Whenever the few Nigerians who benefit enormously from this false unity say that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable, the ordinary Nigerians get worried because there is no semblance of unity in the country. This is so because the foundation of this country is faulty as the various ethnic nationalities that make up this country were not consulted before they were forced into this pseudo-union called Nigeria. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines negotiable which is an adjective so, “that can be settled by discussion”. We profess unity in the country but in reality there is no unity as we are only forcing ourselves to live together. There is nowhere in the world that varied peoples live together in one country without discussions and negotiations as to how they are going to coexist.
So, negotiating this false unity will afford the various peoples of this country to define the terms and conditions under which they will agree to coexist or disintegrate peacefully. This is so because the amalgamation of all the ethnic nationalities in 1898 to form the southern protectorate was done without the consent of the peoples. Also, the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates by Lord Luggard in 1914 was carried without consultations with the various ethnic tribes that made up the two protectorates. Thus, the way the country is being governed since independence as a unitary government under the guise of a federation where the lands and the wealth of the people are taken from them by force cannot guarantee unity. Before the advent of colonialism, the different ethnic tribes had their traditional system of governments that helped them lived peacefully. Thus, the various tribes that existed before colonialism began, were able to live in harmony because their lands were not seized from them, so there was no acrimony as we have today where the government seized lands from the people and steal their wealth. The Niger Delta people are being oppressed under The Land Use Decree No.6 of 1978 which put all lands in Nigeria under the control of the government and made them become tenants in their ancestral land. “For the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta however, oil has been more of a curse than a blessing. In communities where oil exploration and production are carried out onshore, deforestation, erosion and destroyed farmlands, are the main signposts for this gift of nature” (Udeme,2004). With oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the length and breath of the Niger Delta region, the people cannot move freely as they are regarded by security agents as pipeline vandals. Tell me, how can the Niger Delta people be willing to remain in a union that does not guarantee their freedom of movement and means of livelihood? The Ogoni lost many of their prominent sons and daughters to the agitation for the remediation of their polluted environment which was caused by oil multinational companies. Despite the report of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) that the Ogoni degraded environment needs an initial sum of $1 billion for its redress but till date, the Federal Government has not deemed it fit to compel the oil multinational companies to pay the money in order to commence the cleaning of the Ogoni environment! Now, who is that Nigerian that will compel the Ogoni people to remain in Nigeria when they are not being treated fairly? The Niger Delta region is under pressure because the whole country depends on it for survival. How can one section of the country bear the burden of providing the revenues with which the country is run at their peril? Which other federation operates the way Nigeria operates her federation where a whole country depends on only one section of the country for survival? The Igbos declared the Republic of Biafra in 1967 because of the massacre they suffered in the hands of the northern extremists but were forced to remain in Nigeria. Since the Igbos were forced to remain in Nigeria, what progress have they made in terms of the scientific inventions they made during the civil war? Are they not being stagnated by being a part of this country? Where are the “Igbo made products” produced by the Igbos immediately after the civil war? I make bold to say that if the Igbos were allowed to secede from Nigeria, by now, they would equate the Indians and Chinese in terms of technological inventions! The people of Bakasi were ceded away through a judicial mistake because Nigeria did not suppose to participate in the suit Cameroon filed against her. But despite the fact that Nigeria has the right to appeal the judgment, She has not done that almost ten years after and the opportunity for appeal will elapse in October this year! Article 61 of the statute of the International Court of Justice permit a review of its judgment based upon the “discovery” of a “fact” which is “decisive” and was unknown to the court and to the party claiming revision when the judgment was given. If Nigeria fails to appeal the ICJ judgment and Bakassi finally becomes part of Cameroon but the people of Bakassi refuse to join Cameroon, who is that powerful Nigerian that will force the Bakasi people who have been made orphans by the Nigerian government not to declare their independence under the guise that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable? The Bakassi people should be subjected to a referendum to decide the country they wish to belong as South Sudan became an independent nation on July 5, 2011 through a referendum. General Yakubu Gowon ceded the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon in order for the latter to help Nigeria defeat Biafra in the task of “keeping Nigeria one”. But Cameroon demanded for Bakassi as their benefit to support Nigeria. If the Bakassi people were one of the major tribes like the Hausas or Yorubas, would they have been ceded to Cameroon? Why did General Yakubu Gowon not cede the North-East State that comprise some parts of the present Benue, Taraba and Adamawa States that are also close to Cameroon? Is it not because the Bakassi people are a minority tribe that was why they were ceded away? A situation where some people are seen as second-class citizens while others are regarded as first-class citizens cannot promote unity. Since the creation of Abuja as the capital of Nigeria in 1976, only one Southerner, Mr. Ajose Adeogun, was appointed minister for the Federal Capital Territory, all other ministers are from the northern part of the country. But the north that has no drop of crude oil in their land has produced more group managing directors of NNPC and petroleum ministers than the Niger Delta region that has the crude oil in their land! How can there be peace in the country where things are skewed to favour only one section of the country? Those few Nigerians who are benefitting from the status-quo, who say the unity of this country is not negotiable are not being sincere with the truth. They are the enemies of this country. How can a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingua state like Nigeria coexist without the various peoples coming together to discuss how they will live together? Those few Nigerians who say the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable should ask themselves why some tribes wish to secede from Nigeria. If there is justice, equality and fair play in the country, will any tribe want to secede from the county? Which tribe would want to secede from the United States of America? Everybody wants to be a citizen of America because it provides opportunities for every resident. This is why many people across the world play the American Visa Lottery every year so they can win the American Green Card and become citizens of the God’s Own Country! Unity cannot be imposed on the people when the ingredients of unity are lacking. How can there be unity in the country when the people from the southern part of the country cannot live peacefully in the northern part of the country? Can we say with sincerity of heart that there is unity in Nigeria? We need to negotiate whether to remain as one country or disintegrate peacefully like the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The defunct USSR was formed in 1917 through a revolution when the Bolsheviks overthrew the monarchical government of Nicholas 11 but by 1991, the country broke into 16 independent countries because just like Nigeria that has a very high cost of living and classism, the Soviets were facing economic challenges and classism. The ordinary Soviets were finding it difficult to feed as huge budgetary allocations went to production of war armaments against the production of consumables. Also, like Nigeria, the defunct USSR was fragmented as the Asians in the eastern part were seen as second class citizens.