by Wobia Akani
Nigeria is not a nation.
At best, it is a blend of diverse individuals and ethnicities lumped together who are trying to make the best of a forced matrimony. At worst, it is a farcical nation. It has been nearly a centenary of striving and struggling to attain nationhood and yet we are still not there.
A nation can be defined as a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture or language inhabiting a particular country or territory. Nigerians do not have common descent, culture or language. The closest thing we have to a common history is the fact that the people/territories that make up Nigeria were British colonies prior to the amalgamation of the territories.
It would appear that Nigeria is a country that was created for the colonial master’s pleasure, and at his convenience without recourse to or consideration for the obvious differences amongst the plethora of autonomous groups they sought to merge into one country. These were groups that were accustomed to exhibiting acts of supremacy over their neighbours and only thought in terms of equality when they were involved in trading activities, with each one trying to get the best of the other. Enter Lady Flora Shaw; she said “Let there be Nigeria” and there was Nigeria.
From 1914 till date, Nigeria has had series of constitutions pre- and post- independence, having undergone several changes in government and amendments to the constitution as was expedient. However, what interests me most about the constitution is its preamble which reads thus: “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria HAVING FIRMLY AND SOLEMNLY RESOLVED, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God, dedicated to the promotion of Inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding AND to provide for a constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people DO hereby make, enact and give to ourselves the following Constitution:-” (Emphasis on the words in uppercase.)
At what point did a people who were foisted on each other firmly and solemnly resolve to live together in unity and harmony? The bare faced lie of the preamble permeates the entire constitution, and this is why while one sectarian group has a problem with a provision of the constitution which it feels is too much for it to comply with, there is unsettlement in other quarters for other reasons.
Moreso, rather than embark on the spending jamboree the government has decided to embark on in commemoration of our 100th year as a nation, this is the time to revisit our resolution, as it were. If Nigeria is to continue to exist as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign entity, the needs of every person, or at least every state (in a representative capacity) must be addressed. It is not enough to say that people have agreed to live together, this must be manifestly seen.
This is the time to embark on developmental strides that will better enhance the lives of the citizenry. Nigerians have awakened and have become more alert to the fact that the gentlemen in Abuja do not necessarily speak our minds. While the fanfare and euphoria of turning 100 will wear thin in no distant time, reality still awaits us eventually.
There is no better time than now to call for and hold a constitutional conference with strong representation from the common man. After this has been done and the necessary co-habitation interests secured, we can begin to assess again our viability as a nation.