MEANINGFUL AGITATION FOR EFFECTIVE RESTRUCTURING, MUST BEGIN WITH NIGERIA APOLOGISING TO BIAFRA
(79th Birth Day Message of Prince Chukwuemeka I. Onyesoh)
1. Fifty years after the Western and the Middle Belt/Northern Minorities of Nigeria fought and defeated Biafra in what was branded a Civil War, it must have dawned on them that in the defeat of Biafra, they conquered Nigeria. And the oligarchy is celebrating! Now the West and Middle-Belt must have realised they shot themselves in the foot, and need Nigeria to be restructured, perhaps as agreed in Aburi, they should first apologize to Biafra; and also lead the restoration from the front. The war was fought against Aburi Accord. The Middle Belt is very much down, suffocating and indeed scarcely can breathe. Time is of very essence. The ongoing deployment of northern youths all over the Southern forests, is proceeding at an alarming rate. Normal humans in the 21st Century do not live in forests. The coming Census shall open the eyes of even the blind; and that is, if by then it is not too late. The Parliament and the Judiciary have been emasculated; and therefore not there to protect citizen rights.
2.Biafra was declared by the Eastern Nigeria only because Gen. Yakubu Gowon, then pseudo Military Head of State of Nigeria was either manipulated or was oblivious of the daring implications of what he was doing, to reject the January 1967 Aburi Accord and the resolutions of the September 1966 Ad-hoc Constitutional Conference, to restructure Nigeria into a Con-federation. Twice in the peace negotiations during the 1966/67 crisis, Nigerian military and civilian leaders determined, without any prompting, that a confederal relationship was the only system that could sustain Nigeria as one country, with peace between the over 378 ethnic nationalities, most with no shared values particularly with the belligerent and the predators.
3. In Aburi of January 1967 and the Ad-hoc Constitutional conference of 12th to 29th Sept. 1966, the most confederal arrangement was agreed upon by representatives of the four regions excluding the Mid-West. In the Ad-hoc conference, the Northern delegation had proposed the most extensive of a confederation: (a) a number of very autonomous states/regions; (b) a central executive council, the chairmanship of which should rotate from year to year; (c) the chairman to be the Head of State for the year; (d) each state/region to have its own Army, Air Force, Police; and (e) any member state/region of the Union to reserve the right to secede completely and unilaterally.
The Eastern delegation added that (a) all legislations by the central authority must be ratified by the regions; (b) the regions to pay for their representatives in the central government and retain the right to recall them at will; (c) all regions to keep their respective revenues but share federal expenses equally; (d) the assets and liabilities of the Federation to be shared by the regions; and (e) each region to retain the right to issue its own currency.
The West and Lagos delegations accepted a combination of the North and East proposals, adding that Lagos should become part of Western Region. In essence the North, the East and the Western delegations voted for a very loose confederation. The Mid-Western Region only, opposed confederation. And the conference adjourned on 16th September 1966 to resume on Tuesday 20th Sept. Resuming on 20th Sept, the oligarchy and Gowon reversed themselves by discarding their earlier proposal for a loose confederation, and instead, changed to a highly unitary system, insisting on an “effective central government,” and “immediate agreement on the creation of states” with a proviso that the right to secession must be discarded. The East and West adjusted their positions, accepted a loose federation with the Federal Exclusive list cut down to a minimum. The East insisted that the North having massacred over 3,000 Easterners in the May 1966 riots all over the North, state creation should be no priority; instead a governance structure which must re-assure frightened Easterners of the safety of their lives and property in Nigeria should be prioritised. The Western, Mid-West and Middle Belt/Northern Minorities in the conference ignored the terrified mental state of the East and without putting any proposals in place to buoy up the spirit of downcast Easterners, recommended a strong central government with more states created. Naturally, in burgeoning federations, the more federating units, the weaker they are and the stronger, the centre. The East stood its ground that the creation of more states at that particular time was against its best security interests.
Gowon and the Middle Belt only saw in the emergence of the new Benue-Plateau State as their elusive escape for their people from subjugation of the oligarchy.
4. There was therefore a stalemate. On 29th September 1966, Gowon and the oligarchy unleashed the most horrendous ever pogrom in Nigeria on Easterners all over the North and beyond, obviously to compel the East to accept their revised stand. By the time Gowon decided that the casualties had exceeded his approved plan, another casualty 27,939 dead Easterners, mainly Igbo and mainly in the North, had been added to the 3,000 of May; and 1.129 million severely traumatised Easterners had fled for safety from the rest of Nigeria to the East. The September/October killings spread to Lagos where it was executed on civilians by northern soldiers occupying Lagos. Several thousand escapees arrived in the East with severed limbs, eyes and/or ears or both plucked, and/or various other mutilations. Pregnant women were disembowelled and their unborn babies cut to pieces.
