The National Question and Self-determination in Nigeria: being the paper delivered by Adewale Adeoye at the Conference Organised by Maroon Square, held at the Federal College of Education, (Technical) Akoka, Lagos on July 1, 2021 By Adewale Adeoye

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The Gist of the matter: The agitation for self-determination in Nigeria is age-long. However, in the past one decade, the campaign has seen renewed vigour. It appears to be the most dominant storyline in Nigeria today. In recent instances, we see violence being employed to push for ethnic self-determination in Nigeria. At the moment, in the year 2021, in my view, while the country is ravaged by poverty, misery, and deaths, the loudest cry in Nigeria is self-determination. It has raised serious questions about the future of Africa’s most populous country. It has assumed a life of its own far more than the demand for the provision of the essentials of life. Amidst the clamour for ethnic self-determination is the resurgence of terrorism, armed attacks, violence, kidnapping, rape and forceful seizure of land by armed gangs, all happening in the face of poverty, hopelessness, corruption in a country managed perpetually by inept, weak and irresponsive political leadership.

Terrorism: A personal Encounter and the burning rage of terror

In March 2021, I had a personal experience in Osun State. I ran into heavily armed men. Many of us were lucky to escape. The police had come. The exchange of gunfire lasted for no less than one hour as we watched from our hideout. While we waited in nuclear settlements, awed farmers told me their experiences as I interviewed them one after the other. I was informed the terrorists started trickling into the forests more than 10 years ago. They first came as farmers and in subsequent years, began to bring cattle and then arms into the farmstead with the excuse they wanted to protect their herds. I was informed they had maps, binoculars and jungle booths and all the paraphernalia of soldiers preparing for war. This clearly shows that apart from armed herdsmen, there is the problem of terrorism which is being entrenched in Nigeria all of which have aided the renewed agitation for self determination even from strange quarters.  The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortum recently escaped being killed by armed men. The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu’s convoy was equally attacked by armed men.

Ortum said his recently said his experience has convinced him that restructuring was the best option for Nigeria. The Federal Government has expressed opposition to restructuring even though it was one of the campaign slogans of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC). At the National Assembly, there are bills proposing Local Government Autonomy, while the central government, instead of adopting State Police, has initiated its own version by creating Federal Police in communities, an indication that the central government detests restructuring. Today, emphasis is shifting from restructuring to outright break-up of the country.

Self determination in historical perspective: In this paper, I chose to look at the pre-colonial state, the origin of Nigeria as one entity, the pre-colonial campaigns for independence, the various constitutional conferences, the post colonial state, the socio-political crisis and the current contradictions which have propelled an almost irreversible tempo of agitation for self determination.

There were pre-colonial states in the current territory we now refer to as Nigeria. The pre-colonial states and nations may not have been organized in the form in which we have countries of today, but there were nations defined by language, common history and origin, culture, boundary demarcation, defense, governance, political authority, shared fears and aspirations.

In the Beginning: For thousands of years since distinct nations began to emerge some 6000 years ago around the Niger Valley, the indigenous peoples have been part of the historic formations of states and nations. They had a system of governance based on indigenous knowledge, values and civilizations similar to the emergence of nations in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and America.  Long before the coming of Europeans to Africa, the continent had built and fortified states established by the standards of the time. These pre-colonial states existed all over Africa. “The ancient Egyptian civilizations had developed along the river Nile from 3,000 years B.C and had lasted until about 300 B. C. During that time the Pharaohs of Egypt had built up a large empire in Africa and had travelled widely on land.” 1. The early part of the first century saw great migrations of peoples all over Africa with many settling down in territories far off from their original dominion. But there were Western prejudices. Some scholars ignorantly or mischievously hold the view that there was nothing like states or nations before the coming of Europeans. I proceed to prove them wrong.

In his Travels and Explorations in Yorubaland William H Clarke who travelled between 1854 and 1858 in Yorubaland wrote about Western prejudices: ‘They judge hastily and rashly, frequently under the impulse of strong and deep-rooted prejudice, and therefore do injustice to those whom they condemn simply because they are not peculiarly in all things what they would wish them to be.”2

In present day Nigeria, the organized indigenous nations included but not limited to the Bornu (El Kaneni),  Hausa, Yoruba, Bini and the Kwafarawa. The El Kanem Empire ran by the Kanuri ethnic group in the North East of Nigeria, mainly Yobe and Bornu States traversed countries like Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Southern Libya and Northern Cameroon around the Lake Chad basin. Kanem-Bornu was believed to have been established in the mid-9th century with its capital city sited in Njimi, not too far from Lake Chad.  At one time in the 14th century, when the Kanem was attacked by alien forces, the Capital was moved to Birni Ngazargamu until 16th century when the Empire regained lost grounds.

The Empire became an Islamic nation in the 11th century after its leader of the time, Sef mai  Umme became a Muslim changing his name to Ibn ʿAbd al-Jalil. The Bornu Empire thus by 11th century had become a theocratic state founded on the Sharia doctrine. The Bornu Empire existed until 1900.

In 1800, in the phosphoric rage of the Fulani Jihad, the Empire was attacked. In 1808, its King, Mai Ahmad was sacked, but it regained its strength after Mohammad al Kanemi came to his aid.  In today’s Northern part of Nigeria was the traditional Hausa State which flourished in the 15th century. It was bordered in the West by Songhai Empire and in the East by Bornu Empire. The state had a loose union united by language, history and culture though without a central authority. The Hausa States were  Biram, Daura, Gobir, Kano, Katsina, Rano, and Zazzau]. The other seven Hausa States were Zamfara, Kebbi, Yauri, Gwari, Kororofa Nupe and Northern Yoruba areas.

The last seven were not necessarily Hausa speaking but were considered, by some scholars to be part of the Hausa State. The states came under attack by the Fulani in 1804 through Uthman Dan Fodio who preached Holy War against the oppressive Hausa Habe system. The Jihad enlisted many Hausa peasants who formed the bulk of the Jihad. Earlier in the 14th century, the Hausa States had been introduced to Islam operating stiff Islamic laws.

In the 19th century, the Hausa State was vanquished by the Fulani who led the Jihad. By 1820, most if not all the Hausa States have come under the new emergent power of Uthman Dan Fodio all of which were subservient to Sokoto, adopted as the new capital and to a large extent, exerting central authority on the rest of the states. The states were not all about wars, they had administrators who managed the political economy, local and international trade including appointment of political envoys.

