Now is not the time to talk of separation, by Hassan Gimba
POLITICS DIGEST– The calls for Nigeria to dissolve into its various parts have never been this high. The call is more strident in the Southern part of the country. In the South East, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is calling for autonomy of the zone, populated by the Igbo. In the South West, there are also such calls. The North, too, is not left out as many stakeholders align with those who think it is not worth remaining in a union with those who no longer want it.
In the South, especially the east, the agitation is so widespread and gaining momentum that it is threatening to get out of hand. The general feeling there is that of people seeking freedom from bondage. Unfortunately, southern agitation is fueled by propaganda which the government could not counter. The skewed information dished out is becoming the truth in the minds of those targeted, those meant to be convinced.
Perhaps miffed by the avalanche of the propaganda, all mischievously and deliberately slanted to achieve certain goals, the North reacted. A section of its elders met and stated that the southeast should be allowed to go. That the north, and indeed Nigeria, is not willing to fight anymore to keep anyone in the federation.
A major aberration is that those who cry about being victims are in reality those who victimise. However, they craftily make it look like they are at the receiving end or there is a grand conspiracy to end their existence on earth. In other parts of the country, they move freely and engage in their activities without harassment from any quarter. In their area, certain people are not as free and they live on borrowed time.
But we have come a long way as a nation. No one should force anyone to remain in Nigeria as a Nigerian. We have to remain together as one in our collective interest. To borrow from a popular cliché, united we will stand, divided we shall all fall.
I have some time ago written that even if Nigeria would balkanise, now is the wrong time, for all our sakes. The best time would have been 1966 and, perhaps by now, we would all have been independent nationalities, each with its peculiar problems and prospects. But now, none of the six geopolitical zones can survive outside Nigeria. Bandits, insurgents, militants and would overwhelm us all. Even the Igbo nation cannot stand on its own if left alone to the arrogance and demagoguery of its anointed secessionist leader.
Even though the Boko Haram insurgency appears to be getting to an end, the truth is if turmoil overtakes Nigeria, the chances that the insurgents will roll out their “caliphate” and become the lords of the north-east are high.
The north-west and north-central probably may go to the bandits and herdsmen who could easily be tempted to join hands with Boko Haram–if they are not under their control already.
The south-east may likely witness fights between groups clamouring for dominance. The group with the most arms and daredevil members may triumph after protracted warfare. Militants will rule the coasts and each group may have its fiefdom. Perhaps the only zone that may move on as a nation-state after a little turmoil may be the south-west. It has a political leadership and is economically better organised. Its youth can respect the elders as well.
The northern elders know the uncertainties and dangers associated with the dissolution of Nigeria now. Despite its bravado, the discerning from the south-east also knows that the upheavals to be witnessed in their zone with Nigeria’s dissolution is better imagined than witnessed.
With all the brave faces being shown by the Igbo living in the North, they know that living in the North is far better than going back to the East. At the height of the Boko Haram killings in Borno and Yobe, two states at the epicenter of the insurgency, many of them that fled back home, returned almost immediately afterwards. The stories they gave of their experiences were horrific. Those of them living at home are mostly the ones bent on seeing that those outside return. Envy? Well, only they and their God know.
With the current situation of Nigeria, it is wise for all parties to sheathe their swords and extend the hand of concord, friendship, and understanding to one another.
Most of those shouting for dissolution are those who have lost out and think they cannot compete favourably with others within the united nation. So they believe they can be lords of the manor at a part.
Let us build the country, make it peaceful and secure. The average Nigerian may not give a hoot who the president will be as long as there will be fairness and justice; and as long as he can provide for his family the necessities of life. This is at the root of the problem.
The masses of people do not hate one another. In the communities where they cohabit, they often live in peace and respect for one another. It is the political class that tries to cause division among Nigerians to profit from the fracas that result. For they know that once the suspicion and contrived conflict among the various peoples that make up this potentially great nation are pushed aside, the people will band together to understand who their common enemies are – those who have systematically appropriated the vast resources of this country for themselves, their families and few associates.
And while they gorge themselves on the people’s commonwealth, seeking to perpetuate their unfair privilege, the masses wallow in the most dehumanizing living conditions one can imagine.
The agitations being witnessed may spread to engulf the country as those ostracised from a reasonable distribution of our country’s wealth for decades will be up in arms, unleashing their frustrations on all of us. If not addressed properly, and when the masses get a uniting leadership, the pull at the country’s seams will increase and thus threaten its very existence.
But the bulk of Nigerians know we are better off together. Even in the East where the call for dissolution has been long and in the west where it just began, most of the intelligent class do not subscribe to a dismemberment; they want a governance arrangement that they feel can stand a better chance of improving the general well-being of all than what is currently on offer.