By Douglas Anele
There is an interesting axiom or principle in metaphysics that any composite thing or entity, meaning anything that is composed of distinct parts or elements, can disintegrate or decompose when the conditions are right. That principle applies to animate and inanimate entities, natural and man-made objects, as well as to institutions and communities.
Moreover it appears that the more complex or heterogeneous an entity is, the greater the potential for disintegration. Since the evolution of humans or homo sapiens from the primate kingdom, societies have become increasingly complicated as a result of convergent historical, sociocultural, economic and political factors, in addition to the incredible quantum leaps in human knowledge.
Of course, to create or build anything that requires putting together different components that are also made up of different parts is an extraordinarily arduous task. This explains why it is much easier to destroy than to build or repair anything, a fact that is particularly true in the formation of modern countries which often requires violence and wars when negotiations fail.
The case of Nigeria is not different. Before 1914, there was no country in the world called Nigeria, meaning that pioneer Nigerian nationalists, including the foremost and most consistent amongst them, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, were not born as Nigerians. People tend to ignore this fact and what it implies concerning the trite arrogant claim by military rulers and their civilian counterparts that the country’s unity is sacrosanct and non-negotiable.
The roots of Nigeria can be traced to the Berlin conference that took place in the closing decades of the nineteenth century when European powers carved up Africa into the obnoxious “spheres of influence” for themselves. The area that later became ‘Niger Area’ and eventually ‘Nigeria’ was under the charter the British government granted to the Royal Niger Company (RNC) headed by a military adventurer, George Dashwood Tubman Goldie.
In January 1, 1900, the British Crown after paying the RNC £865,000 revoked the company’s charter to forestall French incursion from Dahomey and consolidate Britain’s territorial claims on the areas held by the company. Step-by-step Lord Lugard’s expeditionary force conquered various ethnic nationalities that comprise Nigeria while using divide and rule tactics that prevented them from organising a united force to repel the invaders.
Nigeria is currently facing one of the greatest threats or challenges to her existence as a single sovereign country, reminiscent of the circumstances which led to the horrific Biafran war. It is also self-evident that the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government led by retired Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is probably the worst in Nigerian history irrespective of the putrid insipidities regurgitated daily by sycophants and political vultures hanging around Aso Rock claiming that Buhari has performed well since he came to power in 2015.
From then onwards the country has been sinking deeper into the expanding black hole of worsening insecurity, economic kwashiorkor and hopelessness, and might be heading towards disintegration largely because members of the ruling elite led by the president lack the requisite creative imagination and will to convert Nigeria’s diversity into a source of strength, unity, and progress.
On the other hand it is shameful that Nigerians especially from the south parading high- sounding academic and professional titles, either out of intellectual laziness and dishonesty, expectation of reward from a possible Buhari presidency, or plain stupidity supported Buhari to become president despite his lack of solid formal education, unimpressive record as a public servant, dictatorial proclivities, and his unabashed unapologetic nepotism.
To worsen matters, after four years of mediocrity, some of them – including the so-called elders – still worked for his re-election in 2019. In my view, the jeremiads of Prof. Wole Soyinka, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Prof. Pat Utomi, and others who relentlessly harangued Dr. Goodluck Jonathan till he left office are like crying after the milk has been spilled.
These prominent Nigerians must take some responsibility for helping a man bereft of the level of mental magnitude required to lead a complex, potentially great but poorly designed fractious country in the twenty-first century to become president. The really conscientious ones like Dr. Dele Sobowale and Dele Momodu have publicly apologised to Nigerians for their egregious mistake six years ago, while some still persist with the ridiculously untenable argument that “in 2015 Nigerians had no choice than to vote for Buhari against Jonathan,” as if the two men were the only presidential candidates on the ballot paper.
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The only negatively positive thing about Buhari’s defeat of Jonathan (never mind the oxymoron) is that had the latter won buhariamaniacs would have continued to perpetuate the myth that Buhari could have turned Nigeria into an Eldorado if he was elected. As my people, the Igbo, would say, the wind has blown and the chicken’s rump has been exposed.
Generally speaking, those commenting on the deteriorating state of affairs in Nigeria at this time seem not to realise that the escalating divisiveness, insecurity, and calls for self-determination that characterise the Buhari presidency particularly are merely symptoms of a very serious problem inherent in the creation of Nigeria right from the very beginning, namely, the impossibility of forging a united, cohesive, and progressive nation from an artificial colonial geographical agglomeration of peoples so ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse as those in the country.
More specifically, the moment British imperialists notably Lord Lugard and his cohorts brought together the Muslim Fulani dominated northern Nigeria and the south with a significant nonMuslim population (especially Christians), the foundation for instability and deadly internecine conflict was laid given the inordinate Fulani quest to make Nigeria their homeland.
The potentials for divisiveness and crises inherent in a nation-state consisting of the predominantly nomadic Fulani Muslims whose religious scriptures demand that Islam must be the state religion and peoples from diverse ethnic groups that espouse a fundamentally different religious ideology was not given serious attention by Britain whose main interest in the colonial amalgam she created was maximum economic exploitation and administrative convenience.
Therefore instead of taking measures that would foster national integration between northern and southern Nigeria, such as encouraging widespread adoption of western education in the north and implementing national policies that would promote closer socio-cultural, religious and linguistic ties across the country, British colonial administrators actually encouraged the dominant northern attitude of separateness from the south epitomised in their acceptance of sabon gari, a form of social apartheid in which strangers (southern Nigerians) lived outside walled cities in the north.
For Britain a unified colonial Nigeria would be a serious threat to her economic interests that motivated the amalgamation in the first instance. As a result, her officials adopted strategies that accentuated the differences between the north and the south whose negative effects on nationbuilding have persisted prior to independence in 1960 till date. Northern political leaders were also not in favour of integration with the south as well.
For instance Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, parliamentary leader of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), during the budget session of the Nigerian Legislative Council in 1948 expressed the northern view about the purported oneness of Nigeria thus: Many (Nigerians) deceive themselves by thinking that Nigeria is one… I am sorry to say that this presence of unity is artificial and it ends outside this Chamber. The southern tribes who are now pouring into the north in ever increasing numbers and are more or less domiciled here do not mix with the northern people…and we in the north look upon them as invaders.”
To be concluded