The burden of indivisible Nigeria, by Taju Tijani

On a daily basis, Nigerians are experiencing disaffection with our political processes. There are contempt for the motivations of elected politicians and appointed public servants. Most Nigerians are tired and uninspired by Abuja public officials. Consider the data: Youth unemployment in Nigeria is 72% (70 million), a yawning aberration! Lack of affordable housing for over 100 million Nigerians. Nil access to medical care by over 150 million Nigerians. This absurd crisis of democratic legitimacy intensifies hourly with every breaking news of fresh corruption, profligacy, impunity, fraud and executive inaction.
Indifference to people suffering is, in my estimation, bad politics. In fact, bad citizenship. This ongoing crisis, however, has been accentuating and exerting far more strident call for the dissolution of our unity. Why? Our century-long amalgamation or unity is no longer democratically adequate to promote fairness, justice, equity and peaceful co-existence. It had remained the very anti-thesis of all the virtues listed above. Nigerians are tired of a forced marriage that has corruption manifest at its heart and the rampant criminality of excesses of government from the President, Governors, ministers to the special assistants who are like flies in Nigeria.
The status quo in Nigeria had remained serenely untroubled since our independence. They have never been seriously challenged. Possibly, out of our own timidity. The time is now to reject the selfish, venal values of those who run Nigeria. The time to strengthen the primacy of the nation state as a popular notion of global politics is now. Jonathan has no bold agenda to change anything than preserves the status quo and those dark forces agitating for the continuation of our unity instead of our independence from Nigeria as allowed by the constitution.
Jonathan’s political utopia is a pipe dream. There is no way he can deliver Nigeria to the sinless state of paradise. He lacks the vision and the political wisdom to leap that great wall of fear, insecurity and self-centredness to lend support to rational dreamers agitating for separate nations from Nigeria. Nigerians who have been denied, dumb down and damaged are sick and tired of the tawdry pretences of our unity. Out there on the streets, there is a huge sense of disillusion compounded by the daily political pantomime going on in Abuja.
One cannot restate it enough that power in Nigeria is wielded by the rich and strong for the rich and strong. That is why Otedola, Dangote, Adenuga, Uba of our universe have unfettered access to the seat of power than say Ndibe, Adesanmi, Olumhense, etc. We have endured all kinds of looter-leaders for over five decades playing on the inherent illusion of the power one indivisible Nigeria.
But the truth is that unity has spread inequality, despair, corruption and impunity. And the time is now to reject a dysfunctional federal machinery that promotes multiple insecurities among its constituting nationalities. Our political wounds and tribal hatred are multilayered and no longer consigned to the old binary North versus the West or West versus the East. There has been many other polarisations.
Jonathan’s cluelessness is legendary. If he has any vision, he should know that national conference is potentially a seismic event of national reawakening which should lead to dissolution or parting of ways. Bonding Nigerians together in a giant bubble of indivisibility is no longer popular in our society. Unity only covet unfair advantage on few to the detriment of others. We are becoming more aware day by day that our unity is a fraud concocted by few, tiny, incubated elites to perpetually dominate and enslave Nigerians for the few.
We deserve more from the politicians than the few derisory tit-bits tossed our way by our lazy, unthinking and fraud-driven masters of the people. Our unity only promotes hokey pokey game of cabal in which thoroughly mugunised Nigerians are forced to choose every four years what bullet proof cars the thief who leads us must purchase from Coscharis.
It is becoming hard for our entrenched elites to countenance opposite ideas from the narrowly prescribed trench of unity at all cost. Who said? Our unity has not liberated millions of Nigeria from shipping and taking a permanent residency in the Apocalypse. High corruption is woven and institutionalised within our federal system. Ordinary Nigerians will steal N50,000 and a lorry load of mobile police personnel will hone on him like an American drone. But belong to the shameless, avaricious, greed-bedevilled political class and you could steal the entire treasury and end up a recipient of national award.
The thieves who run Nigeria are averse to an active population who are politically enlightened. They prefer mugus and passive zombies. Jonathan knows that there are workable alternatives to our forced unity but he has to work assiduously to hide that truth. Nigerians merely bond together for the sake of survival but tribalism sits at the centre of our heart and dictates our deepest actions. Consider the virus of hatred tearing Yoruba and Igbo apart on discussion forums on the Internet. Consider the deepest agitation of the Boko Haram? The Biafran. The Omo Oduduwa. It is one direction: separate destiny!
