By TAM DAVID-WEST
Continued from yesterday
Once again the anti-Pan Nigeriana often latch on to this. And once again it is patently tendentious and with some odour of intellectual fraudulence. They, as expected, failed to quote the Tafawa Balewa of 1954. I continue to hold that it is anti-intellectualism, in fact, pseudo-intellectualism, to continue to hold on like leech to obsessional mindset even in the face of better argument or data. It poisons the system.
In the same Legislative Council in 1954 Balewa advocated Federalism for the country; and it came to fruition in the same year (1954). Incidentally, experts are unanimous that in a multi-ethnic state with ethnic plural and also polarities like our own Federalism, true Federalism is the best option. We have some 374 ethnic groups: Professor Onigu Otite in his “Ethnic Pluralism and Ethnicity in Nigeria” (1990).
If we allowed self-serving political rascals, self-created ‘Leviathans’ or ‘Gullivers’ or shame-immune megalomaniacs – and they are many – to make parody of our Federal Constitution we should not blame the Constitution or its manipulators for set purposes. The blame rests squarely on our collective shoulders, Nigerians, for allowing them to get away with it. As a Pan Nigeriana Prime Minister, Balewa made a moving speech on the floor of Parliament in September 1957. Title: “UNITY IN DIVERSITY.”
“I am pleased to see that we are now all agreed that the Federal system is, under present conditions, the only sure basis on which Nigeria will remain united. We must recognise our diversity and the peculiar conditions under which the different tribal communities live in this country. To us in Nigeria, therefore, UNITY IN DIVERSITY is a source of great strength, and we must do all in our power to see that this federal system of government is strengthened and maintained….Now is the time when co-operation is most essential. Let us all get together and try to forget our political differences and petty tribal jealousies and work together to create strong and united country. I am confident that we can do it.” (All emphasis mine).
To me, this is the greatest (not one of the greats) speech from the Nigerian ‘Throne’ of government and governance. The sincerity of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa’s Pan Nigeriana is palpable. It floats like cork or oil on water. I particularly like his “petty tribal jealousies.” But in spite of this he was optimistic on Pan Nigeriana, “I am confident,” he said. I’ve always maintained that just as corruption is the most potent ‘virus’ against good governance, ipso facto good government, so also is tribalism potently detrimental to Pan Nigeriana. “It is a social crush used by some people for personal or group aggrandizement or self-perpetuation.
And most Nigerians find it extremely difficult to escape from its clutches. In my life time I have heard many a people speak against the evils of tribalism. But most of them are hypocrites; invariably there is a wide dichotomy between what they say in the open and what they practice in private. Furthermore, I find that tribalism is more manifest among our so-called ‘book men’ or so-called intellectuals than among our illiterate folks, especially in the villages. On a very serious note, I will like to say that until Nigerians learn to disabuse their minds of tribalism, our unity as a nation is mere superficial – a fanciful mental wave, with no depth to it at all.
A society where tribal considerations or indices are rated more than considerations of merit is potentially unstable and patently unjust.” Essay on “TRIBALISM” In: “Philosophical Essays (1980). I quoted President Kaunda of Zambia, who described tribalism as the “wasting disease of Africa.” In an Essay on “Tribalism and Diffidence,” I argued that people resort to tribal clutches to get what they want because they are not sure of themselves.
Weak and timorous. ASARI DOKUBO Thus, any person (Asari Dokubo) who says that any one part of Nigeria (the North) is parasitic is talking arrant nonsense, and completely ignorant of the meaning of parasite. EDWIN CLARK In the same class of ignorant carelessly and most irresponsibly talking Nigerians is Chief Edwin Clark who vaunts about as “Elder statesman.” In an interview with Sunday Sun 06 May, 2012 page 4, this anti-Pan Nigeriana, was cocksure that “North produces nothing.” Edwin Kiagbodo Clark is by the unstoppable ticking of the clock an “Elder.” But he certainly does not qualify as a “statesman.” Statesmen are not verbally indisciplined. Besides, they are polished and decorous. He possesses none of these defining sine qua nons. TANKO YAKASSAI The other “Elder,” yes; “statesman” arguable, is Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, who often makes anti-Pan Nigeriana statements.
I had a running newspaper battle with him in the 1980s over his utterances about the Niger Delta. He even once threatened military invasion. The records are there with me. In an interview with The Spectator July 10-16, 2010 page 15 Yakassai said: “Without zoning, North will continue to monopolise power.” This baselessly arrogant utterance is vacuous and seriously flawed. It is one of those stereotypic silly slogans. Anti-Pan Nigeriana. First, I have shown after researching and referencing several situations that “Northern Domination” is a mere “Myth.” The facts on the ground do not support it at all. I am waiting for a counter-research. None so far. My overriding object is that I am a pro-Pan Nigeriana.
