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Nigeria’s unity is unsettled

A time was when the military used to regale us with a mantra. And that was- that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. The fixation of the military for the country’s unity at that time was understandable.   A war was fought to keep Nigeria together. It cost so much in human and material terms. But the consolation of the military which led and fought the war was that it succeeded in keeping Nigeria together. For the military therefore, winning the war over a united Nigeria was a trophy. It was determined to keep it at all cost. That was why under the military, it was considered subversive to make statements or suggestions that bordered on dismembering the country. The citizenry was constantly reminded that their country’s unity was not negotiable. The message was always delivered then with a tone of finality.

Nigeria has since been rescued from the reign and rule of the military. The atmosphere has been liberalised. The return of civil rule has brought back civil liberties. But some, especially those who played commanding roles during those years of military dictatorship, still suffer from a certain hangover. They still believe that the country’s unity is a settled issue. That was the tendency President Muhammadu Buhari betrayed last week when he addressed the nation. He said that Nigeria’s unity was settled and not negotiable. His tone was most declarative; almost combative. Even though the president has lost the verve and vitality with which he once breathed down on the Nigerian people, his declaration last week, as sickly as it sounded, conveyed the arrogance of power that the military once displayed in Nigeria . As a member of the military establishment that fought the war of unity, Buhari is used to such peremptory declarations about Nigeria. Any suggestion to the contrary bothers him and other military men of his generation so much. Former heads of state, Generals Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo, are in fact, as fanatical about this issue as Buhari. They still believe that the country’s unity is not negotiable even when it is being negotiated at every turn.

This old school mentality notwithstanding, the fact of our situation today is that the country’s unity is far from settled. It is being negotiated in frenetic and hushed tones. We recognize the fact that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) packaged Nigeria as an indivisible and indissoluble sovereign entity.  We really should not blame those who drafted our constitution at the time. They merely responded to the mood of the time. They did not want to give the people the latitude to take steps that could undermine the oneness of the country. But the times have changed. The facts of our situation do not bear out the constitutional declaration anymore.

Those who do not know this are invited to note that the unity of the country is being negotiated at moment  on two fronts. The first and most compelling is the wave of separatist agitations sweeping through the country. Of all the groups seeking a negotiation of the unity of the country, the Indigenous People of Biafra ( IPOB), remains the most insistent. It says it will stop at nothing until it realises its dream republic.

The second front is represented by the Coalition of Northern Youths who in June issued a quit notice to the Igbo to leave Northern Nigeria not later than 1st October.

The action of the northern youths derives from the activities of IPOB. The northern youth coalition said it was constrained to ask the Igbo to leave their region on account of the fact that IPOB is demanding for a separate country. As things stand, the two groups appear pitted against each other. But IPOB, it does appear, is not perturbed by the angry responses from the north. It is single-minded in its pursuit of its separatist agenda.

Indeed, IPOB said it was encouraged the more by the outburst of the northern youth coalition. What resonated very well with the Biafra group was the declaration from the Arewa group that they would begin a process of disengagement from the Nigeria in which they coexist with the Igbo. IPOB welcomed this with both hands. It said that it was happy that the Arewa group had finally come to terms with the fact that Nigeria’s unity is not a settled issue. But as it turned out, the sound and fury from the northern group petered out in no time. It did not take any step to disengage from Nigeria. Rather, it began to toy with the idea of a review of its position. This was where we were until Buhari returned to the country. He denounced IPOB’s agenda. He also reprimanded the Arewa groups  over the quit notice. That was fair enough.

In response, and in line with hints that it had earlier dropped,  the northern youths came up with a conditional suspension of the quit order. One of its demands was that the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, should be rearrested and detained. The position of the Arewa groups clearly marks the beginning of another round of trouble. To begin with, its deployment of the word ‘suspend’ is impudent. The group did not withdraw the quit order as was wrongly reported by a section of the media. The operative word in its announcement is ‘suspension’. This is one word that is often deployed in labour parlance. Labour unions hardly call off strike actions summarily. They just suspend them. The import of that is that the matter under dispute can be resurrected at any time without prior discussion or notice. This is also what the northern groups have done in this regard. What they have simply said is that they can bring up the issue of quit notice at any time if the conditions they have spelt out are not met. This is where the problem lies.

