Dousing ethnic agitations

RECENT POLITICAL developments in
the country have further accentuated our
diverse fault-lines and confirmed even to
the outside world that the chord of our
so-called national unity is yet fragile, very
fragile. Regionalism, ethnicity, tribalism,
nepotism, favouritism, religious bigotry
and the provincial character of leadership
have continued to conspire to exert
pressure on the nation’s fragile unity
as Nigerians of northern and southern
extractions agitate for fair and egalitarian
accommodation in the federation.
Those who have been opportune to lead
our nation have, thus far, carried on as if
they are not seized of the facts of history.
Whereas, the vestiges and scars of the
historical civil war of attrition to secede
or to keep Nigeria together, depending
on the angle that it is looked at, are
everywhere in our body-politic. The Igbo
ethnic nationality which subscribed to
the idea of separatism in order to cure the
mischief of injustice in the distribution of
power and positions by the then federal
government is a constant reminder of
how the unending agitation for Biafra was
Our leaders are certainly not ignorant
of the historical trajectory from the past
to the present. But they have egregiously
chosen to defiantly scorn history. This is
the tragedy of the cynical and obvious
contempt with which the Igbo ethnic
stock is treated within the context of our
federation. It is rather inexplicable that
in a federation that stands on the tripod
of three major ethnic nations-the Hausa/
Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo-only the Ndigbo
stock is yet to produce a democraticallyelected
With the objectionable refrain being that
the Igbo cannot be trusted with power, the
general perception is that the denial of the
Igbo ethnic nation from the presidency
is a product of deliberate political
calculations to eternally punish it for the
secessionist misadventure spearheaded
by the aboriginal leader of Biafra, the late
Odumegwu Ojukwu. Validation: even
a super minority Ijaw ethnic nationality
has produced a president in Goodluck
Jonathan, even if it was by reason of force
majeure, occasioned by the natural death
in office of a Hausa/Fulani president,
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Besides, the backwardness in its
infrastructure development compared
with the other regions is fingered as a
deliberate policy measure to diminish
the Igbo, stifle their voice, constrict their
political space and confine them into
a cocoon of perpetual abandonment.
Structurally, it is unjustifiable that having
carved the ethnic nationality into the
southeast zone, it remains the only geopolitical
zone with five states while the
others have a minimum of six states. The
northwest zone even has seven states.
To be sure, the problem with our leaders
is not ignorance because the civil war to
keep Nigeria together as a nation is still a
subject of national discourse. This is the
history, which lessons should have guided
them to do the right things. But by failing
to do the right things, which should have
assuaged the ill-feelings and restiveness of
all tribes, regions or zones of the country, the
separatist agitation as typified by the ogre of
Biafra continues to fester.
For long, Nigeria has been run in a way and
manner that does not bolster the confidence
of the Igbo in the federation. Even the sheer
stigmatization of the Igbo as incapable
of engendering national trust is patently
unfair and has detracted from the fidelity
to equity in the contemplation of a genuine
federation. Therefore, by failing to do the
right things, our leaders have expanded the
frontiers of sectionalism to the exclusion of
national interest and the nation is bound to
keep interrogating the Biafra issue.
History, according to Karl Marx, repeats
itself, first time as a tragedy and second time
as a farce. Having witnessed the historical
tragedy of the Nigerian civil war, it will
amount to a mockery of our leadership
and nationhood if the instrumentality
of dialogue and compromises cannot be
deployed to contain the lingering conflict
before it explodes into a conflagration in our
More than ever before, Nigeria appears
to be a stone’s throw to preventable
disintegration. The mere verbal exhortation
that Nigeria is an indissoluble entity is not
enough to make certain that the otherwise
does not happen. Except and unless
conscious steps are taken to mitigate the
dialectics of injustice, both inherent and
obvious, in our nationhood, our forced
marriage by the executive fiat of Lord
Lugard is capable of being ruptured by
the agitation for Biafra exit (Biafrexit) from
When the tension of Biafrexit is thrown
into the mix of the calls for restructuring
by the Yoruba of the southwest zone,
the minority ethnic nationalities of the
South-south and North Central zones to
accommodate even and equal development
on the basis of exploitation and exploration
of mineral resources under the soil of the
respective zone and the states therein, the
scenario cannot but foreshadow a looming
apocalypse, which must challenge the
sincerity of all stakeholders in the Nigerian
project to justly deal with.
If the best way to deal with this is by way
of restructuring, which marginalised ethnic
nationalities seem to be enamoured with,
then it is high time the government of the
day began to take steps along that line. If
the report of the 2014 National Conference
is sufficient to deal with the issue, the
federal government should bury its ego
by implementing the recommendations
contained therein whether partially or
wholesale or as it may deemed fit.
There is no more time to waste. The future
of Nigeria is now. With an enlightened
army of restive youths across the country,
leaders of the Nigerian federation can no
longer entrench a discriminatory policy of
exclusion and deliberate underdevelopment
of any zone or region without justifiable
agitations. The Biafrexit agitation is real. The
Yoruba agitation for restructuring is valid.
The middle belt agitation for egalitarian
accommodation in the context of northern
Nigeria is in apple-pie order. The southern
minorities, specifically Niger Delta agitation
for more recognition and empowerment
on account of their exploited oil wealth is
What is, however, odious in the
crystallising scenario in which ethnic
nationalities are trying to create conditions
for dialogue towards economic, political
and development accommodation with a
view to achieving a genuine federation, was
the unconscionable eviction order, a few
days ago, by the Arewa Youth to the Igbo
in the northern region. The order, following
the successful sit-at-home order in Southeast
states by the Independent Peoples of Biafra
(IPOB) to mark the anniversary of Biafra at
50, was barbaric and tendentious.
While some “well-meaning” northern
leaders had quickly condemned the group
and its call, including a threat of arrest by
the security agencies of leaders of the Arewa
Youth group, the federal government must
tread softly and understandingly in response
to the clanging sounds of disintegration.
The government should do the needful to
reinvent the wheel in the direction of true
federalism and genuine unity by gravitating
towards restructuring because if it does not
do it or set machinery in motion to doing it
in this first term, if Nigeria survives anyhow
after 2019, a new government may do it and
claim the prize for posterity.

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