The resolution of the Nigerian problem is far from taking effect. The reasons are those of ignorance trading, as patriotism or even genius. The ignorance-patriotic complex, so to say, afflicts two principal types. The first are pundits, so-called, who may be bereft of expert knowledge in anything. They make the television talk shows or man important public squares, not excluding newspaper pages. Most times their ideas are based on common sense, even in matters that are largely technical.
Often times, it is easy to spot them. They comment on everything under the sun. However, their cousins form a more respectable group. These cousinly commentators are mostly lawyers and economists and sometimes professors. Yes, they could be highly sought after experts in their areas of competences. But every now and again they veer into matters that are more wondrous than their comprehension. It is a form of overtrading, intellectually speaking.
The reason that lawyers and economists dominate this cantankerous list is a fallout of military dictatorship, our study shows. It so happened that the kids, who took up guns to rescue Nigeria as coup makers, deluded themselves on two false and forged premises. 1. That all the Nigerian people needed was a full or really, a fool’s stomach, just like the little minded bird, nwa nza. 2. That all they needed to sustain their criminal hijack of state powers, were law and order. So, choosing economists and lawyers, as philosopher dukes came as second nature to coup makers. And these economists and lawyers developed a sense of their being ‘‘Minor Prophets’’ with major messages. Yet despite all the fancy talk, coup making, at least, in Nigeria, turned out to be no other than robbing the state as much as you can, within the tenures your guns can secure for you. It is a precocious form of the kidnapper-Evans’ enterprise. Instead of hijacking rich individuals, you hijack the state and extract ransoms, in billions a la Abacha and the rest. Meanwhile like Evans before the burst, you live respectably. So, the trinity of economists, lawyers and coup makers made good while Nigeria stewed in rot. These men are the true precursors and prompters of Evans and gang.
If we left the ducal economists and lawyers alone, we can come to our stuff. One sights pundits, several of whom are lawyers and economists, declare that Nigeria was made a unitary state because that was the only way the military [coup makers, the military did not run Nigeria] runs shop. And the fact of this has been accepted today as received, if not sacred wisdom.
Anyway, while the assertion sounds fancifully true, history does not support that view. And we shall give one of many examples each, to cover ancient, modern and present times.
Writing of the most influential of all wars, Thucydides, himself a general, reports: ‘‘On the left wing were the Sciritae, who, in a Spartan army, always have the privilege of occupying this position, as a separate force.’’
That is while the battle was one and war aim one, the Sciritae, always stayed independent of the general Spartan command. And the fact of it is that the Spartans were a hugely successful military machine. That is to say that the duplication of command did not bring deficit or defeats to the Spartans.
In his ‘‘American Caesar,’’ Professor William Manchester, who was once a marine, writes: ‘‘His candidate for the command was Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. But Nimitz was junior to the General and unknown outside the navy. The Chiefs, therefore, compromised by creating two theatres, an arrangement, which violated all conventional military precepts. To everyone’s surprise, the future would prove that it worked….’’
Of the present times, it is common knowledge that the United States led alliance against Iraq was a loose confederation, not a unitary or unified command. Both the British and French contingents fought under their own direct commands and like the Sciritae, in independent sub-theatres. So, nothing was unified despite the big issues at stake.
Now it is true Manchester spoke of ‘‘violated all conventional military precepts.’’ However, he went forward to state that to every one’s surprise, it worked. Taken together what may be deduced is that from times as ancient as Socratic Greece, military formations have not been deterministically unified or even unifiable. Yes, there may be a preponderance of a given tendency. But preponderances, no matter how nearly total, does not amount to a necessary law. That is, preponderances yield in spite of themselves, a necessity of choice. You may choose the broad or the narrow path. But choose, you are condemned to.
This dilemma is captured, one guesses, in an ancient statistical quip. No amount of black swans is a proof that all swans are black. But one white swan is proof that all swans are not black. Therefore, the fact of unitarised Nigerian federation was a choice of the coup makers, not a necessity of coup or military regimes. At least, this is as much as logic and history tell.
