Nigeria Won’t Break Up By Chido Onumah

Chido Onumah
Chido Onumah

How many times have we heard the expression “Nigeria won’t break up”? This clichéd expression has become the chorus of Nigeria’s ruling elite; an elite that will not raise a finger to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria if it becomes necessary to do so.

Like every bankrupt ruling class, ours never ceases to find an opportunity to proclaim its commitment to the country and her unity. One such opportunity offered itself a few days ago during the Inter-Denominational Church Service to mark the 2013 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebrations at the National Christian Centre in Abuja.

The Armed Forces Remembrance Day, also known as Remembrance Day, was celebrated on November 11 to coincide with the Remembrance Day  for veterans of World War II in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The date was changed to January 15, in commemoration of the surrender of Biafran troops to the Federal troops on 15 January, 1970, an action that brought the Nigerian Civil War to an end. January 15 is also remembered for another important event in Nigeria’s tortuous road to democratic governance and nationhood. It was on that day, 47 years ago, that the first of many military coups took place, ending Nigeria’s First Republic.

It is understandable, therefore, if presidential emotions run high on Remembrance Day. While lauding the Armed Forces and other security service for their efforts to “keep the nation one and in peace” the president assured Nigerians that the country would not break up. “Some people talk about disintegration of Nigeria, now even at political levels some people take it as  a weapon … when they want to discuss politics. But my conviction and I believe that of most people here and those listening to us, is that Nigeria will continue to remain a united nation,” the president averred.

Two months ago, at the height of the debate about another petrol price increase, the president had likened the pains Nigerians were experiencing to a boil on the face of a five-year-old girl. Then, he had suggested surgery for the little girl with an assurance that “if she bears the pain and does the incision and treats it, after some days or weeks, the child will grow up to be a beautiful lady”. The president was saying in essence that Nigerians should be ready to bear the pain of his government’s agonizing policies.

This time around, President Jonathan likened Nigeria to a 100-year-old marriage which, in his wisdom, is indissoluble. “Nigeria will not disintegrate… I know Nigeria will remain one”, the president assured his audience. “In 2014 we will celebrate our centenary, 100 years in existence. It will only take two mad people to stay in marriage for 100 years and say that is the time you will divorce and we are not mad. If there are issues that have been brewing over the period and we have been managing, we will continue to manage.”

I wonder why the president keeps coming up with this crude comparisons. First, there are not many people in the world who live up to 100 years and there are even fewer who are married for that long. Even if we assume that the president was speaking metaphorically, there is no law that says people who have been married for so long can’t go their separate ways. You don’t have to be mad to divorce after being married for a long time. Sacrifice, yes, but marriages survive based on trust, love and respect, not because of how long. No marriage can survive for too long if it is based on abuse, neglect and deprivation.  

Mr. President, we can’t continue to manage after over five decades of independence and almost a century of amalgamation and billions of dollars in earnings. Every Nigerian, including those whose actions have brought the country to its knees, has become a professional manager. No country can survive that continues to patch rather than fix once and for all the long-term structural problems that continue to hold down its progress.

Waxing patriotic, President Jonathan had this to say about the motherland: “I always say that Nigeria is great not because of our oil, because we have people that produce more oil than us but we are appreciated and still reckoned with because of our size and diversity both for human beings and environment. These are areas we should exploit for unity and development”.

Mr. President, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is that Nigeria is only great in our imaginations. Nigeria is big for nothing! We are not respected in the comity of nations; our citizens are mistreated around the world, sometimes because of their actions, and other times simply because they have a green passport. What is there to respect? Even with the abundance of human and natural resources, we have one of the highest maternal  mortality rates in the world. We are ranked amongst the most corrupt nations in the world and we are in competition with Afghanistan, Chad, Angola, DR Congo and Pakistan, for countries with persistent polio transmission. To our eternal shame, while Afghanistan’s polio programme has been described as “consistently performing at a reasonable level”, Nigeria’s “has slipped back in a quite alarming way”.

