WHAT IS WRONG WITH NIGERIA?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH NIGERIA?
Nigeria was created under the management of Fredrick Lugard in 1914, a mercenary sent to subjugate African people and impose trade. Working on behalf of the British government, and for their own selfish economic reasons, he amalgamated the vast territory with different indigenous states and referred to it as Nigeria(River Niger and the Area surrounding it). Lugard’s successor, Hugh Clifford, noted his personal doubts about amalgamation by describing it as an exercise in “mixing oil with water”. However this was the least of British concerns as they regarded Nigeria solely as a place of economic interest, with little or no regard at all for the welfare of the indigenous populations that inhabited the area.
Social and economic conditions in Nigeria have deteriorated considerably. According to The Economist Nigerians are twice as likely to be poor today as they were in 1980. Government workers are working months without pay; protesters are regularly killed or kidnapped by government security officers and still the central power infrastructure is not reliable. The problems seem endless. There are few people that are unaware of Nigeria’s major challenges such as corruption, lawlessness, government impunity, lack of economic development, or disregard of human rights. What is very often overlooked is that these issues are symptoms of a more fundamental problem, which is that Nigeria is composed of peoples with diverging value systems. In Northern and Western Nigeria there is a heavy emphasis on deferment to centralized authority. In Northern Nigeria it is primarily because of the tenants of Islam while in Western Nigeria it is due to the systems of monarchy. In Biafra by contrast, autonomy and freedom is a cultural pillar. M.M. Green observed that “This great people is broken up into … independent social units”. M.D.W Jeffreys, an administrative officer in the area noted that “There is no individual whom the tribe as a whole regard as a ruler or as a person endowed with divine powers. There is no tradition that there ever was such as a person”. Charles Partridge wrote that the region contained “tribes of about equal power [Igbo, Ibibio, Ijaw, etc.] and entirely independent of one another”.
Another sign of sharp contrast within Nigeria is nomenclature. Where other countries refer to different parts of the country as regions, in Nigeria they are referred to as “geopolitical zones”. The term “geopolitical” conjures images of nations pitting themselves against one another in a zero-sum game of power, prestige, and war. This language permeates everything from academic publications to news broadcasts and announcements. The word “zone” invokes images of sections of a military base or even a maximum security prison. Language alone can be dismissed as a frivolity. However, when one scrutinizes policy, it is clear that instead of leading the nation as one politicians steer the machine that is the entire country to benefit certain ethnic or cultural groups, the result of which is the disproportionate struggle of other sections of the country. Capital resources are allocated on a basis that gives advantage to some regions while suppressing others. An example of this is that the South East geopolitical zone (which is part of Biafra’s hinterland region) was allocated the least number of local governments and states, which grants it access to the least amount of federal capital. The South East geopolitical zone is the only zone in Nigeria with 5 states. Infrastructure is built and maintained in some regions but not others. An example of this is the constantly discussed Second Niger Bridge which has yet to be constructed or the recent high speed rail project that will connect Lagos with Kano, Kaduna, Warri, Bauchi, Abuja, and Igweocha, bypassing the South East. The South East is in fact the only zone left out of that rail project. Local resources are directly used for national purposes without the owners of the land benefiting such as the oil and gas in the Delta Region. The federal government has also done little to ensure that at the very least environmental conditions are maintained at an acceptable standard. An estimated 240,000 barrels of crude oil consistently spills in this region each year. This is the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill every 5 years for the last several decades. Nigeria ranks amongst the top 10 nations in infant mortality, but what studies now show is that infant mortality is doubled to 76 still births for every 1000 births in areas in the vicinity of oil spills. That is a still birth rate close to 1 in 10.
Marginalization of the East (SE or SS), whether characterized by cheating in the federal allocation formula, monopolization of local resources, or environmental neglect and its consequences on human welfare is built into federal policy. The vast majority of investments in Eastern Nigeria, particularly the South East, are made by native Easterners. Logically it is difficult for people to justify coming to this region for industrial or economic reasons. Eastern ports, Onitsha, Igweocha, Warri, and Calabar all no longer export goods and have fallen into disrepair. If one is somehow able to overcome this challenge the poor conditions of federal roads in the far East make it difficult to move goods from ports to major markets throughout the region and beyond. Biafra has been systematically and deliberately deindustrialized since 1970 by focusing federal investments away from it. To work in real industry one more or less has to leave the region.
Nigeria’s federal government has degenerated to simply an avenue to elevate some peoples while suppressing others. The reason for this degeneration is that the politicians know that Nigeria is not their home. Rather, their home is one of the indigenous nations forced into Nigeria. It was the Northern Premier Ahmadu Bello that said, “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to have control over their future”. In the video on the right, Ahmadu Bello expounds on his perceptions of Biafrans, Igbos specifically.
Obafemi Awolowo said, “Nigeria is not a Nation. It a mere geographical expression”. The first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Tafawa Balewa, said in 1948, “Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs, and customs and do not show themselves any willingness to unite”. When one scrutinizes the political situation closely within Nigeria movements toward sovereignty are visible in each of these nations- Oduduwa People’s Congress, Oodua Republic Front, Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Boko Haram, MEND, Biafra Zionist Movement, MASSOB just to name a few. They all seek one thing in common: self determination although they employ vastly different methods of achieving it (Boko Haram is the most extreme case of this).