And as a soldier, who proudly and bravely fought when it was necessary, in Biafra, I can tell that no military is unified or even unifiable. There is always a turf battle between and even within the arms – navy, air force, infantry and Special Forces. They unitarise, if ever, only on joint operations and deunitarise immediately it is done. So, for the coups, which happened to be northern and Muslim led, to have left and kept the structure [even forging a constitution to booth] means they have interest in so doing. They had the choice and exercised it. So, teacher, please, don’t teach us nonsense.
And lately, that their civilian inheritors, like APC Governor Nasir el Rufai and PDP Ahmed Makarfi, both northerner and Muslim, are defending it, tells it is a game, a northern Muslim game.
So, the excuse that unitarisation of Nigeria was accidental is vacuous, illogical and ahistorical. The greater tragedy is that it is being pushed by some southerners afflicted by the patriotic-ignorance complex. This is a key part of why the matter of restructuring is heading nowhere.
The word should not be to restructure, as fanciful as it sounds. The proper word should be de-unitarilise what the northern Generals unitarised in their own regional, tribal, religious or group interests. Any other thing is like blinking in darkness.
It is interesting for instance that Bishop Hassan Kukah had occasion to confirm the northern game. The Bishop confessed that it was only northern Nigerian Generals, amongst coup makers throughout the British Commonwealth, that butchered their country, into gerrymandered pieces. Only that Kukah in an anti-Freudian silence, forgot that the northern game was to transform the Federal Republic of Nigeria into a unitary northern empire. Readers who care may still consult my latest work: Why and How the Yoruba Fought and Lost the Biafra Nigeria Civil War.
And like we said in the book, 99.99 plus % northerners are not really against ‘‘restructuring.’’ All they are against is restructuring done democratically. That is, if for any reason a new military thug emerges and is northern, is Muslim, and reconstructs the country into 1000 states and LGAs for the North and 10 for the South, Markafi, Kukah and fellow travellers will be defending it.
A sign of this is in Governor el Rufai. In an interview with Channels, he was claiming that unitarilisation was set up by General Aguiyi Ironsi. But the question: Why did the North, which opposed Ironsi’s unitarilisation, go back to the vomit to lick it all up? El Rufai tells it, Nigeria is built up on lies and on ignorance. That’s a vintage cocktail. The nation will pay direly for it. In fact, it already paying.
Harvesting our Gold crops?
The ways of politics and politicians are a mystery to lay historians like us. And that is the best we can say on the resignation [was pushed or he walked?] of one of the finest media managers any nation could boast of. When the news made the rounds of the resignation of the Rivers State Commissioner of Information, Dr. Austin Tam-George, one wondered what the hell? Was it the perennial issue of the town and the gown never really finding a roundtable arrangement, or…?
And I remembered Chris Okigbo. But first this. Lately, the Minister for Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, was weeping his eyes out. According to him, the nation loses a lot of harvests between the farm and the market and further between the market and the consumer kitchens.
That is definitely true. But it is even more so when you come to human resources, or brain harvests if you liked. It is just self-evident that we have not deployed our minds, our finest minds the best we must. And the saga of Tam-George, if that is the word, is moral enough.
George is the kind of a guy that makes you proud to be Nigerian. As a South African-based scholar, he was something of an international cult figure, adored for his intimidating grasp of media, both in content and delivery systems. And he later made home joining the Pan African University.
Yes, it is now important to state this. I only met George by the screens of Channels television. And immediately I knew here was a Godot, if we ever waited for one. And I expressed my admiration to whoever could hear. It was only after he left that I met him. And meeting him over for a chat, confirmed to me that here was a man whose brains are gold. He is star-smart and well-collected.
This is where Okigbo finally comes in. One of Okigbo’s haunting poems prophetically spoke ‘‘of gold crops sinking un-gathered.’’ That is the central tragedy of Africa. Our finest brains are sometimes like Okigbo’s gold crop, they vanish un-harvested.
Well, there is this moral of Dr. Edward Deming. America spurned him. And the Japanese lapped him up. And if one man made the Japanese manufacturing a world beater, then it is the American, Deming. In these times of poor political PR management, one guesses it will do us a world of good, to see dudes like Dr. George or George himself, helping to carry government to the people. That, perhaps, would have amounted to never letting the gold crops, vanish un-gathered.