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Conflict of the two Nigerias

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By Nwokedi Nworisara
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”- George

In 1914 there were two Nigerias. The North and the Southern Nigeria

managed by Lord Luggard the then British Governor General . He thought it

would make sense for the British to amalgamate the two since there were no

more scramble going on by competing Powers. Amalgamation could produce an

economy of scale and enable each side to benefit from the others

advantages while integrating into a giant provider of British raw

Earlier the methods of administration of the two had differed greatly. The

North was ruled indirectly allowing the feudal system to remain

unperturbed by modern advances and it produced great courageous

infantrymen to defend the whole. The south was ruled directly through

democratic means and the people were assimilated to the western education

as basis for their proper participation and ownership of democratic

culture. Earlier they were organized in hostile city states and did not

care much about integration or nationhood except it was bound by force of

arm. So the South developed faster in this new way of organizing in the

public realm shedding their much of their cultures to accommodate the ways

if the white missionary. On the other hand the North was already conquered

by the jihadist Arab from the North who introduced their Islamic religion

to calm down the earlier existing city States and established the Fulani

Emirates to rule over the people. They were highly successful in utilizing

the political cleavages of religion in organizing society something that

the colonial British admired and wished to retain because it was also

productive and effective.
It was an uphill task getting to amalgamate the two disparate world views

but the British had the machinery to instill law and order. Remember that

left on its own the two sides cannot gravitate towards integration or

nationhood. So the presence of some prerequisites in the British style

made it possible to hold the two together. The first requisite is force

,ie  a good law and enforcement with a disciplined army. The other is

productivity. The whole thing hinges on economy of scale. The British was

able to keep the two sides separate while uniting them at the point of

their output at the Federal levels. So the federal system was complemented

by the Parliamentary structure of governance. There was nothing unitary.

What it means is that a law consistent with international standards and

expectations contained in a constitution and backed by a strong

disciplined army also rooted in international standards was needed to keep

Nigeria Amalgamated. It was needed to keep Nigeria productive and secure

but she must be governed by a balanced federal structure with delivery

mechanism being a parliamentary system of government because of its

educative ,accountable and responsible characters. It took the British 50

years of trial and error to achieve this balance and when Nigeria became

independent in 1960,this system was handed over to the new Government.

Unfortunately those whom the British saw as worthy enough to continue this

legacy did not seem to understand it. Neither did they have much chance to

operate it before they began to remove the very pillars that kept the

system stable in the first place. The first pillar to be removed was

British authority or guidance. The last Governor General of Nigeria who

became the first President Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was to provide that necessary

link as Queens Consul. Much of Nigeria's exports still went to Britain.

The economy was structured to serve British industries even the Railway

lines ran to the sea. The first bad move was making Dr Azikiwe a

ceremonial President. Then followed the rush to declare a Republic in

1963.  As soon as the Republican status came,Britain had its hands tied

even though it still retained the lever! Earlier the new leaders were

already working ignorantly to destabilize the army. The Northern Premier

wanted quota recruitment of Northern Youths into the Army.  Then followed

attempts to alter the tripod structure bringing about instant instability

in the polity . The Creation of Mid West Region sent wrong signals to the

North that the South was trying to put them In disadvantage . The centre

could no longer hold! All these were distractions to productivity and the

groundnut pyramids,cocoa and oil Palm exports began to show signs of

The consequences of the above events happening before 1964 was that the

army was disabled,the parliamentary system and the Regional Federalism was

now in doubt in just 4years what was put together in 50 years came

crumbling down. There was no need to continue this analysis until the

physical effects became form in 1966 coup. The discovery of oil in the

Niger Delta came as a structural defect instead of blessing. It emboldened

those who thought that the Army could play a stabilizing role with or

without the other prerequisites such as a good law and enforcement with

international backing. Those who did not understand the great need for

Federalism and Regional autonomy in the Nigerian equation, those new

experimenters who believe that he who controls force which later

translated to the economy can enforce National unity and integration!

From 1966 the  Nigerian constitution was suspended,the FEDERAL structure

disbanded,the army became unprofessional as quota soldiers had their way.

Since the constitution was no more law and order took a nosedive and the

rest is history. Attempts to create states to replace the Regions to give

semblance of unity multiplied governance units until it was no longer

controllable and units became unviable eating deep into crude oil federal

coffers establishing a new reason de entrée for this new concept of the

Nigerian State to sharing instead of productivity. Later on attempts were

made to put these unviable states into eight geopolitical zones and after

many years of running at seemingly stable democratic rule from 1999 till

date after the earlier republics proved abortive,the imbalance in

structure remains and great poverty besets the land in the midst of

plenty. The people are no longer the centre piece of the new democracy

rooted in a common wealth of sharing of oil funds. Money had assumed a

surfer age if its own and can buy votes or positions. The Military rulers

since 1886 were experimenting in Diarchy and have converted to the new

civilian helmsmen but they still feel that unitary control of everything

from the centre will retain their control of this experimental brand of

Nigeria! So constitutional conferences are open but not entirely free to

discuss the major issues capable of returning power to the people once

again or returning Nigeria to its true nature.
So here we are today grappling with the effects of the perpetual conflict

between the two Nigerias and the people are all but ignorant of what is

happening to them! Although they perceive the conflict some mislabel it

and therefore for narrow political expediency deceive their people into

wild goose chases year after year. They would tell you it is a conflict

between the North and the South,Muslims and Christains,Arab and

West,politicians and the people,and other vague phrases arising out of

pseudo knowledge or ignorance. Most people cannot decide it because they

have arisen from it and cannot detach themselves from it or overlook it as

to know the big picture! From here you can see that the conflict you see

today manifested in Boko Haram,Sharia,coups etc was made in Nigeria!  It

was as a result of the rush to rule Nigeria when you do not even know what

Nigeria is all about. Now what is happening is that the attempt to change

the old British prescription for a stable Nigeria has failed disastrously

and the new Nigeria which is just a return to the old is rising! It has no

geographical boundaries so it is not the North or South,Moslems or

Christains but the will of God!