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Why not start again?

By Adisa Adeleye
NIGERIA’S birthday is the year 1914 after the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Provinces by the British imperial administrator, Lord Luggard.  The intention was to facilitate easy rule of the country by Britain.  In fact, the easy administration of the two countries was through native authorities led by the Emirs in the North, Obas in the West and in the absence of Emirs or Obas in the East, by “Warrant Chiefs”.

In the golden era of the British colonial rule, the aura of “Pax Britannia” prevailed.
In the vast area of the North, with exception of the Middle Belt, culture and religion were similar and widely spread.

Hausa language and Muslim religion gained ascendancy and became eventually, the custom of the people.
In the Western part of the country, Yoruba language was widely spoken by people of different religious inclinations.  In the Eastern part, Ibo became the preferable language through the enterprising forays of the Ibo people into the neighbouring areas.  For example, before the civil war, Ibo was the local language in Part Harcourt (now the capital of Rivers State).

Although there existed vocal minorities in the Northern, Western and Eastern Regions, the Hausa/Fulani, the Yoruba and the Ibo were accepted as the undisputed leaders of their areas.  Thus, the emergence of Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe on the Nigerian political scene in 1950s.

In the move towards independence and by bringing Nigerians together for the first time, there were noticeable cracks that were ignored to our sorrow later.

The first shot came from the North when a speaker in the Northern Hausa of Assembly in 1952 said, ‘since the amalgamation in 1914, the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people are different in everyway including religion, custom, language and aspiration…. We here in the North take it that ‘Nigeria Unity’ is not for us’.  Sensible talk but nobody took notice.  Another warning shot was the North’s ‘Eight Point Programme issued during the 1953 political crisis –a form of loose federation or confederation.

The Biafran crisis of 1967 – 70 produced the Aburi Accord’ which was later aborted.  The “Yoruba Agenda’  that each section of the country developing its own culture and progress in its own way, at its own pace without force or molestation in a united, stable and prosperous country is still kept in the coolers.  It is safer to assume that with the North’s ‘Eight Point Programme’, the Aburi Accord and the Yoruba Agenda, a common ground could be found to fashion out a lasting solution to Nigerians elusive unity.

The present 36 States structure has been found not to be economically viable.  Each State requires allocations from the Federal government for its survival. Except some South-Western, South-Eastern and some Northern States, some of the States harbour domineering majorities and often violent minorities crying for their rights.  Within a (six) 6 State structure, it is feasible to fashion out an acceptable formula for lasting peace among Nigerians of various religious and mores.  Under such arrangement each larger structure should be economically viable and politically stable.

The arrangement of six geopolitical zones – South West, South East, North West, North East, North Central and South-South is welcomed

Another terrible problem that is affecting the country’s economic and political stability is Niger Delta Problem which, from the Federal Government approach, is not being tackled realistically and seriously.  Amnesty and compensation seem to be a palliative but not a solution.

The problem is that the Federal government, States and Local Government derive about 80 per cent of their income from oil money which makes it difficult to hands off.  The Federal Government has put itself in a tight but dangerous corner of putting all its eggs in one basket (oil), and it becomes jittery, to the point of being paranoid, at any moment.

The Federal Government has the sole responsibility for the operation of the oil industry because it is the sole investor (with other foreign investors) in all operations. The answer to Niger Delta problems is to allow oil States to be joint investors in exploration, production and marketing of crude oil produced in Nigeria.

Since NNPC is the agent of Federal Government and it is owned 100 per cent, it is fair to reduce governments share to about 50 per cent, Oil States, to have 30 per cent and other States, 20 per cent.  It is economically unwise to share oil revenue without corresponding investment in the process as it is being done at present.

It should be recognized that oil produced in Nigeria by foreign firms belong to their shareholders and not their governments. Oil produced in Nigeria should belong to shareholders in any agency like NNPC owned by Federal Government, Oil States, other States and interested groups.  The proceeds should be shared according to their shareholding.  This would bring lasting solution to the troubled region.

The President as a Statesman and not as a regional political leader should broaden his outlook by creating an atmosphere where all turbulent issues could be addressed.

The Power problem is with us; the Electoral reforms are also there.  The greatest one is security of life and property.

Nigeria’s problems are mounting everyday outpacing the slow pace of solution.  Some feel that the present crop of leaders in the government seem overwhelmed by the weight of the burden that it would need the attention of all stake holders before it is too late.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.