By Abuchi Obiora
My intention in this discourse is to prove that it is both futile, a waste of time, resources and effort for any of the many ethnic nationalities in Nigeria to embark on a modern day wholesale political conquest of Nigeria, a conglomeration of people of different nationalities, traditions and cultures, religious belief and value systems and above all, of differing civilizations.
Most probably deceived by the ‘miraculous’ survival of Nigeria as a weak democratic system of government where the executive arm of the government has made mincemeat of the legislative and judicial arms, some people who desire perpetually to control political power in Nigeria believe that the political system can still be tinkered, if need be, somehow by subterfuge or other means, to yield to their control ad infinitum.
The veracity of my conclusion in this discourse (which I have just taken a forward position on) is vilified by what I recognize to be a consistent pattern of resilient history of the many ethnic nationalities in Nigeria in their various attempts to found their homelands, ward-off intruders and establish themselves in their various geographical spaces where they are currently located within the political and landmass configuration that is today known as and called Nigeria.
It will be impossible to exhaust within the available space of this discourse the daring efforts made by these Nigerian ethnic nationalities to stave off being ‘swallowed up’ by other groups, be driven out of their pristine habitations or even be rendered extinct, yet a few examples will suffice.
Apart from the major three ethnic groups of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, clusters of other smaller ethnic groups around the country who ordinarily are referred to as minorities have made great sacrifices, through daring efforts, to ground themselves in the geographical locations which they presently occupy. Let me start with a case which, although known to scholars of the history of the country as a case of political chivalry funded by agents of the earliest attempt in neo-imperialist conquest of Nigeria by one of her ethnic groups after the declaration of Nigeria as a Federal Republic in 1963, is also a perfect reason for the promotion of a loose confederal system of government as the sin qua non for unity and progress in Nigeria.
Not many Nigerians know the travails of Adaka Boro of the defunct organization called Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF).
Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro (September 10th, 1938 – May 9th, 1968, fondly called Adaka Boro was a Nigerian Nationalist of Ijaw ethnic nationality regarded as the patriarch of ethnic activism in Nigeria. Adaka Boro was a militant and the pioneer of minority rights activism in Nigeria with his defunct Niger Delta Volunteer Force.
An undergraduate of Chemistry in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the President of the Student Union Government during the 1964/65 session in the same university, Adaka Boro declared the Niger Delta Republic on February 23rd , 1966 and fought with the federal troops for 12 days, making history as having headed one of the shortest-lived Republic ever in the world. Adaka Boro condemned the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta areas which benefited the Federal Government of Nigeria with nothing given to the Niger Delta people.
He was tried together with his comrades-at-arms and jailed for treason. They were granted amnesty by General Yakubu Gowon on the eve of the Nigerian Civil War in May 1967 and used by the Federal troops in a divide-and-rule manner against Biafra to weaken the second secessionist attempt in Nigeria led by the then Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Adaka Boro died in mysterious circumstances wherefore it has been alleged by many researchers that he was killed either on the summary orders of some ambitious commanders of the Federal troops for the purpose of self-adulation or eliminated on the explicit instruction of the Federal Government to cover up his previous covet activities against the realization of Biafra when he was aided for that purpose by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Though Adaka Boro died young at four months before his thirtieth birthday, he made history for Nigerian ethnic nationalities for registering his contempt for the unjust and audacious impunity by the Fulani-led government of the First Republic in tapping the resources of more than 250 nationalities across Nigeria.
Today in May 2022 and exactly 54 years after the death of this hero of resource control by the ethnic nationalities in whose soils the resources are found, the situation has not changed much for the ethnic nationalities enough to write home about. Suffice to say that not much has happened in resource control by the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria as originally expected by Adaka Boro because of the nascent neo-colonist and chameleonic attitude to power of the Northern Nigerian hegemonic rulers of the country. This is a story for another day.
