By Uche Chris
In the first part of this article published a forth night ago, it was argued that the northern elite represented by the Fulani in the North west, who have monopolized the leadership of Nigeria, now faces a major threat to its power dominance in the country interestingly from its own people. The bandits now ravaging the greater part of the northwest are essentially revolting against Fulani domination from within its fold, which is new in the history of Nigeria and has practically divided their leaders.
Unlike in the past when opposition against Fulani hegemony had always found common and united response from them, the political leadership of the Fulani, who had controlled power in the country is reeling under a new challenge to their power and has been incapable and unable to muster adequate and effective response to address the unfolding threat to its legitimacy and leadership of not only the north but Nigeria.
Consequently, the bandits have become a new power centre based on the force of arm which was previously controlled and used by the Fulani to cower the rest of the country. To share power with the bandits would suggest that the Fulani elite can no longer be a formidable power broker in the country since its acclaimed invincibility may have been demystified and diluted, because they cannot be fighting two battles simultaneously – within and without. It is therefore, the beginning of an end to Fulani political hegemony in Nigeria.
The second sign of the end is the increasing distrust and division amongst the ethnic nationalities that make up the country. Karl Maier, a German American journalist’s book, This House has Fallen, which is a reflection of the contradictions of ethnic politics in the country, disputed and denied vigorously by former military president, Gen. IBB, would generally sound like an apologia in view of the emerging ethnic threats in the country.
It is hardly in question whether Nigeria is a failed or failing state; it all depends on the perception or glass through which one views the country. The simple fact is that national unity and cohesion, which the British tried to cobble together, first in 1914 and later at independence in 1960, is again in jeopardy after the civil war. Although the country had remained together even after the civil war, the last six years have been the most tumultuous and divisive.
As the old wisdom goes, a house divided against itself cannot stand; so it is naturally and humanly unlikely that Nigeria could survival as one entity divided as it is today. Historically, people don’t stay together because they like themselves or are bound historically; people stay together because they trust themselves and believe in the common interests they share.
So in view of the rising ethnic consciousness and tension between the different groups, especially in the Southern parts of Kaduna, and other parts of the north central as well as the south, it is myopic and unrealistic to continue to hope differently. No country has ever survived with such heightened level of ethnic suspicions and mutual distrust on a perpetual basis.
The implication of this is that the insistence by the northwest that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable is patently unrealistic and dangerous to the continuing co-existence of the country because unity is never and has never been forced or compelled. Different people may continue to stay together even against their better judgment and desires, until a significant portion of the population decides otherwise. Once that point is reached, no force can stop its disintegration.
So without renegotiating Nigeria, there is little likelihood there would be Nigeria in the very near future, as a greater part of it has become obviously disenchanted and dissatisfied with their membership of the country. And with the threat coming from bandits, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the country arm themselves for self defence; and the line between self-preservation and self-determination is very thin.
The final sign is the law of diminishing returns, which in elementary economics, determines utility and value. Demand on national resources as a result of increasing population, and complex institutions and structure are growing at a geometric proportion while resources are growing at arithmetic progression, setting a huge mismatch between them. Also growing complexity of the structure of the country has created a problem of efficiency in resource management and optimization by requiring more and more resources to achieve less and less outcomes.
Most conflicts in human history have been caused by resource depletion and allocation. At the root of the Nigerian civil war was the control of oil. So as resources continue to diminish, its production and allocation will assume more critical and dangerous dimension, as different groups would begin to lay claims to their resources to the detriment of others. Without redressing the structure to allow for greater autonomy, the challenge will continue to grow for self determination until something snaps.
Obviously, dwindling resources has social implication. As a largely youthful population, the challenge of resources will potentially produce more social upheavals and violence like the #EndSARS protests and bandits’ situation, which basically, is a struggle for resources and economic survival.
Nigeria is now at cross roads: The country is facing its future as well as being challenged by its past. Its survival will depend on the choice it makes: If it continues with its past by holding unto what is, then its future as a country will be compromised and traded off.
But if Nigeria accepts its manifest destiny by abandoning its past to embrace the future which lies in greater autonomy for the nationalities, it would have changed the dynamics of the present ethnic distrust and tension and consolidated its unity as one nation. This is our choice.