THE question of whether Nigeria can break up still lingers 53 years after our independence. I will start by answering the question first. Yes, Nigeria can break up if we choose to and are willing to pursue and execute policies that will lead to its break up. The choice is ours as a people.
Do we want to remain as one united country? What are the things required to keep us as one? Do we have them in place?
Our country –Nigeria- was programmed to fail from the beginning. It was created on faulty foundations of deceit along ethnic, religious, demographic and geographic positions.
Our colonial masters, the British, started it with their conspiracy to set the North against the South with cooked census and demographic figures, crooked mappings and the likes.
Look critically at the map of Nigeria today, does it show equity and fairness with respect to regional allocations? That was the handiwork of our British colonial masters. When Nigerians took over, they continued to build on these lies and faulty foundations.
That is why the issue of ethnicity is as fresh as it was at the inception of the country.
The country took off with the three major tribes-Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Nothing was done for the minorities and no interest was given to issues concerning their plights. Everybody from up across the Niger is a Hausa man, while everybody down South, excluding the Yoruba West is an Igbo man.
That was the situation and such was the thinking of our political leaders, that the whole South-South with the exception of the Midwest was regarded as the East. That was why the Ibibio man was eased from office for Nnamdi Azikiwe to be Premier of the Eastern Region when the Yoruba’s rejected him. The consequence of the neglect of the minority by the majority tribes is what we are witnessing today, particularly along the South-South region and some part of the Middle Belt and the North.
Can Nigeria divide? When we have not laid foundation for the conduct of a proper census, on which basis proper planning can be effected for future growth, how can we survive? Every census that has taken place in this country has been faulted. People see it as a way to gain control of politics at the centre, so every group tends to inflate their figure. Politics is all about population. Are we ready to get the correct population statistics in place, as it concerns every state, region, city and localities?
With an over bloated federal structure of 36 cabinet ministers plus the federal capital territory representative, how can we sustain and remain as a nation? The United States of America, with all of its outreaches, size and baggage does not have more than 18 cabinet ministers or secretaries as they are called over there.
Surely our federal cabinet structure is over bloated. It can be reduced down to a reasonable level for real term effectiveness. The overhead at the centre is causing a big drain on the nation’s resources; encouraging wastages, fraud and ineffective supervision of projects.
As a result of the rush to the centre, the constitutional true federalism is jettisoned. The Federal Government is seen playing the Big Brother because of the heavy resources allocated to it and states that fall out of favor with them are adequately sanctioned, like Obasanjo did to Tinubu’s Lagos State.
Until true federalism is imposed, with the relative freedom of the states to pursue their programmes at their own pace and ability, the scramble for the centre will continue to cause disunity amongst the people.
Can Nigeria break up? Over 90 per cent of the nation’s sustenance is dependent on only one resource- oil.
The people of the oil producing states are complaining that oil production has caused serious despoliation to their land. Every other productive endeavour that the country had engaged in in the past, like agriculture, has been jettisoned. The oil producing states are agitating for adequate compensation and if their demands are to be met, programmes and developments in other states will be affected.
Are we ready to look beyond oil for economic sustenance? The answer to this question is vital to issue of Nigeria’s unity as a country. It is important for all states of the federation to strive for self-sufficiency, through investments in their core areas: Agriculture, Mining, Tourism, Commerce and the likes.
Can Nigeria break up? Do we have a leader of vision, focus and selflessness? Leadership has contributed to the successes of nations like China, Singapore, Germany, America, to mention a few. A leader of courage, free from corruption, do we have such at the helm?
A leader with free disposition, always for merit and who shuns ethnicity, do we have such? One that is ready to stick with the common good instead of the selfishness that has been associated with past leaders. Can such be found in the land irrespective of his ethnic background? The day Nigeria decides to identify with such a leader, that day will our proper foundation as a nation state be laid.
A country that aspires for growth as a nation state, must put in place conducive environment for the peoples’ safety. Do we have a police force that can contain all the multifaceted security problems besetting us? Some have clamored for state police; will our politicians allow the state police to run according to the ideals of the police institution?
Will the Federal Government allow the police force to run without undue stress on the police authorities? Can our police force operate without bias? A correct answer to these questions will determine whether Nigeria can remain one country or break up. Presently the animosity towards our police personnel is so high that people cannot trust them to pass vital information and that is why the Boko Haram sect has remained elusive till date.
The way our politicians are behaving, it is as if they enjoy a fractious situation for the country, in the way they bicker along ethnic and religious lines. Incidentally, when it comes to the issue of their bogus allowances, they will not fall out of line.
Like the centre, the running of the National Assembly is consuming so much of our national resources. The legislators should be thinking along the line of making their job a part time one and their remuneration based on the number of sittings.
Will our greedy politicians agree to this arrangement? Their decisions will help us in determining whether the nation can break up or not.
The conditions for break up are too numerous. A country where citizens cannot move freely as they would have loved to, where the indigeneship and settler issue has been a recurring decimal and where foreign countries and elements have infested our rank and file for their own selfish interest.
Only our politicians and ruling class can save this country from break up. The choice is theirs.
Mr sunny ikhioya a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos