ASA’s version of ‘There is fire on the mountain’ seems to capture the Nigerian situation perfectly, for the second line says ‘And nobody is on the run’. Our nation sits on a keg of gunpowder and everyone seems to carry on with their chores with a scary silence. The other day, a staff in our office told me he was preparing to relocate out of Nigeria. I was taken aback because I didn’t think he had all it took to engage in such an adventure, but after further quizzing, he revealed he was talking about Biafra. Then, it occurred to me that Nigeria’s situation is gradually drifting into the Intensive Care Unit of of a specialist hospital.
A greater shock however stems more from the responses of our leaders than the issues themselves. Nigerian leaders are used to lethargy. They approach very sensitive issues with an embarrassing levity that betrays them as either inexperienced or unprepared for the onerous task of nation building. And it is this attitude that is responsible for the mess we are in as a nation. It is very sad that close to 50 years after our civil war experience, the major reason for the war is far from being addressed. Our leaders watch a group of people sing the song of secession or self-determination as they like to put it.
Today, IPOB isn’t the only threat to Nigeria’s unity. A few other parts of the nation have taken advantage of the IPOB movement to either express their grievances or request for their own Republic. Yet, our leaders give a passive attention that seem to suggest these are barkings of toothless bulldogs. How sad. But, the goal of our government shouldn’t be an attempt to shut them down but rather to identify the reason(s) for their agitation and address them. This will help them abandon their pursuit of separation from an arranged or forced marriage like their crusade makes it seem. Any man who ignores the continuous call for separation or divorce by his wife will soon be a victim of food poisoning at its best because marriage should be by choice and not by force. Our leaders should therefore recognize that Nigeria is truly united when it is not forced to be together.
Now, make no mistake. I believe in one Nigeria. I believe we are better and greater together and I suppose this is the position of many Nigerians but I also believe that we should address the reasons for which we are plagued by the several intrigues of drums of secession, quit notices and all. The approach of our government therefore is to accept that nothing is impossible and swiftly move to douse brewing tension across our nation. This is one of the reasons why leaders like Atiku Abubakar should be commended.
Anyone who saw the passion and the ferocity with which the Northern Caucus of the Senate rejected the bill on devolution of powers which is necessary for Atiku’s relentless call for the restructuring of the nation, will appreciate the guts he has to make such a call, being from that same part of the nation. But Atiku’s call for restructuring is not a threat to the North, it is rather, a blessing to it and the entire nation. It will resolve a number of issues.
It will put to rest the continuous notion that the north is indigent and has little or nothing to contribute to the national purse or why else do you think the north is in the fore front of the defense line against restructuring, followed closely by the ruling class. But, is the North truly indigent? The answer is NO. The oil revenue which largely comes from the Niger Delta has blinded them from seeing their many strengths and endowments and restructuring will be the eye opener. This is what Atiku wants them to see.
It will also fix our skewed federal system and douse tension in the land. Why do you think a northern youth group by the name of Arewa Youths issued a quit notice to the Igbos? As much as one agrees that they should be called to order, should we wave off the reason behind their quit notice? Shouldn’t we seek to address the reason which is perhaps the burden of putting up with a seeming ‘nagging wife of brother’ which is sustained by the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra? But, if you consider the quest for secession or self-determination like Nnamdi Kanu puts it, will you blame IPOB?
The simplest solution to the Arewa Youth quit notice as well as IPOB’s quest for self-determination lie with Atiku’s quest and call for restructuring for it will douse the growing tension and automatically put Nnamdi Kanu and others of his ilk out of their current business. Their quest is not war or bloodshed. And anybody addressing it as such is only being mischievous. What they seek is a better structure. What they want is a nation where all are equal and not the animal farm experience of all animals being equal and some being more equal than others. Restructuring will fix this, automatically.
One of the most important benefits of restructuring is Diversification of the Economy. Earlier I pointed out that the North isn’t indigent like it is made to look by the persistent call for secession. Once the system is restructured, our economy will begin to know true diversification. Nigeria is blessed with more than 40 mineral resources waiting to be tapped. The North and the middle belt is explicitly endowed with a fair share if not a greater share but the oil revenue and monies from the centre has blinded people and institutions to real prospects. Once the system is restructured, the minds of our governors and state or regional managers as the case may be will be put to work. Internally Generated Revenue will be better for it and the nation will be better positioned to absorb economic shocks for it will open up the space for foreign direct investment (which by the way is going through unending threat by real or predicted insecurities) and increase our national earnings which will in turn fix our FOREX problems.
Atiku Abubakar knows restructuring must be the I was happy when General Ibrahim Babangida made the same call for restructuring. But, the real question all Nigerians should sit up to answer is: why is Atiku Abubakar in the front line of the vanguard? And, why is majority of the ruling class either neutral or against it? Nigerians, if we must make progress as a nation, we must take a moment and think for ourselves and stop this suicidal culture of a select selfish few thinking for us. May God help Nigeria.
- Rupert Ojenuwa is CEO of Alphagrace Media Resources (Publisher of HoG Magazine)