Monday, September 16, 2013

Nigeria: To Break Or Not To Break - Femi Fani-Kayode

Today a great protest is taking place in the
Catallan region of Spain. According to the
polls, 52 per cent of the people from that
region wish to break off from Spain and to
establish a new European sovereign state.
Later this year, the people of Scotland are
having their own referendum to determine
whether or not they will stay in the United
Kingdom and, again, from the polls, it is very
clear that the majority of Scots wish to have
their own new sovereign state and that the
Scottish Nationalist Party enjoys massive
support. Nobody in either Spain or the United
Kingdom has insulted those people or labelled
them as ''ethnic jingoists'' or ''primitive
tribalists'' for wanting to break off from the
greater whole and establish their own country.
This is because everyone respects the right of
the various ethnic groups and nationalities
within their wider nation to exercise their
right of self-determination which is an
integral and fundamental aspect of
international law. Exercising that right does
not turn them into villains and does not make
them any less patriotic than their compatriots
who do not share their views. It just means
that they have a different perspective and
that they believe, as many believed before
Malaysia and Singapore broke up, that the
interests of their various peoples are better
served when and if they go their separate
They opted to be friendly neighbours rather
than to be compelled to remain within the same
territory against their collective will. As we in
Nigeria approach the 100-year anniversary of
our 1914 Lugardian amalglamation and, as the
2015 elections are fast approaching with both
the northern region and the south-south zone
desperate to take or to hold on to power at
any cost respectively, we need to begin to ask
ourselves some basic and fundamental
questions about our future. For example, is our
interest better served by remaining as one
nation or is it time for those nationalities that
wish to leave the federation in a peaceful and
orderly way, as a result of a legitimate and
honest referendum, be alllowed to go?
If the breaking up of larger countries into
smaller and more viable ones is good enough
for India (which broke into three), the Sudan
(which broke into two), Czekhoslovakia (which
broke into two), Yugoslavia (which broke into
5), the Soviet Union (which broke into 15) and
numerous other countries over the years, why
is it not good enough for us? Again, why should
those that believe that Nigeria ought to break
up be subjected to so much suspicion, ridicule,
contempt and insults from those that do not
share their views?
Some of the questions that need to be
answered are as follows- firstly, is our union
working? Secondly, is our marriage a good one
and is it a happy one as well? Are we satisfied
with what has essentially become a country
that has been turned into nothing more than
(with apologies to Chief Bode George) ''Turn by
Turn Nigeria?'' where each ethnic group simply
looks forward to enjoying its time to control
the federation and all the nation's resources
from an all powerful centre? Are we not meant
to be far more than this? Is this what the
founding fathers of our nation envisaged?
More than anything else the recent igbo/
yoruba debate over the issue of the status of
Lagos state and the deportation of a handful
of igbo destitute back to the east has proved
to me that we as a people are very different
from one another and that our interests may
be better served if we are no longer bound
together as one. I dare to voice this opinion
even though many Yoruba share it but will not
say so publiclly.
Is it not time for us to begin to accept the
bitter truth that our marriage is
uncomfortable and unhappy and that it may
not have been made in heaven or ordained by
God? Is it not clear that each region or each
nationality ought to be able to develop at its
own pace? Is it not time for us to have a
confederation of nationalities in Nigeria and
to restructure the country drastically to give
maximum autonomy to the various regions and
nationalities or indeed is it not time to just
break up and go our separate ways?
DIFFERENCES Many may disagree but one
thing that I believe that we can at least agree
on is that perhaps it is time for us to be
courageous enough to begin to talk about these
issues openly and debate them. We must not
sweep our differences under the carpet and
ignore them as if they do not exist but instead
we must find the courage and muster the
resolve to acknowledge them and understand
them. As far as I am concerned, this is the
challenge of our time and these are the
questions that need to be answered.
Whatever happens in 2015 and whoever wins,
whether it be a northerner or Goodluck
Jonathan of the south-south, I see blood on
the horizon and I see disaster approaching.
Stark promises from notable players such as
''there will be bloodshed if Goodluck is not re-
elected'' do not help and are not encouraging.
There are equally strident and bellicose
murmurings from the other side as well and
some have threatened that if there is a repeat
performance of the massive rigging that the
North witnessed in the presidential election of
2011 anywhere in the country in 2015, ''Nigeria
will burn'' whilst another key player said that
''both the dog and the baboon shall be soaked
in blood''.
These words must be taken very seriously
indeed and they reflect the thinking and
mindset of millions of people from both sides
of the political and regional divide. Worste
still, whether we like to admit it or not,
religion has now become a major factor in our
politics with Christians being told in their
churches that it is their solemn duty to
support a Christian presidential candidate and
Muslims being told in their mosques that it is
theirs to support a Muslim. We are sitting on a
keg of gunpowder and, in my view, 2015 really
will be the year of make or break for Nigeria.
Sadly, in my humble opinion, it is far closer to
''break'' than it is to ''make''.
If we wish to avoid the road to Kigali, we must
change our mindset and make the necessary
concessions that we need to make. We must
begin to think outside of the box and be far
more innovative and adventurous. For example,
why is it a must in the minds of some that the
PDP must field a Christian as it's presidential
candidate and why are some in the APC of the
view that the party must field a northern
Muslim as its own?
These hard and fast fixed positions are most
unhelpful and the right thing and proper thing
to do is to completely discard them and
attempt to find a presidential candidate thate
is a Nigerian before being a northerner, a
southerner, a Christian or a Muslim. And
thankfully there are quite a few of such people
around in the new generation if only the
system will be far-sighted and enlightened
enough to allow them to emerge and run.
Failing that we must open up the space now and
consider the unpleasant assertion that the
premium that a united Nigeria attracts may
not be worth paying simply because we are
getting nothing but failure after failure and
sorrow after sorrow as our consistent return.
I do not have all the answers and neither do I
claim that I do. Indeed I may well be wrong
which is why I would be interested in hearing
the views of others and particularly those
from the younger generation who may see
things very differently. Whichever way it goes
and regardless of what we all think, let us not
allow this debate to be driven by the
uninformed or ignorance, pettiness, hate and
acrimony. Let us not insult one another or act
as if any tribe or nationality are a collection
of angels whilst others are nothing but demons.
Let us join issues and exchange ideas in a civil,
restrained and decent manner without hurling
insults at one another or allowing our emotions
to becloud our thinking.
At the end of the day, we all want the same
thing- namely, to put in place a system that is
in the best interest of the Nigerian people And
to empower a new leadership that will allow
them to achieve their full potentials? That is
the objective and that alone. Over to you.
Culled from NigerianEye

Sent from my Blog

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