But now the row has picked up so much steam that it appears as if the dreadful Bosnia-Herzegovina ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, and the Tutsi-Hutsi internecine in Rwanda which is the African equivalent, is about to be re-enacted in Nigeria, if superior reasoning from elders does not prevail over the emotional outburst by aggrieved youths from both the eastern and northern flanks of Nigeria.
As the cry for Partioning of Nigeria along ethnic, cultural and religious lines , which mimics the Partioning of Africa amongst European countries during the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 , grows louder, it is pertinent to note that the conflict is being fueled by policies steeped in politics, as opposed to equity and justice.
Which is why allowing the lgbo agitation in particular and similar self determination struggles amongst the multifarious ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to remain a monologue rather than a dialogue, has been dangerous, if not reckless .
And it is therefore very heartening that both the presidency and the National Assembly, NASS are now weighing in with a view to resolving the conflict as evidenced by recent consultations and media comments from both acting president, Yemi Osinbajo and senate president, Bukola Saraki.
l’m pretty convinced that like the duo, it has dawned on most Nigerians that disputes related to ethnic nationalism can no longer be attended to via the surfeit of window dressing measures that have been the attitude of authorities in Nigeria.
In other words when such rifts are allowed to fester, they could be likened to wounds that soon degenerate into sores, only because they were left unattended to, as is currently the case with Biafra.
To understand the origin of the schism which is fast becoming a sort of cul-de-sac , we need to interrogate the remote and immediate causes of the previous agitation for the nation of Biafra (50 years ago) that resulted in a 30 months civil war (1967- 1970) and the current cacophony of voices amongst the over 250 major and minor tongues and tribes now issuing ultimatums to each other to exit their domains.
The allure of forming their separate countries along ethnic, cultural and religious colorations, may seem so appealing, but the pertinent questions that the proponents of breaking away from Nigeria or those expelling their compatriots from their land should ask themselves is: are the attractions ephemeral or real? Subjected to critical thinking, the proponents of BRAFRA EXIT and issuers of QUIT NOTICE TO THE IGBOS would realize that such behaviors are emotional for the former, as it is irrational for the latter.
This is more so because it has been proven in this age of globalization that due to economics of scale, nations are greater when they have high populations as evidenced by China and India, the most populous countries( over one billion each) that are also the fastest growing economies in the world.
Despite their apparent marginalization in appointments into public offices, the lgbos flourish in business all over Nigeria and beyond.
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
So by and large, commerce and industry have become the lgbo’s Unique Selling Point,USP or an area that they have comparative advantage over other members of the Union of Nigeria. They need a large territory and population-not a miniaturized country of perhaps less than (40m) and landlocked- to harness their gift in mechantilism.
Having found their niche in business, l can’t help but wonder what has happened now that has not occurred in the past that has ignited the new Biafra agitation that makes the lgbos appear to be ignoring the sad misadventure that precipitated the thirty months war that claimed the lives of three,3 million people-mostly children and women.
In my considered opinion, the quest for political power should be left to politicians in the National Assembly , NASS, ministers and governors to carry on,because those are the appropriate people and platforms in a civilized society for doing such battles.
The late Biafran leader, Odimegwu Ojukwu probably went to war in 1967 because of the absence of a democratic forum such as NASS to square up with other political actors through political horse trading etc. In the absence of a democratic platform, both Gowon and Ojukwu went to Aburi, Ghana for a dentete , and failure to implement the agreement reached resulted in the unfortunate civil war.
As lgbos are known to be politically sagacious, why resort to trading of threat, vitriolic and violence (which are the weapons of IPOB) as a panacea to their marginalization ? Let the men of ‘ timber and caliber’ in the hallowed chambers of congress and other such fora wear their thinking caps and slug it out with their contemporaries from the north.
That’s on one hand.
