The Historical Challenges Of Nigeria’s Amalgamation/Religion And The Way To Peace

With due respect to all the respectable present here today who may have such notion that Nigeria was a false union, I would like to disagree on that stance, I insists that Nigeria was not falsely united and it is not a false union.

The Nigeria’s union was right and valid; it is acceptable and desirable. The way Nigeria emerge to become a nation, that is how several other nations across the world emerge and rose to glory.

Lord Lugard though can be said to have amalgamated the Southern and Northern protectorate of Nigeria, but he cannot be said be the one who brought Nigeria together, in fact, he separated us; he divided us and took us away from the remaining of our people.

A speech delivered at the National Debate on PARADOX OF FASLE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITE IN PERPETUAL CONFLICT: NIGERIA IN PERISCOPE, at the Ikorodu Local Government Banquet Hall, on the 10th of August, 2012, Ikorodu Lagos.

A debate between my humble self, Abdulrazaq Oyebanji Hamzat and Otunba Babatunde Afolabi.

Otunba Babatunde Afolabi in his factual understanding feels like some other Nigerians that,Nigeria was opposite and was false to live together,but i in my understanding and factual evidence, i believe otherwise, which gave birth to the topic PARADOX OF FALSE MARRIAGE OF OPPOSITE IN PERPETUAL CONFLICT: NIGERIA IN PERISCOPE, opposing and supporting.

Though,this speech was altered at the event venue due to several reasons,but it still worth your digest.

I stand in ignorance before our most respectable audience seated in this hall of Ikorodu local Govt banquet hall and I would seek your indulgence to correct me if I am wrong or correct me if I am right as Rodulf Okonkwo puts it.

All protocol dully observed as l humbly and respectably greet you all.

My name is Abdulrazaq Oyebanji Hamzat and my presentation here today is titled THE HISTORICAL CHALLENGES OF NIGERIA’S AMALGAMATION/RELIGION AND THE WAY TO PEACE

Ordinarily, I should have narrowed my topic to discuss the issue of Nigeria’s Nationhood Unionism and the amalgamation alone, because that is the major reason of conveying this gathering, but I feel that this avenue has offered us an opportunity to discuss a wider topic which not only concerns our past, but also addresses our present as well as our future.

I therefore apologize for this little digression.

The historical challneges in Nigeria can be categorized into 4 categories and they are

The issue of Nigeria’s amalgamation
The North vs South syndrome
The Challenge of Christian vs Muslim
And the Ethnicity and personal security

The 4 factors mentioned above need to be addressed critically in the right context and from the right perspective, or else, it would continue to mislead our country men and women. If we fail to properly understand and place history in its rightful position, our effort to make things right would either remain unproductive or even get worse and we will continue to blame our woes on what has no role in creating our challenges.

In this presentation, I shall try to address the 4 factors in the best way I can, so that others may take it up from there and contribute their part to being realistic to history, rather than holding on to myth.

The four factors above are not the dominant challenges like leadership,insecurity,unemployment etc,but they are capable of destroying the entity (Nigeria) since they are foundational issues, in fact, they have being causing a lot of misfiling since the beginning of our beautiful union and if not addressed now,it may deny our people of any hope of the greater tomorrow.

I shall start with the issue of Nigeria’s amalgamation; it is the first on the list.

THE ISSUE OF NIGERIA’S AMALGAMATION: Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Lugard, but today exactly 99 years plus, close to a century, here we are discussing the event of almost 100 years past, this discussion is very necessary considering the impact that the event of 100 years ago (amalgamation) has had and what it is still having on us today.

Many historical analysts had on several occasions faulted the amalgamation of Nigeria, many had concluded that the amalgamation was based on falsehood; They believe Nigeria had a bad foundation and the said bad foundation in their opinion had contributed in no small ways to our past and present challenges as a nation. Some even opined that the only solution to Nigeria’s problems is the dissolution of our beautiful union, this they conclude based on their understanding.

Yours sincerely standing here also do agree that Nigeria’s amalgamation was based on falsehood before now, but despite my admittance to this fallacy, I still do insist that it had nothing to do with our present challenges, neither can separation be a solution or bring the desired change that we all desire.

Honorable ladies and respected gentlemen, The believe that Nigeria is a false union was passed down and taught to us by the past generation, but upon carefully studying the world formation in relation to Nigeria historically, one would realize that what we were taught was wrong and the orientation we had is very misinforming.

