ARE YOU A NORTHERNER, SOUTHERNER, OR NIGERIAN?
The North-South Dichotomy is not a subject within the shores of this nation that one talks about without understanding, it evokes a lot of passions from the heated arguments which it generates, everyone holding dear to their values, idiosyncrasies and what not. A lot has been written, on old perspectives likewise new viewpoints.
I have found it pertinent to revisit this essay which I originally wrote in March of 2006. When I wrote it, it was the resource control drama, again such sentiments are being echoed wit the violence that followed the last general polls.
Then I wrote under the title, The North-South Dichotomy And The National Question, today more than ever events have showed again our propensity think as easterners, westerners, northerners, middle belters, all depending on the turns of event.
Every nation has one dichotomy or the other, if it is not the north vs south, it is versus blocs or religious or even ideological dichotomies. There are several reasons why such dichotomies exist. Sometimes it is a function of creation like we have in the Nigerian case. In this essay I want to look at the problems of this dichotomy. The North-South dichotomy is a big myth to our politicians when they want to steal but after the stealing it becomes an issue.
In our sensational North South dichotomy, we have in every sense approached most problems sectionally thereby creating all kinds of unnecessary petty-culture-ethnic parapoism and bourgeois mentality in dealing with our national issues. Dichotomy is one that is used by political apologists as a socio-economic weapon. Apart from the positive, the dichotomy has been used to exploit and bamboozle the masses without major consideration being given to the dynamics of the law of development which in essence deals scientifically with the unity and struggle of opportunities and opposites.
Another musing on the issue of the North-South Dichotomy is that in truth only a social revolution can solve our problems, be they political, economic or social. In this sense we need more than a free and fair and credible election, what we need is the progressive element (Sadly that progressive element today is largely on paper only) to come together as a striking force. Because they have a revolutionary duty to this nation to help in striking a balance in the North-South Dichotomy, to disabuse the thought pattern that has been built.
An example of this could be in tackling the ideology of hatred, one that has just swept across again, Bauchi in North, Anambra in the South because this is a factor that reactionary elements within the system use in battling the progressive. Like several years ago, the problem still persists, the North/South dichotomy borrows a lot from bourgeois theories, which essentially is directed at confusing our intellect, like we try to argue within the parameters of “anti-class theory”, “theory of undevelopement”, “take off theory”, “theory of cooperation”, “theory of external push”, “end of ideology theory”, “convergence theory”, “the theory of the periphery in the periphery”. Wonderful sociological concepts that do very little in helping us shift in the way of progress because only few theories work for us..."theory of corruption", "theory of bad governance", "chop I chop theory", and "killing for god theory".
Like I said there is hardly any nation that you do not find a form of dichotomy. But when not managed it only retards conscious development of the people, creates inter ethnic hostilities and allows for continued exploitation from and management of political power. In neighbouring Sudan, it is same, there is hardly where it does not exist but the question is what keeps them in check. In all cases however only the haves in the society allow the dichotomy to yield chaos. Professor Edna Bonacich does something in this vein, it is called “A theory of ethnic antagonism”.
In ending this short take on the North/South dichotomy it is important to look at how it denies us of one thing and it is the national question. What is a nation? We can not fully understand the implication of the North-South dichotomy without answering the national question scientifically in relating this phenomenon to our socio-political economical development, it is important to look at the historical development of the national question. It arose in the middle Ages when capitalism had started to develop in national life. At that time, national movements came into being in an effort to tear down the absolutist feudal barriers to the emergence of nations and nation states.
Later, when the development of capitalism caused the division of humanity with a handful of reactionary oppressors and a vast majority of the oppressed masses, the national liberation movements became the banners of the oppressed in the attempt to secure free national and social development. Hence the national liberation movements have since been the most efficient way of solving vital national question. The national question “is a question of solving vital national problems of social development, abolishing national oppression and inequality, eliminating obstacles to the development of peoples, including achievement of factual quality and internationalism in national relations.” Under capitalist mode production, the national question cannot be answered scientifically because the capitalists always propagate national chauvinism and ethnic hatred, sow inter-tribal hostility and organize armed clashes and conflicts which always negate socio-political programs and techno-economic development.
Reactionary scholars often defend the essence of reactionary bourgeons nationalism. They refute the fact that the nation is a social category, a historical community. For instance, Jacques Chwalier developed a subjectivist concept of the nation, glorifying that a nation is created by the wishes of living together. In another ideology of Nationalism, Maurice Cranston maintains that the basis of the nation is national will and its existence depends on the common desire of people. However both Max Savelle and Peter Haslett hold this view strongly that “a nation is just a metaphor”.
The concepts “national character”, “national culture”, national consciousness”, ”national philosophy and psychology” are often used and discussed without carefully and critically understanding their contradicting class nature in antagonistic societies and their relative independence. So, any theory of nations should and must nullify all reactionary elite’s ideological devices and expose their class character. A scientific definition is, suggested: therefore, the nation is a lasting historical community of people constituting a form of social development based on the community of economic life in combination with the community of language, territory, culture, consciousness and psychology.
Nationalism anywhere is the ideological requirement of society for the formation of nationhood. In turn, the formation of nationhood is the reflections of more profound changes in the socio-economic structure of a country. These changes in turn should be necessary, and bring about the dialectical integration of all various ethnic groups, a new form of socio-political unit. When this state of affairs is established, the development of community production relations occurs. Greater exchange among the various sections of the nation also occurs and truly, there will be the destruction of ethnic chauvinism and parochial relations. When this goal is achieved, there will be the enablement among the various ethnic groups or classes in the country of new economic relations on the basis of positive nationalism and true democracy. This situation in the final analysis, gives rise to the various ethnic groups towards greater realization of cultural togetherness, peace and stability for all.
The summary of this essay is both a warning and a challenge on the basis of what I have outlined; it is only fair and fitting to direct our critical analysis of the Nigerian political climate in the form of serious warning to the reactionary forces in the country. At the same time, we shall only be performing our historical function if we are alert the progressive force in the country about the most urgent need for a collective approach and prompt action against elitist domination and exploitation of our national affairs and national resources. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to do and say what is right.
This is the only way we can continue to be right. We are seriously warning the reactionary force to come to gripes with realities of the moment which point to the inevitabilities of the future, because time is running out, at us to initiate a wind of hurricane of social revolution. Almighty Allah help us in times like these.
In the last 12 years we have tried, it may not be as fast as we had wanted to go, its been largely a mess but we have made progress, the fact that the military has not struck and will not for now is a legacy we are building, we are equally slowly but steadily evolving a form of federalism...may we get there.
Written by Prince Charles Dickson.