On the Arewa quit notice givers side, it is such a contradiction that the Hausa/Fulani or northerners that fought doggedly to ensure that Nigeria did not disintegrate and thus were in the forefront of the war to restrain the lgbos from breaking away half a century ago, are now issuing quit notice to the same easterners that they fought so hard to restrain. I can recall the mantra of Nigerian army during the war. “To Keep Nigeria As One Is A Task That Must Be Done”
That message was constantly in the airwaves during the war . There was even a fun one: Go-On-With-One-Nigeria-GOWON which resonated with the youths across country .It was coined from the alphabets in the surname of then military head of state, Yakubu GOWON.
Does the new attitude by the Arewa youths ( some of whom are offsprings of northern soldiers who dominated the military in those days) that fought in the war imply that those slogans that their parents were so passionate about,have no value anymore?
What has changed so terribly badly that warranted a 360 degree U-Turn to the extent of issuing the lgbos an ultimatum to quit Arewa land?
Assuming the Arewa youths suddenly discovered that their fathers made a mistake to have fought to make Nigeria one about half a century ago, what is the raison detre for the hurry to drive away the lgbos by force through an unrealistic ultimatum of 90 days?
Interestingly, the second part of the Arewa youths order which is that a referendum should be conducted in in Nigeria in my view is what should be pursued with greater vigor. But that aspect seems to have been lost in translation.
So l wonder why commentators are ignoring the second ultimatum which is a referendum for all Nigerians to decide whether they want to remain in Nigeria or not.
At least both the Arewa youths and IPOB agree on that as the duo called for referendum and self determination respectively, which in my view are the same, except that both parties referred to same principle by two different names.
In my view , the main issue creating the rift between the lgbo and Arewa youths ,are the language and attitude employed or deployed in conveying the same message.
My understanding is that the Arewa youths are offended by the vitriolic language employed by the lgbo youths especially the IPOB leader, Kanu who denigrates the Hausa/Fulani and other Nigerians in his verbal tirades in the social media hence their angst and subsequent quit order to the lgbos. Otherwise,they appear to have acquiesced with the desire by some lgbos (not all) to pull out of Nigeria.
Obviously trading of barbs don’t seat well with Arewa people and this is underpinned by some cultural and religious trappings.
On the flip side, yapping or calling out each other is a favorite past time of the average easterner or lgbo. You can witness that in Aba or Alaba markets in Abia or lagos states where the traders exchange banters and in the process sometimes harass the weak, especially women.
Unlike the Arewas, the Yorubas are indifferent or more tolerant of the exchange of vitriolic or barbs and very accommodating of none indigenes, hence they are not as perturbed or incensed by the alleged Nnamdi Kanu lambasting of members of other ethnic groups in Nigeria, as the Arewas. That’s not to say that the Omo Oduduwas are insensitive to insults,but they are more absorbent of such insolence , perhaps owing to their cosmopolitan nature.
A testimony to how accommodating the Yorubas are is the existential reality that there are now lgbo legislators in lagos state just as Nnamdi Azikiwe and other lgbos were elected in lbadan during the first republic.In fact the level of political maturity of the Yorubas is so high that it can be comparable to European standards like in the uk where there are British born Nigerians in British parliament.
Another angle to the conflict is that considering the short time frame given for the lgbos to quit the 19 northern states, some analysts have simply narrowed it down to the belief that the Arewa youths want to strip the lgbos of their enormous assets and wealth spread all over the north which can’t be liquidated within 90 days.
Although l don’t subscribe to such pedantic reasoning, nevertheless, the motive behind such unrealistic demand can’t be ignored. So l’m curious to find out if the quit notice is mere red herring or it carries the grievous consequences of enforcement, if the lgbos fail to comply.
In my view, the latter is the case because, the Arewa youths have come out to deny the claim that they are threatening violence or proposing a war, plus they also, like IPOB demanded a referendum.
