|Monday, October 30, 2023|
Pontifical Urban University, Vatican City (Rome)
he Nigerian child has right to be taught that right from the beginning of our colonial history, Nigeria has always lived under the pretense of what its flag independence founding fathers (Abubakar Tafawa Belawa, Ahmadu Bello (Northern region), Obafemi Awolowo (Western region), and Nnamdi Azikiwe (Eastern region), have, each, described as "unity without love." This is evidence from these leaders' genuine misgivings which, each one of them, independently, expressed in the years leading to Nigeria's flag Independence from Great Britain in 1960 and/or immediately, the years following the independence!
These misgivings of the so-called founding Fathers of the Nigeria's flag independence, are clear indications that the amalgamation the Southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria of 1914 by the British, was not the will of God, nor of the indigenous peoples of Nigeria themselves, from the beginning. It was, rather, a British, colonial construct and imposition on the indigenous ethnic nationalities that inhabit that geographical space, the British had forcefully coupled together as a nation state, and named it Nigeria in 1914. That faulty colonial foundation of Nigeria as a nation state, mistake and imposition of arbitrary colonial boundary and configuration by the British in 1914, is the root cause of what we all have been suffering in Nigeria since then, to the present day, and the end of that agony and suffering is not even in sight. Since the gatekeepers of the Nigerian State - the political ruling class and 'oligarchs', especially, from the most favored ethno-religious group/groups, instead of organizing a referendum for self-determination among the different major ethnic nationalities or geopolitical regions that make up the country, have chosen to toe the line of deception and narrative of lies. Thus, pretending as if all is well with the Nigerian State. This is despite the everyday clear indications that point to the contrary.
The gatekeepers of the Nigerian state have been forcing two contradictory and diametrically opposed jurisprudences, Western European Common Law System Jurisprudence, and the Islamic Sharia law System Jurisprudence, on the indigenous peoples of Nigeria. The Nigerian ruling oligarchy or rather the political class, have instead of addressing the root cause of Nigeria's problem - the dangerous diversity, political instability, insecurity of lives and property, corruption, ethnic-hatred and irredentism, Islamic religious insurgency and terrorism, and all other forms of violence and bad governance bedeviling the country, chosen to continue using the two contradictory jurisprudences of the Western European Common Law System, and the Arab Islamic Sharia Law System, to suppress the over 250 'Indigenous Jurisprudences' of the different indigenous ethnic nationalities that inhabit that geographical landscape, the British named Nigeria. And this is the root of the problem with Nigeria.
No wonder then, those prominent individuals, we often referred to as the 'founding fathers' - protagonists at the time of Nigeria's flag independence in the 50s' and 60s', Azikiwe, Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, and Tafawa Belawa, have each, at different points in time, expressed their misgivings about Nigeria ever succeeding as one, indivisible nation state.
1. For instance, in 1948, in a speech titled, "The Lie called Nigeria", Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (Nigeria's first Prime Minister), had this to say about the country's unity,
"Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any signs of willingness to unite. - Nigerian unity is only a British invention." (Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, 1948).
2. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in 1947, also made the following declaration about Nigeria:
"Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no 'Nigerians' in the same sense, as there are 'English', 'Welsh', or 'French.' The word 'Nigeria' is a mere distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not." (Chief Obafemi Awolowo, 1947).
3. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe: Finally, the Great Zik of Africa had this to say about the country, four years after its political independence,
"It is better for us and many admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed the warning, then I will venture the predictions that the experience of the Democratic Republic of Congo will be a child's play if it ever comes to our turn to play such a tragic role." (Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, 1964).
From all these statements of the founding Fathers of Nigeria's flag independence, one can conclude as follows: The foundation of Nigeria as amalgamated nation-state (an arbitrarily merging together, under colonial fiat), of different and diverse ethnic nationalities, with different, and often mutual conflicting value systems, philosophy of life, different cultures, languages, religious and worldviews), lacked and still lacks any treaty of love, affection and disposition towards true unity among its components and constituent entities. Therefore, all the talk of unity of Nigeria, as a heterogeneous nation-state, could be anything, but real.
4. Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello: This is evident in the statement about Nigeria accredited to Sir Ahmadu Bello (who doubled as Sarduana of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Nigeria), at Independence in 1960:
"The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and have control over their future." (Ahmadu Bellow - in the "Parrot" Newspaper of 12 October, 1960).
The above statement accredited to Sir Ahmadu Bellow, unfortunately, has been the mindset of political leadership in Nigeria from time immemorial. It has led to a section of the country reinventing their stranglehold on Nigeria. If they do not achieve it through ballot paper, they would come in through the military.
Furthermore, the use of force to keep Nigeria one has history. It started with the Fulani invasion of the geographical space later christened Northern Nigeria in 1804. They did not negotiate power with the Hausas, they seized it from them on the battlefield. In 1914, the British forcefully merged the Southern Protectorate with the Northern Protectorate and christened the geographical space, Nigeria, which they later, granted the flag independence in October 1960.