That President Jonathan – like those before him – has to use every opportunity to proclaim that “Nigeria won’t break up” is reflective of the state of our union. Forty three years after the civil war ended, we have a virtual war on our hand. The same issues that existed before the civil war began are still with us, except that today they have grown worse. The president is unable to visit certain parts of the country; fiends are murdering at will in the name of religion; militancy has become profitable; armed robbers and “freelance assassins” prowl the country while kidnapping has become a lucrative profession; poverty, anger and disillusionment are rife; and our corrupt public officials have graduated from 10% to 150% kickback. What this means is that our rulers, and their collaborators in the private sector, have become so brazen that contractors are guaranteed to receive full payment for a contract that was never started, much less completed. And they are entitled to an additional half of the total contract sum after a review of the contract in line with the rate of inflation.

Indeed, we are witnessing a scenario worse than the country breaking up. The real fear shouldn’t be the country breaking up because that is a harder and much longer route to travel. The real fear is the possibility that anarchy will envelop the country and we will go the route of Somalia, the poster child of failed states.

The president admonishes “us all (to) stand up and condemn those who say otherwise about our unity. Those who call  for our  disintegration or who make similar  statements should be condemned by all Nigerians”. I agree with the president. Now also is the time for all Nigerians, including the president, to rise up in one voice and condemn those ills that breed terrorism, anger, disillusionment, poverty and threaten the unity of the country. Ills like corruption, abuse of power and suppression of the rule of law. 

Ultimately, Nigerians would have to take control of their destiny and decide the shape of things to come. If in the end the country survives the doomsday prophesy, it won’t be because the present administration has done anything to stem the slide.

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@Shaka, Only Dictators from north headed states/lga creations.

@Shaka, you must be ready to deceive a fox with that your deceptive mantra that Nigerian army is the most 'detrabilized institution in Nigeria,' hence, whatever any of them did when he usurped political power must be okay for all in the country.
Note once again: Only military dictators from north created today's states/lgas in Nigeria resulting to a larger-than-life legislative majority to the north through which born to rule spurns any political reforms that do not favour the north, as well as funnel more of the oil revenues from the south to the north. Nigeria must restructure politically to have a semblance of equity in distribution of states and lgas between its north and south to easily effect needed political reforms that shall benefit to all; or Nigeria BREAKS into more manageable countries. After the break, people of the individual countries shall then sit and democratically devise a suitable political structure and governing system for their respective countries.

@Osama: Restructure your name!

“…soldiers loyal … to Hausa/Fulani”, “core North”, “…landmass as … federating units”, “born to rule”, etc., are conjectures; just as it is a conjecture when I say “You are born to complain”.

The Nigerian army is the most detribalized institution in Nig. They hardly talk of tribe there. If you doubt me, abuse a Hausa army man in front of his Igbo or Yoruba colleague & see what happens.

The case of the restructuring advocates is akin to that of the KKK & the Black Americans; they’re only finding it difficult to accept the other as equal.

Nigeria in my opinion should be....

The best idea for Nigeria is (1)Break up into 3 separate English speaking countries each with their own leaders and cabinet. (2)Form a Custom and trade Union with a free migration policy (3) Agree on a only one term of service presidential tenure lasting 6yrs for member countries and Rotate the presidency of this Union every 2 years in a preset fashion. (4) Each member country must go back to developing their major sources of revenue. (5) Revenue earned by the Union should be used for developmental projects in the member countries that wil be monitored. (6) Anyone from any member country can live,work,perform economic activity or study in any member country they choose. (7) The Union can then agree on any kind of integration policies that they feel will work. ETC....This way Nigeria can be a more efficiently run and administered entity.

See this mumu called Ismail musa zango

Look at this mumu called Ismail musa zango... If Biafra had an army, would Nigeria ever have been able to defeat her? Why are Northerners monopolizing the army? You should be ashamed that the Igbos, from only 20 NGN Pds could metamorphose to owning all the biggest businesses and stores in your North that didn't have their cities, towns and structures totally destroyed during the war. If Nigeria were to break, (1)Why would they leave(and not move) their businesses with them or be allowed to establish branches in the North? Did I hear you say Northern jealousy? A man's asset is his intellect and intellect begets wealth. Business prowess will see the Igbos through.(2) The Igbos and Yorubas will do just fine. That's why Nigeria's weakest link, which stands to lose the most are fighting for this one Nigeria madness when Nigeria indeed should be a Customs and trade Union (something similar to the EU) of 2, 3 or 4 countries in one but never one country.