Understandably, the lgbos have every reason to be worried. And it would be foolhardy not to take the threat seriously. Given their previous tragic experiences of being killed in the north under similar circumstances before the war in the 1960s and during maitasine religions insurrections over the years, as well as Boko haram insurgency ,they can’t be too careful. In the same vein, l have the notion that the general belief amongst lgbo intelligentsia was to use the invocation of the spirit of Biafra to bring the federal govt to the negotiation table for a negotiated restructuring of Nigeria.
I suspect that was the mission of MASSOB, but like a genie out of the bottle,Kanu’s IPOB which sprang forth from it, developed a life of its own. From experience, that’s what happens to most convoluted or decoy intentions. They go rogue and turn sinister. See what became of Boko haram.
Now, it behoves of our intelligence agencies like the DSS to infiltrate the system with a view to extracting vital facts and analyzing same to unravel the true state of affairs. I believe the organization has the human resources (not sure of the material resources) to achieve that objective, if it makes it a mission.
Nevertheless , there is need to dig deeper into the underlying practical issues with project Nigeria by weighing some policies of govt, before and after the civil war , against the politics that informed the policies and principles on which Nigeria now operates.
That is necessary to prevent Nigeria from disintegration, as the country now looks more like the character from the kindergarten carton rhyme, Humpty Dumpty which sat on a wall , and had a great fall.
How long will the authorities in Nigeria continue to sit or stand on the wall of indecision and watch the country become densely populated by dissatisfied citizens to the extent that the nation is now on the brink of a break up, if appropriate measures are not taken ?
Let’s attempt to dig beyond the veneer by identifying some of the policies which the secessionist Biafrans have cited as being responsible for their decision to break away and why the irreverent Arewa youths have issued them quit notice.
We commence by looking at the issues from the prism of Biafra agitators.
Although the lgbos lost the Biafran war 50 years ago, the desire to be separated from Nigeria never died and apart from the no victor, no vanquished policy after the war, and the federal character principle enshrined in the 1999 constitution, not much was done by the authorities to address the grouse of the agitators, so they have remained very bitter .
As it has now turned out,even the measures like Federal Character Commission, FCC established by statue to create national balance, are being regarded as mere cosmetics, especially in the present dispensation(Google my published article in vanguard newspaper and online titled REPUBLIC OF INEQUALITY?).
Rather than engaging in soul searching with a view to reviewing the cause or causes of the war to ensure that equity and justice prevailed, it would appear that the lgbos were left in a lurch after the war.
And that’s the crux of the matter and why Biafran zealots still abound.
Regrettably, it would appear that the military which yielded power to civilians some seventeen,17 years ago, managed the anger of the lgbos better than current politicians, particularly in the past two years.
President Muhamadu Buhari’s Freudian slip in the USA where in response to a question during a town hall meeting he reportedly stated that he would favour the 97% in other parts of the country who voted for him over the 5% easterners, stoked the fire of separatism amongst the easterners who feel left out.
Under former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) and late Umaru Yar’Adua (2007-10) through to Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015) the lgbo angst was ebbing, principally due to the fact those presidents were more conscious of the need for ethnic and regional balancing in the appointments of people into national offices as affirmed by the Federal Character Commission.
However in the current dispensation, there appears to be a flagrant disregard for the FCC policy enshrined in the 1999 constitution by the authorities.
Take the appointment of military service chiefs for instance.
Not the army, navy, Airforce or even the police force has anybody of lgbo extraction in charge, yet the lgbo nation is one leg of the tripod (three major tribes) that Nigeria stands on. The only appointment that maybe deemed close to lgboland is that of the chief of naval staff, Ekwe Ite-Ibas who is from cross rivers state.
Such a policy which is against the spirit and letter of the federal character policy only further alienated the lgbos.
Even the military that is autocratic in nature was not that insensitive to the provisions of FCC .
From Ebitu Ukiwe to Ndubuisi Kanu, as members of the supreme military council to Amadi Ikweeche and Allison Madueke as military service chiefs, the military regimes did their best to be democratic by applying ethnic balancing tenets in appointments into critical positions at the national level.Thats the biafran perspective.
