THE QUEST FOR TRUE NATIONAL UNITY:NIGERIA CHANGETH NOT.

By the time that you are through with reading this piece, “only a mad man does the same things repeatedly and expects a different outcome”. Hopefully, you should also have any inkling as to why the more things are supposed to changing in Nigeria, the more they seemingly stay the same. It is shocking that we are still carrying on in pretty much the same way as we were sixty years ago. Any wonder why our march to true greatness and the quest for the attainment of true national unity continue to suffer severe hiccups at every twist and turn.

Here are some very thought-provoking excerpts from a publication which I want to believe that one was very lucky to have stumbled . It is certainly now out of print and I only managed to lay hands on it fortuitously in 1997. I have decided to put out excerpts therefrom in generous portions so as to make us realise the double-standards and folly entailed in today’s politics.

A.

***THE QUEST FOR DOMINATION OF THE MANY BY THE FEW DID NOT START TODAY. NEITHER DID THE INSULAR TENDENCY TO MINIATURIZE EVERY NATIONAL PLATFORM SIT-TIGHTISM AND POWER MONGERING.

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

“The early British administrative officers in the North, particularly Lord Lugard, had moreover established there a system of local government known as Indirect Rule by which various emirates were allowed to develop with a large measure of autonomy…In spite of subsequent attempts to widen the political horizon of the Emirs and inculcate in them a Nigerian outlook, they have consistently regarded themselves almost as a people apart from the rest of the country. They would accept that they belonged to Nigeria only when they or their representatives were in a position of dominance over the rest of the country.

(Whither the endless grandstanding on national unity?)

B.

**REGIONAL POLITICS AND ETHNIC CONCLAVES PERSIST TILL DATE. AT WHAT POINT DID CENTRALIZATION AND UNITY RATHER THAN CONFEDERATION BECOME THE PREFERRED OPTION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT? AFTER THE OIL BOOM COMMENCED?

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

“Not unexpectedly, the tribal politics of the Action Group and the Northern Peoples Congress conspired to disrupt the spirit of national consciousness and brotherliness which the NCNC had been striving to foster since its inception….These developments had an incalculable effect on the subsequent development of Nigeria. Ideologically, the NCNC became isolated as the only political party which was advocating the unification of the country in the closest and most effective sense of the word. It alone stood for this political ideology during the discussions following the constitutional crisis of 1953. It even went further to suggest that the country be divided into fourteen provinces for the same purpose. Not surprisingly, the Action Group on its part vehemently opposed the option of a unitary government for Nigeria and rather advocated federation. The NPC reflecting the views of the Northern leaders who had never really wanted unity with the South, advocated confederation. In the end the NCNC acquiesced in the inauguration of a federation”

C.

**EASTERNERS WERE THE EARLIEST PRACTICAL ADVOCATES OF ONE NIGERIA, EVEN AS MARGINALISATION DID NOT BEGIN TODAY

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

” With the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 and the centralization of the administration in Lagos, the impression was created that the various ethnic groups now belonged to a wider political unit. The Easterners were the first to embrace this idea wholheartedly…As a result Easterners came to acquire a stake in the country as a whole and to identify themselves with the survival and progress of the entity called Nigeria. This attitude has naturally governed the reaction of Easterners to the political developments in Nigeria before and since independence. It has also generated among them a spirit of acquiescence in the concentration of national projects, institutions and utilities outside the East. Easterners never complained that other regions of the country were being developed at the expense of their region. They believed that what was good for one region was good for all ”

D.

**ON WHITE ELEPHANT PROJECTS, FAVORITISM, INJUSTICE AND THE PROBLEM OF THE NIGER BRIDGE

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

“Again, the promptness and speed with which the Borno North-Eastern Railway Extension costing about 20M POUNDS was executed could be compared with the procrastination and tardiness which preceded the construction of the Onitsha-Asaba bridge costing about 5M POUNDS. While the former was meant to open up an area of doubtful economic advantage to the whole country, the latter had for long been acknowledged as an indispensable link  that would unite Lagos, the West and Mid-West with the east and the North. Even then, as soon as the bridge was completed, tolls began to be collected from the users who obviously were mainly Easterners. Today, this Niger Bridge is the only toll bridge in the country”

E.

[b]INSULAR POLITICKING[/b]

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

** ” At the same time, although until recently the economy of the east was in an indifferent condition, little assistance was received from national funds. In the 1950s, the years of the cocoa boom, the West had a buoyant economy. Western political leaders spoke of the east as a ‘poor neighbour’….The North, whose groundnuts and cotton were fluorishing on the world market was also inclined to support the view of the West. The slogan of the AG then was ‘West for Westerners’ and this slogan was echoed in the North by the Northernisation policy of the NPC”

F.

**DERIVATION ONCE USED TO BE ATTRACTIVE TO THOSE WHO ARE NOW RESISTING IT AND INADVERTENTLY SUSTAINING THE COMBUSTIBLE SITUATION IN THE NIGER DELTA. SURELY, WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER.

