Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Ethnic Nationalities: Key To “True” Nationhood?, By Andrew A. Erakhrumen

Nigeria, forced into serving as a large theatre of the absurdities, is unceasingly offering pig-ignorant theatrics, for amusement, in the midst of series of dreadfulness requiring serious attention and actions! Perhaps, this is why Nigeria is considered, in some quarters, to be a huge joke; they may actually be right! Sincerely, there are many jokers here! Hence, there is continuity in entertaining and lulling those expected to engage in perpetual vigilance to sleep! Unfortunately, both the comedians and audience appear permanently unserious! The audience particularly appears incapable and/or unwilling to pick out, and act on, some sense from apparent senselessness. After all, not all senseless acts offer outright senselessness! For decades, especially since January, 1966, the quest for nationhood in Nigeria (if there is still any modicum of genuineness in it) has been unsuccessful. Before the 1914 amalgamation, the imperial British government, being already in control of a small Niger Coast Protectorate, purchased the territories which eventually became Nigeria, specifically in 1899, for £865,000 from George Dashwood Taubman Goldie (1846–1925) and his Royal Niger Company! Interesting! Was Nigeria treated as a commodity at a point? It appears so! Is it still commodified? You should answer that! So, might was right; and it still is, at the present? Over the years, many people in Nigeria have been enabling and reinforcing cracks and failures.
The poor in Nigeria have been empowering and strengthening those enslaving and punishing them! We wish all the disenfranchised, that have been working hard on lawful undertaking with zilch to show for it, happy 2024 International Workers’ Day! Like it is said colloquially in Nigerian pidgin “…..monkey dey work, baboon dey chop…..” This is Nigeria’s current reality but if it is considered a problem, solution is not unavailable for the serious-minded. Regrettably, the country has been bedevilled with a “leadership” cadre that believe in repressing the people. Of course, this is a recipe for dissenting voices! It is for “stupid” rebellious actions! On the 13th April, 2024, a group of armed persons suspected to be Yoruba Nation agitators (in ‘military’ camouflage) were alleged to have invaded Oyo state House of Assembly complex. Concerning the camouflage, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (1938–1997) says “…..uniform na cloth, na tailor dey sew am…..” Anyway, news reports have it that they lowered the Nigerian flag and hoisted that of Yoruba Nation agitation on the building housing the state House of Assembly. Consequently, no fewer than 20 suspects were arrested there for engaging in the botched suicide mission. There is no doubt that this action by those “disgruntled elements”, which gives an impression of insanity on their part, will be treated (among other accusations) as a treasonable felony in the law court. They will surely be prosecuted. Now, 29 suspects have been arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court in Ibadan on the 17th April, 2024.
Irrespective of what appears as lunacy, as displayed through the mentioned agitators’ bravado, it is imperative that sanity is extracted from what is seen as complete insanity before vital information is lost in a crowd controlled by wild emotions and sentiments. Respected opinions have condemned this action by the above-mentioned suspects. We, also, align with those condemning criminalities! Who will not, except criminals? Well now, without justifying this failed “coup d’état”, it is clear that there are people that are unhappy with the way the “business” called Nigeria is currently being run! The reason(s) for the discontent may be altruistic or criminally self-centred; whichever or whatever it is, necessary questions must be asked and collective answers found. Nigeria should stop sweeping dirt under the carpet as there is so much of it already gathered there breeding more negativities! This is what is continuously being done in this country. It is often said that same actions/interventions are not likely to produce different effect(s) and/or outcome(s). Mentioning 1966 earlier was not indeliberate! During the ensuing chaos after the first military coup d’état of 15th January, 1966, Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (1924–1966), a Nigerian Major-General, seized power and later promulgated the Unification decree No. 34, which came into force on 24th May, 1966, leading to the abolition of regional system of government in the country.
This decree, and other steps, led to the unitary government introduced by Aguiyi-Ironsi, the main reason –according to Godwin Alabi-Isama – for which he was killed [on 29th July, 1966, at Ibadan]. Thenceforth, all the governments that were formed (including the one by those who killed Aguiyi-Ironsi) fell in love with his (Aguiyi-Ironsi’s) unitary system that is still masquerading as “federal government” today! Ironically, “civilian” administrations, particularly since 1999, are still holding on to a “patch-patch” version of this system of government. A painful aspect is that when most Nigerian politicians are seeking for office, they speak vigorously about this lopsidedness; they criticise it, keying into the several calls for “restructuring”. However, once they get into office – like their predecessors – they “blend” with the hitherto well-criticised “patch-patch” system and start asking the people for the meaning and constituents of “restructuring”. How can one be more ingenious in Nigerian politics? What are we getting at here? It is that the Nigerian political elite have been doing the same thing, playing the same politics, over the years pretending to be expecting different results. This may be part of what is causing frustration for those claiming to be the mouthpiece for the different ethnic nationalities; some might have been going about their agitations peacefully, nonetheless, for explainable and unexplainable reasons some do go overboard!
Again, this piece is not – in any way – meant to endorse any criminality which definitely includes treason but to call attention to the fact that there is a critical need for sustainable truthful accommodating platforms to be enabled, allowing various (ethnic) nationalities to discuss how they wish to live together! Also, the Nigerian state should find ways to engage in constructive discussions with the people. These are suggestions those benefiting from the current chaos do not want to hear! We recognise how politically “incorrect” these suggestions can be in the circles of hero worshippers! We may not be able to say, for certain, who can be called a “Nigerian” but we believe that many of those being referred to as such do not really want the country to split; may be the country has gone far for its dissolution to be unneeded! Nevertheless, unlistening to peoples’ grouses, invoking the cliché “Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable” that sounds much like imposition, is self-deluding now and needlessly risky later! Nigeria’s amalgamation of 1914 is more than a century old without the country achieving nationhood, yet! There is/are reason(s) for this challenge that should be found and sincerely worked on, together, as a team instead of this master-servant relationship that has always led to crises in the world. It must be ensured that there is no repeat of the costly, fierce and bloody 30months “One-Nigeria” struggle for which well over 2million humans perished! Surely, with a sincerity of purpose, differences can be peacefully resolved amongst “Nigerians”.
Dr. Erakhrumen teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.

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