“… for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people…”
This is the concluding portion of a 2-part article. To be able to make sense out of this, you need to read the first part.
Secessionists blame Lord Frederick Lugard, the man who amalgamated the British protectorates of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria in 1914 for forcing Nigeria down our throats. They say the Nigerian nation is a marriage that cannot work. I don’t want to sound like an Imperial apologist but many forget that Lugard did not place the many tribes that make up Nigeria side by side. If the present peoples that make up this country were spread around Africa, say, the Yorubas being in West Africa, while the Hausa/Fulani were in North Africa, the Igbos in East Africa and the Niger-Deltans in South Africa, it would have been impossible for Lugard to join us together into one country. This, I think, is a point secessionists overlook. Our fathers lived side by side for years long before the colonialists came to Africa, maybe, just maybe God orchestrated this.
One other thing secessionists fail to realise is this – that you don’t choose your family! Family is imposed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching imposition here but truth remains that we were all born into families we didn’t choose. The power of choice doesn’t come in to play in all facets of life, so secessionists should not base their fight on the sole basis that they never chose to be Nigerians. While the Igbo people may claim that the other segments of the Nigerian nation has consistently failed to treat them as family, I tend to agree and this is where our Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation must take root. We must consolidate the unity of our people, indeed. Beheading someone is not the cure for his headache. We agree that there is a problem but secession is not the answer.
The Nigerian project may seem like a forced marriage but truth remains that not all forced marriages hit the rock. The responsibility for the success of this marriage lies with the partners – the people that make up Nigeria. It is shameful that we still indulge in the blame game, over one hundred years after the amalgamation. It is an act of irresponsibility and we need to become responsible – accept the realities of our situation and work around it. Let’s go back to the forced marriage analogy, if after years of cohabiting in a forced marriage, the partners who were forced into it at tender ages, and upon attaining majority would take responsibility and start a process of dialogue, the marriage can be saved.
I have always believed that we have all it takes to be a great country but first things first – we have to have a round table discussion. Our unity can no longer be by cohesion, threat, involuntary or just because the constitution commands it, it has to be out of freewill. That is the only way we can put off the smoke of secession, once and for all.
Even though we have failed at optimising every great opportunity provided to us at several times – at independence, after the Biafran war and even recently during the Jonathan administration, we can still recreate this opportunity. I had thought that President Jonathan’s Sovereign National Conference would have been bold enough to take the bull by the horn and allow a discussion on whether we should remain a country or not. But Jonathan missed that opportunity. That nonetheless, we cannot continue as one nation if we never had a time in our past when we agreed to be one. The time to take that step is now, it would allow all parties air their grievances and rather than make us split, as many fear, it would be a unifying moment. In sober moments, no tribe really wants to leave Nigeria because we are better off together.
The Chinese have a proverb that I have come to love – the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. Now is the best time for us to act and consolidate the unity of our people.
I am @seunalade