Sunday, December 29, 2019
Jos, Nigeria

t is not news that ever since the 1946 constitution which officially delineated colonial Nigeria into3 regions: the Northern, the Western and the Eastern regions; the squabble for dominance and supremacy as was inflamed almost immediately by the violent Kano crisis; has never waned. Despite it was the idea of the British Empire toorganize the very different ethnic groups into one country; it was not an ideathat foreclosed a peaceful break-up after independence, if worse came to worst.

In fact, the Britonsenvisaged a break-up (peaceful or violent) a year or two after October 1st1960. They saw the hatred and the disdain that the political leaders of thatera had for the idea of coming together and, although they were aware thatthese leaders would’ve preferred a separate constitution for the northernregion and a very different one for the southern region; yet they left thesethings in the hands the politicians to do as they saw fit.

It turns out that more than 70 years after – with no successful attempt to break-up – the hatred and the animosity for one another still existed, even to the amazement of the powers that organized us in this manner. I am sure that if faced with this kind of a situation; the Britons would’ve done either of 2 things. They would’ve worked out a template for coexisting peacefully or disband to go their separateways. Perhaps, no ethnic group understood this problem and its solution morethan the Asians did.

In 1960, the BritishEmpire gave independence to Malaysia. Back then, Malaysia and Singapore wereone country but by the year of 1965, it was clear to this country thatcoexisting together in a peaceful manner and to shared prosperity waspractically impossible primarily because the Malaysian tribes’ concept ofindependence was one of reigning supremely over and above the other ethnicgroups and, therefore not an ideology shared with the other ethnic groups.

So, the politicalleader of the people of Singapore; then a parliamentarian requested to beexcised from the federation and, the request was granted. Singapore – a tinycountry with a population of 1.887 million people, like the southeast ofNigeria – faced the fate of the fish that suddenly found itself on land andgasping for breath. But did they die? Of course, they did not. Interestingly,Malaysia had consented to the excising of Singapore because she strongly believedthat Singapore had nowhere to run to.

As fate would haveit, the man who boldly made the request on behalf of the people of Singapore was Lee Kuan Yew; now of blessed memory. The Malaysians greatly underestimatedthe chances of survival that was opened to Singapore back then because they despisedthe power that a man with vision wielded! The end of the story is simply thatSingapore did survive and is today a global economic hub in Asian continent.Also, Malaysia saw Singapore’s greatness and was motivated to prosper too.

The case of ourfederation is hard to be likened to any human or animal example. For no peopleknown from the ancient times to the present; have lived like cat and dog forthis long. Even the animals of the zoo could not have survived living togetherif they did not find the common ground that they shared together or ran offfrom such a zoo forever. For close to 60 years, the northerners have alwaysfeared the idea of implementing any political framework that can encourage thepractice of true federalism.

In 1966, when theregime of the Late Aguiyi-Ironsi promulgated the infamous decree 34 whichabolished the regional structure and, centralized governance in the hands ofthe commander-in-chief of the armed forces and head of government, the northernpolitical leaders cried foul and threatened to pull out of Nigeria. Politicalpower eventually came into the hands of General Yakubu Gowon that same yearand, the political leaders of the north made no effort to abrogate that decree.

On the other hand, political leaders from the south have feared the idea of one ethnic groupgaining dominance over the rest of the tribes that comprised Nigeria; and so haveremained relentless in their demand for an arrangement that will not onlyencourage true federalism but will guarantee equity, justice and a healthycompetition. The ideas of true federalism will surely make peaceful coexistencepossible; on the one hand and, those of maintaining the status quo ante willsurely lead to a break-up.

Incidentally, but quite unfortunately, the north seems to be interested in both maintaining the unitary system of administration and having an intact federation! How possible this was remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the entire drama has continued to mesmerize the Europeans who cannot correctly place where the federation was headed. Sofar, the stalemate has created a multibillion naira enterprise in the name ofinsecurity that richly rewarded the Europeans and their Nigerian counter pact.

Therefore, divided by hate; Nigeria was slowly been overtaken by aliens, most of whom were encouraged to come in so as to boost the North’s chances of electoral victory in 2015. It is not out-of-place to say that as soon as these aliens stepped into the country and noticed the kind of opportunities that abound, they wasted no time to create for themselves alone a lucrative business that will soon enable them to gain access to the corridors of political power.

They chose forthemselves the following businesses: cattle rustling, banditry, kidnapping andthe one-chance syndicate, and looting by terrorism. And within the shortesttime, they transform into landowners and rich merchants who traded on goods broughtin from the middle-east. Later, they begin to contest and win elections intopolitical offices to run the true inhabitants of the federation. Meanwhile, thetrue inhabitants are still lost in the ancient fights for who will dominate andwho will serve!

It would’ve beenlaughable if this was a mere story but unfortunately, it is not. Alhaji Hamisu BalaWadume – the famed kidnapper from Taraba state – contested for the House ofAssembly for the Ibi constituency in the 2019 elections. When aliens andcriminals gain control of the police, the army, the DSS and the presidency –regardless of which side of the federation they came; - what becomes of thetrue inhabitants of the federation?

I am bothered bythis question because when I recalled how the northern region applauded theBoko Haram sect in its infancy and correlate it with how they now struggled to getrid of them from the region, it gets me thinking if our brains was truly normalas in; with any grain of wisdom in it. Armed bandits are on the prowl but thegovernment of the day cared less. Worse off are the governors of the north someof whom – like Governor Bello Masari – openly romanced with them in the name ofamnesty.

These aliens willnever stop terrorizing the federation until they find themselves in control ofthe government. I am saying this to the hearing of those who are happy at theturn of events especially those who are thinking of the adverse effect of thistrend on Nigerians from the south. It is better we joined hands together now orwe peacefully parted ways for what I see coming will be disastrous for all;regardless of the region you came from.

Take time to ponderhow the mind of these terrorists works and probably contrast them fromnotorious kidnappers from the south like Evans, E-Money, Lucifer etc. you will findout that criminals from the north go into crime, acquire quick wealth and thengo legit by melting into politics whereas those from the south get money,invest in fixed assets like properties, stocks and bonds etc. and thentransform into socialites, flaunting their ill-gotten wealth around town.

We should be botheredtherefore and in fact be worried that if we continued to spend our time hatingone another; soon aliens will assume leadership positions and lord it over us. Thishas happened before in our history. That was in pre-colonial times; a periodthat the Europeans met a great number of African territories fighting forterritory and dominance. Africa was into this when the Arabs met them andintroduced the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Africa remained inthat thought level when the Europeans came in, conquered a great number of territoriesand introduced a political system that enable them to rip off our resources inboth human and material capital. Since they left, Africa has pretty much goneback to the same level of thinking. We saw what happened to Nigerians in SouthAfrica! What we hated in one another is something that many right thinkinghumans cannot really understand.

Many Asian ethnicgroups were merged into countries like the Africans during the colonial era butthey overcame that barrier to sit at the same table with their former colonialmasters in the global market today. What is Africa doing to change herfortunes? What is Nigeria doing to change her fortunes? To restructure for apeaceful coexistence is a great idea but where this is not possible; a peacefulbreak away is never a bad idea.