Recent calls for restructuring the country by different ethnic groups, and lately by leading politicians in the country, are becoming increasingly worrisome especially as some of the reasons adduced for that were bizarre and frivolous. That is the manifestation of an inevitable disquiet and discontent with current political activities which do not seem to hold any hope for the country. Un fact such calls and cries are but a reflection of the willingness of some activists to further accentuate the differences that make divisions of opinion or ideas between the North and the South even more clear-cut and extreme, hardening the opposition between them.
Accordingly, the disagreements between the North and South over conflicting interests, especially political leadership struggle, is assuming alarming dimension, and is even threatening the division of the nation into mutually antagonistic factions. This is due largely to the emergence of various interest groups with dissimilar political aspirations. Consequent upon that, tribalism is taking center stage, destroying the fabric of the nation’s unity, with many tribes threatening separation or formal withdrawal from the federation if their inordinate political ambitions are not satiated. There is an ever increasing incidence of federating units wishing to exercise their autonomy by making formal statements regarding their principles and beliefs about fragmented Nigeria.
The vexatious issues that impelled the agitations by the so-called separatist groups, mainly from the oil-rich South-south zone, are numerous as they are varied. They include absolute resource control, onshore/offshore dichotomy, sovereign national conference, regional and state police, constitutional roles for traditional rulers, indigene/settler dichotomy, right to observe religious beliefs and pervasive unrest occasioned by government’s unjust and unpopular socio-economic policies. Only fairly recently, the Yoruba are calling for regional autonomy for the South-West geopolitical zone which could be realized through what it called true federalism and that, according to the elders of the group, will not destabilize or threaten the unity of the country. The Ibo too had for long been campaigning for self-rule in a bid to reincarnate the spirit of the Republic of Biafra.
It is curious to note that while the agitation by the Yoruba, one of the largest ethnic groups in the country, was deliberately intended to enhance the magnitude of similar demands for regional sovereignty of smaller groups from other parts of the country, possibly with a view to hastening the process of national disintegration, the minority and majority tribes in the Northern parts of the country are totally oblivious of what that portends for the future of the country. In the event of eventual break-up of the country the Northerners, who up till now are not contemplating similar move, will be left in disarray, without focused leadership or common platform from which they could organize and secure their future.
As it is now, even if the Northern ethnic groupings desire to organize themselves into one, cohesive and organized community, they obviously cannot. The northerners have already been split along religious and ethnic divides while the North itself has thus become a divided house which cannot stand by itself. With that development the Christians in the North can never identify with their fellow Muslims, preferring instead to become accomplices of Southerners who still regard them as Northerners, and therefore unfit for any interaction or association. Similarly Northern Muslims hold their Christian counterparts in deep suspicion and mistrust.
The most regrettable aspect of that mutual revulsion among Northern Christians and Muslims is that their southern compatriots look at them with contempt and disdain, dismissing both of them as bunch of illiterates, uncivilized and uncouth people. That has amply demonstrated the unfortunate extend of the deep division that exists between the North and the South. The Southerners are relentlessly advancing self-seeking strategies to ensure total impoverishment of the Northerners through systematic manipulations of the derivation principle in their favor and outright denial of the existence of oil in the Northern soil to further make the region poorer and to also consequently render it irrelevant and inessential in the affairs of the nation.
Despite these glaring divergences yet some unscrupulous elements from the North have deliberately made themselves willing tools in the hands of the Southerners, assisting them in their untiring efforts to subjugate the Northerners whom they regard as second class citizens, unworthy of any benefit from the treasures and resources of this country. They are even contemplating forcing them out of the federation because they are seen as valueless parasites and infuriating hangers-on.
As a matter of fact Northern leaders of all description and persuasions should work assiduously to safeguard the interests of their people by refusing to identify or re-align with forces that tend to negate the progress of their region, or those that will simply bring dissentions and recriminations with a view to polarise them. Greater efforts must be geared towards mobilising the gullible Northerners who could very easily be receptive to vile attitudes that will further put dreadful cracks on the wall of National unity, thereby impeding the attainment of memorable unanimity between the North and the South which now seems to be elusive.