Conversely, there is also the narrative from the northern optics which is a justification for the current claim of hegemonic moves by the hausa/Fulani which is alleged to be undermining the rest of Nigeria and particularly, the east.
And the northerners would argue that the simple reason for the current hankering over the policy of self perpetuation and entrenchment of northerners in govt via apparent lopsided appointments into public offices at the national level, derives from their sordid past experience.
It may be recalled that the 1966 coup was alleged to have been led by lgbo officers who assassinated northern leaders such as Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Amadu Bello etc and wiped out soldiers of northern extraction, then spared southern politicians before installing an Igbo general, Johnson Aguiyi-lronsi, as head of state.The fear of the easterners who already excel in commerce also taking over the bureaucracy is still palpable amongst northerners.
Even after a subsequent counter coup led by the northerners a few months after, which resulted in the assassination of then head of state, Ironsi and many other high ranking Igbo officers precipitating the civil war , the northerners appear not to have forgotten the sad experience and are therefore doing everything possible to avert a future occurrence through self perpetuation.
From the scenario above , it is clear that the Hausa/Fulani has not forgiven the lgbos and as such has been simmering with anger even after fifty, 50 years and neither has the lgbos forgotten their struggle for independence from their perceived Hausa/Fulani oppressors.
With such mutual bile flowing between northerners and easterners reflecting the sad reality that the civil war wounds have failed to heal even half a century after the bitter war was lost and won, it’s unsurprising that some lgbos have been persistent about their exit from the federal republic of Nigeria and some Hausa /Fulani have now issued them a quit notice.
As they say , two wrongs can’t make a right.
But how did both sides of the divide manage to hide their true colors for so long and to the extent that the lgbos have been living and flourishing in Hausa/Fulani land all these years and they accommodated them ? To answer the question, lets avert our minds to some historical facts.
From trend analysis,there seems to be a pattern of boom and burst to the the lgbo-Hausa/Fulani face-off which must be addressed once and for all.
Records from the archives indicate that , the first threat of secession in Nigeria was issued by the premier of northern Nigeria-saudana of sokoto, sir Ahmadu Bello, during the review of the constitutional conference in lbadan in 1956 during which balance of political power was proposed for splitting into a ratio of 45:33:33 which the Saudana objected to and instead demanded 50% for the north or the region would secede.
The next time was when the premier of eastern Nigeria, sir Micheal Okpara also issued a confederation call in 1964 due to dissatisfaction with the decision of the rest of the country not to insert a referendum clause in the constitution, which the eastern Nigerian delegates wanted.
But it was Isaac Boro who first attempted to actualize the persistent secessionist threats by declaring the Niger delta, a nation in 1967. However, his insurrection was brought under control in 12 days.
The persistent secessionist threat was finally actualized in 1967 by Chukwuemeka,
Odimegwu Ojukwu who bested all the others by declaring the independence of the nation of Biafra, leading to a civil war with federal troops that lasted for 3 years.
So there is a long history of disaffection amongst the federating units simply because they did not come together of their own volition, but for the administrative convenience of the British colonialists which amalgamated the north and south in 1914.
What this means is that if Nigerians don’t want to keep ‘kicking the can down the street’ as the Americans would say, all the federating units have to agree once and for all, to be together as a nation.
Apartheid that lasted much longer in South Africa was settled through the now famous Truth and Reconciliation panel set up by the leadership icon and former president, Nelson Mandela to specifically bring the sad chapter of apartheid in South Africa to a closure.
Unfortunately, after the Nigerian civil war, proper reconciliatory and peace building measures were not applied. And the no victor, no vanquished policy as well as the three R principle of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction was never adhered to just as the principle of federal character is now being trampled upon flagrantly .
The Europeans that immigrated to then new found land(now USA) practically worked towards wiping out the red Indians (the original land owners), but it was a mission they failed to accomplish because at a point, the civility that comes with the quest for the higher values of life which are equity and justice that are intrinsic in a democratic setting, kicked in.