‘For long, however, the economic development of Hausaland was overshadowed by the might of Mali and Songhai to the West and Kanem-Bornu to the East. Lacking large supplies of gold or vast imperial resources, the area did not attract North African merchants until comparatively late in its history. Once contact was made with North Africa, however, prosperity grew quickly, and after the fall of Songhai there was very rapid economic growth.” 3  The Bini Kingdom was established by Oranmiyan, a prince from Ile-Ife.  The then Ooni of Ife, Oranmiyan’s father had sent Oranmiyan to Bini which was then referred to as Igodomigodo ruled by some 35 Ogisos, a parliament of leaders that had ruled over Benin. Oranmiyan on arrival lived at Use, the outskirt of Bini where he ruled the city and her frontiers. He left Bini and arrived at Egor, where he had a wife, Erinwide, daughter of Enogie, who gave birth to Eweka who became the first Oba of Bini.

The Kingdom developed into a state expanding eastwards and westwards. Between 1400 and 1700, Bini attained her height of statehood and prosperity including military prowess. It had Metropolitan and community regiments. It began to decline in 1700. The end of Bini Empire was enhanced finally by the British in 1897. The British visitor Richard Francis Burton had visited Bini in 1862. He was at that time an envoy at Fernando Po. He sought treaty between Bini and Britain, fueled by the abundance of palm oil, timber and rubber. Various treaties were proposed between 1884 and 1886. In 1892, the Vice Consul, Henry Galway visited Bini. Due to dispute over trade and suspicion about the mission of Britain, Bini launched a pre-emptive attack on the British leading to the deaths of British soldiers. The British went for reinforcement and in turn launched a counter attack in 1897 which eventually led to the overthrow of Oba Ovonramwen. The Empire came under British rule. While it lasted, Bini was centre of civilization and culture known for its ivory and brass, acknowledged as one of the world’s best works of art. This could not have been achieved without a formal school of or art and philosophy that specialized in Creative talent and design. In Yorubaland, from the 9th century, a city state had been created at Ile-Ife through its first most notable progenitor, Oduduwa. The advancement in economy and trade led to the expansion of Ile-Ife dynasty, with many of Oduduwa descendants establishing several Kingdoms up to Bini, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana all linked to Ile-Ife.  In Ghana, the Oduduwa dynasty also extended through the Ga and the Ewe people.

De Wheno Aholu-Toyi 1, the 15h Akran of Badagry said “As a matter of fact and for the avoidance of doubt, the earliest Monarchy for the Badagry stool had its root from Accra in the old Gold Coast through the Ga/Ewe speaking group historically reputed to have migrated from the ancient Ketu Kingdom (part of Odudua major Kingdom which left Ile-Ife around the mid-twelfth century (1257) and established the Badagry Kingdom around 1560.”4

The most successful of the Oduduwa dynasty was Oyo Empire established in 1300 by Oranmiyan. Before the formation of Oyo Empire in 1300, there were tributary states like Ekiti, Ijesa, Owo, Ondo under the Oduduwa dynasty all loyal to Ile-Ife, the headquarters of the federal state. Oranmiyan’s establishment of Oyo Empire changed the structure of the traditional nation. Oranmiyan  had left Bini around 1190. At the Niger tributary, he established a city named Oyo-Ile with his royal entourage. He married Toroso, a Nupe woman and also Moremi Ajasoro. The Oyo Empire flourished between 1300 and early 1800 before its decline. As indicated by Stride and Ifeka-1971, “Small states and chiefdoms were the characteristics form of political organization until the eighteenth century. However, there were two major exceptions to this general rule, namely Benin and Oyo. In both cases, possession of iron and trading contact with the great Sudanic trading centres enabled growth on an imperial scale to take place from the fourteenth century onwards.”5

The Kwarafa Empire was a plural society built around multi-ethnic groups through a strongly linked confederacy established along the Benue River Valley. It was cited in the South-West of Bornu Empire and Southwards of the Hausa States. It was a prominent Empire in the 17th century. The confederacy lasted for about 350 years before its collapse in the 18th century. The capital of Kwarafara was Wukari. It contained a number of smaller ethnic groups brought together by common fears and bound and by territorial contiguity. It was established in 1500 and lasted until 1840. Obviously, these traditional states were not as organized as the modern states of today, but they had all the rudiments of authority, leadership and structures for the maintenance of law and order. There were unwritten constitutions that guided the lives of the people mainly derived from their customs, values, civilizations and heritage. The obvious point is that before the formation of Nigeria in 1914 by the British, there were states and nations in the territory we now refer to as Nigeria which were on their own chosen path of development. As stated by Okwudiba Nnoli, ‘Without implying any linearity in their history, it is clear that over the past centuries, these societies have increasingly become more complex through sometimes evolutionary, and other times revolutionary, occurrences. Changes in their technique of production, migrations, and patterns of contact with other societies have given rise to societal transformation” 6

It is wrong to presume that the indigenous people have no idea about nations and states prior the colonial era.

The Emergence of Nigeria

On January 01, 1914, the concept of Nigeria was developed after more than 5000 years of human existence in these territories, and had passed through various stages of development. It should be recalled that the lordship of Britain did not manifest until 1800s. It began with the annexation of Lagos in 1861. In 1884, the Oil River Protectorate was established. Between 1886 when the Yoruba civil war ended and 1900, the current space referred to as Nigeria was under the domination of the Royal Niger Company, a relationship built on charter administered by George Taubman Goldie. The Southern and Northern protectorates were amalgamated in 1914 at the prompting of British agent, Lord Lugard. However, the three, East, West and North ran as autonomous regions. Though British effective rule of the South and the North began in 1900, Sokoto, the headquarters of the Sunni Muslim State was not subdued until 1903.

Of the British occupation, Ahmadu Bello had said “Whatever the rights of the attack on Kano and Sokoto may be, the British were the instrument of destiny and were fulfilling the will of God. In their way they did well. Even at the actual time there was no ill-will after the occupation. We were used to conquerors and these were different: they were polite and obviously out to help us rather than themselves.’7 Thus came the effective, forceful merger of the pre-colonial states and nations by the British. With the amalgamation, alien interest had forcefully brought together nationalities, philosophies civilizations, cultures, values, faith, heritages and norms, some in perpetual conflict with each other, together, under a garrison hegemony. There were no consultations, no conferences, no debate, if any took place, it was one-dimensional, among the colonisers. One of the kernel principles of living together in peace and conflict prevention is the culture of debate which was absent in the formation of Nigeria.

No doubt, nations could emerge through different means: either by conquest, by mutual agreement or through voluntary surrender of sovereignty. However, countries that emerge other than through informed consent of stakeholders have the greater risk of turmoil than those nations brought together out of participants’ freewill. In the year 1914, the seed of discord and repression of democratic dissent was planted. It has started to geminate since then.

