The debate about the future of Nigeria is in full swing and it is a good debate. Those who want the country divided into north and south give the following reasons:
- It is a creation of an European power for economic reasons
- There is no natural affinity between the two regions (north and south)
- There are strong religious differences between Christians and Muslims
- There are strong ethnic differences in the country
- The country was and is being led by people who have no desire to build a one united nation. It started right from the beginning. Independence was strongly opposed by the north.
- Corruption is every where both in government and outside of government.
- Break up would free the bottled up enterprising spirit of the southerners.
- There is no political freedom on the land
- The country is too big to manage; we should break it up into manageable components
- Southerners are being massacred in northern Nigeria
- Both regions could survive without the other.
- What is wrong with Nigeria cannot be made right by any other means
There some more reasons but those are the ones most frequently sited.
What is amazing is the consistency of these points over time. Those of us who are old enough to know will recall that each of the above points was made to justify the secession of Eastern Nigeria from the rest of the country.
Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.
Here are the reasons why Eastern Nigeria as Biafra was supposed to be a good venture
a) There is solidarity among the southern states
b) The south can survive because it has oil and is the engine that drives Nigeria
c) We are Christians and have western education and live western life style and therefore would get support from the West
d) The north cannot make it on their own.
e) The north is too cowardly to fight the east and the west would be neutral (remember Awo’s promise: as east goes so will west).
f) No force in Africa could subdue Biafra
There are some other reasons but these are also enough
This is another amazing set of facts. Please note that these points are also very consistent with the current demand for a Southern Nigeria Republic. It has been forty years since the Biafran experiment was conducted and obviously we have learned nothing and we have forgotten nothing. The assumptions about how Biafra would survive did not materialize. The supposed eastern solidarity became a nightmare; the expected western support went to the opposite direction as the only western support (food supplies) Biafra got was from the World Council of Churches (Protestant Churches) and from Caritas (Roman Catholic). United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, countries with over 98% Christian population, paid no heed. Western Nigeria joined in the campaign against the East; Delta and the ethnic communities in the East declined affinity with the hinterland; oil exploration quickly went away from the equation; etc, etc. A force in Africa with assistance from Europe, Asia and Middle East eventually vanquished Biafra costing about 2 million in lives lost.
I have some questions for the advocates of the Republic of Southern Nigeria:
- What makes you believe in southern solidarity?
- Do you know of southern politicians who are not corrupt or have demonstrated the capacity for governing? Use state governors as the starting point or if you rather, a local government?
- Are there southern federal ministers that have performed better than their northern brethren? Or legislatures? Or court judges?
- From whence would these new southern rulers come from?
- Given what is going on these list services, can the Igbo and Yoruba truly form a union?
- Who would call for this new Republic? Who would declare the secession? Fashola? Obi? Chime?
- How would Yoruba opinion be ascertained? The Igbo opinion. The Ogoni opinion, the Ibibio, the Annang, the Efik, the Edo, the Itsekiri, etc opinions?
- Will the capital be Lagos or Enugu or the old Calabar? Each was a capital before.
These are the simplest of questions. I will leave the philosophical questions to the likes of Nwakanma, Osuji, Ojo, Adeboye, Oranika, Egbe, Nwosu, etc, to wrestle with.
For the third time in this article I will state that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
August 22, 2012