Nigeria: The Area Around The Niger – Some Thoughts Going Forward

By Olubunmi Ogunkunle

The right to self-determination is a very fundamental human right which we seldom see as fundamental or human. At some point, every man must be given a choice and a chance to determine himself and his destiny; whether he wants to be a woman or what and ultimately how and when he wants to go to heaven. Same way, a people must be given a choice as to whether they want to be a part of another people or a whole with divisible component parts.

It’s a natural right. Ultimately, every boy or girl branches out from under the parents to become a man or woman of his or her own. Self-determination is itself a work of nature. Once there is an obvious and unmanageable difference, self-determination is inevitable. When the right of self-determination is refused, nature has a way of presenting that opportunity all by itself. For many, it’s been years of mindless, needless civil war and avoidable loss of life, property and potential. Like they say, we can hardly cheat nature. I am convinced that every constitution of every free country must within defined parameters; enshrine the right to self-determination.

There is a civil war going on already in Nigeria and we are not even aware. There is a genocide going on in Nigeria and we are pretending that we are fine. I am convinced that, more than any time in the history of Nigeria, the component units of Nigeria must be given a chance to determine who and what they want to be. They must be given the chance to determine if they want to remain a part or become a whole. That's one of the first ways to start to genuinely confront and solve the problems that have beset us for over 50 years now. We need stop shying away from reality.

Most of the thinking and thought leaders in this area suggest strongly that there is something negative or bad about self-determination. That's not true. There's nothing innately wrong with you going separate ways. It doesn't mean we would become enemies. They often suggest it would. It won't. It just means we would change the rules of engagement. It means that for the first time, we will take our destinies in our hands.

That Nigeria is a geographical expression and for now, nothing more is trite. What is today known as Nigeria is without more a colonial decision. It’s the area around the Niger. We are not a people. We are many peoples. Those that christened us Nigeria did not do so, because they thought we look alike or we talk like or because they carried out a sociological study to determine the similarity of cultures or language. They had more selfish considerations!

For the umpteenth time, division does not mean dis-unity or rancor or rivalry. It does not mean war. It does not mean that the igbo man will be the enemy of the Hausa or a the Yoruba man the enemy of the Niger Deltan. It’s the same Myopia we attach to divorce. If two people found out too late they were not supposed to be living under the same roof, let them go their separate ways. Why should religion compel them to stay together! What is the morality in compelling them to stay together? Some of us are herbivores, some are cannibals. Must we leave together bound by the same rules?  It’s just stupid. Plain milk stupidity!  We like to pretend or assume that there’s something holy, sacrosanct and untouchable about the landmass today referred to as Nigeria. I don't think so. What we know as Ghana today could have easily become a part of Nigeria!

The point really is we need to go back to the drawing table. We need to bold enough to take our destiny into our hands. Let's decide. Let's take our destiny into our hands for once; for once, since our contrived independence. By the way, I have often wondered and tried to find a basis for Independence Day celebrations. The celebration of independence by Nigeria or by any country is pure intellectual failure. Independence day celebrations should be scrapped, really. Moving on, we need to decide if we want to be Nigeria. Clearly, what we call Nigeria today was actually foisted on us. The decision to be Nigeria was taken on our behalf. We need to now display some intellectual courage. It’s late but not too late. It’s plain foolishness to keep continuing as Nigeria without giving ourselves a chance to determine if we want to continue as such. A good chance is the very least we can do to reduce of the intellectual failure that we now typify. We must take that decision and fast. If we decide to stay together, we must draft new rules for co-existence as Nigeria based on our peculiar experience in the last 50 years. If some people want to leave, we must allow them leave. We must draft appropriate legal framework for their exit.

I have also come across some thinking that suggests that self determination will not work because some regions are perceived to be more viable than the other. That again is a misconception; the wealth of a nation is not in its mineral resource. The wealth of a nation is in its human resource. Every other measurement of development responds to the human factor. The poverty of any region is always a result of the intellectual laziness and poverty of its leaders and people. When ideas stop, the economy grinds to a halt! Whether as Nigeria or otherwise, If we cannot think, we cannot change our circumstances for the better. Possibly, if we give ourselves a chance, perhaps we may find out that there are indeed alternative sources of energy in these parts! Singapore is the most recent example that the circumstance of one’s birth does not diminish the capacity of one’s potential for greatness. We can all relate with that on a personal level. Presidential Jonathan is advisedly a shining example of that reality; - assuming posterity will adjudge him to be great- Singapore has no known natural resources. All it has are human resources. Today, Singapore is a First World, Asian Tiger! Singapore is today known as one of the freest, most competitive, most innovative and business-friendly country in the world. The country is the only Asian country to have AAA credit ratings from all three major credit rating agencies- Standard & Poor, Moody’s and Fitch. They don’t have crude oil. They don’t have natural gas. They have iron ore. No Bitumen, No Zinc, No gold. No bauxite. No tantalite! I am more than convinced should Nigeria decide for self determination, we would all be better for it. Self determination would inspire the much needed innovation and efficient leadership that we so badly need. And if this was Ojukwu’s dream, we must give credit to him. If we decide against self determination, we will also be better for it because then we can renegotiate the basis of our co-existence upon more results-oriented terms

