Ignatius’Nat Muotoh argues that the only guarantee for peace and development in Nigeria is to restructure the country
To some Nigerians, the word Restructure is so scary a word that they’ll rather plunge the nation to ruination, than jettison this unworkable, and warped system that has been the bane of this nation for far too long. This selfish and irrational choice is inexplicable, and a case of “No turkey ever votes for Christmas.” On the other hand, I’ll add that, “No ram ever votes for Sallah.”
But peace, development and growth can only be achieved when both the turkey or the ram have that notion of freedom and independence. That freedom to decide how to live and interact with each other.
Nigeria, being a creation of the British in January 1914 under the tutelage of Sir Frederick Lugard, was not really designed to be a successful nation as some of us were made to believe. The amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern Protectorate was simply for commercial purposes rather than creating a nation in the true sense of the word. This was simply the aim of British ‘ab initio’, in order to keep and maintain her influence post independence. Nigeria was not designed to work as a peaceful nation for the benefit of the people of Nigeria.
The European Experience
Events in Europe following the end of the 2nd World War in 1945, triggered the collapse of numerous multi-ethnic states in both Eastern and Western Europe. Multi-ethnic European nations that were once held together by powerful dictators, disintegrated along ethnic lines. A closer look at European nations today, show very clearly that there’s no single multi-ethnic state where one group is positioned to dominate the other that have not disintegrated or broken into pieces. Not one.
They’ve all broken up along ethnic lines.
The German attempt to dominate the rest of Europe, led to the 2nd World War. While Europe was the main theatre of the war, one will not be wrong to refer to that war as the 2nd European Ethnic War. Colonies of Africa and Asia were virtually sucked into that war by virtue of being the colonies of either Britain, France,or Italy.
East and West Germans that are ethnically of the same people and share the same language; were split along the lines of communism and capitalism by the victorious Russian and the Western Alliance at the end of WW II. These two German nations, eventually reunited into one Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. Such is the power of an ethnic identity. It is interesting to note that prior to the 1st and 2nd World Wars, the Roman Empire dominated Europe until its eventual collapse which historians have agreed, was also as a result of ethnic resistances against the Romans domination.
Communist Russia experimented on uniting multi-ethnic nations by dividing societies into capitalists and the proletariats. Thus deluding themselves that ethnicity can effectively be swept under the carpet. But this is what followed later?
The Communist edifices in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the big brother USSR, eventually collapsed as a result of the same multi-ethnic frictions that reared its ugly heads in 1993.
The nation state of Czechoslovakia was originally made up of two ethnic groups- the Czech and the Slovaks. These two ethnic groups, separated peacefully on the 1st January 1993. The former, is comprised of 10.6 million people and the latter 5.4 million people. Added together, they’re not up to the total population of Lagos State. Yet, as a result of the powers of ethnic nationalism, they split for peace since there can not be two masters in the same house.
Yugoslavia with a population of 23.2 million in 1991, and barely more than the population of Lagos today, eventually broke up into six countries the same year, and all along ethnic lines, namely: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Between June 1991 and April 1992, four of the republics declared independence (only Serbia and Montenegro remained federated), but the status of ethnic Serbs outside Serbia and Montenegro, and that of ethnic Croats outside Croatia, remained unsolved as we speak.
This again, show the problems encountered in multi-ethnic nations with different languages and cultures.
The USSR has since been broken along ethnic lines identified by their respective languages. In the decades after it was established, the Russian- dominated Soviet Union grew into one of the world’s most powerful and influential states and eventually encompassed into 15 republics namely-Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Chechen, Lithuania.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the process of internal disintegration within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). It began in the late 1980s with growing unrest within the various constituent republics, and ended under the rule of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev on December 26, 1991, when the Supreme Soviet voted the USSR (itself) out of existence.
In Europe; the two best examples of fairly stable multi-ethnic states, are the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The former is led by reasonable men and women, who permitted regional autonomy to the other ethnic groups comprising the Irish, Scots and the Welsh. The English only dominate Westminster, while giving the other ethnic groups complete regional autonomies. They know that the consequences of dominating the others through centralising the powers of the British regions to London, will lead to a demand from the Wales , Scotland and the Northern Ireland for a full independence.
The latter country Switzerland, has four ethnic groups. Each of them rotates the presidency annually through seven cantons that constitute the federating units. All the four languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) of the four ethnic groups are recognized as official languages. Now, let’s turn our attention to Canada to see how that country manages her ethnic nationalities.
Quebec is the only full French-speaking province, aside from a little section of New Brunswick, while the other seven provinces in Canada are English-speaking. Yet, Canada maintains a bilingual status for the sake of Quebec. Furthermore, each of the provinces is largely self-governing.
It is therefore remarkable to state that what we call ethnic groups in Nigeria, are actually known and treated as independent ethnic nations in Europe.
I’ll then argue that, it is those who seem to have no political savvy about a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria that are optimistic on believing that Nigeria will work and develop peacefully. May I here remind the reader that, there’s nowhere in the developed world (Western democracies), that the white man accepts domination by another white man.
The Big Question
The question then is; how can Nigeria, a multi-ethnic developing nation, with over 500 languages spoken; be expected to succeed, live in peace and in harmony, when such experiments have failed in more advanced and developed nations of Europe.
Such success will be miraculous.
Political pundits are still busy working, and believing that Nigeria with her multi-ethnic nationalities will be the exception, and by that succeed where advanced European nations have failed.
Finally; for those clamouring for a true Restructured Nigeria which is of course the best of the worst scenario, I’ll argue; based on the experiences of the European multi-ethnic nations, that a restructured Nigeria, is better than a disintegrated Nigeria.
A restructured Nigeria is ‘the minimum’ requirement for achieving peace and harmony that have eluded the nation since the amalgamation. It is the ‘half loaf that is better than no loaf’.
There’s no doubt that the proponents of Federal System, currently in place, have no political savvy about Nigeria. They have utterly failed to come up with solutions to stop the current genocide carried out by the Boko Haram and the Herdsmen on Nigerians. Not minding the illegal but officially condoned arms in the hands of killer herdsmen roaming the country.
They have failed to understand that Nigeria has been undergoing the strains of a forced union, and that the country must be peacefully and properly restructured in other for all the component units to know peace. Failing that, Nigeria may be heading towards an avoidable and very nasty disintegration.
Europe Solutions to the problems of multi-ethnic nationalism, is what those who understand the problems with Nigeria, are asking for. That’s not too much to ask for.
Not surprising though, there are those who are trying to ‘re-invent the wheel’. Those are the ones trying to prove that Europe solutions in solving Multi-ethnic frictions were flawed, and that a federating system will succeed in Nigeria. Those are the ‘turkeys’ that will not vote for Christmas.
Again, why will they if they’re amongst those political elites, allegedly earning over seventeen million Naira (N17 million) monthly as renumeration.
Ironically, the current federal system practiced in Nigeria, is a mix of both the American and the British democratic systems. But here, one is unable to show you in Britain or in America, where one ethnic group is allowed to dominate the others. The fifty-two federating states in America are totally independent from Washington. There is a similar arrangement here in the United Kingdom with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland having control over their affairs.
But here in Nigeria; there are people still arguing vehemently that a decrepit, structurally-flawed, and crisis-prone artificial contraption of the British, only needs the support of every Nigerian to make it work.
To these dreamers, and those who seem to have no political savvy about Nigeria and her multi-ethnic population, I will only say “Wake Up and be real”.