@Shaka dZulu, Secessionists exist in Nigeria because inequity reigns in Nigeria. How? Nigeria was politically restructured led by only soldiers loyal only to the Hausa/Fulani. 19 states to the once one northern region and meager 17 to the once three southern regions. That has since created a born-to-rule class in the core north, which through undue large representation in the country's legislative quarters holds a stranglehold on Nigeria's political process. There is no country in the world including those you enumerated as politically stable which used land mass as a criterion to derive the country's federating units as done by born-to-rule loyal soldiers in Nigeria. And to worsen matters, people who migrated to favored born-to-rule's enclave to live are either killed or forfeit their investments and become refugees in the south. So Shaka, you need to get your head in order. No to deceptive politics. Nigeria must restructure politically or break.

@Peter Okoye

Kindly name one country which is not a geographical expression!

It's all a guess!

Because 2 or 3 countries broke up isn't enough for the secessionist to conclude that things are going their way.

US, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Ghana, Senegal, liberia, Tanzania, Kenya, etc., etc., are still intact.

Worse for these arguments are: Germany re-united, Hong Kong is given back to China, & Taiwan is making overtures to the same; ECOWAS, AU, & the UN have insisted that countries like Ivory Coast then, & Mali now didn't break up.

The point is, there are more countries who've gained territories, are expanding, re-uniting, & merging than there are those dividing. That's not to say there are no problems. Every nation has its own, and greatness is achieved only through visionary leadership.

@Peter Okoye: Name one country which is not a geographical expression.

Stop making noise,let us do it again

Sooner or later, nigeria will break but that should not be on the table rather on the battle field. All the nations listed as an example of separation by pro-biafarans were so after intense war. Nigeria can not be different. when a union lacks respects and mutual understanding, that union does not fit to co-exist. What the northerners are benefiting from the south ,west or whatever u call yourselves? I only pity yoroba who are being fooled, deceived by mentally disturbed and retarded igbos. If there is any one to suffer much when this union broke, they are the igbos whose more than eighty par cent of their wealth is in the north. Almost all the big shop in kano belongs to igbo. This is the right time to separate,drop your biros, stop polluting the papers with fruitless noise, let's repeat the history.

Jonathan's lust for power will speed the break-up process!

We had a situation that Yar'Adua died while in power as he was serving on the slot for North. Then, NASS could have conjured the same abracadabra they concocted to appoint GEJ as Acting President and ask the PDP to present a President from the North to serve the rest of Yar'Adua/Jonathan ticket with Jonathan still remaining the Vice President. For instance, it could have been Sambo/Jonathan ticket.

Mark and NASS chose a neater process to make Jonathan Acting President believing that he will accede to the party's ZONING arrangement at the end of their first term. Mark and Co coerced Ogbulafor to offer that public statement that Ebele will abide by the party's zoning policy. Mark and the North are today regretting this action.

Jonathan wants to be in the Presidential saddle for 12 years and more! You are a mighty fool to believe the North will fold their hands as they are left in perpetual political limbo. 'Blady' fools!

Nigeria must not disintegrate

to all those clamoring for the disintegration of this country, remember that there is no soft way to destroy.the only good thing about war is when its ending....just imagine yourself been a refugee in niger republic, chad, cameroun or benin republic..


I echo Sumanguru's sentiments - verbatim.

Nigeria, just a geographical expression

Nigeria is not a nation, was never a nation, and will never be a nation. Nigeria is simply a geographical expression cobbled together by Britain for their own colonial administrative convenience.

The arrant and blatant nonsense this so-called president is feeding Nigerians clearly shows him as out of touch with the realities that are Nigeria today, was yesterday, and will be tomorrow.

The fact that a man in his position finds it necessary to make a speech that dealt on "Nigeria won't break up", means that at least he has lifted his head up from the sand it has been buried to see the hand writing on the wall. Nigeria will surely break up and disintegrate into its component parts. It is only a matter of time.