This perhaps explains why the bitterness between land owners-red Indians- and their Caucasian/European settlers/oppressors-English, Spanish, French etc has not been as virulent as the lgbo Hausa/Fulani mutual hatred for each other.
In any case, the practice of true federalism in the USA whereby each of the 50 state in the union is allowed to make own laws and develop at its own pace, also discouraged bitterness between one tribe and the other as being witnessed in Nigeria.
The point l’m making is that there is a principle in the practice of negotiation that states that any agreement in which any of the parties is unsatisfied is bound to break sooner or latter.
Before the civil war and military rule, under unitary govt and regionalism, growth and development in the regions were not apace. The Western region was ahead of the other two due to their enormous wealth from cocoa trade and visionary leadership of the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, the then premier.
Establishing the first university in Nigeria located in lbadan and having the first color television service in Africa set up in the western region might have triggered the envy of the other regions, but there were not real or imagined threat of the magnitude that we have now.
What is to be done?
Against the foregoing backdrop,the federal govt has to federalism and improve on its respect for the rule of law which is enshrined in Nigerian constitution and a sort of holy grail which any nation worth being referred to as being under democratic rule must abide.
Further to that , l believe that there should be existent rules governing the exit of a federating unit from a union in a democratic system.
An easy exit for the lgbos from Nigeria could have been achieved through the constitutional protocol known as a referendum, if 1999 Nigerian constitution provided for it but unfortunately, referendum was not factored into our constitution after it was proposed by the eastern region leaders but rejected during the constitutional conference in 1964.
Nevertheless, rights for self determination is a fundamental part of the United Nations, UN charter.
Britain recently put into practice such principle of democracy resulting in BREXIT from the 28 nations European Union.
Why is Nigerian govt not listening to both the Arewa and lgbo youths that are demanding such a democratic option?
Curiously, until a few weeks ago, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB was in detention for most part of the lifespan of this administration.
The ostensible reason for detaining him was premised on his secessionist rhetorics via his unregistered radio Biafra which law enforcement authorities considered to be tantamount to treasonable felony.
As a member of the commentariat,along with like minded analysts, l clamored for Kanu’s release based on numerous bails granted by Nigerian law courts but to no avail. Why were the authorities reluctant in obeying their own laws?
In my considered opinion, had the lgbos been allowed to exercise their fundamental rights of self determination through a referendum as enshrined in the United nations, UN charter, the looming chaos could have been avoided. Which is why l’m taken aback that after over one year of clamping Kanu and unwittingly making him a hero of the lgbos in the mold of the late Biafran leader, Odimegwu Ojukwu, he was suddenly freed without addressing his demands in the civilized way of approaching the law courts to determine if he has the rights or canvassing the agenda in parliament.
My conclusion when l read the good news was that the authorities have finally realized that releasing Kanu on bail would ease the excessive tension points in the polity, but l never anticipated that the bombshell of a quit notice to the lgbos by northern youths and reportedly endorsed by their elders, was in the offing.
Mark you, as far as l’m concerned, nothing suggested that if a referendum was conducted on lgbo exit or otherwise , about a year and half ago, the EXIT would have prevailed over the REMAIN vote.
The assertion above is underscored by my conviction that if a survey was carried out between the EXIT and REMAIN in a United Nigeria amongst the lgbos , going by the large number of opposing views in the public space ,especially the affluent ones who prefer a larger space to ventilate their entrepreneurial prowess, MASSOB and IPOB promoters would have been trounced .
From my kindergarten experience in politics, the youths who form the large crowd at rallies more often than not don’t reflect the number of votes that the crowd puller would garner.
And lgbo elders who have so much at stake in terms of their businesses spread across the country particularly in the northern parts of Nigeria, owing to their mercantile nature, would have worked against the BIAXITEERS as they now tagged, by putting financial resources behind the REMAIN campaigners.
