By Guy Ikokwu-Omenife
NIGERIANS’ evolution currently at the gate of the grave errors mankind has made in history replete with wars that set various nations and dynasty’s backwards. The history of mankind is replete with such perennial instances which led to the famous philosophical quotes of times past. Edward Gibbon, an English historian of 18th century said that “The history of empires is that of the misery of man. The history of knowledge is that of his greatness and happiness”
Also the 18th century German Philosopher George Wilhelm Hegel enthused that: “What experience and history teach is that people and government have never learnt anything from history or acted on principles deducted from it.” While the 19th century American philosopher George Santayana emphasised for those willing to listen that: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Nigeria is certainly no exception to these sayings. You find glaring examples all over Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas that people very easily forget the pains and thoughts of their heroes past and senselessly repeat the debasing activities of years gone by. There has been pogrom and genocide all over black Africa – in Liberia, Sierra-Leone, Rwanda, Congo, South Africa and of course our own native land NIGERIA.
Nigeria is a heavenly contraption of the highest congregation of black people in this planet – Earth. It is a home of virtually ALL mineral and human resources, presently held in bondage by its own malevolent inhabitants. It is voyaging on a clueless and rugged road towards perdition! And in our cultures in Nigeria the only applicable route is to TURN BACK!
Today, we have a failed state if we persist on these outrageous manifestations of the present travelling on a rugged road without signposts and signals indicating the route and true destinations. The fiscal budgets of 2016 to 2017 have failed if we appraise them realistically. The various statistics of the day show that we are fiscally doomed unless we alter our route and engage the reverse gear immediately as we have the intellectual resources for a quantum leap to ensure we do not self-destruct!
The media has been full of all the statistical data which boggles our imagination. We are told that our Government officials and bizmen stole N1.4 trillion under Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan dispensations. We are told that Nigeria’s debts have risen to over N19 trillion. Our Lawmakers in the National Assembly by their oversight functions have just uncovered $15 billion revenue unpaid to the coffers of government by oil sector operatives.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti corruption drive has to a verifiable extent, though not holistic, exposed the unrelenting and criminal looting of our common wealth by those who had no regard for the future of our country. The majority of Nigerians owe him a deserved tribute as he said his template is to reverse Nigeria from imminent death! There should be an unrelenting and vigorous pursuit of these criminals for actions which are mind boggling pervasive!
But the lasting and legacy gesture and template required of him today is the option of his willingness to put Nigeria on a Reverse Gear to avoid the precipice confronting our nation on the path of NO RETURN.
He should have the political will to achieve what other Military Presidents in our last 50 years failed to achieve or enunciate. He and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu crafted the new coalition of parties of former strange bed fellows into the All Progressive Congress , APC, whose manifesto in analyzing Nigerian’s myriad of problems concluded that the urgent way out is for our system of governance to be restructured with a truly federal Constitution and fiscal federalism.
With two years gone, Buhari’s Government admits publicly that half of the present states cannot pay their workers’ salaries of N18,000 per month or the pensions of those who had retired and gave a life of service to their Nation. The minimum salary today is on the global index just $45 below that of a majority of African or world nations. So Nigeria’s poverty index is about 118 of 130 nations analyzed. This was not so at our 1960 Independence day when we had true federalism of four Regions , with the whole North as one region and the south with three regions.
The Guardian of Tuesday, June 6, 2017 perused Nigeria’s global index on healthcare, “The first global healthcare ranking, which was based on a qualification of personal aspects and quality for 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2015 placed Nigeria of course, far behind most other African countries, which is shameful.”
When we look at the education index, it is very dismal and pitiable. But at the time of our former leaders before the military onslaught, Nigeria’s standard of education in primary and secondary schools ranked with those of Europe and America. The educational attainments of Nigeria in the Diaspora are one of the highest in those foreign countries as attested in Europe and America!
The Nigerian economy of our forefathers grew at 6-9 percent per annum. Today, youth unemployment has peaked at about 30 percent while the foreign debt portfolio is about $16 billion, and the acting president has requested the Senate to approve another $1.49 billion foreign loan. It is still uncertain how these loans will be paid back. The centre cannot hold today! With a restructured Nigeria, there is no doubt that each of the six zones of Nigeria will be more viable than most African countries and rise up in most vital index to about 40th position within the next five years with discipline and commitment.
The urgency of the reverse of our nation from disintegration and imminent collapse can be part of a referendum next month as many countries in the world have requested their citizens to discuss, ponder and INDICATE. Mr. Yinka Odumakin’s essay in Vanguard of June 6, analysed how Nations that failed to realise their ambiguities peacefully with disciplined attitude have led to wars and starvation.
