Why secession is not the solution | The Guardian Nigeria News
The cry of secession is as old as human existence. Throughout the ages, man has always cried for freedom rooted in a secessionist agenda. Historians will never forget the bloody Civil War that unfolded in the United States between 1860 and 1864 immediately after Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States. The Northern-led Union voted in favor of the abolition of slavery because it needed a market for its goods and services as it had many industries. The Confederates led from the south where all the farms wanted slavery to continue so that their labor cost would be cheaper. This led to a bloody war which the Union finally won after four grueling years.
Ireland was part of England for centuries and there was no peace between the two countries because the tension was high. For centuries Ireland has tried unsuccessfully to separate from England. Ireland’s long-standing secessionist agenda became a reality in 1922 when the Anglo-Irish treaty was signed between them and England. A Constitution followed in 1937 which declared them a sovereign state. Northern Ireland chose to stay with the UK and there was a serious crisis between some nationalists and England. It was finally resolved on April 10, 1998 in the famous “Good Friday Agreement” chaired by then British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Coming home, there were loud cries of secession, especially from the indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Oduduwa nation for the Igbos and Yoruba to separate from Nigeria for the sake of marginalization.
A factor which makes the success of a secessionist attempt is the homogeneity of the people. The Confederates all spoke English and were linked by a common ancestry of immigrants from Europe to the New World. The Irish all spoke Irish and English.
The Igbos and the Yorubas are not really homogeneous. Languages have several dialects, which makes communication easy a drag. Some of my Igbo friends, for example, tell me that those in Ebonyi are not real Igbo because they share a border with Benue State. The Yoruba have no common ancestry or heritage. The Abeokuta man sees himself differently from the Ijebu man. There is even agitation for the creation of an Ijebu state in Ogun state. The man from Ile Ife sees himself differently from the man from Oyo. We remember the rivalry between the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade and the current Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi over the supremacy of the Crown. There is even discrimination among some Yoruba and Igbos with crushed marriage plans simply because some parents believe the spouse is not from a particular part of Igbo or Yoruba land.
The methods employed by IPOB are even contrary to their cause. Their closure of the economy in the name of a liberation struggle and identification with their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is akin to cutting their nose to upset their face. The headquarters of all companies in Nigeria are not in Igboland. They are mainly in Lagos and a few in Abuja. Renowned economist and candidate for the post of APGA governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo estimated that billions of naira are lost to the economy of the Southeast during the shutdowns. These businesses, especially banks, may simply move out of the South East for security reasons and life goes on. Who really loses in the end? It will be the hoi polloi and even the elite based there because their economic negotiating power will take a gargantuan plunge.
Stopping high school students from taking NECO exams is highly reprehensible. Why should they become the wrestling guys? They are innocent children trying to create a desirable future for themselves and help their families out of poverty with the weapon of education.
The reality is that most east-based Igbos obey the IPOB directive out of fear not because they really believe in the cause of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s sincerity. Many are pragmatic as most of their investments are based outside the South East and they stand to lose a lot if the so-called secession occurs. We remember the saga of abandoned properties that prevailed in Lagos and Port Harcourt after the bloody civil war of nearly three years.
Oloye Sunday Igboho became aware of the nation when he expelled the murderous Fulani shepherds from Igangan. He became an instant hero and an important non-state actor who filled the gap in the failed state. Other states called on his services and he metamorphosed into a popular hero. Then he decided to extend his rib and stretch his luck a bit when he became the most visible infantryman in the Yoruba secessionist program led by Professor Banji Akintoye. The state is said to have crushed his mind when they invaded his residence in Soka, killed two of his comrades and intercepted his escape plan to Germany in exile where one of his wives resides. He has since been in the Republic of Benin, where he fights an extradition attempt to Nigeria to face a trial for treason.
The crucial question to ask is: are most Yoruba in favor of the proposed Oduduwa Nation? Will the Oduduwa Nation solve the challenges of the Yoruba people when, as seen above, they are not even homogeneous?
Nigeria has over five hundred tribes – will the country be divided into five hundred sovereign nations in the name of fairness and justice? How will this break go? By a war or a referendum? Is INEC going to manage the referendum? What about claims of manipulation of results? The break-up attempt could be a messy process that no one can currently envision.
Historians recall the loss of around a million lives in the partition between India and Pakistan shortly after independence from Britain. Can we really afford another cycle of war-war? Why don’t we go further, apologies to Winston Churchill?
Critical issues such as the restructuring and devolution of powers as well as fiscal federalism are issues that should be at the forefront for genuine peace and progress to come to the besieged nation rather than stoking the fire of ethnic hatred. and to stir up the embers of genocide. We can correct the “mistake” of 1914 by coming together around a round table and discussing our differences as mature minds rather than another unnecessary and futile bloodshed.
Hopefully the voice of reason wins and that we are able to adequately resolve our differences as challenges are an integral part of human existence.
Ademiluyi is the co-founder of The Vent Republic.