Of Biafra, sanity and shame in Nigerian politics
By Abdullahi Musa
It is unfortunate because it was not created by the people who reside in it. In this vein, I shy away from saying it was not created by Nigerians. Why? Becau se before the nation now called Nigeria was created by the British, there were no people called Nigerians. The landmass was of course settled by hundreds of tribes, most often at war with each other.
The British defeated them in war and imposed upon them a name called Nigeria, and they henceforth collectively came to be known as Nigerians. They were told their differences of tribe, religion and culture do not matter. Yet, in Nigeria of today, even geography matters: you are hated in the South because you are a Northerner, and vice versa.
A segment of so-called Nigeria’s population, so obsessed with their tribal identity, truncated the first republic leading to civil war.
What is ‘ghost Monday’? Maybe it has been in use for long, but I never heard of it till IPOB declared it with effect from Monday.
It meant that the people of Southeast must stay at home from 6 am to 6 pm every Monday till IPOB’s leader is “unconditionally released”.
Does Nigeria have laws governing it? I think so, in that we have state and National Assemblies for lawmaking, and have from Magistrate to Supreme Court for adjudication.
The federal government says that Nnamdi Kanu has broken several laws of Nigeria. Not only that, he instructed, incited his followers to kill federal security agents, burn down public buildings, kill innocent people from other tribes.
Yet, his people want him to be unconditionally released so that he continues with the ‘good work’.
That is why I said in politics there is no sanity. IPOB declared its sit-at-home order a success. A ‘success’ since it has goons that killed those who violated its orders. Was IPOB elected to run the affairs of Southeast? Not to my knowledge. There are governors running the affairs of the Southeast, Nnamdi Kanu is not one of them. There are legislators from the Southeast at state and national levels, Kanu is not one of them. Newspapers report that compliance to Kanu’s order was partial in Ebonyi. Meaning that there are Igbos who either do not buy into the creation of independent Biafra or do not subscribe to his strategy of attaining it. But Kanu has his way because he has armed goons who will kill those who oppose him.
And shame? Well, here is a federal government that ought to have a monopoly over legitimate violence. Legitimate violence in the form of fighting to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria. But right under its nose a ‘Nigerian’ created his own army, imposed his authority over an area that is supposed to be part of Nigeria. No shame felt?
Not really. It is a kind of global norm that fragile states face threats of disintegration: Ethiopia, Libya, Syria, Cameroon etc are in this category.
But shame ought to be felt more by the political elites of Southeast when they tacitly endorse a murderous approach to gaining the presidency of Nigeria.
Now the question is: would the western world agree for instance for aggrieved Black people or Latinos in the USA to carve out their nation if they are displeased with the political class of America? We can start with a simple answer: where is the #Occupy Wall Street protest?
Why did the UK scuttle Scotland’s effort towards independence? Why did Spain crush Catalonians’ independence moves, forcing leaders of the movement into exile? Yet, western powers encourage separatism in the so-called nations they granted independence to.
Power by its nature seems to be ego-driven. The people of the Southeast feel belittled that they will not be allowed to produce a president for Nigeria. If I remember right, in the second republic, nearly every region produced a presidential candidate. In the end, North west’s Shagari emerged as president. When military president Babangida annulled June 12 election, and the Yoruba galvanised the whole of South to mount a resistance, the military junta had no choice but to concoct a scheme that had to produce a Yoruba president in the person of Obasanjo. Igbos want such concoction to produce a president for themselves. Else they keep agitating violently for Biafra. So one wonders: why are Yoruba not agitating for Igbo Presidency?
To change the character of a person might take hundreds of years. So my opinion is that Nigeria, due to the nature of its configuration, can no longer afford a single person, single tribe, single religion, single geopolitical zone presidency. Instead, I would advocate a collegiate presidency made up of one representative from each political zone. Chairmanship of the Council to be rotated amongst them every two months. Such arrangement should be extended to the leadership of the National Assembly, such that when a particular zone is having the Chairmanship, then the rotating leadership of the National Assembly should be from different zones. If Service Chiefs are not up to six, they should be made so, resulting in each zone having one.
It might look messy, but the alternative is to break up Nigeria into how many pieces, one does not know.
On my part, I find a particular people’s rabid quest for power alarming and certainly will not augur well for people outside their zone.
Abdullahi Musa writes from Kano
Culled from Neptune Prime