The post-election violence and targeted mass murder of Christians and Southerners in the aftermath of the victory of president Goodluck Jonathan in an election adjudged to be the freest and fairest to date in the nation’s history by Northern terrorist mobs underscores the necessity and importance of convening a sovereign national conference to negotiate the terms of nationhood.
When a nation in spite of abundant human and material resources enough to make it one of the richest nations in the world, continues against all odds to fail to the extent of lacking the most basic infrastructure, and when such a nation is forever locked in bloody strife and conflict, it then becomes obvious that beyond the surface, there are deep fundamental issues that has constituted a clog in the social, political and economic development of the nation that needs to be resolved.
For too long Nigeria has been running away from a sovereign national conference, yet it remains the only way through which a viable structure that can guarantee peace, justice, equality, harmony and progress can be created or alternatively a peaceful means of disintegration that will unfetter the potentials of the ethnic nations trapped in Nigeria’s forbidding contradictions and prison of indignity, poverty, hatred and failure.
Whether we like it or not, the reality remains that Nigeria is a colonial construct, strung up in 1884 by imperialists in faraway Berlin who neither consulted nor acted in the interests of the ethnic nations they so callously lumped together. The express reasons for the patching up of disparate ethnic nations into such combustible units was for the sole purpose of servicing imperial interests.
Nigeria was thus a creation of convenience for the interests and service of imperial needs. Within Nigeria lie many rare distinctions that condemned it to a future of disharmony and conflict. Not only does Nigeria harbour Black Africa’s three largest ethnic nations and a motley of hundreds of ethnic nations, it is further deeply divided between Christians and Muslims. The contradictions inherent in such a volatile mix has rendered the nation unworkable and cost so much in human lives. Due to these factors, the idea of Nigeria as a nation has remained still-born more than fifty years after independence and almost a century since amalgamation of the North and South.
The ultimate purpose of a nation is the wellbeing and security of its citizens. Nigeria has failed to provide any of these fundamentals. The contradictions have created ethnic ghettoes and a low intensity “ethnic cold war” manifested in extreme hatred, distrust, marginalisation and a simmering volcano of ethno-religious bloodletting that erupts every so often. It is therefore of utmost necessity that a sovereign national conference is convened to give the ethnic nationalities a chance for the first time to discuss if and how they want to congregate as fellow nationals.
As is already obvious, a “do or die” one Nigeria anchored on coercion, domination, injustice and marginalisation is doomed to failure and ultimate collapse. No nation premised on injustice and lacking any mutual benefits for its constituent units can survive. The United Nations recognises in its charter the fundamental right to autonomy and self determination by indigenous ethnic nations. The inalienable democratic right therefore to willingly choose whether and under what structure to be Nigerians remains sacrosanct and non-negotiable. If Nigeria must be a nation, it must be through exhaustive dialogue and democratic consent of all ethnic nationalities and not by force.
A sovereign national conference is a must and a win-win situation that remains the best option both for those who want Nigeria to survive and succeed albeit under a proper federal structure and for those who want it to break. Such a conference will give a great opportunity for both sides to argue their case and reach middle-ground. If the majority decides that Nigeria should remain, then such a Nigeria and the structures under which it is set-up will be wholly mandated and owned by the peoples themselves, if on the other hand the majority decides to part ways, it will also be their own decision. In both cases, the alternative of not having a sovereign national conference will be worse as the opportunity of creating a properly structured, prosperous and mutually beneficial nation will be lost and Nigeria as the trajectory already suggests will still ultimately meet its waterloo through an eventual collapse.
Those who oppose a sovereign national conference in spite of the nation’s ever deepening crisis and steep cost in human lives, do so out of a need to maintain a vastly corrupt, domineering and unjust status quo from whence they feast on the commonwealth. If after more than fifty years of independence and almost a century of amalgamation, Nigeria remains unworkable, then simple common sense suggests we must have a sovereign national conference and the time is now!
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