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The way forward for peaceful coexistence, prosperous constitutional governance of present-day Nigeria

By Prof. Echefuna’ R. G. ONYEBEADI on 09/08/2019

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Exactly 56 years ago today, August 09, 1963; the Midwest Region was carved out from the old Western Region of Nigeria following an affirmative plebiscite which was conducted on 13th July 1963 and endorsed by a majority of 89.01% of eligible indigenes of the Mid-West area of the Western Region. By 8th August 1963 the Western Region Assembly affirmed the outcome of that exercise and by the next day 9th August 1963 the Midwest Region was born.

Thus, the Midwest Region became the first and the only constitutionally created Region of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to date.

Just as the new Region of Midwest was thriving to overcome the teething challenges of a new State, the military usurpation of power of 1966 in Nigeria threw spanners on the wheels of progress of the Midwest peoples with their subsequent tampering with and the alterations of the subsisting Regions of the Federation by military fiat.

The emasculation and truncation of the promising new region of Midwest Nigeria thus became a painful case of sun set at dawn by the fiat of a skewed military interregnum.

Midwest region was one of the four equitable Regions of the Federation before the military struck in 1966. Since then, the Peoples of the defunct Midwest Region of Nigeria are yet to find their authentic voice in the scheme of things in Nigeria. The region had continued to suffer the worst kind of degradation and marginalisation in Nigeria ever since to date.

For example, the Midwest Region that used to be one out of four equitable federating units of Nigeria was shrank to one out twelve and ultimately to the present two (of Edo and Delta States) out of thirty-six States and the Federal Capital Territory.

Whereas the former Northern Nigeria was subsequently split into 19 states and spread across 3 geopolitical zones; the old Eastern Region was split into nine states and spread across 2 geopolitical zones; the former Western Region was split into six states in a monolithic geopolitical zone; only the former Midwest Region remained as one state till lately when it was inequitably split into two states and subsumed in another strange geopolitical zone.

So, Midwest Region that used to be one out of four equal Regions has been emasculated and shrank to just two out of 37 States including the Federal Capital Territory against the popular wish and desire of the people just like that!

The story of Midwest region is thus a mirror reflection of the collapse of the Constitutional governance of Nigeria as envisioned by the founding fathers of Nigeria.

The ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ today is only so called as a mere expression and not in reality as what is now operative in Nigeria is an ill acquired UNITARY Republic imposed by the military against the negotiated genuine Federal Republic passed on to us by the founding fathers of Nigeria.

There is high restiveness, palpable fear and very bleak future facing the country Nigeria today as evidenced by the various clamour for Restructuring, Resource Control, Fiscal Federalism, True Federalism, Self Determination and such like.

The Federation of Nigeria as presently constituted has tremendously retarded the growth, progress and peaceful coexistence of and in Nigeria as evidenced by Nigeria’s backwardness and stunted growth in virtually all spheres of endeavours in the committee of Nations.

As if the self inflicted pains on Nigeria isn’t enough, the level of insecurity and wanton waste of human lives and properties across the country which negates the primary purpose of any government, has reached a pick never before known in history; thus, leaving many wondering what gain there is in remaining as one country.

It is indeed a painful irony that after several years of being colonised by the British, after 105 years of the amalgamation of both Southern and Northern protectorates to become one Nigeria in 1914 and after about 59 years of independence from the British, Nigeria as a Country is yet to become a Nation.

We have invested too much of human and material resources in the project called ‘Nigeria’ as a people and sacrificial lambs to now back out so easily and too sheepishly.

What shall we tell our founding fathers and ancestors should we meet them in the great beyond hereafter? That we couldn’t manage and prosper the ‘Estate’ they bequeathed to and entrusted us with? – God forbid!

Nigeria as a Country has suffered a lot of governance summersaults that needs urgent further diagnosis and treatment to stem in the bud an avoidable collapse.

How the country is governed right now certainly isn’t the intention or vision of the founding fathers of the country Nigeria.

So, let’s go back to where we missed the way and start retracing our steps since the subsequent military interruptions and democratic experiments since January 15, 1966 haven't quite worked well for the benefit of the citizens and the country Nigeria. It is only a fool that doesn’t know where the rain started to wet him/her. So, let’s make a tactical retreat to stem in the bud a seemingly looming catastrophe.

The Way Forward for Our Peaceful Coexistence, Survival, Prosperous and Constitutional Governance

Having reflected deeply on the state of affairs of this country Nigeria in an attempt to proffer a lasting solution to the various and varied many ills currently plaguing the country, it is a well considered opinion that:

(1). We should revisit our founding fathers various pre-independence agreements that culminated into our mode of governance from 1960 up to 1966 before the military intrusion of January 15 and July 29, 1966; and, immediately reactivate our costs and human capital effective 1963 Constitution as the operating Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria going forward.

All the States in the Federation as presently constituted could then just fit into the various Regions as it were then prior to the 1966 military coups with the options to ‘merge’, ‘demerge’, ‘remerge’ and/or create new regions/geopolitical zones therein.

(2). In the alternative, let's reactivate and implement the Aburi conference Resolutions/Accord/Agreement of January 04 - 05, 1967 as originally negotiated Or,

(3). We revisit and implement the resolutions and recommendations of the 2014 Confab going forward.

(4) Since Religion, apart from tribal, ethnic, accident of place of birth, state of origin and so on have always tended to divide us the more and continued to threaten our peaceful coexistence; and, because we tend to be more religious than knowing the Almighty God of the religions we profess, it is rationalised that, irrespective of the mode of governance options (1) to (3) above we chose to operate, the adherence to the following terms is a necessity.

