Nigeria: Break Up – Can We Now Get Serious?

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Abuja — As you read this, supporters of Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) and Ralph Uwazuruike of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) remain in the trenches with live hand grenades at the steady. Their target, and this is strange, is not compatriots they regularly label as beasts. Stranger still is that their target is not even the Federal Republic of Nigeria which they label a zoo and which they seek to destroy. Rather sadly, they are waiting for the slightest opportunity to explode live grenades in each other’s faces. It is a bloodcurdling, mutual-assured-death (MAD) scenario.

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Had providence not intervened to get Kanu behind bars, chances are bloody clashes between supporters of IPOB/MASSOB, the two segregationist groups that have seized the initiative from Ohaneze Ndigbo, would have turned the whole of the south east upside down and, in the process shatter the peace enjoyed by the hardworking and peace-loving Igbo. Even with Kanu behind bars, he does not look as the one to blink in the face-off with the MASSOB leader. For Kanu and Uwazuruike and their starry-eyed supporters, the night of long knives is already here with exchange of invectives between the two leaders and their supporters in recent times signposting greater threat to the peace of the south east. Tellingly, IPOB and MASSOB leaders are not even waiting for the party, if any, to begin before displaying their sharpest knives. ‘Independent’ South Sudan has shown that Igboland may soon not have space to accommodate IPOB and MASSOB members!

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Still on South Sudan! Marginalisation was a major reason given by advocates of the break-up of old Sudan. The thinking then was that the predominantly Christian and animist south was incompatible with and, would be better off, without the predominantly Muslim north. With reality now staring them in the face and, with death more certain than life in independent South Sudan, most of its struggling people would be wishing their country was another country that never was! Had Colonel John Garang lived long enough, chances are he would have had the misfortune of presiding over its possible break-up.

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Let’s return to Nigeria! One banal narrative told by Nigerians about their country revolves round the possibility of the break-up along ethnic and/or religious lines. What this means, in the opinion of tale bearers, is that Nigeria should cease to be the ‘contraption’ of one, united country put together over one century ago. Three years after Nigerians celebrated one hundred years of togetherness, the ruckus over a possible break up is getting rowdier.

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We must concede that many misrepresentations about Nigeria are hatched outside the country’s shores. But the unlikely talk of there was a country called Nigeria, either now or in the immediate future, is a home grown fallacy; it is a bad product Nigerians successfully exported abroad. The depiction of Nigeria into Christian south and Muslim north is a myth, a lazy and epidermic thesis forced down the throat of Nigerians. At best, it is a deliberate distraction from the crass incompetence of the elite.

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The narrative is so robust, so repeatedly rendered and made to sound so sweet to the ear to have excited the late Muammar Gaddafi, himself a strong advocate of one, indivisible United States of Africa with one central government, to advocate for Nigeria to be dismembered, Sudan style, into two: one, supposedly, for the Muslim north and the other, supposedly too, for the Christian south! Gaddafi later confessed that he spoke out of ignorance. Sadly, similar beer-parlour talks continue to spew from the mouth of supposedly educated Nigerians who should be better informed about their country than Muammar Gaddafi. Your eardrums must have been jarred to no end by the shrill voice of compatriots who suggest, more out of ignorance and loss of political relevance, that a break up is ‘the only’ solution to the problems of Nigeria. True?

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Truth is, a break-up, Czech or Sudan style, is not the issue. At issue is, like the talebearers of South Sudan, those who clamour for Nigeria’s dismemberment see the north and southwest as a zoo, an albatross of sort. Those who advocate a break up do not take into account God’s own hand in the historical events that gave birth to the ‘contraption’ called Nigeria in 1914. Take the 17 states that make up the so-called Christian south; can we, in all sincerity, carve out a country from there to reflect the christianness of the south?

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Can the predominantly Yoruba speaking South West, where there are as many Muslims as there are Christians, be genuinely referred to as part of a Christian south?

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Even if the average Yoruba Muslim is liberal, as alleged, with his religion, it is unlikely they are about to play second fiddle in a Christian Republic of Oduduwa. In the whole of southern Nigeria, it is in the south south and the south east geo political zones that we find indigenous Christian populations in the majority. But again, there are indigenous Igbo Muslims and indigenous Muslims in Rivers and Edo states who will reject their classification as second class citizens in a Christian south.

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Only the North West may be described as predominantly Muslim. Even at that, there is a significant indigenous Christian and, in a few cases, animist populations in the zone whose existence no one can deny. By any stretch of imagination, Christians are not an insignificant minority in the north central and north east zones. By the way, can Borno, the epicentre of Boko Haram, be classified as predominantly Muslim? Yet, the misnomer of a Christian south and a Muslim north persists!

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The hot air of a break peaked during the Goodluck Jonathan presidency. And this was due to the frustration with a government that failed to act as political misfits elevated budget-padding, fraudulent declaration of assets, outright pilfering and all manner of misconduct to an art! That was an era when office holders, among them the nation’s commander-in-chief, justices, lawmakers and army generals operated with the mindset that stealing was not corruption. Reversing the ugly trend and sanitizing the system are high on the agenda of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. If, for some curious reasons the administration cannot be encouraged, the least it deserves is to be condemned.

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Liken Nigeria to an ailing baby that suffers from the worst type of headache. You don’t throw away an ailing child, right? You cure him or her. How? By cutting off the child’s head?

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Magaji lives in Abuja.

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