The 1914 Amalgamation Remains Nigeria’s Bane!
By Charles Ogbu
February 8, 2017
Every problem Nigeria has ever faced and will ever face can be traced to that demonic event of 1914 when the British merged the Southern and Northern protectorates into one country that is today known as Nigeria.
Britain had only one thing in mind while carrying out the amalgamation: Their administrative and economic convenience. Nothing more. The action of the British can be compared to a man who bought both herbivorous and carnivorous animals from the market and chose to put them in one cage to make it convenient for him to transport them home. This man knew that herbivores feed on herbs and are very harmless and easygoing while carnivores feed on flesh and are most times very aggressive and violent. In other words , the herbivorous animals in that cage might end up as meat for the carnivorous ones even before the man would reach his destination. He knew all these but still chose to put both animals together.
Do we need the brain of Albert Einstein to figure out the fact that the welfare of these animals was the last thing on this man’s mind? Rather, all he cared about was getting them all home whether dead or alive without spending extra money for another cage and extra fare for that new cage.
Even my three-month-old niece knows that the North and South have absolutely little in common. Not the same language, not the same culture, not the same religion, not the same ancestry, not even the same worldviews and as such, can’t possibly live together as one country.
Nigeria is many nations forced to remain within an unworkable forced marriage. The amalgamation was borne out of compulsion. That line “one Nation bound in freedom, peace and unity” in our national anthem is one hell of a dirty lie. Where is the freedom? Where is the peace? Where is the unity? I really think we’ve had enough of the rhetoric, the lies, the delusion. It is high time we got down to the real business of paying ourselves the courtesy of being blunt.
The “One Nigeria” slogan is one of the biggest organised lies of the century. There is absolutely nothing “One” about Nigeria. If we look at all the happenings in the country since 1914 till date, we will discover that the only thing that binds us together is mutual suspicion of one another.
A very influential Yoruba monarch once threatened to drown Igbo resident in Lagos in the lagoon, yet, not even a single shop owned by an Igbo man was burnt in Lagos as a result of that threat. Of all the cat and dog fights between the Yoruba and the Igbo, there has been no case of these two tribes attacking each other physically. They always end in long grammar which is how decent beings end their misunderstanding.
But for some other regions, every disagreement must end in bloodshed. Despite all the brutalities of the government, IPOB has never killed innocent people. Despite the volume of arms at its disposal, OPC has never attacked innocent people. Despite the gravity of environmental terrorism the Federal Government has carried out in the Niger Delta, neither MEND nor the AVENGERS ever bombed innocent people.
But even without provocation, the terrorists in other parts of Nigeria kill and maim innocent people and take over their land with the active support of the government.
All the killings of innocent people that have been carried out so far starting from the Igbo pogrom of 1945 in Jos and that of 1953 in Kano were all carried out by enemies of Nigeria unity.
Are we all waiting for a Rwanda 1994 example before we summon the needed courage to stop believing our own lie about Nigeria being one? This country has since reached its elastic limit. It can no longer stretch again. India and Pakistan were once a country. Today, look at India and look at Pakistan and tell me what you see!
The only solution to all the problems of this country is federalism in letter and spirit. Anything short of this will only leave us with the peace of the graveyard which is no peace at all. We must renegotiate our co-existence.
*Ogbu, a social analyst, wrote from Port Harcourt.