There are a few pundits in the national minority who pontificate that Nigerians prefer a UNITARY to a TRULY FEDERAL system. So let us have an immediate referendum as we have all discussed the issues for a long time. We believe that the silent and vast majority of Nigerians, for North, Middle Belt, South west, South-South and South-East would accede to immediate Restructuring. So let there be an immediate REFERENDUM.
If the majority are for UNITARY form of Governance then let’s quietly dismember the union without WAR. We can confederate or become several sovereign entities and develop separately as is the norm of the ancient and recent HISTORY which says that JAW JAW is better than WAR-WAR-from philosophers GONE! Let our peoples indicate their preference.
There are a plethora of problems and challenges in modern Nigeria which has been exacerbated by 50 years of military rule. Rising unemployment is such that even so called graduates are out of work and it has given rise to so many criminal activities as seen in modern Nigeria.
There is militancy in the Niger Delta. There is Boko Haram in the North East; there are the armed Fulani herdsmen in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria; there is cultism, kidnap, civil rights and self determination unrest in the East and cultism in our schools and villages.
Only a reformed, restructured and disciplined structure of governance can stem these ominous ties of violence and disintegration. The current disquiet in the nation and the discussions of the elders have not abated the restlessness of the Nigerian citizens. The sit at home IPOB and MASSOB induced reaction in the eastern zone of Nigeria did send an ominous signal to other parts of the country about the resolve of Igbos for a national attitudinal change and restructuring of the polity to engender more discipline, justice, fair play and developmental strides.
It is however not surprising that the AREWA youths have just impulsively reacted for dissolution of the Nigeria Union and given the Igbos resident in Northern Nigeria quit notice to vacate the region by 1st October, 2017without any compensation for the their properties, assets and other means of livelihood. While at the same time, urging their people resident in the Eastern Zone to return home within the same period.
This is an ominous and glaring reminder of the violent episodes which led to the pogrom and genocide unheard of in West Africa and which immediately led to the Nigeria Biafra civil war which claimed more than two million lives in circumstance that were clearly avoidable. We had a very disquieting civil war in the 1960s. Those ruling Nigeria today did not know the evil and perfidies of war as they are under 55 years of age now.
They are Governors, Legislators, Professionals and youths. The military rulers who started the war on the Nigerian side thought it was a seven days police action but it lasted 30 months! The serving Generals today regret the war episode. It ended in favour of the Nigerian side because of blockage and starvation; because of indolent Middle Belt, Yoruba, Ijaw, etc again another war today cannot generate such an anti Igbo war coalition. Even General Emeka Ojukwu said we should not fight another.
Disputes should be settled peacefully with less rancor. So let’s beware.
As was said earlier, history repeats itself when we refused to learn from the very simple facts of history. Let it be said again that the project Nigeria can work if the modalities are reformed and geared towards success.
It is an abuse of history to believe or suggest that only the Igbos are the migrant ethnic group in Nigeria. Recent history of Nigerian ethnic groups shows that the Fulanis are the latest migrants into Nigeria through the Elkanemi Borno kingdom and moved on to Hausa land and thereafter out of Nigeria to Northern Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast, etc. but they remain in greater number in Nigeria and inter acted with the ethnic Hausas in language and culture but retained their own monarchical administrative structure under their emirates syndrome.
The Edo people and the Ijaws of Delta had moved westwards to Yoruba land and thereon to Dahomey and up to Togo which was the outer limit of the Benin empire before the advent of the Portuguese and British colonial masters. Up till today they are still parts of the inhabitant of these territories even though they had adopted the local languages and culture which they met.
The Yorubas had migrated upwards below and across the Niger River and westward into Dahomey, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and even Ivory Coast in which they have a sizeable population domiciled and holistically accredited. As a result of the slave trade, the Yorubas established settlements outside Africa in places like West Indies and Brazil which are very much identifiable today with similar cultural traits, clothing and religious artifact.
In the case of the Igbos who have been acclaimed as one of the most dexterous, adventurous and versatile entrepreneurs, their migraty tendencies from their Nigerian habitats has been well documented in history. They are found everywhere in the creeks, as a result of the slave trade which they also commercialised internally in collaboration with the adventurous white slave dealers. They moved on to the Benin Kingdom which had spread also into Yoruba land – westward. They also moved in the Northern direction into the Benue Kingdoms and also crossed the Nigeria boarder into Dahomey and Togo, Ghana and up to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast within the parameters of West Africa.
As a result of the slave trade, the Igbos migrated to West Indies and particularly Jamaica where their traits are still very much in existence from the West Indies, slave masters took the dexterous Igbos to Haiti where they revolted and established their own sovereignty in the plantation of Haiti as a sovereign republic from Haiti the slave masters took the hardworking Igbos to the United States of America to their plantations in Virginia which till this day recognises the Igbo settlement and their villages construction artifacts which were stronger and better than those of the colonial English monsters.