(i) The NEW NATION OF OUR DREAM SHALL AT ALL TIMES NOT HAVE ANY STATE RELIGION.

(ii) Nothing in the Constitution we chose to operate shall have any particular religious undertones/expressions/systems howsoever and whatsoever therein.

(iii) Religion shall be and remain very personal to all the citizens of the country and all those that dwell therein.

(iv) All religious activities shall be restricted to only approved and designated areas for that purpose.

(v) Prayers at all public functions if so necessary and/or required, shall no longer be led by any religious groups as the second stanza of our current indigenous national anthem shall at all times suffice for that purpose.

In other words, the second stanza of our current Notional Anthem shall at all times suffice as our prayer at all public functions.

(vi) The country shall not operate, promote and/or support any religious body, activities and/or Institution in any form whatsoever.

(vii) The SECULAR STATE OF THE NEW NATION of our dreams shall at all times be guaranteed.

(viii) CITIZEN of the new Nation of our dream shall NOT be discriminated against in any form whatsoever particularly on account of religion, tribe, accident of the place of birth, state of origin and/or ethnic nationalities of origin.

Should any of (1) to (3) and {(4)(i) to (viii) which shall be a constant, common to any and/or all of (1) to (3) above}, be allowed to take effect and succeed with or without any modifications as expedient, then, we should also expeditiously consider the following:

(a) Change of Name for the Country:

It is imperative to change the name ‘Nigeria’ to something more acceptable and common to the nationalities that constitute the present Nigeria.

The origin of the word ‘Nigeria’ is not only derogatory and idolatrous, it is also alien to us and a product of immorality however viewed.

The original source of the name ‘NIGERIA’ being ‘NIGGER AREA’ – meaning an area/centre where slaves and/or slave trade flourish; and later adulterated to ‘NIGGER AREA’ – meaning area covered by river Niger and finally to ‘NIGERIA’ (Re: Lord Lugard’s ‘mistress’ angle) is not only inherently inhuman in origin, it is also highly flawed spiritually.

The name Nigeria is also not reflective of the fact that another country (Niger Republic) has already been named after river Niger and that there are many other areas in the present day Nigeria that are not covered by or associated with river Niger.

So, there are many compelling reasons why the word ‘Nigeria’ should be changed to something indigenous and mutually acceptable to the various nationalities that constitute today’s Nigeria.

This proposed change of name should be able to give us as a people, a fresh start under God Almighty with a fresh sense of belonging with a renewed zeal of patriotism.

We could easily tap from the experiences of other countries that have successfully changed their country’s name to something common and acceptable to them and are prospering therefrom even from our West African neighbours.

It is reasoned that a compound word coined from the major tribes of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba (not necessarily in any particular order) together with that of Northern and Southern ‘Minorities’ may just do the trick!

So, let the discussion start now to come up with an optimum new name for Nigeria.

(b) Evolving a Common National Language:

Whilst not conversing for a wholesome adoption of any of the existing nationalities of today’s Nigeria language; and while not also conversing that we should instantly do away with our ‘colonial heritage’ of English Language, we could easily evolve a common indigenous national language mutually acceptable to all.

For instance, there is hardly any part of Nigeria today where ‘pigin english’ is not spoken or understood.

So, nothing really stops us from exploiting the possibility of developing and harnessing the many variants of the ‘pigin english’ into a common national official language. We could and in fact inject same with words from our various indigenous languages that best expresses anything as appropriate and expedient and grow the new language.

A new word could then be coined for the new national official language from the new name for Nigeria just as the monetary currency ‘Naira’ was coined for ‘Nigeria’.

A common language is one of the basic things that binds people together. Therefore, evolving, developing and using (speaking and writing) a common indigenous national official language which should also be used and taught in our schools at all levels, will go a long way at promoting our mutual understanding, national cohesion, effortless national unity and sense of patriotism without necessarily neglecting our original nationalities languages as well our ‘colonial heritage’ of English language.

(c) Change Our Money Name:

As a necessary corollary, having changed our country’s name and national language, the change of name of our monetary currency should also of necessity be changed and coined from the new name of Nigeria just the way ‘Naira’ was coined for Nigeria.

One feels strongly persuaded that adopting any of (1) to (3) with {(4) (i) to (viii)} including (a), (b), (c) above, a fresh brand new NATION we can all be proud to call our own would have emerged from the present country called Nigeria.

It is also reasoned that reworking the country along the aforementioned lines of thought shall once for all calm all nerves, guarantee peaceful coexistence, promote national unity and ignite the spirit of patriotism within and among the citizens of the new Nation of our dream.

However, in the unlikelihood situation that the proffered aforementioned solutions does not work or is refused, neglected, failed and/or not allowed to succeed, then, “to your tents oh ye indigenous peoples and nationalities of what is called Nigeria” may have earned legitimacy and justified – God forbid!

The question now is: WHO WILL BELL THE CAT?!

Can any or all the existing three tiers of the present Federal Government facilitate and/or take a lead to actualise this proposal and save the country of an avoidable looming doom?

What other workable options are there for the country Nigeria?

Let the discussions on how to and the eventual rebirth of our new NATION start NOW!

So, HELP US O GOD ALMIGHTY!

•Prof. Echefuna’ R. G. Onyebeadi wrote this piece to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the creation of the defunct Midwest Region. 

Source News Express

Posted 09/08/2019 8:13:45 PM

 

 

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