Between 1900 and 1960, there were various constitutional conferences organized by Britain on the future of the new colony. It should be understood that during the various constitutional conferences, representatives were invited based on their regions, where each presented their aspirations and suspicions. Prelude to the exit of British rule in 1960, the colonial government, aware of the bottled-up disenchantment set up the Willink Commission of Enquiry. Inaugurated on November 23, 1957, it traversed the country between November 23, 1957 to June 1958. It met with individuals, communities and minorities. After its consultations, it made recommendations to the colonial government.

Key among the demands of minorities was the creation of states given the several cases of reports of domination by ethnic minorities lodged against majority ethnic groups in the North and South. In the report of the Willink’s Commission, it was stated that “the boundaries of the territory now known as Nigeria were first defined in 1907. The word Nigeria was then not twenty years old and the various elements which now constitute Nigeria came together for the first time under one Government in 1914. The unity and indeed, the separate existence of Nigeria are thus concepts of recent growth.”  8

The Commission noted that at the 1953 Conference the decision was taken that Nigeria should be a federation of three regions. The dominant political parties at the time, AG, NPC wanted a Federation of three regions, while the NCNC preferred a strong centre but had to succumb to the demand of the other two political parties, the AG and the NPC.  The real changes in terms of recognizing the diversity of Nigerians began with the 1951 (Macpherson Constitution) which ushered consultations with the people. The Legislative Council directed meetings with villages, districts, divisions, regional and provincial levels after which a national conference was held.  However, the groundwork for Federalism in Nigeria was laid by the 1946 Richardson constitution.

‘The result of this decision was a Federation of an unusual composition, in that one of the three constituent elements was slightly larger in population than the other two to distinguish between a majority group of about one-third. When the Conference was resumed, in 1954, certain of these minority groups expressed fears about their future in Regions of this kind and asked for recognition as separate states:”9 In his epic book, Dele Ogun reflected that ‘pushing the new country out of independence whilst pregnant with these agitations for self-determination, and new states, could only lead to one outcome.’10

By 1960, Nigeria had three regions, West, North and East. These formations put together by the British were informed by their 60-year experience in governance and political economy of Nigeria. The years between 1952 and 1966, when the country ran a confederation, each region developed based on its own objective situation. Under the 1960 constitution, each region had own constitution, apart from the Federal Constitution, separate Coat of Arms and Motto, separate diplomatic missions abroad led by “Agents General”.

What promoted political crisis was the scramble to take over the political command of the country at the centre and the rivalry between the three regions to upstage one another at the centre. This precipitated political crisis that led to the country’s first military coup. 

This was compounded by the fact that the post-colonial emergent ruling class at the national level in Nigeria has never had any national vision either for economic, cultural or political freedom of the people. While the NPC and NCNC coalition ruled Nigeria immediately after independence, the most important figure in NPC, Sarduana of Sokoto Ahmadu Bello who held a traditional war title in the caliphate was quoted to have said that he would conquer Nigeria the way his great grandfathers conquered the Northern territories, referring to the Jihad of 1804. ‘A report in the Sunday Express of December 20, 1959, at page 2, summed up the attitude of mind of the hierarchy…..I shall divide Nigeria into two and hand them over to my lieutenants….Sir Ahmadu claimed that like his great grandfather, Shehu Othman Dan Fodio who he said after his conquests, divided the conquered country between his two sons, ‘I too after conquering the South will also divide Nigeria into two to be taken charge of by    two of my lieutenants.11Saduana on the other had believed the Fulani ascendancy in Nigeria which was promoted by the British was informed by the Fulani administrative expertise.  To him, ‘Lugard, as has been said saw the administrative genius of the Fulani Rulers and their staffs; he utilized it as the mainspring of the Native Administration system, that he called  ‘Indirect Rule’, and it has worked well since then. The only difficulty from his point of view was that the Fulani system did not cover the whole country. An attempt was made by the British to produce an imitation of Fulani Rule in what were then known as the ‘pagan areas’ and this failed completely.’ 12 Chief Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe on the other hand were accused of forming ethnic unions. The Egbe Omo Oodua was established in 1945 while the Igbo Federal Union came in 1944.  In the next phase, I will examine the rise of Nigeria from a regional state to a forcefully united country.

Forceful unification of Nigerian three Regions: The emergence of a post colonial Barracks State.

In 1966, following the military coup led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu and later subdued by Gen Aguiyi Ironsi, the Decree No 34 of 1966 forcefully merged the three regions into a one-dimensional country even in the face of agitation for autonomy by all the nationalities without exception.  The unitary system is not without its own beneficiaries. It led to absolute power akin to monarchical order. The economic and political structures, the network of institutions, local, national and commune, came under the control of one person or hegemony who bestride over the country as if it is a personal estate. In terms of its concentration of power and authority, it enables the Head of State to appoint, dismiss anyone without question.

The political crisis in the South West following the 1964 elections and attempts by the ruling alliance of Northern Peoples Congress, NPC National Council of Nigerian Citizens, (NCNC) to scuttle the freely expressed democratic will of the people spurred the Wild Wild West protest which aided military intervention.

The January 1966 coup led to the killing of Ahmadu Bello, the iconic scion of the Sokoto caliphate. The emergence of Ironsi after Nzeogwu’s coup was subdued was resisted by the Northern officers, prompting the massacre of Igbo in some parts of the North. The pro-North military that took over the country after the overthrow of Ironsi’s government sustained the barracks structure. For a country that emerged out of primordial rival empires, Decree 34 of 1966 provided the legal framework for forceful union which nurtured domination, control and manipulation of the country’s political and economic commanding heights by vested interests to the detriment of the contending parties.

In subsequent years, the command structure became a highly attractive venture for the military leadership and the political elite that sees a composition similar to a military command. One of the problems with Nigeria since independence is that the central government became a magnet that drew the various contending forces or their rookies hoping to take over the apex in order to run the affairs of the state in accordance with geo-political desires. In the pre and immediate post colonial years, the three most prominent political parties, NPC in the North, the AG in the West and the National Council for Nigerian Citizens, (NCNC) in the East had control and influence in the regions where each was established and where their key leaders had ethnic control.  However, it should be noted that between 1952 and 1966 saw a country of comparative autonomy for ethnic nationalities in terms of political and economic choices. Regional political parties, independence candidacy were recognised by the electoral umpires. For instance, the economy was decentralized and each region had its own constitution enabling growth and development founded on the objective conditions in each of the three regions. Since the coups of 1966, Nigeria has never been the same. The rivalry between the ancient Kingdoms was transferred into the scramble for the control of the political-economy which finds expression through sectional coups and counters coups. In 1967, the consequences of the January 15 coup led to the Biafra war which lasted from 1967 to 1970. The war left scars that may never healed.

