The British created the problem by giving some region so much advantage; this led to an ethnic struggle for limited resources, making it impossible for Nigeria to lead itself even after independence was granted and even until this moment.
With the rise in secessionist agitations across the country, the duo of Barrister Monday Onyekachi Ubani and Dr. Austin Nweze have asserted that failure of leadership to deliver quality and people-focused development, and a weak structure of government, a quasi unitary system amongst other challenges, are responsible for the rise in the call to break up the country.
Both agreed that since leadership has repeatedly failed, there was a need to restructure Nigeria to reduce the tendencies for secessionist movements which will further weaken the country, noting, however, that restructuring is necessary because successive governments have refused to govern in a manner that will ensure that citizens are confident about the future of the country.
They spoke at a lecture under the theme ‘Discourse 2020: Nigeria’s independence and conflict of secessionist agitation in Africa’s largest democracy, some immutable lesion from globally collected history’ in Lagos.
Ubani expressed serious concern over the failure of the current government to unite Nigerians across ethnic, tribal or religious lines saying that there is a need to continue to discuss the future of Nigeria especially with the renewed resurgence of separatists groups such as the Oduduwa Republic.
Speaking further, he blamed the British who, he said, amalgamated Nigeria without taking into consideration ethnic, cultural, language, and overwhelming social differences.
He said the British imperialists only focused on the economic gains that will emanate from the amalgamation of North and Southern protectorate, not minding the potential damage to the people affected.
“The British created the problem by giving some region so much advantage; this led to an ethnic struggle for limited resources, making it impossible for Nigeria to lead itself even after independence was granted and even until this moment.
“The resultant crisis of difference of identities amounted to war, the Civil War. You will recall that it was the Northern region that first asked to opt-out of Nigeria. Nigeria has remained a fractured state. Without making Nigeria operate as a proper federal system, no matter who you elect as president of Nigeria, he will be a failure until we restructure” Ubani said.
On his part, Dr. Nweze called for a business-friendly leader who will have the capacity to improve the economy and drive development; he said “throughout the history of Nigeria, we have not had anyone with sound business knowledge to rule this country, not even for once”.
He said that the absence of a leader or president who has a good understanding of economic management is another reason why Nigeria remains a poor country despite the enormous human and material resources available.
On the various plans formulated to engineer national development and tagged vision 2010, 2020 and now vision 2050, Ikem Ume-ezeoke who is the president of the Nigeria Peace Group decried the failure of national development planners and governments in the past to investigate why previous national vision programs failed.
He said it was necessary to investigate why they failed because the idea to keep producing a national vision document without finding out why the previous program failed, in spite of the number of monies invested in them and the ‘noise’ accompanying the launch of such programs, is defeatist and regrettable.
The Discourse 2020 is a forum that was put together on the platform of Nigeria Peace Group (NPG), otherwise known as the Centre for Peace Re-orientation and Human Development, to discuss burning national issues with a view to finding workable solutions that will promote peace, unity and economic prosperity.
Hosted by Victor Ikem who is a public affair and policy analyst, the event had participants drawn from government, public, and private sector.