A ‘Federation’ At The Tip Of A Cliff


BY JOHN DANFULANI, Ph.D – British imperialists created Nigeria in 1914 through amalgamation of Southern and Northern protectorates for the ultimate goal of reducing the cost of administering the merged protectorates. The political wedlock the colonial masters solemnized in 1914 was not with the express or tacit permission of the parties involved. Because they were out for political domination, economic exploitation, socio-cultural subjugation they consciously deployed the corrosive antics of divide and rule to make relationship between the amalgams babelous.

Integration and unity was not promoted throughout the one century of colonialism in Nigeria because unity between and amongst the colonized will rocked the boat. Knowingly or not the colonized swam their ignorant political fins into the colonizers’ net of divide and rule. Some of the manifestations of this game were constant rejection of each constitution introduced by the colonialists. Even the official date of lowering of the Union Jack was a subject of tense debate and issuing of threats by some regions.

While bidding goodbye, to the colonized, imperialists could not outrightly terminate the unholy political wedlock they engineered nor forged a separation. By implication, they handed over a political setting of three regions and a federal government under a Westminster designed parliamentary system to Nigerians.

In 1967 the junta of General Yakubu Jack Gowon introduced the phenomenon of States in the political firmament of Nigeria. He dismantled the four existing regions and replaced them with 12 states. Subsequently, the juntas of Murtala/Obasanjo, Babangida and Abacha created additional states that enlarged the number to 36 and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This is the current order in Nigeria today.

From January 1966 to May of 1967 the juntas of Generals Aguiyi Ironsi and Gowon via the unification decree and creation of states liquidated the Nigeria fiscal federalism and supplanted it with a hybrid of Federal/Unitary political system. Their actions changed the bottom-top revenue remittance order to top-bottom because of the takeover of all natural resources – especially oil from regions (later states) by the federal government.

The juntas thought, very erroneously, that the unification decree and dismantling of regions was the best way of addressing aged all question of unity and peace between the regions. Unfortunately, their actions boomeranged thereby rising more questions than answers. One of the recurring questions while discussing their decision has always been: which yardstick guided the calving out of the states and local government in Nigeria?

Of the many backlashes concomitant with their actions was the destructive 30 months civil war (1967-1970) that was full of undying conflicting narrations from major and minor players. Added to this is the sinking of the political structures that were self sustaining and living up to their constitutional schedules. The most disturbing repercussion is the complete lost of hope in the entire “Nigeria Project” by majority of Nigerians.

Aside inherent contradictions of the unification decree and States creation, there is the problem of scarcity of; credible, purpose driven, progressive, nationalistic, and God fearing leadership. The country’s leaders ala the colonial masters played the game of divide and rule to divert the attention of the masses from their kleptomaniac, lootocratic and anachronistic “primitives accumulation”. When their mischievous backs are push to the political wall, they invoke the beast of religion, region or ethnicity to create escape routes. This strategy is old, but it is still an effective joker in the hands of our political class.

A combination of these events instigated individuals and groups to continue to express their desire to restructure, conduct referendum or outright Balkanization of the 103yrs old political wedlock solemnised by the colonial masters. Recently, these centrifugal voices are echoing louder and becoming visible in all the nook and crannies of Nigeria. Most of the pan cultural groupings of Southern Nigeria are talking of restructuring or referendum. Some groups and individuals in the north have just added their voices in the agitation of tearing-apart of Nigeria.

Whilst admitting the Herculean nature embedded in any move to restructure or conduct a referendum, it seems our surest and safest way out of this quagmire. We have pretended far too long and it’s “moronish” to keep playing the ostrich by plying this path. Elsewhere climes that were accidentally or incidentally hemmed as single political entities peacefully balkanized. Some of these countries are: Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, USSR, Eritrea, Cremea and South Sudan.

We were not one before, during and after colonial rule. And can’t be one in the future because of some sharp socio-cultural and political differences. In this 1914 contraption and political babel called Nigeria, there are quarters that don’t believe in democracy, all they desire is a theocratic system predicated in some centuries old religious philosophies while others believe in moving along with the realities of the contemporary world.

In this Republic(1999 to date) we had federal lawmakers that stood in the lower and upper chambers to disagree with globally acceptable ages on marriage. And brazenly said, their religion do not bar them marrying girl child. What this, lawmaker are saying is; when their religious beliefs clash with the constitution, the constitution will make way for their religious beliefs. The quintessential question here is; if everybody in the country prefers observing his religious rites instead of our 1999 constitution, what will Nigeria look like?

From 2003 to 2011, we witnessed a very disgraceful decision by a state governor on polio vaccine. Religious sentiment, not tested and proven scientific facts, was launched against a vaccine that was invented in the 50s and accepted globally. That derailed remarkable progress made towards eradicating of five child killer diseases. Within that period the country witnessed fresh cases of polio, a development that we didn’t see in countries neck-deep in civil wars. After much hullabaloo the same man certified the vaccine, but that only those manufactured in Indonesia were permitted. His position painted a picture like; those made in his preferred country have different chemical combination than the ones manufactured in Europe and Americas.

