Resource Control Debacle and The 1914 Mistake


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Resource Control Debacle And The Mistake of 1914



Dominic Aboro



culled from VANGUARD, October 10, 2005

"I favour politics as practical morality, as service to the truth, as essentially humanly measured care for our fellow humans —. It is becoming evident that truth and  morality can provide a new starting point for politics and can, even today, have an undeniable political power.” The ideas expressed in these words were written by  Czech Republic President, Vaclav Havel in his book “Living in Truth”


The currents of thought thus expressed, in tune with the spirit of democracy, revolutionized the communist bloc and the whole of Eastern Europe. The events that  occurred in the former USSR, East Berlin and East Germany and South Africa are not unrelated to these current of thoughts on the opinion of love and wisdom. True  leadership is made of such high qualities of thought.


I will like to illustrate this point a bit further with two historical sketches. When Sir Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Britain and was invited to preside over  the discussion of independence for the British colonies, he ignored the progressive thoughts that informed the decision and turned it down saying that he would not  preside over the breaking up of his father’s empire. Some years later, Sir Harold Macmillan, as Prime Minister of Britain recognized and conceded to the prevailing  currents of thought- the spirit of freedom from bondage of any sort. Accepting change as a reality of life, he acquiesced to superior judgement of history and agreed  that the wind of change was blowing through Africa. That set in motion the drive for independence for the erstwhile colonies.


In contemporary history of the world, Mikhail Gorbachev of former USSR and De Klerk of South Africa occupy special places. At great personal risk and loss of  political power, they allowed pure, selfless motives on opinion of democracy-the spirit of freedom, equality, and justice- to prevail over selfish, ill-motivated and  myopic opportunistic expediency. Democracy was allowed to take root in spite of the seemingly difficult times in both countries. Today, the cold war is over and  apartheid has been destroyed.


But what can we say of Nigeria? Our past has been disastrous, our present doubtful and our future hopeless; unless our present leaders demonstrate practical  morality, stand for the truth and show love for fellow humans, we will pay the penalty for our insincerity. The million-dollar question is: Where do Nigerians get their  optimism for a united Nigeria without justice and respect for fellow citizens? Playing the ostrich or sweeping the rubbish under the carpet or window-dressing to  deceive the international community cannot answer the national question.


The Nigerian project is a failed project ab initio. It was built on falsehood and deceit. It is structurally defective and like a house built on sand is about to collapse  because the currents of truth now assail its false foundation constructed by Lord Lugard. This bad contraption has a lot of defects and to brazenly pretend that there  are no problems is self-deceit. Governance by deceit or by false propaganda cannot solve any problems. We cannot go on applying the same old deceitful tactics of  Lugard. For nearly 100 years Nigerian leaders have applied the same strong arm techniques from Major Frederick D. Lugard in 1900 to General Olusegun   Obasanjo in 2005 – always in opposition to the wishes of the people. The problems are growing worse day by day and have taken murderous dimensions in  fratricidal ethnic wars, religious and ritual killings, economic strangulation, political intolerance and intimidation and display of ignorance and arrogance.


It is time to think, identify and find solutions. Where to start is to take empirical data of our historical antecedents. Our political and socio-economic history speaks  volumes of the fraud perpetuated by the British in imposing the core North on the rest of Nigeria and by instituting the three-major tribe divisive plan which has  perpetually tribalized Nigeria. We are polarized along tribal lines. Some are called majority and others minority thereby creating a dichotomy that can never be  bridged. We cannot be united for as long as the so-called major tribes relish being so addressed. The sooner we dropped major and minority tribes from our  vocabulary the better for all of us. The British did not mean well except to serve their plan to place the Fulani core North over the rest of Nigeria. How else can we  explain the pairing of Hausa and Fulani in spite of the fact that Hausa and Fulani are two distinct ethnic nationalities.