Power, Politics and the Crisis of Resource Allocation

Another major factor that has compounded the Nigerian crisis is control, ownership and sharing of national resources. Over the years, there has been gradual movement from regional control of resources to arbitrary control by the central authority.

In 1953 for instance, the Chicks Commission recommended 100% on the basis of allocation according to derivation. Under section 134(11) of the 1960 independent constitution, 50% was adopted for each of the three regions.  In 1970, after the civil war when oil began to feature prominently in the economic and political equation of Nigeria, the Gowon administration decreed 45% to the states.  The figure was reduced to 20% in 1975 when decree 6 was promulgated during General Murtala Mohammed’s regime.  In 1982 when a democratic government was in power, the allocation dropped to 2%.  In 1984 during the era of General Mohammed Buhari as military Head of State, the figure depreciated to 1.5% and later to 3% during the time of General Ibrahim Babangida. From 1966 to 1997, Nigeria witnessed six successful military coups. The leaders profess the desire to run a united country grounded on justice and the rule of law but in praxis have been reactionary and anti-people. What we have seen are governments that have consistently manipulated the divisions among the people, feasting on their prehistoric differences. Of all the military regimes that have ruled Nigeria, some of the most reactionary were the regimes of the late Generals Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida, IBB who staged a coup on December 31, 1983 to overthrow the democratically elected government in of Alhaji Shehu Shagari..

It should be noted that in the wake of Independence, Nigeria had a string of progressive economic policies propounded by some of the regional leaders. The Western Region for instance introduced free and compulsory education through Chief Obafemi Awolowo led Action Group, (AG). This economic policies of the South West was driven by Democratic Socialism. This led to economic growth in the region between 1952 and 1960. The NPC led by Ahmadu Bello and the NCNC had economic blueprints that transformed their regions. The foundation for economic growth was laid in the three regions further encouraged through mutual regional competition and rivalry between the three regions which aided some achievements in various spheres of development.

During the era of regional self government, certain laws were made to enhance industrial growth in the post colonial country. For instance the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act of 1958,  the Industrial Development (Import Duty Relief) Act of 1957;   the Customs Duties  Act of 1958 were introduced to promote indigenous industrial take off of the country. The National Industrial Plan of 1962 ensured not less than 14 percent of public investment was invested in the industrial sector. These plans were disrupted by the political crisis that engulfed the country after the 1964 general elections. However, under the military, Gen Yakubu Gowon introduced the Companies Decree of 1968 to help greater indigenous ownership of investments in the country. In 1972 after the civil war, Nigerian introduced the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion (Indigenization) Decree in 1972 with the sole target of ensuring that the government took over companies and industries in Nigeria.

However, why these policies were to help develop a political economy based on local content, there was no equivalent and sustainable political ideology to drive the initiative. The country’s decline into economic asshole was further accentuated at the coming of the National Party Nigeria, (NPN) in 1979 after more than a decade of military rule. The civilian government introduced the Economic Stabilization Acts of 1982 and 1983. This liberalized the economic space and moved Nigeria from the centre to the right wing extreme. The regime launched the privatization of national assets. Corruption and profligacy took the centre state. By the time the government was overthrown on 1983, the damage had been done. In 1985 when Gen Ibrahim Babangida overthrew Mohammadu Buhari, he brought full blown reactionary economic policies that further pauperized millions of Nigerians. The country’s economic commanding heights fell. The value of the naira further nosedived amidst  human rights repression and spineless corruption. This further deepened lost of hope of many Nigerians in the polity. The first generation of Nigerian professionals began to leave the country in large numbers, many of them representing skilled labour both in the industrial, academic and even artisan communities. Millions of people lost their jobs, crime rate shot into the sky. Public resistance was met with authority violence, state sponsored killings, abduction and repression dominated the political space. The crooked fiefdom sharpened during the era of Babangida was institutionalized through the Structural Adjustment Programme, (SAP) leading to privatization of the commanding height of the Nigerian economy. Within the shortest time, the value of the naira nosedived, prices of commodity rolled down the hill characterized by loss of jobs, rising unemployment. The upswing in social unrests precipitated resistance led by students, labour and peasants. The regime responded with violence and killings. Public pressure led to the June 12 election which was again annulled by the military government of Babangida. Abacha came to complete the circle of torture. The crisis accentuated by the economic downfall added to the growing feelings of exclusion and marginalization of the poor masses. What succeeded Babangida was his worst version in the form of a brutal, instinctively violent and uncouth, corrupt tyrant. After his death, the wreck of the country was inherited by Gen Abdusalami Abubakar who handed over again to a former military dictator, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, this time in a civilian garb. Since 1999, Nigeria has continued on the path of misgovernance, corruption, state-sponsored violence, profligacy, exclusion of the toiling masses and anti-people but pro-imperialist economic policies. Since 1999 Nigeria has continued to renew the economic programmes influenced by alien interests designed to favour foreign investors and their local political collaborators. The racketeer economy deemphasizes public interest.

‘With the increased activities in the field of manufacturing, importation, and construction industry occasioned by the growth in oil wealth, the country is more than ever before integrated into the world capitalist system in a manner which destroys self-reliance, increases external dependence, and leads to the external control of local economic life.’ 13 Path to Nigerian Development p128.  The Nigerian ruling class ran a political economy designed to impoverish the people, produce a few millionaires and billionaires amidst millions of subjects that live in abject misery. The country is a consumer society, every initial efforts made to set the foundation for industrial take off of the country by the founding fathers, inspite of their limitations, was filtered away in subsequent years.

The State and Ethnic Favoritism

The various military regimes, barren of any ideological drive, and desperate to cling to power, resorted to ethnic favouritism in terms of appointments, allocation of national resources like oil blocs and the disbursement of favour. The lifting of ethnic chauvinism to statecraft led to disenchantment in the public space and within the military. On April 22, 1990, Major Gideon Orkar led a military revolt. The coup was largely an ethnic minority revolt. The demands of the coupists included the excision of some states from Nigeria. The coup plotters were also angry that Babangida had become a champion of his ethnic instead of national interest. ‘The implication here was that the President’s about-face was a capitulation to sectional interests which was against the spirit of nationalism that fired the enthusiasm of those officers into pitching their tent with him. The officers were apparently piqued with the tradition of foisting northern-born officers as governors in their home states as well as in the South without problems while the Southerners were being denied such opportunities.’ 13. While ethnicity was dominant during the military era especially in the time of IBB and Abacha era, it became worse under the current regime of Mohammadu Buhari. Since 2015, Nigeria has seen the most astonishing rise in ethnic politics in Nigeria. Buhari has been accused of stocking his government with people of his ethnic stock occupying strategic positions which violates  the National Character principle. Gradually, many Nigerians began to lose faith in the unity of the country.

