As Isaac Newton put it in his Universal law of gravitation, “Whatever goes up, must come down”. The bible in the book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that “There is time for everything”. The summary of the above is that in the life of a nation, a times comes when both government and the citizenry would be intrinsically inspired and also compelled to take a critical look at their past and frankly assess themselves and be able to tell themselves the truth, no matter how bitter and unpleasant it may be.
Of all the countries on Planet Earth, none should have more claim to God’s blessings than Nigeria. Nigeria is very rich in human population. Interestingly, her human population is endowed with both mental and physical strength. Nigerians excel in whatever clime they are found. In the same vein, the country is abundantly endowed with such resources as hydro-carbon, which metamorphoses into Oil and gas. Other minerals like coal, kaolin, uranium, lime-stone, salt, copper and sea-sand, just to mention a few, are in commercial quantities in almost all the nooks and crannies in the country. Her weather is so clement that agriculture could be practised all round the year. What should God give to a people that He did not give most generously to Nigeria and her peoples?
It is, however, pertinent to acknowledge that inspite of the extraordinary benevolence of God to the peoples of Nigeria, indices used in assessing socio-economic growth of any modern country have consistently exposed the Nigerian state as one that stands at variance with global expectations from such a country.
There is hardly any public institution that functions effectively and productively within the polity. Universities and other tertiary institutions, when compared with those, even, within the West African region, are scored lowest. Currently, a reasonable percentage of Ghana’s annual budget is derived from money that accrues to the country from millions of United States dollars that Nigerian Students studying in educational institutions in Ghana pay. Being the fourth largest oil-producing country, the country built many refineries. Even the largest refinery in Africa is Nigeria. Yet, these refineries do not function effectively hence Nigeria, ironically, is one of the highest importers of petroleum products in the world.
The Aviation industry in the country has become characterized by tales of unabated woes. There is hardly any year the Nigerian air-space does not witness one disaster or another.
It, therefore, has become imperative that Nigerians ask and answer the question; what do we do to revitalize patriotism and restore confidence in Nigerians?
Many areas of national life could, undoubtedly, be touched in an attempt to answer the above question. One aspect that may not be glossed over is the overt injustice meted against the Igbo after the civil war. Circumstances that led to the declaration of the People’s Republic of Biafra have been innumerably recounted and are, therefore, held in custody by history. It is, however, important to recollect that at the end of the thirty-month civil war, General Yakubu Gowon, the then Military Head of state and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, declared a “No victor, no vanquished” verdict. He subsequently pronounced the three famous Rs; Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.
But a sad vindictive post-war commentary was to be added to the sore tales of the Nigerian/Biafra narrative in 1976 when General Olusegun Obasanjo mounted the leadership of Nigeria, following the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed, who had earlier in 1975 overthrown the regime of General Gowon.
For no other reason than economic punishment, deprivation, humiliation and marginalization, the Obasanjo Military Government set up the Justice Mamman Nasir Boundary Commission. General Obasanjo’s targets were the Igbo areas prolific with hydro-carbon and Mamman Nasir boundary Commission, ironically, ignorantly and, of-course, unjustifiably used the Imo River as boundary between the present Abia State and Rivers State. It has to stated that both sides of the Imo River, that is Ukwa-west in Abia State and Oyigbo in Rivers State contain many oil-wells. But more oil wells are in Oyigbo area. Let it be said here that the commercial town of Obigbo, which was renamed Oyigbo after the Nasir boundary adjustment, is an Asa town. During the colonial era, Obigbo town and komkom Village, which are now in Rivers State, were integral parts of Asa county council, with headquarters at Obehie-Asa. After the Nigerian/Biafran War, Oyigbo and Komkom were in Ukwa Division, with the headquarters still at Obehie-Asa. They were in Ukwa Division uptill 1976 when Mamman Nasir did his abracadabara. The same fate befell Ndoki communities of Afam and Egberu. They were in Ndoki county council long before Nigeria’s Independence and were in Ukwa Division uptill the staid 1976.
The obvious contradiction in Nasir’s assumption that Imo River is the boundary between the present Abia State and Rivers State has continued to be glaring. This is because Omuma Local Government Area, which is situated on the same side of the Imo River with Ukwa-west Local Government Area which is in Abia State, was deliberately left in Rivers State. Where, therefore, lies the justification on using Imo River as the boundary between the two states?
For Nigeria to prosper and assume its rightful position in the comity of nations, injustices deliberately meted against some sections of the polity should, inevitably, be re-visited. The greatness of Nigeria can never be attained as long as some sections feel they were simply marginalized on grounds of ethnicity.
The President Goodluck Jonathan’s initiated National Dialogue is a golden and, may be, the only opportunity to correct, once and for all, the structural abnormalities that have obnoxiously constituted a clog on the wheel of Nigeria.
Chief (Sir) Don Ubani; ksc, JP
(Okwubunka of Asa)
P.M.B. 7048 Aba
The author is a political analyst and a civil society activist.