The pairing is calculated to give them a majority tribe status because the British knew that none of them could qualify as a majority tribe if left on its own. What the  British of Lugard’s time did not foresee is the fast rate in technological advancement and also that falsehood would not be able to stand the test of time. Today the  core North is opposed to including demographic data such as tribe and religion in the forthcoming census. The question is: how long will the core North hide under  falsehood?

It appears Nigerians are not aware of how we were deceived by the British into a forced marriage without our consent.


To ask us to defend an injustice, an illegality and a rape of our freedom is to insult our sensibilities. Who created Nigeria and under what circumstances? Who are the  founding fathers? Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was ten years old, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello were younger when Lord Lugard amalgamated the North  and the South in1914. Let us not be deceived, unless we want to continue with Lugard’s deceit, the founding fathers of Nigeria are not Nigerians but Britons- Lord  Harcourt , the then  British Secretary of State and Lord Lugard and his successors.  Azikiwe, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello were just children when the British  manipulated the Nigeria project. They were only handed ‘instability incorporated’ and booby traps at independence  Today we are being asked to defend what is  working against us to unite Nigeria and allow the neo-colonialists ample space to insult the rest of us.


The other questions we may ask are: why did the British amalgamate the North and South? What area was originally called Nigeria? The present debacle in Nigerian  political and socio-economic history is because of the dishonesty surrounding the creation of Nigeria. An error or an accident has been committed and until that error  is removed we are building in vain. Error is like a counterfeit currency in circulation. One day it will be discovered and destroyed and removed from circulation. The  mistake of 1914 is such a counterfeit which we all know is in our body politic or polity but we refuse to take the necessary steps to expose it and destroy it. Working  with an error to arrive at correct solution is not possible. It is self-punishment to work with a mistake; you will be going in circles without a destination. Removing a  grave mistake such as the one Lugard committed on Nigerians is like removing a painful toothache. There are no half measures; either you remove the tooth or you  stay with the pain. Nigerians know that they cannot stay with the pain any longer but are hesitant to take the right step at the threshold of history. Whether the present  generation likes it or not the pains of the mistakes of 1914 will outlive all of us and remain with our children and beyond. Compromise on the side of this error is  cowardice and

cannot lead us anywhere. We should demonstrate moral courage and stand on the side of the almighty Truth which destroys all lies.


The time for truth talking has come. It is foolhardy to resist the Truth. To help loosen the gridlock, arising from the mistake of 1914, I will like to put some historical  events in perspective in support of the truth. In 1884-85, some European hawks-the monarchs, politicians and the business moguls of some European countries,  principally Britain and France, met in Berlin, Germany and decided to divide Africa between them. They were in dire need of raw materials to feed their industries  following the industrial revolution. That was about 100 years after they lost the American colonies in 1779 and about 80 years after the abolishment of slavery in1807.  They were, then, set to formally colonize Africa and took this decision to prevent conflict between themselves but they took no cognizance of the interest of the  Africans. They ignored the salient ingredients for making a nation such as cultural, religious, linguistic, ethnic, and historical factors and lumped very hostile and  incompatible ethnic nationalities into forced unions which had not known any peace since after their formation. No wonder, Africa is engulfed in fratricidal conflicts.


But what can we say of Europe? They are small countries compared to what they want us to be so that we can serve their economic needs best. Some of them are  barely two million people. Their experiments at large unions failed in all instances:- the Balkan states comprising Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and  Turkey failed and has become a metaphor in English language as ’balkanization’ to mean fragmentation. The USSR failed, Yugoslavia failed, and Czechoslovakia also  failed .They were allowed to separate because the civilized world recognizes liberty, freedom and self-government as an inalienable God given rights of an individual  or a people.  In each of these instances, the world acknowledged that forced union cannot survive and allowed them to break up into separate countries. The question  is: why is Africa different?


In the same way every nationality in Africa, however small, has inalienable rights to self-government but the colonialists did not take that into consideration in dealing  with Africans. The question in my mind is; what is wrong with African leaders themselves?  Can’t they see that there is an in-built instability in Africa because of the  arbitrary division by foreign imperialists? African leaders should take self out and think and act only in terms of public good.


