By Douglas Anele
InÂ it Gowon said: â€œI have now come to the most difficult part of the statement. I am doing it conscious of the great disappointment and heartbreak it will cause all true and sincere lovers of Nigeria and Nigerian unity both at home and abroad, especially our brothers in the Commonwealth.
As a result of the recent events and of the previous similar ones, I have come to strongly believe that we cannot continue in this wise…Suffice it to say that, putting all considerations to the test, political, economic, as well as social, the basis for unity is not there, or is so badly rocked, not only once but many times. I therefore feel that we should review the issue of our national standing and see if we can help stop the country from drifting away into utter destruction.â€
From the quotation, it is clear that Gowon did not completely rule out the kind of strategy Gaddafi suggested. Infact, it appears that he hastily added the last part of the statement, because having argued that â€œthe basis for unity is not there, or is so badly rocked,â€ the logical sequel should be to announce the negative fallout of the situation (secession) which would occasion great disappointment and heartbreak for â€œsincere lovers of Nigeria and of Nigerian unityâ€ etc.
However, due to cowardice or calculation of the benefit to the north of a united Nigeria (or both), Gowon changed his mind at the last minute and added the last proposition in the quotation, which is indeed a non-sequitur, because It is logically absurd to suggest, before a tough-mindedÂ anti-Nigeria proposition (â€œthe basis of unity is not thereâ€),Â that efforts aimed at stopping the country from moving towards destruction will cause pain to lovers of Nigeria! The Oodua Peopleâ€™s Congress (OPC) was formed to promote the Yoruba cause after ret
ired general Ibrahim Babangida annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential elections.
ByÂ middle of the 1990s, according to Karl Maier, in This house has fallen, a significant percentage of human rights activists, intellectuals and business people of Yoruba extraction entertained serious doubts as to whether it was worthwhile for Yorubaland to still remainÂ in Nigeria: some actually demanded secession.
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) was founded by Uwazuruike to ressurect the defunct Biafra. In the Niger Delta, Asari Dokubo and his cohorts created a militant secessionist organisation, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
The inevitable conclusion from all these is that Gaddafiâ€™s proposal is not new. Nigerians themselves have been demandingÂ not only the creation of an authentic federation but, as we have seen, for secession also. These Nigerians, like Gaddafi, were not mad; they were simply responding to the escalating absurdities in the system.
It is really not surprising that the Senate President, David Mark, and other big men chose the cheap option of calling the Libyan leader names; afterall, they are benefiting from the anomalous system. Of course, since 1970, the ruling elite has been dominated by agbata ekee conquistadores bereft of radical ideas and vision, and the same people have been exploiting weaknesses in the Constitution to enrichÂ themselves and impoverish the people.
To be candid, Nigeria, as presently constituted and governed, is not working, and cannot work. The reason is simple. Although there is no perfect constitution anywhere in the world, and although part of our problem is the parasitic nature ofÂ operators of the grundnorm in the country, the unitarist system of government inherited from the military has seriously undermined our developmental aspirations. There is too much power at the centre: Nigeriaâ€™s President exercises more control over the states than the President of the United States.
We have a bi-cameral, or more accurately, uselessly duplicated federal legislature which is too expensive to maintain. The political space isÂ congested because politics has become the most lucrative business, especially for scoundrelsÂ and miscreants. Nigeria spends over 80% of her annual income on political office holders who constitute less than two percent of the population. The system rewards mediocrity and sacrifices merit through federal character and quota system.
Thus, Gaddafiâ€™s recommendation is preferable to the current suffocating unitarism we are operating. Going back to DavidÂ Markâ€™s comments on Gaddafi, as far as I am concerned he is not morally qualified to criticise the Libyan leader, especially bearing in mind his arrogant disdain for less privileged Nigerians (epitomised in his annoying assertion that telephone is not for everybody).
How many good laws has theÂ SenateÂ passed to help the poor? What have the senators done, despite the obscenely fat allowances they selfishly approved for themselves,Â to reconfigure the countryâ€™s political architectonic to enhance the practice of true federalism? Very little, I am afraid. Thus, I propose that Gaddafiâ€™s advice should encourage Nigerians to demand radical reconstitution of the country to serve their interests.
As things are going right now, Nigeria is a dated proposition. Only a thorough reengineering of the unitarist political structure towards an arrangement that approaches the erstwhile regional framework can arrest Nigeriaâ€™s drift â€œinto utter destruction.â€ Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes â€“ with devastating consequences.Â CONCLUDED.