Where is Nigeria?
By Joseph C.Ibekwe
Nigeria is in two: Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria. These two Nigeria portions can’t seem to agree to what Nigeria should be and should do.
First, Northern Governors met and agreed that open grazing is not sustainable and should be banned. It didn’t attract much public attention.
Second, Southern Governors met and agreed that open grazing is not good for their region and therefore banned open grazing in the region. This set the internet on fire. The chief law officer of the federation makes a ridicule of the southern governors decision.
Tell me, where is Nigeria? Why is there no unity of purpose on any issue?
The Southern Governors want a political restructuring of the nation, including devolution of power. The chief law officer of the federation again makes a mock of that asking them to first restructure their states before asking for restructuring at the federal level.
There was #endsars protests in Nigeria in 2020, mostly in Southern Nigeria against police brutality.The Northern Governors lambasted the protesters and warned Northern youths not to participate. The protest was later corrupted by the handwork of Government. This was followed by government crack down on those that participated in the protests in southern Nigeria.
When the Boko Haram insurgency started in Northern Nigeria, North East, precisely, the vibrant southern media took up the issue to raise awareness about the destruction going on up North, calling for government intervention. The Northern leaders went about their business as if nothing was amiss. The powers that be, never took a hard stand against the insurgency, instead, they began to promote a narrative that the previous administration started it to reduce the population of the north. These things are in the public domain.
The activities of migrant Herdsmen against farmers have been going on for too long now. The North Governors have never taken a hard stand against it principally because the ones involved in the issues are mainly northern Herdsmen. These Herdsmen would rather receive help and carryout their business in better environment, but the Northern leaders wouldn’t mind that. The governor don’t care to invest in their people to build their capacity to live well and to compete in a global world. No!
They would convince the herders that it’s their right to go anywhere and destroy anyone’s property as they try to protect their own business of cow breeding. In fact the herders are entitled to carry AK47 to protect and to attack whenever occasion demands. Yet, farmers or anyone else at all in southern Nigeria are not permitted to carry any weapons for defence or offense. And cow tearing is indeed a noble profession. The Northern Governors ought to unleash the potentials in this business if they can deliberately invest in it for their people.
The Political structures in Northern Nigeria are different from what obtain in the south. The spirit of individual enterprise prevalent in the south is very low in the North. All Northern states practice and are subject to Islamic Sharia laws. No problems with that! But no Southern state is permitted to be addressed as a Christian state from government perspective.
Northern State capitals have specific locations where those not directly subject to Islam are not permitted to build churches, in fact you can’t have c-of -o for church lands in almost all Northern states, but that is different down south.
Where is Nigeria in all these? Why is there so much disparities in the way we treat issues? Why is there so much hypocrisy over national issues.
States in the North have Hisbah security outfits, funded by the government to enforce Sharia laws, including destruction of cartons of beer. Yet states in the North must receive their share of VAT generated from the sale of alcohol in southern Nigeria? Local security outfits in southern are hounded by federal security agencies, while those same local security outfits in the North are supported by their governments.
These things give you reasons to ask again, where is the one Nigeria we all talk about?
What is the basis for one Nigeria? Does unity exist in an atmosphere of inconsistency of policy implementations? Where is Nigeria?
It’s obvious that leaders in northern Nigeria have a collective mindset to protect the northern, which is fine. It is also obvious that leaders in the south have a collective mindset to protect the south. How come these sets of leaders cannot agree on how to protect and preserve the entity called Nigeria?
If the two cannot work together, why not separate peacefully? But they are better off together. Why don’t we discuss the basis of mutual co-exitence? Some sections of the country want to have their in all things, but they want other sections to have their way.
Leaders in northern Nigeria use government resources to promote their collectively adopted religion and culture, but they wouldn’t want leaders in southern Nigeria to also use governmet resources to promote their prevalent religion and cultures.
The southern governors made decisions on how to govern their states, some northern leaders dismissed that, saying that, for instance, the Fulani where not consulted.
When was it that northern leaders consulted Ijaws, Igbos Yorubas etc in the Northern before they took decision on how to run their states? Were these other consulted when sharia laws was imposed in all Northern States?
Where is the Nigeria we want our children to live in and sing a common anthem and make a common pledge?
The time of decision has come. We have gone round in circles for too long. Nigeria is tilting off. It’s at a tipping point. I know the leaders are aware. But many lack the courage to do what is right.
The right thing at the moment and in the near future is not separation as some segments are clamouring for. The right thing is to restructure this country politically and economically. Once this is done, every other thing will begin fall in place, gradually.
But if this is not done quickly, the already weak fabric that presently holds the nation will give way in an uncontrollable manner.
That is they say, ‘a stitch in time, saves nine’.
Those that have ears, let them hear. Those that have power to act, let them act. We are at a tipping point. We could tip off any soon.
Joseph C. Ibekwe
FLED INSTITUTE, Abuja