In Amos chapter 3 verse 3, the Bible asks a very fundamental question; can two walk together except they be agreed? The answer to this question touches on the very essence of the Nigerian crisis of nationhood. Basic commonsense suggests that two cannot work together except they have some form of agreement. This saga underscores the necessity of a sovereign national conference and indeed a second independence. Nigeria continues to suffer the consequences of the contradictions in her DNA. Created through an arbitrary process that was triggered by the exploits of a British trader; Tubman Goldie whose foray into the area lured the British government to establish administrative units, solely to enable imperialist exploitation. It was thus, never from the onset, a nation whose inhabitants had any agreement to create a nation, nor whose creation by the colonialists had the interests or the harmony of the disparate cultural, ethnic and religious groups forced into a union at heart.
Not surprisingly, the monster of ethnic and religious contradictions has continued to dog the nation throughout her unfolding history. It has led to strife, a needless war and continuing ethno-religious conflicts which now include terrorism. To make matters worse, Nigeria has never had the good fortune of having a nation builder at the helm who might have tried to turn the tide. All the leaders since independence have variously exploited and furthered the contradictions through their actions and policies. This has had the effect of exacerbating an already bad situation. The needless Nigeria-Biafra war which consumed millions of lives on a false premise was fought because there were underlying forces which in exploitation of the ethnic contradictions preferred war in place of a pragmatic approach that would have resolved the contradictions that put the nation on the brink in the first place.
The choice to go to war rather than resolve the contradictions that created the crisis has proven to be the most costly mistake in the nation’s chequered history. It has inadvertently created a permanently divided nation and a deeply resentful citizenry in some parts of the nation. The opportunities presented in the immediate aftermath of the war for aggressive nation building was not seized as punitive policies of marginalisation, abandoned property, confiscation of all monies owned in banks and a litany of exclusionist policies were embarked upon by the federal government in place of reconciliation, reconstruction and reintegration as promised. The Northern leadership increasingly saw Nigeria as their private estate and enthroned themselves as the only “owners and rulers” of Nigeria while all others were consigned to second class citizenry. In no time the contradictions they sought to muzzle with the war came back full cycle to haunt the nation.
By the time the military took their exit in 1999, Nigeria was a cauldron of ethno-religious conflicts. Major Gideon Orkar and his group had attempted to balkanise the nation in a failed coup in 1990. Religious riots/mass killings were routine in the North, while militancy was surging in the South. The wounds of the cancellation of the June 12 elections and slaying of Moshood Abiola was still festering and the media was littered with calls for a sovereign national conference to discuss the Nigerian question. As earlier stated, the fundamental declaration made in Amos chapter 3 verse 3 aptly made it clear that, “the two cannot walk together, except they are in agreement.” Nigerians have thus; found it impossible to walk or live together in peace because they have never been in any agreement to do so. This underscores the necessity of a sovereign national conference and consequently a second independence.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. The second independence will give every ethnic nation a choice to choose self determination or an appropriately restructured nation based on mutual agreement. Most importantly, it will free the nation from the internal colonialism/yoke of decades of oppressive, rapacious, malevolent and hegemonic Northern rule. It will set the nation free from the psychological overhang of erstwhile military dictatorships and its corrupt patronage system; unleash new nations or a nation of free men where justice, equality, prosperity and harmony will reign supreme. President Goodluck Jonathan has the historic opportunity to be Nigeria’s Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who finally set free and gave a second independence to the many ethnic nations trapped in Nigeria’s inferno of oppression, hate, prejudice, Northern hegemony and misrule.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu