• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
businessday logo


Nigeria: Always been divided, more divided now, will soon be divided?

Nigeria Flag

Today is October 1, 2020, 60 years after Nigeria became ‘independent’ and 60 years of being potentially great. One should not be sulking on a day like this, when we should be joyously counting our blessings one-by-one and seeing what God has done. Surely, the good Lord was (and is) favourably disposed towards Nigeria as evidenced in all that he did to and for Nigeria (large and diverse population, awesome natural endowments, including large expanse of fertile land). I am convinced that some countries are accusing Him of barefaced partiality.

Unfortunately, because of what we have done and what we have failed to do, the blessings to count are few, and are getting fewer by the day. We have allowed ourselves to be burdened (did we actually?) with accidental leaders, with each of them adopting the ‘Rehoboamic model’ (imposing more oppressive burdens than their predecessors-1kings,12:1-15:). Sadly, we the people have adopted and continue to adopt a pusillanimous, docile, whatever Oga does is right attitude. Thus, while the leaders have done the wrong things with impunity, we the people have failed to do the right things for ourselves and for the forthcoming generations. We have thus become accomplices!

Multiple choice Questions (MCQs) appear easy, because at worst, the student would just choose an option and if there were just 3 options, has a .33 probability of being correct. It is however difficult because at times all the options appear correct and differ only in degrees of correctness. The above MCQ (in the title) was derived from the response by the ‘presidency’ to those who are warning that Nigeria is on the brink (it has been there several times) and that this time, we may not be so lucky.

The voices crying in the wilderness about and the unflattering situation of Nigeria and ‘to your tents oh Israel scenario include’ Bishop Kukah, Archbishop Onayekan, Prof Soyinka and our Chief Letter-writer, Chief Obasanjo. Soyinka and Obasanjo, age-mates and brothers, are strange bedfellows who have probably only agreed on two issues in recent years: That Jonathan was the worst ever President and that PMB was the Messiah for Nigeria (with OBJ publicly tearing his PDP card) and now that PMB was a failed Messiah, and that the country should be saved from him. Obasanjo based his multidimensional warning on insecurity and believed that restructuring is the panacea failing which a breakup is imminent

READ ALSO: Cash is biggest hurdle facing FGN-Labour deal on refineries

. For this, Garba Shehu said he had descended to the lowly level of Divider-in-Chief’. Soyinka followed up that ‘The nation is divided as never before under President Buhari who went to sleep while communities were consistently ravaged by cattle marauders, and that ‘We are close to extinction as a viable community of people.

Bishop Kukah had in January 2020 described the government as a Boko-Haram without bombs because it was using different methods to achieve the same goal of Islamic dominance.; a statement the great Lai described as unfortunate, divisive, incendiary and insensitive. Last weekend ( 26/9/20) he further declared that Nigerians are sadder and more frustrated than ever, accusing PMB of “greatest degree of insensitivity in managing the country’s diversity” especially as lopsided appointments are against the spirit of a united Nigeria and that “We have never had it this bad in our history where power is privatised and shared based on religious and ethnic considerations.”

Earlier that week (20/9/20), John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the immediate past Catholic Archbishop of Abuja gave his own brief punchy warning that Nigeria’ can break up even before 2023, if we continue to be irresponsible and reckless.’ It was around the same time that Bishop of Anglican Communion, diocese of Kaduna, Timothy Yahaya lamented that life in Nigeria has become nasty, brutish and short, owing to an increasing rate of insecurity across the nation.

Rtd Lt Gen Akinrinade who recalls the ‘pervasive belief’ that PMB is an ethnic bigot, an irredeemable religious fundamentalist, with pro-fulanisation agenda, who treats the Fulani armed gangs ‘with deodorant’ and argued that he has woefully failed in the war against BH and failed to reflect ‘the heterogeneous composition of our country when it comes to appointments to sensitive positions in his government’.

As this is going on, MASSOB, the former leading Biafranist group declared that ‘Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigeria state has turned to a Fulani empire where every other major and minor ethnic nationalities are not regarded. Subsequently, Apapo Oodua Koya, (AOKOYA), a coalition of several Itsekiri, Edo and Yoruba groups wrote a love letter to the Sultan as the head of the 7m Fulani in Nigeria, complaining and warning that they have had enough from the 7m Fulani in Nigeria and that Having Yoruba or Igbo Republics is imminent and inevitable.

Around this same time, Gen Buratai assumed Executive and Legislative powers, and threatened to impose a state of emergency in the South East, if his men were attacked again. Ohanaeze wondered why he had not issued such warnings in the, where army posts are attacked incessantly by sundry Non-State Actors who overrun military bases, kill and maim our soldiers and who gave him the powers to say so. I cannot remember when our pre-Independence Day discussions were inundated with such dreadful and doomfully declarations. But the reaction of the government was most unfortunate. Instead of assuaging feelings and assuring that we shall look into it (which they will never do), they reminded us of the past.

because of what we have done and what we have failed to do, the blessings to count are few, and are getting fewer by the day. We have allowed ourselves to be burdened (did we actually?) with accidental leaders, with each of them adopting the ‘Rehoboamic model’

Femi Adesina – who has put fire on everything he ever wrote as a journalist – since becoming the SA talk-talk to PMB gave it back to all these people, and indeed to all of us, reminding us that
“Nigeria had always been divided right from the inconvenient amalgamation of 1914. …and there is no time in the history of this country that the country was not divided. As at 2015 when President Buhari came, Nigeria was terribly divided; divided along ethnic, religious and political lines; divided along language; divided hopelessly and terribly. So, if they say Nigeria is divided today, it is because Nigeria has always been divided. And all efforts to unite Nigeria and Nigerians never worked.

But these warnings about the future of Nigeria did not start today. In 2013, Soyinka had warned that ’if we are to remain as a country, we have to treat one another as equals; we have to accept the same set of protocols. Nobody can say that these protocols do not apply to him/her; or that he has immunity and can act with impunity to hurt the rest of the nation (Certain Mindsets must change for Nigeria to stay united. Guardian, 1/6/13, p10-12). Emeka Anyaoku had raised the alarm that Nigeria was more divided than before during his 85th Birthday (Guardian, 18/1/18). He blamed it on a defective governance structure that fostered the militancy and separatist tendencies across the country, ‘which promotes intense competition (religious and ethnic) for the control of the centre, which exacerbated the divisive factors in Nigeria’ He had advised Nigeria to learn from Canada, India and Malaysia, which had experience in such matters.

Surprisingly, another warning about the possible breakup of Nigeria came from a strange quarter. Our Vice President Professor, Barrister, Pastor Osinbajo has joined the fray by warning that Nigeria will soon break up if the various cracks in the polity are not adequately treated. He was speaking at the independence interdenominational service. The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Samson Ayokunle, supported the motion by saying that “For us, all to be on the same page, have a sense of belonging and be happy, the doctrine of equality, that is equal access to employment, governance and education, must be available to all. The principle of inclusivity must be adopted. Nobody or region must be excluded from the scheme of things in Nigeria’. Ohaneze and Afenifere gave a thumb to the VC while the Arewa block condemned the declaration. I am still awaiting the response of Garba Shehu or Femi Adesina

Meanwhile, on the MCQ with which we started, I agree with Femi Adesina, (for the first time) that Nigeria has always been divided. That was why some people spoke of Araba; that was why some people described ndi-Igbo as intruders; that was why we had Biafra, that was why some governors adopted Sharia law in a secular state and that was why some people called Nigeria a mere geographical expression and a mistake…:

(To be continued)