BY PROF TAM DAVID-WEST
Some more of the British positive expectation: “From 1948 on, Governor Macpherson spoke repeatedly and emphatically in favour of united Nigeria, on many occasions publicly deprecating manifestations of disunity and tribalism among Nigerian political groups.”
In his Notes to chapter 15, Coleman, cited a letter written by the Secretary of State for the colonies, James Griffiths, to Governor Sir John Macpherson: “Any tendency to break up Nigeria into separate parts would in the view of His Majesty’s Government be contrary to the interest of the peoples of all three Regions and of Nigeria as a whole.”
He was favourable for a strong Central Legislature and Executive. From 1960 to 2012 is 52 years. I, therefore, argue that if even after one Century after Lugard, and if even after half a century after Independence, we are still bickering over Political Order, Modus vivendi; or in fact, if integral corporate Nigeria should not cease to exist then we cannot as a people lay any claims to seriousness. We are perpetually “Fighting with the Past” spinning out one alibi after another to explain our failures in forging or fashioning Pan Nigeriana.
A united Nigerian union. We must not blame Lord Lugard. One hundred years are much more than enough to restitute any real or putative evil he is accused of. I, therefore, declare him “Not Guilty. Discharged and Acquitted.”
We must likewise also not blame the British. One half of a century is more than adequate for us to say, “We are Nigerians. We’ve arrived. We are happy and proud so to be.” No National Anthem can do this for us. It must spring from a deep spiritual commitment. For the British I discharge them. But I withhold acquittal.
Because they are involved in insidious neo-colonialism exploiting local hollow bosoms. Neo-colonialism is even much worse than classical colonialism. In the former the ‘enemy’ is clandestine. In the latter he is very much identifiable. SINNERS and BORN AGAINS One accepts that over time some of our leaders have made most unfortunate emotive and divisive statements on the integrity of the Nigerian State, which are potentially anti-Pan Nigeriana. But I don’t ever have sleepless nights because of them.
Because serious and potentially destructive as they may seem, there is no ‘soul’ in them. Time has invariably vindicated me. All sounds and volcanic outbursts.
These divisive, emotive utterances were prompted by either situational exuberance or frustration, infantile feeling of omnipotence and invincibility or baseless, nebulous or exaggerated feeling of self-worth. Superiority obsession. Egotism. THE HONOURABLE JUSTICE C. D. ONYEAMA He was one of the most distinguished judges of the Supreme Court. He was also widely respected. However, he too was not immune to infection by the ‘virus’ of verbal indiscretion which was counter Pan Nigeriana. At the elite Island Club, Lagos in the early 1960’s he made the following faux pas: “Domination of Nigeria the Ibo is only a question of time.”
Indeed the “Ibo National caucus” penciled 1964 (changed later 1969) “for our perpetual rule of the Federation.” Source: “The Educated Elite In Nigerian Society” (1974) page 123 by Professor E. A. Ayandele. DR. NNAMDI AZIKIWE “It would appear that the God of Africa has specifically created the Ibo nation to lead the children of Africa from the bondage of the ages ….. the marital prowess of the Ibo nation at all stages of human history has to adapt themselves to the role of preserver.”
That was Zik in the West African Pilot 06 July, 1949. What a profound ethno-centric condescending thesis. I am not sure, however, the thesis of all-conquiring Ibo nation” holds water. Zik later shifted grounds somewhat in his “Ideology for Nigeria” (1980): “Vagaries of anthropology…We must dig deep from our roots to discover the secret of successful co-existence.” But in spite of them I sleep very soundly and may even snore. Because they are mere fantasies. Pipe dreams. I believe in Nigeria.
I “have no other country than Nigeria.” I “must stay here to salvage it.” (General Buhari) and do all within my strength and power to work towards Pan Nigeriana. My mantra even as a dyed-in-the wool social critic is William Cowper’s “England with all thy faults, I love thee still – My country!” “Nobody can split Nigeria. I tried it and it didn’t work” Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu. Media Dialogue in London in June 1995 (TELL 05 March, 2012 page 32). And viewed with the background of his during civil war certainty, “No power in Black Africa can subdue us,” one can see what a realist he later became on the question of Nigerian unity or integrity.
