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One Nigeria: A dream or a nightmare? (Part 1)

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By Dr. Greg

Going by history, there is no doubt that since shortly before the civil war, people of Northern Nigeria have wanted one Nigeria. I say shortly before the civil war, because all along up to 1966, it was the Igbos that had wanted one Nigeria the most, and they worked hard to have one Nigeria.

Also, according to history, the Yorubas have been ambivalent toward the concept of one Nigeria. That is to say: the Yorubas are ready for either way – one Nigeria or a divided Nigeria, depending on the circumstances.

Sequel to the events of 1966, leading through the civil war, the Igbos lost faith in one Nigeria. Since the civil war, that faith has never been restored. The government of Nigeria became dominated by the people of Northern Nigeria with a clear policy of deliberate exclusion of the Igbos.

To the Igbos, the notion of one Nigeria has never been a reality since the war. However, the Igbos were never united on what to do since the civil war. To some Igbos, one Nigeria has been a dream that is possible. And to some other Igbos, it has been a scary nightmare. So, the Igbos are divided between those who think that one Nigeria is an affordable possibility worth exploration and support and those who are convinced it is a futile exercise that must be discarded completely and now.

The greatest and hottest undercurrent in Nigeria today or the most strategically significant division in Nigeria today is not between the North and the East or even between the rest of Nigeria and the East. Rather, it is between the two Igbo factions, ie, the Igbos that believe in giving the idea of one Nigeria a chance and those that reject the idea of one Nigeria.

Again, note that no Igbo person believes that we already have a perfect Nigerian union worth preserving. They all agree that Nigeria is sick. The division is between those who believe that the sick country is curable and those who believe it is not curable.

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The Igbo political class – State Governors class, legislators class, the wealthy Igbos who have acquired wealth they want to protect, the intelligentsia who have hope in upward mobility under the current system, tend to believe that Nigeria is curable and they are the ones seeking restructuring of Nigeria. Let’s say that this group of Igbos are represented by Senator Ike Ekweremadu. (This is just to help you understand the argument).

Then you have the other group of Igbos who believe that Nigeria is incurable and there is no need to try to give it any further trial. This group are made up of mostly the youth, those who have been disenfranchised, the bottom of the middle class Igbos and the lower class. This group is agitated, mobile and aggressive and you see then in large numbers in the Diaspora, which comprises mostly of those forced out of Nigeria by the inequities inherent in the Nigeria that exists. This group does not believe in restructuring. It wants secession. This group is represented by IPOB.

We view this division between the two Igbo ideological groups, as the critical and most decisive division today on the question of one Nigeria. As long as these two groups cannot resolve their differences and come together, neither of them can succeed.

Thus, there will be the initial or preliminary war. That will be the war between the two Igbo factions described above. This doesn’t have to be a shooting war. But that war must be fought and won before there can ever be the main war between Nigeria and the Igbos.

This first or initial war has started. What happened in Germany with Ekweremadu is a flashpoint in that war. What happened in Germany may appear to some as a mere coincidence. But viewed closely, it has been in the making over the past 6 years – the discontent has simmered and we are at the moment when a major crisis is about to crest. Unfortunately, Ekweremadu, Nnia Nwodo and the Governors are misreading what is happening. They are viewing these events through the lens of yesterday.

This writer will forecast that in the emerging war between the two Igbo factions, those who believe in restructuring Nigeria will lose and those who believe in secession will win. It may take time, but the group represented by the youths will win. (This doesn’t mean they they win the ultimate war)

The restructuring faction will lose because two factors work against them. First, the leaders of the restructuring faction are not trusted by those that are neutral. They comprise a greedy and exploitative and corrupt class who have not shown much interest in the welfare of the average Igbo person. They are also perceived as proxy for the North. Their message is perceived as self-serving, designed for self preservation. Secondly, the failure of the people of the North to make any concessions to the Igbos will further lead to the defeat of the restructuring faction.

To buttress the point above, the fact that the North is refusing to concede the presidency of Nigeria to the Igbos, a huge strategic mistake by the North, will further weaken the position of restructuring faction and play straight into the hands of the secessionists.

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