Nigeria's Seven Secrets And The Inevitability Of A Sovereign National Conference (11)
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In the first part of the essay, we discussed two secrets of Nigeria, namely, Secret 1: Nigeria was created by a lie to remain a lie, and Secret 2: Destroy the opposition. In this part of the essay we shall examine two more secrets. Let me first address two
issues that arose from the first part of the essay.
It seems to me that some Nigerians prefer to live in denial than to face the reality of history and act to correct it. Secondly, there is a position favoured by some that it is an unnecessary blame game to point at the British as our problem. They are quick to cite countries such as the USA, India, and China who also had a taste of the British colonial excesses but who have outgrown that misfortune and have gone on to build great economies. The focus in the first part of my essay was not to blame the British and do nothing. The essay articulates a solution, which some don't accept, which is the convocation of a sovereign national conference to redefine what Nigeria should be, who Nigeria represents, and the socio-political design that Nigeria deserves. I do not play the blame game; and I have called on Africans and Nigerians to leave the station of blame [Read the book, 'From My Heart-The Black Race: Myths, Realities and Complexes' (2011) by Leonard Shilgba, ISBN: 978-1-60911-049-9, at pages 210-246]. Some of my colleagues, in seeking to project 'moderate' views have indicated a readiness for 'any kind of conference on Nigeria.' I would not accept or take part in just 'any kind of conference on Nigeria.' We have had such conferences in the past-'Constituent assemblies or conferences. We need a sovereign conference whose outcome shall be submitted to a national referendum to be voted on chapter-by-chapter, and section-by-section rather than to have a small group of military men determine the destiny and structure of Nigeria. This unjust structure is what some people want maintained; who insist that the national assembly, whose composition is even unjust and lacking in social fairness, is the only 'legally qualified' body to decide the fate of my people; that my people have no sovereignty, which they claim has been given to Nigeria's elected political office holders. This is utterly unacceptable.
We shall consider two more secrets in this essay:
Secret 3: Nigeria was designed for some; the rest are adopted Nigerians to be subject to the true Nigerians.
When Waziri Ibrahim of Borno Emirate indicated interest to contest the 1979 presidential election, he referred to a pact signed between Ahmadu Bello and Kashim Ibrahim (incidentally, his father-in-law) that leadership of the North would be rotated between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Borno Empire. He then argued that it was the turn of a Borno prince to rule. Historical documents show that the geographical area called Nigeria today consisted of separate real estates that were managed by the British after the 1885 Berlin conference, where Africa was shared between colonial powers such as Britain, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and France. The occupation of those 'Estates' was either by deceitful pacts of protection, which made those 'Estates' to be called Protectorates (e.g. the Niger Protectorate and Northern Protectorate), or by outright conquest (e.g. the Lagos Colony). The design of the British was this: The name, Nigeria, which was suggested by Flora Shaw in her London Times article of January 8, 1897 was adopted and originally applied ONLY to the Northern Protectorate. The British defined the Northern Protectorate as consisting of the 'pagans and Mohamedan states'. The Mohamedan states in reference were the Sokoto and Bornu Empires. The British referred to non-muslims in the Northern Protectorate as 'Pagans', whom they subjugated to the Mohamedans (muslims). According to Omo Omoriyi, the British never conceived of a situation whereby the 'beautiful dancers of the pagans' (mainly, the Middle Belt people) would aspire to equal social status with the mohamedan states. The 'Northern Protectorate' was the territory formerly called the Royal Niger Company Territories. A young British who had worked in India and was later moved to Eastern Africa, was eventually sent to head the Royal Niger Company and oversee its territories. This young British was Frederick Lugard who became married to Flora Shaw. When the British colonial secretary, Lewis Harcourt (after whom Port Harcourt was named) found this young man capable of executing the devious plans that the British had conceived, he dispatched a report to the homeland that he had found a man that would perform the marriage between the 'well behaved youth of the North and the Southern lady of means.' The marriage was for the economic benefit and survival of the North (Original Nigerians)
The above facts of history (which can easily be investigated by any interested reader) reveal that the unilateral amalgamation of Northern Protectorate (Nigeria) and the Southern Protectorate (which included the rest of the Estates managed by Britain south of the Northern Protectorate-the original Nigeria- up to the Atlantic ocean), which Northern emirs had foreknowledge of, was subjugation of the people of the south to Nigeria. The southerners are adopted Nigerians whose livelihood should be at the mercy and generosity of the true Nigerians. We the Middle Belt people were supposed to be the slaves of the Mohamedan states (the British-created custodians of political power). So, although we Middle Belters are original Nigerians, in the view of the British, we are nonetheless second-class Nigerians. The Southern lady of means must service the greed and pleasure of the Master of Nigeria (The princes and princesses of Sokoto and Bornu empires). The princes and princesses of the North can settle and claim any place they choose in the presently recognized Nigeria (their gift from the British), and can even create their emirates in those places; neither the Middle Belters nor the Southerners can afford to do same.