Contrary to widely-held opinion, not the three major ethnic groups of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, but the numerous minorities of Nigeria – both of the North and the South- constitute the cohesive factor in the unending quest for the unity of the country. Within these minorities are spread more than 500 ‘tongues’ some of which, though they may derive from common ancestries, yet assert their centuries-old individual group distinctiveness, in spite of long periods of religious and cultural syncretism amongst themselves. Minority ethnic groups in Nigeria are the major reason why none of the major ethnic groups of Hausa (which in practice is actually Fulani-controlled Hausa), Igbo and Yoruba have not succeeded in a wholesale hijack of the country.
In times of distress, these minority ethnic groups exact the damage control, catalytic function either as political balancing agents or agents of betrayal in the politics of numbers within the camps of the three major ethnic nationalities in either the north or south where the minorities sojourn. Another balancing factor for the unity of Nigeria, following after the action of the ethnic minorities, is religion, but we shall not discuss that now.
The pattern of balancing observed in this discourse played out very well during the Nigerian Civil War for the secession of Biafra, to win the war for the Federal troops. The Nigeria patriotic personality and hero of resource control by ethnic nationalities, Adaka Boro, acted rightly on self-defensive instinct against Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, to protect his ethnic nationality and the rest people of Niger Delta.
As a matter of fact, Ojukwu lost the Biafran secession bid as a result of these three major reasons:
- The tactical error of forcing non-Igbo ethnic nationalities into the Biafran war without their consent.
- Pushing the frontiers of the war as military conquest (and not as a military defense operation) down West to Ore and Okitipupa and up East to Okene and the environs instead of strategizing to secure the Igbo nation, using the land mass of the neighboring minorities (whose citizens must be relocated inside the Igbo nation on terms and conditions of their opinion leaders) as military buffer zones to wade off the enemy.
- Lack of diplomacy in utilizing the Niger Delta crude oil resources, with the tacit support of and under favourable agreement with their opinion leaders, to negotiate for international support and arms, and secure victory in the war. What Ojukwu failed to do in this regard, Gowon did to win the war for the Federal troops.
All these three factors revolve around the costly mistake of forcibly co-opting other unwilling ethnic nationalities into what was advertised internationally by the Federal Government as secession and not freedom fighting and regarded in Nigeria by the other ethnic groups as the Igbo war.
Naturally, as a result of this, it was easy for the government of Yakubu Gowon to harness the sympathy of the neighboring minority ethnic groups, including the Ika Igbos, the Bimis, the Urhobos, the Ishekiris, the Ogonis, etc. All of these groups became the betraying agents in a war that was not explained to them where they fear more oppression from the Igbos should Biafra win the war.
Specifically, in Benin, one of the final offensives was launched against Biafra by a battalion of the Federal troops commanded by the late Head of State, General Muritala Mohammed.
Has the oppressed and belabored ethnic nationalities of Nigeria learnt any lesson from the mistake of Ojukwu? Sadly not! United must the oppressed ethnic nationalities of Nigeria stand, on terms specifically agreed amongst themselves (which should be total resource control) against the hegemonic rule over all of them by any of her ethnic groups.
Probably unknown to it, the out-going APC government of President Mohammadu Buhari promoted the modern political conquest by one of the country’s ethnic minority group, during its protracted, almost eight years tenor.
This much is evidenced in blatant disrespect of government policies put in place to weave the unequal Jigsaw Puzzle called Nigeria, together. The failure of the out-going government to tear the country apart through nepotism should be a warning for future governments who may decide to go on a wild goose chase of converting Nigeria into the private holding of an ethnic group. It is expected that the central government that would be voted in next year (2023) should undo many things that were done wrongly by the out-going APC central government so that the ‘fragile’ balance of the incongruous and amorphous country called Nigeria will be restored enough for the people to decide what to do with their presently-skewed Constitution.
