Nigerians Are Better Together
Forty-six years ago this month, the civil war in Nigeria came to an end with the surrender of the secessionist Republic of Biafra. The two plus a half years of fighting took some two million lives, but when the bitter battle stopped the triumphal Nigerian government proclaimed, "No Victor, No Vanquished." Nevertheless, the displeasure of the ethnic Igbo people of southeast Nigerian Language Translator Nigeria lingers on.
In 1999, a group known as the Bella Naija Weddings Webstagram Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra emerged, seeking through political agitation and protests to reestablish an independent nation. In recent years it has been overshadowed by another group, the Native Folks of Biafra, which also calls for autonomy, by violence if needed.
Almost every day since Mr. Kanu's arrest, there have been demonstrations and calls for the authorities to free him. In managing his case, the authorities needs to tread carefully, ensuring that it will not transform him into a cause celebre.
A couple of weeks ago, Nigerian papers reported the presence of a handwritten statement Mr. Kanu submitted to law enforcement representatives just after his arrest, in which he apologized "unreservedly" for the "regrettable" and "uncomplimentary things" he had said about President Buhari and some other individuals. The government should think about capitalizing on this particular breath of remorse and making an offer of amnesty to Mr. Kanu in exchange for a pledge to be less-tumultuous in his strategy.
Led by Nnamdi Kanu, a Nigerian who was living until last October in Britain, it has demonstrated greater sophistication. Its chief marketing tool is Radio Biafra, an online station that spreads the call for "liberation" and "self-emancipation" from the "zoo" called Nigeria. These tasks have annoyed President Muhammadu Buhari, who has publicly backed Mr. Kanu's continuing trial for treason.
When the Biafran War broke out in 1967 in the aftermath of widespread communal violence, Lieut. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, a leading Igbo officer, declared that "eastern Nigerians are no longer desired as equal partners in the Federation of Nigeria." That feeling is still broadly shared among the Igbo. But the frustrations of today's would-be Biafrans are no different from those of their neighbors in the Niger Delta, whose oil keeps Nigeria going but gets them little in return, apart from gas fires and oil spills. Nor do they differ in the grievances of the fellow countrymen in the north, who continue to wallow in amounts of illiteracy and poverty that make the south appear affluent in contrast.
The reality is that no part of Nigeria has a monopoly on victimhood. The urge to protest suffering and also to seek to decide the destiny of one is just not wrongheaded; the issue current Naija news today lies in seeking change in a way that incites violence and ethnic hatred. It could not be worse for Biafran separatists press for constitutional change that will fortify the federal system Nigeria purports to practice and to drop their calls for autonomy. Our current Constitution, such as the others that followed independence from Britain in 1960, is the product of military leaders whose agenda has seldom coincided with the public good. Though it starts with all the necessary words ("We the folks of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ... "), it had been crafted by way of a handpicked committee and never made public until the military transferred power to the civilian authorities on May 29, 1999.
Igbo separatists would do better to follow the example of Scotland and push for a referendum to decide the future of the area. Admittedly, the central government will not be likely to support this type of call for fear that it could trigger an influx of referendum requests in this nation of more than 250 ethnic groups. But were one to take place, my guess is that it could turn out overwhelmingly in favor of preserving union.
There will never be enough support in the southeast for independence from Nigeria, chiefly because many of the folks there understand that there would be little to gain and much to lose. It is dubious that the delta's several minority ethnic groups share the conviction of the Biafran agitators the oil-rich delta states are a natural section of Biafra. Biafra would be a a tiny, landlocked country, its enterprising people hobbled by a condition to have visas to conduct business in places where they've traded and lived in for decades.
Also, an unaffiliated Biafra would remain riven over the very tribal and religious lines that are being invoked to justify its leaving Nigeria. It is not difficult for the Igbo to regard themselves as a monolith that is religious and cultural provided that they stay in Nigeria. But all Naija news today Nigerians should be aware of that there is no end to subdividing ourselves, once we give in to the impulse. In a independent, overwhelmingly Christian Biafra, individuals would start to identify themselves as Anglicans and Catholics and Methodists -- as they occasionally do in local politics. In the Igbo state of Enugu, Anglican bishops warned the ruling party in the run up to the elections of last year, for instance that they'd not accept a gubernatorial ticket composed entirely of Catholic candidates. The warning was disregarded by the party.
The clamor for a referendum would give an excellent opportunity for those like me who consider (to take a phrase from British adversaries of Scottish autonomy) that Nigeria would be "Better Together." Admittedly it is difficult to find this in a state where online comments routinely degenerate into ethnic sniping, but with appropriate framing Nigeria's diversity could, in fact, be turned right into a unifying theme.
That "Better Together" effort would necessitate much soul searching about our state's painful past. It could likewise entail recognizing the criticisms of the various Igbo voices who are weary of marginalization but don't support the notion of secession.
The very best method for the government to permanently sideline those that call for violence that is political will be to push for the economical reforms that President Buhari has vowed to execute. Tackling corruption and ensuring equitable distribution of Nigeria's wealth will benefit Nigeriaworld All About Nigeria World its people. Splintering the country right into a hodgepodge of independent states will not.