By Mana Bari Phar

It is quintessential to look briefly into the rich history of the Nigerian state which is viewed as the largest black nation in the world, with 250 ethnic groups. In geographical size and population, it is bigger than its creator –Great Britain-a 356669 square miles land mass, which is said to be the size of United Kingdom, France and Belgium combined.
Centuries prior to the advent of colonialism, the ethnic nationalities which today make up the Nigerian state existed as split and sovereign territories. They started out as migrating and splintering families, clans and villages but some ultimately became kingdoms and empires. Though independent of each other, they have depended on factors such as proximity, trade, wars, conquests, annexations and sometimes, intermarriage to interrelate and interact.

With a long historical background of interactions, the various ethno-linguistic structures established on distinct cultural backgrounds, the British authority in what became known as the 1914 Amalgamation merged those differences together to tailor what is today known as Nigeria.
With that scaffold in place, the period between 1914 and 1960 saw the growth of nationalism and agitations for independence.  Eventually, an independent Nigerian state emerged in 1960 upon winding through the web of regional curiosities and sectional proclivities. Since then, through political upheavals, coup d’├ętats, pogroms, threats of secession, a civil war led by Lieutenant- Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu which sought to disintegrate the Eastern region of Nigeria union between the period of 1967- 1970, repressive military and neo-military dictatorships, inept civil administrations, nepotistic governmental institutions and a lingering inclination to ethnicity among the citizens, it has been for the tottering African giant a staggered quest for nationhood.
Having held supra, it is eminent that the Colonial creation ostensible to be a blessing has turned to be an Achilles heel to contend. The gap among the regions and ethnic compositions have continued to widen founded on crisis of colonial creation, nationalists’ vituperations and politicians’ imbroglio. Hence, the doldrums in various facets of development in the hundred years old Nigeria has remained endless.
Notable among many vices is ethnic chauvinism, religious biases, and prejudice against the Igbos. Attempts by representatives of all regions to come to a consensus as regards the roving resentment and intolerance were successful. 
This predicament trailed it ugly head to May 30, 1967 when Lieutenant- Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu Head of the Eastern Region, with the authorization of a consultative assembly declared the region a sovereign and independent assembly (Biafra). The administration under General Yakubu Gowon discountenanced the secessionist move and fought relentlessly against the fighters, and succeeded by the final surrender of the secessionist on January 15th, 1970.
Despite the hardship and blood bath this ugly event had led us through, today it sticks its ugly head at us again. The secessionists have metamorphosis to Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu.
The posers remain; should we really blame the Igbos who are clamoring for a better life and independence? What legal framework exists for the secession? What is the way forward?
According to Nnamdi Kanu “Nothing seems to be working in Nigeria. There is pain and hardship everywhere. What we are fighting for is not self- determination for the sake of it. It’s because Nigeria is not functioning and can never function”. The South Easterners feel that they have been politically marginalized in terms of appointments and infrastructural development. These among others are the bitter truths Nigerians and the present administration must face.
In the middle belt, the minority are being maimed and murdered daily in the most brutal fashion; their voices stolen as they are left to putrefy as forgotten prisoners of their own infirmities.
The import of these agitations is that we have an imperfect union (country) which is bereft of equity and fairness, the voices of the masses and their rights are threatened and stolen. As Prof. Sagay right asserted, Nigeria’s Coat of Arms bears the words, ‘Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress’. One fundamental and indispensable word is missing from that coat of arms and this may be responsible for Nigeria’s plight as a failed StateThat word is JUSTICE”
Nigerians dinner table is very large enough to carry everyone but greed, ethnic chauvinism, religious bigotry; exclusionism has risen to dent the inexorable efforts of our brave Nationalist’s and in fact threatening our very own existence and viability.
 Does IPOB have any legal frameworks to strengthen its aspirations?
Under Art 1, [ICCPR/ICESCR, Art 1(2), UN Charter; Art 20(1), ACHPR; Art 2, AL], it provides that:
  1. “All peoples have the right to self-determination…”
  1. “All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based on the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”
  1. “The State Parties to the present Covenant, shall promote the realization of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.”
The provisions of the United Nations Charter, international law proffers the right to self- because its recognition is imperative for the effective guarantee and observance of individual human rights and save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. However, even with the importance attached to the right to self-
Determination has sprung furious and ranging arguments in international law today. The accepted view of self-determination is that, it is a right exercised primarily by people living under colonial regimes. Fundamentally, it was taken as referring to the right of a group of people normally of one distinct territory to decide collectively, the manner in which they wish to be ruled or governed.
However, even though the right to self-determination for all people is an apparently albeit, inalienable human right, it must be noted that it is not necessarily an absolute right! Most notably, its application to ‘peoples’ living under non-colonial domination.
It is however crucial to state emphatically that, the 1999 constitution of Nigeria which is our ground norm does not make provision for referendum, self- determination, or secession by any state. It however states in its preamble that, “we the people of Nigeria resolve to remain indivisible and indissoluble”. Any attempt to divide the Nation under any guise would amount to a brazen attack on the Constitution. The preceding part of the preamble to the Constitution makes provision geared at engendering peaceful coexistence and unity of Nigeria. A simple way of “constitutionalising” this act is to amend the constitution as to accommodate the right to secession or self- determination.
In the words of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo “we are better together than apart” however for this letters to come to fruition, the country must be restructured so that the idiosyncrasies of each group will be accommodated and the vulnerable members of the State be adequately cared for, to ignite the spirit of oneness.
Finally, abrupt measures must be taken to de-concentrate power from the centre. Discriminatory practices in employment, appointments and disbursement of amenities should be disposed in abyss and the key thrown to a never- ending ocean. The cosmetic ethnic balancing measures must be given a total overhaul-to accommodate the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of Nigeria.
Nigeria will be great again!
MANA BARI PHAR
500 LEVEL
FACULTY OF LAW



Publisher: Prince Richmond C. Amadi
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2 comments so far,Add yours

  1. My brother you made a point but the problem is the people in power wouldn't want to let go....

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  2. Even so, the situation now with this Biafra agitation stuff has crossed to a point of no return

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