Therefore, the organisation of SSC ought to help those communities divided into two or more states to decide to either keep their present boundary or make representation for adjustment. If Nigerians are truly fighting for justice, freedom and equity, then as a moral principle we cannot accept as sacrosanct and immutable the boundaries created by either the forces of occupation led by British colonialist or Nigerian Military despots that enslaved and destabilised Nigeria. There is a need to adjust these boundaries in the light of fair play, truth, common sense, reality and social cohesion. This shall be one of the items on the agenda of the SSC. We cannot continue to run away from the truth of our enslavement. In order to secure true freedom we must establish the truth of our existence, why we have recorded such a dismal failure as a society and we must face the consequences of truth. The consequences of truth are nothing else than spiritual and political freedom. It is only as a freeborn can we negotiate the political arrangement that will suit our human nature and promote unity, progress and prosperity in our communities.
Organising the SSC is partly in recognition of the present geopolitical arrangement of the country. However, we need to note that state governments have equally imbibed the culture of economic exploitation and political domination as practiced by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Every atrocity found at the federal level is being repeated many folds at the state level. Most state governments in the federation are forces of occupation. This evidence of tyrannical rule, though a normal practice during the military force of occupation, ought not to continue under a democratic regime. However, in the last four years, the State Governors and their agents have adopted the insolence habits of treating the local governments as sidekicks. They have exercised the power, just like the FGN, to withhold budgetary allocation to erring Chairman of Local Government, to arbitrarily take possession of the assets and resources of local government, and to over-reach in their interventions on local government affairs, policy and administration.
These are evidences of despotism even in a nascent democracy. It only confirmed that the state governments are colonial authorities. The people of the states never delegated the power the government is ruthlessly exercising over them. The people of the state never formally acceded to the constitution under which state government derives its legimacy. Most of the population have not even seen a copy of the constitution promulgated on their behalf but without their input. The present state governments, despite their posturing to the contrary, are agents of the Federal Government. They are willing tools in the present arrangement to keep the status quo. If these assertions were true, would the organisers of SSC be waiting on these saboteurs to support the initiatives?
In mentioning the above, we are trying to help SSC organisers to remember that the enemy they have to contend with is right in their houses and not in Abuja or Sokoto. The political feudal lords from every part of Nigeria are members of a single cult. They have derived so much comfort from the status quo since 1960. The political families that run the affairs of Nigeria have colluded over the years to keep the majority of Nigerians out of the gravy train. The names and pedigrees of the representatives from each state in this political cult have remained unchanged since 1960. It will therefore be foolish to depend on this calibre of Nigerians to reorganise the political structure that has served their families so well. Once again, we would wish to alert Nigerians that we must not trust all the levels of government and their officials with the organisation of the sovereign conference project. We must be vigilant to identify and to remove their leprous fingers throughout the stages of the project.
Ethnic Sovereign Conference (ESC)
There has been a lot of sloganeering with respect to the important position of ethnicity in the political equation of Nigeria. The proponents of National Sovereign Conference have actually based their arguments on the need to accord each ethnic group a central position as nations and equal partners in the Federation of Nigeria. The argument put forward has drawn its strength from the principle that the sovereignty of each ethnic group in a federating state is an inalienable right and therefore the rights to self-determination cannot and should not be withheld from the ethnic groups or nations.
To accept the principle of Ethnic Sovereignty will naturally lead to the articulation and determination of the rights and privileges that must accrue to sovereign ethnic groups. This philosophical manner of thinking and the effort to actualise the deductive principles have raised fears in the minds of those who have assumed all along that the ownership rights of Nigeria belongs to them by divine allocation. The argument of Ethnic Sovereignty is therefore tantamount to sedition in the eyes of the owners of Nigeria. As a result, the hidden owners of Nigeria through their spoke-persons have consistently challenged the sovereignty project as a road to disintegration.
Only political fools will fail to understand the position of the opponents of the sovereignty principle. The enemies of NSC are quite right in their reasoning. The call to accept the sovereignty principle of each person, each family, each community, each state and each ethnic group is a call for the disintegration of the status quo. To pretend otherwise is to be mischievous and hypocritical with the truth. There is no reason to hide the truth of the matter from all concerned. What the proponents of NSC are saying, though in a politically correct manner, is that they are aware of their subservient positions in the present structure of Nigeria. That they have decided to reject this position now and forever and that they have a mission to seize the natural rights bestowed on every person by the creator of life. In addition, that they are no longer afraid to declare openly to the hearing of all concerned their mission of securing freedom, equality and justice for all.
If the proponents are afraid to declare this mission openly then they are not ready for freedom. We need not tell them that those who are holding the rein of power of Nigeria as owners of an ungodly empire secured by shedding the blood of innocent peoples would not sit idle without fighting back to thwart the sovereignty project with blood as usual. But it is the duty of the canvassers of sovereign conferences to tell the owners of Nigeria simply but firmly that those of us bearing the burden of enslavement are no longer willing to cooperate and live with servitude. That, we the hitherto forsaking indigenous people of Nigeria have suffered enough and are now resolve to uphold our natural rights of self-determination as we manage the resources that God in its mercies gave to our ancestors and which we are mandated to inherit and pass on to our posterity by the inalienable natural rights of inheritance. That we are aware of the history of our political disenfranchisement and economic deprivation of all that was ours by right and that we are prepared to redress the atrocities perpetrated on our ancestors by the invading forces of villainy from the east and west of the world. That we are prepared to forgive all those that stole our lands, destroyed our culture and enslaved our lives for five centuries but we are no longer prepared to abide by their clever rules of economic, social and political slavery any more.
