Editorial: Is Nigeria’s break-up unrealizable – Òdúàpathfinder

December 7, 2016

Nigeria

Another census is being planned for 2018. Now, President Buhari is saying that the over 200 cultures in Nigeria had been living together since 1914, yet these cultures are not allowed to carry out their own censuses? … if President Buhari really wants the “over 200 cultures that had [have] been living together since 1914” … the first step is to acknowledge their existence, not only on paper, but being makers of their own history. This starts from these cultures making a determination as their Grundnorm and by extension, Nigeria’s.

 

President Buhari was reported to have told a visiting delegation from the Council of South-East Traditional Rulers that “the question of having another country out of Nigeria is going to be difficult” and that “from 1914, we have more than 200 cultures living with one another. God had endowed this country with natural resources and talented people” and we should only “concentrate on these and be very productive”.

Nothing is unrealizable and since President Buhari found it necessary to introduce God into the equation, the story of Babel in the Bible showed that God acknowledged that nothing “man” proposes to do will be withheld from “him”. God had endowed “man” with everything he needs to have dominion over all things that He created. The question is how this dominion is being manifested. To say that having another country out of Nigeria is going to be difficult does not mean it is unrealizable. Out of the endowment of man by God is the ability to overcome difficulties.

So then, what are those difficulties in Nigeria?

There is no country in the world without an endowment of natural resources. Even the deserts are endowed as testing grounds to absorb some of the destructive creations of man, away from human habitation. What President Buhari is therefore saying is that his own particular will is that Nigeria cannot and must not break up; such that, utilization of God’s endowment must be in tandem with what currently obtains as Nigeria’s reality which may or may not fulfill the existential will of the over 200 cultures. This is why he says all we need to do is to concentrate on the natural resources and develop them.
Nigeria’s reality is not in the laziness or unproductivity of her citizens but in the fact that the more than 200 cultures the president referred to have absolutely no say in how Nigeria exists and should exist. These cultures had been living with one another before Nigeria came into being and transcend Nigeria’s pre or post-1914 Nigeria’s borders;  denying this reality will be a negation of their global aspirations and expectations with its negative impact on their productive capabilities. Besides, some of these cultures have been balkanized inside Nigeria and placed in administrative territories incongruent with their cultural origins or proclivities as a result of colonial maladministration and continued by successive governments in Nigeria, military or civilian.

To a large extent, some these cultures found a way to establish a paradigm that allowed for a certain level of territorial autonomy for their development which was why references are always made to the achievements of the First Republic which now appear lost forever.
Yet, the mere fact that these cultures have been living together since 1914 does not make it  the only road to being productive, otherwise a subjective view would have been substituted for the reality—and that is the problem with Nigeria. When such subjectivity becomes the reality, there can be no productivity, regardless of natural resource endowment.

This subjectivity found its core in the military as an Institution of State which was able to impose its vision of the postcolonial State on the over 200 cultures and which was why a majority of these cultures are asking for their voices to be heard with the alternative of opting out of Nigeria if these demands are unmet. The political route the military used is the imposition of the 1979/199 Constitutions on these cultures.

The Fulani, one of the cultures, very early on, started promoting a vision of Fulani hegemony under the aegis of British colonial authorities’ enhancement of a deliberate dominance of the military Institution which eventually enabled it to assimilate certain sections of other cultures into their vision, either by force through military coups or via Constitutional illegalities.

This is why certain fundamentals have to be addressed by all of these cultures if any use will be made of the natural resources that abound.

When it is now being said that these cultures had been living together since 1914 and this is being used as an argument against the break-up of Nigeria, the question is how come none of these cultures were able to make any input into the Grundnorm, the Constitution that binds all the cultures together? For the reality is that the Grundnorm is a copy of another, totally different culture, a culture whose continuity is bound with the manipulation of as many natural resources in the world for its own benefit; a culture that owed its existence partially  anchored on the enslavement of some of the 200 cultures that make up Nigeria and now being touted as the glue that must bind all of them together?
None of these over 200 cultures were represented in the Constituent Assembly that “produced” the 1979 Constitution; the 1999 Constitution was even produced in a military dark room and used for an election where none of the office seekers knew what was contained in the document. The only time these cultures could be said to have made an input into the Grundnorm was during the pre-Independence Constitutional Conferences where they were represented more or less by the then existing political party formations. Since then these cultures had been negated, their existence of no consequence in the making of their existential paradigms and substituted with an acultural Nation State albeit superintended by a particular cultural hegemony.

When therefore the Speaker of the House of Representatives canvasses for a Constitutional Amendment to regulate local councils, he is indirectly enforcing this particular cultural paradigm, to wit, a Northern, Fulani cultural view anchored on a unitary system of Emirate governance as opposed to a historical Yoruba cultural paradigm anchored of federalism among and between the various Yoruba communities; just as the amendment process negates the existence of these 200 cultures which ordinarily should have left local government in the hands of the cultures and not substituted with what the Speaker calls a “strong” Federation as opposed to ‘weak” federations in other climes.
Even if it is said that the amendment is part of an overall attempt at amending the Constitution, the point still needs to be made that the Constitution itself is not a product of the over 200 cultures that had been living together since 1914; the only conclusion being that these cultures are immaterial to the conditions of their existence; they must accept their being a caricature; and these are the cultures the president wants to utilize their natural resources for development?

A similar scenario is unfolding with the census.

Censuses are embarked upon mainly for developmental purposes hence the figures and all the demographics are accurately reflected in the outcome such that planning for development becomes easier. Not so in Nigeria. All of the censuses so far conducted have been steered towards achieving certain ends outside the developmental parameters. Thus, the pre-independence census, organized by Britain was steered towards giving the North a political advantage, which suited Britain’s colonial projections and which made Northern dominance in the then House of Representatives possible. Subsequent censuses followed similar patterns with similar political and economic conclusions. All of these census figures were and are being used to formulate allocations of political power as well as economic resources from the central purse to the North’s advantage.

Another census is being planned for 2018. Now, President Buhari is saying that the over 200 cultures in Nigeria had been living together since 1914, yet these cultures are not allowed to carry out their own censuses?

The implication of the cultures embarking on their own censuses is that they will be mindful of their own economic developmental prospects such that inflating the figures will be non-existent because they know or will able to know what resources are available for their productivity and sharing with others will become a normal part of their existence, and all that any Population Commission will do is to act as the bureaucratic facilitator of the exercise and “national” depository of the results.

So, if President Buhari really wants the “over 200 cultures that had been living together since 1914” to be productive, the first step is to acknowledge their existence, not only on paper, but being makers of their own history. This starts from these cultures making a determination as their Grundnorm and by extension, Nigeria’s.

By not going this route, President Buhari is repudiating his own Party’s Manifesto, which, though not advocating Nigeria’s break-up, acknowledged the need for returning Nigeria to True Federalism which would allow the over 200 cultures to establish themselves regardless of whether they all want to be in the same country or not. The ball is thus now in the court of the over 200 cultures.

 

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2016. 6:51 p.m. [GMT]

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