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« Why we Must Confederate African Countries, Part I | Main | The Rot in Aba: An Eye-Witness Account »

September 08, 2005

Why we Must Confederate African Countries, Part II

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, washington) --- We do not have to deny some of the inherent problems of confederal governments, but with good effort, confederations can be made to work, after all they work in Switzerland. At any rate, it seems the only alternative that would avert Africans penchant for mutual mayhem.


Each ethnic group in Africa is very distinct. It evolved over the past thousands of years and developed a unique culture, a particularistic way of approaching phenomena. Obviously, culture, like everything else in this world, is adaptable and must evolve and adapt to changes in its environment for it to enable the people survive changes in their environment. Anthropologists tell us that when different cultures come into contact with each other, that they diffuse to one another and the result is borrowing from one another and changes in the manner each approaches reality. (Reality, itself, is unknown and is largely a product of individual and social constructs of it hence can be deconstructed and reconstructed on a different and, hopefully, better footing.)

African cultures were until recently isolated from each other and from the rest of the world. They have now come into close contact with each other and with the cultures of the rest of the world. They are now incorporating aspects of other cultures. In the long run, they will adapt, that is, change and become different from what they currently are.

Nevertheless, each culture tends to remain unique despite accepting influences from other cultures. This particularistic aspect of culture is not necessarily bad. Total cultural universalism when we do not know what is ultimately good for mankind may not be the answer. Until science comes up with a verifiable universal scientific culture for all mankind, we are best served encouraging each ethnic group to retain aspects of its culture.

Consider the peoples of Nigeria. The Igbo is very individualistic, democratic and republican. He is free enterprise oriented. Igbo culture is very much like the culture of Ancient Greek city states. If you have read of Athens during the age of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the classical age, you pretty much have read about Igbo culture.

In traditional Igbo societies, the entire town made up the ruling elements. All adult males over age 15 gathered to rule their town. They discussed matters arising and voted on them. They then delegated to a few the executory function of implementing their decisions.

The Freeborn of the town, Diala, gathered as Oha (also called Amala) and made decisions regarding their town’s governance. The Oha acted as legislature, executive and judiciary of the town. This way Igbo ruled itself like the Ancient Greeks did, without resorting to the auspices of kings, dukes, earls, counts, marquis, squires and the other Germanic governing elements which the English superimposed on the Igbos. (Unfortunately, like the ancient Greeks, Igbos did not permit women and slaves to participate in governance. Obviously, every person must now be permitted to make inputs in how society is governed.)

In the economic sphere, all Igbo strove to make a living independently. Each person is encouraged to do his best and procure a living for himself and his family. Farming and trading were encouraged. Dependency on other persons to support one was discouraged.

The cumulative effect of these social practices was that every Igbo child felt empowered and recognized that his life was in his own hands, not other people’s hands and that he must support himself. Every Igbo child was encouraged to be competitive and goes out there and competes for what he wanted out of life. He did not ask for handouts from other people, but asked for equal opportunity to compete. He knows that in every race some will win and others lose. He accepted unfettered competition and always strove to do his best, and when he lost, congratulated the winners and ground his teeth. In this life, there are always winners and losers. The best that we can do is tax winners and use that money to help losers. The Igbo are realistic and reconcile themselves to reality without undue emotionalism and sentimentalism. Cest la vie, such is life.

This magnificent Igbo culture only recently came into contact with Western civilization. In less than a century of contact, Igbo families routinely send their children to universities. This is an outstanding achievement and the culture that made this possible ought to be preserved. (The Igbos believe that there is no better culture in the world than theirs. Given what their belief makes them accomplish: be one of the most achievement oriented peoples in the world, we should permit them their belief, even if it is a myth.)

There is no doubt that if given the opportunity, if the Igbo is allowed to be Igbo, Alaigbo would compete with the best in the world. In the economic sphere, if the Igbos are let loose and unhampered by the burden of having to adapt to other Nigerians restrictive ways of lives, they would be at the apogee of world economic attainment.

If let loose, in fifty years, the Igbos would be second to none in the world. But, at present, they are shackled with the necessity of conforming to their neighbors’ cultures, some of whom eschew competition and expect handouts from life.

Every people are entitled to their culture. If some people like to sit around and ask God to send them food and or beg for food on the streets, that is their prerogative. The Igbo knows that God helps those who help themselves. If you want to eat, you go work for your food. The Igbo wants the opportunity to earn his living the old fashioned way: earn it legitimately. He must, therefore, be given the opportunity to be himself, rather than be handicapped by shiftless cultures that expect external others to fend for them.

The Igbo has internal locus of authority and knows that only him ought to do what he needs to do to survive. He and his Chi (personal God) are responsible for his fate in this world. He does not depend on other people to help him survive. Of course, where necessary, the Igbo cooperates with other people for their mutual survival, but he does not lose sight of the fact that his survival is in his own hands, not other people’s hands.

In Nigeria, we have a situation where the Moslem North wants to impose the Moslem legal system, Sharia, on the rest of the people. If we recall, Mohammed (570-622 AD) and his disciples evolved a certain legal system, the Sharia.

This legal system evolved in Arabia and is obviously rooted in Arab culture. This legal system is predicated on feudal Arabia of the seventh century. If so, one might ask: how reasonable is it to impose what evolved in Arabia fourteen hundred years ago on present African societies?

African societies ought to be governed by African legal systems. Of course, Africans must borrow from other lands. They currently borrow from the British Common law system (and aspects of continental European Napoleonic codes). In the long run, a uniquely African legal system that synthesizes European, African and other legal systems would come into being in Africa.

If the Moslems in Northern Nigeria want to embrace a seventh century Arab legal system, if they are so unaware of the evolving nature of social institutions, the fact that every thing adapts to changes in its environment, if the Northerners want to go back to practicing what was probably functional in seventh century Arabia, but not today, that is their prerogative. They are free to impose Sharia law on themselves.

One submits that the North does not have the right to impose Sharia on other Nigerians. And if they attempted to do so, they ought to be resisted. The Igbos ought to go to war rather than permit themselves to be hobbled by Arabia’s jurisprudence. It is better to die fighting than to live as a slave to other people’s archaic world views.


Without beating around the bush, most African leaders are criminals. The real question is: why are African leaders criminal? One has given this problem quiet a bit of thinking. Is stealing in the genes of black men, as some white racists would like us to believe? If black men are born with criminal genes, what shall we make of white men, men who killed Indians, stole their lands and at present steal from all over the world and live off other people’s suffering?

If Africans are born with criminal genes, white folks are born as murderers and plunderers. Let us dispense with the nonsense that people are born with a predilection to criminal activity. Criminal activity is learned. It is circumstances that determine whether people steal or not.

Africans are corrupt because of circumstances, not because of their genes. One believes that whereas many factors contribute to Africans current tendency to stealing, that the issue of ethnic identification plays a critical role in it.

In so-called national politics, each ethnic group sees national wealth as a cake from which it takes and gives to its own people. The idea is to please the members of ones ethnic group, rather than serve national interests. Let us be specific rather than abstract.

Nigeria obtains most of its money from selling oil. Oil comes mostly from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The various ethnic groups in Nigeria come together to get their own share of the money coming from the Ijaw area of Nigeria.

Here is what is happening in Nigeria. The Hausa, Fulani and Yoruba and others steal the resources that come from Ijawland. These criminals gather at Abuja and devise means to steal Ijaw wealth and cart it to their home lands. They use Ijaw resources to go develop their own areas, while ignoring the needs of Ijawland.

Having accustomed themselves to stealing from Ijawland, they generalize their thieving habits to stealing from their own people, too. As it were, it seems that thieving is now in Nigerians’ blood.