Secondly, after all the heat, fury and furore over the zoning palava in the PDP, all the frontline champions including Yakassai chickened out. Miserable collapse. Even when a High Court Judge stated categorically that the Zoning Article of the PDP Constitution should be respected. In short, both Jonathan and Atiku were by the Nigerian Constitution qualified to contest the Presidency. However, within the PDP, the Constitution should be respected. So ruled the Judge. In other words, that Tanko Yakassai’s empty boast (anti-Pan Nigeriana) is also nonsensical. PHILIP C. ASIODU “As in many other oil areas of the world, the regions where oil is found in this country are very inhospitable. They are mainly in the swamps and creeks.
They require massive injection of money if their conditions, and standards of living are to compare with what obtains elsewhere….Given, however, the small size and populations of the oil-producing areas it is not cynical to observe that even if the resentments of oil-producing states continue they cannot threaten the stability of the country nor affect its continued economic development.” In his: “Essays on Nigerian Political Economy” (1993). Page 99. It is important to state that Asiodu had much earlier made the same stupid and myopic statement in a paper he presented. Ken Saro Wiwa and myself independently took him to task. However, Asiodu, was as usual so full of himself he had to include it notwithstanding in his said book on “Nigerian Political Economy” under his Essay titled “The Impact of Petroleum on the Nigerian Economy.” He felt so satisfied with his prognosis of the “oil producing states” he had to publish it in a permanent form in the above-named book, on page 99.
And what was more reprehensible he published the said book while he was serving under the Chief Ernest Shonekan’s Babangida political contraption as Secretary for Petroleum and Mineral Resources. Let me also say in passing that I was in London when Asiodu flew in with almost all that mattered in the NNPC to launch his ‘great’ book. It was a veritable carnival. This silly, stupid, ignorant and baselessly arrogant anti-Pan Nigeriana writing is easily the worst in the annals of Nigerian history. It is provocative. It is insulting. It is inciting. It is baselessly magisterially condescending. I am, therefore most surprised that the publishers in their back-cover comments stated that his language is “non-pompous.”
In fact, pomposity is his defining “dominate gene.” Suffice it to say that time has proved Asiodu’s pompous prognosis of the oil-producing states said impotence and ineffectuality hopelessly wrong. JIBRIL AMINU In his “Fossil Thesis,” he argued that the oil does not belong to Niger Delta since it is the same fossil deposits, “thousands” of years ago, which produced the same hydrocarbon deposits in Saudi Arabia etc. He further said that Nigeria (the Federal Government) does not owe the Niger Delta anything. It has done enough. Naturally, I took him on his inflammatory and inciting anti-Pan Nigeriana verbal excesses and indiscretion; without prejudice to its flawed scholarship? For instance, fossils were formed “millions of years” and not thousands of years” ago. MAITAMA SULE In the 1980’s, he put forward a curious, intellectually porous and potently myopic, magisterially condescending and arrantly nonsensical typology of Ethnic Groups of Nigeria.
He only recognised the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo a micro concept of the insulting (WaZoBia). He even assigned to each one of them what he claimed are their intrinsic attributes: Rulership (Hausa/Fulani). Education (Yoruba). Trade (Ibo). No Ijaw. No other Minority Ethnic Groups. Maitama Sule is also popularly addressed as “Elder statesman.” But how such verbal geo-political indiscretion can qualify anyone as a “statesman” is roundly ludicrous to say the very least. Let me cite a paradigmatic example. One of the regularly used points by the anti-Pan Nigeriana is that in his autobiography, “MY LIFE,” Sir Ahmadu Bello described the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Provinces as “The Mistake of 1914.”
But they conveniently shut their eyes perhaps and their minds to another opus on Sir Ahmadu Bello. I am referring to “AHMADU BELLO, Sardauna of Sokoto” (1986) by John N. Paden. It is significant that the book was “Dedicated to the Unity of Nigeria.” On page 3 of the book, Paden recounted this profound and instructive dialogue between Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Leader, NCNC) and Sir Ahmadu Bello (Leader, NPC), which took place in the mid-1960’s. Let me be graphic. Zik: “Let’s forget our differences…” Ahmadu Bello: “No, let us understand our differences. I am a Muslim and a northerner. You are a Christian, an easterner. By understanding our differences, we can build unity in our country.”
Thus, in spite of “The mistake of 1914,” Ahmadu Bello still believed in the prospects of a united country, Pan Nigeriana. He was pragmatic. Sir Ahmadu Bello’s thesis reminds one of a similar one by President John F. Kennedy in a speech on the Cold War in 1963: “Let us not be blind to our differences. But let us also direct our attention to our common interest and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot now end our differences at least we can help to make the world safer for diversity.”
