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« Dictators in Civilian Clothing: Letter to President George W. Bush | Main | No Power can Break Nigeria but Contentious Issues within in Collaboration with Foreign Corporate Interests, Part II »

July 26, 2005

No Power can Break Nigeria But Contentious Issues within in Collaboration with Foreign Corporate Interests, Part I

by Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa --- The days of direct colonialism are gone. It is now done with the help of those within, by way of neo-colonialism. If any of the contentious issues dividing Nigeria can be exploited by corporate interest, one may wonder how we can survive in peace or in pieces. If it was not Nigeria/Biafra war, Christians versus Muslim or Shiite versus Sunni, it was indigene versus citizen, Fulani/Hausa, Nomads/Farmers, Yoruba versus Hausa versus Igbo interest/militant groups or On/off/in shore or deep water resources.

It will be easier to label people enemy within, but a thoughtful study of the situation will indicate complex problems in dire need of solutions. Many people have given up, as if there is a viable alternative than Nigeria for Africa or the Black race.

The endemic and immediate problems center on land and its resources within proximate boundaries. It is among the same brothers and sisters who traced their ancestors to Egypt or Sudan in each of their oral histories but refused to acknowledge one another in Nigeria. They mixed, adapted, assimilated, inter married with the Autochthonous people they met in waves of migrations all over West Africa, resulting in different dialects, languages and ethnicities. See THE FATHER OF ALL NIGERIAN ETHNIC GROUPS. Unfortunately, out of selfishness our leaders do not want to see beyond their noses. Those who could never get the opportunity to rule, if they got the opportunity, they never lasted.

Nigeria with a population of about 130 million people is noted to have over 250 ethnics groups spread in an area of 923,768 km square, which is usually compared to the size of California. Each of these ethnic groups claims to be a nation. Nigeria, like the rest of West Africa, is heavily populated in the south and sparely populated in the north, leaving advantageous amount of land up north, partly abandoned to desert encroachment.

Nevertheless, people all over the world are attracted to cities where there are good chances of securing livelihood. In spite of all our problems, Nigerians live and work all over the Country. Indeed, Nigerians live and work all over the world! Some survive as economic refugees. As soon as problem starts, each group returns to their land of origin.

Foreign corporate interest are the multinational companies that operate only for their own good in the developing countries where the laws and control are not as solid as in their base but with all the leverage of the home countries and the help of world organizations like World Bank, International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization. Economic success has to be dictated and home grown in developing countries and if these corporate interest with their monopoly in technology are not monitored closely, they leave host countries dry. They are ready to flood the market with subsidized products until they gain control of the market. They would exploit the raw materials without regard for the welfare of the people or the environment.

Kwame Nkrumah tried to from a cartel among developing countries in order to dictate the price of cocoa. He lost. Julius Nyerere tried Ujama in Tanzania to be self sufficient, he lost. When Sekou Toure tried to gain self reliance in Guinea, he lost their cooperation. Any developing country that needs the assistance of these corporate interests to develop has to pay a price dictated to them. Unfortunately, Nigeria with her gifted bargain power has not had these calibers of men at the helm.

If it is hard enough for a country the size of Nigeria with her comparatively educated skills, it could spell disaster for any of the 250 Ethnic Nigerians who see themselves as 250 nations. We are aware that most of the viable small countries exist at the pleasure and whim of their protectors who accept them as trading partners.

South-south/North-central Alliance
It is a shame that the people of the South-south and the North-central can not agree on resource allocation. There is people power but only if those who have it, know how to use it. The first time the Alliance came out, the Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani and Igbo Ethnic groups scrabbled for cover. One of the member of the Alliance, North-central has majority in the Army and the South-south has the oil resource. That would be a formidable alliance to beat by any of the so called major Ethnic group. They could elect or appoint all the major people in the ministries and armed forces within their States since Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulani could be found in the South-south and North-central.

The power of the South-south/North-central Alliance may result in reverse discrimination and two wrongs would not turn Nigeria into a just society, others feared. But let the major Ethnic groups complain about reverse marginalization too, at least for a while! Power has been tossed between the major Ethnic groups, and the minorities, who are actually the majority, can dictate the way they want to run Nigeria. The Igbo group has certainly not gained as much as the Hausa/Fulani or the Yoruba.

The South-south and the North-central alliance may turn out to be a dream anyway. There are elements hoping that any move towards that union, would not be accomplished - “scatter scatter them”. And scatter they did, so far. It is therefore not surprising that they could not agree on the percentage of resource allocation. Can any region in Nigeria successfully challenge any agreement between the two on resource allocation?

Some of the Youth movements in the North have come out in favor of whatever the Delta States want because they think they can survive on their own without the oil money. They have not benefited from the oil money anyway in spite of the decades of rule by their leaders. They will rather prepare for dwindling world oil reserve or Peak Oil.