Nigeria, as a case study, may answer the questions. Under the 1885 Berlin conference arrangement, the area we now call Northern Nigeria was under the

French until 1900 when the British decided to trade Madagascar for it for administrative convenience and not in the interest of the Africans whose land was being  traded off without their consent.


Before then, in1850s, 1880s and 1890s, the British had established consular offices in the Niger Delta. In the 19th and 20th centuries, colonization of Africa was  formalized by Europe, The use of instruments of coercion and protectorate treaties became the means of oppression to protect their trade and commerce and for the  exploitation of the resources of the Niger Delta. During the same period, Eastern Region and Western Region became protectorates and Lagos became a colony.of  Britain.


In 1887, two years after the Berlin conference, and three years before Major Frederick D. Lugard, was sent to the northern region as High Commissioner, his  mistress Flora Shaw gave the name Nigeria to that region. Before then the area was known as the Royal Niger Company area where the company was operating As  High Commissioner he intervened to stop Dan Fodio’s jihad. Between 1912-1919, he as Governor of Nigeria introduced indirect rule and amalgamated the Northern  region to the Southern protectorates and the colony of Lagos to form what we now know as Nigeria in 1914. Here again, the interest of the stakeholders of this  Nigeria project was not taken into consideration.


Soon after the British had acquired the Northern region from the French in 1900, they found out that it was going to be a drain on their finances and a big liability item  in their annual budgets from the British Crown to the colonies. Therefore they decided to create this artificial country called Nigeria by coercion so that the wealth of  the South would be used to support the North.


From all indications, Africans did not create their countries. So whose indivisible and united Nigeria are we talking about? Is it this contraption of the British and the  French for their economic and commercial gains?    What is so sacrosanct about the deceit of Lord Lugard that forced hostile and incompatible ethnic nationalities in a  union called Nigeria? On what premises can we place our nationalism or patriotism- is it on a fraud conceived and given birth to by a

British freelance imperialist, another name for mercenary used by the  British companies to establish their trading posts.


Long before Lugard appeared on the scene, the Izon, the Bini, the Itsekiri, the Efik and other nationalities of the current South-South zone opposed the oppressive  tactics of the colonialists. Specifically the Izon in the erstwhile Eastern and Western regions and the Rivers people had signed a protectorate treaty in 1885 and had  undeniable right to a separate state. How the zone was deceived to joining this unholy union was by the instrument of gunboat diplomacy and political fraud which is  still reverberating today.


Contemporary political events in this country seem to rehearse the past historical melodrama-  slavery and colonialism. But instead of recognizing the injustice in the  actions of the European hawks who preyed and are stll preying  on the Africans, African leaders are happy to be installed as slave masters over their brothers and  sisters. This is the dilemma we find ourselves in Africa. Our neo-colonialist leaders disguise themselves as nationalists but sub-serve the interest of modern day  imperialists at the expense of their people.


In fact history repeats itself but only those who refuse to learn from it make the same mistakes and get dumped in the dustbin of history. The Niger Delta debacle is a  repetition of the struggles of the people from the 16th century to date, but this time they are wiser against crude Nigerian leadership that is arrogant and blind and  tactless.


Just as the Europeans subjugated the Africans and subjected them to oppression and suppression and carted away the wealth of the African continent, so is the  Nigerian leadership of today but with added dimension. It is in collaboration with the 3rd millennium imperialists- the multinational oil companies- the modern day  slave dealers. The motive force is to satisfy their insatiable avarice and primitive wealth accumulation and to maintain their wasteful life styles at the expense of the  owners of the resources. The Niger Delta experience is a case study in injustice and oppression and unreasonableness. Can we really stay together under such  circumstances? We must be honest in answering this question. In the first place; have we agreed to stay together? In truth, we have not. We were conscripted into a  union without our consent. It is not serving us any purpose; rather it is giving us pain.


