To do justice to this theme, we need to refer back to the history of secession in Nigeria. On January 5, 1967, Nigeria’s military leaders went to Aburi near Accra, Ghana to ruminate on the challenges confronting the country. Military leaders and senior Police officers of each region (East, North, and West) signed an accord in Aburi, Ghana, and agreed on a loose confederation of regions.
That agreement was not fulfilled. On May 30th, 1967, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eastern Region’s military governor, declared openly the break-away of the Eastern state which he called the Republic of Biafra that sparked a 30-month bloody civil war and death of over a million people according to some literature.
On January 12, 1970, the officer overseeing the Biafran military, General Phillip Effiong called for a cease-fire and General Gowon declared the No-victor-no-vanquish war to end after Ojukwu fled to Ivory Coast and the region was reintegrated into Nigeria.
However, the separatist agitations are not restricted to the Eastern state only. The other separatist group is the Arewa Youth that took a new turn on June 6, 2017, when a group of northern youths under the aegis of Coalition of Arewa Youths gave the Igbos until October 1, 2017, to leave the 19 northern states in what they called the Kaduna Declaration.
Similarly, on 23, January 2021, Yoruba’s Sunday Igboho issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Fulani in Igangan, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo state, over the allegation that they are responsible for the rising insecurity and kidnapping in the area.
Thus, the other two major ethnic groups have been found to have shown lack of interest in unity several times.
If Nigeria is to divide according to major ethnic groups, the Old Western state which is the proposed Oduduwa Autonomous Nation by the Yoruba agitators will have Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun of the old Western region and some parts of Kwara and Kogi states from the North, the Itsekiris in Delta state and the Akoko in Edo state, the Arewa which is for northerners will have the 12 core northern states and Niger, Abuja, Nasarawa, Plateau and most of Benue and Kogi states while Biafra goes with the remaining southern minorities in states like Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa and the five Igbo states though there are minorities in every region agitating for self-identification.
Some of the reasons all agitators give however apart from self-identification are ethnic and regional partiality, injustice and lack of equity and equality in the distribution of resources and political imbalance which I believe are reasonable though there is a discrepancy in geographic size and population of Nigeria as a country and secession may bring economic, social and agricultural consequences to all regions.
The simple way to ensure the successful separation of Nigeria in a legal, free of riot and war is a referendum in which the citizens of Nigeria would vote for or against the secession of Nigeria as a united country and if the majority of the representatives of the three pioneer regions vote for the division then every part is free as an independent country.
The ways used by present agitators to secede from Nigeria are illegal and unconstitutional because that amounts to an offense of treason and treasonable felony. Nevertheless, the Nigerian Constitution has clearly stated that no part of Nigeria has the power to form its own independent government or secede from the country.
Unless and until Article 2 of the constitution is amended, the separation cannot legally succeed in Nigeria. Article 2 states that: “Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria.” This means the division cannot be done through referendum unless when this article of the constitution is amended.
Image Credit: Greenbarge Reporters
In addition to that, there are only two places in the Constitution where the referendum is allowed, the first one is the referendum to determine the state boundary adjustment and the second is the recall of a member of the National Assembly. For there to be a division of ethnic groups in Nigeria, all three regions must be in support of one another and the minority group would have to merge into any of the majority within their region.
Aside from that, let us assume article 2 of the constitution is amended and the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria voted for secession in Nigeria, how do we share the resources among the regions? How do we repay the debt owed by Nigeria? and what is the fate of each region in achieving good governance in their respective region?
What we would consider in allocating resources and repaying debts is very simple. Firstly, each region would be given the resources within their territory and the debt should be shared per the allocation of federal government revenue in each state. This means that the debt would be repaid based on the allocation going to each region before the separation and the share of the country’s resources would be shared according to the location of the resources.
However, if the three regions separate, each region would have to scout for good leaders that will paddle its affairs by looking at the current realities. Nevertheless, a good question we need to ask ourselves is, what is the possibility of having good leaders after separation?
To answer the above question, we need to consider the leadership qualities possessed by leaders of secessionists.
In the Eastern part of the country, the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was extradited from Kenya to Nigeria after he fled as a result of 11 count charges bordering on terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matters, illegal possession of firearms, and improper importation of goods, among others.
Can a person who jumped bail be a good leader? Is this the person who would oversee the affairs of the Eastern part of the country? This shows that he didn’t possess the qualities of a good leader.
The second leader of the separatists is Sunday Igboho, an uneducated cum political thug who is clamoring for the Yoruba Nation. The man once worked with former Governor, Rasheed Ladoja and he became one of his aides. Recently, it was reported by Premium Times that Sunday Igboho said he knows where to buy guns and no government can stop anyone from using guns.
Sunday Igboho, a Yoruba activist who does not have a background in western education, and is known to have supernatural power. Is this the person that would be a leader of the ‘Yoruba Nation’ after secession? Or will he be the one to appoint a person to be ruling the region?
The Northern region, which is mostly referred to as Arewa, produced most of the leaders that ruled Nigeria and the country has for decades been battling with a high rate of unemployment, insecurity, poverty, and bad governance. I believe, if care is not taken, these are the people that would still take over the Arewa region after the secession in Nigeria. What is the chance of annihilating poverty, unemployment, and insecurity in the Arewa region after separation?
It is apparent from my analysis above that if the three regions separate, each region would still experience bad leadership.
The bitter truth is that the regions can only develop if they take advantage of what they have. So if we are to split the country into three, the region that would suffer is the region that would submit itself to bad leadership, and going by what is obtainable in Africa we could all suffer.
This means that it is rare to get a good and patriotic leader nowadays because almost everyone has the intention to benefit and embezzle from the people’s fund. The only way to make the region prosper after independence is by appointing good leaders that prioritize the welfare of their followers.
Lastly, since the agitation of separatists is to put an end to injustice, unemployment, insecurity, bad governance, and poverty, I believe the solution to the maim going on in this country is for the three regions to unite themselves and elect good leaders irrespective of region and ethnicity to find a lasting solution to our difficulties in this country. The truth is that secession cannot happen without war and chaos that would take the lives of many Nigerians. War is not like pounding yam and Nigeria would be better in unison of the ethnic groups.
This opinion article has been published on Nigeria Grassroot News with very minimal editing to preserve the original piece of the author. NGN does not bear any responsibility for the contents as all views belong to the author.
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