IS NIGERIA BREAKING UP?
The call, last week, by Libya's dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, for the break-up of Nigeria along religious lines, should not be attracting such angry and frenzied reactions that it is currently the case. Nigerians should be aware that Gaddafi has, for the last 30 years, been hunting for strategies to diminish, if not destroy, Nigeria's great potential. He has sponsored and financed internal dissentions and terrorism inside Nigeria, propped up and financed upheavals around us, as a way of bleeding and frustrating Nigeria, its leaders and people. He has masterminded every other imaginable and provocative act as a way of bringing us out into an open brawl against him and his hapless citizens.
It is hardly necessary to dwell on the many anti-Nigeria activities of the deranged Libyan leader. But suffice it to say that Nigeria has, over these years, largely contained the Libyan menace, as inside intelligence sources would confirm that a large chunk of our external intelligence budget has been expended on diffusing the many evil machinations of Gaddafi against Nigeria. Gaddafi has seen Nigeria as the only obstacle against his pipe dream of becoming the ruler of his 'United States of Africa'. The stature of Nigeria has continued to confine him to his deserved position as a frustrated terrorist and deranged mass murderer, masquerading as a champion of Islam and Pan-Arabism.
However, there are lessons to be drawn from his endless machinations because wise nations like wise people, draw good lessons from the vituperations and actions of their enemies. Rather than the current fumes against Gaddafi, Nigerians should indulge in introspection to weigh whether we have been acting in ways and manners that made such satanic verses of the Libyan leader worthwhile. For instance, have different groups, under different circumstances, considered the dismemberment of Nigeria as an option?
Just a few weeks ago, some interest groups in the Niger Delta were threatening to pull their region out of Nigeria, if they were not treated with better socio-economic and political considerations. The security agencies have for years, been doing hide-and-seek with the MASSOB members who claim to be campaigning for a Biafran republic, just as a group is active on the ground and the Internet for an O'Odua republic. So, Gaddafi is not the one planting the idea of splitting Nigeria along different lines for different reasons, for the first time. He was merely cashing-in on a sentiment which might have become fertile in the minds of many Nigerians. As the Jos incident seems intractable, there are many minds who find Gaddafi's prescription attractive.
Those who find Gaddafi's prescription as music to the ears might even be able to marshal convincing reasons for their desiderata, especially as the people now running Nigeria at different levels have continued to manifest an unbelievable insensitivity towards the plight of Nigerians. And even if Gaddafi had no reason to stick his foul mouth into our national affairs, many see justifications for calls for Nigeria to be re-negotiated. The situation is not helped by the hurry and zeal with which people in authority are looting the treasuries, creating the impression that Nigeria as a nation, might soon be going into extinction. Yet, the fact remains that you do not burn down your house because a snake has entered into it.
Yes, there are many problems of ethnic and religious nature that are stunting Nigeria's ability to rise to its manifest destiny as a potential world power. But because the dynamics of these issues have not been honestly diagnosed, suggestions for their solutions have often been misdirected. That lapse has also brought about many missed opportunities.
It appears that Gaddafi loves us so much that he called for Nigeria's dismemberment along religious lines to save us from further bloodshed. How touching! But has it occurred to serious thinkers that Nigeria has never really been bedevilled by conflicts between Christians and Muslims? Have Muslims and Christians ever picked up arms against each other over doctrinal differences? Have Muslims ever marched out from their mosques towards churches and vice-versa, over religious issues? Apart from those occasions when influential crooks had purchased and instigated the poor, ignorant and ill-informed hirelings to do their biddings, when did anybody hear that Muslims and Christians had ever disagreed over the matter of their faiths? Even when the spate of the so-called Shari'a riots had spread in the early '90s in parts of the North, why did they not occur in states like Zamfara, where Shari'a law started, but rather there were explosions in Kaduna and Plateau States, where Shari'a was not in practice?
The sooner Nigerians stopped viewing the ongoing Jos crisis as that between Christianity and Islam, rather than as jousts for ascendancy by some ethnic and political champions who manipulate religious sentiments on both sides, the easier it would be to find lasting solutions. Those who have persisted in describing Plateau mayhem as religious have never told us how the interests of either Islam or Christianity had been served. Nobody had told us how the contest for the Jos North council seat had offended any verses of the Bible or the Koran, as to have precipitated what was later described as a murderous fight between Christians and Muslims.
Again, how can one describe uprisings by sects like the Maitatsine, Boko Haram and such other sects, which sporadically spring up amongst the poverty stricken Muslim areas of the North, as 'religious', when fellow Muslims are the mostly the victims of such mayhem, that are usually sponsored by some mostly politically-active individuals? I stand to be corrected in my contention that there has never been a battle in Nigeria between the two key religions, the fact that influential criminals have used both religions to foment hatred and problems, notwithstanding.
Even though deranged and satanically-inclined 'Islamic' clerics and 'Christian' priests have often used emotive religious fervour to stir hatred and destruction, there has never been an instance when the CAN leadership or the leadership of the Islamic umma that is held by the Sultan of Sokoto, ever called for or sanctioned such crises.
The hard truth remains that there are greater misunderstanding and rancour between the different sects of Islam and Christianity than between the two religious. Nigerians might not know it, but the mistrust, differences and rancour between the Catholics and Anglicans of Anambra State run as deep as those between the different Islamic sects in the North. There might not be bloodshed and their fight is not (yet) being prosecuted with arms, but it is carried on in equally devious ways.
But let us even consider the feasibility of Nigeria's split along religious lines. The first issue would be the definition of the boundaries. How do you draw the boundaries in such areas, like the South West and North East where same families are composed of people of the different religions who have lived together for ages in harmony and total peace? Most Yoruba laugh at and wonder what all this hullaballoo over religion is about. As the new states, such as Gaddafi suggests, must be within distinct borders, their emergence is impossible because nobody in Nigeria today can draw borders that can separate Muslims and Christians into separate entities.
That being so, is it not commonsensical to banish the time-consuming thought that Nigeria could ever split along religious, or any other lines, and in that realization, more realistically start working for ways to make our union work for one and for all? That would be the only way to frustrate the evil wishes of the Gaddafis of this world, who foresee the potential of Nigeria as a great power, whose leaders, remain its only impediment and enemy because they have refused to search out, isolate and deal with the perpetrators of crises which continue to keep our peoples apart.
It is the manifest destiny of Nigeria to find a unity in its flourishing diversity. Yet, we must accept that a Nigeria that can bring about such a possibility is that which believes in the unity of the 'marriage in Canaan' which brings about healthy offspring, but not the unity of 'Jonah in the belly of the whale' which brings about excrement. Nigeria's existence has become like a Catholic marriage, which is permanent and allows no divorce.
When will never break up? The answer is a resounding NEVER!