The proposed National Conference has generated nationwide criticisms following the calls by some prominent Nigerians that there should be some “no go areas” during the conference. One crucial item in the no go areas is that the unity of Nigeria should not be negotiated. The proponents of this absurdity say whether some people, tribes, states are marginalized, killed under unprovoked circumstances and they desire to secede from this suffocating union called Nigeria, they have no right to do so. Hitherto, some Nigerians who benefit enormously from this faulty and coercive union call Nigeria, had said that a national conference would break up the country. According to these Nigerians who “love” the country so much, do not want it to break up.
Nigerians who are campaigning for no go areas in the forthcoming conference are ignoramuses who do not know how a union is formed. The various tribes and nationalities that constituted the defunct Lagos Colony, Southern and Northern Protectorates before they were amalgamated in 1906 and 1914 respectively, were never consulted before they were jumbled together! It may interest you to note that even countries that were formed based on discussions, deliberations, conferences, etc have clauses or provisions in their constitutions that allow any groups, tribes or states that want to pull out of the union, the right to do so. Also, it is noteworthy that with such provisions in those countries’ statue books, none of the federating units has broken away from such countries because all the federating units and the citizens enjoy the union! Such unions are not for the benefits of a few individuals but for all and sundry. It is only in Nigeria that any tribe that is not comfortable with the country has no right to break away from the country simply because a clique of persons is enjoying the faulty foundation.
All over the world, tribes, nationalities, states, etc go into unions voluntarily; they are never compelled as the case of Nigeria where the various tribes that make up the country were forced into the union. When America declared her independence forcefully from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, she had only 13 colonies: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia-an equivalent of 13 states. But subsequently, other states joined the union on their own volition. Many of such states joined the union from Britain, the defunct USSR and Spain. This is because such states realised that becoming part of the American Union would be more beneficial to them than to stay alone. Since the American Union was founded, no part of the country has muted the notion to break away from the union because the union benefits all Americans. This is why every year, Nigerians and citizens of other country play the American Visa Lottery in order to win the American Green Card and become citizens of America. Why do people across the world want to become American citizens? It is because the country provides opportunities for everybody that lives in the country. It is unlike Nigerian that benefits only a few people or the aristocrats!
In January 1959, Senegal formed a union called a federation with the defunct Sudanese Republic (the former French Sudan now Mali) which became independent in June, 1960. On August 20, 1960, Senegal withdrew from the Federation and became an independent state. Again, in 1981, under the leadership of President Abdul Diouf, Senegal and Gambia formed another union, they called Senegambian Confederation. Each nation was to maintain its sovereignty while consolidating their defence, economics and foreign relations. The confederation was however dissolved in 1989. Since the dissolution of the confederation have the two countries ceased to exist? If a confederation that was mutually entered into by two countries can break up, is it Nigeria that was formed without dialogue, discussion or conference that cannot break up simply because it benefits a few people at the disadvantage of the majority?
If Nigeria breaks up, will that be the end of the various nationalities that presently constitute the country? Since the break up of the Senegal-French Sudan and Senegal-Gambian Federation and Confederation, have the people of those countries died? Why will anyone think that Nigeria must remain one country when those who benefit so much from the abnormalities that presently plagued the country do not want them corrected? The way the Nigerian federation is being run, is it how other federations operate? Do other federations rely on only one part of the country for their revenues? Is this how America, Canada, Switzerland etc that are the bastion of federalism operates? Are oil blocs given as largesse to relatives and friends in other oil producing countries as it is done here?
For instance, the constitutions of Sweden and Ethiopia have clauses that allow any parts of these countries to secede if they no longer desire to remain in the federations. Nevertheless, it is on record that with such clauses in the constitutions of Sweden and Ethiopia, no parts of the two countries has ever attempted to break away from the countries because the system benefits all the citizens. Also, it is imperative to note that no union that favours only a clique of the society can exist for long. A union as Nigeria where there is no healthy competition among the citizens cannot last. At present, candidates from the north do not write qualifying examinations before they are offered admission into the university. So also pupils from the north are offered admission into unity schools by scoring only two marks in entrance examinations. Does this encourage competition?
The Land Use Act which transfers land ownership to the government is inimical to progress. This is the major cause of poverty in the land as this law prevents the citizens from having access to land title with which they could obtain bank loans to establish cottage industries.
The defunct Mid West Region has only two states (Edo and Delta) but the defunct Northern, Western and Eastern Regions have 19, 6 and 9 states respectively! It is pertinent to note that the present Rivers State from which Bayelsa State was carved out, Akwa Abom and Cross River Sates, were all parts of the defunct Eastern Region. Kano State had more population than Lagos State before Jigawa State was carved from it but today Kano State also has more population than Lagos State! It is only in this country, states and local government areas are created and their capitals sited in friends and in-laws’ towns. With this inequity in the creation of states and local government areas, where is justice in the Nigeria project? The Igbos were forced to remain in Nigeria, has the country grown because the Igbos are in the country? But the Igbos has been retarded by remaining in Nigeria; where are the Igbo made goods of yesteryears?
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 classism, the Soviets also had classism. As some Nigerians are seen as second class citizens, in the defunct USSR, the Asians in the eastern part were seen as second class citizens. Those few Nigerians who are benefitting from the status-quo, who say the unity of this country is not negotiable are not being sincere and 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 (s) would want to secede from the United States of America? Everybody wants to be a citizen of America because it provides opportunities for every citizen.
From all available records, a union that is foisted on the people cannot survive the test of time. Even unions that were formed through discussions, conferences and treaties, have also collapsed not to talk of a coerced union such as ours! Therefore, a referendum should be conducted to determine the tribes that wish to secede from the country as it happened in South Sudan that broke from Sudan last year through a referendum. People cannot be forced to remain in any particular country which is detrimental to their existence and progress. Therefore, there should be no “no go areas” during the national conference; every areas must be touched.