretend, we run two constitutions in Nigeria, the 1999 constitution perhaps for the south, and Sharia legal system used up north.
Many are convinced that if Nigeria continues to allocate offices, position and privileges, give school admissions, contracts to individuals on the basis that they are representing their communities whether as Muslims or Christians, Northerners or Southerners, Igbos, Hausas or Yorubas, then the cycle of underdevelopment, injustice, denial of progress will continue to be the order of the day. For Nigeria to remain one indivisible entity for our children, the nation then needs well conceived policies that its ripple effects can touch the lives of citizens wherever they may be located in Nigeria. Had the military managed the progress of our national life, laid solid infrastructural development, economic fortunes improved, a true fight against corruption, every ethnic and religious group would have accepted and supported one Nigeria. We must quit from the selfish and wickedness attitude of the British against Africans when for instance, they built first class roads, railway lines ONLY to facilitate the movements of our raw materials to their colonial metropolis. The challenge before us as Nigerians is that we must find, locate, ensure that justice gets to all, for the common good of the country.
We are in this mess today because we promote ethnicity and religion above nationalism and patriotism. Ethnicity connects with pervasive corruption, injustice and absence of the rule of law in our society. In other climes, the cruel men of yesterday were punished but in Nigeria they walk the streets tall, none have been prosecuted rather they are given chieftaincy titles, university degrees, church knights or muslim baba adinnis, they become our political leaders. Do you then still wonder why our travails persist? We are in the current murky waters in our national life because the Nnamdi Azikiwes, Obafemi Awolowos, Tafawa Balewas, Emeka Ojukwus, Yakubu Gowons, Okotie-Ebohs mismanaged the chances of development for ethnic and religious considerations. Not until we agree to dismantle this drastically and honestly, and then restructure, Nigeria will remain a disgrace not only to its peoples but to the whole of the African race. The Biafra - Nigeria war was and remains a setback. There was and still enough talent, good education for Nigerians to have been able to arrange our affairs more efficiently, more meticulously to compete and measure up with the Asian tigers.
In Nigeria, State power is everything, and to be without power is to be condemned to perpetual slavery. Successive governments have misused the oil wealth that accrued to it over the years thereby putting the host communities into deep poverty. There seems to be no solution in sight to the conflict between Nigeria, oil companies and their host communities in the Delta until they are allowed to participate in their own governance and full observance of rule of law. The injustice in the Delta region is no different from that facing other Nigerian communities and, that is why there are crises here and there. So, Nigeria must desist from pummeling nations who rise to ask questions on its perceived ill treatment from it, rather engage them in discussing the way out of such for One Nigeria to remain.
The brandishing menace of Boko Haram today, agitations of MASSOB, militancy of MEND, self-determination hunger of OPC are all pointers that the nations has not yet arrived at one Nigeria. We are quick to pretend and look the other way instead of tackling this evil. Our political, economic and foreign giants keep deceiving us on one Nigeria mantra because they want to sustain their economic power grip, interest. They are not looking at the present situation and using it to foretell the future. If we continue the way we are going certainly this one Nigeria may become history at some point and in a bloody manner.
After 53 years of independence, we still zone political positions not minding if it produces nitwits, mediocrities. Nigeria's problems may be traced to clash of cultures, religion, belief systems which are alien to themselves, the forceful unification of Nigeria by some foreign explorers without our input. Perhaps, if there were discussions, agreement by the peoples of these groups on coming together for a blissful marriage then there would be strong pillar on which the country is standing. In 2011, the Sultan of Sokoto was in Harvard to deliver a paper, there and then he did say that the Boko Haram uprising is as a result of deep rooted poverty and injustice but events since then has proved him wrong. We are aware that the genesis of Nigeria's problem is the clobbering of Nigeria into one, dysfunctional structure, sandy, faulty foundation, that Nigeria was established and, fanned by bad leadership.
At the just concluded National Conference, we failed again to discuss Nigeria's Nigeria, to answer if we truly and honestly want to live together as one. We shied away, pretended it didn't matter; then you ask; Why are the guns still booming in the North East? Why do the Islamic jihadists believe they are born to rule, impose and occupy their religion on every Nigerian land? Why are the non indigenes easily attacked by the natives? Why are the oil producing communities still up in arms with the oil companies, security agents? Why do we not have trust on any security commander because he is not from our region, religion? How can our national security be compromised by the very people trusted to protect us? This One Nigeria will still be looked at, when, how, Will be answered at the appropriate time. We can only run but never hide!
Written by Uzodinma Nwaogbe.