Thus, with regard to the 1914 amalgamation, the British colonized all the empires, kingdoms and fiefdoms in what they called British West Africa in the 19th century. In all these, one thing is certain: the colonization was not out love for the black man:
"It was an imperialistic and racist push for more land, more territories to exploit minerals and other resources from our land. If you did not agree by subtle pressure, they simply applied the brute force. To hell with you and all you cared for!" (George Akinola, 2016).
All these historical facts made most African scholars and elites to refuse to accept the doctrine that colonial arrangement such as amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 is consistent with God's design for the black race.
To make the matter worse, British began to create an artificial 'majority' for its most favorite 'spouse', or rather, the most favored ethno-religious group and region, the Northern Region that is controlled by the Sunni Muslim, Fulani Caliphate political oligarchy ruling class. This is why, suddenly, the Northern Region became 'majority' in everything in the country. Including, in landmass, in National Census population counts. The North also began to dominate the National Assembly, in parliamentary representations at the national levels, and in all the three-arms of the federal government, namely, Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary. And later, in states creation, revenue allocation, job opportunities and governmental infrastructural developments, and what have you.
This situation of Northern dominance and preponderance in all sectors of Nigeria's political governance structure and control, is even worse today than ever. And is part of the reasons for the continued agitation of the most aggrieved and shortchanged regions or ethnic nationalities, clamoring for separation and independence from Nigeria. The most egregious example, is the current momentum the agitation for Biafra is gaining as each day passes.
Mind you. This Northern dominance and preponderance over the rest of the other regions and ethnic nationalities in the country, all started in the buildup to the 1960 Independence. Especially, with the 1953 Census (National Population Counts), and National Parliamentary Elections that followed it, which the British colonialists rigged both events in favor of the Northern Region. In the first place, British decided to rig the Nigeria's Census of 1953, prior to Independence, to favor the North. It gave the North the 'artificial' majority, population wise, which the North is still enjoying till today, over their counterparts - the defunct Western and Eastern Regions. Secondly, the Parliamentary Elections that followed it, in which the British, in what was clearly, the most dishonest venture of European Colonial Expedition in Africa, the elections were not only rigged in favor of the Northern Region, but the colonialists also, deliberately, created an artificial majority of Parliamentary Representations in the National Assembly, to favor the Northern Region. This is the origin, and beginning of the present-day preponderance and domination of the National Assembly, and by extension, the entire federal government - three arms of the federal government, namely, the executive, legislature, and judiciary), and all the security apparatus of the country, by the North. All these took place, because that was how the British had wanted it.
Therefore, for anybody to accept the 1914 Amalgamation of Nigeria as God's Will for the country, is to accept this glaring imbalance and structural injustice of discrimination and violence that underpin the faulty foundation and the fraudulent political structure, and system of governance of the Nigerian State, implanted in the country by the British. Indeed, for anybody to accept the British 1914 Amalgamation of Nigeria as 'God's will' for the people of Nigeria, is like saying that the colonialists' distortion of the Gospel that claims that Africans are inferior race and therefore must never be allowed to control their affairs, is the 'Will of God' for the African people? What a colonial mentality and lies? To accept amalgamation of 1914 as the will of God for Nigeria, is to succumb to a system that has brought a lot of suffering, bloodshed, genocides, ethnic-cleansing, torture and humiliation, etc., to the Nigerian people.
Was it not as a result of preserving the terms of the 1914 Amalgamation that we have continued to experience series of Igbo pogroms in Northern Nigeria, since 1945, to date. A situation, which brought about that most tragic incident, of the Nigerian State waging the three-year genocidal war against the Igbo and other Easterners (1967-1970), the Biafra War. A war, claimed over 3.5 million Biafrans, mostly Igbos. Since then, Nigeria has never found peace again, and the country has remained a 'pressure cooker' of violence against its own citizens.
Moreover, organizing credible, free and fair elections, devoid of massive riggings, violence, intimidation and killings of innocent citizens, have continued to elude the country, since the time of Independence to the present-day, because of the same reasons mentioned above. Therefore, don't think that the 2023 Elections was the only time Nigeria witnessed massive rigging, violence and hijacking of elections or the Electoral Umpire being bribed to declare someone who rigged the election, as the winner. The scenario we all witnessed during the just concluded 2023 general and presidential elections in Nigeria, has always been the story of any of such elections conducted in the country since the 60s', to the present-day. And there is no any sign that things are going to get better tomorrow, unless, however, Nigeria is totally, renegotiated through referendum for self-determination, for new sovereign, independent nation states to be created out of it. In fact, no political election conducted in Nigeria today, or change of personnel through elections, or even military coups, is going to bring any positive change to the country as presently structured. The fact is that , is not only that it is an 'artificial', colonial created African nation state, the country is moreover, an abnormal nation state that is not supposed to be in the first place. Or rather, be allowed to continue to function in its present form and structure, if we really, mean to save lives of the remaining inhabitants of that geographical space.
