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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Lesson From South Sudan For Nigerian’s Pro- Secessionists – By Nurudeen Dauda



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The former Sudan has 52% Blacks population, 39% Arabs, 6%, Beja 2% foreigners and others 1%.Area 2,505,810sq km, land 2.376 million sq km and water 129,810 sq km. Ethnic groups from the South Sudan, who are not Arabs, led by among others the late Mr John Garang waged a rebellion against Sudan for 22years; Mr John Garang a prominent leader in the struggle died before his inspiration came to reality.

It’s gradually becoming apparent that religious homogeneity is not a guarantee for nationhood, patriotism, and nationalism; just as religious heterogeneity is not a guarantee for civil war as in the case of India.

Jideofor Adibe in his Thursday column (back page) Daily Trust of October 10, 2013 states that: “Ethnic Homogeneity is no guarantee that any nation will work as the experiences of Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda show. Similarly we have had countries break up after co-existing for nearly a century .We have also seen countries that started as agglomeration of different ethnic nationalities such as Germany, France and China succeeds as nation-state.”

On the same note he added, “Being endowed with abundant national resources is no guarantee that a country will thrive as the cases of Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia illustrate.”

It is on record that, we witnessed centuries of civil wars among the Yorubas (Ife and Mudakeke) who share ethnic ties with dialectical differences; we are also aware of civil wars among the Hausa states in the pre-colonial era. The case of Omulari and Ogulari struggle in the Igbo land is also not left out. Nevertheless, the pre-colonial era in the South-South witnessed a series of civil and communal wars.

For example, will the Ikweres and the Ijaws in say the Republic of Niger Delta co-exist peacefully? Will the Orhobos allow the dominance of the Ijaws? Will the Ognis continue to watch the Ikweres having their ways?

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Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Former CBN Governor,(the Emir of Kano) at Arewa House, Kaduna from 11th 12th September, 1999, presented a paper titled issues in restructuring corporate Nigeria he argued thus: “…We are all Nigerians. But we are also Fulbe, Yoruba, Igbo, Kanuri, Efik, etc. as well as Muslims, Christians, animists, etc. The historical process which brought together these heterogeneous groups was never destined to achieve a magical and immediate erosion of their histories and a total submersion of their individual identities into a common national milieu…” He added that, “…The task of nation-building does not lie in ignoring these differences, as the military have tried to do. Unity is not necessarily synonymous with uniformity. But it also does not lie in a defeatist attitude of despair, or a return to a nihilist era of ethnic agendas and tribal warfare. It lies, instead, in an intelligent appreciation of the complexity of the problem…”

“Ethnicity or religious differences should not form the basis for country’s balkanization. America is what it is day because of its patriotism and nationalism. Unity is not Uniformity but for me it involves respecting one another, responsibility and faithfulness.“Let’ live together, is let ‘disagree,” Hausa proverb.“The tongue and the tooth sometimes disagree,” Hausa proverb.  As close as the tongue and the tooth are sometimes, the tooth bites the tongue but that does not end there stay. What we need to live together in this country are tolerance, justice, fairness, equity and good leadership.

The late professor, Chinua Achebe, in his book “The trouble with Nigeria,” Said, “There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which is the hallmarks of true leadership. He submitted that, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.”

South Sudan had witnessed a decades of conflict (civil war) with Sudan before 2011 which marks its independence. South Sudan is the world newest country and it has 10 states with abundant oil wealth.

The leaders of South Sudan accused the Republic of Sudan for marginalization, racism, corruption and embezzlement of their oil wealth. It is pertinent to note that, South Sudan like the Nigerian’s Niger Delta Region has abundant oil wealth and also laid claim to the oil wealth having it being destined to be found in their territory.

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The majority Baba Arabs of Republic of south could not be said to be blameless, for they have their shortcomings, which for me, is the emphasis for Arab nationalism as against the Republic of Sudan’s nationalism.

Mr Riek Machar, the former VP, was sacked in July 2013 and clashes erupted on December 15, 2013, initially started as a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and sacked vice President, however, the struggle soon metamorphosed into ethnic struggle, even though,   Mr Machar denied that, the struggle is on ethnic basis. It is worth mentioned to note that, President Salva Kiir is from“Dinka”ethnic group, which now in the new country,South Sudan, is the major ethnic group and Ex- vice President, Mr Machar, is from “Nuer”ethnic group, which happens to be the second major ethnic group in the country.

Both President Salva Kiir and Ex- vice President, Mr Riek Machar were in Sudan people’s Liberation Movement, SPLM, which led decades of conflict in Sudan.Soon after death Mr John Garang, Mr Salva Kiir and co became prominent in the struggle which subsequently led to their independence.

UN High Commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay said: “mass extrajudicial killings the targeting of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity and arbitrary detentions have been documented in recent days.”Adding that, “we have discovered a mass grave in Bentiu, in Unity state, and there are reportedly at least two other mass graves in Juba.”UNHCR, spokesperson, Rovina Shamdasani said, “the bodies in Bentiu appeared to be Dinka soldiers. from the Sudan people’s Liberation Army.”Adding that “the other reported grave sites are at Jebel-Kujur and Newside, near Eden, both in Juba.” Daily Trust, Wednesday, December 25, 2013 (P.31).

The rebel leader, sacked vice President, Mr Riek Machar, has the backing of the “Mutinous soldiers” and ethnic militia called, “white army.”The violence erupts in half of the country’s 10 states after President Salva Kiir alleged coup plot by forces backing the sacked V.P. The conflict lives about 1,000 people death and displacing about 200,000 thousand persons.

