Sir Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was quoted in 1952 in a speech in the Northern House of Assembly, Kaduna, as saying that `the Southern people who are swarming into this region daily in large numbers are intruders. We don`t want them, and they are not welcome here in the North.
Since the amalgamation in 1914, the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people are different in every way including religion, custom, language and aspiration. The fact that we`re all Africans might have misguided the British Government. We the Biafrans, take it that `Nigerian unity` is not for us`. This is because, right from creation, we are called infidels by the North.
It is unwise and equally unsafe for me as a Biafran to harbour with someone who sees me as an infidel. Obafemi Awolowo, the leader of the Yoruba and the Action Group party, remarked in 1947 that, “Nigeria is not a nation.Rather a mere geographical expression.” Awolowo went further, “Nigeria is only a geographical expression to which life was given by the diabolical amalgamation of 1914, that amalgamation will EVER remain the most painful injury a British Government inflicted on Southern Nigeria”.

In 1922, the Clifford Constitution mandated that a Legislative Council administers the Western and Eastern regions which moved those regions towards autonomy but left the Northern region in indirect rule from the British. This caused disaffection between the North and Southern part which ultimately resulted in the 1945 Jos riots in which Northerners protested against the amalgamation with the South.
Following on from Balewa’s speech in 1952, the 1953 anti-Igbo riots broke out in Kano as a result of perceived Igbo domination in economic, social, and military dominance. This led to the Nigerian/Biafran war that claimed the lives of many Biafrans.
With the Northern leaders continuing to display an aversion to the Nigerian project, the British had to find a way to placate them. The North had argued, rightly, that it was at a disadvantage regarding resources and education, and that there existed huge differences in cultural and religious norms and beliefs. It was against this backdrop that it had opposed independence in 1953 and 1957.
Independence was delayed until 1960 to give the Northern region more time. It is not far-fetched for one to consider British antecedents in looking after its interests primarily, its worry-free indirect rule in the North, the presence of Christian missionaries in the South and the concomitant absence of missionaries in the North, and conclude that the British decided to leave political power in the hands of Northern leaders.
If I may ask, what could have sprung the civil war after 7years of Independence? Of course, Nigeria is a historic mistake. Given the heterogeneity and history of Nigeria, it quickly became obvious that population would determine political power. Harold Smith, a former colonial officer, wrote in his autobiography, the Blue Collar Lawman, that the census figures of 1952 were rigged in favour of the Northern region. Smith also makes the claim that, a few elections were rigged by the British, for the NPC and the NCNC, when it pushed for the NPC/NCNC alliance. Without knowing accurate population figures, how could the British determine equal and fair representation? 1921 census figures were criticised for not being rigorous outside of cities.
The 1931 census was disrupted by locust swarms in the North and tax riots in the East. The British government announced that the 1952/53 census would be used to determine tax receipts and consequently resulted in many in the South avoiding being counted; logistics problems in reaching all parts, inadequately trained officers, etc. all contributed to the controversies. Gerald Helleiner, a statistical economist, noted the shortcomings of the census and provides in his book, ‘Peasant Agriculture, Government and Economic Growth in Nigeria’, that there was probably a 25% margin of error. A 25% margin that understates your population and overstates another region will result in a huge representation differential.
The 1952 census gave Nigeria a population of approximately 33 million; 18 million in the North, 8.5 million in the East, and 6 million in the West. In the 1959 Federal elections, NPC had 25.2% of the votes; NCNC-NEPU had 36.1% of votes while AG had 27.6% of votes. Other parties recorded 8.1% of votes. Npc's votes gave it 134 seats, 141 if you include allies, as against 89 for the NCNC-NEPU Alliance and 75 for the AG. Excessive gerrymandering must have been the order of the day. An American, Professor Henry L. Bretton, believed the elections to have been rigged. He wrote that "... the very construction of the Northern Region, in the form in which it entered the era of independence, represents one of the greatest acts of gerrymandering in history." A total number of votes in the North was 3,258,520; lower than 3,927,035 in the South. If turnout was also higher in the North with89% (South had 72%), why then did the South have more recorded votes than the North if the North had more people? Surely the voting pattern was not consistent with the population figures from 1952 nor was it consistent with the manner in which seats into the Federal House were allocated.
“The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to have control of their future.” These were the words of Sir Ahmadu Bello. They diverge from his earlier views about Nigeria and are consistent with the unproven allegations of Harold Smith that the British designed and implemented the consolidation of power in Northern leaders.
Britain should not forget the words of Mr Lugard, the creator of Nigeria that States thus "oil and water can never mix. Today a lot of atrocities are going on in Nigeria, while their creators stand back to mock them. It's high time British government dissolves this unholy matrimony or better still migrate the North to Britain if they have so much affection for them. The innocent souls, because time shall come when they shall hunt for your souls.
Emmanuel Precious
Editor Udeagha Obasi
UmuChiukwu writers.
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