It is under this conviction that the struggle for liberty, justice and equality can have meaning. Any pretence that the sovereignty project is otherwise is a testimony to our unpreparedness to do battle with the evil of our time. It is a testimony that we are still riddled with fear and inferiority complexes. It is a testimony common among southern politicians who are ready to eat their cake and have it at the same time. It is a testimony that we are willing to sell our souls for the price of pottage; and it is a testimony that we are ready to negotiate and to exchange our birthrights for political appointments, government contracts and monetary gains.
In the past ten years, a host of ethnic groups have taken the bull of sovereignty by the horn and have gone ahead in various forums to articulate the needs of their ethnic groups. Some have even produced constitutions for the political structure and administration of their groups. These efforts are commendable but it seems the organisers are falling into the same moral error as the Federal Government of Nigeria. This unilateral action of concerned but non-elected sons and daughters of the soil may eventually impose an unwanted political structure on the lower levels of sovereignty – family, community, local and state. Beyond the sovereignty of a person, adjudged as inalienable, competent authorities delegated by appointment, or selection or election must negotiate the political arrangements of all the other higher levels of sovereignty. No matter how highly concerned any of us is, it is immoral to impose our ideas and wishes on the people whom we wish to see freed.
What we shall advise at this stage is that concerned knowledgeable Nigerians that have participated in the unconstitutional ethnic forums should take the intellectual gains of such participation to their individual communities and promote the organisation of Community Sovereign Conference as passionately as they have done in the aforementioned ethnic forums. Like a weaver, let the job of weaving a New Nigeria start from the lowest level of social organisation. Let us see how tolerant each of us is, even at the community level, where the supposedly illiterate members of our communities can have the opportunity to challenge our highfaluting ideas about society. We must not repeat the same mistake of instituting a regional or ethnic government based on covert ownership rights by a cabal of educated elites or professional politicians. No Nigerian is available for slavery anymore. The whole idea of a Sovereign Conference is to abolish all signs of servitude and slavery in Nigeria. It is not to give opportunities to some local kingpins to usurp the control of the present immoral and inhuman political structure of governance.
If we can do excellent jobs at the CSC, LSC and SSC, the Ethnic Sovereign Conference would be easy and less painstaking. The volume of materials that would emanate from each level of the conferences would be enough to set the agenda of the ESC. However, the first task before the ESC shall be reconciliation of age-long differences among the sub-ethnic groups. For any ethnic group to behave as if everything is fine within is to lose sight of the record of history. We all know that there is no ethnic group without internal strife, rancour and endemic contentions on trivial and serious matters. For example, it will be the height of tomfoolery for the people of Yoruba or Ndiigbo ethnic nations to refuse to recognise and acknowledge some of the historical differences that have continued to mar human relationships and social, economic and political cooperation among their sub-ethnic groups. There are vivid memories of injustices and inequities within each ethnic group perpetrated not by outsiders but by the members of the same ethnic group against their relatives. Unless members of each ethnic group can recognise these human errors of the past and are willing to stretch forth a clean hand of peace and love after offering due apologies on behalf of their ancestors for all the atrocities committed against their kinsmen, then it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to fashion a truly harmonious political structure of administration at the ethnic level.
We must not take the Sovereign Conferences project as a superficial or cosmetic exercise. We should not see it as a jamboree for political and professional orators to parade their wares or for scholars to demonstrate their erudition in political theories. The Sovereign Conferences should remain a forum of last resort to genuinely seek answers to the simple problem of human needs, human welfare, societal cohesion, institutional arrangement that will conveniently satisfy our common pursuit for human happiness and comfort. In addition, the sovereign conference should be specifically and fundamentally an avenue to heal the spiritual ailments in the communities and in the souls of peoples of Nigeria. We cannot live in sin and expect the grace and blessing of God to multiply in our societies, so says one of the scriptures. There are too many sins of omission and commission in our hearts and in our lands. The present ailments bedevilling us are the result and the fruit of the historical wrongs that we are yet to correct. The spiritual solution for all human transgressions is repentance. We can cover up deliberate mistakes committed in ignorance but when each of us has come into the knowledge of truth and have gained wisdom, the onus fall on us to make amends as quickly as possible. It is the only sensible step to win back divine peace into our lives.
Dear Fellow Nigerians, let the healing of wounds that began at the Family Sovereign Conference continue in earnest to the Ethnic Sovereign Conference. No pretences, no lies, no clever manipulation of kinsmen to secure political advantage; let us put all our cards on the table. We must recognise our shortcomings as human beings and we must continue to struggle with everything in our souls to overcome them.
In The Spirit of Truth
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
A Common Concerned Nigerian