The Way Forward for Ndiigbo – Restructuring or Opting Out of Nigeria?

by Prof. Uzodinma Nwala

  1. Restructuring that creates a new political Union – or

  2. A peaceful dissolution of the federation so that Ndiigbo can build a nation-state of their own!

Restructuring that Creates a New Political Union

There is a dire need to restructure our country so as to create a new political and socio-economic foundation for the continued co-existence of the various nationalities that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is the only rational meaning of RESTRUCTURING that can ensure the survival of Ndiigbo and at the same time save Nigeria from tragic collapse in view of the prevailing political crises in the country.

More than ever before, most of the regions and nationalities in the Republic want to breathe an air of freedom, to control their political and socio-economic affairs and, where possible, maintain a form of peaceful union or association with their neighbors in Nigeria. Let us take a closer look at the two options.

Option 1: – Restructuring

What does Restructuring mean in the Nigerian context as of today? After a careful and objective analysis of the persistent political and social crises in Nigeria and the level they have reached today, ADF is of the view that the only viable political union is the one based on certain social, cultural, religious, economic and political principles and values. It is only these that can guarantee the continued co-existence of the various nationalities in Nigeria in any peaceful political union.

These principles include the following: –

  • A Union of the willing and free peoples, totally devoid of master-slave relationship in the conduct of its affairs.

  • It must be a Union anchored on the principles of –

  1. Self-determination for the various nationalities

  2. Regional autonomy,

  3. Freedom of the component regions to manage and control their political environment and resources.

  4. Thus, it has to be a Union that guarantees the fundamental principles of Equality, Equity and Justice for the component nationalities and individuals who live under its authority.

  5. It must, therefore, be a Union not held together by force of arms, but through an equitable structure as well as a clearly-defined and collectively empowered Central Authority.

    Emergent regions or nation states after devolution

    Projected map for a devolved and restructured Nigeria. Without peaceful devolution through consensus, various ethnic constituents can opt to pursue their own self-determination agenda independent of the central government in power today.

The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) would like to state quite categorically that no amount of military force can hold the Federal Republic of Nigeria together. Only the free choice of the people can. It is, however, possible for any mad-man in the mold of Hitler to think and insist otherwise.

Option 2

Peaceful Dissolution – of the Republic as was the case of the East African Federation, the old Yugoslavia, the Indian Federation, the Soviet Union, etc. If we do this, a number of independent nation-states will emerge from the existing Federation, co-existing as autonomous and peaceful friendly neighbors. It will, no doubt, be possible that a new impulse will emerge to encourage a form of political and economic cooperation or union as has been the case with the European Union today.

Restructuring Nigeria as presently constituted means more than Constitutional Amendment; it is beyond mere Constitutional Amendment.

  1. What is needed to salvage the Federal Republic of Nigeria as it is today and prevent the looming crises from bursting into a civil war is more than a Constitutional Amendment and, therefore, cannot be left to the National Assembly and the Executive to handle or to decide what should be done.

  2. The ADF believes that the perennial crises in the Nigerian Federation, which has claimed the lives of millions of innocent people, particularly of the Igbo race, has, as of today, raised the question “which way Nigeria?” to unprecedented luminous heights.

Therefore, only the people themselves through a special political conference of delegates specially elected for the purpose of providing an answer to the question, “Which Way Nigeria, to be or not to be?”

  1. Whatever possible answers they propose have to be put to the people in a Special Plebiscite or Referendum.
  2. As said above, the ultimate two-related questions to be put the people now are:
  • Whether we should continue to stay together in a common political union, i.e., in one country or to dissolve into our separate natural cultural and linguistic entities.
  • If we decide to continue to live together, then what type of political union will guarantee that we live under conditions of peace, human dignity and social progress?
  • If, on the other hand, we decide to dissolve, how do we do this without war among peoples who should be living in peace as citizens of neighbor-states?

In the light of the foregoing, we affirm that what is required today is either laying the foundations for a new political union or dissolving the republic.

This is beyond the powers of the present Legislature or Executive to decide or determine. Anybody who is looking in that direction or asking us to look in that direction is neither serious nor sincere.

  1. What the National Assembly is doing by way of tinkering with the discredited 1999 Constitution of the Federation is simply robbing paraffin oil on a deep smelling cancerous would.

  2. The question of ‘Which Way Forward for Nigeria?’ must be returned to the people to decide. Therefore, we wish to emphasize the absolute necessity now of a political conference of freely elected delegates by their constituents (units of ethnic nationalities).

A National Political Conference Is Imperative Now!

ADF holds the view that the proposed political conference has to go beyond the submission of the 2014 National Conference. The basic task of such a political conference is to provide answers to:

  1. Should Nigeria continue to remain as one political union or
  2. Should Nigeria dissolve into its component Regions?

The answer(s) which the elected delegates of the people provide should be submitted to the people for ratification in a Plebiscite or Referendum.

The Principle of Self-determination!

The foundation of any political union is based on the highest principle essential for the formation of any state, particularly a political federation. It is the fundamental principle of Self-determination. This is the principle that underlies the proposed Referendum or Plebiscite. Thus, even after the General Plebiscite and in spite of its conclusion, any Ethnic Nationality, or Region that wishes to opt out of the Federation must indicate so after an agreed period of say a year or two years. Their choice should also be ascertained through a Plebiscite or Referendum conducted to ascertain whether that is the wish of the majority of their people or just the campaign of a minority of political agitators within the ethnic or region. In other words, ADF believes that the Principle of Self-determination is the key rational principle that should decide the relation between peoples of different ethnic nationalities. This should be the guiding principle in the case of the new Federal Republic of Nigeria as a Union of Autonomous Regions.

Ballot is by far superior to the bullet

The referendum is the ultimate tool for achieving a democratic society. Whatever future we choose must first be ratified by all the constituent stakeholders.

The So-called Indissolubility of the Nigerian Federation

This is the sing-song of those who treat Nigeria either as their collective orchard or an estate of their forefathers and therefore regard the peoples of the various nationalities as their minions. That is to say, Nigeria is indissoluble.

For those who have amassed so much wealth acquired through looted and stolen funds and resources of the people and have them hidden in international and local banks and investment institutions. Some even own palatial properties with values greater than the budget of an entire state.

For those countries and their leaders who wish to perpetually control the natural resources of Nigeria, and in whose banks and financial institutions including real estate, Nigerian leaders and other looters hide their loots.

These are the people and countries desperate to keep the Federation as it is – a human Golgotha – an indissoluble political entity enjoying the peace of the graveyard!

Prof. Nwala is the president of Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF). (This article is an excerpt from the speech he delivered during the launching ceremony of ADF-UK on February 9, 2019.)