Any discerning person knows that all is not well with Nigeria. With its abundant natural resources, the country still falters.
It precariously hangs on the cliff, and has not been as divided as it is today; not even during the 30 months civil war that claimed the lives of about three million people. However, we still have to thank God for not allowing us fall into precipice even though we have been on the cliff hanger for so long.
For almost 60 years of independence and 30 years after civil war, our message is still ‘Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable; One indivisible Nigeria”, and other rhetorics, while Rwanda that had its own war 25 years ago, has passed beyond this and emerging as a modern and prosperous nation. The reasons we are not succeeding are evident.
First, the foundation of this country was laid on falsehood; the consequence is that it is bound to be unstable or may collapse since it was erected on quicksand. Genocide was committed against an ethnic group, and instead of us to seek forgiveness, reparation and also carry out the necessary atonement; we pretend that it never happened. The denouement is the deafening cry of the blood of those innocent souls that has not allowed the nation to sleep.
The colonial government before its departure, set a booby trap for the country with the first census by allocating unimaginable figures to one part of the country, which thereafter has been used as projection to determine the population of Nigeria. This is contrary to any known demographic law or theory that establishes the fact that more people live in the forest region than in the desert region, but in Nigeria, the reverse is the case, and this is why nothing works in the country.
The founding founders of the nation in their wisdom came up with an idea on how to live together as one, and went into agreement in 1959 on how we are going to live together. But we have set aside that agreement and that is the cause of our problems today. The military added to the problem by foisting the 1999 constitution down our throats, which has turned a federal system to a unitary system. A constitution that has destroyed what is left of the trust among ethnic nationalities.
The 1999 constitution is neither static nor revolutionary. It is not progressive. It is not forward thinking and does not inspire. With this constitution, one million Igbo as presidents will not progressively move Nigeria forward. It’s a constitution that allows for settlements instead of prosecution. It’s a constitution that allows affidavit as opposed to genuine academic qualifications.
It’s a constitution that guarantees tribal military occupation. The army that supposed to protect is rather looking up to supernatural assistance to control insurgents. It is a constitution that encourages the killings of unarmed Igbo youths by the military because of their ideological beliefs.
It’s constitution that has jeopardised the judiciary and legislative arms of government. This 1999 constitution has ignited the biggest scam in our life time used to deceive the older generation that Igbo presidency is realistic. Igbo presidency is the mother of all deceits. It does not have legs and lack the wings to fly.
The former arrangement by our founding fathers allowed the regions, which were the federating units to develop at their own pace; control their resources, which led to healthy competition among them. The good old days are gone, no thanks to the 1999 constitution that has made state governors to go cap in hand begging for statutory allocation from the centre at the end of the month.
For us to make progress, we have to go back to the idea of our founding fathers, where people know that you eat in terms of your own work, not benefiting from what others have done. We must restructure to survive as a nation.
A situation where the Southeast leadership troops to Aso Rock to beg for Enugu airport to be fixed; A situation where an Ijaw indigene that wants to get contract in NNPC or even in NDDC would need to travel to the north to get a letter from one Emir is not the principle upon which the nation was founded. A situation where the headquarters of the multinational oil companies are situated in Lagos, while the Niger Delta suffers environmental degradation is not the spirit of the founding fathers of the nation; we must restructure to move forward.
We just came out of elections about six months ago and politicians are already plotting for 2023 elections and the zone that should produce the presidency. What I cannot fathom is why any northerner should moot the idea of one of them running for the 2023 presidential election. We are a very religious nation and the tenet of these religious, especially Christianity and Islam is anchored on fairness, equity and justice.
If we live by what we profess, the Southwest has had its fair share; the South-South has had a stint at the presidency and the North has had more than a fair share of that office, while the Southeast is left to weep like an orphan child.
If I were a northerner, I would ask questions on what we have achieved with our hold on power; I will also be worried that we have not used the position to advance the cause of the nation, or have we used it to develop our people. Poverty is ravaging the region, which has given birth to Boko Haram, banditry and kidnapping. As at October 2018, there were 13.2 million out of school children in Nigeria, and about 69 per cent of them were in the north. By November the same year, according to UNICEF, only about 45 per cent of girls in Northern Nigeria attend school. According to the February 2018 release by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), poverty is worse in northern Nigeria, with certain northern states having a poverty rate near 86 percent.
As it stands, 2023, favours the Igbo to produce the presidency going by equity, justice and fair play, which all political conventional wisdom professes. Elder statesman, Pa Ayo Adebanjo sometime ago warned politicians from the north and the South West, as well as South South to perish the idea of a 2023 presidency. He emphasised that it is the turn of the South East to produce the presidency. According to him, “You are talking about peace in the country, and how can you have peace when the South East is denied the presidency in 2023? It is not possible. Equity is the bedrock of any sane society and the bedrock upon which peaceful coexistence of the country should rest.”
Former Kaduna State governor, Balarabe Musa said the same. However, there are some Igbo who are highly qualified for the presidency in spite of what the zoning arrangements of the parties are. The truth about it is that Nigerians should consider our present economic predicament, as a critical war situation and leave it in the hands of those who have gone through the war, and have suffered recession and depression, and have proven to be overcomers of any form of adversity. Yes, the Igbo race has seen the worst, passed through fire of tribulations and like phoenix bounced back to life and making wonderful progress in all human endeavours beyond human imagination.
We will be living in fool’s paradise if we fail to understand that we are at the precipice, and we can fall apart anytime. Nigeria is extremely fragile. The danger of Nigeria becoming a Somalia is really in our eyes, and also don’t mistake what you see as the seeming order of – I drive my car and go anywhere, but if you look at Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, the crisis started and the war broke out later.
•Brady Nwosu writes from Maiduguri, Borno State.