RESTRUCTURE OR DIVIDE THE COUNTRY NOW! AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NIGERIAN SENATE ON THE ONLY WAY FORWARD IN NIGERIA – By Rev Fr Angelo Unegbu
Dear honourable members of the Nigerian Senate, I have contemplated for more than two years now on writing you this letter but the likelihood that my request may fall on deaf ears has always discouraged me. But as the Nigerian situation has gone with a speed of light from worse to worst, more than we have ever imagined. I am compelled by the biting hardship, too many pains, suffering and deaths of Nigerians to write you without delay. And I do hope that my words are taken seriously.
My honourable men and women, do you even realize that you are merely keeping watch over a collapsed country or a failed state? In case you do not know, a country is known to be a failed or collapsed state when:
1) it can no longer guarantee the safety of lives and property;
2) it can no longer better the lives of its citizens by creating jobs;
3) it can no longer provide basic amenities like electricity, good roads, water and so on;
4) government institutions like judiciary, police, are inefficient and no longer reliable;
5) there is total collapse of governance;
4) there are no hopes among the citizens that the situation will ever get better;
In a failed state, leadership loses its function and meaning. Leaders are replaced by war lords. Only the man with gun is obeyed. Thus, in a failed state, there is no difference between a policeman or a soldier or any uniform man with a gun and an armed robber. It becomes like life in the jungle. None has any respect for their victim in a collapsed state. No one is ever afraid of the consequences of his or her actions. The presumption is that one is likely to go unpunished when he or she commits a crime or even kills an innocent citizen.
It is needless blaming any political party because political parties do not exist in a failed state. Rather, what you have are gangs or hijackers of power who will be changing their group-belongingness, disbanding and regrouping with impunity. Manifestoes of such groups or parties are unknown or irrelevant. Common national interests do not exist in such groups, rather individual interests. In a failed state, whoever has the power will clutch it so tightly that it never slips off his or her hands. It is only in a failed state that politics becomes a dirty game. Technocrats, men and women “without liver” stay clear. It is nothing but a fight of the titans; a sad return to the Hobbesian ‘state of nature.’
In a failed state people die like flies. Justice and the rule of law are unknown. Killings and sudden disappearance of citizens become the order of the day.
In a failed state, there is no meaningful opposition and where they even manage to exist, they are brutally crushed at once. Failed states do not tolerate demonstrations, civil disobedience, strikes and agitations unless when carried out in support of the people in power. Citizens live in permanent fear and forget their rights as citizens.
In a failed state excellence is sacrificed at the altar of mediocrity; leadership is marred with ineptitude; education and healthcare are in miserable state. The economy is in shambles.
In a failed state, elections are marred with violence and processes are incredibly uncivil. Given such a scenario people lose faith in the government.
In a failed state, the laws of the land are no longer supreme. They become tools in the hands of leaders for witch-hunting their enemies and beatifying their friends.
The consequences of all these is that children grow up with hate and detestation for their nation. Adults give up hope. Everyone sees it as hell. No one would want to stay. Foreign investors and tourists are scared. The situation worsens day by day but the government in a failed state will continue to give an opposite impression of their country to avoid external intervention.
Dear honourable members of the Nigerian Senate, let us look for a radical and perennial solution to our problems otherwise we move from pieces to dust.
No matter what bills you pass, no matter what you say or do, as long the country is not restructured or peacefully divided, nothing else will save Nigeria from a complete drowning.
Any resources spent on trying to save Nigeria from its present predicament will only amount to waste of money, energy and time unless the root of the matter is addressed, namely the present structure of Nigeria.
The country should be reordered and governed according to how people belong together, with respectful and orderly channels of contact to maintain our national identity and interests. Things that do not belong together cannot be forced together. It is a simple law of nature. Even in the zoo all animals are not put together. Imagine that Italians are to be forced to have one government with the Germans and French, it would also be a disaster. Their economy would also be miserable like ours today. Even Belgians are wise enough to draw a thick line between Flanders and the Wallonia while maintaining a common national front. If they hadn’t done so, they would also have become a failed state.
Interestingly, if we do the needful other African states will emulate us because irrespective of our battered economy most of them still look up to us in so many things. It is also necessary that they restructure or repartition accordingly because we need to move together as a continent otherwise we will never attain the desired heights.
You should not forget that one of the reasons for the partitioning of Africa is to ensure that it remains permanently colonized. The aim is for Africans never to unite and rise against the few colonial masters. It was a major strategy of colonialism. It remains today a major factor in the success of the neo-colonialism project.
Imagine a man whose house is on the brink of collapse because of a damaged roof. No matter how much he spends in changing his furniture or repainting his house, as long as the roof is not repaired he will end up a frustrated man.
Why are we blind to these realities? Why do we want to remain slaves and prisoners in our own land? Why are we holding ourselves down? Why are we suffocating ourselves with our own hands? Why do we choose to remain poor in the face of plenty? Why do we choose to remain on the path of insecurity, pain and death? What are we still doing with the unwilling horse at the stream? Can you see that the union is not working and will never work?
All the woes plaguing this country ranging from endemic corruption to poor governance which brought about insecurity, high crime rate, poor infrastructure, poverty and high mortality rate could easily be traced to the present structure of Nigeria.
Government or governance is a child of social contract where people with common traits come together to form a civil society for the promotion of common good. It is a contract entered into in freedom and not by coercion.
Democracy is the government of the people for the people and by the people. As we can see, it is all about the people and the people. The question is: are we a people?
A people according to Merriam Webster online dictionary is defined as a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kingship, that typically has a common language, institutions and beliefs, and that often constitute a politically organized group.
Going by this definition, we are not a people and we cannot pretend to be what we are not. Have we seen why we cannot build any democratic society or state? Given our structure, we can only succeed in building an autocratic state and never a democratic one.
The real custodians of democracy are not the leaders or politicians but the people. This is impossible where the people do not share the same mentality and values.
It is only a people that can demand good leadership from their leaders through demonstrations and social unrests. A union like ours cannot because it is not made up of a people but groups of people or nations.
It was as a result of this that the former government decided to convoke a National Conference
on how to remedy our precarious situation. The result of that Conference was that unless Nigeria is restructured there would be no remedy to our malaise. The result of that Conference has been pushed to the “archives” by the APC government. We are today all witnesses. Today, Nigeria has become a nightmare for the poor as well as for the rich.
It is only an implementation of a National Conference’s recommendation on the structure of Nigeria that would grant autonomy and power to the people without which no democracy will survive.
Imagine all we are going through because we want to maintain a structure that does not work. What is it that we are gaining now that we are afraid of losing with a restructured or a peacefully divided Nigeria? Can someone tell us what these gains are?
Forget whatever plans or bills you have, let’s settle this matter of restructuring or peaceful division of Nigeria first. We must mend our leaking roof first before changing our damaged furniture, otherwise we shall end up frustrating our today and destroying our tomorrow.