NIGERIA A FAILED STATE - RESTRUCTURE OR DIVIDE THE COUNTRY NOW! AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NIGERIAN SENATE ON THE ONLY WAY FORWARD IN NIGERIA
By Rev Fr Angelo Unegbu
Dear honorable members of the Nigerian Senate, I have contemplated for more than two years now on writing you this letter but the likelihood that my request may fall on deaf ears has always discouraged me. But the Nigerian situation has gone with a speed of light from worse to worst, more than we have ever imagined. I am compelled by the biting hardship, too many pains, suffering and deaths of Nigerians to write you without delay. And I do hope that my words are taken seriously.
My honorable men and women, do you even realize that you are merely keeping watch over a collapsed country or a failed state? In case you do not know, a country is known to be a failed or collapsed state when:
1) it can no longer guarantee the safety of lives and property;
2) it can no longer better the lives of its citizens by creating jobs;
3) it can no longer provide basic amenities like electricity, good roads, water and so on;
4) Government institutions like judiciary, police, are inefficient and no longer reliable;
5) There is total collapse of governance;
4) There are no hopes among the citizens that the situation will ever get better;
In a failed state, leadership loses its function and meaning. Leaders are replaced by war lords. Only the man with gun is obeyed. Thus, in a failed state, there is no difference between a policeman or a soldier or any uniform man with a gun and an armed robber. It becomes like life in the jungle. None has any respect for their victim in a collapsed state. No one is ever afraid of the consequences of his or her actions. The presumption is that one is likely to go unpunished when he or she commits a crime or even kills an innocent citizen.
It is needless blaming any political party because political parties do not exist in a failed state. Rather, what you have are gangs or hijackers of power who will be changing their group-belongingness, disbanding and regrouping with impunity. Manifestoes of such groups or parties are unknown or irrelevant. Common national interests do not exist in such groups, rather individual interests. In a failed state, whoever has the power will clutch it so tightly that it never slips off his or her hands. It is only in a failed state that politics becomes a dirty game. Technocrats, men and women "without liver" stay clear. It is nothing but a fight of the titans; a sad return to the Hobbesian ‘state of nature.’ In a failed state people die like flies. Justice and the rule of law are unknown. Killings and sudden disappearance of citizens become the order of the day. In a failed state, there is no meaningful opposition and where they even manage to exist, they are brutally crushed at once. Failed states do not tolerate demonstrations, civil disobedience, strikes and agitations unless when carried out in support of the people in power. Citizens live in permanent fear and forget their rights as citizens. In a failed state excellence is sacrificed at the altar of mediocrity; leadership is marred with ineptitude; education and healthcare are in miserable state. The economy is in shambles. In a failed state, elections are marred with violence and processes are incredibly uncivil. Given such a scenario people lose faith in the government. In a failed state, the laws of the land are no longer supreme. They become tools in the hands of leaders for witch-hunting their enemies and beatifying their friends. The consequences of all these is that children grow up with hate and detestation for their nation. Adults give up hope. Everyone sees it as hell. No one would want to stay. Foreign investors and tourists are scared. The situation worsens day by day but the government in a failed state will continue to give an opposite impression of their country to avoid external intervention.
Dear honorable members of the Nigerian Senate, let us look for a radical and perennial solution to our problems otherwise we move from pieces to dust. No matter what bills you pass, no matter what you say or do, as long the country is not restructured or peacefully divided, nothing else will save Nigeria from a complete drowning. Any resources spent on trying to save Nigeria from its present predicament will only amount to waste of money, energy and time unless the root of the matter is addressed, namely the present structure of Nigeria. The country should be reordered and governed according to how people belong together, with respectful and orderly channels of contact to maintain our national identity and interests. Things that do not belong together cannot be forced together. It is a simple law of nature. Even in the zoo all animals are not put together. Imagine that Italians are to be forced to have one government with the Germans and French, it would also be a disaster. Their economy would also be miserable like ours today. Even Belgians are wise enough to draw a thick line between Flanders and the Wallonia while maintaining a common national front. If they hadn’t done so, they would also have become a failed state.