Romanticism and delusory glossing over of our deeply anchored fundamental differences or unlikenesses have over the long years set us on the wrong track towards unity building. Indeed, it is by understanding these differences or unlikenesses and positively articulating them and being sincerely and spiritually committed to Pan Nigeriana can we discover that in our diversity lies our strength as a people. THE PRESENT In the past Pan Nigeriana was put in jeopardy by reciprocal mutual suspicion and fear of “Hidden Agenda” between the North and the South.
The first was the North’s fear of southern domination. And so the political slogan was “North for the North South for the South.” There was also the palpable suspicion that the Colonial British had ‘Hidden Agenda’ to make masters of the North. Tilting at windmill? The suspicion was so pervasive and concrete that even as recent as March 2012 Southern elites like Chief Richard Akinjide, (SAN) former Attorney General of the Federation was so cocksure that “Lord Lugard deliberately created things so that North will be dominant and South subservient.” I’ve debunked this as nonsensical under my “Defence of Lord Lugard.” But quite interestingly the buzz words now, is the antithetical fear of NORTHERN DOMINATION.
And the British have gone for some half a century ago! Billion Naira Question: When and how did the South capitulate? How did it lose its political biceps? From ‘Master’ to ‘Servant’ How? The point being made is that neither a said “Southern Domination” nor an antithetical “Northern Domination” could stand rigorous research scrutiny. They are, in short, convenient ‘magic wands’ or escapes articulated and orchestrated by persons for self-serving purposes but being elevated with the ostensible togas of the collectivity, “South” or “North.” Pan Nigeriana faces even a greater challenges now than in the past.
Greater challenges because the new anti-Pan Nigeriana ‘gospel’ is being preached by well-placed persons in our society (country) Intellectuals. Opinion moulders. With big degrees and fat medals. I am not very comfortable because for most of them I know their antecedents. I am not at all averse to intellectuals or opinion moulders crusading for ‘change.’ But I expect consistency. We cannot be changing from ‘committed’ concept or position to the other so readily. We cannot afford to be consistently inconsistent. This is anti-intellectualism. We cannot afford to be jumping from one governance model to other like political harlots. All of a sudden, it is “Regional autonomy.” “Regional cooperation.”
“Regional integration.” “Regional police force.” Why not also “Regional currency.” Regional Supreme Courts?” All these are euphemisms for Anti-Pan Nigeriana. Cheap alibis or convenient escapes for our failed selves. Where are the regions? If these mean those of the First Republic, it is a pipe dream. Utopian. Mirage. “Regionalism, a grand utopia,” Amanze Obi (Daily Sun 26 April, 2012). Back page). “Those calling for regionalism are amateur politicians, says Obi” (Daily Sun 26 April, 2012. Page 33). I am surprised that my friend, Professor Auwalu Yadudu, General Sani Abacha’s Adviser on Legal Matters, is also advocating the scraping of states and going back to regions.
Like others, he believed this is the panacea for all our political and economic problems (Daily Sun 09 May, 2012 page 24). The paper described him a “Pan Northern thinker.” THE FUTURE “Ethnic Nationalism: Challenges and Prospects of a Pan Nigeriana,” is essentially “THE NATIONAL QUESTION,” which seeks to address how we can peacefully co-exist in one country or state or nation. Nigeria.
How our 374 Ethnic Groups (or Ethnic Nations) or Nationalities can forge a social contract or social construct to happily co-exist with reciprocal mutual respect. Hence, I continue to prefer our old National Anthem to the new Anthem: “Nigeria we hail thee, Our own dear native land, Though tribes and tongues may differ In brotherhood we stand, Nigerians all and proud to serve Our Sovereign mother land” I also quarrel with the new anthem when it placed “PEACE” before “JUSTICE:” “To build a nation where peace and Justice shall reign” You cannot have peace without justice. It should be where “Justice and Peace shall reign.
On our ethnic plurality: Our polarities and diversities should be positively articulated instead of negatively. “Unity in Diversity” In fact, diversity encapsulates both strength and beauty. “Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour” William Cowper. Homogeneity is dull and boring. Heterogeneity is inspiring and interesting. I have submitted earlier that our present 36-state structure should be likened to 36 multi-coloured pieces of a mosaic. They must complement one another for the holistic beauty of the mosaic.
They are not intrinsically conflictual. This must be the resolve of every serious-minded Nigerian. The jingoists of ethnic nationalism inspired or propelled towards isolationism, parochialism and chauvinism are being cocky because of misplaced cocksureness of the future based on ill-informed present must remember that is much easier to destroy than to build. If the integrity of our fascinating national mosaic of complementary colours is destroyed no one piece, I repeat no one piece, can independently survive in the long run.
And when this happens there is not likely to be our own brand of Camilo di Cavour of Piedmont or Giuseppe Garibaldi of the Italian Risorgimento. There is also not likely to be our own brand of Otto von Bismark, who successfully unified the 38 weak states of the German Confederation. Our beauty as a nation, as a people collective, must have gone forever. Finished! *Concluded