Thank you my brother,

Thank you my brother, youve said the truth. I think is better for us to seperate. North believed that, Nigeria belongs to them, thats why they always say they were born to rule the country. We south are not fools, except if we are fools, then we would continue tobe slave and second class citizens to mallam. God so good that, our almagamation is about to end, and this is what that, have been keeping us together. South loves north, but north dont give a damn about south. North have already tag south as infidel and unbelievers even including south muslims. We can never ever get along, except we are just deceiving our selfs. North can never ever stop their evil ways. they would continue to kill as they like. Their forefathers have already sowed bad seeds in their blood against south. Our unity is fake, our one Nigeria is fake. Our best bet is to split.

When GEJ loses power, sure he must sing for Nigeria to break up!

President Jonathan, and indeed so many of Nigeria's leadership class of today know very well that Nigeria is not a nation and can never form a nation given the fact that groups that populate it are diametrically opposed to one another. Each discernible group is only after the welfare of its people. No nationhood ideology. The Hausa/Fulani group through use of military dictators to restructure Nigeria politically entrenched me-first sectionalism into Nigeria's books. By creating 19 states in the north and 17 only in the south, those military leaders effectively handed Nigeria's political process to the fingers of the northern Born To Rule class. Thus the stage was set for resentment for Nigeria by short-changed groups. To worsen matters, an unworkable kind of unitary system of government was imposed on a country of multi-ethnic groups. Division became total from there.


"To keep Nigeria One is a task that must be done". Go on With One Nigeria. That was 46yrs ago that our airwaves was filled the with above 'cliches'. Keeping a dysfunctional nation-state without REFORMS, Structural and Systemic accompanied by Sustainable Institutional Building would require more than. A TASK.
Believed we are living on borrowed tme with our Deceit, Deception and Ultimate Denial

Thank u mai broda . Break up

Thank u mai broda . Break up is d ansa. Up! SE &SS.


I make bold to say that Nigeria is on its "last-legs." Only a blind person will say Nigeria, in its present constitution, is working...

Nigeria will run out of steam by 2015...

To your tents, O Nigeria...

Terrible State

There is a condition that Igbos call Odinduonwu ka mma. A rough translation means a terrible state of life that even the dead is better than. Is such life? That's the state of Nigeria presently-state of odinduonwu ka mma! If what will heal Nigeria is breaking up into three or six countries that will give meaning to people's life and give them a country they will be proud to call theirs, let it be. Enough of this indivisibility as no country has ever grown on that basis alone.

Mr. President, Nigeria Must Break-Up

The Soviet Union broke up, Yugoslavia broke up India and Pakistan broke up, Ethiopia and Eritrea broke up, North and South Korea broke up, even Sudan and South Sudan broke up, and, come next year, Britain is expected to vote on breaking up too, and the list goes on and on and on. So, Mr. President, we understand that given your position, you are expected to say certain things. But realize that the Union is not working and that the clause in the amalgamation document that calls for the reassessment of the union after 100 years to determine its viability is due in 2014 and, at that time, we expect you to play the role of the Soviet's Mr. Goberchev.

Understand one thing about Jonathan

Either has no clue or he is pretending since he is the biggest beneficiary of the charade of government office located somewhere in Abuja. This man should be cooling off in Otuoke, not in Abuja. If he is sincere, then he should speed up his so-called transformation. We don't need his opinion about Nigeria's unity. If there had been unity all along his likes would not have been president. His presidency was made possible by the failure of the looters to allow Nigeria realize its dreams as a nation.


There are clearly two types of Nigerians,the powerful unpopular minority who ruthlessly exploit the Nigerian state for personal gains, who also insist on the dysfunctional status-quo and the popular but impoverished majority whose attachment to the Nigerian state has been eroded through the decades of monumental misrule and endemic corruption.This disgruntled majority would very much like to see a change in the system which has completely excluded them.
The basic flaws which torment our existence as an entity has roots in the fact that the amalgamation of 1914 was based on true fiscal federalism thus as the first republic ended,an unjust,lopsided and fraudulent unitary system was imposed on us by northern military Dictators.The tribal/religious components which make up Nigeria were striped off their identities without consent as control was transferred to a corrupt centre run by feudal cabals.We are a nation living on life-support.

