The topic on who possess most sophisticated power and affluence would not cease to exist within human settlements given our advancement in culture, religion, politics and ethnicity. These parameters have reinforced into our society where to disenchant such belief that, there is indeed a common bond binding the various colonies that made up the country to become seemingly impossible task. At the instance of amalgamation, the purpose aimed at forming a pervasive synergy that would cut across the length and breadth of the country without recourse to divisible parameters that have become inevitable in most part of the world.
Nigeria, being a product of post colonialism came into being from the uncertainty and presumptuous tendencies of our colonial masters, while bearing in mind that the complexity in the diversification of the country would as a matter of time be surmounted through purposeful unification. Lord Lugard and his British caucus were full of hope that the Northern and Southern project would become a project that would beat their imaginations which would commence from setting up a proper legislative machination devoid of Machiavellian plots.
This belief and its anti-sequestration doctrine would later turn out to be full of cautelousness when it later dawned on each protectorates of the need to sought the assistance of wit and manipulation for the speedy development of the colonies prior to the independence era.
Because, Nigeria territory was divided among the major ethnic group placed the country on a monumental crisis which erupted from the political naivety of schemers and planners of the most anticipated template for the democracy take-off in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Unlike many Africa countries, Nigeria is the most populated nation in Africa. The Hausas is estimated to have 25% of the population to become the largest tribe, followed by the Yorubas coming second with an estimate of 21%. The Ibo from the Eastern part occupies the third position in the ranking.
The pervaded figures of the minorities such as the Fulanis, Kanuris, Ijaws, among others, poses a threat to the hegemonic extent of the three major tribes. For example, records had it that, the Jihad war launched by the Fulani religious leader Usman Danfodio later placed them above the Hausas in all ramifications who were believed to have been swept away by semi- paganism style in religion perspective.
Although inevitable, the crisis that ensued from the post- independence era was borne out of conspiracy theory of the leaders from respective regions. Largely misused, the regionalism method adopted in conformity with the British Westminster method could not survive the test of time amongst Nigeria radical leaders and separatists.
Under the Northern People’s Congress ( NPC) dominated by the Northern elements, Tafawa Balewa was figured out as the schemer and symbol of the North . Successfully, the coalition of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroun led by Nnamdi Azikwe with the Balewa’s mercenaries subdued the Awolowo’s Action Group when it dawned on the regional leaders to determine the parliamentary leadership in the late 50s.
Aside from the mistrust and disloyalty that characterized the pre-independence era and the usurpation tendency of each region, the brazen bitterness that followed the regional elections, and criticism– the much awaited liberalism that is widely heralded was swept away as a whirligig. It is against this feud and vendetta that the Nigeria’s independence came into existence.
In 1962, the Action Group developed factions and cracks and would later had two factional leaders resulting into violence and turmoil. This forced the federal government to declare state of emergency in the Western region for about six months. Widely reported, the cracks in the party was implanted by the NPC and NCNC who both enjoyed mutualistic relationship in previous elections.
Chief Ladoke Akintola, a former Western Minister formed a new party after the federal government relieved the ban placed on the region. The Nigeria National Democratic Party colluded with the NPC to form the Nigerian National Alliance which would later rejig the structural settings of the NPC/NCNC. This new development incites the Eastern region to be bitter with the North, resulting into violence and migration from the Northern and Western part of the country.
For long, the problem confronting Nigeria during those times is the aberration of the regionalism deeply seated in the pit of political conspiracies. The aftermath of the unending violence transform into a bigger phenomenon of civil unrest, felony, treason, arson, just to mention a few.
So far the Action Group from the West have suffered so much political relegation from the Northern NPC and the Western NNDP, it would have no option to be carried away by the euphoria of relief. Though, successful, the Ibos launched an offensive coup d’etat, displacing the federal government, regional government and throwing away the Westminster constitution. The Ibos rapidly filled up the administrative, military and political landscape of the country and continued to rule with impunity under General Aguiyi Ironsi led head of state.