Interestingly, if we do the needful other African states will emulate us because irrespective of our battered economy most of them still look up to us in so many things. It is also necessary that they restructure or repartition accordingly because we need to move together as a continent otherwise we will never attain the desired heights. You should not forget that one of the reasons for the partitioning of Africa is to ensure that it remains permanently colonized. The aim is for Africans never to unite and rise against the few colonial masters. It was a major strategy of colonialism. It remains today a major factor in the success of the neo-colonialism project.Imagine a man whose house is on the brink of collapse because of a damaged roof. No matter how much he spends in changing his furniture or repainting his house, as long as the roof is not repaired he will end up a frustrated man. Why are we blind to these realities? Why do we want to remain slaves and prisoners in our own land? Why are we holding ourselves down? Why are we suffocating ourselves with our own hands? Why do we choose to remain poor in the face of plenty? Why do we choose to remain on the path of insecurity, pain and death? What are we still doing with the unwilling horse at the stream? Can you see that the union is not working and will never work?
All the woes plaguing this country ranging from endemic corruption to poor governance which brought about insecurity, high crime rate, poor infrastructure, poverty and high mortality rate could easily be traced to the present structure of Nigeria. Government or governance is a child of social contract where people with common traits come together to form a civil society for the promotion of common good. It is a contract entered into in freedom and not by coercion. Democracy is the government of the people for the people and by the people. As we can see, it is all about the people and the people. The question is: are we a people? A people according to Merriam Webster online dictionary is defined as a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kingship, that typically has a common language, institutions and beliefs, and that often constitute a politically organized group.
Going by this definition, we are not a people and we cannot pretend to be what we are not. Have we seen why we cannot build any democratic society or state? Given our structure, we can only succeed in building an autocratic state and never a democratic one. The real custodians of democracy are not the leaders or politicians but the people. This is impossible where the people do not share the same mentality and values. It is only a people that can demand good leadership from their leaders through demonstrations and social unrests. A union like ours cannot because it is not made up of a people but groups of people or nations. It was as a result of this that the former government decided to convoke a National Conference on how to remedy our precarious situation. The result of that Conference was that unless Nigeria is restructured there would be no remedy to our malaise. The result of that Conference has been pushed to the "archives" by the APC government. We are today all witnesses. Today, Nigeria has become a nightmare for the poor as well as for the rich. It is only an implementation of a National Conference’s recommendation on the structure of Nigeria that would grant autonomy and power to the people without which no democracy will survive. Imagine all we are going through because we want to maintain a structure that does not work. What is it that we are gaining now that we are afraid of losing with a restructured or a peacefully divided Nigeria? Can someone tell us what these gains are?
Forget whatever plans or bills you have, let’s settle this matter of restructuring or peaceful division of Nigeria first. We must mend our leaking roof first before changing our damaged furniture, otherwise we shall end up frustrating our today and destroying our tomorrow.
ON THE MARBLE
"The northern political elite must ensure that the South West does not align with the South East and the South South or else Nigeria as a nation will be history" (Shenu Sani)
Someone advised: “You had better believe it!”
I add: “An old story. The Yoruba messed Nigeria up – AWOLOWO, ABIOLA, OBASANJO, TINIBU……name only a few. But when Nigeria finally disintegrates, with or without any physical force, BIAFRA will naturally emerge. Hence the hypocritical fears of Shehu Sani will come to fruition: “Nigeria as a nation will be part of the Amalgamation history of 1914”. It doesn’t need to be today. But will surely happen. (Nathaniel Ndiokwere)
FALSE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE IGBOS
(Forwarded by Dr. Anorue Felix Njoku
I was going through the archives of the evergreen Nigeria Village Square and I saw an interesting post that tried as much as possible to clear some false misconception about the Igbos.
Tighten your seat belt and read through.
In this piece, I intend to focus on the Igbo as a people. The Igbo, their culture, civilization, and their contributions to world greatness, are, perhaps, among the most little understood, taught, publicized and recognized of all human knowledge. What is sometimes upsetting is the little the Igbo themselves, including their educated sons and daughters know about themselves. Or, more bafflingly, how the educated Igbo parrot, and hold fast, without taking a second look at the false information about the Igbo, which they heard or read from scantily informed or biased sources, foreigners and natives, and, of course, the ever busy Igbo detractors.
