The Arewa Youths of Northern Nigeria gave South Easterners and their fellow citizens in the region three months (until 1st October, 2017) to vacate the region and the “declaration” has been supported not only by Arewa Elders who claim it is just their democratic right in response to South Easterners’ continued agitation for an independent Republic of Biafra. It is a position also supported albeit slightly differently by “Middle-Belters” and Southerners who have also called for people from their regions to leave the North as “they are not fools and can see what is going on” much in solidarity with the South Easterners. Talk about a mess.
Personally, I find it funny that the region of a country with the highest rates of illiteracy, religious extremism, unemployment, child marriage, infant/maternal mortality, lowest rates of relative industrialisation and the bottom 15 states on the country’s 36 State IGR list is pointing fingers at everyone else and tagging them as “the problem”. To say the least, it is amusingly perplexing but I guess this is what democracy gets you; the uninformed, unyeildingly ignorant have as much right to remain as they are and speak on the same grounds as everyone else who makes the effort to better themselves for their society’s and humanity’s sake.
I imagine what Nigeria would actually look like if it breaks up. While Biafra might go without saying, would it just be plain and simple “north” and “south” Nigeria? Or would there be a “Republic of Oduduwa” like Awolowo demanded during the 1967-1970 Biafran War? Would the Niger Delta become a country of its own? The “United Niger Delta” as they have proposed? The Delta has threatened a declaration of independence already so why not? Would we see a resurrection of the Benin Kingdom? What about the Middle Belt? Would the middle states have a referendum on which part of Nigeria to join: vote North or vote South like child custody during a messy divorce? And finally the North: would they remain one region one country or would they also implode along lines of powerful men with strong interests and other factors like tribal ethnicity? Would they just follow the Sultan of Sokoto and/or the Emir or Kano in a monarchy? Would they rise against the Fulanis? Can they? Would that mean that Nigeria could divide into anywhere from 2 to even 10 separate countries? Again, talk about a mess.
One thing is certain however: even if all that is left of “Nigeria” is a street in Kano State, that is what eventually will be referred to as “One Nigeria”. The clamouring for “One Nigeria” is uneven and even unreasonable bordering on silly. The one side of the country that doesn’t care much about it has so much to lose from maintaining the status quo, while the other, having very little to offer clamours very vehemently for the idea so much that they would ask people to get out of their section of “One Nigeria” so that “Nigeria can remain one.” If they leave what do you think they would tag it? Nexit? Norexit? The Great Zo-Mana of 2017? I am frothing at the edge of my seat; the suspense is killing me.
However, my soul is aggrieved and agony fills up and spills over the rims of my broken heart but if this is their decision then understand that I support them twice as much as they think this is a good idea. This comes knowing full well that had people from any other part of the country made these demands or threats, they would have been silenced by a barrage of military action and plain old northern privilege.
There is an old system that computer programmers employ in developing solutions to certain problems regarding their programming tasks and that is, quite simply, to divide and conquer. They take a problem, break it down into sub-problems – several times if they need to, develop sub-solutions because it is a sensibly easier to deal with a smaller sized problem that with a big one. Finally, they piece these sub-solutions together to form a grand solution that is expectedly a fix to whatever situation they may be working with. While efforts to reform Nigeria and bring under control, as many of her problems as possible continue to grow, if this is the process that we feel would bring about the quickest means to progress for the country then why not just join these Northern Visionaries and make the sacrifice for the benefit of our collective futures? Perhaps, as visionaries, they see something that we do not.
