Folks preaching or agitating for restructuring-cum-self-determination do so for different reasons – some negative, some positive. We may not blame those in the former category. Since the coming of APC/Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, the fragile bond of unity hitherto existing in this country has repeatedly and intensely been rent asunder with reckless abandon. No Nigerian leader had been as uncharitable to Nigeria as Buhari. No political party has done more incalculable damage to this country than the APC – not even Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s NPN of yore went this far. Buhari’s nepotism has no comparison. Unfortunately, the Fulani in particular and the conservative North in general, taking Buhari as their long-awaited messiah – the second Uthman dan Fodio or whatever – has queued resolutely behind him. By the time they realise the havoc Buhari has done to them as a collective, it will be too late. Buhari’s nepotism may give the favoured the advantage, a sense of affluence and security on the short run – but this is only temporary and, on the long run, will become illusive and counter-productive.
The evil troika of Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen terrorists, and bandits have set a backward North even more backward than anyone could have imagined; if it takes Nigeria another 62 years to recover from the havoc done by Buhari, it will take the North twice a longer period of time to recover lost grounds and stand where they stood pre-Buhari in 2015. Schooling has been disrupted in a North that has historically been educationally-disadvantaged when compared to the South. Farming has been put on hold in many areas in the North whose main contribution to the GDP – and the people’s main source of livelihood and wealth apart from the Federal largesse – is agriculture. A region crying for infrastructure has had much of what it can boast of destroyed by insurgents. Even if the wealth of the entire country is channelled into the North, of what benefit will that be? Where is the manpower in the North? Where is the will power? Where is the discipline and character? Where are the structures and infrastructure? Where is the morality that underpins the politics of relevance and development? Realising the harm already done, pulling back from the brink, making amends, atoning for the many “sins” of Buhari and securing the confidence and cooperation of other Nigerians will not come easy.
Many in the South and in the Middle Belt are incensed against the Fulani in particular and the conservative (core) North in general. The insult that Fulani leaders, hiding behind Buhari, constantly and consistently heap on other Nigerians is mind-boggling. The behaviour of the Fulani clan and their cronies is appalling. Pray, what gives them the confidence for such audacity and impunity? Of course, the nepotism of Buhari, which has been so brazen that even the blind can see it! In the same way that Buhari made enemies for himself amongst his military colleagues and got overthrown as military Head of State in 1985, so also has he made enemies all over Nigeria not only for himself this time around but also for his Fulani people in particular and the core North in general. The leopard does not change its skin. Buhari’s nepotism evidenced severally in his body language, spoken words, actions and deeds, skewed appointments and allocation of resources has opened the eyes of even the conservative- and Federalist-minded Southerners to the inevitable conclusion that Buhari bears unjust rule.
To put an end to the North’s glaring cheating, retardation, and dehumanization of the South is, therefore, one reason why many in the South now support the agitation for restructuring or self-determination. The perception of the North holding down the South is age-old. There are few people in the South who will not agree that the South would have progressed far better than it has done had it been given a free hand. The North generally is seen as a region not willing to make progress and not allowing others to do so. The South, thus, has been unequally yoked. The positive or rational reason why many Nigerians support restructuring or self-determination is that it is the only panacea for the country’s underdevelopment or, better still, arrested development.
Restructuring or, more appropriately, self-determination will bring about all-round progress and help fast-track the development of every section of the country. We had a taste of that in the First Republic which, to date, remains Nigeria’s Golden Age. Those being cheated will have full control over their resources for their own development. The parasites, so to say, will also be forced to develop their own God-given resources which are left lying fallow at the moment. Someone said what the country shares at its monthly Federal Revenue Allocation committee meeting is poverty, not wealth in the real sense of the word. The billions of Naira shared among the Federal Government, the 36 states and 774 local governments is measly when compared with the budget of a university or mayoralty in some First World countries. We humour or, better still, deceive ourselves when we say Nigeria is rich or that it is a potentially rich country. It has been so described since Independence!
If Nigeria is unbundled, every part will begin to create wealth; the country will become wealthier and the people, in no time, richer. At the moment, we are like crabs in a container: As one tries to escape, another pulls it down. Our sad situation resembles that of chickens tied together with each desperately but unsuccessfully struggling to pull in different directions. There is motion or, better still, commotion, but no progress. The one who poses as the slave master and those treated as slaves are both at the receiving end of the ensuing logjam. Our people have a saying: “I will pin you down; he himself must remain bending!” Or, like Grandma would say: “He who insists he will drag you through the bush will have to make the pathway with his own back”! It is a shame that for a combination of selfish reasons and sheer folly, many have not correctly analyzed the problems associated with Nigeria’s enforced “unity”.