Nigeria is the most corrupt country in the world. One gets nothing done in Nigeria without one bribing some one. Even to collect supposedly free forms from government offices requires one to bribe the dispensing clerk. If you do not bribe some one in Nigeria, you simply would not get any thing done.

Nigerians are so corrupt that they are beyond being angry at. One treats them as one treats children, that is, not expect them to behave like adults and do the right thing. They are to be taught the right way to live on planet earth, for they have forgotten it. They are in darkness and need some one to show them the light of love, mutual caring and service to one another.

Those who want to stop corruption in Nigeria cannot do so for as long as the various ethnic groups in Nigeria collude with one another to steal from Ijawland. The only way to stop corruption in Nigeria is to permit each ethnic group to have total control of the resources that come from its lands. Let the Ijaw have 100% control over their oil resources.

If each ethnic group runs its affairs, those without natural resources would work very hard to come up with the money to fund their governments. Igbos are good business men. They would find ways to come up with the money to fund their governments.

More importantly, if each ethnic group in Nigeria funded its governments by itself, it would pay attention to how its money is spent by its public officials. It would audit its accounting books and where a penny is missing punish culprits in the most draconian manner. Any public official who stole a penny and or took bribes ought to be sent to twenty years jail, with hard labor; he ought to work to feed him self; the public does not have to feed him, a detritus of mankind.

One believes that the only way to stop corruption in Africa is to permit each ethnic group to be a state, to rule itself and to have total control over its resources. The added advantage of this system is that it would force Nigerians to work harder. At present, the people do not have to work to get the money to fund their governments. They sit around doing nothing to get the money to fund the central government. All they do is figure out ways to optimize stealing the oil money that comes from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. In the process, they develop stealing skills and are lazy. If we compel these lazy bums to go work and seek productive ways to fund their state governments and developmental activities, they would develop the habit of industry and, for a change, become admirable human beings, rather than the contemptible and despicable animals, they currently seem to be.

Nigeria has practically abandoned exploration of its other resources, such as Coal, Zinc, Bauxite, Palm oil, Palm kernel, Cocoa, Coffee, and Rubber. It did so in pursuit of oil money. Those other resources used to be explored, exported and generated sufficient income to feed most Nigerians. But now, most Nigerians have their eyes set on stealing Ijaw oil money and are unwilling to develop the resources that nature reposed in their neck of the wood. If we permit the Ijaw sole ownership of their oil money, other Nigerians, because of economic necessity, would return to developing the resources in their states hence making the economy more diversified and stable. When people’s backs are against the wall and their survival is at stake, they tend to work hardest. Let go of Ijaw oil money and let the threat of suffering compel other Nigerians to work hard. If they do, soon, they would have more wealth than oil ever promised them. Little Biafra had its back against the wall and invented incredible technologies that no African nation has replicated. Necessity is the mother of inventions. Let Ijaws have their oil; the rest of the people will survive.

Like every thing in this world, there are downsides to having each ethnic group control its resources. The ethnic groups that have lots of natural resources would become rich. We know what wealth does to people. One has observed what happened to Alaskans as a result of wealth. If you recall, Oil was discovered in Alaska in the late 1950s and 60s. In 1974/75 the Alaska Oil Pipe line was built from the North slopes to Valdez. Oil was piped from Prudhoe Bay to Prince Williams Sound and ships carried it to the lower forty eight states. Suddenly, Alaska was awash with money.

Alaskans did away with individual income taxes. They funded their government through oil revenue. Indeed, the government saved enough of that oil revenue (at the time of this writing, estimated at $28 billion) and each year shared the profits accruing to investments made with that fund. Generally, each year, every Alaskan receives anywhere from one to two thousand dollars in dividend. This is in addition to having just about everything done for him for free by his government: free education, free medical insurance (for persons under 21) and so on. The result of all this generosity is that Alaskans tend to be lackadaisical. As far as one knows, they are not noted for their industry and contribution to America’s science, technology and business.

