NIGERIA AT THE VALLEY OF DECISION: Between Restructuring & Dissolution – Live Interview with Tony Nnadi (LNC)
Nation building becomes a very tasking and frustrating engagement when there is no basic understanding and consensus established beforehand among constituent entities of the polity involved. Nigeria’s political economy has been tragically ruined by arbitrary negation, by a certain constituent unit, of the agreed constitutional basis on which Britain, which held suzerainty over the country since its amalgamation in 1914, decided to grant self-rule to its former colony at Independence of 1960. At Independence, British suzerainty over Nigeria was instantly replaced with the return of sovereignty of the former colony, Nigeria, back to its constituent ethnic nationalities who have owned the geopolitical space since antiquity.
In 1966, a gang of military strongmen, without any consultations from anyone, forcibly disbanded the parliamentary federal constitution based on four semi-autonomous regional governments of the Northern, Eastern, Western and Midwestern Regions. In place of this carefully negotiated federal system, which has spurned prosperity in all the federating units during the 1st Republic, a command unitary governance mantra was arbitrarily imposed on Nigeria through the proclamation of Unification Decree No 34 on May 24, 1966. From this moment, the geopolitical entity called Nigeria became fatally wounded. Whether Nigeria is still lying on its sick bed in coma since then or whether it has long been dead depends on who one asks. The spokesperson of the Lower Niger Congress (LNC), Mr. Tony Nnadi, unabashedly is of the view that the Nigerian federation died in 1966 when the very legal framework which created it was destroyed and replaced with an imposed unitary governance order by the Sokoto Islamic Caliphate-controlled ruling clique that has been controlling the center since 1966.
Deploying medical analogy, the LNC Secretary-General characterizes unitarism as the disease afflicting Nigeria today and its cure as the the immediate return to parliamentary democracy of the 1st Republic. Going further, he opined that the curative regimen can only be effectuated through restructuring of the current geopolitical arrangement which has since spurned official corruption and growing impoverishment of the polity. Restructuring, as is being bandied about by many in the interim, is currently being given different interpretations by various individuals and interest groups. The curative medication “Restructuring”, which must be delivered so as to cure the seriously ill Nigerian polity, is the adoption and application of the universal principle of “Self-determination” as enunciated in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It is only through meticulous application of the self-determination principle that Nigeria can be pulled back from edge of the precipice. Rejection of self-determination principle by arch protagonists of the status quo implies the will-nilly signing of Nigeria’s death warrant and consigning the entity to services of the undertakers.
The concern of all who desire a peaceful and orderly resolution of the conundrum in which Nigeria is currently mired, such as LNC and its affiliates within the Movement for New Nigeria (MNN), sees the central role of the “Referendum” as the globally recognized means for ascertaining constituents’ wish to become part of a given geopolitical entity/nation state or not. Mr. Nnadi proposes adoption of the “Broken Map” approved by the MNN Lagos Conference of June 30, 2011 as the geopolitical configuration for restructuring Nigeria. In a nutshell, a restructured Nigeria shall be devolved into four federating units namely: the Yoruba, Lower Niger, Middle Belt and Sharia Belt Federations. Each of the federating units shall first derive its own Charter/Constitution which must be authenticated through conduct of Regional Referendum. The four regional federations shall then come to the center in order to negotiate the terms for a restructured Federation of Nigeria. Not following this scenario would automatically imply a deliberate but callous abandonment of Nigeria to the impending catastrophic collapse and the many unforeseeable consequences of such a calamity in the West African sub-region, in particular and the African continent, in general.
The LNC scribe warned that the belief in some quarters that the status quo can be sustained indefinitely with the force of arms as an exercise in tomfoolery and reminiscent of the metaphorical ostrich opting to bury its head in the sand in order to “hide” from an uncomfortable and menacing reality confronting the flightless big bird. He chides the ongoing military exercises deemed “Operations Dancing Python and Smiling Crocodile” as bellicose posturing purposefully designed to intimidate rather than to constructively address legitimate concerns of constituents whose core strategic interests are being abnegated by the status quo. He laments the predicament of the LNC which finds itself wedged in-between restless pro-Biafra agitators and militant elements in the Niger Delta, on the one hand and the progressive geopolitical forces in the country which still believe in working out a peaceful collaborative future, on the other hand. Foot-dragging by the powers that be makes the current circumstances very precarious, untenable and potentially dangerous with each passing day.
The LNC is going-ho for Restructuring of Nigeria as long as the exercise is predicated on the principle of self-determination.