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Is Nigeria Really A Nation?


Is Nigeria Really A Nation?

From time immemorial, the two protectorates were entirely different sets of people in traditions, customs and beliefs. For instance, the northerners are Islamic with domineering tendencies; having the features of violence through the jihadists movement which still persist till this day in the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist group. While the Southerners practices Christian religion. The both protectorates have differentials in foods, marriage, language, education, etc. Post the amalgamation, the political participation was on ethnic basis or lines symbolizing the three major ethnic groups. The Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) known to be a Hausa peoples party, headed by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Saudana Sokoto; the Action Group (AC) was representing the Yoruba ethnicity and was headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the Igbo party-the National Convention for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Chief Nnamdi Azikwe (Alagoa, 2002).

During that period, the nation’s economic mainstay was agriculture and was the largest employer of labour and the three regions representing the three ethnicities used their agricultural proceeds to develop their regions through confederal system of government. In fact, historians’ says that that was the time Nigeria had rapid development simultaneously. For instance, the premier of Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo applied the agro dividends to establish a television station in 1959 and erected the tallest building otherwise known as the Cocoa House in Ibadan, University of Ile Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University was also built, free education was provided for the people of Western Region thus making them to have edge over others in educational qualifications in Nigeria. Even the Northern Region led by Sir Ahmadu Bello used their famous groundnut pyramid proceeds to build Ahmadu Bello University; some gigantic buildings which he erected in Kaduna and other parts of the region still exist. The East too did same with their palm oil (proceeds) money like building of Onitsha market, University of Nigeria, Nssuka etc.

But the Niger Delta crude oil that was found at Oloibiri in 1956 in Ogbia Local Government Area in present day Bayelsa State changed the narrative of using what you have to develop your region (Okpara, 2000). This time, the relevance of land tenure and administration in Nigeria came to play. The minority could not bear strength of the (government) majority decisions of the day. Land is considered to be the mother of wealth because it have natural resources; erecting of structures on it, land can be used as a collateral and majorly for agricultural purposes, etc., so in all round land is very important to man that is why every being is struggling to get it. The General Olusengu Obasanjo Regime introduced “Land Use Degree of 1978” with an excuse of lairds selling of same land to different people which caused series of litigation and it also stalled second development plan of 1975-1980 as a result of no land. So the government claimed hold lands on trust.

As the land of Nigeria harbours different natural resources, almost every state is blessed with one natural resource or the other such as tin, columbite, gold, lead, diamond, crude oil, bitumen etc. The Niger Delta region is blessed with crude oil and instead of using its proceeds to develop the region as others did to their regions then, the nation now came up with a Decree whereby the Niger Delta oil proceeds would be shared amongst the 36 states at the end of every month for national development. Nigeria now bears the tortoise folklore’s name “WABISE” in Nembe it means “all of us”. The Niger Delta area is having some environmental challenges such as flood, erosion, tremor, famine, drought, and ailments like tuberculosis, cancer, dysentery and so on. These challenges were been caused by oil exploration activities in the area. The people of the Niger Delta drinks from polluted water, their source of livelihood being fishing and the aquatic lives are being destroyed. The Niger Delta people are very poor yet the region is the goose that lays the golden egg, but the region is not part of the policy making of the nation and the whole nation is feeding from us, says Niger Delta activist, Ankio Briggs at Wazobia Radio phone-in programme on the 3rd October, 2019. President Goodluck Jonathan too said in one of his presidential chats on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) while in office (2012) that fine, the people of the Niger Delta are living in squalor while they are the hosts of the multinationals, bearing the total effects of exploration and not benefiting from the oil industry. Why did he say so? He said so because the Niger Delta people hosts the oil blocks, well heads, pipelines and other oil installations but does not have access to the crude oil control and management unlike the past narrative where regions developed with their resources. The “Land Use Act No. 6 of 1978” denied the people of Niger Delta of their right to development. The annoying part of it is that the people are suffering from the effects of crude oil and the owners of oil blocks are not from the Niger Delta but the people of the three major ethnicities in Nigeria. What an imbalance and ungrateful nation?

