I am not surprised at what is happening both in Kaduna State and in Nigeria. You can not put something on nothing and expect that it will stand. M.K.O Abiola, would say, ” you can not shave my head in my absence “.
We are not truthful to ourselves. But some fore-sighted Nigerians had seen the situation we are in and had spoken about it. Chief Awolowo said, “Nigeria is a mere geographical expression.” You can not fault that statement today. Sir Ahmadu Bello talked of our differences that can not be wished away but must be respected, as we can never be one. He was the grand child of the legendary Islamic Scholar and Cleric, who captured Hausa land . His descendants are ruling up to now. He was Usman bin Fodiye. The British Colonialists who formed the country called Nigeria, did so to promote their colonial interests. Our early fathers fought a war for independence and not a war to found a country(… ries), based on their individual interests but especially for freedom from the British Colonialists. They won the fight and got independence, but they did not ” win a country” . What they had could be likened to a contraption. Some of the problems we experience today started rearing their heads even on the attainment of internal self government for the three regions in 1958. There were fears and actual discrimination of the minority groups by the three giant tribes who were incidentally co-habiting each of the three regions. Agitations gave rise to the creation of a fourth region- the mid-west, composed mainly of minority groups. This did not solve the problems in the other three regions. Subsequent creation of states had been as a result of ” elite consensus”. To date it has not solved the problems. Even if more states are created and are as a result of elite consensus, it will not solve Nigeria’s problems. It is so, because right from the begining, up to now, nobody ever questioned the very concept and existence of Nigeria except with the possible exception of Biafra. That in itself was circumstantial arising out of the lack of “brains”, but “arms” . ” Nigeria ” is taken as given. The non interrogation of the very idea of Nigeria is largely responsible for the problems. We never sat with ourselves to ask ourselves, whether we consent to what the British did. We are a nation of very diverse nationalities and diverse world views, as to religion, tribe, and culture. Nobody sat down to devise how these over 300 hundred nations can live together. Our first concern was how to get independence and later, up to date how to share power and resources. Our independence fathers merely created and maintained empires for themselves and were not concerned with questioning the British creation known as Nigeria. It has been maintained by the political elite consensus. It is not by the consensus of all the people that make up over 300 nations. Perhaps, if that had been done, we would have ended up with the pre-colonial situation of several kingdoms, which would have been countries. That would have been by internal natural emergence, although through local conquests. But this internal process was suppressed and stopped by the colonialists. It is still being suppressed by the consensus of the political elite. This suppression, first, by the colonialists, and second, by the indegenous political elite, have given rise to the quotations at the begining of this write-up. We had quoted our early fathers who had recognised early enough, the artificiality of this country and had expressed this artificiality in different ways : some had said the country is irreconcilably diverse, in terms of differences in tribe, religion, culture and so on. Some have said that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression, while, yet, others have said there is no proper foundation. Yes, they may be right. Where there is no proper foundation, you can not put something on it and expect it to stand. If you try to do that, it would amount to attempting to give some one’s head a clean shave in his absence. In view of these, I conclude that we are not truthful to ourselves. We have to begin to build consensus of the people, the over 300 nations of this country and not rely on the consensus if the political elite alone. That would be the begining of building a nation. You can not build a nation by suppressing the popular “will” of the nations. This can only bring instability, insecurity and disintegration. I am sure those who are dominating would not want disintegration because they are benefiting. They are ignorant of the fact that they could benefit much more, if they accede to the correct thing to be done and that is restructuring and paradigmic shift.
In this country we need to restructure by questioning the concept of Nigeria. Nigeria could still stand, through negotiations and consensus of the people. Forget that crab by older members of the “military class of 1966” . They created the problems We went into , through “lack of ‘brains’ and use of arms ” , and took us into that “horrendous situation” of the civil war” which they think “we would probably not know “. But today’s youth use brains, digital brains, and would not like to go back to the horrendous, brainless use of arms which we experienced during the civil war. We are advocating dialogue and consensus- building. You do not have to spill blood as they ” brainlessly” did and threw the whole country into everlasting turmoil. Change can be achieved bloodlessly.
Joshua D Ephraim