Not electricity, not good roads or health care would be Jonathan's greatest legacy. This will be his greatest legacy; that he gave the component units of Nigeria a good chance to self determine.  A good chance is the least we deserve now. Call it a sovereign national conference, call it a national conference or call it town meeting or a roundtable. It doesn’t matter. We need to sit down and do some serious talking.

Well, I hope Jonathan reads this by himself.

Olubunmi Ogunkunle is an innovation practitioner based in Lagos, Nigeria

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we have to talk before 2015-else

FORMER Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akin-yemi, has warned that unless the country is bold enough to appropriate steps to resolve its contending issues in a consensual way, it may break into pieces in a violent way.Speaking as a guest lecturer at a public lecture organised in honour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairmanship candidate, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, in Abuja, on Tuesday, he also dispelled fears that the proposed National Sovereign Conference (SNC) would strip the National Assembly of its powers.According to him, “there should be no complacency in handling the issues confronting this nation. The Nigeria project is work in progress. The international environment may not provide too many windows of opportunities to resolve all these outstanding issues.”

FORMER Minister of Foreign

FORMER Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akin-yemi, has warned that unless the country is bold enough to appropriate steps to resolve its contending issues in a consensual way, it may break into pieces in a violent way.Speaking as a guest lecturer at a public lecture organised in honour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national chairmanship candidate, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, in Abuja, on Tuesday, he also dispelled fears that the proposed National Sovereign Conference (SNC) would strip the National Assembly of its powers.According to him, “there should be no complacency in handling the issues confronting this nation. The Nigeria project is work in progress. The international environment may not provide too many windows of opportunities to resolve all these outstanding issues.”

Professor Akinyemi noted that

Professor Akinyemi noted that since the Nigerian civil war, “the international environment has been more amenable to the rights of self-determination being exercised by units within independent state.“The Soviet Union has broken into two constituent units; Yugoslavia has broken into several units; and Scotland is going to have a referendum on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or not; nearer home, Sudan has broken into two and Ethiopia has had a part broken off.“I have gone through these examples to warn Nigeria and Nigerians not to push its luck in refusing to address these issues in a consensual manner. No more arrogance, no more threats and no more ego trips,” he said.Akinyemi said though he was not a member of the PDP, he was endorsing Alhaji Tukur for the position of the national chairman because whatever the “PDP does affects me,” adding that country’s complex problems required persons of strong personalities such as Tukur to tackle them.

Professor Akinyemi noted that

Professor Akinyemi noted that since the Nigerian civil war, “the international environment has been more amenable to the rights of self-determination being exercised by units within independent state.“The Soviet Union has broken into two constituent units; Yugoslavia has broken into several units; and Scotland is going to have a referendum on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or not; nearer home, Sudan has broken into two and Ethiopia has had a part broken off.“I have gone through these examples to warn Nigeria and Nigerians not to push its luck in refusing to address these issues in a consensual manner. No more arrogance, no more threats and no more ego trips,” he said.Akinyemi said though he was not a member of the PDP, he was endorsing Alhaji Tukur for the position of the national chairman because whatever the “PDP does affects me,” adding that country’s complex problems required persons of strong personalities such as Tukur to tackle them.

@ GWOBEZENTASHI:YOUR NORTH IS SELF-DESTRUCT

Mr Gwobezentashi,When one refers to illiteracy in the north,it is not in derogatory terms but reality.The political past of Nigeria was determined by numbers and the convinience of our colonial masters,the tables have turned forever,everybody must soon answer his father's name.The middle-belt and northern christians will not be used by the Hausa-Fulani anymore and the SS have also discovered that they were used to commit genocide.
Our armed forces know better than involve themselves in politics,that leaves the northern oligachy alone to answer for thier sins before thier impoverished,purposely uneducated,and islamically radicalised masses.

