To Secede Or Not To Secede: A Case Of Nigeria, By Isa Mubarak
One of the phrases used on National television “unity in diversity” as regard to Nigeria, a concept of “unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation” it seems to baffle me often times, it may have indeed made America and Britain great but obviously not the case in Nigeria. Our diverse cultural background, ethnicity and religion as a matter of fact supposed to be our strong foundation of tolerance, survival and other psychological barriers, or face break-up. Our divergent views will not let us face issues headlong because of our various parochial interests! we carry our parochial interest to deceitful high heavens.
There is no unity in our diversity, only disunity and gross ethnic sentiments amongst religious and cultural divides. That being said, the issues of secession has always been a problem almost from the very moment this country gained its independence. Murtala, the UK educated officer’s original plan was to lead the north and take it out of Nigeria to become an independent national state, Ojukwu attempted it with the Igbos, and contemporarily we have the OPC, IPOB, MASSOB and various groups demanding for a separate state from Nigeria. As of late, it is the Niger delta Avengers who has recently joined the ‘group of groups’ who seem to have grievances with Nigeria and believe secession is the only logical solution in which their demands can be met, there is widespread feeling that the central government takes much more than it gives back. Catalonia in Spain is demanding for secession for almost the same reasons.
Now, is secession such a bad thing? The January 2011 article on ForeignPolicy.com by Parag Khanna, enticingly titled “Breaking Up Is Good to Do,” argued not only that the break-up of countries is picking up steam again, but that in many cases secession is good rather than bad. Once you mention secession, our minds seem to start making references to Sudan and South Sudan situation, where there was instability after they were granted a separate state. But it doesn’t always end up like that, in the early 90s the Soviet Union guaranteed all SSRs the right to secede from the Union. In 1990, after free elections, the Lithuanian SSR declared independence and other SSRs soon followed, which proves beyond reasonable doubt that these regions can secede and yet prosper, and who knows Nigeria will follow suit if seeing its daughter states progressing.
I’ve always admired the Igbo people, they do not only possess business initiative or being hardworking, they are also innovative and that region seem to be the centre of industrialization in this country. However, they tend to believe they can achieve more as a separate state, if granted, i’m inclined to believe that too. Besides it is of no benefit forcing them to remain in a country they happen to dislike.
Come to think of it, Nigeria itself is a creation of the white man, joining together regions of almost entirely different culture and way of life and they expect them to thrive? its like the issue of a forced marriage, an Ethiopian proverb says “a woman married without consultation runs away without consultation” and that is the case of Nigeria. “It was against all scientific reason for two people who hardly knew each other, with no ties at all between them, with different characters, different upbringings, and even different genders, to suddenly find themselves committed to living together, to sleeping in the same bed, to sharing two destinies that perhaps were fated to go in opposite directions.” as Gabriel García Márquez , rightly stated in his 1985 book, Love in the Time of Cholera
This forced marriage called Nigeria doesn’t seem to be working, the Niger Delta avengers have been busy lately, blowing up oil wells and trying to cripple the economy, which by the way, we are already feeling the heat, “Biafrans” are not happy also, the protests are getting violent, 3 policemen were killed lately, regardless of the ulterior motives of their so called grievances, this marriage is clearly not working.
Some may say, the government should declare a state of emergency in those region and crush the call for secession before it gets worse but that will only be a temporary solution, it is not just a movement, it is an ideology, you simply cant crush an ideology, a generation will rise at some point and keep on asking for secession. When Ojukwu was asked if he thinks the issue of Biafra will arise again, “circumstances created Biafra” he said, “but I am warning that if we are not careful, the circumstances will reappear” hence, the ‘Biafra’ issue we are facing today. In his statement that was published in The Times of London, “Biafra will ever live” he affirmed “not as a dream but as the crystallization of the cherished hopes of a people”.
It is for a fact that if one region should secede then Nigeria has come to its end, other regions will start demanding a separate state; thereby breaking up it pieces of small countries.
Hence, smaller Economy, Less trade opportunities, more unstable and if land-locked, that will be terrible, Africa already has a disproportionately large number of landlocked countries, hampering its access to foreign markets. In addition, you would have your own currency, which would be less trusted than the Naira.
In most of the countries in Africa where secession is proposed, poverty trumps violence as the most immediate challenge. Economic growth, the required elixir, would be strengthened by more integration, rather than the fragmentation that secession would engender.
The Giant of Africa will become nothing but a group of small countries, we will lose our place in the continent, hence the “unity in diversity” should rather be “strength in diversity”. These regions all have their grievances, its either their demands should be met or Nigeria should atleast grant them a referendum to decide their fate. The time has come to allow the ‘Biafrans’, Catalans, scots, flemish and other people of the world to choose the state they want to live in.
By: ISA ENEYE MUBARAK