It is not in doubt that the people of the Southern part of Nigeria have in many fora, in one way or the other, demanded for the restructuring of Nigeria. This agitation has been on for years and has taken many forms, including calls for separation and the destruction of national assets that have brought the nation to her knees and almost destroyed the economy of Nigeria.
On Thursday, the 2nd of March, 2017, I watched the network news and saw the peoples of the South-South and South-East lamenting their marginalization and demanding for the restructuring of Nigeria through fiscal federalism. In the recent past, people like retired Gen. Alani Akinrinade and others have strongly demanded for a restructure. Indeed, the General exploded on 25th July, 2016 when he bellowed: “NIGERIA MUST RESTRUCTURE OR BREAK UP”. But nothing tangible has been done in this regard.
Not long ago, Northerners had warned those agitating for fiscal federalism or separation that they would face the consequences of their actions. In fact, Prof. Ango Abdullahi said Nigeria cannot be restructured geographically any longer.
My questions are: Why has the North allowed the restructuring of Nigeria from three (3) regions in 1963 to 36 states in 1992 and now suddenly oppose fiscal federalism? Why must the South beg the North for their demand to be met?
In 1999, when Obasanjo was to become president, it had to take the approval and support of the North. To make Justice Onoghen the Chief Justice of the Federation was almost stalled because of powers that did not want him to be. I think the answer is not farfetched. The disunity and hatred among the peoples of the South have always been responsible for our inability to achieve meaningful political progress.
We have always deceived ourselves that we are better educated than the North, yet we cannot do anything politically meaningful without begging them for it. We have always allowed ourselves to be used and abandoned.
During the 1961 plebiscite, the people in the present North-East zone were practically begged to remain in Nigeria, while the same effort, or even more, was made to ensure that the Southern Cameroun went to the Republic of Cameroun. The political implication of that is clear. As recent as 2008, the South has also lost Bakassi to the same Cameroun.
I am not a Geographer, but I know that the opposite of North is not East and West, but that was the geographical division of Nigeria in 1946. As if that was not enough, the South was further divided by carving out the Mid-Western Region in 1963. While we were busy hating and castigating one another, the other people were busy building One North, and till today, no matter how they may quarrel and fight each other, that spirit still remains.
Now we have South-South, South-West and South-East: our governors and leaders can hardly meet. Worst still, even the governors and leaders of South-East hardly see eye-to-eye. The various peoples of the former Eastern Nigeria see each other as enemies, and if possible, will avoid themselves at all costs. Yet, we are on television begging for our right!
The old adage; “divided we fall” is playing out on our efforts every day. Yet, we deceive ourselves that the other part will wake up one morning and grant us our desire. We cannot influence anything in the country unless we beg for it, and any time we are not in the good book of the others, our cry and lamentation become vanity.
It is not that we do not need our brothers from the North. No! We need them, but because of the hatred and division among ourselves, we have made ourselves irrelevant and have to appeal to them before our rights legitimate needs can be met.
May I advise the leaders of the South to stop wasting their time and effort if they cannot unite us, so we can eat our humble pie and wait to receive the handout from the North, even for our resources and efforts. We have pretended for long; unless the South unite and make the handshake across the Niger a reality, we will not have any reasonable success, and as long as we cannot progress, so long will the larger nation, Nigeria, fail to achieve her desires.
This issue does not need any preachment, we all, or at least, most adults
Of fifty years and above, know what is wrong with the South, and unless we look ourselves in the face and tell ourselves the truth and reconcile and apologize to one other where need be, then we should stop disturbing ourselves and the younger generations with our pretences.
This Truth cannot be substituted!
Long live, the South! Long live, Nigeria!
Uwadilachi Ikegwu Ijioma