Open letter to Ango Abdullahi – Part 2
Even during the time of Sapara Williams, the Northerners did not see anything reasonable in the relationship with the South.
You will recall the massacres of the Igbos in Jos in 1945; you will recall the massacres of the Igbos in Kano in 1953; you will recall the massacres that preceded the civil war. If we cannot live together, Mr. Professor, don’t you think that it is high time we told ourselves the naked truth.
You will also recall that in 1964, after the crisis that followed the elections, that Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe had called on Nigerians to call a round table conference to discuss how we could share our assets if it was impossible for us to live together. We kept on patching this unpatchable relationship. In my honest opinion, this relationship has soured enough that it will take the wisdom of God to make us love one another.
We went to Aburi and there the leaders agreed that the only solution to our problems was to have a confederation but Gowon reneged. You will recall also that the British government, after the crisis of 1951-1952, realised that this country could not be a unitary state and they brought in the 1953 constitution which gave us regional autonomy. If the colonial masters in their wisdom knew that we could not be a unitary government and gave us what we had at independence, we should have respected their wisdom.
You will also recall that after the civil war, the regional autonomy which our independence conferred on us was violated by the military government led by the Northern soldiers. We ended up having this contraption that we are having now; it has not worked. It will not work, unless there is proper restructuring of the nation. We should stop pretending.
I believe in all sincerity that if we cannot accommodate every segment of the federation in one Nigeria, we should call a constitutional conference to decide how this country can be restructured so that every area can take care of itself and we can relate on certain agreed basis.
We have slaughtered ourselves enough. We do not want another civil war in order to justify the existence of “One Nigeria.”
May I humbly call on all Nigerians to examine the last constitutional conference which addressed the issue of restructuring. Let us not leave it to our youths to tell us when we can stay together or when we cannot stay together. The youths in Biafra are crying; the youths in the North are crying; the Niger Delta youths are crying. The middle belt is not happy with what is happening to them.
Added to these, the strategies of the herdsmen to penetrate every nook and corner of Nigeria, is raising some issues for national discourse. The Federal Government has deliberately refused to call the herdsmen to order.
They have killed many people and ravaged many communities. None of them has been arrested. Why? In May 2016, I published two articles and warned that the activities of the herdsmen was a plot which would soon cover the whole country. The heavy silence of the Federal Government tends to support the view that the herdsmen are on an undisclosed mission which only time would tell.
The government must listen to the call for restructuring in order to have a workable nation.
The military, for partisan reasons, jettisoned the independence constitution and foisted an unworkable constitution on Nigeria. Let us be humble and accept that we made a gross mistake by throwing away our independence constitution. It is now clear that unless we return to a structure that guarantees regional autonomy, there will be no peace in this country. The earlier we returned to regional autonomy the better for us.
I want you to look at the tables I have given you to see that your postulation that the North, before independence, had been carrying the burden of the South is a fallacy. The statistics I have given you here were not compiled by me.
They were compiled by the colonial government in 1809 and 1813. They show that the North has always been the Southern burden. Even in this administration, without the resources from the South, the North cannot make it. This is a gospel truth. But if the North believes it can go without the South, what prevents us from restructuring so that the North can be on its own and the South can be on its own.
Let us call on our government to look seriously at this unworkable structure called Nigeria. We must not allow our youths to be slaughtered again defending the indefensible. This federation as it is, is unworkable.
My dear Professor let us come together as scholars and look at our country very objectively.
You may also want to read some of my works such as: Nigerian Nationalism & the Problems of Socio-Political Integration and
Quo Vadis (Where Are You Going) Nigeria? And other essays.
• The first part of this article was published on Thursday, June 29, 2017.
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