Lack of Organised and ideology-driven National Opposition.

Apart from the economic hardship, the collapse of an organized national opposition weakens the prospect of a national rebirth. Labour and other progressive forces have degenerated in ideology and perspectives leading to the lack of a people-driven mechanism that can swiftly respond to the rot orchestrated by the ruling class. The students’ movement once driven by clarity of ideas and quality of human resource, has degenerated. The students’ movement was the breeding ground for prospective radical figures. With a limping and compromised labour movement, a fatigued and disillusioned students movement and the lack of radical social forces in the traditional hubs of labour unions, in the midst of party politics dominated by ethnic favoritism and tribal loyalty, the field is open for ethnic groups who in reality are the first organized social unit for any community or individual.

Agitation for Restructuring

Nigeria began the campaign for National Conference in the late 1980s. Since then, the agitation has increased. It will continue to increase because the country has failed to define and design a national vision that aggregates the plural nature of the country. The  economic policies of the leadership has failed to address the pangs of an increasingly desperate, toilworn and exhausted populace. Ethnic groups began to appear as the succor for many disillusioned Nigerians. Pro-restructuring point to what they consider as the garrison structure of Nigeria and the over concentration of power at the centre. Nigeria runs a Federal system but in reality stifles the federating units especially in the context of revenue sharing and devolution of power. Many believe the consistent conflict in the country since independence, including the 30-month old civil war is a reflection of the political fault lines.

Advocates of restructuring also point to the increasing over-concentration of power over security architecture by the FG at the expense of the states. Over the years, the FG has continued to take over responsibilities of the states. For instance in 1963, there were 46 items on the Exclusive legislative list, by 1999, the Exclusive list has gone up to 68.   The powers of the states and local governments have been cut down. The 1999 constitution also gives 54 percent, being the lion share of revenue to the FG, 26 percent to the states and 20 percent to the local governments, an indication that the country has been in retrogression in terms of revenue sharing based on derivation.  Lately, the call for restructuring has been seized by fresh blocs in the Middle Belt, a region hitherto opposed to devolution of power, this time, fueled by the recent herdsmen killings.  The armed pastoralists are active in every corner of the country, killing, maiming, kidnapping and robbing people of their ancestral land. Apart from armed pastoralists, there is the threat of terrorism. Nigeria has seen cases of heavily armed men who have no cattle yet have invaded ancestral homes of many indigenous communities, their lands seized.

The rise of Self determination, armed resistance, a chronicle of violence and deaf ears

I present here a summary of the report card of ceaseless agitations, violence and misery, now the lot of Nigerians. An attempt should be made to give a graphic picture of the current situation in Nigeria regarding concurrent elements that threaten the oneness of the country.   In the past one decade, self determination groups have grown in Nigeria like mushroom in early summer. No particular region in the country is immune from this outcry. In the North East, the North West, the Middle-Belt, the South West, the South East and the South West various groups continue to drumbeat the call for self determination, in many cases up to the point of secession.

In the South West, the clamour for self-determination agitation rekindled after the June 12 election crisis won by the late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola. There was great disillusionment among many people in the mainly Yoruba South West following the annulment of the election by the dictator, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. After ceaseless campaigns without respite, the first self determination group to be established in the South West was the O’odua Youth Movement, (OYM)  in December 1994 led by two former leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS). The pioneer leaders were in their 20s. The leadership of OYM was essentially a product of the students and labour revolutionary history. In 1995, the OYM launched the Yoruba Charter, a socio-economic blueprint that highlights the road to Yoruba Nation under a Socialist Democratic transformational plan. In 1995, the O’odua Peoples Congress, (OPC) was established by the late Dr Fredrick Faseun who was once the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party. In 1996, O’odua Liberation Movement, (OLM) led by the late Baba Omojola, a radical left was established. The leadership of OLM, whose coordinator was Comrade Rotimi Obadofin, was essentially left. The OLM designed the first Yoruba Flag and Logo. In the year 2001, the Coalition of O’odua Self Determination Groups, (COSEG) was formed being the first coalition of some six Pan Yoruba groups. The first Coordinator of COSEG, Rotimi Obadofin came from the Marxist tradition so also was his successor, Comrade Wale Balogun. While COSEG was based in Lagos, Apapo Omo O’odua another Yoruba coalition for Yoruba self determination was based in Ibadan led by the late Comrade Ola Oni, a left-leaning activist, well-known for his Marxist-Leninist tradition. By 2021, there are some 24 Pan Yoruba groups all seeking self determination in the South West area alone. Prominent among the new groups is the Yoruba World Congress, (YWC) led by Prof Adebanji Akintoye  recently christened Ilana Omo Oodua. The YWC raised the tempo of the campaign in 2020 when it approached the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, (UNPO) to enlist the Yoruba Nation. On October 1, 2020, the Yoruba held a world-wide rally in some 75 countries across the world calling for self determination. The campaign was under the umbrella group One Voice. The Yoruba demand for own country has gained currency among millions of Yoruba skilled labour across the world. Across the Yoruba states, the call for Yoruba Nation reechoes daily.

The agitation in the North East began as a movement that rejected the socio-political order in Nigeria and wanted a territory administered under the Sharia law. Boko Haram began in 2009 after the murder of Mohammed Yusuf, the charismatic leader of the Islamic sect.   Boko Haram began in 2002. The full name of Boko Haram is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, translated in Arabic, it means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”. Yusuf who had four wives and 12 children was arrested by Nigerian soldiers who handed him over to the Nigerian Police Force, (NPF) operatives. The police without any trial publicly executed Yusuf at the Maiduguri police headquarters on July 30, 2009. His son, Abu Musab Al Barnawi, is leading a faction of Boko Haram. The most prominent terrorist group in the North East today is Boko Haram. 

