OCHEREOME

By Ochereome Nnanna

QUEEN Elizabeth II’s exit from the mortal plane was bound to excite extreme sentiments because she personified the good, bad and ugly of our history. She was historically and politically our “mother”, who wore the British crown with such charm, charisma, grace and majesty that truly inspired.

How much of the British legacies in Nigeria can we attribute to (or blame on) the late Queen? Or, how many of the British legacies can we not attribute to, or blame on, her? Though a ceremonial, constitutional monarch, the Queen retained the post of Commander-in-Chief of the British forces with the power to declare war as she did over the Falklands in 1982.

Every new Prime Minister still went to her to collect the instrument of power. No major decision was taken without consulting with her. She remained the Head of State of 14 independent countries and leader of the 54-member Commonwealth consisting of over 2.5 billion people; a third of the world’s population.

In her 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth was forced by circumstances beyond her control to superintend over the dissolution of the British Empire through the granting of independence to the former colonies. The manner in which Nigeria’s independence was packaged is responsible for the crises we are still experiencing. Any building with a faulty foundation will collapse sooner or later. But the kind of foundation that Britain laid for Nigeria was such that it would neither stand nor fall. Britain opted for this kind of foundation so that, in cahoots with some anointed local agents, it would continue to manipulate and exploit the system long after independence.

In 1914, Frederick Lugard amalgamated Nigeria in a manner of mixing water and oil. Water and oil can be in the same bowl but they will never mix. The Northern Protectorate (the Sokoto Caliphate, which was already an Islamic Republic) was saddled upon the Southern Protectorate ruled by indigenous kings whose people were rapidly embracing the Christian faith and Western outlook.

Nigeria should have been three countries or at least, a confederation of three or more autonomous regions with the free option by any of its constituents to quit the union. But, due to British interests, the North was saddled on the South; a neo-imperialist arrangement that remains till today.

The Queen herself supervised the final packaging of Nigeria for independence that doomed her permanently. The first was the lopsided manner in which the electoral constituencies were shared between the North and South just before the pre-independence regional and federal elections between 1958 and 1959. Though the population of the South was more than that of the North, the North was given more electoral constituencies.

The North, with its huge landmass was made one region, while the South, which was roughly one-third its size, was split into two regions. The geopolitical advantages were massively stacked in favour of the North. Also, the military advantages were in the North’s favour both in terms of institutional locations and personnel recruitment. The North was placed in a position to dominate, whether under democratic or military rule, with Britain always behind it against the South.

There is this allegation of a British secret pact with the Sokoto Caliphate which is not part of Nigeria’s official history. According to this notion, the British authorities, after a mock military exercise in a secret location in Sokoto, handed Nigeria over to the Sultan and the Northern People’s Congress, NPC, leaders. If you hear some Fulani ethnic irredentists boasting that Nigeria “belongs” to them, it is probably an offshoot of this alleged exercise. We can also see it in their leaders’ pattern of handling the South like their colony.

It is evident in the parasitic tendency of Northerners. They take over commanding sectors of the economy exploitatively and consumptively, not productively. These include the Military, Police, Customs, the Ports Authority, the oil sector, the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja), Immigration, the Judiciary, and others. Nigeria is set up to enable the North exploit the South while maintaining the negotiated privileges of Britain.

Queen Elizabeth’s British configuration of Nigeria is such that you need Northern approval before you can change anything.  Before the North gives its approval, it must listen to Britain first. This is why all coups planned by Southerners and Middle Belt officers failed with mass executions, while Northern coups were mostly bloodless “palace” coups. This was why Biafra failed to secede, and anything “Biafra” is addressed with military nihilism.

This is why “restructuring” has failed after over 50 years of agitation by Southern politicians and pro-democracy activists. This is why the Constitution cannot be amended to correct imbalances and promote equity. This is why peaceful change is impossible in Nigeria and development is retarded. And this is why the country is bleeding from all pores and the system is imploding.

Even those who thought the system the British left behind benefited them are worse off in every item of the human development index. They are fleeing their region in their thousands everyday to shelter in the same South they have dominated like internal colonialists.

Sometimes people ask the question: why continue to blame Britain for our woes after over 60 years of independence? We have just painted a picture. So, it is not as if people have not tried to peacefully or violently to correct Britain’s deliberate act of rigging Nigeria against Nigerians for their own benefit.

Today, when our leaders are sick (which is most of the time) they run to Britain. When they want to educate their children, they send them to Britain or America. When they steal our money, they hide it in British banks. And when we chase after them, they run to Britain. Would these be the case if Nigeria were normal?

Queen Elizabeth’s Britain stole the future of Nigeria!

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.