I decided to write this article after the now familiar surprise look I get from many an educated Igbo when I begin to discuss Igbo factoids (invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print) and misrepresentations. What embarrasses most of them is that certain incontrovertible, and some would say, elementary facts about the Igbo, which were always self evident, now suddenly hits them like a thunderbolt and it becomes crystal clear to them that their previous beliefs which they parroted were false. Here are a few facts in question and answers:
Question 1: Is South-East and Igboland the same thing?
Answer: Not at all. South-East is only about 3/5th of Igboland. Igboland covers the whole of South-East, parts of Rivers, Delta, Benue, and Akwa Ibom states.
Question 2: Why were we taught in school that Igbo people are Easterners?
Answer: It is both an unfortunate parroting by teachers and careless adoption by Igbo educated class. Igbo people come from Southern Nigeria and not Eastern Nigeria. It may be correct to say that the Igbo are found predominantly in Eastern Nigeria. However, by saying that the Igbo are Easterners, the implication is that the Igbo in western Nigeria, numbering about 2.5 million (Agbor, Ogwashi Ukwu, Ibuzo, Okpanam, Asaba, Oshimili, Ndokwa, Anioma, etc) are not Igbos. The best known Igbo anthropologist Professor Mike Onwuejeogwu is from the western part of Nigeria, Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Dennis Osadebe, Okonkwo Adibe (the famous musician), Sony Odogwu, etc. are all from the western part of Nigeria. They are no less Igbo than those who live in the eastern part of Nigeria. The correct answer to your question is: “The Igbo come from Southern Nigeria.”
Question 3: Why do some Igbo refer to themselves as “Core Igbo?”
Answer: That is clearly arrant nonsense. Nobody is ‘core’ and others ‘peripheral’. All Igbo are the same. It is arrogant, thoughtless and insensitive for anybody to regard others as ‘marginal’.
Question 4: Is Igboland landlocked?
Answer: Not at all. Igboland stretches from Igwe Ocha (Port Harcourt) to Agbor. The Atlantic Ocean washes the shores of Igboland. Africa’s second largest river – River Niger, traverses Igboland with one part of Igboland in the east and another part in the west of Nigeria. Oguta Lake has the potential of accommodating large ships and could be made a navigable port. If Igboland is landlocked, then all Nigeria is landlocked.
Question 5: Is there oil in Igboland?
Answer: Yes, indeed. There is a lot of oil in Imo State, Abia, Ebonyi, Rivers State and Delta States Igbo areas, and now in Anambra. Besides, Igboland has many other natural resources, including coal, limestone, etc.
Question 6: Are the Igbo a nation or a tribe?
Answer: The Igbo are a nation, and a very large one. There are many tribes in Igbo nation, just like you have many tribes within Israel.
Question 7: Why do some Ikwerre people say they are not Igbo?
Answer: First, it is not up to them to say what they are and what they are not. When God created them, He did not ask them who they wanted to be. He just created them Igbo. The only way you’ll know who belongs to what ethnic group in Nigeria is the name and what language the name comes from. Anybody whose name is Amadi or Onyeri, or Eke, or Odili, Wanodi (Nwanodi) does not need to tell you who he is. He is Igbo, his politics notwithstanding.
Question 8: But they claim that their language is Ikwerre, not Igbo.
Answer: That is politics. Ikwerre is a dialect of Igbo language. Just like an Ngwa man speaks Ngwa-Igbo, Arochukwu speaks Arochukwu Igbo, Isu, Orsu, Oru etc.
Question 9: Some people say that Igbo language is not complete, is it true?
Answer: No language is complete. All languages borrow from each other. Igbo language is very rich. It has inexhaustible and rich linguistic features like idioms, proverbs, aphorisms, sayings, anecdotes, riddles, folklores, etc. Igbo language is one of the major languages of the world, being spoken by millions of people.
Question 10: How many are the Igbo?
