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Southern Nigeria – A Victim of Circumstance By Joe Etokudor

When Kalu Okpi, a novelist in his book – Biafra testament” made a statement that – “there are sights one sees only once in a lifetime and only once is enough for ever,” he was sounding a note of caution against further bloodshed in any form and for any reason in Nigeria.

Although the Federal Military Government after the Nigeria Civil war announced a no victor, no vangiushed policy, all those who lost their lives and property were the eventual losers. Those alive today can only point to where their storey buildings were bulldogged to the very foundation, where their family members were buried alive by mortar bombs and nothing to show for a living.

It is sad to revisit this ugly issue: The Boko Haram senseless killings of the southern Northern parts of Nigeria. The many religious and political crises that have always erupted in the northern parts of Nigeria – targeting and consuming many lives of the southerners is never by accident. They have cleverly been planned in the north and executed in the north by the northerners.

This wanton destruction of innocent lives, to the trained minds, is the materialization of the dreams of the northern elites who had butter flies in their stomach about the Lord Lugard policy of amalgamation of the southern and Northern Nigeria in 1914. From that time, Nigeria’s unity became a house of cards built on a sandy soil waiting for a desert storm.        

The Northern crises and massacre started far back in 1953 in Kano when a southerner late Chief Anthony Enahoro in the legislative council in Lagos moved a motion on self-government for Nigeria in March 1953. The northerners reaction to the said motion on the floor of the House catapulted the crisis\ in Kano city.

The historic statements by some notable northerners on Nigeria’s self-government and unity quickly exposed the dislike and disunity by our would – be brothers. Late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Nigeria in his book, “My Life”, had this to say; “The colonial master who ruled Nigeria introduced a system of unitary government and his amalgamation were far from being popular amongst us (the northerners that time”.

And late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in a speech in the Legislative council said; “Since the amalgamation of the southern and Northern protectorates in 1914, Nigeria has existed as one country only on paper … it is far from being united. Alhaji Isa Kaista called it, “the mistake of 1914”.

It should be understood also that before and after the forceful welding together, the northerners made no secret their dislike. The supposed one country was, and still is inhabited by peoples and tribes who speak different languages, different religious affiliations, different customs and traditions and totally different historical backgrounds, what actually accounted for the costly welding together in unholy wedlock in Lord Lugards mind beats peoples imagination I personally do not see anything like unity in Nigeria.

For instance, late General J. T. U Aguiyi Ironsi, Nigeria’s first military Head of state was abducted and killed by the northern soldiers for his ‘sin’ of singing a song of unity in Nigeria. Many southerners perished in the week of the mayhem.

We do not need to play back the Abubakar Balewa,  Isa Kaita, Ahmadu Bello resentful statements about the amalgamation which informed or ruled the General Gowon’s national broadcast of “no basis for Nigeria unity in his maiden broadcast to the nation as Head of State. General Aguiyi Ironsi’s many decrees promulgated, especially Decree 34 of 1966, were chiefly to broker unity, peace, justice and stability in a giant country that was literally divided by the fear of the educated south. Northern rulers and students welcomed the change and gave the General a balloon promise of support. Unknown to the General nocturnal meetings were held behind his unification efforts.

The simultaneous demonstrations on May 29-30, 1966 by the northern students all over the northern towns and cities, the June 6-8 meetings of the northern rulers and the subsequent message to General Ironsi showing their rejection of the Commission of Enquiry on May 29, 1966 Pogrom were all signals to their already prepared secession. His subsequent brutal murder was principally to halt the unification process. And with the lathery of crises that left trails of deaths of the southerners and wanton destruction of properties, we fostered on the keep Nigeria one.

At one time or the other from 1953 till date, the southerners continued to sing obituary songs of their loved ones residing in the north orchestrated by the Maitatsine sect, Fundamentalists Shiite Sect, Kalakota sect, Izala sect, Muhajiran Sect, Taliban group, name it, without revenge or raise a finger of challenge just to keep Nigeria one.

It is therefore, most baffling that in any tribal misunderstanding, far from political or religious, among the northerners themselves, the sacrificial lamb is always the southerners’ river of blood.

Then came anothers – The Boko Haram (Education is evil) sect whose task is to exterminate the Youth Corps members of southern origin serving in the north. From all indications the North has destroyed the foundation of unity in Nigeria both in thought, word and deed. Crises and killings are never the symbol of unity. And the writer  here, does not see how it    will ever be.

Wait a minute. What happened to the scores of rioters arrested by the police and soldiers at every turn of the Mayhem reported on radio and newspapers? Had any been tried? What had been the sentence of deterrence?

Dora Akunyili had a laud able programme of rebranding Nigeria for Nigerians. She soon discovered she was trying to light a candle in the rain. The Northerners must have perceived it to be another unification in disguise.  Haba!

That Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from the southern minority had won a transparent election to become the Nigeria President after 35 years ruled by the northerners could trigger off crisis and massacre by the northerners speaks volume.

If the southerners cannot continue to worship at the broken attar of Lord Lugard’s chosen gods, then there must be an experienced welder to heat up this unequal ends of the iron to melt. And there will be peace.

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