In an apparent bid to meet the first condition given by the northern youth coalition, the federal government has filed a motion in court seeking the rearrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu. This goes to show that the government is ready to do anything to please the northern youths. In the present instance, the federal government is out to please the Arewa boys at the expense of the Biafran agitators. This is brazen partiality. No father can ever reconcile his warring children if he wears the garb of partiality.

The northern youths got it all wrong. I have severally held in this column that the Arewa youths will never have a good ground to withdraw the quit order since the reason behind it in the first place is the activities of IPOB. I have reasoned that the agitation for  Biafra which is infuriating the northern youths can never go away. On what basis then will the angry northern youths withdraw the quit order? I do not see one. Now they have, according to them, ‘suspended’ the quit notice while making ridiculous demands. That takes us back to square one.

If the government is truly averse to anything that borders on the disintegration of the country, it should take on the issues without fear or favour. Government’s inaction over hate speech and the trending hate song against the Igbo is defeatist. Government should be interested in those who have been propagating hate as much as it is interested in those who are pushing for Biafra. If it takes on these issues as impartially as it can, then it will be playing an enduring role that can sustain the country’s unity. For now, Nigeria’s unity remains unsettled.

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6 Comments

  1. alain 31st August 2017 at 4:19 pm

    We commend you to keep it up.

  2. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 1st September 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Military arrogancy was among the cause of distrust and disunity in NIGERIA, especially from 1966 till 1999!

    The mixed Military-Democracy (Militariocray) from the 1999 till date, has reshaped the distrust and disunity of NIGERIANS through the economic and socio-political problems, corruption, political marginalizations, nepotism, militarization, brutality, oppressions and social injustices, which are being promoted by the selfish and self-centered political cabals, at the detriment of other people in NIGERIA!

    With all the socio-political challenging problems, among other things, it is clearly obvious that the said “NIGERIA unity” remains unsettled, especially democratically and all-inclusively!

    The Military arrogance is among the real cause of the political distrust and tragic hero’s activities in NIGERIA till date, especially among the people of other tribes and cultures!

    Military, security-wise, is very important and very useful, especially for the maintenance of peace and order from external attack, including the fight against terrorism like Boko-Haran deadly activities in NIGERIA, but should not be for any political self-centered activities, as they are currently being used by the Northern political cabals in NIGERIA!

    The abuse of Military power from the history of NIGERIA, especially after the independence, started when the soldiers were being used by the political cabals to witch-hunt their assumed political enemies, and to also promote their selfish political interest, among other things in NIGERIA!

    This is why the today’s NIGERIA, unavoidably needs to be properly restructured all-inclusively, especially through the democractic transparency and honesty!

    There is clear need of the all-inclusive democratic referendum for all NIGERIANS of all tribes and cultures, especially in regards to the NIGERIA’s Unity and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians, irrespective of your tribes, cultures or Religions!

    It is clearly and obviously through the all-inclusive restructuring of today’s NIGERIA in democractic transparency and honesty that the unity of NIGERIA can be democratically settled and be garranteed, irrespective of tribes, cultures and religions!

  3. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 1st September 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Military arrogancy was among the major cause of the distrust and disunity in today’s NIGERIA, especially from the 1966 till 1999!

    The mixed Military-Democracy (Militariocray) from the 1999 till date, has also reshaped the distrust and disunity among the NIGERIANS, especially through the economic and socio-political problems, including all sorts of corruption, political marginalizations, nepotism, militarization, brutality, oppressions and social injustices of all sorts, which are being promoted by the selfish and self-centered politicians and political cabals, at the detriment of other people in NIGERIA!

    With all the socio-political challenging problems, among other things, it is clearly obvious that the said “NIGERIA unity” remains unsettled, especially democratically and all-inclusively!

    The Military arrogance is also among the real cause of the political distrust and tragic hero’s activities in NIGERIA till date, especially among the people of other tribes and cultures!

    Military, security-wise, is very important and very useful, especially for the maintenance of peace and order from external attack, including the fight against terrorism like Boko-Haran deadly activities in NIGERIA, but should not be for any political self-centered activities, as they are currently being used by the Northern political cabals in NIGERIA!

    The abuse of Military power from the history of NIGERIA, especially after the independence, started when the soldiers were being used by the political cabals to witch-hunt their assumed political enemies, and to also promote their selfish political interest, among other things, in NIGERIA!

