Nigeria: To Be Or Not To Be? (Part 2)

Let us continue our analysis with a simpler example. Supposing you are in a joint venture with a partner

(for simplification, we assume that it’s officially and properly registered – the reason for this assumption will be stated later), why would you want to end the economic relationship? May I ask you to please try to answer this question too before reading on? The reasons could include the following:

1. Commercial reason. You came to the conclusion that you can get more or do better on your own than in the joint venture;

2. Your control or say in the company does not reflect your overall contribution in terms of human, technical and financial resources;

3. Dishonesty. Your partner is always giving you a wrong report about the state of affairs in the company. He always manipulates data. In other words, he is a cheat;

4. You have practically no control or say in how the company is being run;

5. You have practically no control or say in how the profit of the company is being shared and invested;

6. Incompatibility in management style and general development of the company;

7. Your financial reward is not proportional to your contribution (this is not the same as 1 and 2);

8. To your greatest surprise, you discovered that your partner is not as competent as you initially thought;

9. Your partner enters into secret deals on behalf of the company. (not the same with 3);

10. You never gave your consent to the joint venture in the first place. To your greatest surprise, you discovered that your great grandfather was forced into the joint venture.

I. HISTORICAL FACTOR.

In other to deal with this issue comprehensively, it’s of utmost importance to remind ourselves again about the emergence of Nigeria as a country. As may be recalled, Nigeria emerged as a country after the amalgamation of the south with the north in 1914 by the representative of Britain, Luggard. In 1967 when a part of the country got fed up with political oppression, suppression, ethnic cleansing and economic deprivation, and also realised that the forced union was not in her political, military, cultural and economic interests, and eventually decide to pull out of the union, which they never gave their contest to in the first place, they were accused of treason, and a merciless military campaign to wipe them out completely, was put in motion by the federal government. It was not a war meant to bring fellow Nigerians back to the fold with the minimum casualty. It was a war meant to teach them a ‘good’ lesson for daring to end the slavery that the British roped them in. It was a genocide! By the time the war was over, the Ndigbos and other ethnic groups in the south south lost more than 3 million of their able-bodied citizens and practically all their savings and properties, scattered all over the country, which they had honestly laboured for all their lives! The whole of their territory were in ruins. It reminds one of mass grave yards.

While watching a documentary film about Fela Anikulapo kuti on Youtube titled ‘exciting interview,’ there was a scene where Nigerian soldiers speaking in Hausa shot to death at close range a harmless and armless Biafran teenager who was lying in the bush, almost naked with hands tied together. After shooting the poor boy, his corpse was dragged on the ground like a goat and disposed off like a dog. Believe me, I almost fainted when I saw this horrible video. It was difficult for me to control the tears that ran down my cheeks. I thought to myself, ‘how could some people be so wicked to that extent?’ I thought to myself, ‘how could people, who claimed to have good intentions for the country, be so heartless?’ I thought to myself, ‘how could people who claim that they had good intention for the people they were fighting commit murder on such a large scale all in the name of keeping Nigeria one?’ I thought to myself, “is it a crime for an ethnic group or groups to decide to live separately in their ‘own’ sovereign country, and concentrate their ‘own’ resources into their own development?” If anybody has any doubts as regards to what I have just narrated, please log on to youtube.com, type fela in the search box and press enter. It’s in part 1 of ‘the exciting interview.’ The issue of Ndigbos, who make up about 22% of Nigeria‘s population is undoubtedly very important. We will definitely come back to it later in this article.

What I want to draw your attention to now is the ‘legality,’ or to be more precise, the ‘illegality,’ of the formation or emergence of Nigeria as a country. In the classic theory of Contract Law, it’s written that in order for a deal to be considered ‘valid’ or ‘legally binding’, there must be an ‘offer’ from one party, and an ‘acceptance’ of the offer from a second party – otherwise, there is no contract, from the legal position. We are going to apply this theory to verify the legality of the formation of Nigeria in the context of contract theory. in the light of this, I have a couple of questions to ask:

1. Was there a formal offer from the British to the respective ethnic groups in the south as regards to the amalgamation of the south with the north?

2. Was there a formal offer from the north to the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws, Ibibios, Efiks and other ethnic groups in the south?

3. Did the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws and other ethnic groups in the south have their respective independent parliaments then?

4. If yes, was there a formal deliberations of the offer from the British or the north at the independent parliaments of the respective ethnic groups in the south?

5. Was there a formal acceptance of the proposed amalgamation from the respective independent parliaments of the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws and other ethnic groups in the south?

6. Was any referendum conducted to seek the opinion of the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws and others on this issue?

7. Taking into consideration the fact that both the north and the south were British protectorates in 1914, could any agreement, most especially, as regards to the 1914 amalgamation, entered into on their behalf by Britain, but without their formal approval be considered valid and legally binding in general, especially from October 1, 1960?

To the best of my knowledge, though, I stand to be corrected, all the answers to the above questions are NO. As far as I am concerned, the ‘point of departure’ in our analysis should be the illegality of the emergence of Nigeria as a country. Unfortunately, many, either out of ignorance, emotion or hypocrisy, are overlooking this very important aspect. We are taking, or should I say, we have taken for granted the illegality and validity of the emergence of Nigeria by assuming that the British acted legally and within the law, thus making the amalgamation legally binding on us. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG! More explanation will be needed for a better understanding.

