Proponents of “Unity” as the cure-all for Nigeria’s underdevelopment will be emboldened by the response of the International Community, principally Europe and the US, to self-determination demands in Catalonia and Kurdistan. It will also be a lesson for self-determination advocates in Nigeria who often hinge their strategies on courting these Western powers based on certain International Conventions aimed at energizing the process of self-determination.
That the Western world will go that far in enabling the suppression of Catalan and Kurdistan self-determination should show that their response to us in Nigeria would not be any different, more so when the African Nation-State, being a colonial creation, is on the verge of losing its Legitimacy(if it has not already) as the forced successor to the African pre-colonial States, mainly anchored on the excuse of preventing multiple States on the continent as a result of her numerous cultural and lingual characteristics with commingling of different cultures and Languages into a single political construct as a solution. Just as the colonial powers did, the Nigerian post-colonial State sees us as Objects, with no identifiable marker, being tossed to and fro. We are not Subjects whose existential realities must influence any form of Constitutional paradigm.
Knowing that we will not achieve any form of development within the post-colonial architecture of State since it was and is not intended for the benefit of the colonized, the colonial powers would be shooting themselves in the foot if any form of self-determination is supported. Yet, they have to be engaged but not on their terms. This is why the December 21, 2017 elections in Catalonia becomes relevant. A victory for the Independentistas will confer Legitimacy. What happens thereafter becomes a quest for sustaining the Legitimacy which will call into question Europe’s fidelity to its own Nation-State Paradigm as the end game. That will be the moment of reckoning for the modern Nation-State, for Europe, the United States and of course, Africa.
Nigeria’s Constitutional formulations are anchored on colonialist expectations wherein the North has always assumed its right to the central leadership, following the “rights” granted it by British colonial permutations, where, among others, the pre-Independence census was heavily manipulated in favor of the North thereby giving it a Parliamentary majority that allowed it to establish its political dominance. It is also known that the British connived with France to manipulate the 1961 Plebiscite in Cameroon to lure Southern Cameroons into leaving Nigeria while encouraging Northern(Fulani) Cameroonians to stay within Nigeria with the same aim of giving the North a population advantage over the South. Therefore, in Nigeria, till date, the North always strive to ensure its continued control of the Center, and why it is insisting on getting its will to such an extent that its attempt to join the train of Restructuring is predicated on its wish; the implication being a Northern(Fulani) equivalent of the Pax Britannica, a Pax Fulani-Nigeria.
When Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, echoing his predecessors, recently stated “patriotism” and “unity” as the cure-all for the Nigerian problematic, he forgot to ask why these are absent in the day-to-day experiences of the Nigerian. Could this be because the Nigerian is perplexed by the realities of existence to such an extent that these became an unwanted reality? Or could it be that the Nigerian is so bereft any notion of attachment to a country or homeland, which if true, makes the Nigerian less than human? Or that disunity and lack of patriotism are inherent in the Nigerian? Obviously, the answers are in the negative.
Patriotism and Unity can neither be expressed nor exercised in a society whose formation is external and in contradiction to one’s existence; that is, “Nigerians” had no input into how Nigeria came to be hence unable to define their terms of inter-relationships also known as “unity”, more-so when there were pre-colonial interactions between the various Peoples now inhabiting that geo-political space. The story of Nigeria’s coming into being is very well known to bear repetition. Even the attempt to correct this anomaly was aborted by the in-built mechanism of a colonial military whose foray into power grabbing in Nigeria completed the colonial unfinished business. Furthermore, patriotism, and unity, cannot exist in the minds of those whose major preoccupation is to escape from the country, one way or another, directly or aiding others indirectly. The leaders and rulers are not exempt. When a ruler, for example, the President goes on medical leave “abroad”, would that be construed as some form of lack of patriotism and disunity? For when the critical health infrastructure is lacking, health care breeds suspicion, not only in terms of quality of health care but also in their human interactions, for surely some blame will have to go around in case of health care failure resulting in a fatality, more-so when those concerned are from different Nationalities. Thus, a lack of infrastructure becomes transformed into a lack of trust and “unity” becomes just one more word.
Yet, this had not always been the case as the experience in the First Republic showed and which only show the absence of an organic relationship between the “Nigerian” and Nigeria itself, hence affirmations of “patriotism” and “unity” could only be abstractions.
And this had been the fundamental issue in Nigeria’s (and Africa’s) underdevelopment—that all the issues facing the continent are addressed from the abstract hence solutions are also abstract with the effect of compounding the problems rather than resolving them. Thus, all of Africa’s governments pursue the “foreign investment” mantra, with absolutely nothing to show for it; democracy or better still periodic elections are either manipulated or completely dispensed with, as shown in The Gambia, Liberia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Congo(misnamed Democratic Republic of Congo), even the defeated Jonathan Presidency in Nigeria promoted the notion that it did the country a favor by accepting the election results; Constitutionalism is at the whims of the ruler; every government “fights” corruption with nothing to show for it, not even its multi-faceted nature as corruption becomes restricted to embezzlement of public funds; and the only thing in common for all of these rulers is the suppression of the Peoples by the military and security forces as the conclusion of their colonial mandate.
With these, it is apparent that “reason” alone cannot and will not address the question of Restructuring in Nigeria unless such “reason” is Legitimized by concrete political action. “Reason” had been the core of the quest for Restructuring/True Federalism since its advent yet had not played any role in whatever solution was imposed. Legitimacy must therefore derive from a determination to terminate extant Constitutional formulations as a formal necessity, to arrive at any reasonable Restructuring exercise that will bring forth the developmental expectations of the Peoples in themselves and for themselves.
For the Yoruba at home in Nigeria and the Diaspora, it is imperative they intervene directly and in such a manner that will Legitimize the quest of the Peoples and Nationalities of Nigeria as Federating Units, as the precondition for social and economic development.