Shekarau is the most notable leader of the Boko Haram factions.  He was the deputy of Boko Haram funder, Muhammad Yusuf. Mamman Nur introduced Shekarau to Yusuf. The Boko Haram founder was said to have been a notorious fan of Bin Laden, the Al Quada leader and Taliban. Yusuf was believed to have expressed deep affection for Al Quada in the Maghreb (AQIM). Nur on the other hand is a Kanuri from Cameroon. He was fingered in the bombing of the United Nations Headquarters on August 26, 2011. 

Following the murder of Yusuf, many of his supporters left Nigeria. Some went to Algeria, training under Khadli Barnawi and Al Shabab in Somalia and the Maghreb for comprehensive knowledge on guerilla warfare. Nur, whose mission was to create and strengthen Boko Haram in a regional context was trained in Somalia by Al Shabab. The murder of Yusuf and the killing of his followers drew the blood of revenge in Boko Haram. Adam Kambar was also one of Boko Haram’s main figures who provided regional networking for the terrorist group. Today, Boko Haram has established a dreadful presence in the North East. It is believed that the group has cells, mostly unactivated in the South and Middle Belt area of Nigeria.  However, recently, Boko Haram’s influence is being felt in Niger State, where it has established a terror cell. Boko Haram appears to work with Ansaru, another militant extremist group operating in the Middle Belt region. In terms of military assaults, supply of logistics, the Nigerian authorities claim that Boko Haram has been decimated but not to the extent that it has become impotent. The group maintains its stronghold and capacity to cause havoc in many parts of the North East.  Recently, it created a strong cell in Niger State. Each passing day, Boko Haram proves it remains a potent force in Nigeria. No fewer than 8000 lives have been lost since Boko Haram launched its campaign of terror in 2009.

In the South-South, agitators for self determination abound. The main group is the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, (MEND) though a mismatch of different spontaneous and often ad hoc groups which often emerge seeking immediate gains any moment there is a major crisis in the region, yet the group has its own sketchy leadership and followers. The most prominent figure associated with MEND is Henry Orkah.  The group appears to have a loose structure with its statements built around a popular name, Jomo Gbomo, who is unknown as a person to many. Okah was arrested in Angola in 2008 followed by trial and offer of amnesty. On Saturday, October 2, 2010, he was arrested in South Africa following his link with the October 1 Independence Day bombing in Abuja that took 12 human lives. On January 21, 2013, he was convicted by a South African court on 13 count of terrorism.

The South East has seen the emergence of three main groups: The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, (MASSOB), the pioneer group led by Chief Ralf Nwazuruike,  the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, (IPOB) led by Mr Nnamdi Kanu and the Biafra Zionist Movement, (BZM) led by Ben Onwuka, a lawyer.

 In dealing with the agitators, the Federal Government has been employing of combination of self denial, bully, repression, intimidation and name calling. Boko Haram for instance did not start as a violent group until after the murder of its leader, Yusuf. The campaign of terror by Boko Haram has justifiably earned it a terrorist group. The Federal Government had declared IPOP a terrorist organization given the world the impression that Boko Haram and IPOB are the same. Boko Haram has a strange desire to rule Nigeria by imposing stiff Islamic rule, irrespective of the diversity, apart from opening up violent cells across the country using terror as its main weapon. This could not be said of IPOB which is demanding for the right to self determination within its traditional and indigenous territories citing lack of security and livelihood by the Igbo people. IPOB claims the setting up of the Eastern Nigeria Security Network, (ESN) was in response to the ceaseless attacks on the people of the South East by Fulani armed men. In terms of international narratives, while Boko Haram is seen as a terrorist group IPOB is viewed from the prism of horror.

In the South East, the Federal Government has violently suppressed the growing agitation for self determination. On October 14, 2015, IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested, detained and charged for treason. Despite court orders that he should be released, he was kept for one year in prison. On 23 November 2015 he was charged by an Abuja Magistrate Court for “criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation”. After his release, Kanu disappeared from public view in Nigeria. In September 2017, his home was raided by heavily armed soldiers, a gory scene that led to the murder of some 28 people. The Government proscribed IPOB and labeled it a ‘terrorist’ group. All this time, IPOB did not employ violence but peaceful protests.  Lately, years after the protests were brutally suppressed, Nigeria has seen increased spate of armed rebellion in Eastern Nigeria. Police Stations are stormed and weapons seized; prison attacked and inmates set free; security officials killed and their weapons taken. The government is responding with armed suppression raising serious human rights concerns. In late April, 2021, Divine Nwaneri, a first year student of Imo State University was killed in the front of the office of the State Governor, Hope Uzodinma. In early May, a businessman, Noel Chigbu was killed. The two were murdered in cold blood by soldiers. There are reports of locals being abused, harassed and intimidate on mere suspicion of being IPOB members.

The situation in the North West is fluid. No single group can be associated with the myriad of violence seen in the region lately.  What is certain is that there are armed groups ran mainly by Fulani and another by the indigenous Hausa often referred to as ‘bandits’ by the media. It is hard to debunk claims that the same groups in the North West are connected with the kidnapping ring in the South West States. The terrorists operating in the South West believed to be of Fulani origin have accentuated the calls for Yoruba self determination. There are recorded frequent cases of kidnapping, killings and rape that affect the entire South West states. The figures of deaths related to armed terrorists keep increasing. The terrorists attack farmers and residents. Cow herders destroy farms. The terrorists invade sacred forests, stream and traditional grove. Millions of farmers can no longer go to their farms. This has serious negative impact on food security and livelihood not to talk of the assault on ecology, forest dependency and the associated trauma.  The gory scenario and the seeming government inefficient solutions have increased the call for Yoruba self determination. In April, the Ilana Omo Oodua led by Professor Adebanji Akintoye, launched regional protests across the South West States. Pamphlets and bills have emerged clamoring for Yoruba Nation. One of such read ‘Yorubaland is bleeding. We are being whipped and when you cry they tell us we are CALLING FOR WAR.’  15. In the community I come from, Hon  Rafiu and another businessman, Jacob Olugbade who came from London were kidnapped and kept for two weeks by armed Fulani. After a ransom  of N10million was paid, Rafiu was released, but he died of high blood pressure months later. Olugbade relocated to London and has not recovered. They had killed one young boy in Rafiu’s community of Ipao-Ekiti. In my own town, they kidnapped a business woman investing in Ethanol. She was taken away for weeks. Ransom was paid. The community did not ask her if she was raped. The woman has since relocated abroad. She had employed some 50 people in my community. A close friend known to me,  Mr Bode Folorunso, the  former Commissioner for Agriculture in Ekiti was kidnapped. They shot dead his Personal Assistant, PA. They took Folorunso for weeks and when he came back he spent weeks in hospital. He could not cope with the trauma. As at May, 2021, terrorists sustain their foothold in Yewa and Iganna areas of Ogun and Oyo State States. Those areas lead to Northern Burkina Faso, a haven of terrorists/ISWAP. Now they can bring any weapon to that ”ungoverned territory.’ There are genuine fears, Lagos and SW may be prime targets.  “The dilemma of Yorubaland now is that the space is dominated by 14th century slave drivers, covetous, criminal, vain, short-sighted, loud-mouthed, foolish, flirtatious, leather-tongued who nevertheless parade themselves as leaders who are selling their strangulated people for immediate gains forgetting that the harsh judgment of history can never be bought with money. Mark it, this generation of crooks will be consumed by self deceit and they will rise no more. From these fetters of iron, we shall be free.” 16

