The word “Nigeria” was first defined in 1902 and, in 1905 Lady Lugard first used the word “Middle-Belt” to describe the autonomous groups existing in the defunct Northern Nigeria as “A formidable pagan strength along the course of the two rivers (Niger and Benue) … the pagan Middle-Belt stretching from 8 degrees north latitudes to the coast, was practically unknown to the early Hausa race.” Besides, there were other different ethnic nationalities that inhabited the area, which is today called Nigeria. We make bold to say that there was, therefore, no Nigeria before 1900.
The series of treaties, which the British authorities signed with the several nationalities before the imposition of the British implicitly or explicitly, recognized the independence of such ethnic nationalities, which the British brought together as Colonies and Protectorates, led Flora Lugard to have coined the name, “Nigeria.” Nigeria, therefore, created the defunct regions – and now states and zones.
This is clear evidence that there were independent ethnic nationalities existing before there was Nigeria. Therefore, Nigeria in this sense was never a voluntary act but part of coercion by the colonial master – British.
The 1954 constitution introduced Federalism in the structure of the country and Britain dishonestly planted seeds of instability and inequality; thus created fears in the minds of the ethnic nationalities. It was not a true Federalism they introduced because the constitution placed the people of the Middle-Belt and others at the mercy of other greater ethnic nationalities.
During the conference of 1957/58, the colonial master, Britain, agreed for a month-long conference in Lancaster House for self-government preparatory to independence. That was the first and the last time that an all-encompassing conference was held to determine the future of Nigeria.
The Reports of the Willinks Commission was never fully implemented and has, therefore, been one of the causes of crisis we have been experiencing today. The Middle-Belt had put forward to Willinks Commission demands for a separate cultural Middle-Belt Region to be carved out of the defunct Northern Nigeria – against the anticipated feudal excesses when the British would have left the scene – on independence.
To say the least, the present action being taken by both Houses to amend the 1999 constitution is a mere waste of resources and time, because it is unacceptable to the generality of the people in the country, especially the ethnic nationalities.
It is on record that before Nigeria’s Independence and, soon after that, the late Sir Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who later became Nigeria’s Prime Minister, was recorded to have said, “Since 1914, the British Government had been trying to make Nigeria into one country but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their background, in their religious beliefs and customs, and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite – Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country.”
This statement stands very true today because Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was himself from the minority tribe, Tafawa Balewa, in Bauchi state, and he personally experienced the struggle and pain of his people wishing to be freed from the Hausa/Fulani alien races’ domination, who are today holding power.
Lugard demonstrated his love for his alien race thus … “The Fulani of Northern Nigeria are as I have said, more capable of rule than the indigenous races, but in proportion as we consider them an alien race, we are denying self-government to the people over whom they rule, and supporting an alien caste …”
The deliberate pernicious evil, which the British did to the Middle-Belt, is a formidable plot against the interest of particularly the Middle-Belt region and other ethnic nationalities of Nigeria in general.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo was also quoted to have said, “If a country is bilingual or multilingual, the constitution must be Federal, and the constituent states must be organised on a linguistic basis...”
President Buhari’s Government is not a democratic government but a dictatorial regime. Democracy as being practised in most parts of the world seeks to involve every adult in the management of the affairs of his/her community, from the ward and the federal level. The aim is to secure that elected representatives who are entrusted with the running of the affairs of the people, are doing so fairly, evenly and efficiently to the satisfaction of the entire people, or the majority of them.
Among the values of democracy are participation by all in the process of decision-making, openness or transparency in the management of the common wealth and common problems, the right of the people to rebuke, correct and/or recall their representatives in government, who are not doing well, etc.
The crisis we are experiencing is not a result of any one factor, but a concurrent of many causes and effects, which combined to have set the country into conflicts.
Evidence abounds that Buhari's cronies and some privileged few have been living largely on the backs of the masses. The country’s resources are being plundered by his ministers, governors, etc., with impunity. Of these mounting problems are the issues of Boko Haram, Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB) and, recently IPOB; the threat of Islamic Caliphate, the Biafra agitation, the Southwest, the Middle-Belt, the Ogoni agitations and many others calling for the restructuring of Nigeria and Fiscal Federalism.
The refusal of Buhari administration to deal decisively with the Fulani herdsmen is because they are his tribe’s men, who helped him rig the last election in Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina and many other Hausa/Fulani towns. The people of Nigeria are desperate to be freed from poverty, frustration, and massive corruption in his cabinet and the civil service.
The issues of corruption within his cabinet have become so rotten but he deliberately refused to do anything about it. He is fighting one-sided corruption cases. The rampant cases of kidnapping, abduction of innocent men, women and girls, assassinations, attacks, and robbery, etc., have become very worrisome.
The policy of Buhari administration is aimed at Islamizing Nigeria; hence his discrimination of appointments against non-Muslims in Nigeria. Recently, the President made 15 appointments in NNPC. Ten of the people appointed are Hausa/Fulani ethnic groups – his tribe’s men. Three of the persons so appointed are from the South-West and two were from the South-East. Other ethnic groups, as usual, were completely left out. The appointments attracted many negative comments from most parts of the country to the extent that the President had been asked by Nigerians to revisit the appointments and to ensure the spirit of equity and justice in order to reduce tensions that have enveloped the country.
The position of the so-called 19 Northern Governors and traditional rulers regarding Nigeria’s Restructure is completely unacceptable to us in Conscience Triumph. Any position taken on the Restructuring of Nigeria without involving the over forty (40) ethnic nationalities will be a fruitless exercise pose great danger to the country.
This Paper advocates the implementation of the 2014 National Conference or else to summon the conference of all the ethnic nationalities in the country to decide how they want to live together.