By Jerome-Mario Utomi
There are many reasons why the nation Nigeria must take the present call for restructuring seriously. It is in the long -term interests of all the ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria to restructure Nigeria into a True and sustainable Federation. It is however clear that there is at present no love lost politically between Hausa – Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Tiv, Ibibio and what have you ethnic Nationalities comprising Nigeria. What all ethnic Nationalities are now engaged in, is primarily what they can get from Nigeria. No ethnic Nationality now really wants Nigeria to disintegrate into its Component Parts. Every ethnic Nationality both large and small Populationsis now fighting for its own political and economic interests and what it can get in Nigeria as a Nation State.
On the urgent need to achieve this path to Peaceful Resolution of Nigeria’s Political Existential Impasse, Felix N.C. Oragwu’s memorandum, entitled; Critical Steps towards the Resolution of Nigeria as a True Federation( for those that missed the first of this piece) ), proffers that Nigeria should borrow a leaf from the Experience of other Federations such as namely, (1) UK of Great Britain,a Federation of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, (2) Canada which is a Federation of English Speaking and French Speaking Americans which came into existence after the American War of Independence from Europe, (3) the now disintegrated USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia Federations which came into Existence through the Force of Socialism/ Communism, and (4) nearer home the former Sudan now disintegrated into North and South Sudan and even South Sudan is threatening to disintegrate into its two ethnic Nationalities.
I believe that the Interests ofNigeria’s ethnic Nationalities can be harmonized through Dialogue and by aConsensus Terms of Union through Debate inthe National and State Assemblies as now constituted. What is happening in Nigeria is not unique, it has happened in most forced Federations such as USSR and Yugoslavia which have since disintegrated into their respective component Parts. We should not wish such Fate to befall Nigeria.
For information In 1952, the Nation State of Nigeria was first restructured from one British Colonial Amalgamated Entity into a three Federating Regions of Northern Nigeria,led by a Hausa-Fulani ethnic Nationality,Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Western Region of Nigeria led by a Yoruba ethnic Nationality Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the Eastern Region of Nigeria led by an Igbo ethnic Nationality, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe,respectively. In each of these Regional Set ups there are other smaller population ethnic Nationalities.
The Capitals of the respective Regional Governments are Kaduna, Ibadan and Enugu respectively, while Lagos,though part of Yoruba land, was unanimously chosen as the Capital of the Nigerian Federation,during the Restructuring Meetings of the Amalgamated Nigeria in 1951 at Ibadan Western Nigeria. Please see the Report of the Conference to this effect at Ibadan Western Nigeria under the Chairmanship of the British Colonial Secretary, Sir Oliver Littleton in 1951
In the subsequent Election of 1952 to the National Assembly, it was found that Northern Nigeria had 175 Elected Members all belonging to one Party, namely, Northern Nigeria People’s Party (the NPC), and the whole Southern Nigeria put together had a total of 157 Elected Members, respectively.
It was also found in the Northern Regional Assembly that the Hausa-Fulani and Kanuri ethnic Nationalities who are mostly Muslims dominated the Northern Regional Parliament with no opposition, the Western Nigeria Regional Parliament was dominated by the Yoruba ethnic Nationality, while the Eastern Nigeria Regional Parliament was dominated by the Igbo ethnic Nationality, respectively. In each of these Regions there is agood number of distinct ethnic Nationalities which are not Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba,or Igbo,respectively.
That is where Nigeria’s Political Instability and Crises of Good Governance started and culminated intothe Military Intervention in Politics in 1966 and the subsequent Nigeria-Biafra Civil War of 1967-1970 and what Nigeria is now witnessing leading to vociferous cry or call for a True and Sustainable Federation for Nigeria. After the Civil War from 1979, several Attempts were again made to restructure Nigeria but no success.
In the light of the above Nigeria’s complex Political Situation, the following proposed Steps were recommended by the memo for Consideration In resolving the vexed Question of Restructuring Nigeria so that Nigeria will develop and grow in real Unity, Peace and real economic progress.
There is now the need to consider eventually a New Name for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In this respect, Nigeria may be renamed,“United States of Nigeria (USN)”. Please see UK of Great Britain. This may erase the ugly History or Memory of Nigeria’s forced Amalgamation without the consent of the different / distinct ethnic Nationalities comprised in Nigeria and located along the Length and Breadth of the River Niger, by Lord Fredrick Lugard, the first Governor General of Nigeria, 1914-1918, acting on the Authority of British Imperial Power and Colonial Diplomacy.This transaction taken without the consent and agreement of ethnic Nationalities concerned.
Suggested TERMS of UNION for Nigeria as a True Federation:
The Terms of Union are already well spelt out early in 1951 during the British Colonial sponsored National Conference of Representatives of the ethnic Nationalities comprising Nigeria, at Ibadan, South West Nigeria, to restructure the amalgamated Unitary Administration of Nigeria operating since 1914. The Restructuring Conference of 1951 was attended by the True Representatives of the ethnic Nationalities comprised inNigeria, namely Sir Ahmadu Bello leading the Representatives of Northern Region of Nigeria (now 19 States of Northern Nigeria), Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe leading the Representatives of Eastern Region of Nigeria (now the 5 States of Igbo land and the States of AkwaIbom (Ibibio/ Anang) and Cross River State (Efik / Ogoja) land,and Chief Obafemi Awolowo leading the Representatives of South West Nigeria (now, the 6 Yoruba States of Western Nigeria and the present Edo and Delta States, respectively. The Conference was chaired by the British Colonial Secretary, then Sir Oliver Littleton.
The Terms of Union of the Nation State of Nigeria, arrived at the Ibadan Conference which successfully kept Nigeria together in relative peace, should be adopted with necessary Amendments.
The Details of these Terms of Union of Nigerian Federation operating from 1952-1965, are captured by the Macpherson Constitution of Nigeria of 1952, and are also well documented by the following public Articles in 2019 by Felix N. C. Oragwu, titled “The Imperative of a True Federation for Nigeria” and “Do we (Nigerians)need 36 States Federation“ respectively. These Terms of Union are also contained in Felix N. C. Oragwu’s Book, titled, “Nigeria’s Amalgamation Conundrum”, 2019.
The Highlights of these Terms of Union that operated from 1952-1965, are as follows, namely,
The Federal (Central) Government is to operate as a Coordinating Government and not as a Controlling Government, but has the exclusive Responsibility for the mutually agreed Common National Services, such as Armed Forces, Nigerian Police, Citizenship, Customs, , Central Bank of Nigeria, / National Currency, Immigration , Foreign Affairs including Foreign Trade, National Education Standards, but not Educational Institutions (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Levels, which are the sole Responsibilities of the Federating Regional Governments), National Scientific, Technological and Industrial Goods Standards including Agricultural / Mineral Commodity Export Standards, Trunk A Roads or Interconnecting High ways of Nigerian Federation, but (as Stated in the Document) any other Responsibility not specified for the Federal (Central) Government, is a matter for the Federating Regional Governments, For more Details, please see the Report of Nigerian Conference at Ibadan, Western Nigeria, 1951, attended by the Political Leaders of Nigeria’s Federating Regions, led respectively by Sir Ahmadu Bello for Northern Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe for South East Nigeria and Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Western Nigeria which include Mid -West Nigeria (now Edo and Delta States) and Chaired by the then British Colonial Secretary, Sir Oliver Littleton. This Conference gave rise to the above- named Macpherson Constitution of Nigeria.
To be continued.
Utomi is the Programme Cordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via; j[email protected]/0803272537