In the late 1950s and 60s the censuses that were held as at that time were manipulated to favour the North with inflated figures to attract developments since population is a tool for national planning says Harold Smith, a British colonialist. The reason was to lead other parts of the nation. Thus, the Northern Nigeria decides the would-be president of the Nation because of its voting strength and having the highest number of states, local governments, polling units, wards, states’ constituencies, federal constituencies and senatorial districts. In fact, Kano State’s slogan says that they are, “born are rule” invariably it means that all other states would follow them in terms of leadership.

The establishment of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as an intervention agency was to put off minority fears from the three major ethnicities hegemony. The reason for the establishment of “Willink’s Commission” was to provide social amenities for the people of the Niger Delta (Ibaba, 2005). Every Nigerian considers his/her ethnic first before pledging loyalty to the country whereas as a nation it ought not to be so. Nigeria also promotes religion unconsciously giving a major room for division in the country through employment periods by asking an individual through form filling such as, what ethnic and religion are you from or do you belong to? Thus, people see themselves first as Nembes, Ikwerres, Ekpeyes before the Nigerian nation, says Vanguard Newspaper.

In 2015 the Northern hegemony came to play by threatening the rest of the country if power does not return to the North that they will smash Nigeria and make the South pay dearly. If we are a nation is it wrong for a Niger Deltan to complete two terms in office as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? One ex-minister of Nigeria once said killing a Northerner in the guise of Boko Haram is a debt to be repayed. A leading presidential candidate from the core north says that an attack on the dreaded terrorist- Boko Haram is an assault on the whole north and that their homes and personnels should not be burnt and murdered. Again, a northern spokesman challenged the proscription of Boko Haram that it action was unjust and unconstitutional (Kayode, 2017). Because Nigeria has not attained the status of nationhood the northern leaders are seen themselves as Hausa/Fulani first before Nigeria that is why they can make provoking and inflammatory statements without rancour. I quote:

“ Let me come to the issue of derivation. All these big names

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professors, they almost knelt down before us that we should

maintain the status quo for the stability, security of the Nigerian

nation. All these people we liberated from the South-east. They

be told is it because they have transient power?”

During the last national conference that was convoked by president Goodluck Jonathan at the plenary one Emir Lamido of Adamawa said that if the north did not get its way during the proceedings him and his people would leave Nigeria and relocate to the Cameroons where half his Kingdom was actually situated and where half of his people reside and come from. The northern elders also asked President Goodluck Jonathan to withdraw the soldiers that were fighting Boko Haram from the Northeast, that the state of emergency he had declared on the three mainly affected states as a result of the terrorist activities must be cancelled and if he could not released the hostage Chibok girls; he should forget re-election bid in 2015(Kayode, ibid). To me, this is so because they are more bonafide citizens than others.

Ever since Nigeria got her independence in 1960 the nation had been battling with series of internal problems such as ethnic, religion, derivation sharing formula, secession, etc signaling disintegration of the nation. Thus, Nigeria applies various measures to nation-building trying to make Nigeria as one. A nation refers to a community with common characteristics-including language, tradition, mores, habits and ethnicity. One can say Nigeria has up to 450 nations due to the diverse languages. It is convincing to say that each tribe had evolved itself into ethnicity and had a dealings and bargains with the British because of the various administrations on ground.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, “Path to Nigerian Freedom” described Nigeria in this form: Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no “Nigerians” in the same sense as there are “English, Welsh, or French”. The name Nigeria is a distinguishable term for those who live within the borders of Nigeria and those who do not.

Nigeria is pretentiously seen as a nation, especially when having a football match while the nationality question is still unanswered. “Nationality Question,” we mean the problems that are arising from the composition of the nation; that is, problems arising from the nature of the relationship between the ethnic groups in a nation-state (Deleseteolu, 2016). In the past the military had fought to keep Nigeria one as between 1967-1970, when a section of the nation wanted to secede, currently they are now fighting in the northeast to ward-off the insurgents trying to establish Islamic caliphate. Various regimes and administration had held national conferences trying to address or answer the national question or problems that had been heating the polity through dialogue yet the problems keep lingering the nation and there is no solution because of ethnic of mistrust.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Opuene Kingsley Inowei

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