Sun, Oct
103 New Articles

De Moment of Truth

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

The incessant mantra that Nigeria and her unity are non negotiable whenever there is a protest against marginalization or agitation for autonomy is often ambiguous.
This is because when the statement is analysed contextually, one finds it difficult to understand whether the meaning is that the federal government is always ready to negotiate and give concessions to maintain that unity or that it will use the force of arms to suppress agitations.

The incessant mantra that Nigeria and her unity are non negotiable whenever there is a protest against marginalization or agitation for autonomy is often ambiguous.
This is because when the statement is analysed contextually, one finds it difficult to understand whether the meaning is that the federal government is always ready to negotiate and give concessions to maintain that unity or that it will use the force of arms to suppress agitations.

But, from the body language of both past and present federal governments, it is obvious that Nigeria's unity is anchored on the use of force to suppress agitations. However, contrary to that posturing that Nigeria's unity is not negotiable, it is the belief in many quarters that as the nation charts her course for the development of a sustainable democratic system and in the light of insurgencies all over the landscape and the crescendo of calls for restructuring, it has now become imperative to renegotiate her existence. The reason is that Nigeria, as we know, was conceived for the administrative and economic convenience of Britain to enable her to manage a cluster of her colonies. Again, Nigerian federation is a product of several years of negotiations and will also require renegotiations to re-establish those political structures which our founding fathers agreed at independence but which are conspicuously missing in the democratic sphere now.
In the first place, it is imperative to remind our political leaders particularly those who harp on an indivisible Nigeria to accept the truth that there was no Nigeria prior to 1914. This nation is made up of several British colonies which she later decided to assemble together. The making of Nigeria from a group of colonies and the reasons for this were enunciated by Frederick Lugard when he read the Amalgamation Proclamation Speech on January 1, 1914. On the occasion of that big ceremony, Lugard said: "You are aware that His Majesty's government, after long and mature consideration, arrived some time ago at the conclusion that it would be to the great advantage of the countries known as southern and northern Nigeria that they should be amalgamated into one government, conforming to one policy and mutually co operating for the moral and material advancement of Nigeria as a whole".
While explaining that he and his colleagues had being working on the policy in the past ten years, Lord Lugard revealed the reason for the amalgamation thus: "The construction of rival  railways in northern and southern Nigeria accentuated the necessity of having a single railway policy, with a single administration, and over a year ago the Secretary of State decided that the time had come to give effect to the scheme of constituting a single government for Nigeria". This is how Nigeria was created by Britain for administrative convenience.
When Britain later conceived the idea of granting self rule to the northern and southern provinces of Nigeria, the colonial government  made recommendations to the home government to approve a federal system of government with autonomy to the three regions so that each could develop at its own pace. The report noted that federalism is the appropriate political system to manage the different ethnic groups, religions, cultures and other diversities that abound in the country. Thus, the period preceding independence immediately Britain conceived the idea of decolonization in 1950 witnessed several conferences where the terms of Nigeria's existence were negotiated.
There were three pre independence negotiations: 1950-51, 1953-54 & 1957-58. The first one commenced in January 1950 at Ibadan. It was at the Ibadan conference that delegates discussed federalism as proposed by Britain. It also discussed and agreed among others that the regions should be autonomous with legislative Houses and a governor in addition to a national parliament in Lagos. The Ibadan conference opened the flood gates to party politics.
The next negotiations after the Ibadan constitutional conference were held in London in 1953. As it is generally known,  when on 31st March,1953 Enahoro moved a motion that Nigeria be granted independence in 1956, the Hausa- Fulani north under NPC opposed it and accused the South for being in a haste to form a Nigeria which was non existent prior to amalgamation. They made it clear that the north was not ready and would rather opt out of the Nigerian project if the South wanted to stampede them.
In the aftermath of the motion for independence and the violence that followed it in the northern regions, the Hausa-Fulani NPC sent a position paper to the British colonialists with an 8 point demand among which is regional autonomy. The intensity of Hausa Fulani opposition to independence, their fears for it and the accompanying violence forced Britain to convene an immediate conference which lasted between July 30 and August 22, 1953. It was at this London meeting that NCNC/AG South accepted federalism as proposed by Britain while the NPC North dropped its 8 point demands and 1960 was agreed for independence. In addition, the Western and Eastern regions were granted the authority to commence partial independence with limited powers pending independence in 1960. The two regions subsequently became self -governing in
From the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that there were series of round table negotiations which spanned several years before the three regions agreed on the form of government, revenue sharing formula, etc.  At the end of the day, Nigeria was granted independence in 1960 with regional autonomy and a weak federal government.
It was when the army led by mainly Igbo officers sacked the democratically elected government in 1966 and promulgated Unification Decree No.34 of May 1966 for a unitary government with a strong centre, the exact opposite of what our founding fathers took strenuous jaw- jaw to reach that Nigeria changed. Through Decree 34, the military government concentrated powers in central government.
As we already know, Decree 34 was inherited by the northern elements in the military when they toppled the government led by an Igbo man, General Aguiyi Ironsi. General Yakubu Gowon who succeeded Ironsi wasted no time to alter the revenue sharing formula in favour of the federal government. Decree 34, as it were, can be said to be the greatest undoing of Nigeria. The mismanagement of the nation's polity and resources are traceable to it. Since the regime of Gowon from 1966 to date, Hausa Fulani have held on to power for a major period. They used their long period of rule to install themselves in strategic and lucrative federal positions to the exclusion of other ethnic groups, hence the hue and cry over marginalization, domination, oligarchy, hegemony, oppressive tendencies and their concomitants. Having tasted the "Apple", the Hausa Fulani no longer listen to CHANGE to true federalism or restructuring or whatever name it may be called because they are the beneficiaries of the prevalent injustices  in Nigeria. This explains why the Hausa Fulani who insisted on regional autonomy in the pre independence period are now opposed to it.
They still bear in their minds how the negotiations which preceded independence were characterised by ethnic and regional rivalries where politicians were concerned with the percentage of representatives from their regions in the parliament, revenue sharing, etc.  Thus, ab initio, political leaders being in the main, parochial and tribal carried their dishonest tendencies over to the post independence period. This is the reason for the mutual distrust of politicians from both the North and South.
With domination and suppression of other ethnic groups by Hausa Fulani, their insincerity which resulted in mismanagement of the polity and national treasury, it is therefore not out of place to renegotiate the terms for an indivisible Nigeria.
It is obvious from this discussion that this nation is a product of negotiations. There is also no ambiguity that the military enacted Decree 34 of 1966 which established a unitary system with sweeping powers to the centre after truncating the democratically elected government. We have in addition established that this behemoth federal government corrupted the Hausa Fulani beneficiaries who exclusively ran this country in both military and civilian governments which led us to this sorry state of near anarchy. As we can see, the fears during the pre independence negotiations are still here today. The Hausa Fulani north apart from dominating every facet of governance, continues to ask for more: Higher budgetary allocations, lopsided federal appointments in civil, military and police, oil block allocations, grazing Bill, etc. Under this circumstance, it will be naive to pretend that Nigeria does not need renegotiation. Therefore, if Nigeria should continue as one indivisible country, then the basis for that existence must of necessity be anchored on renegotiations of the current political system so as to ensure that every ethnic nationality is protected. It is also important to draw attention to implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 national conference especially the aspects of power rotation and revenue sharing formula because from all indications, that document will serve as a starting point to renegotiation.

Sign up via our free email subscription service to receive notifications when new information is available.