Let us take a look at how Nigeria came into being. The processes Lord Frederick D. Lugard used were not based on any known principles of state creation. Even  the slave dealers would not have treated their slaves the way Lord Lugard treated the Southern protectorates and the other nationalities of Northern Nigeria. He dealt  with the Fulani alone exchanging letters with their Emirs while the Hausa were used as the pun in this chess game. Realizing that the Fulani will not qualify as a major  tribe he coined the compounded appellation – Hausa-Fulani. And since then Nigerians have no been able to change it. Why not may I ask?  Hausa and Fulani are  two distinct nationalities and cannot be treated as one. These are some of the abnormalities that must be corrected if we honestly want this country to survive.


To Lord Lugard, the other nationalities did not exist. He treated the North as monolithic and made the other nationalities in the North subservient to the Fulani  oligarchy of Lord Lugard’s creation. And it has been so since then.

The time has come to correct these mistakes. No nation can stand on false foundation.


While Lord Lugard treated the North as one, he dealt with the zones in the South as separate and independent of each other. Whereas, the Niger Delta, the East, the  West and Lagos were treated as distinct entities and kept in the dark - a grand design to keep the South divided to give the North advantage in any negotiation; - the  Northern oligarchy was privy to the amalgamation plot. At the time of the amalgamation, the North known first as the Royal Niger Company territories and later as  Nigeria had existed for fourteen years in the minds of the Northern traditional rulers and of the traditional elites. On the other hand the traditional rulers and elites of  the South had no inkling of what was going to befall them in an unholy marriage.


Why Lord Lugard did what he did so deceitfully can be explained in a statement credited to Lord Scarbrough, Chairman of the Royal Niger Company in1900. He  declared that “the coast (Niger Delta, and the other Southern protectorates) ought to pay for the development of the interior (Northern protectorates) and that any  other policy would be suicidal policy. The issue was that amalgamation was to the economic advantage of the North and the British Treasury. The South must finance  the North.”


The practice in the colonial era was for the British government to prepare the annual budget for each colony based on what they have looted from the colony. They  wanted to be seen as giving back something to the colonies in terms of their economic development. Where the colony lacked resources to balance its budget the  British government supplied the finances to offset the deficit. The Northern region had nothing to offer. The British government was in a fix on what to do with the  North that had become a liability to their tax payers.


Karl Maier in his book’ The House Has Fallen’, has this to say of Lugard’s 1914 amalgamation as follows: “The joining was not for the purpose of nation building.  The simple reason was that the North’s colonial budget was running at a deficit and only a link with the profitable South could eliminate the needed British subsidy.”


In addition to this, Lord Lugard had other sinister reasons for keeping the North as one entity.  He wanted a top-heavy arrangement which would make the North  outweigh and outnumber divided South  in any political and policy decision making situations so that the North would serve the interest of the British in the position of  a surrogate. “According to Perham, Lugard’s task was to unify administrations not peoples.  Lugard was bent on keeping the North as one entity. He rejected  Morel’s plan of 1912 which would have separated Ilorin and Borgu from the North and merged them with Yoruba land. He also rejected the second plan submitted  by Governor Temple based on his experience which would have divided the territory into seven large provinces, four in the South and three in the North (Hausa  states of the North West, Chad territory covering Borno, Bauchi,  and Yola and Benue Province and the remaining four southern and western districts along the  Niger. Lugard rejected it and stuck to the North as one entity.”  He was able to convince Lord Harcourt, the then Secretary of State of Britain to accept his own  plan.”


The first time the South knew of Lugard’s plan was after Lord Harcourt’s announcement in London which was followed by the statement of the relationship between  the North and the South.  Harcourt presented Lugard’s report in the British House of Commons and made a very derogatory pronouncement. He said:”We have  released NorthernNiggeria from the leading strings of the Treasury. The promising and well conducted youth is now on an allowance on his own and is about to effect an alliance with Southern lady of means.  I have found the special licence and Sir Frederick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May the union be fruitful and the couple constant.”