The situation is even worse with Alaska Natives. Alaska has about 650, 000 people. Natives (Yupik, Inuit, Athabaska, Klinkit, Haida, Aleuts etc) are about 80, 000. African Americans and Asians are about the same in number as the natives. The rest of the population is Caucasians.

In the early 1970s, the United States Congress entered into what is now called Alaska Native Land Settlement with the various native tribes. Essentially, the natives were given about 10% of the land of Alaska, and the other 90% are left to the Federal and State governments.

If you recall, Russia came to Alaska in 1746 (under Captain Bering). Russia considered Alaska part of mother Russia. (Sitka was its capital). As a result of the impoverishment inflicted on Russia by the Crimean war, Russia needed money and approached the United States government to buy Alaska. Seward, the then secretary of State, bought Alaska from Russia in 1867. He paid ten million dollars for a piece of real estate almost twice the size of Nigeria. Many Americans were opposed to the Secretary buying what they called a “chunk of snow”; Seward’s folly, the purchase was called.

The United States government bought Alaska from Russia and owned it. All the land of Alaska, the great land, belonged to the United States government and was managed by the US department of Interior.

As a result of the Alaska Native Land Settlement Act, Alaska Natives were given parts of Alaska. This means that the resources coming from those lands are given to the natives.

The natives were untrained in capitalist ways. So, the federal government set up native corporations to run the affairs of the various natives for them. These corporations are run by white professional managers. They make profits for the natives, and each year, share these among the natives. During this observer’s last year at the University of Alaska, each Cook Inlet native (Anchorage area) got about fifty thousand dollars from this pot of money. The result is that the natives do not have to work. They have free money coming to them annually.

What do you think that they do with all that money? They waste it in riotous living, particularly on alcohol. Three months after receiving their cheeks in September, most of them are flat broke. Many of them die from alcohol induced diseases. Their life span is 42, in a society where whites routinely live to be 78 years.

What is the point? It is that if you give people free money that they might self destruct and or become lazy. The Ijaw might experience the fate of Alaska natives.

As they say, to be pre-warned is to be saved. The Ijaw can learn from Alaskans and invest their money for the raining day when oil runs out, as it must. They do not have to squander their oil resources in reckless living.


In 1966, as a result of the pogrom that they were experiencing in other parts of Nigeria, Igbos fled to their Igbo homeland. The military governor of Alaigbo, Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu, apparently, believed that Igbos were no longer safe in Nigeria. He sought a different political arrangement with the Nigerians. The Ghanaian head of state, General Ankrah, invited the head of the Nigerian government and all concerned in the dispute to a series of meetings at Aburi, Ghana.

Apparently, some sort of accord was reached by the parties in dispute. One has not read this accord and cannot attest to what it specified. However, the Igbo leader, Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu, seemed to have told his people that the accord specified a confederation form of government for Nigeria. He later said that the Federal authorities reneged on this agreement by creating twelve states (dividing the then Eastern region into three states) under the banner of federalism. For this and other reasons, Ojukwu went ahead and declared his region separated from Nigeria.

Today, the battle cry of many Igbos is “On Aburi we stand”. They seem to believe that confederation is the best form of government for Nigeria.

This observer is generally not swayed by mass sentiments. He goes with what seems self evidently true to him. In his observation, confederation seems the best type of political arrangement for Nigeria.

Nigeria has a choice to make, a choice of which of the three main forms of extant governments to choose from. The three forms of governments are unitary, federal and confederal. (Monarchy/Aristocracy is no longer a serious option.)

Of the alternatives, confederation seems the only realistic option. Why so? Unitary form of government tends to suit a homogeneous society. England and France seem to do well by this form of government. These people are, more or less, homogenous. However, as we have already pointed out, the unity of Britain may be skin deep. The Scottish, Welsh and Irish elements, Celts as opposed to German English, are agitating for some form of autonomy. We have not heard the last word on the political structure of Britain.