Gwobezentash has just

Gwobezentash has just revealed the "brute" that the Northern mind is. It shows the backwardness of the people of the North. The level of education does not matter. What they know and practise is the Uthman Dan Fodio mentality of the sword, and in modern times, barrel of the gun. So, because GEJ does not have the gun, he can not make the change! This is his foolish logic. But unfortunately for GWOBE and his power hungry people, the rest of us have woken up. Obasanjo may be corrupt, he is a saint compared to IBB and the rest of them. This article is very articulate and whether the idiots in the North like it or not, the end of their hold on Nigeria is here. It is either we put these Northern idiots in their place or we forcefully break Nigeria up. This is not 1967 or 1990. Times are different.

@gwobezentashi

Yes Northern illiterates...You know why? The article must be translated and read out to 90% of your pple. At least our illiterates read and understood what the Article is about and i did rather win with sound and convincing arguments than with the barrel of the gun and arm twisting. Stop chewing khat aboki. The NASS days are numbered then we will all have to fend for ourselves. Forget structural change the free ride is over. One nigeria my black arse!

Educated Illiterates?

Just perusing the comments so far on this and so many other threads, some thoughts come to mind:

Is it not laughable that those busy calling others illiterate cannot string a sentence in correct english grammar? Abi na Oluwole certificate dem get?

Is it not anomalous that those who think others are academically inferior to them have also claimed to be subjugated by these same illiterates for so many years? If the illiterates are so good with firearms, what use is your superior literacy? In hurling abuse like Kongi?

Jonathan can read all the gibberish all he likes. He does not have the power to effect a structural change as Ogunkunle dreams.

First is that he is operating in a democratic environment and can only propose legislation to the NASS. Two is that he has no liver having donated it to quaffing copious amounts of ogogoro with Azazi. Woyo Allah!

Aluta!

Gwobezentashi

Nigeria and Boko Haram

i pray everyday Nigeria should break up from the illiterate killer northern muslim with there Boko Haram Republic + Sharia Law.that there problem ,then rest Nigerian with new name live in brainbow repulic with all religion side by side in peace with our education.

Burkinham Palace

The fact is that there is no independent! A colonial official, Harold Smith, in a London television interview some years ago provided a window into the motives that informed British policies on Nigeria through the period of colonialism to independence. Hear him: When we assessed Nigeria, this was what we found in the southern region; strength, intelligence, determination to succeed, well established history, complex but focused life style, great hope and aspirations. the East is good in business and technology, the west is good in administration and commerce, but it was a pity we planned our agenda to give power "at all cost" to the northerner. They seemed to be submissive and stupid of a kind. Our mission was accomplished by destroying the opposition at all fronts. The west led in the fight for the independence, and was punished for asking for freedom. They will not rule Nigeria!

Important Note

For those of you is talking of one nigeria, check this out! Even Lord Lugard the man behind the unfortunate amalgamation acknowledged the impossibility of the experiment when he said; "The North and the South are like oil and water, they will never mix". And this is how Abubakar Tafawa Balewa put it a few years before he became Nigeria´s Prime Minister at independence in the October of 1960. When Mr. Balewa spoke to the Northern House of Assembly in 1952, he said; "The Southern people who are swamping into this region daily in such large numbers are really intruders. We don´t want them and they are not welcome here in the North. Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country. But the people are different in every way, including religion, custom, language and aspirations. We in the North take it that Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country they created. It is not for us".

Important Note

Olubunmi Ogunkunle, Thank you, again I just want to say Thank you. I feel joyful when ever I read article like this. Yes, I pray Jonathan will read this as well. He really have to. What then is nature? How do they expect peace when everything is in pieces? they said we are independent but when we talk of sovereign they say no we should not use such word. where is the independent? when we say lets talk they say no they will talk for us. we need to take it by force and that's the real "Independent"

Thank you o jare!

People who cannot live together should be helped to live apart. Ultimately, the northerners are agreed that they want to live according to the Sharia ; to live in PERFECT Islamic states. The largely illiterate Northern muslims dominated and still dominate the soldiery, power came to the muslims, as it were “through the barrel of the gun”. Successive Muslim military dictators treated the country like a personal fiefdom for decades. They now feel their Crown slipping and what did they do ?, They brought Sharia and BOKO in and use them as a brickbat to hurl at the whole nation. Bh terror, reduced to its essentials, is a vicious struggle of the elitist northern leaders for jobs, influence and power, carrying on where the military had left off, and using the illiterate and gullible northern masses as necessary cannon-folder. The northern elites certainly have most to lose should nigeria break up and believe me BREAK UP it will.