So instead of detaining the leaders of MASSOB and IPOB, what govt should have done is create an atmosphere for the EXIT voters and REMAIN voters to slug it out democratically at the polls . In effect, prevention of a democratic process of referendum from holding spurred the issuance of 90 days ultimatum to the lgbos to leave the north and both wrong headed decisions and recipe for anarchy that fed into each other.
In my opinion, that’s what has brought the country to this sorry state.
If you don’t mind indulging me, allow me duel a bit on the economy and the negative effect of wrong policies by asking the question: must Nigeria always learn from bad experience? The economy was practically ruined through stiff neck attitude and policies such as making anti corruption the no one,1 agenda of a country whose economy was in decline as opposed to making anti graft crusade a sub policy to the prime policy of pulling the economy back from the brinks of collapse.
Since that unproductive policy thrust changed about four months ago through a raft of economy focused policies being introduced, the hitherto neglected and therefore comatose economy has been responding to growth stimuli?
Back to BIAFRA secession and AREWA quit notice to the lgbos. Given what we now know about the post events of BREXIT, British Prime Minister, Theresa May called an unforced referendum owing to a false impression that her popularity and approval of her Conservative party by British voters was high. As such she was confident that the REMAIN votes would prevail. But to her utter shock, the Exit voters carried the day. And that is a pointer to the path that BIAXITEERS could have traveled, had a referendum been allowed to hold in Nigeria.
My optimism is hinged on the belief that Kanu may be under the false impression that all lgbos want to leave the union, which is patently false.
Today,given the success of Sit-At-Home directive issued by IPOB, l can’t wager on the same bet that most lgbos would not be voting for EXIT.
This is because being unjustly detained by authorities for what he believes in, has galvanized support for Kanu and IPOB amongst lgbo youths.
In any case, Nnamdi Kanu and fellow lPOB members should listen to Dominic Cummins, the director of Vote Leave EU campaign who is now more or less regretting that he drove the initiative for Britain to separate from the EU.
Now, for failing to be pragmatic, the Nigerian authorities seem to have muddied the political waters as all the other weak points in project Nigeria (Niger Delta, Middle Belt and South-west) have suddenly become copycats to some of the easterners who want to secede from Nigeria and the northerners that issued quit notice to the lgbos .
By and large and all things considered, the threatening implosion of Nigeria is a mea culpa or self inflicted and l’m sorry to say, it is owed to lack of pragmatic leadership and absence of conflict resolution skills in Aso Rock.
Otherwise, how could some of our political leaders be so blindsided by their narrow ethnic interests to the extent of ignoring all the safety nets provided in the statutes book to give all the units in the union a sense of belonging? With the spinning of policies based on clannish and religious myopia being the order of the day under the current dispensation, endangering the nation that our forebears and heroes past labored so hard to nurture has become the unintended consequence.
I’m aware that it may be politically incorrect to call out the presidency, but l may be guilty of acquiescence, if l fail to tell the truth with the hope that some men and women of goodwill, who are also in Aso Rock corridors of power(along with the hardliners), would not consider such positive criticism as an affront but a call to action ,which is my intention.
With my patriotic conscience as motivator, l feel concerned about the unnecessary tension in the polity and fell duty bound to help unravel the situation and douse the tension by offering a little advise.
In one of the foremost books on negotiation “Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher and William Ury of Harvard Program On Negotiation, the authors argue that incorrectly deducing the intentions of the other party based on one’s own fear is a common mistake and bad habit that could cost “Fresh Ideas in the direction of agreement”.
That appears to be the situation with the Arewa youths who issued the lgbos a quit notice owing to its own fears of lgbo people’s domineering tendencies and view such as a threat.
The book, GETTING TO YES also teaches that communication is critical aspect of negotiating, and stresses that there are three common problems of communication: (1)Not clearly speaking with the other party, but instead attempting to impress those within one’s constituency by taking side, instead of working towards a mutual agreement.
(2) Not actively listening to the other party but instead only listening to rebut the other party’s statement.