Between May, July, September and October 1966, the Nigerian Police, Army and thugs executed these beastly brutalities on unarmed Easterners. They raped, maimed and butchered them, looting their property also. Easterners were driven to resolve that they were no longer safe anywhere in Nigeria; and that even in their own home region of the East, they needed to control their security and welfare to live in a country with fellow human beings who would predate on them as mere prey.
Easterners trooped back to their homeland and decided to live or die there. Gowon showed neither remorse nor sympathy. He instead demonstrated triumph in his public utterances. He offered no relief for Nigerians who had become refugees in their own country. No salaries for refugee Federal civil servants, now back in the East for their safety. Worst of all, he with-held Federal allocations to the Eastern Region government battling with resettlement of over a million traumatised refugees. Except for £500,000.00 he once remitted, by end of February 1967 Gowon owed Eastern Region government in statutory monthly allocation, the total sum of £11.33 million.
5.The rest of Nigeria saw through that and imagined that any of them could become victims to that level of crude brutalisation; and therefore at the Nigerian Supreme military Council meeting held at Aburi, Ghana on 4/5th January 1966, all members of Nigeria’s Supreme Military Council, including the Military Governors, considering that the insecurity situation created by the pogroms prevented the Eastern Region from attending any meeting in any part of Nigeria except it is held outside Nigeria territory, proposed, discussed and ratified a confederal form of governance for Nigeria, popularly branded, Aburi accord.
6. Gowon went back to Nigeria and prompted by the oligarchy, reversed the Aburi accord and instead issued Decree No. 8 which altered the confederal agreement to a federation with very strong centre. Further more on 6th of May 1967 Gowon altered the structure of the federation of Nigeria from 4 regions to 12 states and unilaterally created three states in the Eastern Region with no consultation whatsoever with the government of Eastern Region. He followed this up with other draconian measures against the East. The Eastern Region was compelled to declare itself, the independent Republic of Biafra. On 6th of July 1967 Gowon invaded the East in a bid to force back to Nigeria, a people they butchered over 30,000 of their men, women and children, all civilians, barely 9 months before and drove away from the rest of Nigeria, perhaps with no other intention than wipe away the remnants.
7. Chief Obafemi Awolowo on 6th of June 1967 had joined the Federal Government of Nigeria as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the Federal Executive Council and Nigeria launched the offensive against Biafra, a month after the Chief joined. It was no coincidence. Anyone who claims the West joined the war because of the Mid-West invasion which took place later on 9th August 1967 is likely to be indulging in Jihadist of Deception. Even then what was the Mid-West operation about? Gen. Ojukwu lent 3,000 armed young men to Lt. Col. Victor Banjo, a Yoruba Nigerian, to rid his home State of unruly northern troops who occupied it, despite the resolution of the Meeting of 8th and 9th August 1966 of Representatives of Regional Governors and Gowon that troops should be sent back to barracks in their region of origin. The Banjo operation failed because the Military Governor of the West and the Ibadan Garrison Commander, both Yoruba, betrayed the Nigerian and Yoruba patriot, Banjo, who was never a Biafran. Typical of Nigerian values, Banjo in turn, turned around and betrayed the 3,000 young Biafrans under his command whom he neither ordered to advance nor retreat for upwards of 3 clear days within which the Nigerian Army recovered from the shock of the advance. The boys turned into sitting duck and were massacred.
8. In the war, Nigeria had no chance whatsoever of sustaining or winning any confrontation against Biafra without the combined efforts of the West and Middle Belt/northern minorities. The West took care of the intrigues and subversion needed to win that kind of war, the sourcing and management of the financing, the propaganda/publicity, the diplomatic efforts that the oligarchy needed to mask the Jihad the war was meant to be for them, and the command of the battle fronts. The Middle Belt and Northern minorities took care of the brutal killings, massacre and the blood-letting. The Bachamas, the Godogodos and other fierce looking special height-natured soldiers from the Middle Belt and minority north, enjoyed themselves in what they were trained to do best – massacre unarmed Biafrans.
9. Special mention needs be made of Chief Awolowo’s pride in asserting that he indeed single-handedly ended the war, first with the change of the Nigerian currency in January 1968 which impoverished Biafra and rendered all the Nigeria currency in their possession valueless; thus making Biafra unable to buy arms and other essential supplies. Secondly, he asserted and rightly too, that he then proceeded to starve Biafra to surrender with his argument that starvation was a legitimate instrument of warfare. He did and succeeded. It might be legitimate under the 7TH Century AD society Sharia Law and Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammadu is struggling to create, but certainly not under international law, if only the affected party would muster the courage to challenge Nigeria.
10. Inflicting starvation on people in itself violates UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 5 which clearly states that, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Starvation deliberately inflicted on a targeted group’s conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction is torture. Therefore starvation of a civil population in war situations is a grave violation of Articles 3 – Right to Life and Article 25 (1) which stipulates as follows: Everyone has the right to a Standard of Living adequate for health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services . . .