The matter becomes a bit confusing to those who do not understand the four major divisions in the North-The Royal North (princes and princesses of the Sokoto Caliphate, Bornu empire, their adopted in-laws, and some who have migrated widely. My father, a historian, wrote his college thesis on Katsina-Ala in Benue state, which was founded by a prince who left Katsina in the North to settle on the banks of a river called River Katsina-Ala today); the Talakawas (commoners), who were direct subjects of the princes of the North in their Mohamedan states before the British came (and the British did not tamper with this arrangement); the 'beautiful dancers of the pagans' (The Middle Belt people who had successfully resisted the Islamic jihadists); and the present Muslim-Christian divide.
According to Wikipedia, 'Southern Nigeria was a British protectorate in the coastal areas of modern-day Nigeria, formed in 1900 from union of the Niger Coast Protectorate with territories chartered by the Royal Niger Company below Lokoja on the Niger River. The Lagos colony was added in 1906, and the territory was officially renamed the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria. In 1914, Southern Nigeria was joined with Northern Nigeria Protectorate to form the single colony of Nigeria. The unification was done for economic reasons rather than political - Northern Nigeria Protectorate had a budget deficit; and the colonial administration sought to use the budget surpluses in Southern Nigeria to offset this deficit.'
Those opposed to the convocation of a sovereign national conference to resolve issues about Nigeria, some of which I have written about in great detail, shall unavoidably bring doom on Nigeria. Probably, this will be a blessing for the Southern lady of means, who shall then take back control of her resources. But the Royal North shall come out in a terribly bad shape. We must talk; we must discuss Nigeria at a sovereign national conference. For those who claim that the national assembly can resolve contradictions about Nigeria, some of which have been revealed in my essays so far are either unaware of the dangerous situation about Nigeria or are simply disingenuous. A sovereign national conference in a democracy is not a strange phenomenon as some have alleged. Well, it shall happen, and nothing can stop it. Those who are making strange noises against it and calling advocates of the conference mischief makers are only jittery, knowing that their unjust oppression of the majority shall come to an end thereby.
Secret 4: The 'invisible' middle man syndrome has immobilized Nigeria.
Between the more than 112 million Nigerians living below the poverty line and their rescue from this monster of poverty are middle men, both local and foreign. The theories of foreign direct investment and liberalization or privatization of the economy have posed a serious social threat to Nigeria today. Foreign direct investment is a euphemism for exploitation when the proceeds are taken out of the economy and foreigners are brought in to take over jobs that should go to the locals. Have we paused to ask what the cost of foreign direct investment is and weigh this against whatever imagined benefits? When a country receives high scores on its economic state by self-appointed global rating agencies while outrageously large proportion of its people lives in abject poverty a conspiracy is at work. There is a disconnection between the peasant farmer and the market for their farm produce. In Benue state, for instance, many farmers produce without the guarantee or knowledge of appropriate pricing of and market for their produce. Middle men come by and exploitatively cart away those farm produce at a pittance and make obscene profits in cities such as Lagos, Kano, and Onitsha. We cannot overcome poverty in Nigeria without a policy that stops such exploitation and provides a guarantee to the farmer of minimal return on his labour.