Political Alliances
History and facts point to evidence that Nigerians have reached out to one another and made political alliance before and will do so again. Unfortunately, our elections since the fifties had problems but it is one of the evidences we can point to. We have to be careful about statistics and interpretations. Different people have interpreted the same result differently, including that of Alkasum Abba.

Niger Delta/Northern Alliance
Both Cross River and Rivers States joined with the NPC and later NPN. Niger Delta States joined with any party from the North to rule Nigeria. PDP actually captured most of the Southern States in the 2004 election, an example of suspected result we have to be careful of.

The point here is that Niger Delta has always been an ally of most of the Northern part of Nigeria. The reason for this can be fear of domination by their southern neighbors and be part of the ruling party. In politics, there are no permanent friends or foe.

After all, there are allegations that: The Yoruba dominated Mid-west for a long time and Enahoro never became the Premier of the West. Awolowo has been accused of elevating Olu of Itsekiri to Olu of Warri, a City in constant dispute in the Niger Delta. The Igbo dominated most of the businesses in the South-south until the war. The Hausa-Fulani dominated Middle-Belt for a long time as Officers in the Armed Forces while they were the majority. Even if some of these allegations and others are not true, the fact that people feel that way must be addressed.

History teaches us that most of the Ethnic groups in the South-south belong to the same Adamu/Adimu/Oduduwa or Oba/Obi dynasty which is the same one Awolowo came from. So we may be fighting over territorial integrity rather than ethnicity. The case of the Somali or Tutsi and Hutu may be similar ones here. These are all the same people killing one another because of differences in territorial power.


NCNC – Igbo/Yoruba Alliance
So many Nigerians have reached out across the rivers at their convenience. Another case is the suspicion between the Yoruba and the Igbo. Again, these are brothers who knew one another in the past as I have shown in the reference above by history. When Herbert Macaulay was the leader of NCNC, Azikiwe was his deputy who eventually succeeded him. These Yoruba and Igbo got along fine and made gains in all the elections in Lagos and Ibadan, strong hold of the Yoruba. Azikiwe was sent as a political representative from Lagos to the Western Assembly. It was Ibadan Peoples Party that split between Awolowo’s Action Group and Azikiwe’s NCNC. Ibadan became the strong hold of NCNC led by Azikiwe, and Adelabu from Ibadan Peoples Party.

Instead of commending this act by the Yoruba in Lagos and Ibadan as no other part of Nigeria has ever duplicated it, cynicism turned it upside down. Indeed, if that unity between brothers across ethnic lines were present all over Nigeria or encouraged, there would not have been any opportunity to exploit it and we might have looked elsewhere for our problems. It is referred to as the foundation of ethnic nationalism or preservation as if Hausa, Ibibio State Union and Igbo Federal Union were not already in existence years before Egbe Omo oduduwa.

This Igbo/Yoruba NCNC could not hold in the East - out of 13 seats in the Calabar Province, Eyo Ita could only hold two for them, while independents won the rest. In Orlu division, Chief Ezeriocha defeated NCNC Nbonu Ojike and also carried Mbadiwe who defected from NCNC. Reuben Uzoma also won as independent there. In Zik’s Onitsha, Sir Mbanefo won as an independent.

NCNC/NPC Alliance
Indeed, Azikiwe had a choice of being the Executive Prime Minister of Nigeria, courtesy of Awolowo who was ready to be his deputy in an alliance. Or, the opportunity to become the President of Nigeria, courtesy of Ahmadu Bello, and Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister. Azikiwe decided to be the President of Nigeria. This is another example of reaching out among Nigerians. But cynicism will always have a part to play and people will interpret it to fit their goal. It was the last opportunity Azikiwe had of being the civilian executive Prime Minister, though Ironsi became the Supreme Commander in 1966. That is why many Nigerians are calling for Igbo President. But the South-south also wants the first ever opportunity to rule.


Kanuri/Yoruba/Igbo/Tiv Alliance
The PRP Governors of Kano and Kaduna, the NPP Governors of Plateau, Imo and Anambra, the GNPP Governors of Gongola and Borno joined with Governors of Oyo, Ogun and Ondo to form Progressive Alliance. There was the UPGA formed between Adegbenro in the West and Opara in the East.

North/South Alliance?
In 1993, Abiola defeated Tofa in most of the Fulani/Hausa/Kanuri States in the North apart from Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi and Niger. In the south he also defeated him apart from Abia, Enugu, Imo and Rivers. It was humiliating that Obasanjo lost his deposit in most of the Yoruba States in 1999 election, while the rest of the Country voted for him except Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfarawa. In the 2004 election, he made sure he was not humiliated again in the West.

