By Jerome-Mario Utomi
It is pretty obvious that the Nigerian Nation state seems to lack the necessary ingredients of real unity and peace required for her socio-economic development and genuine progress. This counter, cross and Trans arguments is particularly “nourished” by two separate but related factors.First is what many describe as ‘leadership haemorrhage’ that the nation has suffered right from independence in October 1960. The second has to do with the notion that Nigeria’s Problems of Political Instability is traceable to the fact that the nation came into existence by virtue of British imperial power and colonial diplomacy and primarily to achieve the British objectives of colonization of Nigeria.
These main British colonial objectives going by reports includes: The supply of primary raw material (agriculture and mineral) for which Nigeria as a large Nation was abundantly endowed to the British home industry, and To secure Nigeria as a large market for the industrial goods (capital and consumer items) and professional technological services of the British home industry and personnel.
But the most serious and surprising reason for amalgamation according to one of Nigeria’s foremost Lawyers, late Richard Akinjide, is found in Fredrick Lugard’s Book, titled “The Dual Mandate of Europe in Tropical Africa” London, 4th Edition, 1929. Where, Lord Harcourt, the British Colonial Secretary, after whom Port Harcourt (PH) was named, clearly stated that the Purpose of Amalgamation of the Entities named Nigeria as follows, “We have released Northern Nigeria from the lending Strings of the Treasury (British Government Treasury). The promising and well conducted Youth is now on Allowance on his own and is about, to effect, the Alliance with a Southern Lady of means. I (Lord Harcourt) have issued the special License and Sir Fredrick Lugard will perform the Ceremony. May the Union be fruitful and the Couple constant”.
These scenarios have made commentators conclude that there was no available evidence from historical records that the British Colonial Authorities intended to develop Nigeria into a really united World competing modern technological and industrial Nation. And, conflicting nations, they say, cannot achieve unity, nationalism, love, pride and or real progress.
However, as Nigeria and Nigerians dwell in regrets with many apprehensive that what we are experiencing is no longer be the first half of a reoccurring circle, but rather the beginning of something new, one quietly influential Nigerian, namely, Professor Felix N.C. Oragwu. FSAN, a Former University Academic in Physics, from 1960s, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka,(UNN) before the Civil War of 1967-1970, Coordinator of the Technological Services, the Industrial War Machine, that operated in the defunct State of Biafra, 1967-1970, and first Senior Director in Charge of the Department of Science and Technology Policy, Planning and Development (DPPD) of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, 1979-1987 and author of the book; Scientific and Technological Innovations In Biafra (the ‘Ogbunigwe” Fame (1967-1970), among others, in a well knitted Memorandum titled; Critical Steps towards the Resolution of Nigeria as a True Federation, forwarded to some Principal Officers in the National Assembly, disagrees with People, who say that all Nigeria’s Problems of Political Instability are due to “the Mistake of Amalgamation” in 1914 of over 200 differing and distinct ethnic Nationalities to set up Nigeria as a Nation.
Aside from adding sidelight to the present national disagrees, Oragwu’s new awareness as subsequent paragraphs shall reveal forms the plot that gave big helping hands to this piece.
To copiously quote him,“ Amalgamation” made United States of America (USA) a big and most powerful Nation on earth, USSR a second most powerful Nation on earth and United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain a great and formidable Colonial Power in Europe. Nigeria with its large population and talented human resources, huge natural resources and large geographical space can be a great power at least in Africa.
However USA and UK respectively came into being through a strategy of negotiated terms of Union in the case of USA of America States who are all immigrants from Europe, Asia and Africa, respectively, but who found themselves in North America originally owned by what is now history called the Red Indians, and in the case of UK of Great Britain is also through a negotiated Union of independent Nations of England, Scotland and Wales living independently in one big Island called Britain, which through the resulting Treaty of 1707 brought UK into being.
What I believe is the “Mistake” in the case of Nigeria is the strategy of “forced Amalgamation” in 1914. Britain herself to her credit as a Colonial Power later realized her “mistake” and corrected it in 1951, when she organized a National Conference of representatives of Nigeria’s over 200 constituent ethnic Nationalities led by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello leading the Northern Nigeria’s Group of Nationalities (now the 19 Northern States), Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe leading the Eastern Nigeria Group of Nationalities (now the SouthEast States, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo leading the Western Nigeria Group of Nationalities (now the 6 South West Sates, Edo and Delta States) respectively, in Ibadan, Western Nigeria for a negotiated Federation in 1951 to make Nigeria a true Federation, which sustained Nigeria in relative unity, peace and progress from 1952-January 15, 1966 until Nigeria, by Military Fiat, jettisoned and disbanded the well worked out Terms of Nigeria Union by our Founding Fathers in 1952 to now introduce a destructive Unitary Administration.
In the light of the above complex of Nigeria’s Nationhood, the Responsibility of the Restructuring of Nigeria In Peace, in the light of the Existing Constitution, into a sustainable Nation, State or a True Federation in Peace, lies squarely with the National Assembly / 36 States Assemblies who are now the Elected True Representatives of the over 120 ethnic Nationalities comprised in Nigeria.
The British Colonial Authority is no more here and has long since left Nigeria in 1960. It is now our Responsibility to organize Nigeria, the Way we (Nigerians) want. The British Colonial Census of Nigeria of 1931 indicated or informed us that Nigeria consists of the following diverse / distinct ethnic Nationalities or Nations in the following descending Order / Size of Populations,namely, Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo (Ndigbo), Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv, Edo, Nupe, Ijaw and other smaller Population Groups including Urhobo, Itschekiri, Efik, Ogoja, Idoma, Igala, Isoko,Beron, Gwari, among others,spread along the length and breadth of the River Niger/River Benue.
It is also found that,out of the Ten(10) large Population ethnic Nationalities, namely, Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Tiv, and Nupe,are domiciled in the Northern Region of Nigeria, while the Yoruba, Igbo (NdiIgbo), Ibibio, Edo and Ijaw, are domiciled in the Southern Region of Nigeria. There has been no love lost politically among these diverse ethnic Nationalities comprised in Nigeria.
Also, in his (oragwu) Writings,since the end of the Civil War in 1970 including Bookson Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, it is stated that the held View that the Hausa-Fulani led Northern Nigeria can continue indefinitely,to oppose the Restructuring of Nigeria into a True and sustainable Federation is no longer feasible because of the following existing facts,namely (1) No Empire lasts forever(2) the present Northern Nigeria since 1970, is no longer cohesive nor what it was in 1951 and (3) the Northern Region of Nigeria is now very politically polarized and ethnically divided, that it can no longer politically speak with one Voice. The Civil War of 1967-1970 is primarily a War between Igbo (NdiIgbo) ethnic Nationality and the rest of the ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria. The Situation has drastically changed. In fact, that Civil War tells us that together Nigeria is a Great Nation and that all the ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria have a lot to lose, some very badly, in the unlikely Event of Nigeria’s disintegration.
Utomi is the Programme Cordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via; j[email protected]/08032725374.