By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
We have been struggling to fix the foundation of the house. Now the roof is also leaking so badly. What do we need to do? Emmanuel Ande Ivorgba
I have often posited that unlike Chinua Achebe’s ‘there was a country’—for me there was never a country. And that’s why we are where we are…the foundation was bad, the roof is leaking and the windows are not exactly playing the roles it was designed to do
So, let me start this way; the North and Islam are two different things, just like you might be a citizen and yet not an indigene in this construct, or need to be an indigene to be a citizen, they are not mutually exclusive. You may be Hausa but not fully Hausa like the Cishingini, Kyanga, Shanga, and Sorko. man in Kebbi.
There are millions of Northerners who are not Muslims, just like many are neither Christians, there are millions of Muslims who are not from the North, and the reactions to what one says or does not say can be limited sometimes just to the identity of the person; who said what can change the meaning of what was said ala John or Jamilu.
Our thief is a better “thiefer” than yours and after all the thief is ours or practices our faith. We have ‘better or real or good’ Muslims and Christians. However I wish this was just the matter, but sadly it is not…I often have debated that we need not restructure because there’s no structure, I say we need to negotiate, either may be a subject of semantics. But the fact of the matter is in the Nigerian space we must solve the matter.
And what is at the heart of the matter, plenty, plenty things are at the heart of the matter; for example, Zamfara state has gold, and many of us are positing can we not get royalty for the federal coffers and leave them with her gold, why should the wealth of Odualand be taken to Abuja and then be shared again based on states and local governments and tax from alcohol redistributed to states that ban alcohol drinking in a way that ridicules fiscal federalism.
Here is the koko, isn’t it easier that the safety of Igboland is in the hands of Igbo men, and women, while we maintain a federal security force at the center. We are a people of several nations, why are we afraid to be who we can be, we see from different prisms on many matters and there is no shame in that, as it can only help us harness our strength.
A group of people that have no moral compass and cannot as a collective agree on what’s right or wrong, has no business being together. If within ourselves without a war, one section’s idea of justice is food blockage then we are simply in a state of huckus puckos. We are not an absolute people, peace and unity cannot exist without justice, equality and equity. Fact is that we have not sat down and agreed how we want to live together. Our existence is full of myths, half truths, conspiracy theories, and knee jerk conjectures with questionable practicalities.
We have complained about literally everything, my wife says it’s a leadership malaise, I fixate on a weak followership, schools of thought lament the corruption variable, others say we are different, too different to be one, another group blames the too many ‘gods’ we serve, and religion. So dare I ask, how can we solve this matter if we are afraid to talk?
What scares us about change, or moving forward, we preach dialogue but fear to embrace it, in my last lines can we reflect on the way forward. We hear the Brits named them Burma. They rejected it, restructured & renamed themselves Myanmar, they still have problems, so maybe it’s not exactly about names, after all what’s in a name?
They were once Upper Volta, but they rejected it, restructured and renamed themselves Burkina Faso – Land of Incorruptible People. Many nations have first changed nomenclature, redefined themselves, what’s scaring us stiff, why don’t we want to interrogate the meaning of Nigeria?
What does the name mean, how does it reflect who we are, are people tired having reached that peak, should we not settle the matter? Nigerians in Nigeria, and in every corner, feel outdone by one another, there’s marginalization in every marginalization, there’s nowhere that a group perpetually dominates the other except in our construct, yet everyone feels marginalized.
Can we not appreciate our ethnic nationalism, with the aim to allow each other thrive in a complementary manner?
Czechoslovakia was made up of two ethnic groups, the Czech and the Slovakians. Both separated peacefully on 1st January 1993. The former is today 10.6 million people and the latter 5.4 million. Added together, they’re not up to Lagos. Yet, they split for peace. Two masters can’t be in the same house.
Yugoslavia in 1991 was 23.2 million, barely more than Lagos’ population. It broke into six countries in the same year – all along ethnic lines, namely: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Then the big brother, USSR. following ethnic groups your fingers will not be enough to count the number of countries that have emerged from the USSR.
We cannot be preaching unity in Nigeria as if you’re the kindest gentleman on earth while we have no solution to the genocide in Southern Kaduna, the illegal but officially condoned arms in the hands of killer herdsmen roaming the country, the IPOBians and be condemning those better informed about the fact that the country is undergoing the strains of a forced union and should be peacefully restructured or let people go their separate ways.
In Europe, the two best examples of fairly stable multi-ethnic states are the UK and Switzerland. The former is led by reasonable men who permitted regional autonomy to the Irish, the Scots and the Welsh, while the English dominated Westminster. That’s something some of us are asking for, but you’re fighting against it in your own country wracked by ethnic crisis.
The United Kingdom was the work of a people with consent, not foreigners, it is willfully accepted, they formed a union, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, North Ireland at different points, with common goals and interests. They have their distinctions, like different national flags, the education across board also very different, one does study loans, the other tuition, while prescription medicine is free in Scotland, it is subsidized in Britain, each of the union members with their capital, like Scotland, like Edinburgh, like Northern Ireland, like Belfast…
We can keep shouting one Nigeria, reiterating that the unity is non-negotiable, and sweet talk about the territorial integrity bla bla, but truth is that today Nigeria is not united, it is not a union, let’s negotiate, the territory is being ravished by powers within and outside, can we solve the matter—Only time will tell.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org