Nigeria has a heterogeneous population and unitary form of government is out of the question for her. Aguiyi Ironsi, apparently, toyed with that idea and it so enraged Northern Nigerians that they decided to eliminate him before he imposed that form of government on them.

At present, Nigeria toys with federalism, although what it has, in fact, is better called Centralism. The federal government controls all the resources of the country and doles out whatever it wants to the mini states it created.

Nigeria currently has 36 states, few of which can function independently. To function, these so-called states need handouts from the central government. The central government steals oil money from the Niger Delta and shares it with the thievish governors of the so-called states. The governors and the leaders at the central level are in cohorts with each other to steal and divide the loot they got from Ijawland.

For our present purposes, we do not have federalism in Nigeria, if by that we mean what obtains in the United States of America.

Federalism has not worked and will not work in Nigeria. Whoever governs the central government of Nigeria uses force to terrorize the periphery to go along with his wishes.

On paper, Nigeria emulates a badly misunderstood American form of government. It has a president, a legislature and an independent judiciary, all structured along the lines of the United States constitution. One wonders what idiots did this copying of America. America herself knew that she was different from her mother country, Britain, and constructed a government that suited her needs.

Nigeria is unique and cannot function properly with a political structure that works well in America. Nor does the American system work well for all Americans. The American political system was designed to work for white Americans. African Americans and Indians are marginalized persons in the American polity. When the latter are finally incorporated into the polity, as eventually they must, for there to be peace in the land, America must have another constitutional conference to work out a different political system, one that takes into consideration the interests of non-whites.

We are not at present focusing on America; we are talking about Nigeria and Africa. Why should Nigerian leaders copy something just because it works in America? What works in America is not guaranteed to work in Africa, for Africa is different from America.


If Africans were a rational people, they would have reconfigured the polities they inherited from their former colonial masters. They all know that the polities they inherited from their European masters are flawed and are the causes of their present problems. They all know that each country is a conglomeration of disparate people, some of whom do not want to be in the same country with others. They all know that it takes force to hold these restive people together; hence they have dictators all over Africa. They all know that for there to be democratic governments in Africa that they must restructure their present artificial polities.

But they have not done what they ought to have done, fifty years after obtaining independence from Europe. Instead of solving their problems, they kill each other in senseless wars to protect the territorial integrity of their artificial countries.

In as much as there is a failure of will and leadership in Africa to do what needs to be done to bring about stability in Africa, one is calling for an international conference, organized by the United Nations, at which African countries are restructured.

There are about four hundred legitimate ethnic groups/tribes in Africa (I named them all in a different paper). Each of these ethnic groups ought to be made a state, within confederations.

This international conference to restructure Africa must be held soon, if possible, tomorrow. It is the only way that the world would reduce Africans mismanagement of their continent and their tendency to killing each other. Failure to do this, Africans will continue making a mess of their continent and the world would continue seeing starving Africans.

Starving Africans means Africans who struggle to go live in the Western world. To avoid these people inundating other parts of the world, the world must help them do the right thing.

Failure to hold this conference and correct the mess that is Africa is tantamount to writing Africa off and permitting Africans to needlessly suffer and die. The death of Africans will be in our heads if we do not work to make sure that Africans restructure their countries and learn responsible self governance.


African countries were hastily put together by European nations. With the exception of a few of them, most African countries are not natural countries. They are composed of many ethnic groups, many of whom do not get along with one another. In most cases, some ethnic groups grab power and use that power to subjugate members of other ethnic groups to their wishes. This is terrorism.

Countries like Nigeria, Congo and Sudan are terrorist states where a few armed persons use force to intimidate other ethnic groups into kowtowing to their undemocratic wishes. These terrorist leaders are not invested in managing their countries well but in being dictators who tell every body else what to do.

