GO ON WITH ONE NIGERIA?

Our country stands at a crossroad today. The forces that threaten to tear us apart seem to be stronger than whatever cohesive forces hold us together.
My mind flashes back for a moment to 1914- to the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates. Of course, I wasn't born then…my parents weren't even conceived ¦but my mind's eye can paint a picture. The British, propelled by the interests of the Empire, brought together into one geographical entity, people with diverse views, cultures, religions, etc. And Lord Lugard's wife gave us the name- Nigeria.

Fast forward to 1960- independence- and
within Nigeria, there were 3 regions. North, East and South. But Nigeria was politically sick, and in 1967, civil war broke out.
The Northern Fulani's, though less educated than their Southern counterparts, have always held more leadership positions in the country- as the British wanted it. The rest of the country- especially the East- has always felt marginalized.

As war was about breaking out, the Military Governor of the Eastern region, Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared: “the brutal and planned annihilation of officers of Eastern Nigeria origin had cast serious doubts as to whether they could ever live sincerely as members of a nation.

There were many causes that led to the Civil War; but at the heart, was a deep division between ethnicity. And that division still exists today.

Today, though most people clamor for a restructuring of the Federation, there are no Northern, Eastern or Western regions…just 36 states.  But despite the gospel of "togetherness" which we are so quick to preach, the question remains: was amalgamation a good idea?

Today, the Eastern region is in an extremely volatile state. The pro-Biafrans are clamoring for a sovereign state of Biafra. In the South-South, the situation is no different- the Niger Delta militants also want a sovereign Niger Delta State. Moving up north, the Northerners still believe that they own the blue-print of the country. It's stated in their words, as much as in their actions. Plus, their religious beliefs keep putting them at war with the rest of the country.

Most of us confuse a nation and a country. But to be clear, if a country is a geographical entity, a nation is the soul of that entity. A nation is born when people share not just a common history, but culture, ideals, ways of life. Nigeria is a country, but is it really a nation? When the British joined the North and South protectorates, they did not put into consideration that they were merging together people with different views of life, religious beliefs, cultures and administrative modes. No one asked the Igbo man if he wanted to be a "Nigerian"; or asked the Hausa man that same question. The "Empire" simply did what the "Empire" wanted!

We are like a fruit salad: this country Nigeria. We are not a homogeneous mix. In the salad bowl, there's an Apple, a Banana, a Pawpaw, a Pineapple, etc. Each one is identifiable- clearly identifiable. It's not like a pot of Stew; where you know that various ingredients were added, but they all turn out as one homogeneous liquid entity in the end. No. That's not Nigeria. We are the Fruit Salad; and we are at a very volatile crossroads.

I often wonder if I would wake up one morning and hear the sounds of martial music on TV. A coup has taken place. Every Northerner ordered back to the North, the Easterners to the
East, the Southerners back to the South-South: the Westerners back to the land of Oduduwa.

When I hear the Hausa man say no infidel (by that, they mean non-Muslim) should be allowed to rule Nigeria, and I hear the militants say "his oil belongs to us (by that, they mean, we, the indigenes of the Niger Delta)"; I fear for this entity called Nigeria. Was amalgamation a mistake? Is this a nation, or a geographical entity made up of people forced to live together as one, against their will? What will happen tomorrow? Might this be our last night as the entity called Nigeria? Will we wake up to a more deadly Civil War? Things are falling apart, and the center seems like it cannot hold. Do we still go on with one Nigeria?
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