Of Commonwealth or restructured/divided Nigeria?

Reasonable Nigerians have been wondering about the underlying reasons for this call, especially at this precarious time when all hands are expected to be on deck for revamping the national economy.

“And by that destiny to perform and whereby that’s prologue, what to come in yours and my discharge.”
– The Tempest. -William Shakespeare

Recently, the agitation has become intensely rife in some quarters that Nigeria should brace-up for eventual break-up into smaller regional containments that indicate different nation-hoods. Reasonable Nigerians have been wondering about the underlying reasons for this call, especially at this precarious time when all hands are expected to be on deck for revamping the national economy. A disparaging and debilitating call from war-mongers when strong effort is being made to sustain Nigeria on the path of contemporary development is nothing but a hue of mediocrity. We have all invested too much into sustaining the Nigerian entity notwithstanding our past differences and will not throw our collective destiny aboard in a jiffy.

In the inaugural speech of President Barack Obama of the United States during his second coming he said: “I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We are greater than the sum of individual ambitions.”

There have been divergent views on restructuring of Nigeria. This is no doubt necessary as a prelude to the political campaign for next general election in 2019. Many Nigerians have often held on to some views that are not healthy for the national growth but we must consider such views as a welcome avenue for mere talk-show. Both camps that argued for and against the above view are wrong and right because it is an acceptable, healthy and best way to solve problems among people – by talking them over and working them out peacefully. The arguments from both sides are strong and must be subjected to critical analysis in other to determine the right way forward. It is good to have different ideas that can be instrumental to solving our national problems. The American nickname for this approach is “land of the tree” because people are allowed to speak freely, choose their leaders and set the rules for themselves.

The Russian revolution of 1917 which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of Soviet Union political and social change. Sincerely the voting rights of March 1965 in the U.S.A when people died because they were black causing a period of segregation. Yet the people were strong and determined. Even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who led the revolution preached non violence even when some people were patriotic to extreme.Therefore, it is essential for Nigerians to share diverse thoughts on pressing national issues that can unite or separate us. We must ask ourselves the following question: “What really went wrong with us?” While answering this question, we must also bear in mind that success is not what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself but those good and impressive things that you do to elevate others. According to Danny Thomas (1989), “blessed is he who knows why he was born.” The late French leader, Charles de Gaulle, once confided to Andre Maltraix shortly before his death that in all his years of highly successful leadership, he knew not of a single problem that was ever solved or ever would have been solved.

Nigeria is blessed with many ambitious leaders who want to rule the nation at all cost. Unfortunately, some of them are the least qualified for such exalted positions. It is a known fact all over the world that leadership reliance on dominance is problematic and can breeds contempt among people in a nation. It is no gainsaying that some leaders are ‘power-hungry’ and they continually crave to usurp political power at all cost. Abraham Lincoln once said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Also, Messich and Mc Clintoch (1968) said: “People are categorised as ‘pro-self and pro-social.’ People in pro-self are primarily interested in making sure that resources allocation benefit them while those in pro-social group value equality and allocation of resources differently” (Stoyen, De-Cremer and Van Dijk 2005). Plato also stated that politicians with personal ambitions are least suitable to govern (Plato 1987). Thomas Aquinan and Augustine viewed ambition as a vice, a powerful force that might make individuals search for mundane glory and in so doing forsake God.

It is unfortunate that Nigeria today has many issues that appeared capable of dividing the nation. Those issues all wrapped together have painted Nigeria as a nation born out of struggle and strength of arguments that have failed to unite the citizens who continually survive in their diversities. We must bear in mind and imbibe the famous slogan that encourages unity: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

There was a time when the consideration was apparent that ‘small is beautiful.’ This was a catchy-phrase for ‘cranks’ written in the editorial column of British Guardian of March 3, 1977. The paper described ‘cranks’ as a low-cost, low capital tool and that large businesses existing as at that time tended to expand by splitting their operations that later merged into conglomerates rather than fusion into very big entities. Again, it is a known fact that conflict often existed between ‘man’ and ‘mass’, i.e., the individual and the society or the citizen and the state.

Nigerians should examine various issues that have caused conflicts of interest in many countries all over the world before taking collective actions for restructuring. We must understand that the peace and unity of a country of about 150 million people and richly blessed with various natural resources that can be deployed for the future national emancipation and development must not be sacrificed because of tribal sentiments and egoistic pursuits of a group of people. The leadership approach to governance in a state provides the operational environment for territorial harmony and disharmony. Some groups of people are always available to distract various governments from developmental pursuits while taking undue advantage of inherent socio-political and economic weaknesses. We need deeper responsibility to one another and better together which our difference matter more but we must find the breakthrough that come working together.

This is the time for Nigerian government to analyze why her citizens clamour for a restructuring. Such analysis will correct the deep misperception presently pushing the country along the precipice of restructuring, determine ways to uproot past mutual mistakes, identify the future progressive course and necessary improvement in citizens’ welfare in order to make Nigeria a “proud and united commonwealth nation.” This should be an opportunity for every Nigerian to be proud of his/her country. It is usual for Americans returning from overseas to be greeted by immigration officers stationed at international airports; “welcome Home”. It is only in the American passport that you will read: “May God continue the unity of our country as the railroad unites the two great oceans of the world.”

Every country has its own peculiar problems that could have given room for restructuring. We need to study some countries with their allied reasons for territorial conflicts so that we can embark on the proper action with the capacity to offer reasonable peace, justice, love and transparency for the entire Nigerian citizens. The countries engaged in political and territorial conflicts apart from Nigeria include but not limited to:

In Eritrean, there was multi-cultural context in order to address their internal grievances and marginalisation in which groups/oppositions complained that “the states are de-facto culturally biased.”

Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Islamic Jihad (EJM), etc., are among countries in which weak government approach provided operational environment for territorial disharmony.

The strategy used to unite Somalia forces and create an Islamic national front included the expulsion of foreign international pressure, rebuilding of state institutions, establishing of domestic security, comprehensive national reconciliation, combating of famine and national economic reform.

However, in the interest of Nigeria, concerted efforts should be made not to divide the nation.

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