In the last two years the quest for self-determination amongst the numerous ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria has reached a crescendo. This is especially so with many from the younger generation.
Millions of young people are infuriated, disgusted and fed up with the injustice and evil that they have been subjected to by the Nigerian state for virtually all of their lives.
They are energised and propelled by their passion and desire for a fairer deal and a better future.
Consequently they have keyed into that quest and are agitating for, at the very least, a total constitutional overhaul and restructuring of the federation and, at the very best, outright and complete secession and the establishment of a new country.
The agitation is particularly strong in the areas that are known as the Middle Belt, the Niger Delta, the south-east and the south-west and, in all cases, such calls have been backed by the elders of those zones.
Members of the detained and deeply courageous Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) together with the Movement For The Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and other Igbo nationalist and self-determination groups have been the trailblazers in this respect and have taken the lead.
Such has been the potency of their agitation and campaign that they are getting solid and increasing backing from the new and exceptionally dynamic Chief John Nnia Nwodo-led Ohanaeze, the leading Igbo socio-cultural organisation which represents and speaks for the elders and leaders of the Igbo nation.
Self-determination groups in the Middle Belt such as the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) are also on the rise and they are demanding for the emancipation of the people of Southern Kaduna and the northern minorities generally from the clutches of the hegemonists and internal colonial masters.
Similar groups are dotted all over the Middle Belt and the north central zone and they have the full backing and endorsement of the Northern Christians Elders Forum, the Middle Belt Forum, the Core Middle Belt Forum and the Middle Belt Dialogue Forum.
In the south-west Afenifere has recently offered similar support for the traditional Yoruba nationalist groups like the Dr. Frederick Fasheun-led and Gani Adams-led Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the Oodua Liberation Movement (OLM).
As a glaring testimony to this just a few days ago, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the number two man in Afenifere and one of the most revered and respected voices in the country, said that if Nigeria was not restructured soon the Yoruba people would have no choice but to go their own way and establish Oduduwa Republic.
The Niger Deltans and the people of the south-south zone have refused to be left out. They have consistently voiced their desire for a better deal for their people and their insistence on resource control and self-determination through groups like the Ijaw Youth Congress, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and relatively new and even more militant groups like the hard-hitting and elusive Avengers.
Finally one cannot but mention the Shiite Muslims of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria who have suffered relentless persecution at the hands of the Nigerian state, who have been slaughtered in their thousands by officers of the Sunni Muslim-controlled Nigerian Army and whose leader Sheik El Zakzaky remains in unlawful detention up until today.
For many years the Shiites have been treated with brutality, disdain and contempt by the traditional institutions in the north and the Sunni-Muslim ruling elite and they are yearning for their freedom from bondage and religious persecution and agitating for a safer space under the sun.
From the foregoing it is clear that all is not well in the artificial mega-nation and super-state that was christened “Nigeria” (meaning “area of darkness” in latin) by the British just over one hundred years ago.
As each day passes more and more people from all over the country are doubting the continued viability of our forced union.
They are also questioning the wisdom and expediency of the 1914 amalgamation and “arranged marriage” of what were originally the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria by Lord Frederick Lugard and our erstwhile British colonial masters.
Unfortunately the response of the traditional defenders and apologists of the Nigerian state, rather than calm frayed nerves, has only compounded the problems and hardened hearts.
Instead of coming to terms with this new thinking and attempting to appeal to those that feel aggrieved they have opted to be confrontational, uncompromising, unreasonable, unrepentant and aggressive.
Instead of attempting to convince others that things can still get better and that there is still some hope for a united, indivisible and non restructured Nigeria, the powers that be, our internal colonial masters and those that believe that the status quo must be maintained and that say that any talk of restructuring or a break up is not only criminal but also blasphemous and heretic, have continued to threaten, insult and attempt to intimidate those that do not share their narrow and retrogressive views.
It is in this context and from this prism that I view the intervention of Lt. General Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, to the debate. On the 6th March 2017 he said as follows:
“I want to call on all the agitators for separation that they better forget it: not in this era, not in this millennium. Agitators for Nigeria’s separation will wait for another four millennia”.
Buratai’s counsel and intent are as bellicose and menacing as they are arrogant and self-serving.
One wonders whether those that espouse such views and voice such sentiments actually believe that they have the power to control our destiny and determine our future.
Does General Buratai believe that he is God? Is he aware of the fact that no country in the history of the world has ever survived two civil wars?
His are the words and thoughts of the self-proclaimed guardians and enforcers of the Nigerian state and the defenders of the Nigerian empire.
They are an eloquent reflection of the sheer determination of those that are hell-bent on preserving the nebulous and iniquitous status quo and on preserving and protecting what the French call the “ancien regime” in our country.
They are also a manifestation of contempt, over-confidence and hubristic pride: a rare display of what I have described elsewhere as the biblical “I am and there is no-one besides me” Isaiah 47 complex.
Such boastful assertions have been made by others before and they are nothing new.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Yugoslavia said before their country broke into six pieces and established Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Soviet Union said before their country broke into fifteen pieces and Russia, Turkestan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Sudan said before their country broke into two and Southern Sudan was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Indonesia said before their country broke into two and East Timor was established.
They are the sort of things that the white Boer leaders of South Africa said before the fall of apartheid, before the establishment of black majority rule and before their country was broken into two and Namibia was established.
They are the sort of things that the white leaders of Rhodesia said before losing the war, before the coming to power of the blacks, before the establishment of Zimbabwe and before Rhodesia ceased to exist.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of India said before their country broke into two and Pakistan was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Pakistan said before their country broke into two and Bangladesh was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Malaya said before their country broke into two and Malaysia and Singapore were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Czechoslovakia said before their country broke into two and the Czech Republic and Slovakia were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Ethiopia said before their country broke into two and Eritrea was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the United Arab Republic said before their country broke into two and Egypt and Syria were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the United Kingdom said before their country broke into two and the Republic of Ireland was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Austro-Hungarian empire said before their country broke into two and Austria and Hungary were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Ottomon Empire said before their empire broke into numerous pieces and Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, southern and Caucasian Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and others were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Sweden said before their country was broken into four and Denmark, Norway and Finland were established.
They are sort of things that the leaders of Denmark said before their country was split into two and Iceland was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Korea said before their country was split into two and North and South Korea were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Vietnam said before their country broke into two and North and South Vietnam were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Peru said before their country broke into two and Bolivia was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Gran Colombia said before their country was split into three and Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Haiti said before their country split into two and the Dominican Republic was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Great Britain said before their empire slowly crumbled and broke into thirty new and independent sovereign nations who all became members of the British Commonwealth.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Spain, France and Portugal said before their respective empires crumbled and collectively gave birth to over one hundred new countries.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of China said before their country broke into two and Taiwan was established. I could go on and on. (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.