Nigeria At 57, A Dream That Refuses To Fade
Nigeria News take a look at the country’s independence anniversary and why Nigeria has remained united despite various agitations for breakup 57 years after.
There was no nation called Nigeria before 1914. There were hundreds of tribes and ethnic groups within the territory that is now called Nigeria before the 1914 amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates.
The British colonialist had seen in the black people, energy and on their lands natural resources they could use to develop the United Kingdom. The British expansionist policy gave birth to Nigeria as a country, managed by the colonial masters until 1960 when some Nigerians rose for self-government.
Before independence in 1960, Nigeria operated regionalism, a form of parliamentary government with Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister, Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of the Western Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello as the Premier of the Northern Region and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe as the Premier of the Eastern Region. They were subject to the British Government.
It was a structure that allowed competition among the three regions with which the country recorded the best of an economy and infrastructural developments.
The noise about separatism was very low until 1966 when the military struck and erased some of the leaders who fought for independence. Many of them northerners and some from the southwest.
In 1967, the civil war erupted and for three years, Nigeria knew no peace. There was serious agitation by Igbo ethnic group to name the Eastern part a Biafra Republic. It was resisted then till now.
Nations, most especially those in Africa came to being under British and French imperialism. It was good that colonialism brought out nationhood in Africa and some other continents, the amalgamation and merging of some territories and cultures in Africa by British were very wrong.
Today, there are people of Cote d’Ivoire colonized by the French that is from Ghana; there are also Nigerians in Cameroon with different cultures.
As at today, the English speaking Cameroonians are still feeling alienated by the Cameroonian Government.
Nations are also formed through self-determination of ethnic groups who feel that they are ripe to govern themselves as a country.
It happens before the birth of Jesus Christ in Egypt when the Hebrews rose against their masters, the Egyptians to create a nation called Israel.
The Hebrews had something in common. They saw themselves as slaves and the oppressed. They were 12 tribes of Abraham and they fought their way to the promise land to become a powerful nation.
Once upon a time, there was a country called West Germany and another one called East Germany. They resolved to align and become Germany. The West and the East Germans saw themselves as one people with one culture.
Until the 1990s, there were countries like USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, today they are no more. The big Soviet Union broke up into smaller countries, among which there are Ukraine and Russia. Bosnia, Slovakia, Slovenia are some of the newest countries that rose from the breakup of bigger countries like Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
Before their emergence as sovereign states, the self-determination groups fought a war, they resolved issues amicably for a country to be born.
Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world with the population of about 180 million people and 250 ethnic groups. Agitation for secession by some of the ethnic groups, especially one of the major groups, the Igbo has continually put the existence of the country in danger.
The Hausa/Fulani ethnic groups are the largest with 29 percent, Yoruba is 21 percent while Igbo is 18 percent.
Sometimes, there was a prediction that the country would disintegrate by 2015 due to serious agitation by the Igbos, Ijaws and Itshekiris, it never came to pass. The power at the centre ensuring that the country remained as one indivisible entity.
No successive president is ready to break Nigeria into pieces, despite the present clamour for restructuring from the west to the north and the threat of secession from the east to north.
In his nationwide broadcast on October 1 to mark the country’s 57th independence anniversary, President Muhammadu Buhari stated unequivocally that Nigeria would never be broken up under his watch.