Quite frankly I am not sure there is a country called Nigeria. And I believe, based on what I know and what I have seen in my 70 years of living in the land space where over 250 nationalities cohabit that there is really not a country. Many of the nationalities that occupy this space as well as their constituents merely pay lip service to the expression Nigeria when it suits them to do so.
I would not know what happened in 1914. Bless my mother and my father, 1914 was just 2 and 3 years older than both, and in their growing up years, the amalgamated territories were mere toddlers. While the so-called space Nigeria was yet to take form, peoples of the territories were trading beautifully, travelling across the land space unhindered and without fear of notorious armed robbers, kidnappers, and ritual killers.
The Yoruba man was a Yoruba man. An Igbo was Igbo. It was the same with Izons, erroneuosly called Ijaws, Ibibios, Efiks, Fulanis, Shuwa Arabs and Tivs. Hausas kept their identity and acted and behaved as Hausa.
The regions that harbour these nationalities were semi autonomous and even had their own flags, emblems and Mottos. Attempts were made to fashion out Constitutions that would govern the political and economic behaviours of the nations that were forcibly brought under one umbrella by British imperialism, but such efforts have yielded no fruits. 100 years after the so-called formation of a country, the various dissimilar components are still shouting on top of their voices for a National Conference. How can we have a National conference when and where there is no Nation?
You can not talk of a country where there has never been a leader. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was seen as a Bauchi-Fulani Prime Minister, not a Nigerian leader, because in the psychology of the various constituents, there was no Nigeria. When it was time to take him out, he was just picked out like a jigger. “He was not our man!” And the Fulanis who mourned and avenged his death called him ‘Our Man’.
General Aguiyi Ironsi belonged to another nationality. And it was ‘they’ from another nationality who believed they should chop off his head to appease the gods of ‘their’ own nationality. The Yoruba nation mourned Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, their own man who fell along with his guest, the heroic Ironsi. While the Igbo nation and the Yoruba nation were deep in sorrow and mourning, the Hausa-Fulani were celebrating and jubilating.
Muritala Muhammed, a most daring General became the Head of state of the space called Nigeria. But he was perceived as a burning spear from Hausa country. Throughout his short reign, he was perceived by the nations of the Middle Belt as an enemy of their own man, General Yakubu Gowon who was shoved off in a palace coup.
General Olusegun Obasanjo was a mere decoration, a furniture item as the Military head of state. He was in office but not in power. The levers of power were firmly in the grip of the duo of General Shehu Yar’adua and General Theophilus Danjuma, representatives of the Hausa-Fulani-Middle Belt hegemony.
Gentleman Shehu Shagari, a most decent politician and Elder statesman must be installed to continue where Muritala Muhammed stopped. To the Hausa Fulani, Shagari was ‘their’ man, while the most cerebral Obafemi Awolowo, who was robbed of victory, was seen as belonging to Yoruba country.
Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar came in rapid succession with regimes spanning a total of 16 years. Throughout the long reigns, other nationalities saw the governments these Generals headed as the ‘governments’ of the Hausa –Fulani.
General Chief Olusegun Obasanjo came back, this time in Agbada, because, the puppeteers believed, rightly or wrongly that he was the man from the presumed Yoruba country who could be used as compensation for the daylight robbery which the great MKO Abiola suffered. Unfortunately Obasanjo, whose claim to Yoruba ancestry has been roundly queried, was not convincingly accepted by the Yoruba nation.
Then came in Gentleman Umaru Yar’Adua who was quickly followed by the PhD holder Goodluck Jonathan. When trouble brewed upon the ill-health of Yar’adua, the slogan from the Fulani axis was ‘Allow our man to continue even if he was dying’. And now the loud mouths in the Izon country are threatening blue murder if one of ‘their own’ Ebele Jonathan was not allowed to continue as the Izon ruler of the space called Nigeria.
In all of these, no one from any of the nations that were brought under a canopy called Nigeria had ever been seen, addressed or accepted as a ‘country leader’ because there had not ever been a country talk less of a Nation.
What we have had, and shall continue to have, unless a brutal surgery is performed, is a collection of competing countries yoked together in a very uneasy and unworkable alliance.
We cannot and should not continue to deceive ourselves. The immediate solution to our malignant predicament is to yield space to confederation. Let every nation in the space called Nigeria exert its individuality, and let each amongst them that believes it cannot stand on its feet forge a nation with another and become a confederating unit within the so-called Nigerian canopy.
The Confederating Units will now decide how many units will make up the Confederation. This Confederation may try forging a country and later evolve into a Nation after about 100 years from now. If we do not peacefully follow this path, we may end up a la Yugoslavia! History is my witness.
People wonder why there is so much stealing and looting in Abuja. The answer is straightforward and simple. ABUJA belongs to no one! Whichever nationality sends its own man or woman there expects their Messenger to go and loot and bring ‘home’ the proceeds of the loot. The seat of the Federal Government has always been seen as the extension of the nationality that currently wields power thereat.
Anybody may say anything to the contrary. But let everybody search their conscience if the strong feeling of ‘Our Man’ is not present in everybody’s heart. And let anybody deny the fact that the reason why anything that is assumed to belong to the national government has not worked or survived is the painful fact that such things like NEPA, Railway, Ajaokuta, National Airline, Federal Roads, NITEL, NIPOST, and Federal Universities are orphans!