In a bid to entertain more reason, drastic changes to the political stability of the country taking the form of a complete dissociation of one half would definitely not go unnoticed. Most importantly is oil which happens to be the only real thing keeping the country together. If the country divides and the north gets none of it (but they still get to keep the Kaduna Refinery – silver linings) as far as we know. This could possibly mean in a few months after the people of the oil-producing states have ensured that the governments of the region sever literally all ties with former oil bloc lords by any of the usual means (blowing stuff up – as a side note, the Niger Delta Boys threatened during the 2015 campaigns to send Nigeria into recession should Buhari win. Buhari won and they held up their end of the bargain. While no confidence is pledged on their actions as this details a worst case scenario, trust however, that whatever you read in this paragraph is a tad more than a possibility), the occurrence of terrorist activities in the south may become more real than they are today. This happens while the threat of a war looms between the North that has the highest share of the population of the Nigerian Military and the oil rich south with enough crude oil promises to enlist a few powerful allies on her side of the confrontation. Other issues like the availability of proficient human capital necessary for development in which the south has been endowed by virtue of its willingness to adopt western education might become relatively scarce in the north and possibly superfluous in the south. This may leave the already impoverished north even poorer than it already is. The south and its potential unemployment problem (like it doesn’t have enough already) is also hedged against the possibility that the region does not get its economic policies right enough to kick-start rapid growth.
The imperatives to the African continent may by far be the most disconcerting. For a continent that is finally making gains at getting its act together and moving towards sustainable progress after centuries of relative backwardness, the political situation in Nigeria casts a very grim shadow. As a regional and continental power-house, a split up Nigeria and a lack of cooperation between the newly formed regions may have serious economic implications especially for smaller countries of the ECOWAS who all but depend on Nigeria for sustenance. This might be somewhat negligible if the split up is done and the parties separate amicably with treaties and promises in place to sustain economic cooperation but this is a far cry as seeds of animosity have long been sown between the sections of the country that makes up Africa’s largest economy. The prospects of effective civil or governmental cooperation may lie somewhere in the indeterminable future but enshrouded in a myriad of uncertainties. Militarily, Nigeria will most certainly cease to be that deciding factor that has brokered peace in Africa from Liberia to Sudan and even though some of these regions still have at best, worried peace, knocking out an entire bloc that is a military force like Nigeria, puts a few more strategic countries at the risk of local and international exploitation with risks of more conflicts spawning wars and humanitarian crises for the forseeable future. Finally, the political leadership that Nigeria has managed to offer the African continent from the Obasanjo and the OAU days to the present African Union paradigm, along with all the good that has been brokered for the past two decades might not be washed down the drain but it does however, indicate a new era of uncertainty for the continent that would set hard-won progress back by a few decades at least.
As an experiment anyway, may this should be considered. It was 1914 when a currently dead white old man with a funny moustache created the present situation by joining the north and the south. Even at 2017, if Nigerians have decided to reconsider the status quo in an attempt to take charge of their destinies and forge a new way ahead then just maybe we should listen to the people speak as they endeavour to rethink the establishment.
While President Buhari continues to take care of his health as 2019 approaches and his second term campaign team already voices out his intent to run, even if everyone but his northern bros who insist that “power is theirs until 2024” knows that the old man would hand in his resignation in a heartbeat as, when compared with life itself, power is just one of those things. I blame PDP’s efficient rigging machine and Nigeria’s extreme tribal inclinations for this mess of geopolitical zoning because this situation is complicated by the fact that the country cannot get a northern politician who would agree to run as a replacement without seeking his constitutional right of a second term. If a northerner gets there, the south will do everything to ensure he spends a single term and in addition, Northern Nigeria will reject any election, no matter how democratic, that does not produce a northerner as President cum 2019, who knows? They might threaten cessation then if they make it through this round of drama. One would have to agree that 2019 is shaping up to be a thriller – a real do or die affair.
One thing “Nigeria” might possibly lose out of would be, for the very first time, having a leader worthy of emulation like Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo (forget your Ziks and Awolowos, etc. they did such bang-up good job that it took only 6 years for the first coup d’état; 7 for a full-blown civil war. When you run into them, tell them I’m a big fan.) While I reserve the entirety of my commendations regarding his potential as it is essentially possible that he is just a remarkably ordinary man in the right place at the right time whose term does bear a very similar trend to the Yar’Adua and Jonathan saga. Osinbajo, a professor of Law and a legal tycoon comes off as a bit of an enigmatic thinker, hopefully a Yoruba version of Willie Obiano, and one who always seems to hold more than he lets on: an absolute necessity if one is to find their way through the murky waters of Nigerian politics and a real gem for the Nigerian People.