This is the devastating and draconian Nigerian reality, which we have been living and experiencing in all its ramifications, in the country, since 1914 amalgamation. The continued presence of this reality in Nigeria today, is as result of the unwillingness of the Nigerian ruling-class to address the injustices associated with the 1914 Amalgamation, faulty foundation and fraudulent political structure or system of the Nigerian State. And proffer viable and honest, truthful solution to the problem.
The lack of political will on the part of Nigeria's ruling class - the oligarchs, and the World Centers of Power, especially, the British and the United Nations, to address the root cause of the Nigerian problem, and to resolve it once and for all, is the bane of the Nigerian problem itself. The perennial political instability of the country, the ongoing ethnic-cleansing, genocides, violence, Islamic terrorism, bad governance, military and police brutality and killings, in fact, the general insecurity pervading the entire country, since independence in 1960, up to the present-day, is caused primarily, by the inability of the ruling class to provide the needed selfless and purposeful leadership and good governance, capable of addressing the root causes of all these problem, which are associated with the amalgamation and faulty foundation of Nigeria as a nation state by the British.
The Way Forward
Methinks, that the best way possible to put to rest this problem of political instability, insecurity of lives and property, violence, religious bigotry and ethnic hatred in the country, is by organizing a referendum for self-determination for independence, among the major ethnic nationalities or geopolitical regions, that want to opt out of the country to form their own separate independent sovereign nation state. To allow each of them to decide how they want to be governed. And to know, if they want to continue to remain in Nigeria with the rest of the ethnic groups or geopolitical zones, as one entity or no. In whichever case, however, those that want to separate to form their own independent sovereign nation states through referendum, should be allowed to do so, without any harassment or use of military force against them, or coercion to force them to remain in the entity called Nigeria! Referendum for self-determination, we must not forget, is in itself, a political process, and the most civilized way to resolve this type of problem besetting Nigeria since time immemorial.
In this way, we all shall begin to relate well as neighbors and not as enemies, that is, as neighboring independent nation states, within the West African sub-region, ECOWAS. And that will minimize, if not eliminate entirely, the present Islamists and herdsmen terrorism in Nigeria and in other parts of West Africa. Because, if truth be told, it is because of Nigeria, as 'one nation state', under one centralized, unitary federal government, as it is presently constituted, that those Islamist terrorists and their sponsors, are coming all the way from the Sahel region, North Africa, and other Islamic countries, to invade our ancestral lands and kill our indigenous populations, destroy our villages and communities in different parts of Nigeria, while, the government of the day and security operatives, look elsewhere!
Thus, once Nigeria is disintegrated as one-nation-state, as it is presently constituted, and each component entity (major ethnic nationalities or geopolitical regions that constituted it), allowed to become a sovereign nation state on its own rights), begins to cater for its own welfare and security, no terrorists will come again from other places or foreign land, to invade them again.
So, as it is now, it is because of Nigeria as one-nation-state, that our people are being killed every day, in their homes and local communities by those invading our ancestral lands from foreign countries, and sometimes, by our own security operatives too, who, indeed, are supposed to be protecting our people from those coming to kill us. One-Nigeria, is therefore, the reason for the insecurity and bad governance and corruption in Nigeria. It means that, the Nigerian State as presently constituted, is the major reason why our ancestral lands are constantly being invaded, and our women, children and the elderly in the villages, are being killed by the invading Islamist and herdsmen terrorists. That is, whether these are coming as terrorists in military uniform or as none-state actors, such as the Boko Haram, ISIS-ISWAP Islamist insurgents, or Fulani herdsmen militants, bandits and kidnappers. Referendum for self-determination, to save lives of these helpless indigenous African peoples of Nigeria, is the way out of this conundrum.
All this implies that the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 by the British, has nothing to with God at all. God does not wish evil for his people, although he may allow it, but not in perpetuity. That is why he sends a liberator to his people at the appropriate time. That is what the Biblical story of Exodus testifies. It is what the people of Israel yearned for in the 'song of the exiles':
"By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept, remembering Zion. On the poplars there, we had hung up our harps. … If I forget you Jerusalem, may my right Hands wither!" (Psalm 137).
All these, show that the amalgamation of Nigeria by Great Britain in 1914, was a colonial arrangement that was never intended to favor the people of Nigeria, who own the land. But rather, as a way of British continued strangulation of the country, and its exploitation of Nigeria's natural and mineral resources, through its implanted local agents, puppets, chosen, often, from the political oligarchs of the most favored ethnic group and cohorts. Therefore, there was nothing of 'divine will' about the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria by the British. The amalgamation of 1914 was forced and imposed on the indigenous African peoples and ethnic nationalities that inhabit that geographical space, the British, named, Nigeria.