Do you expect the President

Do you expect the President to say otherwise? However be rest assured that inwardly he thinks otherwise.

Nigeria is so not ready to break up!!!

Chido Onumah - President GEJ is only re-affirming somethg many of us already knew and wrote about. The elements are simply not yet there for a break up of Nigeria. I wrote about this many months ago in this article -


In 2009 Nov. the govt. of the day chorused daily that Yaradua was not sick, that was when I know that the man has serious having health challenge. In February the govt. said he has been discharged and cabale of playing squash, I know that his heath has deteriorated. You see there are something you don,t say if it is real,so if Nigeria is united why this chorus from Gowon, Jonathan,Obasanjo, etc. Has anybody heard Obama or Zuma, John Mama saying America, South Africa, Ghana will not break?

Nigeria will not break. On one condition.

As long as the blood(crude oil) running in Nigeria's veins is still pumping, Nigeria will not break. The North clearly hates the South but won't detach itself from the Nigeria project. They know that if the Southern Yorubas and Ibos secede, Northern Nigeria will be worse than Somalia. That is why they will die for power. That is why they are not bothered about self development and concerned only with positions of force where they can ensure power is not far away. All their moves(imbalance in number of states, moving the capital to the North) point to that. The Igbos and Yorubas need to come together and confront the Hausas. The Igbos & Yorubas are more similar in Religion, culture and attitude to life. The Hausas are just different. The Hausas are more similar to the people of Niger, Chad, Mali and Burkinafaso. The difference is very clear.When Oil stops pumping, they will ask for secession. Mark my words. We need to Saudi Arabialize the South now.

Nigeria would not break up

Omoaholo Imogirie or whatever you call yourself, Islam is not a Cult & neither has The Devil at its head. You need be carefull about blassfeming other's faith!! These days no one can hide under the pretext of any anonymity by using the internet.It will be recalled that militancy and youth restiveness while it lasts in the Niger Delta, had it causes. Same also for the rise of Boko Haram and Islamic fundamentalism in the north. If the government is succeeding in addressing the former, i think it will also succeeed in addressing the latter. The solution is not obtained through insults and namecalling by so called elites who are most often ignoramuses. Rather than focusing on the break up of nigeria which cost would be unbearable, the elites and the government should dwell more on how to mitigate the failure of public policy in a pluralistic state as ours.

Nothing spoil! for their biafra our Nigeria

The guy has nothing upstairs to offer us again-He is finished! Become too empty for us people! Yesterday over 3 million Ibos were killed by the Huasa/Fulanis without him getting his Biafra. Now he has given up on the fight to back El Rufai land distribution firm for a fee. Anything can happen to Nigeria as far as he is concerned-He does not give a damn he says- while he searches for his Biafran root in the South East

We will break up...

The only sensible thing to do now is break up along the lines of the Rivers Benue and Niger for a start. Those living below the two Rivers can then intelligently sit down to negotiate the basis of their union.

Culturally, and I am saying this with every sense of responsibility, there is NO reason to lump a Bayelsan in the same country with a Zamfaran! The two individuals have nothing in common but the colours of their skin! Let's do right now before its too late.

The final straw

This is the final straw that confirmed my President as a real mad man, for this statement is raw madness. May Almighty God cure him for us and may He also resurrect us for we are dead.
We are deaf dumb and blind to have choose this man mad out of about 180,000,000 people to lead us, although this is made out of pity, sentiment and greed, I thing we have more competent people from Otuake not to talk of Nimbe or Bayelsa.
Allah Ya kiyaye na gaba.

We are better united but

We are better united but Nigerian leaders must work hard to avoid Nigeria breaking up. It is not mere wishful thinking but affirmative and construction action that will save Nigeria.A nation that tells a lie about itself is a fraud. Yugoslavia and Soviet Union deceived themselves for nearly 200 years before the bubble burst. No nation rises above its leaders. Every nation is what the leaders have made it. Now if the truth must be told ,Nigeria is working for those who failed it.

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