From the beginning the British had not taken the South serious.  The amalgamation was not intended to build a nation or to unite a people.  See the insult in the  language of Lord Harcourt which the North inherited and are still exhibiting. The time to shake off this insult is now. I am convinced more than ever that our fathers  and fore fathers did not go into any contracts to form a country.  It is an imposition that must be redressed.


May I ask:  Is it the way nations are built?  Obviously not. Such deceitful and evil plans cannot stand the test of time Evil is self-destructive.  Nigerian nation will  continue to be an illusion until we agree to stay together on equal terms. The British of Lugard’s time were myopic to do what they did without realizing the  consequences of injustice.  I hope the North of today are not infected with myopia to think that the parasitic arrangement Lugard made for them can last any longer.


If Nigeria wishes to survive it must be on equal terms.  It is time for Nigerians to wake from their dream to recognize that a fraud was committed by Lord Lugard on  Nigerians.  Whether the fraud is in your advantage or not we should know that there are no master races nor majority tribes in Nigeria. We cannot go on like this and  hope to survive.  This has gone on for too long and it is leading us nowhere.  Our experience in constitution making from Lord Lugard to date is one unending story of  fraud.  In1914, immediately after the amalgamation, Lord Lugard promulgated the most obnoxious 1914 Mineral Ordinance which appropriated all lands, waters and  minerals under and above the soil and water in Nigeria and deposited them with the British Crown...  To illustrate how inhuman this Ordinance is I will like to repeat  what Chief Richard Akinjide , former Attorney- General and Minister of Justice said in an interview by Mr Alegbe in an NTA television programme One- On-One  that colonialism of Lord Lugard’s type was the worst form of slavery. How can we explain what Lord Lugard did by appropriating our lands and everything therein  and thereon without our consent. Only a wicked slave master  could have done such a thing to dispossess his servant of all his belongings.


The very first law to start Nigeria was autocratic, inhuman and arbitrary. That was the beginning of Nigeria’s constitution making problems. All subsequent constitution  making has followed this pattern – from Richards 1946, Macpherson1951 Lyttleton1953, Constitutional Conference1957, Independence Constitution 1960, and  Republic Constitution 1963, 1979Constitution and 1999.


Constitution.  In all of these, the North has always frustrated progressive ideas.  All attempts at constitution making were done on their terms. Even the 1951, and  1960 Constitutions were fraught with autocratic trappings. Prof Ben Nwabueze observed that “in the 1951 Constitution there is no autonomy where the national  government is able legally to override the regional governments in all matters. —There is equally no autonomy where, as happened under the 1960 Constitution, the  national government can legally remove the representative organs of a regional government and take over, albeit temporarily, the administration of the government  itself.  Such a takeover is antithetical to federalism conceived as a device for enabling each group in a plural society to look after its own internal affairs free from  outside interference and as an instrument of constitutionalism in limiting the powers of the centre so as to prevent it from becoming an instrument of total domination.” 


The two constitutions in question were doctored by the colonialists and the autocratic provisions were deliberately inserted to further the conspiracy against the South.   This plan was buttressed by falsifying census and rigging election in favour of the North to give them political power over the South.

These provisions were used by the Northern controlled federal government to destabilize the Western Region by sacking the State Assembly and Government and  appointing a Sole Administrator in 1962.


On the motion for self-government in 1953, Sir Ahmadu Bello regretted the amalgamation as the “mistake of 1914” and even threatened secession because he  perceived that the North was at a disadvantage vis- a- vis the South.  According to him the North was not ready for self-government and he went ahead to work  against it.  This caused Chief Obafemi Awolowo to make the following statement: “It has been customary for our friends from the North to threaten the rest of Nigeria  with secession, if this is done or if that is not done; and the seconder of the dilatory motion has rather tacitly issued a similar threat.-We find the Northern majority is  not only being used in having their way, but is also being used in preventing the minority from having their say. That is a situation with which we find it absolutely  impossible to accommodate ourselves.” In concluding his contribution to the debate, Chief  Awolowo ended it with these words: “But we are certainly not going to  submit to a situation in which we are being muzzled into the bargain.  I would like to say, Sir, on behalf of the Western Region that we will not stay here to continue  this debate.”


Fifty-two years later the North is still behaving true to type, still opposed to progressive ideas, they exhibited such ignorance of fiscal federalism and resource control  that one wonders whether they have forgotten what they said at General Yakubu Gowon’s Ad-hoc Constitutional Conference in 1967.  For purposes of removing  any doubts I will like to reproduce it fully by courtesy of Owei Lakemfa’s  “When All Nigerians Demand Confederacy”


General Gowon, giving reason for the conference said that it was to find what form of political association this country should adopt.  The salient points in General  Gowon’s  introduction of the terms of reference were “to rule out complete breakup and a unitary form of government.  He added “I ,therefore,

put the following forms of government for consideration,

1. Federal system with a strong central government

2. federal system with a weak central government

3. confederation

4.  an entirely new arrangement which will be peculiar to Nigeria and which has not yet found its way into any political dictionary,”


The position of the Northern delegates as contained in the excerpts of their submission is confederation.  They stated as follows and I quote: “In a young country as  large as Nigeria where the ethnic are not homogenous, where the cultures differ, and where values are not necessarily the same from one part of the country to  another, the textbook rules for association between the various groups will not necessarily be applicable.  The leaders of such a country must be ever prepared to  grope for new ways of association which while preserving the aspirations of individual groups, will at the same time , preserve some forms of association which will  make possible co-operation in fields which are of mutual interest to all the groups without bringing the component groups into direct physical or  economic conflict.

Recent events  have shown that for Nigerian leaders to try  and build a future for the country on rigid political ideology will be unrealistic and disastrous.  We have  pretended for too long that there are no differences between the peoples of this country.  The hard fact which we must honestly accept as of paramount importance in  the Nigerian experience especially for the future is that we are different peoples brought together by recent accident of history. To pretend otherwise will be folly.  We  all have our fears of one another .Some fear that opportunities in their own areas are limited and they would therefore wish to expand and venture unhampered in  other parts.  Some fear the sheer weight of number of other parts which they feel could be used to the detriment of their own interests.  Some fear the sheer weight of  skills and the aggressive drive of the other groups which they feel has to be regulated if they are not to be left as the economic, social and possibly, political underdogs  in their own areas of  origin in the very near future.”


They further added thus: “In putting forward its suggestions, the Northern delegation has taken into account the mood of the people and the mood of the army which  must be a matter for serious consideration if we are not to deceive ourselves.  The delegation has taken into account the very wide recommendations made recently  by a meeting of the representatives of regional governors that army personnel should be posted to barracks in their Regions of origin.  It has also taken into account  the areas of lasting mutual trust, in whatever pockets they may exist, which have so far not been completely destroyed by recent events. It has also taken into account  the need to preserve the economy of the component parts of the country and avoid as far as possible its disruption.”


The Northern delegation further expounded their position thus:” The Northern delegation advocates a system of government which differs from anything that has been  attempted in Nigeria in the past.  As each Region has managed to preserve some measure of order and sense of unity within its confines, each region should be  constituted into an autonomous state.  Subjects or group of subjects which are of common interest to the component states should be delegated to a Common    Service Commission to operate.”


The Northern delegation then went on to give details on confederal system it was demanding.  The following arrangement are recommended for the future association  of the country:


1. The new Nigeria shall comprise a number of autonomous states

2. The autonomous states of Nigeria, that is to say, Northern Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria, Western Nigeria and Mid- Western Nigeria or by whatever name they may  choose to be called later and such other states as may be formed subsequently should agree to enter into a union which shall have a Central Execute Council  representation from all the states comprising the association.  The powers of the Central Execute Council shall be delegated by the component states except that  power connected with external or foreign affairs, immigration can be unilaterally withdrawn by the state government while all other functions or powers delegated to  the Central Executive Council can only be withdrawn by the State Governments after a unanimous  decision by their representatives in the Central Executive Council   The Chairman of the Council shall rotate.  Each Chairman shall hold office for one year.

3. Any member state of the union should reserve the right to secede completely and unilaterally from the union and to make arrangements for co-operation with the  other members of the union in such a manner as they may severally or individually deem fit.

4. Each state must have its own Army, Air Force, Civil Service and Judiciary.  There shall be a Navy composed of personnel in proportion to the population of each  state;

5. All the states must sign a treaty to defend the country against any external aggression

6. Where there is internal trouble within a state which the forces cannot put down, the state concerned may ask the Central Executive Council to approach the states  to assist.

7. A system should be worked out whereby installations controlled by the Central Authority are protected wherever such installations are situated.


A central Defence Commission or a similar body should be created to eliminate the danger of an arms race within the association.  The Commission should have a  civilian head and shall not obtain external military aid without the unanimous agreement of all the states.  Heads of the state forces shall be included in the membership  of the Commission.


Movement from one state to another shall be free. Fiscal arrangements in respect of the central sources of revenue should be based on the principle of derivation. On  the issue of the Rights of Self-Determination, the Northern delegation stated that ‘the right of self –determination of all people in the country must be accepted.’


The position of the Northern delegation was not only prophetic, it was also inspirational, honest, truthful and would have healed the wounds of this accident of history  called Nigeria if it was not scuttled by the military and political hawks of General Gowon’s regime.  These hawks have taken over the Nigerian political and

economic space destroying every thing good.  Infact the Northern delegation that attended the inconclusive General Obasonjo’s constitutional conference was  composed of the hawks; but I will like them to realize that every good thought has its origin in God and has divine authority and until we obey the truth the search for a  Nigerian nation will be elusive.


Because of our failure to follow divine Truth expressing itself through this epoch-making recommendation we have gone from one crisis to another drifting apart.   Since after that, subsequent events in Nigeria’s checkered socio-political and economic history have confirmed the fears and the truth expressed by the Northern  delegation.  We are farther apart as a country than we were in 1966.  There is an increase in ethnic cleansing, more ethnic wars and the emergence of ethnic militia  forces, and bloodletting, more religious killings, more ritual murders, more assassinations and more political and economic strangulation of the citizenry in all aspects of  our national life. We have become more suspicious of one another. These are self-inflicted penalties we are paying for our insincerity in dealing with one another. 


The question in the minds of every right thinking person is: why has the North changed their position and made a u-turn on the issue of restructuring the country?  The  answer can be found in the malaise called myopic opportunism induced by greed and a mentality of capturing benefit at the top for self-aggrandizement. They think  they still have monopoly of power which the imperialists promised them at time of the amalgamation.


If we make a comparative analysis of the Northern position on issues along our political development path, we will observe that whenever they find themselves or  think that they are at a disadvantage they argue for a confederation or secession viz: when the 1951 constitution was introduced, they threatened to secede; in 1953  when the motion for self-government was debated they again threatened to secede; in 1966, General Gowon as head of state, speaking for the North when he   dethroned General Aguiyi- Ironsi on accusation of introducing a unitary system of government  announced to the world that ‘the basis for unity no longer exists’  because they felt then that the prevailing situation was not what they bargained for with the imperialists. In 1967 Gowon’s constitutional conference, they again  maintained their desire for a confederation and a provision for secession. The explanation for this is that for as long as a Muslim and a Fulani is not in charge the  amalgamation of 1914 is a mistake.   Anytime the North loses grip of the situation, the 1914 amalgamation is a mistake but when they have the advantage they insist on a strong centre. At Gowon’s conference all the states agreed on confederation or  true fiscal federalism. The South is consistent on restructuring the Nigerian federation but the North  is not.  But why? 


