Posted by News Express | 18 July 2015 | 3,865 times
The British colonialists in their wisdom divided Nigeria into three regions in respect of geographical, tribal and economic reasons. Also, the political system was fashioned along the British parliamentary system of government.
The political system was working with each region developing at her own level with respect to her own culture and economic endowments, until military intervention on January 15 1966, basing their reasons of intervention on the political crisis in the south-western Nigeria, which they believed was a threat to national cohesion.
The political crisis in the South west was assumed to be fuelled by the national government with the objective of putting away Chief Obafemi Awolowo out of circulation in the political dispensation of Nigeria. Chief Awolowo’s ‘sin’ might not be unconnected with his agitation for political restructuring in favour of Federal system of government.
However, the British created the minority tribes in the geographical areas of the regions along the majority tribes. Chief Obafemi Awolowo believed states should be created in respect of cultural and lingual considerations, the situation that will give these minority tribes their own states, secure them space for enterprise and relieved them or prevent them from tyranny of the majority. This agitation by Chief Obafemi Awolowo for federal system of Government did not go down well with the political leaders of the northern region.
Then, they believed Chief Awolowo’s agitation was targeted to spite the Northern region, who simply relied on the minority tribes for manpower. They also believed breaking the Northern region into states would weaken the political advantage of numbers and, of course, disintegrate the bond of oneness of North ably built by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the northern political highly respectable leader and Premier. Meanwhile, in 1964, the minority tribes in the western states were carved out of the state and given their own state named Midwestern State.
Interestingly, the 29th July coup of 1966 was obviously a reprisal coup by the Northern clan in the Army. It was their claim that the earlier coup of January coup of 1966 was an Igbo revolt against the North. Though it was very clear that while the Military intervention in politics in many other countries might be noble, revolutionary and progressive, the military intervention in Nigeria was flippant, tribal and destructive. The Military, in their youthful exuberance politicking, led Nigeria into baseless, ruthless and ulceric civil war.
From July 29, 1966, the northern clan in Nigerian army dominated the Army and belligerently imperial in their leadership of Nigerian politics. The military governments nationalised Nigerian institutions hitherto of the regional governments, Issued decree that put all the natural resources in the exclusive list of the federal government. They adopted philosophy of equalisation with their establishment of federal character and quota system.
And the point now is, Nigerian current social, economic and political disorder is not mysterious but analytical. Why have we been suffering from poverty despite richness of resources? Why is Nigeria a land of paradox? One needs to travel back and ask questions. One of the questions one have to ask is why did Chief Obafemi Awolowo resigned from Gowon’s cabinet.
Two reasons attributed to Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s resignation were that, the then Supreme Military Council then was financially reckless and the other reason was that the Military was not ready to relinquish power to the civilians. I believe the two. He who does not get his priority right would be financially reckless. For the other reason, one of the official reasons for removing Gowon by Joseph Garba, who announced the coup that removed him, was his lack of seriousness about transition of governance to the civilians.
It was ironical that the soup of Chief Obafemi Awolowo that was sweet during the civil war that he managed the economy of Nigeria without external debt became sour at the advent of oil boom that his advice to the Supreme military council on how to manage the boom was abysmal and unimplementable. Chief Obafemi Awolowo had advised that the oil boom should be spent on factors of production, that is, regenerative programmes such as free education, free health, Agriculture, mineral exploration and technology.
Meanwhile, who would benefit more from this Awolowo’s proposal? The supreme military council did not see Awolowo’s proposal as vacuous, but inauspicious to the equalisation spirit of the supreme military council. In their estimation, Awolowo’s proposal would further widen the gap of development between the North and south.
The infamous statement that “Nigeria’s problem is not money but how to spend it” by General Gowon planted the seed of economic mismanagement in this Country. Several rapist economic consultants all over the world took along their ravaging portfolios to Nigeria and sold destructive economic policies to the supreme military council who would prefer to fritter ingenious ideas on the altar of equalisation.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s policy that would have developed the minds and manpower, explored the natural resources, produced abundant and exportable foods, industrialised the country and gave a status of true giant of Africa was jettisoned for import-oriented economic policy.
Now, Nigeria today is as a result of the then Supreme Military Council. Nigeria today is as a result of equalisation agenda of the then Military supreme council. What is Nigeria of today? Boko Haram, unemployment, corruption, insecurity, injustice, depression, Alienation, poverty.
•Folu Oyeleye, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is an Ibadan-based poet and novelist.
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