IN FAVOUR OF SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE CONFERENCE
One of the reasons adjudged to be a major failure of the Orkar coup against the Babangida administration in 1990 was its divisive nature. Major Orkar, who hailed from one of the middle belt states, had announced that people from some old northern states, Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, the original members of the northern oligarchy who 'rule' Nigeria and who think that the leadership of Nigeria is their birthright, should all go back to their states until they're accepted back into the country by other members of the country. Reasons being that these people are the major cause of corruption in this country, that Nigeria is an entity and a particular small cabal cannot make it their 'toy' to be handled the way they please, etc.
I remember particularly that a lot of people had hailed the coup because by then, everyone had become aware and tired of the corruption of the Babangida administration which had entered its 6th year. The Babangida administration brought in the horrible era of godfatherism, the government of settlement, so much irresponsibility and flouting of the law by the ruling class which has become entrenched in every facet of our society today.
These, the erstwhile Idiagbon/Buhari administration, had all but changed with their war against indiscipline.
Until he made that announcement. Then, the country fought and rejected his coup. And Orkar failed. The reality of what he was saying did not dawn on a lot of us then. Only a few intellectuals, especially in the army knew what was amiss. That a cabal exists who think that we were mere mortals and they doth bestride Nigeria like a colossus. . . . . . . . . . . . .
This arrogance was thrown in my face in 1993, during the Abiola/Tofa presidential election campaigns. A young man not even from any of the core northern states, but who felt he belonged like many of the other Hausa speaking states, brazenly told me that Abiola cannot win because the leadership of this nation belonged to the North. I was so miffed or rather piqued that I almost physically attacked him.
This thinking pervades the entire northern states and was probably the reason why someone as hapless and clueless as Tofa, who had not the faintest idea of what was happening in the country, (he did not even know how much a litre of petrol costs. Abiola dealt with him at that interview) could venture into running for the presidency. I am sure the northern oligarchy may have assured him of absolute victory which gave him enough confidence to enter into the presidential race and ultimately a debate with an informed and self made person like Abiola. Even some of the daftest mallams in the market will boast to you that they rule this nation and there's nothing you can do about it.
One would ask, how did all this start. A popular account has it that the British, at the merger of the north and the south in 1914 are the major cause. They recognized an already established political structure in the north at the time, still oligarchy though. They also probably wanted a structure that will protect their interests in the former colony.
This theory has it that the north was advised to stay in the merger for economic reasons which they did not immediately grasp.
It would have been a landlocked nation for one and completely dependent on the south for imports and exports. And oil had just been discovered in the south. However, to ensure that they're not 'cheated' by their smarter contemporaries in the south they were advised to make sure they hold on to power at all cost. And they entered government and fortified 'themselves with themselves so that the decision makers were themselves'. And there's nothing you can do about it.
That is the only way you would have a quota system in this country where a practically dumb (permit me to use the word) pupil or student from the north who scored as low as 10 percent in an entrance examination is given the same admission with another person who scored as high as 90 percent from the south while so many others with higher scores, as much as 70 percent, will be disqualified. Yes, it is arguable that it was meant to engender equality in these people and help them to come up intellectually, but for how long. We have done that for more that 50years.
We are talking Boko Haram now because it is the latest craze of the northerners. Let there be a forum for dialogue, sovereign national conference, constitution amendment, call it what you may. For the sake of posterity. For the sake of the young of this country, a generation lost to corruption and confusion but who still believe in oneness. For the sake of our dear native land, Nigeria.
Onyeukwu writes from Lagos