A prominent oil magnate, a woman was kidnapped in 2016. She paid N200m to secure her freedom. The latest was in Ibarapa area of Oyo State. In early May, 2021, terrorists kidnapped three ranchers, Kabiru Oladimeji, Kazeem and Soka in Ogun State. They demanded for N10m ransom. In my own personal interviews with some victims of kidnapping, there is a recurring decimal: The kidnappers have a strong network, they are linked with influential interests and lastly, there is the desire of them to have foothold in the territories they occupy. In one instance, the kidnappers kept telling their victims ‘We’ll take this land, nothing can stop us.’

 The Middle Belt region is not exempted. It continues to seen a resurgence of conflict mainly between herdsmen and farmers. A new dimension was introduced when occupiers of seized territories began to rename them. In a publication in The Vanguard Newspapers, June 30, 2018 reported the renaming of Rotchun (Rafin Acha), Dankum (Mahanga), Hywa (Lugere), Fass (Tafawa), Davwak and many others attacked and seized between September 7 and 10 have all been renamed from their indigenous names given to them by Berom, the ancestral owners. The killings in Plateau linked to farmers-herders clash led to the death of thousands of people including Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong. He was shot dead on July 2012, ironically while preparing for the burial of some 63 people killed in violent attacks.16. In recent years, there has been a slight shift in the nature and form of the complex crisis in the Middle Belt. There are many armed criminal gangs, armed ethnic militia spurred by the bourgeoning communal clashes among the ethnic monitories in the region coupled with clear cases of terrorist networks seeking political strongholds by employing the orgy of violence through kidnapping, merciless killings and brigandage in an expressed desire for conquest and subjugation. There are grave concerns that President Mohammadu Buhari’s government is not doing enough. There are deep concerns about why a terrorist group once nominated him to negotiate on the group’s behalf with the Federal Government before he became the President of the country. For instance, on November 02, 2012, there were reports that Buhari was nominated by Boko Haram to be its spokesperson in a meeting scheduled with the Federal Government.  The reported noted that“Islamic sect Boko Haram yesterday opted for dialogue with the Federal Government, picking former military leader, Gen Mohammadu Buhari as mediator.’  The report added that “Boko Haram also proposed Saudi Arabia for the talks, which the government had for long suggested to ascertain the sect’s grievances. Boko Haram also named Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdullazi, said to be the second in command to its leader, Abubakar Shekau, as leader of its team to the talks.” Others to join Buhari were  Shettima Ali Mungono,  Senator Bukar Aba Ibrahim. Ambassador Gaji Galtimari,  Mrs Aisha Alkali and her husband Alkali Wakil. Boko Haram’s team was to be led by Shekarau, Abu Abas, Sheik Ibrahim Yusuf, Sheik Sani, Kotangora and Mamman Nur, a Cameroonian. This report has continued to raise deep concern about why Boko Haram had to nominate someone who eventually became the President of Nigeria and under which there has been re-insurgence of terrorism. The Buhari regime has not helped to allay fears given his posture on issues that affect national discourse on violent pastoralists.

The Ondo State Government had asked armed groups to leave the forests in the state after several cases of kidnapping. The Presidential spokesperson, Shehu Garba said “It will be the least expected to unilaterally oust thousands of herders who have lived all their lives in the state on account of the infiltration of the forests by criminals.”

“If this were to be the case, rights groups will be right in expressing worries that the action could set off a chain of events which the makers of our constitution foresaw and tried to guard against,”19. In his reply, the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu said “The statement from Garba Shehu is a brazen display of emotional attachments and it’s very inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria. Akeredolu continued “We need to clearly define actions on the part of the Federal Government to decimate the erroneous impression that the inspiration of these criminal elements masquerading as herdsmen is that of power. Our unity is threatened, no doubt. Shehu’s statement states in a breath that the governor fights crime with passion while it is prevaricating on the atrocities. The question is, are the herdsmen who are perpetrating murder, kidnapping and robbery more important than government and even the Federal Government in this case?

“Ethnic nationality and activism on the part of anyone hiding under the Presidency or federal government is an ill wind,”20 The Presidency and the Benue State Government have also been at loggerheads. The Presidency has consistently given the impression that it places more emphasis on degrading attacks on individuals who raise the red flag against pastoral terrorists than dealing with the aggressors.

Self determination and the Future of Nigeria

Nigeria is a potentially great country. With a landmass of 923,768 km, it is the world’s 32nd largest country.  Niger State in the Middle-Belt has the largest land mass with 76,363 km. Lagos which is the richest of the 36 states has the smallest land mass with 3,345 square meters.

Nigeria has a population of over 190m people, the largest of any black country on earth. Nigeria is potentially also one of the richest countries in the world blessed with gold, diamond, several solid minerals, oil and gass. Nigeria has 37,070,000,000 barrels of oil reserve. The country is the 10th in terms of oil deposit and hub of the world’s 2.2 percent total oil reserve. The country has some 300 ethnic groups, of diversely rich culture, language, art and heritage. The climate is a mix of tropical and Savannah with annual rainfall of 3,500 mm unique for agriculture; the country is blessed with a vast ocean and coastline of some 850km accompanied by vast aquatic resources. Nigeria has beautiful plains, lowlands, lurch, green valleys and hills; snow is experienced in Obudu, Cross River State; Nigeria has uncountable streams and tributaries making her territories one of the most beautiful in the world. In terms of potential strength, Nigeria is a great country that should be the pride of Africa. However, the country is bedeviled by the forces of darkness, ruined by corruption, nepotism, favoritism and leaders without neither national vision nor ideology that can uplift the country and glorify her people in the comity of nations. Poverty, hunger, misery and frustration have pushed Nigerians to the extreme of inhumanity. Let us proceed from arguments that the country is better as a united country. This is a slogan that has been drummed by different social forces, the political class especially, those occupying political offices, the leaders of ethnic groups that are chief beneficiaries of the skewed system and then by a section of Nigerian Marxists. The reasons being advanced for the unity of the country by these social formations are not the same. Within the political class, there are tendencies. There is a faction that wants a united country propelled by the advantaged position of their ethnic group, there is a faction that wants a united Nigeria based on the privileges and pecks offered by the corrupt and inept country which they are not sure can be guaranteed in a divided country. A section of Nigerian Marxist insists the unity of Nigeria should be viewed from the prism of her strength in population and that what the masses face is class oppression and not based on repression on the basis of ethnicity. However, in this angle, the opportunistic political class and Nigerian Marxist find a common ground. Those who support self determination also do so for different reasons. A fringe of the political class supports self determination on the grounds that it would allow them to be tiny lords in their own enclave. Yet, a section of the ruling class clamours for self determination simply because they have lost access to political power. However, there are those calling for self determination based on genuine frustration, exclusion, denial of access to opportunities by virtue of their ethnic origin, killings, murder and the state of siege imposed on their ancestral land by armed aliens compounded by official complacency of the Nigerian State.

