“I look forward to the day, not in the distant future, when Ijaw would be President of our Republic and a Berom his running mate or vice versa. Hence, in our politics of today or tomorrow, there would be neither north nor south, neither Igbo, Yoruba nor Hausa” – Chief Obafemi Awolowo (House Debates: 1963).
THE potentials of any nation, are perpetually destroyed when they are cracked through natural, socio-economic, political, tribal, religious and cultural etc imbroglios. Hence, most nations must tread with cardinal circumspection and caution, because they are fulcrummed on a diaphanous and delicate balance. Nigeria is a quintessential example.
The Berlin conference of 1884/1885 led to the arbitrary delimitation of the continent of Africa into puppet states. The principles of the negation further led to the formation of the Nigerian Nation as a result of the agglomeration of different heterogeneous ethnic group of peoples and an appendage of the British colonial master’s Sphere of Influence.
The Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 consolidated the march to Nigeria’s Nationhood, through Constitution building, culminating in Independence in 1960 and Nigeria became a Republic in 1963. But the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo then still called Nigeria a mere geographical expression because of the short fall of the foundational equipoise and ingredients of a full blown nation. After the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War, Chief Emeka Odumegu Ojukwu observed in his book Because I Am Involved that, “the Realists have gained by virtue of being aware that there is/was no such nation as Nigeria, but a Nigeria is yet to be created as a Synthesis of divergent and often conflicting interests”.
The albatross and bone of disunity in Nigeria has often been multi-dimensionally attributed to our Colonial Masters and their self-serving administrative Organogramme and selfish policies during their rule. Some historians have argued that it is mainly due to collective amnesia, religious bigotry, political parochialism, social injustice, tribal prejudices, neo-colonialism, psychotic corruption, primitive ethnocentricity, leadership failure, political Party’s distrust/mistrust, lack of National orientation and patriotism etc.
During the struggle for Nigeria’s independence, the murky political landscape was further compounded by the uncompromisingly disunited stand and primordial antics of our politicians. It will be recalled, that the motion calling for Nigeria’s independence by 1956 was tabled by the Action Group (AG) in the House of Representatives in 1953 by Mr. but later Chief Anthony Enahoro . It was this motion that stimulated the crisis which led to the constitutional conference of 1953 in London, at which Regional Self-Government was promised for any Region that might desire it at any time after 31st March, 1957.
This Singular political action was the coup de grace that precipitated and compounded the disunity of Nigeria through regionalism, tribalism and rascality in Nigeria’s political firmament. The Northern People’s Congress (NPC) opposed the choice of independence in 1956 as sponsored by the Action Group (AG). The West and the East under the AG and the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) administrations respectively opted for regionalism or Regional Self-Government in 1957. The North did not do so until 1959. It is unquestionably obvious that it was the tabling by the AG in 1953 of the motion for Self-Government that accelerated the process of Nigeria’s attainment of independence in 1960. But, it brought with it all the negative forces of disunity, nepotism and consummate malversation.
In his own submission after the Civil War, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu observed in his book Because I Am Involved that “To Attribute Nigeria’s predicament to the fact that the various groupings did not come into Nigeria as Sovereign entities is not only erroneous but also a falsification of history. I believe we were sovereign in our groupings and it is that sovereignty that each group should be prepared to negotiate in order to obtain a superior Nigerian Sovereignty”.
Since Independence in 1960, the political engineering process in our march to nationhood and unity has being sunken in a roller coaster of unbridled political massacres, social schisms, religious insurgencies, terrorism, tribal wars, community decimations, civil war (Nigeria/Biafra 1967-1970), shameful carnages, military interregnums, military putsch, students unrest, labour union’s strikes, constitutional amendments, introduction and re-introduction of Democracy, revamping and refurbishment of the electoral process, the NYSC programme, constitutional provision for recognition of rights, freedom, federal character, political parties recognition of Geo-political zones and Rotative Presidency, unity Schools, citizenship Right in every community etc to no avail.
Nigeria as a nation is still horrendously steeple chasing in the cesspit of total disunity, so much so that some analysts and political alarmist predicted that Nigeria as a nation will be no more by 2015. But 2015 has come, like the ides of March “not gone”.
Unity is the sublime pedestal on which Nigeria can be super-structured to enable it make constructive march to Nationhood and take its respectful place in the comity of Nations. In its Editorial submission of 17th June 1966, the New Statesman Publication page 869, posited thus, “for no one doubts that to build a strong Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country – demands unified direction. If the base for unity is not there then Nigerians must seek another rationale for co-existence as citizens of the same country”. (To be continued)
Gbinije, a social critic, writes from Warri, Delta State