    This is why the today’s NIGERIA, unavoidably needs to be properly restructured all-inclusively, especially through the democractic transparency and honesty!

    There is clear need of the all-inclusive democratic referendum for all NIGERIANS of all tribes and cultures, especially in regards to the NIGERIA’s Unity and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians, irrespective of your tribes, cultures or Religions!

    It is clearly and obviously through the all-inclusive restructuring of today’s NIGERIA, in democractic transparency and honesty that the unity of NIGERIA can be democratically settled and be all-inclusively garranteed, irrespective of tribes, cultures and religions!

    The true Democracy that promotes all-inclusive and democractic transparency and honesty, as well as social justices, fairness, equity, is what we unavoidably need in the today’s NIGERIA, especially among the people and the Nigerians of all tribes and cultures!

  4. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 1st September 2017 at 2:38 pm

    The Northern political cabals should humbly learn to be all-inclusively democratic, and should stop using any sort of marginalization nepotism, militarization, brutality, oppression and social injustices, to promote their political interest in today’s NIGERIA, at the detriment of other people in NIGERIA!

    The unity of NIGERIA can never be garranteed in such undemocratic and unpatriotic political atmosphere, just as the well-meaning Nigerians citizenry, across the country and in diaspora, have clearly seen!

    This Arewa Youths’ recent of the Tuesday June 6th 2017 quit threats against the Igbos in the Northern States, even though, they have recently caimed their suspension of the Kaduna Declaration, they still need to be intelligently interrogated for security reasons, by the Security Agencies and be seriously cautioned never to try any of sorts from henceforth in any part of NIGERIA!

  5. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 1st September 2017 at 2:44 pm

    The Northern political cabals should humbly learn to be all-inclusively democratic, and should stop using any sort of marginalization nepotism, militarization, brutality, oppression and social injustices, to promote their political interest in today’s NIGERIA, at the detriment of other people in NIGERIA!

    The unity of NIGERIA can never be garranteed in such undemocratic and unpatriotic political atmosphere, just as the well-meaning Nigerians citizenry, across the country and in diaspora, have clearly seen!

    This Arewa Youths’ recent of the Tuesday June 6th 2017 quit threats against the Igbos in the Northern States, even though, they have recently caimed their suspension of the Kaduna Declaration, they still need to be intelligently interrogated for security reasons, by the Security Agencies and be seriously cautioned never to try any of sorts from henceforth in any part of NIGERIA!

    They (the Arewa Youths leaders) should not be treated as sacred cows, especially by the NIGERIA Federal Executive Government under Buhari’s administration, because it says a lot in today’s NIGERIA, especially about the political insincerity, suspicions and distrust, being subtly fermented and promoted through this administration!

  6. Emmanuel Chukwuma Umeh 1st September 2017 at 3:05 pm

    The Northern political cabals should humbly learn to be all-inclusively democratic, and should also stop using any sort of marginalization nepotism, militarization, brutality, oppression and social injustices, to promote their own political interest in today’s NIGERIA, at the detriment of other people and other NIGERIANS in NIGERIA!

    The unity of NIGERIA can never be garranteed in such an undemocratic and unpatriotic political atmosphere, just as the well-meaning Nigerians citizenry, across the country and in diaspora, have clearly seen!

    Political impartiality of any sort from the Federal Executive Government, especially in handling the Arewa Youths leaders’ security threats against the Igbos in the Northern States, will be undemocratic and unpatriotic strategies of promoting the political marginalizations, especially against the Igbos in NIGERIA, under the President Buhari’s administration!

    It will be another form of promoting nepotism, marginalization and militarization, which is a serious political corruption against the humanity in the Global democratic communities!

    This Arewa Youths’ recent Kaduna Declaration of the Tuesday June 6th 2017 quit threats against the Igbos in the Northern States, even though, they have just recently caimed of their suspension of the said “Kaduna Declaration”, they still need to be intelligently interrogated for security reasons, by the Security Agencies and be seriously cautioned never to try any of sorts from henceforth in any part of NIGERIA, against any section of the NIGERIANS’ tribes!

    They (the Arewa Youths leaders) should not be treated as sacred cows, especially by the NIGERIA Federal Executive Government under Buhari’s administration, because it says a lot in today’s NIGERIA, especially about the political insincerity, suspicions and distrust, being subtly fermented and promoted, especially through this administration!

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