In 1941 during the course of the Second World War, the most famous alumna of my old school Harrow and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Winston Churchill, said the following words to General Bernard Montgomery, who was also known as the “Spartan General”, the hero of the Battle of Alamein, the Commander of the famous British Desert Rats and the Field Marshall of the British Armed Forces. He said,
“Monty, never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy”.
These are powerful and inspiring words from one of the greatest leaders that the world has ever known.
Today I share those words and sentiments with every Nigerian who yearns for freedom from the bondage of ethnic slavery and religious bigotry and who believes that the only way forward is to restructure or redefine Nigeria.
Those of us that have these noble aspirations will “never yield to force” and we will “never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy”. Like Shakespeare’s Macbeth we shall be “bold, bloody and resolute” and if necessary we shall “fight until the flesh be hacked from our bones”.
No matter what comes our way we shall be encouraged, we shall walk tall, we shall stand firm and we shall stand strong.
This is because our cause is just and even though our enemies may have today, we know that tomorrow belongs to us. Again even though the night may be dark, we know that joy comes in the morning!
Whatever the powers that be in Empire Nigeria throw our way we shall not bow and we shall not be cowed.
Like our Lord and Saviour and Commander in Chief, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of the Living God once did on the cross two thousand years aģo, for the glory that lies ahead, we shall take their taunts and insults, bear their horrendous persecution, endure their malevolence and wickedness and despise the shame.
We shall stand our ground, hold our heads up high, fight a good fight and, by the grace of the Living God, in the end, we shall prevail.
We draw strength from the fact that we are not alone in this struggle. Others that have also suffered injustice and the most brutal form of subjugation and repression from their oppressors have similar hopes and aspirations as ours.
Consider the nation of Scotland. Her people are yearning to have another referendum on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in 2018.
When Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, announced their intention I did not hear Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, throw insults and threats at her or accuse her of treason.
I did not hear the French government or the French Ambassador to the UK telling the Scots that they would never be allowed to have their way and that they should perish the thought of Scottish independence.
Yet when it comes to the affairs of Nigeria it appears that everyone feels that they can tell us what to do.
For example Denys Gauer, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, recently said that those that were agitating for Biafra were indulging in an exercise in futility and that they would never achieve their dream or ambition. What a sad testimony and sorry tale this is.
It appears that the man knows little about the deep resolve of those who are fighting for their freedom and frankly he needs to learn a thing or two about the history of his own country before he pontificates to us about ours.
His unsolicited counsel is both misguided and inappropriate and we completely reject it.
The French people, since the days of the Great Revolution of 1789 and bold leaders and reformers like Maximilien Robespierre, Jean-Paul Marat and years later, the greatest of them all, Napoleon Bonaparte, have always prided themselves on being the friends of the subjugated and the deprived.
They have always been the champions of liberty and freedom. They have always resisted oppression and tyranny. They must not stop now.
To make matters worse Paul Arkwright, the British Ambassador to Nigeria, threw his hat into the ring as well and said that the United Kingdom “would not allow” Nigeria to break up.
Such ill-conceived pomposity, self-serving claptrap and what the great writer and historian David Icke describes as the “arrogance of ignorance” has no place in the postcolonial world.
Simply put Arkwright, and all other “Englanders” that think like him, ought to remind himself that Nigeria is no longer a British colony.
In any case given the consequences of Brexit and the strong agitation for Scottish, Welsh and even Northern Irish independence it appears to me that the British Ambassador would do better by trying to ensure that the United Kingdom itself remains together rather than attempt to tell us what we “will be” or “not be” allowed to do in Nigeria.
He would also do well to remember that the days of “Rule Brittania” are long over, that the “Great” has been taken out of “Britain” and that the evil amalgamation and unworkable contraption that his forefathers forced on us in 1914 is fast unravelling as a consequence of the hideous atrocities, sheer cruelty and sociopathic megalomaniac of those that they imposed on us as our internal colonial masters.
The bottom line is that the destiny of this nation will be determined by the people of Nigeria and no-one else.
Whether the Ambassador of France, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom or anyone else likes it or not the world is fast changing.
The philosophy, ethos and culture of ethnic nationalism is gaining ground and pride of place. Nothing terrifies the hegemonists, the internal colonial masters and the ‘born to rule’ conquerors in Nigeria more than this because Yoruba, Igbo and Ijaw nationalism coupled with the quest for southern and Middle Belt emancipation is their worse nightmare.
The glorious march of ethnic nationalism, the desire to break the yoke of internal colonialism, slavery and bondage, the agitation for self-determination and the quest for a fundamental restructuring of Nigeria or, failing that, the establishment of new and independent nation states to replace her is at an all-time high.
And so is the determination of the various ethnic groups and nationalities to resist oppression, subjugation and tyranny and defend and protect the interests of their people.
If anyone doubts that they should speak with the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), the Oodua Liberation Movement (OLM), the Oodua Nationalist Coalition(ONAC), the Movement For The Actualisation Of The Sovereign State Of Biafa (MASSOB), the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the Middle Belt Youth Forum (MBYF), the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), the Ombatse Militia Group (OMG), the Tiv Cultural and Development Association (TCDA), the Berom Militias, the Tiv Militias, the Zaar militias, the Jukun militias, the Ngas Militias, the Nigerian Christian Falange (NCF), the Sons of Gideon (SG) and numerous other groups that are not only well-motivated, well- organised and well-equipped but also highly focused and committed to their cause and ready to defend the interests of their people no matter the price that may have to be paid.
I sincerely hope and pray that it never happens because I deplore violence and I am a man if peace but if push ever comes to shove and there is a showdown, the Nigerian Armed Forces and security agencies, the Fulani militias and herdsmen and Boko Haram will have a very hard time containing the fury and power of any or all of these groups.
I say this because it is not the size of the dog in the fight that counts but rather the size of the fight in the dog! (TO BE CONTINUED).
Femi Fani-Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He tweets from@realFFK.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.