General Yakubu Gowon conspired with other echelons to usurp power from the Ibo dominated military and a civil war lasting for a duration of three years broke out, with over 3 million casualties. Having understood that the political miscalculations of the civilians were grossly capitalized on the regionalism syndrome, Gowon broke the regional fusion into various fission entities—thereby, creating twelve states. He would later have promised to return the country into civilian rule after much ado about the future of the country. General Muritala Muhammed usurped the Gowon military administration and planned to returned the country to civilian rule by 1976.
Even after being assassinated, the Obasanjo led government between 1976-1979 walk the part of the country into civil rule and replaced the failed Westminster British style with the American’s presidential style. The British template failed because of superiority complex among regional governments and the persistent factor of “who rules Nigeria”.?
It was on this basis Chief Obafemi Awolowo envisaged the dangers of the British Imperialism in the wake of democracy, in his book entitled Path to Nigerian freedom, Obafemi Awolowo who later be a Western political figure faulted the invasion of the Nigeria’s colony by the White as this would not only place one region above others but would also make regions insatiable with one another.
Nevertheless, the country has been ruled by the minorities despite the agitations of the three most dominated tribes. Has it been forgotten so quick that Gen Yakubu Gowon who recorded the longest reign as military head of state isn’t a Hausa, neither is he a Fulani nor Kanuri.? Fact remains that, the truncated reign of the Kanuri born Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa is a good comparison of how the majority has continued to pave way for the minority to rule. For the purpose of clarity, the Nigeria’s past rulers of Northern extraction were from the minority clan but survived the reign as a result of perceived unity in the political landscape of the region.
A close examination revealed that, the MKO Abiola general acceptance across all nooks and crannies of the country in the 1993 presidential election is a testament that the country can work without bias and syndrome of “who owns or rules Nigeria”. The election which turned out to be the best in the history of democracy in Nigeria suffered set back from the military dictatorship and would later turned out to the sacrifice made for a thriving democracy since 1999 till date.
But, the South which turned out to be segregated into West and East in the pre-independence era recorded the greatest political discord in the history of Nigeria, because of high level of literacy and civilization of the Yorubas and Ibos. None is ready to be subservient, and this has continued to submit the region into the hands of the Northern minorities.
Today, such anachronism in the real sense of democracy still dwells in the minds of our growing generations. Because the seed of discord sown by early players of democracy became enigmatic makes it a probable impossible tasks for emerging generations to think straight.
The country has metamorphosed from political violence into ruthless ethnic and brazen insecurity in most part of the country. Even after it has replaced the British style of government with the American’s style, the country is yet to escape from the regionalism scourge experienced in the wake of the country’s democracy.
As a result of unending questions of who rules Nigeria, the economic situations of the country is gasping for breath of rejuvenation. The country emerged into independence with over $30 Billion and accrued more Billions in the early periods of Oil economy. Similarly, the country lost over $280 Billion during the military era that lasted more than 28years to corruption.
No wonder the comments made by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El rufai generated several controversies. There’s more sanity in his assertions that the country is growing in her economic approach arithmetically while, poverty, insecurity, population grows geometrically.
In the rejoinder issued by the former federal senator from Ekiti State, Babafemi Ojudu enlightened his readers on the need to as a matter of urgency liberate millions of the citizens from shackles of poverty. His opinions were based on the reflection of seeing the country as one in order to speedily use the federal political tools to justify the state of the country than its mere political gains.
Truly, the nation needs to view beyond the political game that has breed Gehenna, insecurity, financial recklessness and unaccountability which was the consequence of the early challenge of our democracy. As cumbersome the federal government is, a fight against corruption and proper economic policies are the most viable ways to recover from the damages that the nation has suffered from.
Possibly, the Yoruba nation being one of the primeval players of regionalism could make use of 2023 general election to speak in one voice and equally setting aside who rules Nigeria, but reaching out to the minorities and the majorities on way forward to an Eldorado. It might be the time to retrospect on the errors committed by previous Yoruba nationalists with a heart to secure the country from scourge of regionalism and questions of “who rules Nigeria”? But, before then, she must play a role of unifying her region first before any other task.
•Gbadebo Adeagbo writes from Ado- Ekiti.