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The last 52 years and after

By Adisa Adeleye

SInce Nigeria became an independent nation in 1960, attempts have been made at various times, through different means, by many political parties and some individuals to catch the shifting and chameleonic animal called, “The National Unity”.  The goals set by the country`s founding fathers for political stability and economic prosperity had become so elusive that it had created justified pessimism in the minds of the people about its realization.

Every Independence Anniversary had become an occasion to recount losses and missed opportunities of Nigeria to become great and economically prosperous among the nations of the world, considering the abundance of human and material resources.  The political differences and its ethnic madness that led to the civil war could not be cured by the slogan of reconciliation and reconstruction policies of the subsequent years.  Rather, the creation from 12 to 36 states which we have now could hardly satisfy the desires for more states among states‘ mongers.

Like Oliver Twist, the more they get, the more they desire.  It looks as if there will be no end to states creation until every tongue has a state of its own.

If as I have noted before, some existing states abhor domineering majorities and repressed minorities, and some states contain some different nationalities compressed into one and forced to co-exist.  It is also recognized that the Idomas, (tribe of the Senate President, Senator David Mark) would want a separate state ‘from their masters, the Tivs of Benue State‘ and that the Igbos in their comfortable enclave of South Eastern zone would prefer an additional state in the name of equity and justice. It is surprising that none of the protagonists of the extra state creation has referred to economic viability since all states appear to be funded by the Federal Government. The justification seems to be resided in the concept of sharing the national cake.

It looks as if there will be no end to agitation for states‘ creation every year until the ghost is laid to rest at a future National Conference. Perhaps a way could be found from the suggestion of a contributor who suggested that “all multi-ethnic states should be dissolved and reconstituted into ethnic culturally homogenous units to avoid inter ethnic tensions and violence, this way, the territorial integrity of each ethnic nation is known and respected.

Some of us might not like this idea, but take a critical look at what you know as countries in Europe and you will find out that they are more ethnic nations with “political space” As you don’t hear the Spaniards clashing with the Portuguese, Welsh against the English or Italians fighting the Greeks simply because their ethnic borders are well defined and respected.”

The writer (Andrew Miatede) suggests some states that could make up Southern Nigeria as (1) YORUBA (including the Itsekiris, Ilajes and their relatives in Kwara and Kogi States) (2) IGBO (including the Aniomas, Ikwerres, Igbankes, and all Igbo groups in Rivers and Delta States) (3) URHOBO/ISOKO (4) IJAW (including their territories scattered all over Ondo, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and possibly Lagos) (5) CALABAR (Akwa-Ibom and Cross River people)  (6) EDO (Benin, Esan, Afemai, Uwan, Etsako) (7) OGONI . God bless the various ethnic nations of the ‘Union”.  Perhaps, if the Northern region is similarly divided into their ethnic formations, it could be possible to evolve a United States of Nigeria where ethnic stability and prosperity would be assured.  This suggestion could be set against other suggestions to ensure political stability of the country.

The above is made without
prejudice to the idea of a national dialogue reported to be favoured by President Goodluck Jonathan and based on the co-operative ventures of Nigerian people in tackling various problems of Nigeria. Actually, as a father of the nation, President Jonathan has stated clearly that the problems of Nigeria would never be tackled alone by one person or a single party but by all Nigerians. I have also stated before that in the 1930s when Britain was faced with political uncertainties and economic instability affecting the Pound, the formation of a National Government came in handy.

In my earlier suggestions, the duties of a genuine National Government would be economic reconstruction, political restructuring, and creation of mass employment.  It is my belief that a national discourse handled by a national government would be free of political rancor and fear of majority/minority syndrome.

Reasonable conclusion

If, as it is being rumored, President Jonathan is accessible and listening and well disposed to the idea of a national conference, the easier it would be to discuss, argue and come to a reasonable conclusion about the future of Nigeria.

As in the past, and until today, it is not clear whether it is safe to leave the amendment of the present (1999) Constitution to the National Assembly heavily dominated by the members of the same party (PDP).  The contention is that many legislators were elected under dubious electoral laws and were being sustained by technical legal points rather than by expressed wish of the people.  It is assumed that any electoral law that excludes the right of an individual to stand for any elective post as a candidate is neither just nor democratic.  If the right of an Independent Candidate is sustained in the electoral review, the citizen would be assured of right representation in the National Assembly.

Another point which should
be looked into is the phrase of “substantial compliance” with electoral law. In an election, to me, you are either a thief or a saint.  As noted in the Bible, James 2:10-11 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.  For He said, Do not commit adultery,  also, do not kill. Now, if thou commit no adultery, yet, if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law” It is the belief of some analysts that electoral laws should be amended to ensure that all electoral successes (including that of the President) are clear and would not wait for the decisions of Lower courts and the Supreme Court when elections are completed.

If the arguments above are political in nature, it is not that economic factors count-less in building of a modern Nigeria. The assumption is that any government working for political stability would not neglect the economic necessities. The current economic problem is based on our inability to produce enough food to feed the nation and enough commodities to satisfy domestic demand.  The answer lies in widening the sources of production under friendly fiscal and reasonable monetary policies.


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