(3) Misunderstanding or misinterpreting what the other party has said.
Nnamdi Kanu of lPOB is definitely guilty of the problems identified above by the authors through his frequent hate and inciting comments about other parties (ethnic nationalities) in the mass and social media platforms .What this preceding analogy indicates is that there is no dispute that does not have an existing template for its resolution.So we only need to frame issues correctly.
And one common ground identifiable between the Biafra agitators and Arewa quit notice givers is the quest for Self Determination by the Igbos and Referendum by the Arewas which in principle are the same. So the negotiating should by framed on the issue on which both the protagonists and antagonists agree.
But the challenge seem to be that of lack of commitment and determination to ‘thread the needle’ by the authorities charged with the responsibility for conflict resolution in our country’s young democracy.
The good news is that it’s not too late to fix the apparently cracked but not yet broken vessel called Nigeria.
This is because in the light of the plethora of quit notices being issued each other by the north, South-South, Middle-belt and west of Nigeria, which was first actualized by the easterners who attempted but failed to exit Nigeria 50 years ago, the scales have now dropped from the eyes of some of the exuberant youths with inordinate ambitions fanning the embers of hate and division.
And the fact that we are all stronger together, has now taken hold.
What’s the basis of my optimism? Amongst many others, the state governors under the ruling party, APC (most of them) recently, reportedly agreed to the restructuring of Nigeria using the resolutions reached at the 2014 national conference as template-which is music to the ear.
To boot, Governors Ahmed El Rufai of Kaduna, Kashim Shettima of Borno, Abdulahi Umar Ganduje of Kano and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto states have spoken against the inordinate ambition of Arewa youths.
I’m persuaded that with such patriotic and positive attitude from the governors and the elder statesman and former military president, Ibrahim Babangida , who recently weighed in with an opinion article in the mass media that it’s time to restructure Nigeria, our country may well be on the cusp of a rebirth and this may usher in an era of rapid development and improved welfare of her citizens which has been elusive in nearly 57 years of nationhood. That’s especially so, if concerted efforts are made to properly negotiate our union.
Clearly l don’t subscribe to the notion that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable because anything that’s not negotiated breaks eventually.
Fortuitously, even though Nigeria did not engage in Truth and Reconciliation exercise like the South Africans did after apartheid, the spat between the lgbos and the Hausa/Fulani has facilitated some eyeball to eyeball talks between the feuding parties which sort of mimics the South African initiative albeit in a disorganized form.
It has also enabled other aggrieved partners in the union, hitherto pretending that all is well, (Middle Belt, Niger Delta, South-west) to tell their strange bed fellows the inconvenient truth. (Google my published article: “The Inconvenient Truth About The APC”)
A positive fall out of the crisis is that , we all seem to have agreed now to create an egalitarian society where equity and justice would reign in order to sustain the union, as is the case in the USA, where all the fifty states operate on their own steam, except on a few services like defense and diplomacy which are shared.
All said and done, it appears that it is from the ashes of the current Igbo-Hausa/Fulani face off, stemming from some unresolved historical grievances that the much sought political restructuring of Nigeria would be wrought.
Practically all Nigerians, including subscribers to the IPOB driven Biafra and Arewa powered quit notice, seem to have agreed to a renegotiation of our union as being of utmost priority now.
Who says good things can’t spring fort from bad situations?
Without further ado, the authorities (All three arms of govt) should roll out a template to make it happen and turn a looming misfortune to fortune. lf referendum is not provided for in the 1999 constitution, NASS should as a matter of urgency intervene as it did with the Doctrine of Necessity to cure the lacuna created by the sudden demise of president Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010.
That seems to be the only way, the continued existence of Nigeria as one would not be subjected to the whims and caprices of lPOB or AREWA youths.
The ball is in the federal govt’s court. And the authorities must learn their lesson from the disruptive consequences of not dialoguing on time and amend their ways before it’s too late.
*Onyibe, a development strategist and alumnus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA, is also a former member of Delta State