It is a matter of time, though! The chickens are already coming home to roost. Self-determination is an idea whose time has come. Those opposed to it are fighting a losing battle. But tell the Yoruba to watch it! Look onto Malaysia and Singapore and marvel! Malaysia (Malaya) saw Singapore as a drain-pipe and literally drove it out of the Federation made up of Singapore, Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah). As events unfolded, Singaporeans thought the end had come and, together with their leader, Lee Kuan Yew, wept bitterly when the separation was announced on the 9th of August, 1965. But Singaporeans thereafter went to work, lifted themselves up by their bootstraps and, today, Singapore is not only more prosperous than Malaysia, it also rubs shoulders with the First World countries in many respects. The North, once Nigeria splinters, can do likewise and become the Singapore or Dubai of Africa. That region is astoundingly rich in mineral resources, in addition to it being blessed with a large population and land mass (if it can leverage on both and turn adversity to opportunity). The Oodua nation must begin in earnest to understudy Singapore and not wait till a later date. A Malaysia/Singapore scenario must be avoided.
History also teaches that the Yoruba may not be as monolithic and “united” as we assume. In fact, some have argued that the sentiments around the Yoruba nation today is only in the context of Nigeria and that once Nigeria evaporates, old fault lines will become accentuated and we will most likely recede to what we used to be – Oyo, Egba, Ife, Ekiti, Ijebu, Ijesa, etc! In those days of creation of states, we saw how civil servants that fell under the new states were shabbily treated by their former colleagues and how asset-sharing became an issue amongst so-called brother-states. Witness the tussle over the university at Ogbomoso by the two Yoruba states of Oyo and Osun. The Lagos State University (LASU) is embroiled in crisis at the moment because some Lagos indigenes are incensed that a non-native could become the VC. The argument is not about competence but indigene-ship. So a fellow Yoruba can be discriminated against even in Yoruba land! After working your arse out in a Yoruba state, paying tax there, and helping to build up its infrastructure, you can be shown the door when the time comes for you to reap the fruits of your labour simply because some people now suddenly realise you are not a “son or daughter of the soil”!
In 1983, in an election that was believed to have been massively rigged against the sitting governor, Chief Bola Ige, Ibadan people rose up as one man in support of Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, insisting that the result of the election should stand. Their battle cry was: “Omo wa ni, e je o se”! So, Bola Ige, a fellow Yoruba man from Esa-Oke, who lived virtually all his productive life contributing to the development of Ibadan and who married from a prominent Ibadan family, was not their son! What has never happened before was witnessed recently as the premier university, the University of Ibadan, was embroiled in VC succession dispute because some people insisted “a shon of the shoil” must be the new VC! They were not saying the VC must be Yoruba but they were opposed to everyone except their own “Shon”!
One of the allegations against Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu during the last October 20, 2020 governorship election was that he favoured his home town of Owo over and above other sections of the State. Be it correct or incorrect, that accusation was understandable; but what was not was when in Owo itself, Akeredolu was accused of favouring one or two quarters over and above other quarters in the town! A politician in the town called me recently and said he wanted to set an examination for me; I told him to go ahead. He asked: How many governors has Owo produced in Ondo State? Gleefully, I answered: Two. Mention their names, he fired back. I wasted no time in saying Ajasin and Akeredolu. He laughed and said: I knew you would flunk it! I was surprised. He then said Ajasin was from Isijogun and Akeredolu from Igbe! So, the suburbs of Owo are not Owo after all! Jumoke Anifowose (nee Ajasin) however countered that the Ajasins are bona fide Owo.
We have a mountain to climb. The Yoruba nation project, desirable as it is, is not going to be a tea party. Opposition from opponents is one mountain. “Ogun ara eni” or the shenanigans of the protagonists of the Yoruba nation project itself is by far a greater danger and challenge. I have seen cabals; traitors; treachery; tomfoolery; greed; selfishness; jostling for power, posts and relevance; back-biting and back-stabbing, etc at work in many Yoruba self-determination groups frustrating, compromising, slowing down progress and jeopardising success. Where, then, do we go from here? (NOW CONCLUDED)
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