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

” Moreover, during the discussions on the allocation of national revenue, whereas the NCNC advocated the principle of allocation according to need and national interest, the Action group, supported by the NPC insisted on the principle of derivation. Hence when the Marketing Board reserves were shared in 1954 it was decided that the West should receive 34.4M POUNDS, the North 24.8M POUNDS and the East 15.1M POUNDS. In actual fact, the East eventually received only 11.49M POUNDS, while the West received 34.1M POUNDS and the North 23.03M POUNDS”

G.

**THE EAST LIT AN EARLY TORCH FOR A TRULY UNITED NIGERIA WHERE ABUJA IS SUPPOSEDLY UNITY BUT HAS NOT HAD A MINISTER FROM OUTSIDE THE NORTH SINCE CREATION IN 1976. NEVER MIND THAT NORTHERNERS WERE ONCE MINSTERS OF LAGOS AFFAIRS EVEN AS LAGOS IS IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA

AS IT WAS PRE-1966;

“Quite a number of non-Eatsern Nigerians have also been allowed by the eatsern Public Service Commission to occupy high positions of responsibility (BEEG EAGLE can confirm that AbdulAziz Atta from Okene in Northern Nigeria and Prince Solomon Akenzua..now Oba Erediauwa of Benin, were PermSecs in the Public Service of Eastern Nigeria). [b]It may be mentioned that the first Mayor of Enugu, capital of Eastern Nigeria, was a Northerner”

H.

**THE EAST HAD AN EARLY RESOLUTION OF THE INDIGENE-SETTLER CONFLICTS RAGING ACROSS THE FEDERATION AND WHICH HAVE ROBBED PLACES SUCH AS JOS AND YELWA-SHENDAM OF PEACE. THE EAST ENVISIONED A NIGERIA OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY.

AS IT WAS

["Since the Military Regime came to power in Eastern Nigeria, Easterners have further demonstrated theri readiness to accomodate non-Easterners in the region...The Military Government of Eastern Nigeria was alone in throwing its scholarships open to all Nigerians resident in the region. The reaction of the Western Government was to stipulate that its awards must be restricted solely to applicants of Western origin, and the Northern Government also followed the lead of the West."

**PLAYING POLITICS WITH AND SUBVERTING THE NATIONAL INTEREST. DID WE STYMIE OUR MARCH TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY IN POWER SUPPLY ON ACCOUNT OF OUR OWN FOLLY? FORTY FIVE YEARS LATER, WE ARE BACK TO WHERE WE SHOULD HAVE STARTED OFF FROM IN THE FIRST PLACE:

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

"It is significant to mention that the large reservoir of natural gas in the East which could have produced electricity more cheaply than the Kainji Dam has been deliberately left unexploited despite expert advice"

J.

**AJAOKUTA COULD HAVE TURNED OUT DIFFERENTLY BUT FOR POLITICAL BUFFOONERY AND NEPOTISM. SACRIFICING THE NATIONAL INTEREST ON THE ALTAR OF POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY?

AS IT WAS PRE-1966:

"Furthermore, when international experts recommendeD for economic reasons that the proposed Iron and Steel Industry should be established in Eastern Nigeria, the whole venture was frustrated by the decision of the last Federal Government which was controlled by the NPC to locate the major part of the industry in Northern Nigeria"

[b]SOURCE: THE PROBLEM OF NIGERIAN UNITY(The Case of Eastern Nigeria)

Published by the Ministry of Information, Eastern Nigeria (1966)

Printed by International Press, Aba.

Federal Republic of Nigeria…playing analogue politics in the digital age!! :cry: Motherland Nigeria…cry the beloved country!

PART II.

* The preamble to the Memorandum of the Northern Delegation to the 12 September 1966 Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference in Lagos, had this to say: “We have pretended for too long that that there are no differences between the peoples of this country.  The hard fact which we must honestly accept as of paramount importance in the Nigerian experiment especially for the futureis that we are different peoples brought together by recent accidents of history.  To pretend otherwise will be folly”.

It is unfortunate that on CE today, anyone who holds these same views and honestly seeks to harmonise the points of divergence among Nigerians through frank and open discussion is labeled as unpatriotic, an opponent of national unity, an ethnocentrist and possibly, an enemy of the state. But the foregoing quote similarly contradicts the stance of those CEs who would rather remain averse to discussing the points of divergence between us as Nigerians, even as this healthy albeit high-octane debates on equity, justice and fairplay are ONLY aimed at breathing new life into our massively embattled polity and to pave the way for the emergence of a just, peaceful and truly UNITED Nigeria which will be loved by ALL Nigerians and deemed to be worthy of dying for.

The first step to the attainment of true national unity begins with telling each other the TRUTH and not in sweeping anything under the carpet. The problem will not go away. The philosophical interplay that is THESIS + ANTITHESIS = SYNTHESIS is the ONLY interplay which will bring about a convergence of ideas and the emergence of a new worldview which will underpin our march to greatness and the fulfillment of our God-ordained destiny as a mega-nation.

Will the real Nigerians please stand up?