The anti-Pan Nigeriana will quench. Nigeria and Pan Nigeriana will not quench. Without prejudice to the above, I believe that it is tendentious, if not even intellectual fraudulence, to continue to quote these negative statements without reference to or counterpoising them with later positive Pan Nigeriana statements or actions by these very leaders.
It is like a university lecturer using the same Lecture Notes all the time without updating them in the light of new discoveries. Or like still referring to sincerely Born Again armed robber as “armed robber.” The point being made is that after the anti-Pan Nigeriana utterances they became ‘Born Agains’ and so became pro-Pan Nigeriana.
Let me give some examples of the “Born Again” Pan Nigeriana. CHIEF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a MERE geographical expression…” (‘Path to Nigerian Freedom’ (1947. Page 47). Capitalised “MERE” by me. This is often quoted by the anti-Pan Nigeriana. It is like a sort of creed. But what of the ‘Born Again’ Pan Nigeriana Chief Obafemi Awolowo? He was Deputy Chairman to General Yakubu Gowon, the Head of State and Chairman of the Federal Executive Council. He was also the Minister of Finance throughout our most unfortunate 30-month Civil War (30 May, 1967 – 14 January, 1970) and because of his wizardry in finance management, Nigeria did not borrow a cent to execute the war.
Far cry from today when the Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was very happy to say that Nigeria must go on borrowing (from the IMF/World Bank). Shame! He who goes “borrowing,” will go on “sorrowing.” It is only a fool or a vacuous with no idea person can be comfortable with external borrowing for national development.
The point being made is that even Awolowo was converted from writing off Nigeria as a “MERE” (dispensable!) “geographical expression” to a Nigeria that is worth dying for: “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.” (Civil War Federal Slogan). In other words, even Awo was later a believer in Pan Nigeriana. GENERAL YAKUBU GOWON Being face to face with the terrible ethnic asymmetry of the 15 January, 1966 coup General Gowon in his Maiden Broadcast as Head of State, 01 August, 1966, said: “The basis of unity is not there.”
A terrible faux pas! A later after-thought inelegant and clumsy “re-say” by his Advisers in manoeuvering to change “unity” for “unitary” (Government by General Ironsi) failed to impress any serious-minded person. I know some of these Gowon’s “Think Tank” For completion of history, the Nzeogwu 15 January, 1966 Ethnic Asymmetry coup touched off the Danjuma’s “ARABA” of 29 July, 1966. Gowon’s unfortunate hyper-reaction about Nigeria unity or Pan Nigeriana also became a second creed for the anti-Pan Nigeriana.
It is tendentious. It is intellectual prostitution not to refer to the later pro-Nigeriana Gowon who as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief sincerely committed himself to the slogan, the mantra: “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.”
Yes, indeed it was “REQUIEM BIAFRA” (apology General J. O. G. Achuzia) on 11 January, 1970. Kudos! Pan Nigeriana Gowon. SIR ABUBAKAR TAFAWA BALEWA “Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite….Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country.” Balewa in the Legislative Council, 1948.
This is also a constant quotable quote by the Anti-Pan Nigeriana. I’m afraid again tendentious. The underlined are my emphasis. From them I suggest the following: It is not true that the British Hidden Agenda was to “Divide and Rule” Nigeria. In fact, “Amalgamation” would have been a more expensive and counter-productive experiment. We were already divided anyway. The ‘virus’ of “not willing to unite” was the Nigerians themselves.
Secondly, his records as the Speaker of the Legislative Council in 1948 did not equally show that Balewa was anti-Pan Nigeriana. Because within the interstices of his statement is palpable frustration. Balewa, was however, wrong to scapegoat our clear differences as necessarily the cause of anti-Pan Nigeriana. No nation is a monolith or a Totem Pole of no diversity or different characters. Nations are necessarily heterogeneous. “A nation is a unit that can hold together: it does not have to be homogenous.” In, Walter Schwarz, “Nigeria” (1968). The crucial and decisive pre-requisite is what I may call spiritual commitment among the units to form a common government for a common interest or interests. And to actualise this common cause, there must be sincerity, mutual respect and mutual accommodation.