The legacies of the soon-ending APC government of President Mohammadu Buhari will boldly be written in chalk in the annals of Nigerian history. During his tenor, Nigerians saw a minority ethnic group in the country being given an unreasonable illusionary, and dubious feeling of entitlement, probably as a result of their skewed belief that Nigeria is an ancestral heritage banqueted to them by people who did not actually understand that the benignity of their natural neighbours in the country should not be taken for granted. No wonder the country nearly got incinerated as they were told that nobody is actually anybody’s slave.
Very soon, the era of proposing a database for cows in Nigeria in the flour of the Senate by a dishonourable Senator as widely aired across Nigeria and reported at https://newsexpressngr.com/news/122007 will be over. I felt very sad for Nigeria and Nigerians when this clownish and moronic bill was mentioned in the Senate chamber. I thought that our Senators would have been more concerned with enumerating Nigerian human beings and not Nigerian cows, to develop and hoist a system that will track the exact national population for the purpose of national development and save the country the rigmarole of national planning with United Nations projections.
Like Nigerians thronged the streets celebrating the death of the strong man, General Sani Abacha, and with it, the end of his ill-fated regime, free drinks will soon flow in drinking parlors when Nigerian citizens shall celebrate the end of a dubious “Change 2015” come May 2023. In their discussions, Nigerians will remember the sardonic yet unwise economic decision of the out-going President to site first class rail passenger and cargo tracks criss-crossing neighboring countries such as Niger Republic with such minor economic benefits to Nigeria as the supply of ‘Dabino’ and Tiger Nuts (and obviously huge supply of bandits!) in preference to siting such massive national economic boaster projects in those areas as the North Central, South South, South West and South East which four regions presently constitute the economic cash cows of the country wherefore the remaining two regions – North East and North West – constitute the barking dogs in the service of the national economy.
But Nigerians cannot say in honesty that there was no sign post given by the out-going President as to the direction he would go when voted into office. Antecedents of people provide the veritable sign posts as to what they would do in political office. Nigerians should carefully observe the previous credentials of the in-coming President to be sure that the right person for the country occupies Aso Rock in 2023.
In many of his antecedents, the out-going President had shown himself to love his ethnic group more than he loves Nigeria.
One of such antecedents happened during the election of the Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1985 when the out-going President was the Military Head of State. In his obedience to his conscience and to respond to his passion to advance the course of his ethnic group, he voted against the country where he was the Head of State in favour of a Fulani candidate from Niger Republic. His votes was one of the votes that secured the election of Ide Omaru, a Fulani man, diplomat from Niger Republic, whose opponent in the election was Peter Onu, a diplomat, philanthropist and former Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, from the Igbo ethnic nationality.
I wrote about this and made the observation in a previous work, noting that he would very likely be a President with bias for his ethnic group, but nobody listened. In that work, I recorded that the deck was already stacked in favour of Peter Onu who was already in an acting capacity as the Secretary-General between 1983-1985, when the tenor of Eden Kodjo a Togolese politician and diplomat (1978-1983) expired.
The out-going President assisted to turn the deck against Nigeria in favour of his tribe, which possibly may have earned him, if it was recorded, a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first and only Head of State in modern history of International Relations to vote against his country in favour of his tribe.
On a final note in this discourse, it will be easier for the in-coming government to administer the country when justice and equity are enthroned in the social fabric. The new government must eschew nepotism and make deliberate efforts to fight corruption and not ‘Romance’ it. My understanding is that Nigerians are naturally good people and I am sure that it will not be hard for them to understand their individual social responsibilities to the country when governed well.
When justice and equity is enthroned in the country’s social fabric, I am sure that Nigerians will be amenable to discipline, not being outlaws or social outcastes with the sadist’s burning desire and penchant to do wrong things. The re-introduction of justice and equity hitherto denied Nigerians will also curb the growing insecurity and put the country back once again, on the track of progress.
Global Upfront Newspapers
Read Similar Posts by ABUCHI OBIORA as archives in: