The National Conference is expected to correct lots of ills of present day Nigeria. The Amalgamation of the North and the South has been described in some quarters as a huge “mistake”.
The National Conference must address this “mistake”. Some part of the country is seen as parasite to the others and so this must be addressed in terms of resources control. The Central Government with its high revenue, Military, Police and other para-military agencies is seen as too powerful thus a solution must be found. Some Nigerians are agitating that the continued unity of the country Nigeria must also be discussed. Should the country remain one, be a confederation or a loose of federating units that will be called Nigeria?
Let us take each proposed federating unit one by one. The entire South West will be a region on its own. Will all the Yorubas get fair treatment, Yorubas from other States shall cease to hold political offices in Lagos State, and allow only true Lagosians to govern themselves. Will present Ogun State be denied leadership of the Region or national leadership of the country? This is so because since Nigeria Almagation, the Yorubas of Ogun State have not allowed other Yorubas to hold national political positions. During the First Republic, the Leader of Opposition was Chief Obafemi Awolowo from Ogun State. With General Gowon as the Chairman of Federal Executive Council, Chief Awolowo was his vice. When General Gowon left the scene, General Murtala Mohammed came in with General Olusegun Obasanjo from Ogun State as his second-in command. With the death of General Murtala Mohammed, General Obasanjo from Ogun State became the Head of State. When General Ibrahim Babangida planned to hand over to Civil rule, the Central figure was Chief MKO Abiola from Ogun State, and June 12 is associated with Chief Abiola from Ogun State. Even when General Babangida stepped aside, he handed over the country to Chief Enest Shonekan, again from Ogun State. With the stepping in of Late General Sani Abacha, he picked General Oladipo Diya from Ogun State again as his second-in-command. General Abdussalami Abubakar when handing over to a Civilian administration, gave the mantle of country’s leadership to Chief Mathew Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, once again from Ogun State. Will other Yorubas allow this to continue. Talking of Ogun State, will other Yorubas in Ogun State allow the Yewas rulership of their federating unit, because the Yewas have been marginalized for a very long time in Ogun State.
The South South as a Federating Unit, Hmm: The people of Ogoni that has been clamouring for self-determination may opt out to be on their own. Will the Ikwerre/Etche people allow the Kalabari or the Ekpenyi-Egeni or the Ijaws to lord it over them. Each of these group would want to be master of its destiny. The people of present day Edo and Delta States are part of the South South. I believe the Urhobos and the Itsekiri will shake hands and embrace themselves in the new federating unit of South South Region, but then what happens to the minority Isoko people? The people of Anioma that have been marginalized since Chief Dennis Osadebe, what becomes of them? The ancient Bini Kingdom must exercise its superiority over others. God bless the Afemis because they will not be allowed to be treated as second class citizen of the Region. There is a very good and cordial relationship between the Ibibios, the Annangs, the Oros, the Ekids, the Andonis and the Efik of Uruan of present day Akwa Ibom State, so they will easily be assimilated into the South South region. In Cross River State, the Efiks, the people of Old Ogoja province and the Awa people may not opt out of South South Region, because their marginalization will end.
The people of South East Region will surely be united for the actualization of South East Region. As a region, will the elegant, the people with snob-appeal but not snobbish, and the proud pea-cock of Onitsha people be classified as Igbos. I believe they would want to be known as Ibos while the rest South East region are called Igbos. The Owerri people with their sweet melody dialect may want a separate entity for themselves. I did not mention the ever hard working Wawa people. What a peaceful region the South East will be. After the creation of South East region, I believe there will be two factions of Ohanezes. There will be Ohaneze Ndi-Ibo for the Onitsha people and another Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo for the rest of the people. Owerri people may even come up with their own Ohaneze Ndi-Owerri due to their differences in dialect.
The North West region surely and definitely will not be immersed with religious and ethnics crises. There are so many languages that such a region may not be feasible except the Hausa/Fulani will be the only ethnic group. This is true of the North Central region where the minority groups who are mostly Christians will feel marginalized. They may opt out and form their own region based on religious affiliation. But the question one would ask is will the Idomas that have been so marginalized in present day Benue State be very comfortable in a new federating Unit where you have other ethnic groups from Kebbi, Niger, Southern Kaduna, Plateau and Zamfara that will form the new religious Federating Unit? The North East Region has same peculiarity/similarity with the North Central but there is the likelihood that some part of the North East region may even decide to join our neighbouring countries. The Christian minority from the North East may even join their counterparts in North Central region to form an independent new region. Only God knows the number of Federating units that will come out of present Nigeria.
Resource control has been a very serious issue that must be addressed properly. From the larger resources to the minutes resources. Let us agree that every community, ethnic group or zone should control its God given resources. The Oil producing State should control theirs resources. It makes no sense when Niger and other States produce the large volume of electricity power supplies, yet the Distribution Centre is located in Osogbo. Niger, Kogi, Kwara and any other Solid mineral producing States should control their resources.
There is a recent court case where the Ojora family in Lagos has been given back their land. That is their God given natural resources so they should in fairness control it. The same thing should happen to the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja. The original owners of Abuja should manage their God given natural resources (Land). House and home owners must pay annual rental fees to the original owners of Abuja in the spirit of resource control.
Another vexing area to be looked into is the issue of market stall allocation. It does not make sense when large number of Igbo traders are occupying stores/shops at Sabon Gari Market, Kano, Balogun Market Lagos, Alaba Market, Alaba – Lagos; Itan Junction market, Uyo; yet one can never find an Hausa trader nor Yoruba trader not to talk of Ibibio trader at Ariaria Market in Aba nor Onitsha Market. These animolies must be addressed. Resource control should address the issue of private establishment personnel recruitments in various States. You can not have Unity Bank in Lagos and have most of its Staff from the North. Same thing in the North where you have banks and private companies manned by non-Northerners. Each state should control the recruitment of personnel into private establishments that exist in each State in line with the clamour for resources control. One can not have a private establishment in Ekiti State making lots of profits from the Ekiti people’s patronage, yet such establishment is seventy percent (70%) staffed by Ijaw people. This will be unfair to Ekiti people and against the spirit of resources control.
Let us look at the issue of each zone or ethnic group going its separate way, where there will be no country called Nigeria. What if the Muslim Hausa/Fulani of the North decide to form one country to be called Songhai. The entire Middle Belt will surely come up will a country of their own where they will be master of their own destiny. What becomes of the Kanuris of the North East. They may decide to go it alone for a country to be called Republic of Kanuri. But then can the entire Northern States be broken into only three separate countries?
The South East Zone will definitely opt out and become Republic of Biafra. However one may begin to ponder whether the Onitsha Ibo people will not team up with their kit and kin across the River Niger to form a new country, made up of only Ibo people.
The South South zone will witness the emergence of many countries. The Izons (Ijaws) of Bayelsa State with its natural resources will declare a Nation-State of its own. The Ogoni ethnic group will seize the opportunity to go it alone. The Ikwerre and the Etche people will not join the Biafra Republic so would declare their own country, after all they are blessed with natural resources. In Akwa Ibom State, the Ekid people of Eket Senatorial District which produces the Crude Oil may decide to be on its own. Then what becomes of the Ibibios, the Annangs, and the Oro people? Will they join the Ekid or form a new Country. For sure, the Andonis of Akwa Ibom will join the Andonis of Rivers State to form a new Nation-State. There will be no end to the continual breaking up of Nigeria if we decide to do so.
The National Conference should come up with an acceptable solution that will see to the continuous existence of Nigeria. The idea that some group are parasite most be jettisized/discarded. The notion that some group are born to rule this country does not hold ground anymore, because all the six geo-political zones have produced Prime Minister/Heads of State/President of this country. Finally members of the conference should avoid the act of dissonance so that they will always march their words with actions.
– Col Bako (rtd) is the former Akwa Ibom State governor
Culled from Leadership