What We Have In Common
It all boils down to the fact that if the interest of the masses are taken into consideration, Nigerians would rather unite across class lines than ethnic lines. The middle class is disappearing fast in Nigeria leaving the lower class in the majority to fend for themselves. The poor in Niger Delta has more in common with the poor in the North or South. Poor people want the same thing – food, jobs, education and healthcare. Agricultural industries would solve about a third of that problem. Declaring war on the erosion and polluted water in Niger Delta, Nigerian shores and encroachment of desert in the North may douse out suspicion over Revenue Allocation.

War on the Pollution and Erosion of Water Basins
All Nigerians agree that Niger Delta environment has been polluted by the oil companies. Fishing, farming and the use of water for daily life have become increasingly difficult. Moreover, erosion around the shore of the Country has been consuming communities while Authorities argue about whose responsibility it is to arrest the situation. If we can agree that it is our number one problem, how much of our income are we willing to allocate to the solution?

Desert Encroachment in the North.
Vegetation is giving way to desert in the Northern part of our Country. It is becoming a waste land. Yet, other countries exist in the desert, and are able to turn it into fertile land for agriculture. We can do the same since it is going to benefit us on the long run. We can turn it into farmland, or use it for other purpose as our population increases. This will create jobs for our youths who are beaming with energy. This youthful exuberance can be redirected to the advantage of the Country.

Education
I do not know of a single Country that has not invested heavily in education, all Nigerians believe in good education. It is a lucrative business in Nigeria for the private sector which is a good endeavor on the part of business. However, Government schools are suffering and can not compete with private schools. Indeed, it costs much more to go to private primary or secondary schools in Nigeria than it costs to go to Colleges and Universities. That may change as private universities are being approved for the “money bags”.

Other
In spite of their merit or demerit, we had agreed on delay of Independence, Census and Identification cards, federal character, creation of States and Local Governments?

Areas of Disagreement
The rights of political control of the resources on the land passed on from many generations by the people who had mixed with the Autochthonous in certain areas have created the most problems in Nigeria. It ranges from that of indigene of those days to that of new comers who are nevertheless bona fide citizens anywhere in Nigeria.

The land owners are the indigene and one can hardly find a free land anywhere today where others, citizens or not, can lay claim without compensation. The Europeans claim they have treaties with the Indians who could not read their letters about land in Americas. Every court of law, at least recognize just compensation in case of government take over (or eminent domain) for the common good.

In Nigeria, those claiming two States are opportunists who claim indigene of one and citizen of another. However, during religious or ethnic festivals or census or marriage, they run to their home States. When they want to run for offices, if they fail in one State,
they try another. All they want is a second bite at the apple (a ki je meji ni Meka), while depriving others of a single bite in their home States.

Once the law is passed that you can only claim one State in Nigeria and stripped of the citizenship of another State, many will think twice whether to compete with an indigene.
People do have land in Nigeria that is exclusively theirs, all the talk about land belonging to the autochthonous only, are made by opportunist. We are all part autochthonous people part Nigerians. Even if all Nigerians are the same Ethnic group, people still have economic interest in their locations within Nigeria.


Producers of Income
No matter what, the area that produces wealth must have considerable say on how it is distributed and must be of benefit to that area, not a curse. There is some status reserved for income producers everywhere, but it must benefit the whole country.

The case of Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and Peter Loogheed, Premier of oil producing Province of Alberta in the seventies became a fight. Loogheed wanted world price for Alberta oil and Trudeau refused. Indeed, Loogheed would rather sell to the Americans at the world price than to fellow Canadians. The slogan then from Alberta was “let the Eastern bastard freeze to death”. Trudeau shot back and labeled him “Sheik Loogheed of Alberta”. Of course, Trudeau won and Alberta gained during the following downturn in its economy through redistribution. Ontario traditionally contributes more to Canada than other Provinces.

Nigeria is gifted in natural resources but the so called easy money that has turned us into lazy kleptomanias has done more damage than good not only for Niger Delta as said by Saro Wiwa but the whole Country. We were the producer of groundnut, cocoa, palm oil and kernel, tin, bauxite and food that fed the whole of West Africa. Those are lost past glories, unfortunately lost with some of our intellects. Nigerians can neither revitalize old source of income nor plan for the future!

Oil in the Niger Delta runs out in 38 years and for 40 years we could not find our bearings. There are many discoveries and other source of energy by solar, wind, even our dams are crumbling. If we had to rely on old technology, Nigeria would still be waiting for Abiola to bring us telephone service.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in United States, Hospitals and Colleges attracts money from all over the world, as major part of the economy. Nigerians are trained all over the world but we are still to make any part of our economy world class. Every country got its start from textile industry and move on to transport. Nigeria is still waiting to produce car for West African countries. What are we going to do when the oil runs out? What individual contribution has each of us made to Nigeria? See THE SILENT MAJORITY IS PART OF THE PROBLEM AS THEY SAY – Only God Can Save Nigeria!

Part 2 coming soon

Posted by Administrator at July 26, 2005 08:02 PM

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