The Federalism of the First Republic, of the 1963 Constitution, is being demanded by some as the solution to Nigeria’s problems. The proponents of this view seem to think that once Nigeria returns to that constitution, with possibly some slight modifications, they and their interests will be protected, and their “One Nigeria” can go on.
But they are mistaken, I think. They haven’t considered why that constitution failed them. If it failed them before, can’t it fail them again?
Like the 1963 constitution, the 1960 constitution limited the powers of the Federal Government to defence, foreign affairs, and a few other items.
But it failed woefully to protect the federating units — the regions — from a federal government that was in the hands of a hegemonist Northern Region with an expansionist Caliphate colonialist agenda. Within five years, the Caliphate had, using the federal might it exercised through the judiciary, parliament, the police and the military, plunged the Western Region into a crisis that spread to engulf the other regions in a civil war that ended in 1970 with the Caliphate’s conquest of all of Nigeria, under the banner of preserving “One Nigeria.” That experience suggests that, for a viable association, the constitution must put defence, the judiciary, the military and other security services in forms that can prevent their manipulation by the Caliphate’s Federal Government. That means an Aburi-type confederation, and failing that, total separation/Araba.
To appreciate why confederation isn’t at all in the cards, we must understand how and why Aburi was not implemented. Aburi was unacceptable to the Caliphate. Therefore, its agents in federal power in Lagos refused to implement it. Why was it unacceptable to the Caliphate? The Caliphate’s Nigeria project is to dominate, conquer and forever exploit the rest of Nigeria. As the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, leader of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and Premier of Northern Nigeria, the political leader of the Caliphate in the 1950s and1960s, told his people in October 1960, as the other Nigerians were celebrating what they thought was independence: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great-grandfather, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us, and never allow them to have control over their future.” (Parrot Newspaper, October 12, 1960; republished on November 13, 2002, by the Tribune Newspaper, Ibadan.)
Confederation Aburi-type or of any type whatever, would have allowed the other regions to control their future. And that was what the Caliphate was totally opposed to. And because they were holding federal power in Lagos, they prevented its implementation. That’s how and why Aburi was not implemented. That is also how and why any confederation is not possible today. The Caliphate is in total charge of the Abuja government. And confederation is still not in their permanent interest that was announced long ago by the Sardauna.
This impossibility of federation or confederation applies also to the restructuring that some are hoping can keep Nigeria going. However, and for the above reasons, any restructuring that would protect the autonomy and interests of non-Caliphate Nigerians will not be acceptable to, and will be thwarted by, a Caliphate which is in power in Nigeria.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo at Awka has just pinned its hopes on restructuring just because every zone, including the Caliphate Arewa zone, is now singing restructuring. Ohanaeze, don’t be fooled! When Atiku Abubakar and other Caliphate politicians talk restructuring, isn’t it just a ruse to buy time by keeping everybody preoccupied and distracted while the Caliphate finishes it new amendments to its plans for perpetual domination? Didn’t they go to Aburi? Didn’t they kill the Aburi Accord afterwards? Didn’t they go to President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Conference? Haven’t they pocket-vetoed its report and refused to implement it? The Chinese say: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Ohanaeze, don’t be fooled! Afenifere, don’t be fooled! South and Middle Belt Forum, don’t be fooled! Any restructuring that can protect non-Caliphate peoples and give them control over their future will never happen as long as the Caliphate has the power in Abuja to prevent it.
If federalism and confederalism are both impossible in a Nigeria that includes the Caliphate, then what? I suggest that no form of political linkage with a colonialist can protect his intended victims, just as nothing will stop a cat from hunting any mice that cohabit a house with it. Fences and cages will not be sufficient barriers. If the claws of the cat are clipped, it will return to catching mice when the clipped claws grow back. For the mice to be safe, the cat must be removed from the house and left with no access to them.
So, Araba/partition is the only answer to the problem of Caliphate hegemonism in Nigeria.
Regional autonomy won’t do the job now, just as it failed in the past. Confederalism won’t do it either. Only partition with the erection of some version of an Iron Curtain will do it.
Because of what the Federal Government can do even when its powers are explicitly limited by constitution and the federating units have reserve powers, federalism or confederalism may be capable of many things. But the one thing it cannot do is solve the insecurity problem of Ndi-Igbo and the other non-Caliphate Nigerians, in the Middle Belt and the entire South, who are being targeted for ethnic cleansing so the cattle of the Fulani rulers can be grazed on their land, all the way down to Lagos, Forcados, Bonny and Calabar. This insecurity is intrinsic in a Nigeria POW camp in which their Caliphate colonialist enemy is included.
•Chinweizu is a writer and public affairs commentator.