**DID THE NORTH UNKNOWINGLY LAY THE FOUNDATIONS FOR THE ONGOING MELEE ON THE PLATEAU WHILST TRYING TO CLOSE OUT SOUTHERNERS FROM CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS UPCOUNTRY?

During the General Conference held at Ibadan in January 1950 for the revision of the Nigerian Constitution, the Northern delegates insisted that “only Northern Nigerian male adults of twenty-five years of age or more, resident in the region for three years should be qualified for election into the Northern House of Assembly”. In reply the eastern delegates were obliged to enter a minority report in which they raised an issue of fundamental principle.

“It is in our view invidious”, the Easterners stated “that any Nigerian under a Nigerian Constitution of the right of election in any region in which he for the time being -or permanently- has his abode, merely by the reason of the accident of birth or ancestry”

(SEE: Proceedings of the General Conference on the Review of the Constitution, January 1950 – Government Printer, Lagos 1950, p.207)

ISOLATIONIST TENDENCIES: Perhaps you now understand my use of the word “anti-modern” as used elsewhere yesterday. We asked on this same thread why the North finds it hard to play in pan-Nigerian conclaves, preferring insular conclaves such as the Northern Governors Forum, Northern Representatives Forum, Northern Senators Forum while at the same time pontificating on the need for national unity ALL THE TIME.

* “In 1942, the then Governor, Sir Bernard Bourdillon undertook a tour of the North during which he tried to persuade the Emirs to modify their isolationist attitude and cooperate with Southerners in the administration of the country. But not much came out of this mission”

* “The treatment of Southerners in the North as foreigners and the persistent disinclination of Northerners to identify themselves with the rest of the country also accounted in great measure for the non-participation of Northerners in the constitutional and political development of Nigeria before 1947. Thus when the Nigerian Legislative Council was set up in 1922, it could not legislate for the North; rather the British Governor in Lagos ruled the region by proclamation”

**WHEN DID NATIONAL UNITY BECOME SUCH AN ATTRACTIVE OPTION? In 1953 and 1966, the North was outrageously and DECIDEDLY confederalist in outlook. Now, other Nigerians who are clamouring for even true federalism are demonised as enemies of the state bent on the disintegration of the country. Why is the MASSOB leader still in detention? Was he the first Nigerian to be disenchanted with the system and seek to break away?[/b].

* On 8th February 1950 during the heat of the nationwide debate which preceded the Macpherson Constitution, Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwobo, a Northern semi-official Hausa language newspaper wrote “In truth, we are not able to see any advantage in a united Nigeria, only oppression and injustice”. Three days later on 11th February 1950, the editor of the paper went further and declared  “We, on reflection, consider that a mistake was made in 1914 when the North and South were joined together”

* In what, as Sir Ahmadu put it in his biography titled “My Life”, amounted to the North’s compromise in the face of agitations for it to secede, Mallam Ibrahim Imam Secretary of the Northern Peoples Congress, on the 23rd of May 1953 moved a resolution which itemized the North’s EIGHT POINT PROPOSAL to determine the future political relationship of the North to other parts of Nigeria, on the floor of the Northern House of Assembly.

Some of the highlights were as follows:

“Each region shall have complete legislative and executive autonomy with respect to all matters except the following: Defence, External Affairs, Customs and West African research institutes”

“There shall be no no central legislative and no central executive or policy-making body for the whole country”

“All revenues shall be levied and collected by the Regional Governments except Customs revenue”

….SO SAID THE NORTH.

Moving on,

*The Memorandum submitted by the Northern delegation to the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference in Lagos which was held on 12 September 1966 went even further to seek the right of the regions to secession and to declare that there should no longer be a Nigerian citizenship but Associate Citizenship

* “In 1944-45, Sir Arthur Richards toured the regions to sound out feelings about constitutional reform. In the North whose peoples he had boldly decided to bring into the Central Legislature (as against the practice of being governed by proclamations from Lagos),  “the Northerners made no secret of the strength of feeling among them to the effect that they had interests and feelings vastly and materially different from those of the South. In point of fact, they would wish to retain the constitutional dichotomy between the North and South and would rather be left alone”

**WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER!!  WAS THIS SMARTNESS OR WHAT? “Sharpness” which persists till date? –

Elsewhere yesterday, we said that there is nothing wrong with the South-South wanting to hold on to the headship of the NNPC insofar as the Agriculture ministry (agriculture is the mainstary of the North’s economy) has been held on lock-down mode (locked by the North). Who wants the proposed US$100m College of Petroleum Studies in Kaduna whereas the oil is in the Far South? Are the Cereals, Textile, Tobacco and Animal research institutes not all in the North which is the agricultural heartland of Nigeria? We SURELY need to stop trying to fool each other lest peace continues to elude us as a nation

QUOTE

* “Attention might be called to the significant fact that in their EIGHT-POINT PROPOSAL of 1953 the North advocated that coal-mining, an industry based in Eastern Nigeria should be administered by a public corporation; but not tin-mining, an industry based in Northern Nigeria”

CREDIT:

CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENTS IN NIGERIA: Nigerian Crisis 1966 Vol.5

Printed by the Government Printer, Enugu. 1966

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About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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