Photo credit: Independent Newspapers Nigeria
The last week was certainly one of breakups. Quavo ditched Saweetie, the Yoruba ditched Nigeria, and I, personally, decided I would be having no use for a babe I just met. But that is hardly your concern.
On the 17th of March, Nigerians came close to witnessing another of the dramatic displays which are now kindred to our legislative houses. The PDP Senator from Abia South, who also doubles as the senate minority leader, pitched an idea which found little resonance with his peers. According to him, Nigeria needs an Armed Forces Service Commission which, among other things, will promote the idea of federal character as provided in the constitution by ensuring that the appointment of service chiefs reflects the diversity in the country.
But even as he cut a dashing figure presenting his arguments, there were those who did not agree. In time, there were echoes of “nay” and a quick flash of tempers.
Although we can find some passion in the display of the senators, elsewhere, a small party had crossed the stage of torch-waving speeches. For them, all they needed was a flag to make the point known. Thus, as the 15th of March 2021 recoiled into the last hours of its existence, the group rose as one to the Surulere area of Lagos state. There, they plucked down the Nigerian flag and replaced it with the culturally intoned emblem of the Odua Nation. This they showed with the aid of vehicle headlamps which illuminated the area. Now, they had “flagged up.”
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The Clamours for Restructuring in Nigeria
More than anything else, perhaps, restructuring is one call which has pervaded Nigeria’s political landscape for a very long time. Across multiple ends of the divide, people have called and are still calling for a nation that gives significance to the different nations within it. The idea of restructuring majorly stems from a situation where power sits unyieldingly in the limited chair at the centre. Members of a single ethnic group, in turn, amply permeated this centre.
Over time, a wave of challenges has increasingly rocked the country, many of which have close or remote links to the absence of decentralisation. In the Niger Delta, militants, whose ranks, one should not forget to say, include disgruntled youths, march under different flags to claim ownership of the plentiful black gold. In other areas, bands awaken with the bold print of the rising sun seeking a country where, for them, there is less dominance and more control.
There is hardly a need to mention that the secretly-hoisted flag of an Odua Nation is not the first time that an independence of sorts will be declared in places across Nigeria. They have held rallies; they have handed proscriptions down, and here and there are stories of people who have fallen for what felt right to them.
Regardless, little to no effort is made at the centre to address the non-federal nature of the country and allot the national cake of power to where it is due.
The Efforts Towards Secession in Nigeria
Photo Credit: Vanguardngr
As the prospect of grassroot leadership therefore becomes dimmer, many now find an exit door. Still, romantic as the idea sounds, bemoaning the frail understanding that people have of it cannot be avoided.
For many, secession is the perfect world of freedom; one where the individual can make bold claims and draw an inviolable line for marauding herdsmen. It is also one where wealth is fairly and equally distributed, so that each person identifies the nation as one which has truly done something for his private benefit. Beyond these though, a daring guess ventures there is little else.
This indicates that a major driver of secessionist ideologies is the desire for a truly egalitarian society wherein the basic ideals of federalism are realised. Secession is also tied to the aura of impunity which surrounds actions which are linked to a particular ethnic group. Even as the violence continues to erupt, and suffering is democratised in unequal measures, the average citizen still feels that his voice is irrelevant compared to his oppressors.
To reverse the situation, the only apparent choice is to establish a nation of kinfolk. There, the same language is spoken and the available wealth is not ferried into some distant purse.
One can definitely not doubt that the country is in a state of disrepair. Emotions soar pretty high and options for expressing them are fast evolving to be more aggressive than passive. Although the government professes the mantra of change and a next level, the irony lies in the entirely new direction that these are taking. For the various conflicts with the population to be resolved, the government must adopt a more malleable approach.
Centralised power has been quite entertaining, but it scarcely yields any obvious benefit for the region where it is kept. If national development is to become less fictitious, it must happen with the average Nigerian feeling a sense of belonging and a natural endowment to participate. He must also not be left with the mere awareness of surplus but with enjoyment of all its great proceeds.