NIGERIA - MISTAKE SINCE WHEN?
CONTENDERS for disintegrating Nigeria are increasing. What is uncertain is along what lines they want a split of the country that was moulded 98 years ago.
Professor Ango Abdullahi, former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has lent his voice to calls for urgent consideration of 'likely disintegration.'
'Until the correct things are done, we cannot ignore these facts or we continue to pretend as our leaders that this is a passing phase. The question of a likely disintegration is not a too distant future,' Abdullahi told an Abuja gathering that included Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House of Representatives, former Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, former Senate President Ken Nnamani former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, former Governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Gen Jeremiah Useni.
The two-pronged thesis for the call was that the 1914 amalgamation was a fundamental mistake and that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan, where the British made the same mistake, corrected it by separating. Must we follow their examples if it worked for them?
Abdullahi was guest speaker at the 50th birthday celebration of newspaper publisher Sam Nda-Isaiah. The rest of the session was taken up by blame shifting, blame sharing, name calling, without individuals admitting their roles in where Nigeria is.
What part did 1914 play in the quality education and attendant privileges Abdullahi and his generation had? Is 1914 responsible for insecurity in Nigeria? How did 1914 make millions of children - the leaders of tomorrow - street urchins? Surely, a country with some of the world's best professors of agriculture is unable to feed itself because of 1914. What laws have been passed since 1999 that resulted in improvements in the lives of Nigerians?
Matters are more depressing when Gen. Danjuma, a key player in Nigerian affairs joins the debate. 'Let us not deceive ourselves, the chief security officer of a state is the governor. Where are our Northern governors? Borno is a failed state Jigawa is almost a failed state. Kano is threatening to be a failed state,' Danjuma preached. Who was he trying to deceive? Can governors who do not command a single policeman be the chief security officer of anything? Which state has not failed?
Clearly, most of the calls for disintegration of Nigeria are rooted in frustration at the loss of relevance in the power calculations. Those keen on improving the condition of the ordinary Nigerian would find spaces in people-oriented constitutional amendments that will make the people the major factor in our politics. Today, they are not.
If managing Nigeria is challenging, disintegrating it would be more so.