“In my opinion, the Northerners are perfectly entitled to consider whether or not they should secede from the indissoluble union which nature has formed between it and the South, but it would be calamitous to the corporate existence of the North should the clamour for secession prevail. I, therefore, counsel Northern leaders to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of secession before embarking upon this dangerous course.” — Nnamdi Azikiwe
Thanks to the Guardian Newspaper of Nigeria for bringing this nugget of historical materials about Nnamdi Azikiwe, one of the founding fathers of Nigeria, to the notice of the present indigenous people of Nigeria.
We must make use of this historical material as a propitious and useful tool for the much needed re-education programme of our people. An Igbo proverb, made popular by Chinua Achebe, says, “the man who does not know where the rain began to beat him, cannot say where he dried his body.”
Now, we need to ask ourselves, Was the unsolicited counsel of Nnamdi Azikiwe to the Northern People’s Congress, a sincere and genuine plea or was it coming from someone who was trying to be too clever by half?
What in the world (or what was he drinking/smoking that) gave Nnamdi Azikiwe the impression that Nigeria was an “indissoluble union which nature has formed between it [North] and the South,”?
With hindsight, Azikiwe’s counsel to the Northern People’s Congress has been very counterproductive to the political development of Nigeria. It was a mischievous exercise that has turned round to become an historical impediment to the progress of Southern Nigeria. It was a very serious and an unforgivable political miscalculation.
It was glaringly obvious, even at that early stages of Nigeria’s evolution, that the North and the South were two incompatible cultures. They were never bedfellows at any time. They were then and now total strangers. It has been a toxic relationship from the onset. A sordid political relationship where one partner had sworn profusely that he would never consummate the forced marriage no matter what goodness the other partner brought to the table. And that she would not share the same bed with her unlawfully wedded husband.
Why was there such a high level of hatred? It was because the two political partners had nothing whatsoever in common. And so the North and the South had not given anyone a single sign of inclination towards any potential interest that could have ever made them crystallise together to form a whole and united entity.
Therefore, there was nothing available on the ground to have warranted any of the political leaders to conceptualise the idea of thinking of making the North and the South to work together to lay the foundation for the building of a vibrant and progressive new nation.
We can only wonder about how gloriously different the history of Southern Nigeria would have been. If only we have permitted common sense and goodwill to prevail in our political relationships, it would have definitely been a different story. Without the clog-in-the-wheel baggage of cultural incompatibilities with the nepotistic, clannish and barbaric Fulani ethnic culture, Nigeria would have been built into an oasis of freedom and development in Africa.
Then and now, the Southern political leaders knew that the Fulani Caliphate were already holding the jugular vein of the indigenous people of the North in their grasping, clasping claws. And that the Fulani Caliphate had no humanitarian intentions of letting go of their alleged conquered slaves and lands. Yet, Nnamdi Azikiwe was pretending that he truly meant the beautiful words that were gushing out of him in his tongue-in-cheek counsel to the Northern political leaders against secession in 1953.
Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, I don’t think that Azikiwe’s counsel was based on altruistic consideration. It was a self-serving political miscalculation. He was of the opinion that the South, particularly the eastern flank, had the wherewithal to ‘dominate’ the affairs of the country after independence. We all know from the unfortunate history of the country, that he was comprehensively floored and cleverly played out in his ill-designed political game plan.
Here we are today, this present generation is saddled with the Herculean task of trying to undo, to unpack and to uproot the trees of bitterness that grew out of the evil seeds of deception planted by some of our political forefathers.
It could have been a different story for the Northern and Southern Nigeria, had each of the political leaders didn’t have a ‘long throat’ – seeds of covetousness in their pouch. It was the covert covetous desire to go beyond the boundaries nature had given to each region of the country that led the innocent indigenous people of Nigeria into the present political cul-de-sac.
Counting the Cost of Political Deception
We can and we must correct the uncountable lists of avoidable mistakes that we have made as indigenous people of Nigeria; as well as those that were made on our behalf without our consent or due consultation. We need to start this countdown of errors beginning from the 1914 Amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria.
Unfortunately, the political errors gifted to us in 1914 were again reinforced in 1959 at the Lancashire Conference that rubber stamped a predetermined one-sided political negotiations for the independence of Nigeria from Britain. If there was sincerity of purpose, based on the reality on the ground, Nigeria’s incompatibility issues could have been amicably resolved at that pre-independent conferences. Simply, by abiding with the pre-colonial boundaries of the indigenous peoples living in the geographical space then (and now) called British-Nigeria. We could have avoided the many years of violent bloodshed and the gnashing of teeth that have become our daily portion since the 1950s.
The coup de tat of 1966 gave the indigenous people another opportunity to unpack the poisonous and cancerous Greek Gift of Britain. Still, we refused to reconsider and to review the genesis of our political ailments in order to find a long lasting solution.
Again, another opportunity came in 1999 to write a sensible, intelligible memorandum of understanding between the several combating political neighbours/nations, who were dealing with serious issues of irreconcilable differences. Yet, rather than approach this important fundamental matter with all the existential seriousness it demanded and with sobriety influenced by the unpalatable experiences of the last 40 years, we again allowed ourselves to be swindled.
The culprit and the arrowhead of our present misgivings, this time around, is Abdusalam Abubakar and some ‘Young Turks’ of the Caliphate. They decided to hoodwink the indigenous people of Nigeria with a detestable, wishy washy, worthless document called ‘the Constitution of Nigeria’. And now they have borrowed from the mischief hymn book of Nnamdi Azikiwe that sang the first song of Nigeria’s “indissoluble union which nature has formed between it [the North] and the South,”.
This is the sad story of Nigeria so far. The ignominious story behind the present national anomie, chaos, insecurity, distrust, suffering, poverty, wretchedness, anger, hate, etc., in Nigeria. As well as other beastly and gory things human being can never imagined possible among Homo sapiens that Nigerians are presently passing through.
Time to Call Off the Bluff
It is time to call off the bluff of our stupid grandstanding. We have all lost the plot and we have paid dearly for our stupidity. It is time we went back to the drawing board and to rethink our ways. The path that the indigenous people of Nigeria have so far threaded since 1914, is not the way of peace, progress, prosperity and unity. We must get off this beating track of stupidity and reconstruct new ways where mutual respect and mutual understanding shall be the ethos of our political relationships.
With respect and understanding for each other’s ways and cultures, we can rebuild trust and cooperation effortlessly. Without trust and cooperation, we shall not be able to build successful and progressive societies/nations of civilised, happy and contented people.
It is high time we consigned the ‘wisdom’ of the founding fathers of Nigeria to the archives where it should have been placed since 1959. Those archaic political cleverness of hiding behind one finger to pontificate on a deceptive slogan of One Nigeria, are no longer useful to us or is it the kind of heirloom we should desire to pass on to our posterity.
We must approach the coming inevitable Conference Tables of Dissolution of the hitherto fraudulent alliance of the indigenous nations with clean hands, clean head and clean hearts. We must agree to stop and never again played any silly political funny games with the lives of the indigenous people of this gloriously endowed piece of geographical land in Africa.
We must sincerely and faithfully say to ourselves, Enough is enough of our age long political tomfoolery. This is the only path of honour we can take if the indigenous people of Nigeria are truly and seriously desirous to have the benevolence of peace, freedom, equality and justice in our political relationships as members of a sane and awakened humanity on planet earth.
In The Spirit of Truth
SAM ABBD ISRAEL