Shell Petroleum Company is the largest monopoly in the Nigerian oil sector, producing more than 60 per cent of Nigeria's total daily oil production. What benefits have Nigerians derived from Shell's operations in Nigeria vis-Ã -vis the cost that Nigeria bears from this company's activities? The hype on foreign direct investment is just that; this celebrated concept is a ruse. It is left to the Nigerian masses to rise up and chase out those exploiters from our midst. Nigerian rulers (I find difficult to call them 'leaders'; they are not) do not have the capacity to stand up for the people's rights more so when oil companies such as Shell BP provide crumbs for their greedy lusts, which make them look away while Nigerians are being raped in broad daylight. They are so confident of the power of their 'gifts' to Nigerian rulers that they have the audacity to determine if at all a law that affects their operations will be passed, and what the content must be.
Privatization or liberalization of the economy is an unfortunate deception swallowed wholly by Nigerian economists, and it is meant to transfer power to a few unscrupulous middle men; this policy has rather worsened the living conditions of Nigerians. More than two decades after Nigeria's initiation into those economic 'reforms' are Nigerians better off?
No nation develops that 'fights' corruption rather than preventing it. Since the creation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has the incident of corruption in public life gone down? The obvious answer is No. It should be clear now that the foundation of our problem is not corruption, but rather the syndrome of the middle man that we have not dealt with; it is the system that makes corruption profitable and alluring that we have not destroyed. During the colonial days European companies such as UAC did what companies like Shell BP are doing to Nigeria today. The doctrine of historical materialism states that, 'To know the present we must look into the past and to know the future we must look into the past and present.' There are Nigerians who have frowned at my pointing back to the system created by the British that has laid the foundation of our problem today. They refuse to accept the role presently being played by the same colonial powers today to frustrate the development of the country. What I do is to open the veil to see our past, point a direct finger at the failings of today's rulers in Nigeria, and then ask the people to consider Friedrich Engels who said, 'Freedom does not consist in the dream of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws…freedom of the will, therefore, means nothing but the capacity to make decisions with knowledge of the subject.' I regret to announce to Nigerians that care to listen that Nigeria's situation shall get worse by degrees until we the people, in the like spirit of the recent fuel subsidy protests, arise and drive away our common enemies. Then, we will negotiate the complete re-structuring of Nigeria; the organized labour shall not do it for us. None shall be given the satisfaction of compromise.
I should expect a total shut down of oil production in Nigeria until the most acceptable (to Nigerians in general and host communities in particular) version of the petroleum industry bill is passed into law, which, among other germane provisions, would make it mandatory for oil producing companies operating in Nigeria to refine a certain percentage (at least 40 per cent) of crude locally. There should be no fear of negative consequences to Nigeria. Besides, if more than 112 million Nigerians are not affected one way or the other whether Nigeria earns revenue from crude sales or not why should they dread the consequences of the shut down? Countries like America that depend on crude exports from Nigeria shall be forced to encourage the right thing. That reminds me of another false economic doctrine, which is that more people can be brought out of poverty if a country increases exports. Why must Nigerians suffer because we must export what we should add value on locally and thus create jobs locally? We must encourage mainly exports with added local value. Colonialism and neo-colonialism have for decades deprived the African of due returns on his labour. We must add value and obtain the highest profit possible on our resources. The middle man must be stopped from reaping beyond his just due.
In part three of the essay, I shall address two additional secrets and then conclude with the seventh in part 4. Watch out!
Leonard Karshima Shilgba is an Associate Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria. EMAIL: