I must say that I am quite surprised at the way in which Nigerians so virulently attacked the Libyan leader. Let it not be mistaken - I do not regard Gaddafi as someone whose comments have to be taken very seriously. He is the archetypal megalomaniac ruler who has outlived his usefulness to his people (the kind which by the way Africa never seems to fail to produce). What amazes me about our riposte is that my countrymen and women came out so forcefully in support of the unity of our country, despite all that has been happening over the years.
I find it hard to understand why we would continue to recklessly defend something that none of us were ever consulted about during its formulation. This "great nation of ours" was the brainchild of a British civil servant who just wanted to make his job of managing a bunch of disparate natives more simple. I am not a student of history but I'm sure that Fredrick Lugard didn't consult the different ethnic nationalities he was administering before he lumped them together. The simple fact is that after October 1 1960, we inherited a motely-crew of different peoples who had vastly dissimilar viewpoints on how to move the nation forward. This situation though, was not unique to Nigeria but was replicated widely throughout the continent. Therefore it isn't totally surprising that most of these newly independent nations were plunged into conflict soon after being freed from colonial rule.
For me, the primary problem with Nigeria is that we are like a couple in a forced arranged-marriage scenario who aren't sure that they can ever love one another. For almost fifty years, we have been trying to make this thing work, but in the same vein have refused to frontally tackle the issues which negate our existence as a nation. Why is it so difficult for us to organise a no-holds barred Sovereign National Conference where every ethnic nationality would be given a platform to air their views and hold sincere dialogues on the critical aspects of our union? Some of those who oppose the call for an SNC claim that it may lead to the break-up of the nation. So what? Is it not better for two disagreeable fellows to go their separate ways in peace rather than continue to stay together and let strife reign? These "lovers of Nigeria" seem to have ulterior motives because they are gaining tremendously from the corruption and mismanagement which bedevils our nation. The constant ethno-religious crises which have wracked Nigeria continually are simply a pointer to the fact that there are basic problems which exist between us, and till these issues are thrashed-out, civil strife and horrendous crimes will be continually perpetrated by our people, on our people.
No doubt Gaddafi's proposal is highly simplistic since Nigeria's problems are much more than religion-based and north-south oriented, but the fact is that there is a shred of substance in his statement. For sure, most of his utterances seem to emanate from someone who has lost his marbles, but in this case there should be serious cause for consideration. Rather than calling him a mad man, Senator David Mark should have enjoined the senate to engage in sober reflection on why we keep on killing ourselves. The effect of these crises on us can no longer continue to be watered-down and the recommendations which are produced by the various commission's of inquiry just ignored. To continue to just spend a few days hurling invectives on the perpetrators and then returning soon after to business as usual is only postponing our day of reckoning which will surely come as long as we refuse to hold an SNC.
I had an arguement with my elder brother over this issue. He is of the opinion that it is in our greater interest if we remain together rather than split up. Granted that a nation of 150 million (if you do believe the census) would have far more leverage and opportunity to become a world-power than a bunch of far smaller nation-states, but as long as those steering this ship continue to act as feudal lords who seem dedicated to the task of only feathering their nests, then we will be perpetually stuck in the mire of underdevelopment and bloodshed. It makes no sense to continually hold up a union where mistrust among ethnic groups is so high and ethno-religious violence is so rife. I am not calling for the break-up of Nigeria. All I am saying is that a Sovereign National Conference where all the problems that affect us will be frankly discussed must be convened as soon as possible. If the the result of this SNC is that Nigeria has to break up, then so be it. May God have mercy on us all.