Illusion and Reality of the State of Nigerian Unity

Nnamdi Kanu and his dream of Biafran Republic has been crushed by the federal government. Nnamdi Kanu is either on the run or was given El Zakzaky treatment which is outright kidnap and subsequent disappearance of the leader of a sect or movement by the federal government in violation of various court orders and Nigerian laws. The military and the federal government must be jubilating quietly that they have taken care of Nnamdi Kanu and his agitation for Biafran Republic through force. They must think that they have developed a template for handling various secessionist agitations throughout the country.
This kind of thinking is nothing but an illusion. Anybody who thinks that Nnamdi Kanu quest for Biafra has died is not living in reality. It is an issue that will come back stronger over and over unless the underlying issue that is driving the agitation is addressed to the satisfaction of all Nigerians. I never thought or believe that an independent Biafra is good for Nigeria. I have always thought that re-organized Nigerian federation is better for Igbos and Nigerians. A federation with devolution of power to the states not regions, devolution of power with rotational presidency among the six geopolitical zones is a better way to assuage the anger or alienation of various ethnic groups in Nigeria. Going back to regional government structure Nigeria had after independence will be a mistake. It will create more division and subsequent breakup of Nigeria since each region will be strong and big enough to be a viable nation over time. The people who are advocating going back to reginal structure are unrealistic and merely sentimental for the past arrangement that was never that great. Also, some of the advocates are people who are looking for relevance and political space to create their little fiefdom and subjugate their people to their whims.

Creation of more states has brought government and development closer to the people even with all it short comings. Federal government through constitutional amendment just need to devolve more power to the states. States, local governments and creation of the fourth tier of government structure which will allow any town or community who wishes to incorporate and form a government structure similar to local government structure to do so under the jurisdiction of the Local Governments just like Local Government are under state jurisdiction. States, Local Government and Township or Community government must have the power to raise fund through taxes and establish their own police force. The federal government will then reduce their allocation and move the difference to the state and local government level. Nigerians must be given the power to administer their affairs. The optics of state police force arresting trouble makers and criminal from their state is more effective and more palatable to the resident of that state than federal police force. Education needs to be shifted to the states and Local Government Area, but federal government need to establish minimum standard that all states must attain. Federal allocation with complete local government autonomy and financial independency must be implemented. Rotational presidency among the six-geopolitical zone should be considered as a way to settle the issue of marginalization of any zone once and for all. Nigerian government should also understand that when certain regions talk of marginalization, they are talking about their region’s inability due to the current composition of the federal structure to occupy the presidency. Trying to compensate such regions by appointing people from that region as ministers, head of department and agencies will not assuage their concern.

Majority of the Igbos are largely on the side of Nnamdi Kanu. Most Igbos may not want to go as far as Mr. Kanu wants to go which is outright Independent Biafra Republic but they are unified that the present structure of Nigerian federation is unacceptable. Most Igbos will prefer outright secession rather than the status quo. Any wise government who is interested in maintaining the unity of Nigeria should have used this opportunity to re-organize current structure of Nigerian federation.
Profile of Nnamdi Kanu was initially enhanced by his arrest and detention by the federal government. His profile will increase further if he is back in federal custody. Agitation for secession or restructure is not only peculiar to Southeast, it is happening in Southwest and South South region and in north central region to a lesser extent. Nigeria cannot move forward if the underlying issues causing the agitations are not addressed and settled. Most Nigerian cannot feel proud of their country if they do not feel that they have a stake in it. Using force to keep a country together no longer works in the modern world. It is a question of time before any country who refuses to address ethnic, religious and other issues in their country will witness implosion and disintegration of that country.

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