The unwearying socio-political turbulence that is shaking Nigeria to its foundation has everyone wondering whether Nigeria will make it out in one piece. One needs to maximize a sense of proportion in socio-political discourse of this magnitude. It appears, by measure of experience, that the greater the energy exerted to consolidate relationship among the ethnic groups in Nigeria the more the country is drawn down into a whirlpool of internecine strife. All attempts toward a monolithic Nigeria came up dry. A great nation, a treasure trove of human and material resources, yet its economy oscillates at its lowest point, and its citizens are disillusioned and restive. Nigerian leaders, past and present, confessedly or otherwise, acknowledged the incurable nature of the problems confronting Nigeria today. Major contributor to these relentless problems is the practice of federalism, the great migraine of Nigeria. A system that has woefully failed in all front. The current state of affairs marks a dismal watershed in the history of Nigeria. It looks as though the path to peace and stability has come to a dead end. That may not be the case. In consideration of our history as a people, however, Nigerian leaders should explore the concept of confederation or bifurcation. There should be a referendum on confederation.
The irresolvable religious intolerance, regional and tribal differences contribute in large measure to the precarious economic and political condition in Nigeria. The geopolitical physiognomy of Nigeria is one of multi-ethnicity and religious diversity under one centralized federal government; these are ostensibly factors obstructing the peace and stability of Nigeria. The factors abovementioned are ingredients of might and power for many great nations. But for Nigeria, multi-ethnicity and diverse religions are the sources of chaos, the bane of development and leadership in Nigeria. The clearest example of such ethnic and religious rivalries are the recent bombings and indiscriminate massacre of unsuspecting christians in the Northern part of Nigeria, sad events that took place on christmas day. From that point on, the killing of christians especially those of Igbo origin has been going on unabated. The crusade of violence against the Southerners initiated by some disaffected Northern elements is catching fire by the day. A display of contemptible cowardice. This unsightly situation was precipitated by the loss sustained by a Northern candidate vying for the office of the presidency. Also, the hausas, who, for over three decades, helmed Nigeria, believe firmly that they own the country lock, stock, and barrel. Therefore, the presidency of a Southerner - South-south and South-east - is seen as an act of aggression to them; religiously, it is abhorrent and must be destabilized by any means necessary. Such anachronistic notion is the background for their sinister act of terror. When power slipped away through their fingers it looked as though the eclipse had overtaken the entire Northern region. What trailed the election of a Southern president were spate of bomb blasts all across the Northern region killing mostly Easterners, which was evocative of the pogrom that was visited upon the Igbos in the 1960s, and which eventually instigated the secession attempt by the Igbos and a few of their sympathizers. Above all, a cursory glance at the situation under discussion will have one asking how the North and the South have managed to remain under one nation. The jigsaw here is the ability of the South-easterners and South-southerners to coexist with the Northerners despite the constant threat of extinction by some psychopathic Northern elements.
Furthermore, the parlous state of economy in the Southern states is an obvious indication of the neglect the region has been suffering from in the aftermath of the Biafran war. The scourching economic condition which has taken a heavy toll on the people inhabiting this region has a direct link to the straitjacket economic policy of the erstwhile military head of states who were predominantly Northerners. One will be transfixed by the deplorable condition of living popular in this region, not to talk of the unbelievable mortality rate engendered by lack of reliable health care system and grinding poverty. The absence of economic stimulators like airports, seaports, and federal government parastatals in this region discourages entrepreneurism and viable economic activity. With the wealth of Nigeria monopolistically controlled by the center, the federal government, the ability of the states to compete economically with each other is consequently attenuated creating an atmosphere of dependency on the center. It is pertinent to stress here that with the center heavily saturated with the nation's wealth comes increase in population in the center and the neighbouring states. Such scenario plays itself out in the case of Nigeria where there is massive migration of the Easterners to the North which receives a lion share of the country's wealth. A tour in the North and some part of the South-west will have one asking, advertently or inadvertently, whether Southeast and South-south are part of Nigeria. This economic dimension of uneven wealth distribution initiated by the then federal military government which predictably favours the North facilitating rapid economic development around the Northern states remains the magnet for most Eastern migrants. The federal government, previously dominated by the Northerners, extracts resources from the South to develop the North after rendering the South politically powerless and agriculturally unproductive due to constant oil exploitation. It is indeed an uphill battle to reverse this cruel and exploitative method because it is years in the making. If the states are empowered to manage their resources and account for them, that will usher in competitive spirit among them and by all odds increase economic productivity in Nigeria. By so doing, however, there will be noticeable developments across all spectrum in the states.
By now, having realized the dangers inherent in the federal system of government currently practiced by Nigeria, one can understand why Nigeria should revert back to regional style of government with the economy managed by each region. On the credit side, every state receives equal share of the nation's wealth when it is equitably distributed under federalism. But that is not the case in Nigeria. With the benefit of hindsight, Nigeria should have remained Northern, Western, and Eastern regions with one weak center. However, if states were to be created, I ingeminate, the center should remain weak fostering healthy competition among the states. Therefore, solutions to Nigerian's mountains of problems lie deeply in swift adoption of confederal system of government. Under this system, the states will be more proactive, productive; and perhaps more importantly, there will be even population density and development across Nigeria. Countries like United States, Switzerland, and Canada practice confederacy, and they are experiencing an accelerated economic growth, peace, and stability as a result. Nigerian population far outweighs that of the Canada and Switzerland put together, yet they adopted the principles of confederacy which they view as a way forward.
Above all else, if after applying the aforementioned method of confederacy and Nigeria still cannot dig itself out of the quicksands of political and economic stagnation, then bifurcation of Nigeria into South and North will be the last option. That exactly was the picture of Nigeria prior to independence. The only distinction in this case is that the both sides will be sovereign nations determining their own destinies. In view of the never-ending tribal conflicts, religious intolerance, hair-raising rate of poverty in the South, widespread youth unemployment, amongst others, peaceful bifurcation of Nigeria stands as the only alternative capable of ameliorating relationship between the South and the North.
Nigeria is not a nation yet, rather what we have is a marriage of strange bed fellows. Only God knows how long this unholy marriage will last.