Nigeria: One Nation, Different Visions
Nigeria News examines a country in a search for the better government after a decade of amalgamation.
It is obvious that the visions of all ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria are different, yet they have lived together since 1914. Nigerians have fought internal wars; they have engaged in communal clashes; they have also fought along ethnic and religious lines, yet the country has remained as one.
Many had thought that the country called Nigeria would seize to exist in 2015 based on the prediction of an American author but the country still holds.
Nigeria exists on a fragile foundation at present. It exists because those who hold it are scared of losing their stakes and relevance. Now that they are growing older and losing grip and relevance on government, their thoughts are gradually changing about the structure that made them thick.
The visions of the great leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello that fought and got independence for Nigeria were different but they were able to achieve great feats through competition and the resources they had in their regions.
The structure was regionalism with premier leading each region and a Prime Minister at the centre. The Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa had his own vision for he wanted Nigeria to be before the soldier struck in 1966.
The military threw Nigeria into a unitary system of government and destroyed the Federal structure that gave a sense of belonging to all ethnic groups. It was clear that every military ruler had an ethnic agenda, which became pronounced following the discovery of oil in Niger Delta.
The region that produced the resources for economic growth was neglected to rot while the income was being used to develop other regions. The idea of 53 percent income to the Federal while state and local governments share the remaining became unfashionable to some states, most of them from the south.
They describe the structure as a great injustice and called for resource control. True, there can never be unity where there is no justice. Lagos alone accounts for over 80 percent of the Value Added Tax that goes to the Federation Account while the remaining 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja account for the remaining 20 percent, yet the Federal Government has no special budget for Lagos.
Despite the lament of the people of Niger Delta over environmental degradation due to oil exploration on their lands, the government had done little to alleviate their suffering. Though their representatives do not help matters as they connive with the central power to subdue the agitation of their subjects, it is clear that the region is yet to get what it is due to it.
The vision of the Niger Delta youths is to control their own resources, build their own structure, make their own laws and create their own police in a true federal system. They are clamouring for breakup; they do not want war either but this ethnic group came up with Niger Delta militant to agitate for resource control.
Unlike the Niger Delta, the Igbo ethnic group seeks secession. Except the political elites, masses from Igbo extraction want secession. Their plot is to have a Biafra state through a self-determination protest being led by a group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Until IPOB was proscribed and declared as a terrorist group last week, the Igbo were bent on breaking away from Nigeria. While IPOB was agitating for secession, the Igbo apex socio-political group, Ohanaeze was demanding for the restructuring of the Federal structure to accommodate many of its agenda.
In the southwest, the Yoruba social-political group, Afenifere has been speaking loud about restructuring to the extent that the ethnic nationality recently organized a summit in Ibadan Oyo State where it came up with its agenda.
Yoruba actually wanted regionalism and if one would judge by the recent comment of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, it will be a bit tight for Nigeria to move forward with restructuring.
He said this at a lecture organized by the King’s College Old Students Association where he posited that restructuring would open up the economy and would go a long way in addressing various agitation in some parts of the country.
Tinubu on Saturday spoke the mind of the former Vice Pesident, Atiku Abubarkar who had been clamouring for restructuring right from the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Abubakar, no doubt is an advocate of restructuring and it seems his campaign is gaining more influences among political elites except the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who believes that some of those seeking restructuring are doing so for selfish political interest.
El-Rufai is the chairman of the committee set up by the All Progressives Congress to look at the issue of restructuring. He presented a paper at Chatham House London where he opened up a bit that the country would actually need to be restructured in the area of policing, resource control among others.