The rebel leader said: “we want a democratic nation. We want democratic free and fair elections. We want Salva Kii to it a day.” Daily Trust, Wednesday, December 25, 2013 (P.31). The rebels have seized the major towns of bor and Bentiu the capital of the oil producing Unity state.

With the recent setbacks of the rebel forces led by Mr Riek Machar, only time will tell who becomes victorious.

However, those who argue that, what brought us together was the 1914 amalgamation the Late Dr Yusuf Bala Usman in his highly articulated paper titled misrepresentation of Nigeria facts and figures has this to say: “This entity, which is falsely presented as constituting the South, standing distinct and cohesive apart from the North, at the time of the 1914 amalgamation, was itself produced by a series of amalgamations going back to 1893. In that year the Oil Rivers Protectorate was amalgamated with other territories nearby, which the British had subjugated, to form the Niger Coast Protectorate. This Niger Coast Protectorate, which, only in 1897, came to include the conquered Kingdom of Benin, for example, was, in 1900, amalgamated with a series of protectorates the British had imposed in the immediate hinterland of the Colony of Lagos, to form the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, administered separately from the Colony of Lagos,” Adding that:

“Six years later, in 1906, the Colony of Lagos was amalgamated with this Protectorate of Southern Nigeria to form the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, which far from being some cohesive colonial entity, was, largely, a sphere of influence, from which the British kept out other European colonial powers. The military expeditions for colonial occupation, here in fact, continued, right up to 1914, and beyond,” He added that:

“The Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, proclaimed in 1900, was also just a sphere of influence claimed by the British. It did not exist as a distinct entity, which could be termed, the North, up to 1914, and beyond, when military expeditions to establish it continued. It was a variegated collection of the subjugated, hitherto largely autonomous, emirates of the Sokoto Caliphate, the subjugated Sheikhdom of Borno, the Igala and Jukun Kingdoms and numerous independent polities, which by the time of the 1914 amalgamation cannot be said to have constituted a distinct entity standing on its own, as the North, distinct from the South.”

Nevertheless, as for those who argue that they what the county to be divided because they have oil the late erudite scholar has this to say: “The Formation of the Niger Delta: One of the best examples of the high degree of interdependence between various parts of Nigeria is the geological and hydrological processes of the formation of the Niger Delta and all its soil, water and mineral resources. Far from the Niger Delta being a separate and distinct part of Nigeria, it is not only the most recently formed part of the country, but it has been formed, and is still being formed, by the soil, vegetation, and other organic matter, which the Rivers Niger and Benue, and their tributaries, carry from all over Nigeria and parts of West and Central Africa, and deposit to create the delta where the Niger enters the Atlantic Ocean. Alagoa, has put it succinctly, in his pioneering study, History of the Niger Delta, published in 1972. He said: “The Niger Delta has been built up over ten thousand years from sediments brought down by the Rivers Niger and Benue.” (p11).” The Dr added that:

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“The geological process of the formation of the Niger Delta and of the crude oil and natural gas formed in some of its sedimentary formations actually goes much further back than ten thousand years. But the reality, which those who are using the issue of the federal control of the petroleum resources found in all parts of Nigeria, including in the Niger Delta, to attack the basis of the cooperate existence of Nigeria, do not want to accept, is that these sediments with which, and in which, this petroleum deposits are found, did not drop from the sky. These sediments are made up of soil containing vegetable, and other organic materials, including human, and animal, faeces and remains, which were washed away from farmland, pasture and forests all over Nigeria and outside and carried by the Niger to form its delta and all the minerals in it.”

Dr Yusuf Bala Usman further added, “Therefore, these states, covering 60% of the Nigerian area, should be regarded as the primary oil-producing states, producing the primary raw material for the making of crude oil and gas; and the states where the oil is now extracted become the secondary oil-producing states. This raw material, with which the crude oil is made, is eroded away from the farmlands, pastures and forests, of these upstream states, which as a result, annually, lose their fertile top soils making them, suffer from annual ecological degradation and agricultural retardation. If everybody should take exclusive membership and control of the natural resources in their area, as those attacking the corporate existence of Nigeria are demanding, then those states of Nigeria, upstream from the delta, in the NigerBenue basin, should take exclusive ownership and control of the river water and its sediments drained away from them to form the delta and its hinterland, and demand their share from the returns from the export of crude oil and gas in proportion to what their vegetation, faeces, dead bodies, animal remains and fertile soil, generally contributed to the making of these minerals for hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of years.”

About the claim by the Niger Deltans that the oil belong to them. The Dr argued thus: Whatever sovereign rights the governments of the pre-colonial polities of the Niger Delta and its hinterland had, over the soil, water, and minerals of the area, were destroyed by the British conquest. This conquest was not largely the result of British military superiority, real as that was. It was also very much the result of the conflicts tearing apart the societies of most of these polities, their high level of fragmentation, and the economic backwardness, which their role as middlemen in the Atlantic slave trade had inflicted on them. This serious internal weakness which the British took advantage of to conquer the area was brought out, in the case of the Ogoni polities by the late Ken Saro Wiwa…”

Nigerians should face reality and live with one another peacefully. Therefore, in my humble opinion the roadmap to peaceful co-existence is transparent leadership with justice, fair-play, fairness, equity, honesty and accountability. For any association be it family, community, religious, ethnic or regional that lacks the above mentioned attributes among others will certainly crumble. Lastly for me balkanization or dismemberment of the country is not the answer.

Nurudeen Dauda is a political commentator who lives in U/Shanu, Kaduna- Can be reached thru: nurudeendauda24@yahoo.com or 07038126007. 

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