By Abdullah Abdulganiy
It was a moment for sober reflections as Nigeria marked her 60th Independence anniversary last Thursday. What the Diamond Jubilee celebrations connote in other words is that it is now 60 years since the British colonial masters approved self-rule and self-determination for Africa’s most populous country. Therefore, it was a period to deeply ponder on our past, examine our present and, of course, predict the future.
Does this call for celebrations? It surely does, in my own view. Moderate and less flamboyant celebrations as we had it. Though those who elected to mourn have the right to do so, just like others who thought chanting praises is the right thing to do. This is definitely not the Nigeria of our dreams yet, it’s still not all gloomy and dark as some people want to paint it. There have been achievements, consolidations, gains, as we’ve faced some setbacks, reversals and denials. This is typical of every nation climbing the ladder of development. Win some, lose some is the rule of the game.
This is no attempt to say that all is well with Nigeria. Indeed, there is a litany of existential challenges staring the country in the face. Corruption. Unemployment. Insecurity. Economic crisis. Political instability. Mass illiteracy. To mention but a few. The summary therefore is that we are not where we should be in terms of development. Nevertheless, any genuine assessor would agree that it’s not all bad and we are poised to do better if all hands are on deck. The Eldorado we want Nigeria to become is the duty of everyone. Not the leaders alone.
Essentially, we must thank God for holding the fabric of Nigeria together till this significant milestone. Nigeria, as many have argued, is a bizzare contraption, contrived entity and a product of inconvenient almagamation. I seem to agree. However, that we still remain single, united nation amid songs of secession, divisive rhetoric rehashed overtime, truly calls for celebrations. It’s a laudable feat. This is even when many other countries that are not as heterogeneous as Nigeria have had their honeymoon soured. Sudan is a case in point.
So, like we have always had some vociferous minorities threatening to tear the country apart, suing for secession since the production of close-up toothpaste, a tiny but vocal section of the country, in recent times, thronged the media (traditional and new) agitating various republics: Biafra Republic, Oduduwa Republic, and maybe the RevolutionNow Republic. They appear to believe that secession/revolution would end the truckload of problems affecting their lives. Well, that’s not quite correct and I do not share in that belief. Nigeria’s problems won’t end by secession or even revolution. It may only have just begun.
Our brothers are really missing the points. They are not tackling what the issues are. They are probably blinded by emotions or partisanship. Secession and revolution have not helped any country of the world solve its challenges as ample antecedents have demonstrated. Challenges would always come. How we choose to approach them is where tact lies. The promoters of secession and revolution, for instance, are not prepared enough for eventualities, even if they, peradventure, achieved their aims. Who will lead the new Oduduwa Republic/Biafra Republic/RevolutionNow Republic? This raises a bold, dark question mark and is, verily, where the hiccup would stem from. No roadmap. No vision. No masterplan. Just a group of charged youths dancing to the tune of emotions.
Practically speaking, Marx’s seminal thesis on the evolution of societies and class struggle shows that as people rail against a particular order for perceived imbalances, the new order also came with its own shortcomings, leading to another kind of revolution. What this says is that revolution does not quite solve anything, and may only create a worse condition. Think Mali. The people revolted against a democratic regime for certain ills, only to end up in the hands of an old-fashioned military regime. And if efforts are not put in by relevant stakeholders to salvage Mali from the junta, the ill-treatment people riled at may just have started afresh.
The system Marx proposed to address the problem of inequality and dialectics in society was Communism. Some social thinkers have, however, argued that there is no such society. Put differently, the Eldorado Karl Marx was seeking can only exist in human imagination because inequality is not only inevitable but also functional to the system. Or can anyone show us the Eldorado? The countries many persons use as barometer to measure Nigeria also have their peculiar challenges. Why are their citizens not calling for revolution or secession to reverse the trend? It is simple. Such move does not work and is, indeed, anachronistic, ineffectual.
Most of those fronting these movements of secession and revolution have personal interests to satisfy. They may masquerade as change agents or patriots just to pursue their interests. That does not exactly rule out their hidden agendas. For example, Mr Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow partook in the last presidential election, and, indeed, lost woefully. His tail between his two legs. If he had won and gained access to the corridors of power, he mostly would not also condone any secessionist agenda or revolutionist movement. What these forces pushing for separation and revolution however do not understand is that it is one thing to achieve the secessionist agenda, and it is another thing entirely for their objective to become leaders at all cost to be achieved. In a democracy, there are laid down procedures to toe to express misgivings, not hitting up the polity with notorious, ill-conceived actions.
Some Yorubas calling for separation seem to forget that when Pa Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba man from Ogun State was president, there were social problems just like we have them now. Why didn’t they call for Oduduwa Republic then? Or was Nigeria not too large to be a nation then going by their jaundiced argument? Why now that a Fulani man is with the paddle? The point is even that having your own at the helm of affairs is not likely to end the problems. In fact, our various states are telling examples. In the Southeast where those advocating Biafra rose from, they have indigenous people as political leaders and key office holders. But has this turned their states to London or Dubai of sorts? In our clime, too much focus is concentrated on the center. Everyone calls for the head of the president on matters their local leaders are in better position to handle. It’s such a glaring misfiring.
The long and short of my submission is that neither secession nor revolution would address the problems of this age-old country. In fact, these movements are not even popular with the people. The number of youths preaching revolution could easily be counted at the snap of a finger. The Oduduwa Republic protest turned out to be a failure as even the key promoters had disagreements amongst themselves. What of IPOB’s sit-at-home-order? It flopped clearly. Save his immediate community, Nnamdi Kanu, the controversial leader of Biafra is largely not recognized in the Southeast. I doubt if he can win a gubernatorial election.
In essence, there is no denying the fact that Nigeria, as it is, is enmeshed in series of social problems and challenges. But is secession/revolution the solution? The answer is a no-no. Methinks the problem of Nigeria is more of micro (individual) than the macro lens we often measure. Our leadership and social system are but a reflection of who we are as individuals/followers.
Most Nigerians are largely the deviant types who love to cut corners and reap from where they did not sow. A code was sent across social media platforms of recent. It was a sort of cheat that provides MTN users with unpaid for data to browse the internet. Surprisingly, many youths who would come out to tongue-lash the leaders for financial corruption benefitted from the fraudulent act. Is it not an irony? That is where it starts from.
Not until we begin to look inward and let the change begin from the individuals, the problem would still continue, whether in Biafra Republic or Oduduwa Republic or RevolutionNow Republic. I must also place on record that if a part of the country is willing to secede, it should not necessarily follow a bloody clash and violence. It is an issue that could easily be thrashed out by key stakeholders, and not a few misguided persons with ulterior motives, thrusting themselves into limelight as leaders. There must be wide consultations and consensus should be reached among all the stratas that make up the part of the country seeking separation.
Also, those at the helm of affairs need to raise their game and deliver the dividends of democracy promised. The rate of insecurity is becoming alarming. There is economic crisis. Life is becoming unbearable and difficult for many average persons. It’s the duty of the government to initiate policies that will tackle these challenges head-on. If this hardship persists, the unexpected could happen. Revolution and secession, which are clearly not the solution to the problems on the ground, might be the next resort. And this won’t bode well for the country. All entities that form Nigeria must be given a sense of belonging in the running of governance. Nigeria is the country we can rightly call our own. As such, no group should be meted with second class treatment.