Hatred for each other has drained unity of its value, its integrity, its strength, its protective structure, its transparency and its synergy. What we practice is convert the power of federalism and deploy it to pursue impunity and vendetta on perceived enemies as we see in the case of Rotimi Amaechi and Oyinlola Olagunsoye. Our unity is now a passing meteor, a dry well and a melting vapour.
The rising cry for autonomy, dissolution, separateness or independence is our best hope of meeting the developmental aspirations of our people. The strident agitation for self-determination is the answer to Abuja’s aloofness, remoteness and disconnection from the majority of the public. This is the crisis of political disengagement in an unwieldy federal structure. Our unity does not encourage mass access to politics except for few. That is why APC could undertake a tragi-comedy visit to Babangida and Abubakar to the negligence of the people.
Our unity is going through a decay because our politicians are bad educators. They teach the wrong values – corruption, arrogance, impunity, brutality, revenge, wickedness, stealing – in a space of their uninspiring time in the saddle of political power. Consider the life story of Jonathan. The hope of all Nigerians after his emotion-laded, salacious and disadvantaged shoeless past was that he will do politics differently. But he has proven to be too educated beyond his intelligence. He has become a leader who gives monstrous accommodation to corruption as we see in the rehabilitation of Diepreye Alayemasiegha.
The problem with Jonathan is that he is dull and a conformist. He has a wishbone but what he needs is a backbone. However, we are watching and interested in how the political fabric of the ongoing national conference would be threaded. But there is a political disaster on the way. Jonathan faces a clash of conviction: satisfying the narrow agenda of tiny elites or acceding to the genuine desire of millions of long-suffering Nigerians yearning for their own republic. Biafra is on standby. Oduduwa is on standby. Boko Haram is on standby.
Our unity has not produce austereans in government. Rather it has allowed politicians to indulge their fantasies for opulent living, prestige cars, billion dollar mansions, heart-stopping salaries, private jets, pomp, parties, foreign homes, sexual orgies and blissful philandering. Our federal unity structure has encouraged profligate monoculture. It has encouraged rouges and charlatans. Our federal unity promotes a dysfunctional, obsolete structure that encourages resource cleansing. Self determination by the nationalities will encourage bolder innovations, common touch, faster community development, homogeneity and less hidebound than a united Nigeria of disparage interests and aspirations.
Self determination of the nationalities is the politics of the future and the cure for the haemorrhaging nature of our unity. Therefore, the ongoing national conference is the last rituals for a wobbly unity before its burial. The conference is a way to reawaken from the comic-book obsession which seems to suggest that our unity is not negotiable. In the eyes of our tiny slave masters, Nigeria should remain a mugudom where the genuine aspirations of 170 million people for freedom is forever denied by clowns who could not survive if we go our separate ways.
Well the die is now cast. It is either we stand and be counted or sit and do nothing. Federal unity that fetishises corruption is as doomed as a sinking Titanic. Jonathan with pontifical dogmatism has ruled out any alternative to inclusive union. He is the very Judas betraying the nationalities into the hands of thieves, brigands, exploiters, slave masters and plunderers. No persuasive articles or polemical essays have succeeded in dissuading Jonathan from the near-religious belief in the unity of Nigeria to the exclusion of various alternatives.
He cannot puncture this limiting orthodoxy because he has allowed business mogul interests to capture our democratic process. Little wonder they are idolised and live above the law. They have become part of the nexus of power that create policy that favours the rich and their cronies. The interest of the business class has been woven into the fabric of the main political parties either PDP, ACN or APC. Our democracy has been reduced to a cabal of privateers who will forever block the aspirations of the self determination agitators.
Every era produces politicians who seem to sum up the spirit of their age. In our own case, the most perfect example is the complete enthronement of corruption as political culture. There is a huge contrast between Jonathan’s background and those who surround him. Two thirds of his minsters are billionaires. They are brazenly privileged and wealthy. What would a tiny, rich, selfish, ruling elites do to save Nigerians from the bondage of century of unhappy amalgamation? Nothing but a guarantee of more monstrous impunity, monstrous corruption, monstrous resource cleansing, monstrous bondage and monstrous injustice in a failed experiment of unity that has kept us undeveloped for the last 53 years.
. Note: This article was first published in 2013.