Answer: The Igbo are very numerous. There is educated guess that if Nigeria’s census is properly enumerated, the Igbo could easily be the largest ethnic group in the country. They may number up to 40 million. Everything right now, is speculation. Nobody knows the true stratification or ethnic populations in Nigeria. The Igbo are the only ethnic group found in large numbers everywhere in Nigeria, and foreign countries more than any other ethnic group in Africa.
Question 11: Do the Igbo have a culture of their own?
Answer: Yes, indeed. Igbo culture is perhaps, one of the richest and all-encompassing cultures in this world. Igbo culture always observes the temporal and the spiritual aspects of cosmology. The study of Igbo culture reveals that it is extremely deep and original.
Question 12: Why do the Igbo wear Yoruba Agbada and Hausa Babbanriga but the Yoruba and the Hausa do not ever wear Igbo national dress?
Answer: Unfortunately this is the case. The Igbo have very attractive and resplendent national dresses. And they come in assortments that are extremely dignifying. The Igbo take up foreign cultures more readily than other Nigerians, and they seem not to care that nobody reciprocates their carefree attitude to life. Most ethnics promote their cultures and show off what makes them unique. Actually, it is still the same so-called educated Igbo class who behave in such disgraceful and the devil-may-care attitude.
Question 13: Why do the Igbo call themselves Biafrans?
Answer: Great question. Some people have the idea that Biafra originates from the Bight of Biafra. But that is wrong. There was the Kingdom of Biafra that ruled most of the ancient world about 50,000 years ago. Unfortunately, nobody talks about it, for whatever reason, I do not know. But, it is in the ancient maps of the world. If you wish I’ll make a copy and send to you.
Question 14: Were the Igbo also taken into slavery during the slave trade?
Answer: Yes. The Igbo slaves themselves gave account of their travails in slavery. Olauda Ekwuano an Igbo ex-slave who bought his freedom in Britain was the first slave to write about his experience in slavery. His book has become a classic. You ought to find it and read it. Also, other Igbos who were brought to America revolted and some walked back on water and were said to have returned to Africa. Several books have been written about them. One of such books is “Ibo Landing.” It is available in bookstores like Barnes & Noble. In Haiti, the Igbo settled there and refused to be colonized by anybody. There are many places where the Igbo left their mark or their signature
Question 15: How did the Igbo know days and years?
Answer: The Igbo invented an accurate, if not the most accurate calendar called “Iguafo Igbo (Igbo Calendar).” In Igbo calendar, there are four market days – Eke, Afor, Nkwo, Orie that make one week. Four days make one week, seven weeks make one month, and thirteen months make one year. There are 28 days for each month, with the last month having 29 days. Each month starts the same day as the previous. Igbo calendar forms the perfect astronomical alignment with the cosmos, and regulates the seasons, agriculture, navigation, astrology, geography, mathematics, travel, etc.
Question 16: Did the Igbo have their own alphabets?
Answer: Yes, indeed. It is called “Nsibidi.”
Question 17: How about Mathematics; did the Igbo know Mathematics?
Answer: Yes, indeed. There are such inventions as “Okwe” and “Mkpisi” which the Igbo used to resolve figures.
Question 18: Did the Igbo know anything about Banking?
Answer: Yes. Igbo banking was more in the nature of Savings and Loans. The authentic Igbo savings and loans invention called “Isusu’ (Utu Oha) in which contributions are pooled each week and one person, who has the need, collects, is still in practice. Igbo slaves took this invention to the Caribbean Islands where they still practice it and call it “Sue Sue.”
Question 19: Some people say that Igboland is too small for the Igbo, that they have no alternative than to live as Nigerians: is this true?
Answer: False. Igboland is a large country. Do every Igbo need to stay and work in Igboland? No. Everywhere in the world, some will stay home while others venture abroad in search of opportunities. Igboland is large enough for the Igbo. And it is a very rich and hospitable part of the world. It has rich soil for agriculture, abundant rainfall, good sunshine, and table land in many parts. Its land space and population are more than that of over half of the present countries in the world.
Question 20: Where did the Igbo come from?
Answer: That question is still being asked. There are very intriguing theories or histories now being studied. You may have heard of the Jewish angle, the Egypt angle, and the Origin of man angle. This twenty-first century, hopefully, will resolve the mystery.