May 16, 2020

Nigeria also needs social distancing

After Kyari's death: Anap Foundation urges taskforce to enforce social distancing

Protection, Prevention of Coronavirus Covid-19

Protection, Prevention of Coronavirus Covid-19

By Emeka Obasi

These are interesting times indeed. Nigeria will never be the same after this uncanny virus called corona which came like a thief in the night and continues to steal more lives every day. We are learning and the phrases keep pouring in. Social distancing is getting more popular than COVID-19, for once, all faces look like Lagbaja the Afro-pop musician.

Who would have believed that Lagos will not host mega parties. Our churches are shut temporarily as well as the mosques and there has been no religious riot. Schools are on forced holidays. Flights are not just cancelled, the sky is now a broad highway with no jets. Europe stands still and cannot shake hands with America. No one wants to visit China and Africa remains in the dark about what tomorrow holds.

I have taken a look at Nigeria and it does appear things will get better if the country itself observed social distancing. We have been talking of restructuring for donkey years. Politicians and power brokers use that word to their advantage. There have been conferences and meetings. There was even a Civil War and some of us sang songs with the Ghanaian resort of Aburi.

COVID-19 could eventually be a messenger. It takes political wisdom to understand the message. Lagos is the soul of Nigeria. Abuja is the head, Port Harcourt the heart. These major towns were sedated by the Federal and state governments, that helped to stem the advance of the coronavirus. It also reduced the number of deaths through motor accident, which to me is our own ‘natural disaster’.

Now if people distanced themselves from one another and it calmed down the country for at least a month and states interdicted commerce among themselves, there is something to learn therefrom. We did not hear a hell of noise from those who are fighting selfish political wars which of course has become the tragedy of the Fourth Republic.

Nigerians should be thinking ahead. Colonialism was meant to benefit British imperialists. By this, I do not mean all the men and women of Great Britain. There were and there are still wonderful people, from England to Scotland, from Wales to Northern Ireland. The good Mary Slessor did still lives with us. Father Dennis Slattery would have loved to be buried in Nigeria. He said to my hearing in 1989.

Some of those who came down to Nigeria were mean fellows who sowed seeds of discord that have not left us and will not depart from us if we do not change our ways. From the much I have read about Frederick Dealtry Lugard of Abinger, he does not deserve honour. Vernon Lewis Harcourt, after whom Port Harcourt was renamed should be put in the eternal Hall of Infamy.

Kenneth Cochrane, the man who was so unpopular in my own part of the country because of the Aba Women’s riot, 1929 was from a family that attracted ridicule from even Englishmen and Scots. With the Native Courts in the Southern Provinces, some of the District Commissioners tormented the people and turned native laws and custom upside down.

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In the North, they were not any better. Lugard slaughtered Kings and subjects like English fowl during yuletide. Empires crumbled as maxim guns destroyed civilizations. That bloodletting has not left what they coupled together as Nigeria on January 1, 1914.

The colonial slave drivers left in 1960 but slavery has not left Nigeria. There are masters in the United Kingdom who use middlemen in Nigeria and continue to control this country. Slavery, therefore, was only abolished on paper in the 19th century.

One good thing about COVID-19 is that everyone is fighting for dear life. There are no superpowers and there is no power of veto. It has brought all of us down. This is the time for Nigeria to think straight and make a bold move that will avert looming disaster.

We could divide Nigeria peacefully into six republics. We do not have to wait until this situation gets out of control. The Soviets did that and  today there are many republics out of the old USSR.  We all know the story of Yugoslavia. I do not want to think along that line since there is a way out. Even the British who enslaved Nigeria have taken care of their problems.

Scotland will leave the United Kingdom someday, it is a matter of time. Wales can play as a nation at the FIFA World Cup and come back as Great Britain at the Olympics. The Welsh capital Cardiff fielded a club in the English Premiership a season ago but Glasgow Rangers, Celtic, Hibernian and Aberdeen do not play in England.

Brexit has happened. The British left Europe and no one attacked them. Germany, Europe’s strongest economy did not press any buttons to hold the Brits back. They are gone and continue to hold on to the British pounds. When all Europe went for Euro, the United Kingdom, even as part of the European Union held on to their currency. France surrendered francs, Italy kept aside lira and the Germans left deutsch mark.

Nigeria should learn from Britain now. Let us have countries as they do. I have chosen a path for us to follow. This is from me and anyone who wants to amend it is free. Nigeria should be divided into six republics: ODUDUWA. ANIOMA. CORED. HAUFULA. MIDDLE BELT and KANFUBA.

ODUDUWA should comprise the Western Region as at January 1, 1966 then absorb all the Yoruba speaking people in Kwara, Kogi and Edo States. MIDDLE BELT will pull together, the present Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Niger, Kwara, all the non-muslim parts of  Adamawa and Nasarawa. Southern Kaduna falls under this Republic too.

ANIOMA will be the land of all Igbo in the old Eastern Region and the Igbo sub-groups in Delta, Rivers, Edo and Benue. The name is already being used by the Igbo, West of the River Niger. CORED represents the old Calabar, Ogoja Rivers agitation but includes their present South-South brothers in Edo and Delta respectively. The Igbanke of Edo and Ika, Aniocha , Oshimili and Ndokwa of Delta do not belong here.

HAUFULA, coined from Hausa -Fulani will consist of the present South-West geo-political zone excluding Southern Kaduna. KANFUBA is the acronym for Kanuri-Fulani-Bauchi/Balewa. This is the Republic of people from present Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa and Nasarawa. There are Christians in some of these areas especially in the  Bauchi axis where you have Tafawa Balewa and the Tangale.

This is time to work closely and look for better ways of building stronger nation-states. Oil has not helped this country in any way. It is a curse because we have nothing to show for all the trillions of dollars this country earned from crude sales. Europeans call it black gold. The name should be black demon. There are brains littered all over Nigeria. We must check our population and we must think out of the box. Coronavirus may be a blessing after all.