British Nigeria In Trouble “Between A Rock And A Hard Place”, Between Restructuring And Referendum

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Ahmadu Bello: “Well, the Igbos are mainly the type of people whose desire is to dominate everybody. If they go to the village or town, they want to monopolise everything in that area.

If you put them as a labourer, within a year they will try to emerge as the headman of that camp…and so on…well.

We are not alive to their responsibilities because you can see from our modernisation policy that in 1952 when I came here, there were less Northerners in our service. Then I fought. Now all important posts are being held by Northerners”. (Ahmadu Bello, the Saduarna of Sokoto with BBC journalist in 1960).

Often times it seems that those who support the agitation for Biafra are mere mischief makers whose only aim is to to scuttle the growth and development of the country by fanning the amber of disunity.

But the reality of who we are and where we are coming from has always stared into the eyes of our conscience— that no matter how we pretend and hide, the truth remains the last page of the history book.

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Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and other political leaders of Igbo origin may have jettisoned IPOB and her demand for Biafran independence. In alternative this group has presented “Restructuring of Nigeria” into semi autonomous regions as the solution to the myriad of Nigeria problems.

There is no doubt that a regionalised Nigeria will favour the Igbos greatly. In fact, by late 50’s and early 60’s the economy of the region of Eastern Nigeria was the fastest growing economy in the world. What a feat!

Even the Western Region was doing very greatly in terms education and all around development.

But did this solve the problem of Nigeria which is mainly mutual distrust among the indigenous nations? Did it stop the politicians from fighting themselves? Or did it stop the soldiers from striking a coup in?

When a body like Ohaneze takes a decision and puts it weight on restructuring the country, one needs not ask if they have done their ‘home work’ well. Ofcourse there is that expectation that the calibre of persons and personalities in Ohaneze will not make wrong decision in such sensitive national issue. Yet, be reminded that no single individual or a group can have a monopoly of wisdom.

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Hence the big questions still remain;

How would restructuring of Nigeria ensure the security and protection of Igbos in the north within a regionalised policing? Remember that Nigeria was in her regional shape during the massacres and pogroms of 1945 in Jos and 1953 in Kano.

How does a restructured Nigeria disabuse the minds of the northerners against the old age allegations that the Igbos only survive by dominating others? A good reference is the interview of the Saduarna in 1960.

How would a restructured Nigeria bridge the north-south sociopolitical dichotomy and economic imbalance that will arise between the same north and south? Note that if Bayelsa state should have control of her oil in a regionalised government, their Senators can afford to fly in chatted planes to attend meetings in Abuja while their counterparts from Yobe state might be working without allowance.

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And how would a restructured Nigeria revolutionise the Nigerian dream in the citizens and create a stronger bond among ththose regions? These are some of the many questions that those architects of “Restructuring” are yet to answer. Which makes the call for a referendum much clearer.

Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and all other Igbo political leaders may not wish that Nigeria breaks up, but they have not actually fathomed out the way forward for the Igbos. They have not chosen the path of sincerity and nobility by trying to sound politically correct in their call for a restructured Nigeria. Ohaneze cannot deceive the north by trying to remove the northerners from the resources of petro-dollar and yet want the Igbos to keep the market space.

And since those questions above remain unanswered, the call for a referendum shall remain the ultimate call. You can’t eat your cake and have it.

…from the desk of Emeka Ijere

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