The Igbo migrants are everywhere in this planet. Was the Gabon president of Sabon Ali Bongo not an Igbo? Was the 5th President of Liberia Edward James Roye not an Igbo? Who returned from Ohio, USA. There are more Newark, Igbos in South Africa, Congo, Kenya than other ethnic Nigerians in existence from the West Indies.
So a sober reflection indicates that all ethnic groups in Nigeria have justifiable domiciliary qualification which makes project Nigeria a very demonstrable joint ownership.
We should live in Nigeria happily as our brother’s keeper with justice, equality, fair play and developmental aspirations to move this endowed black nation to enjoy its rightful place in the comity of nations, and to show a leading light to all African ethnic groups and nation that the coming century must demonstrable and appreciably owe a lot to the infinite capabilities of Africans.
There are historical and scientific facts that Africans were the first beings created by God on planet earth and have scientific data to show that they were the very first progenitor of human beings from East and Central Africa from where they moved northwards through the River Nile and crossing to Europe, westwards, and eastwards to India and Asia. More than 300,000 years ago
Speaking on the issue of restructuring in a meeting with the courageous leaders of IPOB, Prof. Ben Nwabueze said: “Repression seldom settles grievances. If anything, it forces them underground. Another lesson to learn from Kanu’s case is that this self determination should be a graduated process. It should begin with regional autonomy. The country should be restructured into six more or less self gearing zones or regions, with the powers of the central government drastically reduced, so as to minimise the fierce contest for its central”.
Mr. Kingsley Muoghalu, a former United Nations official said recently in his analysis of the issue of Biafra and restructuring that:h “minds unfamiliar with the larger sweep of world history will scoff at the agitations and see the relative youths of the new Biafra campaigns as evidence of their naïvete”. He showed that the geographical structure of boundaries of nations are not cast in stone.
The dramatic serving in pro-Biafra sentiment from marginal to mainstream in the region underscores the mismanagement of our nation building challenge. There really is no alternative to the constitutional restructuring of the Nigerian federation.
“Several rational arguments make a strong case for taking the bull by the horn and re-engineering Nigeria. All Nigerians should reflect on these arguments in our collective self interest. Our country is not working. We can’t achieve greatness as a country without national unity, stability and coalition. Many nations have achieved nation hood and prosperity in diversity, which is the default composition of most nations on earth. Only Japan and Korea are truly homogenous. All that is required is that we bury the winner-take-all mentality driven by ethnic and religious irredentism and design a structure that works for us all. This is doable with real leadership, political will. Restructuring if done well, will have a pro-active effect of stabilising Nigeria so that we can get on with real development. Restructuring will reduce the cost of governance and will bring greater accountability and transparency. It will also foster competitive development within the regions.
Therefore restructuring is necessary and inevitable. No one has anything to fear in a restructured Nigeria. There can be no peace without justice”
These are the main questions for those in Yoruba land as well as those in Fulani land. The same for those in the Middle Belt and the Elkaneni of the Borono kingdom as it is for the Benins, Ijaw, Akwaibomites and the entire Igbo nation.
Therefore let us all be candid and soberly reflect on our inheritance of the Nigeria project, otherwise history shall repeat itself for good or for bad.
THANKS for your article on the above subject. Visionary leaders like Chief Awolowo and Chief Oduemegwu Ojukwu foresaw what Nigeria will look like if those who think Nigeria belongs to them continue to be in power. This was why Chief Awolowo insisted on true federalism while Ojukwu insisted on Aburi Accord.
The story of Nigeria would have been different today if we listened to them. But it is never too late. Those who see the call for the restructuring of Nigeria as emotional outbursts and provocative rhetorics are those pushing Nigeria towards war. They should remember that war does no good to any one.
If every Nigerian experienced the Civil War, the Boko Haram and the Niger Delta militants devastations, nobody will think of war. We cannot continue to spill blood in this country. Those who are beating the drums of war through their thinking that they alone own Nigeria should remember that when a person throws a stone into the market place the stone can hit his mother. We must jaw jaw not war war.
‘NIGERIA: Destined for war’ is an informed and unbiased piece! Nigeria as a nation is standing on a precipice! It is unfortunate that the masses see clearly what the so-called elite are blind to. This culpable ignorance or neglect of the will of the masses by leaders is always the genesis of revolution or war.
The fate of Nigeria will soon be decided by the separatists or hegemonists! But it is better done together by the two. Time is running out on Nigeria. Time is running out on restructuring. Let the patriots act fast and save Nigeria from the brink. Thank you, Yinka!