Between 2007 to date the country saw the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta region. The main mission of these groups is to inflict injuries to the nation’s main economic base by damaging and setting ablaze oil facilities in their region. At a point, their destructive activities led to a sharp drop on the daily crude production and far off OPEC’s approved quota for Nigeria. That affected the revenue base of all the three layers of authorities in the country. Though they have lowered down their activities, issues they pillared their protests on i.e. environmental pollution/degradation and resource control are still on the lips of most of their political and community leaders.

Just recently, we saw how a lady that lived the better part of her life in a state was beheaded. Her head was barbarically chopped-off not because a court of competent jurisdiction so ruled, but because some hoodlums and miscreants believed she violated tenants of their holy book. In that clime and others, it is not the constitution that guides ones conduct, it is religious books. Is that action not saying that the 1999 constitution doesn’t hold in their enclaves? Is that not the highest form of crime against the state? We all know that charges against the lady’s killers had been dropped by the state prosecutors, they are walking free today.

Again, several states established uniform brigades akin to state police. Their task is not to maintain law and order nor carry out community service, but to enforce religious codes of conduct to both adherence and non believers of a particular religion. These faith-based brigades have victimized citizens enjoying their natural and social rights guaranteed in our 1999 constitution and other international and regional bills of rights. Those with a voice and eyes have muted and consciously refused to see the danger in this.

Still, we recently saw ruckus a simple issue like grazing ignited across the nation .Some ultra-conservatives enclaves want a pre-modern world system of wandering with cattle to persist despite multifaceted disadvantages associated with it. All attempts to draw their attention to the fact that it is no longer a norm criss-crossing internal and international borders with cattle fell on deaf ears. Sadly enough, in mixed states like Kaduna, the same forces and government that is receptive to grazing is not equally magnanimous to the idea of creating reserves for people rearing pigs and dogs. Their selfish and one-sided action is saying; what is good for the goose is not good for the gander.

Nigeria spent gargantuan quantum of finances and human capital to strangulate to death the evil racial discriminatory Apartheid system in Southern Africa. But the same country that contributed immensely to annihilating apartheid is today practicing its modified specie of apartheid. In Nigeria of 29th May 2015-June of 2017, ones religion and ethnic background determine which right he/she enjoys. Peaceful protesters of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) were massacred- including their peaceful solidarity rally of the swearing-in of President Donald John Trump on 20th January 2017. We also saw a lopsided arrest and prosecution of only Yorubas in the Ife clashes despite the fact that it was an all-out skirmish that other ethnic groups precipitated and participated. Compatriots are also seeing how Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State is maltreating and persecuting the people of Southern Kaduna because of their ethnic background and faith. All the people El-Rufai has so far arrested and persecuted don’t share his faith and are from a different ethnic extraction.

On 3rd and 21st December of 2016 we read and heard a governor saying he hunted, communed and compensated killers of Southern Kaduna people in Mali, Chad, Cameroon, Senegal and Niger Republics. That was a foreign policy decision and action. The 1999 constitution placed foreign policy under the exclusive list. Legally, that action was felonious because it was out of his constitutional jurisdiction. More to this, the action is morally bankrupt because you don’t and can’t compensate terrorist. Pundits have drawn the attention of the federal government to that coup d’état by a governor, and also petitioned the National Assembly. As I script this piece, their fronts are dead quiet like the Western Front during the Second World War.

With these irreconcilable differences stemming from some peoples feeling of ethno-religious cum regional superiority, it is practically impossible to continue to exist as a single political entity. Those quick to referring us to the provisos of the 1999 constitution that affirmed that Nigeria is indissoluble and indivisible needs the services of a psycho. Are they claiming ignorance of the fraud in the preamble of our 1999 constitution that piqued ” We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolve, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God, dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding, and to provide for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people, do hereby make, enact and give to ourselves the following Constitution:…”. Where and when did Nigerians sit and spewed such absurdities called resolutions? A nation that its binding laws started with a fat pit of hell lie cannot honestly and justly stand.

I don’t succumb to clamour for restructuring because there is nothing left to restructure in Nigeria. Is it possible to restructure a rotten and partly collapsed structure? I yearn for a complete balkanization of this unholy, unsolicited and semi-apartheid state through an internationally supervised referendum. The right to self-determination must come to play, right away. Now is time to get it done(with speed of light) else we will all slip-down the rocky and rough cliff that will consume all of us and spread an apocalyptic disaster that the world can’t handle. It is said, “a stitch in time saves nine”.

To your tent o ye Israel!

Danfulani, a former university don wrote this piece and can be reached

via: mailto:Johndanfulani@gmail.com


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