With due respect to all the respectable present here today who may have such notion that Nigeria was a false union, I would like to disagree on that stance, I insists that Nigeria was not falsely united and it is not a false union.

The Nigeria’s union was right and valid; it is acceptable and desirable. The way Nigeria emerge to become a nation, that is how several other nations across the world emerge and rose to glory.

Lord Lugard though can be said to have amalgamated the Southern and Northern protectorate of Nigeria, but he cannot be said be the one who brought Nigeria together, in fact, he separated us; he divided us and took us away from the remaining of our people. Example of the separation can be seen in some part of the Oyo Empire which is extended to the present day Benin Republic, but with the amalgamation, such places were cut off from the remaining of the empire.

Furthermore, before the advent of Colonialism, there were no designated countries in Africa. What we have is empires, towns, villages and so on. The biggest and most respected among our empires, towns and cities were the like of the Benin Empire, Oyo Empire and so on. The question we should be asking ourselves to determine what Lugard did either right or wrong is, how were these towns, cities and empires in Nigeria formed before the arrival of the British? Did we form the cities or empires by mutual union or by force? Obviously, most of the big towns and empires were formed by force (wars and conquest).

Initially, after the conquest of a town, the people living in the conquered area were made to be slaves, but with time, they would become part of the empire and moved on. The more powerful town would invade another town and after conquering it, it will make it part of their own town and with time, the conquest of several towns, turned some towns into big empire with versed land.

Ladies and gentlemen, was this not the origin of our towns and empires in Nigeria? If it is, how can we then claim that Nigeria was not based on covenant unionism because we didn’t determine the outcome of the union?

What union has ever been covenantal? Even the respective places of origin that we claim today, looking at history carefully would reveled to us that we were initially not part of it, events of time took place and the new union we found ourselves emerges.

For this reason, claiming that Nigeria was based on falsehood is false; it is wicked and unfounded historically.

Let us keep Lord Lugard aside; Africa as always been one with no state boundaries, but the boundary of town and villages is what we have. Despite the boundary of towns and villages, According to Farooq A. Kperogi,A Nigerian historian based in the U.S in his article titled: the case against Nigeria’s break up, he revealed that the Oyo kingdom had always have Hausas working in it as far back as the 16th century, the same with Yoruba’s in Kano at almost the same period. Even Igbo’s historically were traced to doing business in the northern Nigeria before colonization.

In the entire African region, you are regarded as parts of the community you reside with time and with no discrimination what so ever. Beyond the present Nigerian bothers, Yoruba’s, Hausa’s and Igbo’s in history have been found doing businesses in the area now known as Ghana, South Africa and other parts of Africa as far back as 14th century. This explains that the union of Africa is far beyond that of amalgamation, amalgamation is just like an official pronouncement of what had already existed, but was officially pronounced within a limited and defined geography. This is why you see that, at the time of Nigeria’s independent, some part of Cameroon were part of Nigeria before it later went to where it is today.

Before Nigeria was amalgamated, both northern and southern Nigeria had always been one, trading and working together, but not just that, the today’s Nigeria had always been one with Niger Republic, with Benin Republic, one with Cameroon and so on. It was the colonization of Britain, France, Portugal, and Spain etc that divided what used to be one in Africa. A Yoruba man who would ordinarily go to Ghana and become part of them is today regarded to as an illegal immigrant, and a Ghanaian who travel to South Africa is now regarded in the same way. What a shame that we didn’t see this as false, instead, we concentrate on the fallacy of claiming we were wrongly united when it was the opposite.

Ladies and gentle,

Let me refer us back to the 1966 civil war of Nigeria, where the eastern region of Nigeria tried to cede away with the declaration of Republic of Biafra.

Some people are using the example of the civil war to justify their claim of NIgeria being ethnically different, but I want state here that it would be very wrong and ungodly to conclude that the reason why the eastern part of Nigeria tried to cede away was because of our ethnicity, this is very wrong and historically misleading, because the main reason why the Igbo’s tried to cede away from the beautiful Nigeria was because of injustice. General Odumaju Ojukwu didn’t try to create a Biafra Republic because he felt ethnicity was an issue, he declared Biafra because the eastern part of Nigeria at that time perceived themselves to have been unjustly treated by the assassination of some of its most senior army officers in the 1966 coup lead by some northern soldiers. Even before then, several injustice of man against man had been taking place in the country. it is the accumulation of injustice that triggered the quest of ceding not ethnicity; it is not about ethnicity or false amalgamation, but about injustice and injustice alone.

