True Patriotism and Not True Federalism
As a physical and social psychologist, I study people and society behavior and how the society at large responds, grows, and develops within itself. Nigeria has been a very interesting case for me because I ended up learning so many things about life and humanity in general. One of the valuable lessons I’ve learnt so far is acceptance. You can only develop, grow, think outside the box, and learn new things when you keep an open mind. This is the very problem with roughly 75% of Nigerians.
Closed mindedness is what has given most Nigerians this false idea that True Federalism, where regions/states can control their resources is the answer to the plagues befalling us as country which is a big fat lie manufactured from the covens of our corrupt elites to ensure that the masses remain divided and focus is diverted from our immediate societies. That’s why we have people more interested in the regions/religions of a President’s appointees rather than their track records and what they are able to achieve within their tenure.
Nigeria is much more than just North East, North West, North Central, South East, South West, and South South. There are over 300 ethnic groups in Nigeria, over 75% of which have never been given a chance in the fore front of National service. The way we keep harping on regions, we forget that regions like the South South, North Central, and even the whole North is just a geographical land mass of people with very diverse languages, cultural histories, etc. Most people do not even realize that although Hausa is like the ‘legal tender’ language in the whole of the North, the North actually not only has a large chunk of Christians but the highest number of ethnic groups in Nigeria, followed by the South South.
Excuse me please but as an Oron lady why should I be satisfied with the appointment of an Ijaw man? What relationship do we have in the South South? How does an Aniocha man represent me please? Do we speak the same language? Do we have the same delicacies, do we come from the same lineage or cultural history? What exactly is the correlation? That we are in the “South South”? Is it fair that while an Ijaw man has been the President of Nigeria, an Oron man has not even started dreaming of being the Governor of Akwa-Ibom state? So where exactly does this so-called agitation on marginalization start and end please? Do we now see that we aren’t really being sincere with ourselves because if we are so concerned about proper representation, then it should go round all tribes of all languages and not just a select few in the name of “regionalism”?
True Federalism will not work in Nigeria because of the very reason why centralism is not working now.
The answer is simple; because the problem with Nigeria is Nigerians themselves. Let’s assume we have our true federalism now. Tell me, which region can boast of enough self-less leaders who will be trusted to properly harness the region’s resources? As for my dear South South region, please is it the same greedy leaders who have been our Senators, Representatives, Governors, etc. over the decades but have not seen fit to provide any meaningful development to the region despite the fact that our states receive the highest FG allocations, 13% derivatives, Ministry of Niger Delta, NDDC, Niger Delta institutions, etc. Militants have been made billionaires for blowing up pipelines.
Militants who after receiving billions in “contracts” did not even deem it fit to donate even water taps to their localities, the very people they claim to be trying to “liberate” from the FG. How it has not yet crossed the minds of my people baffles me and being proud of coming from that region, I refuse to believe it’s because we are not very smart people. The average Nigerian mind is very fertile and especially receptive to negative teachings. Most of our politicians know this and use it to divide and rule over us. Their favourite tools are ethnicity and religion.
For those of us who are secessionists, I have this for you. You should prepare to have the former giant of Africa being broken into at least 100 countries. The reason is an extension of why Regionalism and true Federalism and whatever fancy names some political analysts like to use to describe their ideal Nigerian situation. Let’s take a look at a break-up scenario. Let me take the “Niger Delta Republic” as an example. Is it the Ijaws and the Ishekiris that will live peacefully in one country? With the Ijaws being the dominant and the most aggressive tribe in the ND would we not be slipping into another “born-to-rule” case again? It will only be a matter of time before other tribes will start breaking away.
Akwa-Ibom and Cross River are likely to form our own country. As someone from this section of the country I can authoritatively say that there is supremacy battle going on in those states due to the dominance of the Ibibios and Annangs in Akwa-Ibom and the Efiks in Cross River. Especially in Akwa-Ibom. The Efiks released their hold on Cross River after the Donald Duke era a little bit and gave chance to other tribes to produce Governors but are still very much in control of background politics in the state. The Oron people are at the fore front of protests against the Ibibio/Annang dominated scene in Akwa-Ibom and have in fact pushed to have a different state.
In a country where the Ibibios, Annangs and Efiks are rotating top rank positions amongst themselves, it will only be a matter of time before the others revolt. So there we have it, tiny little countries trying to figure out who they really are and struggling with small country issues. Yes, small countries have a lot of challenges like low GDP leading to galloping inflation, little or no relevance in the international scene resulting in little or no international investors, and more. You really do not want such issues for yourselves, trust me. Don’t compare Bahrain and Qatar with us because they have the right leaders and the right attitude while we simply do not.
Let’s not forget the recent Brexit drama. In less than 24 hours after voting to leave Britain stock markets plummeted, the Pound sterling took a nose dive, and many Brits fanatically and belatedly googled more on the EU. Hate is not enough reason to wish to leave a country or an already established union. You need something more concrete and you need to be fully armed to the teeth and prepared to weather whatever resulting storms. How would Nigerian units cope if we break up now? What do we have in place yet? How prepared are we? The idea of going to war is also out of question because you cannot carve out a successful country by going to war.
It has never succeeded anywhere in the world. The effects of the war will always come back to haunt them. America is where it is today because the average American is patriotic. Serving in the army is because they can give up their lives for their country and not because they are just looking for a way out of poverty. America has definitely has her share of world super powers issues but has remained strong and resolute through it all and has maintained most powerful country in the world status longer than any other country ever.
We need to begin now to be more tolerant, more appreciative of what each region, state, and ethnic groups can bring to the table of a great Nigeria that should be the pride of Africa. Let’s purge ourselves of corruption, let’s become more accountable to our immediate societies and teach our young ones responsibility. The change we seek begins with us because our leaders are not from Mars, they are products of our society.
––Okon, a socio-political analyst, is based in the United States