The world knows what is going in Africa and looks away. It is not right to look away as criminals who call themselves leaders in Nigeria, Congo or Sudan destroy the people’s spirit and mismanage their countries economy. The world ought to have reached a state of development where we all understand that we are all one and that what we permit to happen to our brothers we have permitted to happen to us. If we permit the continued hijacking and mismanagement of Africa by brutal criminals, we encourage criminal behavior in Africa. For example, by permitting criminal governments to exist in Nigeria, we encourage Nigerians to become criminals. In time, Nigerians bring their criminality to the Western world.

Nigerian criminals are currently swindling Americans and Europeans. These Nigerians are heartless and will take any one for a ride, without the slightest qualms of conscience, remorse and guilt feeling.

We permitted these groups of Africans to revert to animal status and escape from civilization. We did so by looking away as the Hausa-Fulani-Yoruba clique appropriate power and use it to oppress and abuse other groups in Nigeria. As long as these thieves maintain enough order for us to obtain our oil from Nigeria, we look away and do not do something about their criminal activities. A poor Nigerian becomes a politician and within a year has multi million dollar mansions all over the world. He diverts the national treasury to his pockets, while Nigerians live like dogs in the various shanty towns that stand in place of cities.

One does not think that the world ought to look away as crime is committed in any part of the world. The suffering of any human being is our collective suffering. In a general system, what happens in any part of it affects all parts of it and all must adjust to it. The evil we have permitted in Africa is affecting decent people in all parts of the world.

We must, therefore, intervene in Africa and help to restructure it and for the first time help these people have realistic governments that are designed to address their issues, not ignore them.

The key problem of Africa is the fact that different ethnic groups were lumped together against their wishes. The solution to this problem is to fragmentalize African countries and permit each ethnic group to govern itself. This was done in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. It could be done in Africa. If done, since Africa has about 400 legitimate ethnic groups (not the thousands we are told, the idiots who band around the number thousands count dialects as separate languages) we would have four hundred nations in Africa.

Clearly, 400 nations, some of whom are too small and are not politically and economically viable, are too many countries in one continent. The next best alternative is to make each ethnic group as autonomous as is possible and then group many of them into confederations where they willingly delegate the performance of certain functions to a central government. But under no circumstances is the central government to ride roughshod over the constituting states.

In this paper, one outlined how such a confederation could be structured. One suggested that, first: we transform current African countries into confederations and later work for regional confederations, such as West Africa Confederation, East Africa Confederation, South Africa Confederation, and Central Africa Confederation. By the middle of this century, Africa ought to have no more than four confederations and by the end of this century; she ought to have become one confederation.

In the future, it is possible for all of Africa to become one true federation. But in the present, what Africa needs are confederations.

This goal the world must help Africans achieve. Failure to do so amounts to abnegating our collective responsibilities to help each other be our best.

One believes that Africans are corrupt because the world permitted them to be so. Consider Nigeria. The world looks away as members of other ethnic groups steal the revenue from a certain part of the country, the Ijaw area, and share that wealth among themselves. In doing so, Nigerians learn that it is not worthwhile to work hard and manage their affairs well. They seek short cuts to becoming wealthy.

Today, most Nigerians have become lazy and have forgotten that people in a developing country ought to work, at least, twelve hour days, to pull themselves up. When the West was being developed, folks worked more than twelve hour days.

The Hausa, Fulani and Yoruba must learn to fund their governments and develop their regions with resources from their regions and not be like locust and descend on the Niger Delta to rub it clean.

It is the function of the international community to help put Africa right, after all the international community of the nineteenth century created modern Africa at the 1884 Berlin conference. At that conference, a resurgent Germany and her iron chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck got the other powers to divide Africa among themselves. They arbitrarily fixed Africa’s current national boundaries.

We need a similar international conference to re-fix the boundaries of Africa, to correct the mess we made. This is a duty and obligation that the rest of the world owes Africans. Left alone, Africans have proven incapable of doing the right thing; they must be helped by the international community to do the right thing: restructure their countries and have each ethnic group constitute a state in confederated countries.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji, PhD(UCLA)

Posted by Administrator at September 8, 2005 02:17 AM


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