The civil war created the imbalance in Nigerian political equation. Since after the civil war in 1970, the North controlled the military and the political spaces absolutely  and introduced draconian and oppressive laws and created states arbitrarily without due processes to the advantage of the  North. They abandoned  fiscal federalism  and adopted unitary system of government  and sent their sons as military governors and administrators to oil rich Niger Delta and backed by draconian and  oppressive laws and decrees they sold our prime landed properties to themselves. Everything has been done to swindle the Niger Delta. They imposed the erstwhile  1979 constitution and the fraudulent 1999 constitution to institutionalize the spoliation of the  resources  of the Niger Delta.


We cannot move  forward with the present so-called federal structure.  In fact we have no federal structure but a unitary system- a very fertile ground for dictators.  For as long as we keep the structural arrangements handed to us by the imperialists and neo- imperialists we are not prepared to develop. The federal government as  an imperial rogue pillaging on our resources is not acceptable.  What Chief Obafemi Awolowo said while debating the motion for self- government in the House of  Representatives, Lagos in 1953, is still very relevant today with respect to the resource control debacle, and I quote ‘I declare, Sir, that Britain is in illegal occupation  of this country. When they came here , they used different devices to conquer us or to bring us under subjugation- force of arms, deceit, guile, undue influence and all  sorts of crooked methods that any imperialist power has used to bring any nation under subjugation. They entered into treaties with our fathers; but these treaties are  invalid because  they were obtained under circumstances which would not warrant their validity.’   


The Federal Government of Nigeria is still acting as if it is a British imperialist power at war with its subjects by holding onto the resources of this country which do  not belong to it and it is employing the same  tactics to enter into agreements with our state governments by intimidation. For instance, the Federal Government is still  owing  the nine oil producing states the 13% derivation from May 29, 1999 to December31, 1999 but the state governors are silent about it because of the imperialist  posture of the Federal Government. In a true fiscal federalism, the state

governors ought to have resorted to the courts for redress individually or collectively against this unconstitutional action of the President. Even the colonialists treated  the colonies better than what the Federal Government is doing to the states. The unresolved onshore- offshore dichotomy is one of the contradictions in our system  which give the impression that the states are colonies of the federal government.  In a proper federal system, all the federating units are equal and coordinate. The  federal government and the state governments are equal partners. None is subordinate to the other but what we have is that the  Federal Government has held the  states captive and has appropriated all the resources to itself. This situation is unsustainable.


Any honest and serious political analyst knows that as the citizens get more emboldened by the misrule of the Federal Government, the centre will not be able to hold  any longer. Self-rule or self-government  to actualize one’s potentials be it natural resources or one’s skills without let or hindrance is the inalienable right  of every  individual be it a person or group of persons.


The easiest way  to correct the mistake of 1914 and the way out of this resource control debacle is to allow constituent units of Nigeria to have full control of their  resources and ample room to exercise their God-given inalienable right to self-determination through self-government, independent of any other power.   


Obnoxious, oppressive laws, bad politics and reactionary governance is antithetical to unity.  We  cannot be talking of a united Nigeria under such conditions. We  have to take urgent steps to remove all such laws and dismantle Lugard’s structural arrangements that accommodates false census in favour of the core North and  thereby imposing a feudalistic, retrogressive and reactionary rulership on Nigeria.  


Unity is spiritual. It is attainable through love, truth, justice, equity, equality before the law, fair play, fellow-feeling and respect for others. It cannot be achieved by  force of arms or coercion. Evil thinking, evil talking and evil acting are antithetical to unity. No amount on propaganda or radio jingles or advertisement can fetch unity.  Right thinking, right talking and right acting coupled with practicing the Golden Rule-‘do unto others as you would want others do unto you’ is the guarantee for unity.



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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.