You don’t need to hold a PhD in law to know that if a company or a joint venture does not pass the legality test, i.e. not properly registered, whatever deals entered into by the company and her charter are ‘automatically’ invalid and not legally binding. In addition, one does not need to be a law professor to know that any testimony given, or deal reached under duress is not only invalid, but also can neither be presented nor accepted in a court of law as evidence. Taking into consideration the ‘undisputed’ fact that when Nigeria emerged as a country after the amalgamation, the south and the north were still both colonies of Britain, i.e. not sovereign countries, therefore, the amalgamation could not be legally binding on the south. If we are to speak ‘strictly’ from a legal position, we can rightly infer that the 1914 amalgamation was a joint venture- political deal or agreement, the south was compelled to enter into under duress simply because even if the south was against the amalgamation, being a protectorate of Britain, it ‘completely’ lacked the political independence or power to veto it. Thus, from our objective analysis, the formation of Nigeria as a country, did not pass the legality test.

To buttress my point on the invalidity of the formation of Nigeria as a country, I want to cite examples with membership in the European Union and the introduction of the Euro as the national currency in some European countries. As is well known, before the formation of the EU, preliminary consultations, discussions and negotiations were held by ‘sovereign’ European countries for many years. The terms and conditions of membership were discussed at length by ‘independent’ parliaments of potential candidates. After that, the citizens of the respective European countries were given the ‘final say’ through a referendum. It was after the formal approval or endorsement by their citizens that each country became a full fledged member of EU. The same procedure was applied to the introduction of the euro. Thus, it is not surprising that Britain, though a member of the EU, nevertheless has not adopted the euro because her citizens voted against it in a general referendum.

In the light of this fact, another question that begs for an answer is: “If the British, through their parliament and referendum, could decide whether to be a member of the EU, adopt the Euro as their national currency or not, why can’t the same right be extended to the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws, Ibibios, Ijaws and other ethnic groups in the south so that they can decide whether they want to be a member of Nigeria; live or form one country with the north; or adopt the naira as their respective currencies? Why should the British or Europeans have the right to decide while the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws, Ibibios, Efiks and other ethnic groups in the south are denied this same fundamental human right that the British claim so much not only to believe in, but flaunts as one of her major achievements as a democratic country? Why can’t the respective ethnic groups in the south enjoy the same right or exercise their veto power – just like the British when they refused to adopt the Euro as their national currency, to terminate their membership in Nigeria? Are we supposed to understand that the south is compelled to be together with the north forever because the British, our former colonial master, decreed so? How then can one explain the fact that the British, with a population of 55 millions, have the right to take decisions that completely meet their political, military and economic interests themselves, without any interference or external pressure, but, the Yorubas, with a population of about 40 millions, the Ndigbos, with a population of at least 35 millions can not take independent decisions that completely meet their economic, political, cultural and military interests, without any preconditions, interference or external pressure? Why must the south be bound, or forced to honour an agreement that is not only against their economic, political, military and cultural interests, but was reached on their behalf without their consent by a third party while they were still a colony?

To the best of my understanding, if the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws, Efiks and other ethnic groups in the south can not decide, or are being denied the right to decide by themselves independently whether to honour an agreement that was reached on their behalf, but without their formal approval during colonial time, what this means in essence is that defacto and dejure, the south is ‘still’ a colony of Britain. This is the only conclusion that one can draw so far as far as this issue is concerned. Otherwise, why can’t the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws, Ibibios, Efiks and others draw their respective boundaries themselves without consulting or seeking the approval of neither the British nor the north? Why should the respective ethnic groups in the south be compelled to live within the artificial boundaries drawn by the Europeans in Berlin in 1884? Did other nations or countries draw the boundaries of Britain? In that case, are we to infer then that “some animals, as George Orwell wrote in his book, The animal farm, are ‘more equal’ than the others?” Isn’t this ‘double standard’ and hypocrisy on the part of the British and the international community, especially the United Nations? Shouldn’t what is good for the goose be also good for the gender?

On the other hand, if we are to base our argument on previous analysis that since the amalgamation took place when the south was a British protectorate, and without her approval, subsequently, it is not valid and can not be legally binding on the south! Going by this reasoning, consequently, all the respective ethnic groups in the south are completely within their right not to abide by whatever treaties entered into, or laws enacted by Nigeria. In addition, all the ethnic groups in the south have the ‘full right to end their ‘unsubscribed’ membership in Nigeria without any consultation or approval of neither the British nor the north.

The rational behind the composition of Nigeria defies all logic. For example, I can’t understand why I, a Yoruba man, can not form or does not have the right to live in one country with my fellow Yoruba blood brothers and sisters in Benin republic, but have the right, or should I say being compelled to live in the same country with the descendants of Othman Dan Fodio, with whom I have ‘absolutely’ nothing in common with! Likewise, to the best of my knowledge, neither the Niger deltans nor the Ndigbos have anything in common with the Hausas and Fulanis. From ethnographical point of view, the Niger deltans are not only very close to the Cameroonians geographically, but also in terms of language, culture, customs and history. The Yorubas living in Benin republic are our blood brothers and sisters, who were ‘artificially’ cut off from us by colonialism. We are both victims of colonialism of Africa by greedy and heartless Europeans who raided Africa for free human and mineral resources. I have been opportuned to meet quiet a number of Yorubas from Benin republic. In fact, to my embarrassment, their Yoruba is much better than mine. They speak ‘pure’ Yoruba and not the ‘diluted’ type that we speak back at home. Therefore, for me, it’s a complete mystery why it is illegal to channel the human and mineral resources on Yoruba territory in Nigeria to the development of my fellow Yoruba brothers and sisters in Benin republic, but legal to channel the same resources to the development of inhabitants of Abuja, Kano, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Katsina, e.t.c., who are complete ‘strangers’ to me?! Where is the logic here? Is it because the British and French who invaded Africa said so? Are we obliged to live in a country that the British carved out in order to satisfy their ‘selfish’ economic interests at the expense of the whole south? Do we have the right to ask these questions or not? And who can give us satisfactory answers?

TO BE CONTINUED…

Written by
Bode Eluyera
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