Self Determination as a Legitimate Right

We should treat self determination on its own merit, irrespective of the different reasons propounded by the conflicting interests. Why the Nigerian constitution recognizes only the sanctity of the unity of the country, the right to self determination is legitimate. It is recongised by international laws. Article 1, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), affirms the right of all peoples to selfdetermination. State parties are expected to promote and respect it as part of international obligations. “All peoples shall have right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to selfdetermination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chose.” In Article 20, sections 1 and 2 of the charter states:

  1. All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
  2. Colonized or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international community.

Unfortunately, these articles have been brutally violated by the Nigerian state. Without self determination, the people can never fully realize their full potentials. Both the UN Charter and the African Charter are binding on Nigeria. Nigeria must fulfill her obligations to the international community even if it does not respect the hues and cries of her citizens. Apart from local and international laws, there is the law of nature. Human beings resonate with material relations in their environment which informs their world view, their fears, their aspirations and their choices. A democratic country should not oppose the right to self determination. No country should. Why it is true that resurgence of self determination is linked to economic depression of individuals and communities, the explanation is not enough reason why people seek self determination. People naturally have norms, values and civilizations, traditions, customs and faith they treasure. They do not wish to submit these to any national concepts defined by people alien to them. There is a problem of pro-colonial infantile disorder associated with some Nigerian Marxist scholars. In the desperate race to protect Marxist ideology, they mutilate and destroy the timeless philosophies and sociology of their own people. They are eager to read about class struggles in Europe and the history of the emergence of states in the Pacific and in North America or Eastern Europe but they are completely ignorant of their own history, the centuries of experiences of their own societies and the different dynamics in the development of human material relations before the coming of Europeans. They disdain the language of their own people, the concept of ethnicity, the primordial culture, the aboriginal art, the native ritual, the home-grown science, food, culture, god, faith and the leitmotif of traditional knowledge all in a bid to promote the unity of the working people. The struggle of the working people is meaningless without their history, without their unique experiences, without the philosophy of their ancient forebears, and without their spirituality all of which cannot be classified within the pigeon-hole of food and water alone. The advancement of a national ideology as a way to keep the country united at all cost, thus, has brought in its wake the necessity and inevitability of the destruction of the undying heritage of indigenous people and all the civilizations that made them humans. Those who promote ethnic self determination are wrongly perceived as “parochial, uncivilised, ethnic jingoists, ethnic chauvinists, crude, reactionary” forgetting that socialism is not in any way contradictory to ethnic self determination which is one of the most basic law of human existence. It has come to a stage that Nigeria and the international community can no longer stop the wave of self determination spreading across the country. The shortest cause for the country’s leadership and the people is to address the burning fire instead of attempting to douse it through brute force. Arm-twisting tactics, bullying and the use of state violence will only consume the country and set her on a path of ruin. The starting point it to restructure the country. We need a new constitution with input from the people, we need the ethnic minorities to determine their preferences, we need the people to decide their political and economic preferences. We need to guarantee the right to self determination. This is the best option to preventing a violent break-up of the country. Time is ticking so fast like a digital clock. Delay is dangerous.

Adewale Adeoye read Philosophy at the University of Nigeria, (Nsukka-1988), Master in Industrial and Labour Relations, (MILR-UNILAG-2001), He is an alumni of United Nations Training and Research, (Cathigna, Switzerland), former West African Secretary General, International Alliance on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest, (IAITPTF-based in Thailand). He represented the West Africa indigenous Peoples at UN Headquarters in New York and at the United Nations Permanent Forum for many years, he was the first Nigerian to win the Steke Biko Scholarship Award in South Africa and Secretary General Nigerian Working Group on Peace and Conflict Prevention. A multiple award winner, Adeoye is CNN African Journalist of the Year Award Winner and Four-time winner of Nigerian Media Merit Ward, (NMMA) among many others.


1The Coming of The Europeans –J. A. S Grenville and Fuller p.2-Longmans-1962.

2 Travels and Explorations in Yorubaland 1854-1858-p.232 Ibadan University Press 1972.

3 Peoples of Empires of West Africa-West Africa in History-1000-1800-p G.T Stride and Caroline Ifeka 88)

4 A Brief History of the Ewes of Nigeria Presented to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria on June 1, 2006.

5. ibid p.

6 Short History of Nigerian Underdevelopment in Path to Nigerian Development, Codesria, Senegal.p.95.

7 My Life Sir Ahmadu Bello p. 19 Cambridge University Press, 1962.

8. The Willink Commission of Enquiry, 1957

9 ibid

10  A Fatherless People-The Secret Story of How The Nigerians Missed The Road to the Promised Land Dele Ogun  Lawless publications p. 222

11‘Travails of Democracy and the Rule of Law, Obafemi Awolowo p.2 Evans Brothers (Nigeria Publishers) Ltd.

12 My Life Sir Ahmadu Bello (Cambridge University Press 1962 p. 98)

13 Path to Nigerian Development p128. 

14 Honour for Sale An Insider Account of the Murder of Dele Giwa Major Debo Basorun P.201 14 Ilana Omo Oodua Pamphlet, February, 2012

15 14 Ilana Omo Oodua Pamphlet, February, 2012

16 Pamphlet issued by Oodua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC) dated January 2021

17 The Vanguard Newspapers, June 30, 2018

18  The Nation Newspapers November 02, 2012

19 Premium Times  January 19, 2021

20  Thisday Newspaper January 20, 2021.