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Opinions of Monday, 9 August 2021

Columnist: Tunde Adeparusi

Nigeria: A land of insecurity breeding separatism

Various theories are employed to seek or unravel mysteries behind unpalatable occurrences. Sometimes, they help improve the existing systems in societies around the world. Many researchers work tirelessly trying to find solutions to societal problems or social issues. Research findings have proved to be of immense benefit to government at various levels (e.g. in areas of policy formulations etc.). It also has direct or indirect impact on the quality of human life in society. Many African nations (Nigeria inclusive) plagued with socio-economic and political struggles are due to lack of certain fundamentals; these are desiderata. The complexity of the challenges facing Africa is one problem, and the real challenge is another. Addressing the issues may require a systematic approach to understand how best to proffer solutions or mitigate the effects of the direct impact these issues have on the people living in African societies.

Therefore, to want to figure out the “Whys” and the “Hows” of the complexities facing the Nigerian state, just by one stroke of a research theory, could mean a Sisyphean task. But Nigeria matters! Why? Because the problems facing the most populous black nation in Africa, and the world, by extension, should be considered very serious, even by the rest of the continent.

The very priority of any government in any society should be security. Security is the cornerstone of any nation that must progress and advance economically, socially, politically, structurally and otherwise. Therefore, when there are security issues in the land, the social condition is affected; the environment is not conducive for living, and the people suffer pain, deprivation and angst. Such is the current situation of the Nigerian state. As earlier highlighted above, addressing the complexities of the problems of the Nigerian state and the actual problems of the Nigerian state are two different things. Problems unsolved create other issues, which also recreate more problems and so on. This could morph into what is known as coagulation system disorders (i.e. a complicated systemic issue), which are often considered quite complex and very difficult to solve. Nigeria is massive, not only in terms of the landmass but also because of its population, giving special consideration to an important aspect; the over 250 ethnic groups dwelling together as one people under one umbrella as one nation. It is a factor in the complexity of the problems confronting the bleeding nation.

The problem of insecurity in Nigeria is not an entity. It is a product of the complexities of other issues facing the country. However, this is not to discard external influences or forces. But, most importantly, one must understand that the seamless access of the external influences (or forces as the case may be) may have been allowed by the dissatisfied or the ‘angry’ groups within the system. For example, Boko Haram terrorist group, which suddenly emerged in Borno State (northern Nigeria), has now established its tentacles all across the Northern region with a view and a mission to instituting an Islamic caliphate. Howbeit, Boko Haram now has foreign affiliations with other terrorist organisations that have come into the system to wreak havoc based on the existing platform created by the homegrown terrorist organisation. Still, within the same troubled system, different other groups (not terror-ideology based) have sprung up! For example, the Indigenous People of Biafra, and Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra- southern) emerged as a result of internal problems, which have now morphed into a new dimension and have become difficult to contain. Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria sometimes called MACBAN- northern, HISBAH- northern, Amotekun- southern, Eastern Security Network- southern), Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta- southern, Odua People’s Congress- southern, and the list is endless, also emerged from within the same system! Call it vengeance, marginalisation, or whatever may be the theoretical explanations causing the internal problems that may have led to the emergence of these agitations, the fact remains, there is a dichotomy between the North and the South:

Despite the number of ethnic groups (over 250), Nigeria is defined by the three largest ethnic groups referred to as the major ethnic groups; the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Igbo. And these three dominant ethnic entities represent the rest of the ethnic groups in the system. Howbeit, the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo constitute what makes up for northern and southern Nigeria. In other words, the North is dominated by the Hausa-Fulani and the South, by the Yoruba and the Igbo. The difference in value invariably creates the “we” and “others” dichotomy: The fact that “others” are perceived as different makes “we” (us) feel entitled to less, or even inferior because of values. This might not be the absolute, but it provides insights into a somewhat correct perception! One thing is certainly clear about all the various platforms, which have sprung up both in northern and southern regions of the country; they all exist to protect their regional interests. Although the problem of heightened insecurity confronting the Nigerian state may have further highlighted the chasm between the North and the South, history confirmed that separatism has bedevilled the Nigerian state since the colonial era. But definitely, the current spate of insecurity has weakened the fragile relationship between the North and the South. It causes the various interest groups to morph into platforms upon which separatists are now emerging and are calling for the secession of the Nigerian state.

Historically, northern Nigeria has always enjoyed a disproportionate political leadership influence while the rest of the country has managed to appear unbothered, and perhaps, feigned patriotism and understanding, even before now. By virtue of the current deplorable state of the Nigerian socio-economic and political condition because of insecurity, the Southerners are becoming more awakened and more sensitised; referencing a historical era when the regional government was in practice; each region was able to manage its resources and its people efficiently and effectively. Moreover, the current deplorable situation of the country may have also instigated the sudden call (by some southern elite) for a review of the constitution vis-a-vis the restructuring of the system. But for insecurity, perhaps the separatists may not have the courage and the confidence to have reopened historical wounds. It is important to recall that the Nigerian civil war was saturated with the unpalatable history of a brutalised people who are still yet to recover from the debilitating effects of the war, especially where the Nigerian political structure is concerned. Even in northern Nigeria during the war, the situation seemed like an organised pogrom against those Igbo who were resident in the North. One may not have thought that there could be another time in the history of Nigeria when history would want to repeat itself, but for the spate and proliferation of insecurity- a good reason for a good opportunity, perhaps.

Finally, the heightened insecurity undoubtedly provides the platform for separatism. The government of the day should be sensitive enough in its approach vis-a-vis its illegal rendition and victimisation of the two southern separatists; the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu and “Sunday Igboho” (representing the Yoruba), so that the fragility of the Nigerian state may not deteriorate to anarchy. Again, the government should, as a matter of urgency, rise to its responsibility and prevent the resurrection of the unpalatable dead events of July 6, 1966.