By Obunike Nwosu
On May 11, 2021, Governors of the 17 states of Southern Nigeria met in Asaba, Delta State and resolved to ban the horrendous and anachronistic open grazing of cattle throughout their territory. They also called for the devolution of powers and for national dialogue to reset the country’s trajectory.
It is a landmark that all Southern Governors could meet and take a uniform stand on national matters and have been supported by their National Assembly members, regardless of political party. The resolution has been widely endorsed in the North as well. Congratulations to all the participants and, in particular, to the Chairman of the Forum, Chief ‘Rotimi Akeredolu, S. A. N., Governor of Ondo State, who has always demonstrated a rare strength of character.
The jinx has been broken but the journey to a united front has only begun. Southern leaders must now demonstrate that they are not as selfish, gullible and easily browbeaten as thought.
Without standing together, Southern Nigeria cannot muster the bargaining power to drag the country out of the path to perdition, in order to develop it (which should be the preferred option) or to secede from it (which may become inevitable) – despite the excellence of her people in the academia, the professions, public service, science and technology, commerce and industry, literature, music and the rest of the arts as well as sports and everything that makes the society tick, all around the competitive world.
In that case, the country would continue in crisis and in decline, their citizens will be stuck in the mess, their growth would remain arrested and they would remain second class citizens in the country they contribute the most to build, for whatever it is yet worth. Nigeria’s redemptive potential for the black race would also be totally wasted. Therefore, this breakthrough should never be allowed to fizzle.
Be it known, too, that the unity of Southern Nigeria is dreaded by the conservative Fulani-led Moslem North, who are set in their views about the rest of Nigeria as subordinate and have been in control of state power (directly or indirectly) by divide-and-rule tactics, since independence. In word and in action, they remain committed to the complete conquest and subjugation of Nigerians, begun by Jihad in the 19th Century, which the current leadership – knowingly or by default – has been facilitating.
But a people could be conquered only if they could be kept divided, as Southern Nigeria has perennially been. Thus, they are bound to resist the emergent Southern unity and would deploy blackmail, bullying, baits (including 2023) diplomacy and all sorts of wit to annul it.
Already, you can see the reprobate, self-righteous, master – servant, indignation of the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Malam Abubakar Malami, S. A. N., to the resolution – as if they are more patriotic than the Governors and as if the Governors have no knowledge of the law. Mallam Garba Shehu (a spokesman of the Presidency) went further to deploy a purported memorandum of the Minister of Agriculture, on the reactivation of grazing reserves and routes, to override the resolution of 17 Governors. What an affront and an insult!
It does not matter to them that the 17 Governors represent the half of Nigeria’s population as well as the territory from which the revenue for running the country is derived. The deluge of blood and tears, flowing in the land, purportedly, for the sake of cows, does not move them. For all they care, you may die or relocate provided the primitive practice of nomadic herding is sustained, as Femi Adesina, another spokesman of the Presidency was once sent to advocate! It could mean that the herdsmen (who do not own the cows) are armed and sent on a mission and that the cows are baits.
Curiously, the Secret Service and the Armed Forces and the Police, who are swift in smoking out EndSARS benefactors, IPOB and ESN members and camps and in extra-judicially torturing and killing suspects, have been incapable of locating the cells of the marauding herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers, not to talk of arresting and dislodging them from occupied communities and forests for restoration to the owners. As long as the President condones the atrocities – expressly or by body language – the Armed Forces and the Police will never move against them, regardless of platitudes. The Nigerian Armed Forces and the Police have more been slaves of the Head of State than defenders of the people, from inception.
When the Federal Government has failed to act but, rather, is bent on seizing land (that is highly limited) in Southern Nigeria for Fulani settlements, for the sake of the same herdsmen, through the obnoxious Water Resources Bill, Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) Grazing Reserves and Routes as well as the Nigerian Livestock Transformation Plan, e. t. c (while sidelining the clean solution of ranching in the North) who would not understand that a game is going on? What option did the Governors have under their limited powers than the Asaba Resolution? Or, should they simply watch their territory overrun?
Since there cannot be a national Armed Forces and Police, Secret Service, Judiciary, Legislature and Civil Service (other than ones servile to the Head of State and his people) only the Aburi Accord of 1967 (or a confederation) can truly stabilize Nigeria. Under the Aburi Accord, for example, almost everything – from Resource Control to Agriculture, Education, Highways, Power generation and the Armed Forces and the Police – would be regionalized. Are Hisbah, Amotekun, Ebube Agu and Eastern Security Network (ESN) not pointing to the inevitability of the Aburi Accord?
Nigeria is a natural federate country. As a federation of regions in the 1960s, it was doing so well, socio-economically, that it was acclaimed as the future leader of the black race – until derailed by the greed of domination. Next, a confederation (Aburi Accord) was agreed in 1967 but was repudiated before implementation, which precipitated the Civil War of 1967 – 1970, followed by other deviant behaviors and the obnoxious, predatory, Constitution of 1999 largely responsible for the current mess. The Governors are only affirming the call of the rest of Nigeria for true federalism and devolution of powers.
Be it known that unless this Constitution and the supremacy mindset can be dispensed with and the Aburi Accord (or, at least, the structure for the socio-economic performance of the First Republic) is restored – so that everybody can breathe, can be weighed on the same scale and can substantially self-actualize – Nigeria is bound to suffocate to death, despite all the sentiment to the contrary. Instead of artificially sticking together and die, let us naturally move apart and prosper, as Ojukwu advocated at Aburi.
Otherwise, an Oduduwa or a Biafran nation had better fill Nigeria’s destiny in the world. Imagine that Biafra had survived. It would have become an industrial cum military complex comparable to Israel, South Korea, Turkey, India and China. All that Oduduwa or Biafra needs to do is to take money and rascality away from political office and enforce drastic laws against graft and nepotism – given that Africans, in general and Nigerians, in particular, have been incorrigible in the abuse of public office, whereas they serve their clubs, professional bodies and communities honorably, without pay. The remainder of Nigeria would be the better for Oduduwa or Biafra, given that prosperity is infectious – as was evident before the political crisis of the First Republic. The current system is unsustainable, by whatever means.
Obunike Nwosu wrote for Lekki, Lagos