Not so fast Mr. President

By Nwohonja on

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Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan used the opportunity of the last Inter-faith Conference in Abuja, the country’s capital, to discuss the issue of Nigeria’s possible break-up.

While at it, and in a seemingly determined and emphatic note, the President declared that Nigeria would never disintegrate. “But I can say categorically’ he avowed ‘that Nigeria will not disintegrate, we will not fail. We will surely get over our challenges and become even a stronger nation”.

He took time to criticise some people on the Internet, especially those on social media. He found faults with their seemingly popular opinions, which he believed tended to indicate that majority of Nigerians want the country divided. “You will be tempted to think along the same line in a country of over 170 million people, the opinion of very few is now being elevated above that of over 100 million Nigerians”.

What was his major conviction for taking that position? He once had an indoor meeting with some young Nigerian professionals, and from them he got the impression that youths of the country did not want a break-up of the country as long as they were provided with social amenities.

The President also argued that it was only the older generation of Nigerians; those from his age group and above that were calling for the break-up of the country. Part of his words read: “From my interactions with so many young Nigerians, a few days back when I addressed a group of young professionals, I discovered that the young generations want to live peacefully together. They want a better country where they will have the infrastructure: power, good health services, sound educational facilities, roads, etc. They are not interested in a break-up of the nation. Unfortunately, however, some, who are old, from my age and above continue to stoke the fire of hatred, violence and discord in the country. We are not helping our children at all.”

Sound arguments, one may be tempted to say. But looked at from other perspectives, the President many not actually have taken into consideration certain other issues and developments in the polity that may lead to other conclusions, even that majority of Nigerians want out of the contraption called Nigeria.

For starters, our dear President seemed not to have considered the fact that the views of a selected group of Nigerians (young professionals in a room or auditorium) with him could not be a better sample of the entire Nigerian population than the mix of Nigerians on the Internet, who freely air critical views. Without doubt, the Internet will present relative freedom for debaters than a group of Nigerian youths selected to meet with the President in private.

Viewed another way, even the response of the young professionals could also be interpreted differently than the way the President interpreted it. For instance, their position could easily be interpreted as meaning that if failed to provide “infrastructure: power, good health services, good educational facilities, roads etc.”, they could embrace other options that may include disintegration.

It could even be argued further that the President killed his own argument, because promises of all such amenities have been the forte of past Nigerian governments and officials, who have always failed to deliver on them. Does it not follow then that as his government is also on its way to failing like others before it, the youths might join the disintegration train?

Again, viewed differently, the President appeared to have been quite hasty in arriving at his “Nigeria will never disintegrate” declaration. He did not appear to have looked at other scenarios and manifestations playing out in the polity. His meeting with those selected young professionals was certainly not the only event that took place in the polity concerning the country – either for togetherness or disintegration – both within or outside its borders.

For example, with his pole position as President of the country, he must – at the time of his statement – been privy to a two-day conference being planned for the Nordic countries; in the Scandinavia, which was being organised by Biafran activists and freedom fighters.

One had expected that he must have reflected on the development at the time, and factored it in while concluding on the matter he spoke on. That conference just took place last Friday and Saturday, August 29 and 30, and people from different countries of the world were in attendance, including members of the Norwegian parliament. The bulk of those who organised the conference were not older people from the age-group of our dear President and above. They were young Nigerians who were fed up with remaining in a contraption that was set up to pauperise them, as well as fritter their resources away to sustain citizens of other countries.

Our President should have also, as he was making that statement acknowledged the fact that there was a world-wide demonstration of Biafran activist on May 30, 2014, from Japan to the United States of America. It was a demonstration in remembrance of about 3. 5 million Biafrans killed during Biafra/Nigeria war of 1967 -70 and after. Again, the bulk of those that trouped into the streets of the world to hold the demonstration were not older people like our dear President, Jonathan, but hardworking Biafran youths all over the world.

Another issue the President failed to acknowledge as he was making his one-sided imputations was the issue of Benjamin Onwuka and members of his Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM), who have been detained “illegally” by his (Jonathan’s) government for more than three months now. They were arrested for going to a radio station in Enugu to make a Biafran broadcast.

Onwuka and his BZM members are people who have deep respect for the law. They appreciated the truth espoused by Martin Lurther-King Jr., on the morality of deliberately disobeying unjust laws and being ready to suffer the consequences. “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law” said Martin Luther-King Jr.

Compare Onwuka and his colleagues to Boko Haram members who have killed and pillaged because they did not want to remain in Nigeria under a law they considered unjust to themselves and their kind. But each time any one of them is apprehended, Nigerian government has treated them with kid-gloves. Meanwhile Boko Haram is not made up of older Nigerians like our dear President, but youths.

Painfully, the Nigerian state has arrested Onwuka and his colleagues since June 6, this year for standing against the laws of Nigeria (especially its so-called Constitution) which are unjust against his people, the Biafrans. To make the matter most reprehensible, the Nigerian government has not brought them to court, but has kept them incommunicado, probably under its torture chambers.

But unlike Boko Haram, Onwuka and his colleagues were noble men, who reacted to an unjust law the way civilised and humane men all over the world have reacted to injustice; men like Marthin Luther-King Jr.; and Nelson Mandela, the late South African icon.

Now why did the Nigerian President not factor in these position into his declaration on whether majority of Nigerians want to remain in the British construct called Nigeria or not, which has brought the people nothing but misery since 1914?

Another question, why did the President also not put into consideration the fact that Boko Haram has held the country under the jugular since he (Jonathan) ascended the position of President, if it is not because they did not want his own brand of Nigeria where sharia law does not reign supreme? So, why should it be Nigerian rulers and a selected few that will always determine for the generality of Nigerians what they want to do with the British prison they have been forced to live under for 100 years now?

On whose interest is our dear President struggling to preserve Nigeria, which has been a killing field for its citizens since the British imperialists forced the peoples together under its prison walls called Nigeria. Why must he continue where past British agents (Nigerian governments since 1960) stopped? Is our dear President happy with all the lives that have been lost, and in the most brutal manner too, for keeping Nigeria one?

So many questions without answers, but which our dear President Goodluck Jonathan should have found answers to before rushing out with his declaration that Nigerians want to remain together.

Our President should know that it does a lot of damage to a leader’s integrity who ignores incontrovertible evidence against his position to cling to vague and insubstantial proofs just to justify it. Methinks he was too fast in making that declaration.


Posted on September, 3 2014

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