Having said that, I would like to say that man in his nature would never accept injustice from any perspective, be it from people in his ethnic group or not, people in his religion or not, even injustice from the members of his family would not be tolerated. No matter where injustice is extended to man, man would never accept it as a way of life. At a time, injustice may temporarily be accepted under silence, but never would it be accepted on a permanent basis. This explains why Oranmiyan the second prince of the Yoruba Kingdom of Ile-Ife in the 14th century departed his blood brother. Oranyan made an agreement with his brother to launch a punitive raid on their Nupe neighbors for insulting their father Oba (King) Oduduwa, the first Ooni of Ife. On their way to the battle, the brothers quarreled and the army split up, this split of army between the two brothers was due to an unjust treatment perceived, Oranmiyan instead ceded away and went to found what was later known as the Oyo Empire. The reason for his ceding was not ethnical, but for injustice of man against man perceived.

This also explains the reason why Modakeke and Ife town in Osun state had to fight to an extent that wife is no longer safe with her husband in Modakeke because she is from Ife town and husband had to run away from his wife in Ife because he is from Modakeke town. The crisis of Modakeke and Ife was so rough beyond any crisis we have ever witnessed in Nigeria. Another Similar situation was that of Offa and Erin both Yoruba town in kwara state killed hundreds of their people in defense of what they perceived as injustice against each other. if the northern Nigeria is having crisis with the south in form of riot or whatever, that does not signifies any kind ethnic difference what so ever, it only signifies a perceived injustice that must be resisted,though,it may be based on wrong information or misinformation. If Modakeke and Ife both towns in Osun state were to be a country on their own, can peace and stability be guaranteed in the face of such violence and misunderstanding? Does that mean that each of them would have to have a country of their own? If Offa and Erin both town from kwara state also should be a country on their own aswell, can we vow that it would be any different from what we are witnessing in Nigeria today?

My dear people of Nigeria, no matter where you are living, injustice would never be accepted. If the Yoruba’s should have its own country today, injustice would never be accepted in Republic of Yoruba land and neither can their absence of crisis provided we continue in our present ways, If the Hausa’s should have its own country as well, Injustice would never be accepted in the Republic of Arewa and if Igbo’s should also have its own country still, injustice would continue to be fought until the last day. What can bring peace if all our regions split and have its own country is truth and justice, and if truth and justice is used in this beautiful Nigeria as well, we would not only attain a greater height more than each region standing alone, but we would stand tall in the world and become a world power.

For this reason, advocating for the separation of Nigeria would never stop the crisis and injustice, it would not stop the unemployment and bad leadership, and it would not stop anything unless we change from our present way of doing things. If our state governors, who had allocations from the federal purse failed us, we would blame it on our amalgamation, if our politicians siphoned our funds abroad, we would blame it on amalgamation, so I asked, what did amalgamation contributed to such challenges? Some people would be fast to say that the amalgamation has prevented us from self determination, but this is not correct. For us to be self determined, it only require self awareness, this is what would make a Nigerian go to America and say in the midst of the whites, I am a Nigerian. Some whites may want to tagged him to be a black American, but his self awareness made him identify himself rightly.

Every state in Nigeria is given a chance to self determined themselves politically, economically and ethnically. Every region is given the chance of self recognition, but out of wanting to blame the beautiful Nigeria for our failure as individuals and leaders, our politicians sold the lies of incompatible Nigeria to hide their incompetence and failure.

The idea of incompatible union was a fallacy sold to us by failed leader to justify their failure; this idea was embraced by other failed leaders in their respective regions, states, Local Government areas and even wards. A Local Government chairman who was given resources to provide for his Local Government would siphon the funds, yet, he would blame the beautiful Nigerian union, the governor of a state who had the mandate and resources to develop the state would embezzle the funds, but would turn to the citizens and blame the beautiful Nigeria. So I ask, how has the north or south prevented your state governor/Local Government chairman from using his budget judiciously? How is the issue of ethnicity affecting each state? Why can’t the state Government justify their resources? Yet, we would blame the amalgamation. We the citizens should demand justice from the governors, chairman, presidents who failed to utilize the funds provided to them for our general purpose rather than joining them to accept the fallacy of incompatible Nigeria, when they in their individual capacities are embezzle enough for their generation yet unborn.

To be continued

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