• Thursday, May 30, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

South-south, South-east steering Nigeria’s new direction

businessday-icon

 Nigeria’s new direction is geo-political knitting starting first with cooperation, then integration. It is to replace, or at least minimise, tribal leanings with gross limitations and vulnerability to Machiavellian manipulations. This also is development. The catalyst to that is Boko Haram which has given signals that the North wants to become an Islamic enclave and many don’t want that. If that is their choice, it is their fate too; all those who don’t, naturally separate. Separation does not mean Nigeria separating as Rev. Jesse Jackson would understand, it simply means the people redefining themselves; like going with like, not like and unlike forced into one trough. That exposes the North to political quakes; many northern units will move south to carve a place in the unfolding geo-political innovation. Then, what we know today as North and South will change. The real South will emerge and the real North will emerge, both quite different from Lugard’s carvings.

Intuitively, the Yoruba Unity Forum has offered to host what it called ‘Southern Nigerian Peoples Confab’. Prior to this, the governors of South-south and South-east had met in Asaba to ask themselves questions on the unfolding Nigeria. In their wisdom, they agreed on economic and political integration of the old Eastern and Mid-western regions now the South-south and South-east starting first with cooperation. Why would they? They realised very lately that exposing their flanks in Nigeria opened them up to predatory exploitations. This left both comprehensively beaten. In politics, they lost. In the economy, they lost. Even in cultural standing, they’re merely struggling. Their political identity was mortgaged as a consequence of the civil war. To come to the centre of national affairs is a prayer point. Grace would touch someone who would remember any of them, and that with conditions. This is why you often heard, ‘Jonathan, you signed this, you signed that before we allowed you; if you don’t keep to it, you’re not a gentleman, you can’t be trusted.’ Why? Because milking the wealth of state for 40 years, they’ve become too strong, rich, in fact owners of the land who determine who should become what. For the same period, South-south/South-east busied themselves with their self-imposed enemy picture, broad on their weaknesses, blind to their strengths and no mechanisms to convert their weakness to strength. Of course, they lost bone-open, flesh-out, their human and material advantages notwithstanding. Now that they’re waking up, we say, ‘Good morning. How was the night?’

The South-west is stretching eyes to Kwara, Kogi, and wherever there’s a tinge of Yoruba history or culture. That is, in case events unravel the other way, they know who they are and can gather themselves. The difference between the South-west and South-south/South-east approaches is tradition and pragmatism. South-west geo-political picture is forming along culture-historical lines; South-south/South-east, or whatever name they’ll come up with, is forming along common-interest lines. It means they’ll always be out for those things that benefit them; it’s likely to produce a more egalitarian common-flow because everybody will have a voice. They may even go further to evolve harmonisation mechanisms that will institute fairness. If they do, they’ll be among the first to showcase a modern Africa arriving the world stage robustly. These two emerging geo-polities are likely to complement one another and, granted visionary leadership, will form the Corridor of Common Good.

As earlier stated, most of the present North will come southwards to fit into the Western or South-south/South-eastern arrangements because that’s where they rightly belong, that’s where they can gain speed/momentum, and that’s where they can showcase the great people they are. The core North will have come to know that dogmatism is a back-step. They’d then rid themselves of its protagonists to set their eyes on the new Nigeria with great promise for them and chase the retrogrades to Iraq to face oblivion. The question of constitutional amendment is, therefore, hasty. Nigeria is unfolding. Let’s first see what it births.

In the 60s, Gowon called his own ‘Police Action’ to flush out the rebels. Forty-something years later, Jonathan is calling his own ‘FIGHT’ – sometimes against terror, sometimes against insurgents, sometimes for Nigeria’s territorial integrity, and sometimes against impunity. All the sometimes add up to ‘WAR’. We know when it started, but we don’t know when it’ll end and with what outcome. The first was civil war, now it’s WAR OF IDENTITY.

By the time the dust clears, Nigeria will not be the same again. It is the geo-political arrangements that’ll determine what kind of country and how. They’re the ones to negotiate, not national conference.

For Jonathan, the task is enormous; such is the making of history. South-south/South-east is right to file behind him but, more importantly, other well-meaning Nigerians should too. We are in change. 

 

ONYEBUCHI ONYEGBULE

Onyegbule, PhD, is the Consultant-in-Chief of Conflict Out- Peace In Consult.)

[email protected]

 

Send reactions to:

[email protected]/en