Many of the Hausa-Fulani decision-makers in Nigeria are of the rarely spoken position that the dissipation of Nigeria’s problems will begin with Nigeria’s universal embrace of Islam. 12 states have already implemented Sharia Law in all aspects of their society and even have written it into their state constitutions. Sharia and Islam are even mentioned in the Nigerian constitution despite Nigeria supposedly being secular. Nigeria is also a member of OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). Publicly Muslim leaders in Nigeria have stated that Sharia Law is only for Muslims, but many of them have also expressed intentions to make every Nigerian a Muslim. Muhammadu Buhari has expressed such
intentions, but is this really the solution? For Biafrans, Islam has all too often brought violence and suppression of basic rights with it. Historically, when there have been riots in Northern Nigeria Christians are targeted and most of those Christians have been Biafran. Below is a brief list of these violent events and the respective Biafran death toll estimates. Reading this list one must bear in mind that life is cheap in a country like Nigeria. A blind eye is often turned by the media to murder that has ethnic, religious, or political implications:
Jos - 1945 - 300 and millions of dollars in property destroyed (In response to Nnamdi Azikiwe’s strike against British)
Kano - 1953 - 200 (In response to their perception that their politicians were disrespected in Ibadan)
Northern Nigeria - 1966 - 200,000
Northern Nigeria - 1967 - 100,000
Biafra - 1967~1970 - 3.5 million and Billions of dollars damaged or stolen property
Kano - 1980 - Thousands
Maiduguri - 1982
Jimeta - 1984
Gombe - 1985
Zaria - 1987
Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi - 1991
Kano - 1992
Zango-Kataf - 1993
Funtua - 1993
Kano - 1994 (A Biafran business man Gideon Akaluka beheaded in prison because his wife was accused of desecrating the Quran)
Kano - 2001 (Biafran truck driver killed because the exhaust of his truck desecrated the Quran)
Northern Nigeria - 2001 (Biafran Isioma comments that Mohammad could have married some beauty pageant contestants. After a fatwa as issued on her she fled Nigeria)
Kano - 2003 - 7 (Rev. Sunday Madumere and six members of his family killed)
Maiduguri - 2006 - Hundreds (Muslims protesting Danish cartoonist kill Igbo and other Christians, burn down churches and loot their homes and property)
Jos - 2008
Maiduguri, Yobe, Bauchi, Kano - 2009 - 1000+ (Boko Haram kill Christians in Northern Nigeria including pastors such as George Orji who was beheaded)
Bauchi - December 30, 2009 - (Muslims kill 100 Christians, including several Igbo and burn down churches and property)
Jos - January 7, 2010 - 200 (Boko Haram kills Christians mostly Igbo traders at the Dimi market and on Bauchi Road)
Abuja - December 25, 2011 - 100 (St. Theresa Church bombing)
Northern Nigeria - March 16th 2011 - 1500 (Biafran Christians, traders and youth corps members killed by Muslims. They also burned down 400 churches. Buhari, Nigeria’s incumbent ruler, incited the violence. )
Adamawa - January 5, 2012 - 50 (Muslims kill 50 Igbos. The first 16 victims were murdered on Friday night at the Christ Apostolic Church in Yola during a Christian service. The others were killed by Boko Haram at the home of another Igbo as they were planning the funeral of those murdered on Friday)
Mubi - January 12, 2012 - 60 (Boko Haram kills Igbo residents planning the funeral of another Igbo man killed earlier)
Kano - March 19, 2013 - 250 (Igbos killed by Boko Haram bomb in bus station)
Kano - July 29, 2013 - 4 (Boko Haram kills Igbo Nnamdi Ezebuala and his 3 children)
Jos - September 3, 2013 - 5 (Boko Haram kills Igbo Christians that refuse to renounce their faith)
Onitsha - December 2, 2015 - 9 (Nigerian soldiers kill 9 Biafrans including a 21 year old girl Anthonia Nkiruka)
Onitsha - December 17, 2015 - Nigerian soldiers abduct dead and wounded from earlier incident
Aba - February 9, 2016 - 10 (Nigerian soldiers kill 10 Biafrans and wound many at a prayer service)
Below on the left are photos of some of the terrors that Biafrans experience as part of day to day life in Nigeria. Further down is a photo of a mass grave of Biafrans killed by the Nigerian Police on May 30, 2016 during a peaceful protest. This incident was so egregious that Amnesty International publicly demanded that Willie Obiano task an investigation on this. To date both he and officials in the federal government have produced nothing. Below on the right is a list of some of those slaughtered.
More were killed in Onitsha, Aba, Asaba, and other cities with no disciplinary action or even investigation. A more recent incident is the invasion of Nnamdi Kanu’s home in which 28 Biafrans died. It was captured on video by multiple Biafrans yet the Nigeria’s Army denied that the incident even took place. Recently events have taken an alarming twist as Biafran worshipers in a synagogue were arrested for wearing clothing with Biafran colors. Later 51 Biafran Jews were also arrested on a non-violent procession in Umahia. This sort of murder and harassment without consequence demonstrates what people in an Islamic State of Nigeria can expect. Gradually these events will occur all over the country as the “Sharia Zone” grows. Already Muslims in Western Nigeria who have begun agitation for Sharia law in the Lagos area. Most peoples in Nigeria are aware of all of this but have chosen to either suffer in silence or selfishly seek relief through cronyism since the British left the Hausa-Fulani in Nigeria’s driver seat. For Biafrans neither tacit silence, nor spineless cronyism, nor conversion to Islam offers a viable long-term solution to any of these problems.