Starvation, which is torture therefore further, violates the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
.Nigeria was admitted to UN on 7th October, 1960. Citizens of Nigeria are therefore entitled, as of right, to the protection of UN UDHR, UN Charters, Conventions, Covenants and treaties, subject to the protocols of each instrument.
Starvation of a civil population in a state of war therefore cannot be a legitimate instrument of warfare. It is instead a crime against humanity, a crime without borders – an international crime.
Chief Awolowo, an erudite sage and legal giant, without any prompting or reservation, confessed to this crime in a Town Hall interview at Abeokuta during the 1983 presidential election campaign which he granted to Mr. Innocent Oparadike (later Chief) who became the Managing Director of Daily Times newspaper 1995-1996. The clear message is a reminder to the oligarchy which dumped him in the 1979 presidential election and instead, teamed up with so-called ex-rebels to form the 1979 Federal Government. The intention of the assertion was probably a reminder to the oligarchy that he deserved a pay-back in the 1983 presidential election. He did not get it and died in 1987.
11. Generally since 1970 the Yoruba have basked in the glory of winning that war and have been well rewarded. Eastern Nigeria economy was shut down for the West to be exclusively forced on Nigeria as the only country’s economic nerve centre, hence the Lagos near permanent lock-down and the consequential desertification of the Eastern economy.
A community, no matter howsoever rich, without control over its affairs, is still slave in a major aspect of life. Eventually the veil of self deceit as victors of the war, started dropping off with political developments. First, Chief Awolowo’s 1979 and 1983 failed presidential bids. And then, the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, and eventual unresolved death of Chief MKO Abiola, the undeclared winner of that election! Thereafter, NADECO was born and the mouthing of agitation for restructuring surfaced. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo came in as an appeasement. But after that what next?
12.For the Middle Belt, the sack of Gowon as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces in a bloodless coup of July 29, 1975 and the blood-letting which included thirty Army officers, from Lieutenants to a Major-General, a Police Commissioner, seven non-commissioned officers and a civilian radio broad-caster, that followed the attempted Dimka coup of 13th February 1976, in which the arrow-head of the July 29, 1966 kill-back coup, Gen. Murtala Mohammed, was killed, must have reminded them of the Ahmadu Bello’s Jihadist declaration published in the Parrot of October 12, 1960. . . . We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools. . . .
Gowon is alive to date because he was out of the country on the day of the attempted coup; and the subsequent British denial of his extradition request and asylum granted him by Britain. Had he been repatriated, the same inquisitorial military tribunal must have condemned him and his execution would have been a matter of course.
Till date (2020), hundreds of Plateau people in Gowon’s state of origin, Plateau, and his adopted state of Southern Kaduna (mostly Christians), are being slaughtered daily by herdsmen Islamic militants. Rape is everyday occurrence. Those lucky to escape, live in refugee camps as IDPs, whereas the herdsmen militants occupy their indigenous lands, communities and homes. Names of 54 of such occupied Plateau indigenous communities have been changed to Fulani by the Fulani militants who now occupy the sacked communities. Worst still, the Federal and State authorities react as if nothing happened. So far, the other Middle Belt state, Benue, has successfully resisted the Plateau state experience under the leadership of its indefatigable State Governor Samuel Ioraer Ortom. The Tivs, unlike most Nigerian groups and like pre-war Igbos, are born dogged resisters of operation. Despite all odds, they held the Northern Nigeria aggression down from 1960 in Tiv riots until the 15th January 1966 coup intervened to save them.
13. Right to Self Determination Agitation
Rights agitation is not a tea party. Any oppressed group in Nigeria, under UN multi-lateral treaties with Nigeria, and Nigeria’s laws, has a right to agitate for the right to self determination and even secession. It is not a criminal offence, neither is it an act of war, as some lily-livered groups, like a coalition of Yoruba groups under the aegis of Yoruba Appraisal Forum (YAF) led by one Adesina Animashaun, might wish to mislead the Yoruba and the nation. United Nations Charter, Conventions and Covenants guarantee that and Nigeria, as a party to UN is bound by them. The same with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) which Nigeria ratified and domesticated as African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Chapter A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004.
The Nigerian Act provides as follows:
“Article 20 -1. All peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
2. Colonised or oppressed people shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognised by the international community.
3. All peoples shall have the right to the assistance of the States Parties to the present Charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or cultural.”
As it is obvious in the Article 20 – 3 above, the Nigeria State is supposed to assist such liberation struggle and not arrest, detain, kill or proscribe them as the fascist government of Nigeria is doing to IPOB. I wonder why IPOB has not petitioned the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights over the killing of its members by Nigeria State actors.
On the contrary, in the United Kingdom, Northern Island and Scotland variously agitated for self determination and the U. K, which is dominated by the English, 83.99% in 2012, joined in working hard to deregulate governance by devolving powers to the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish regions. The Scots in 2012 were only 8.32% of the UK population; whereas Wales, contributed only a mere 4.9%. Northern Ireland was 2.8%. After the deregulation and promises for more, Britain which had no legal framework for referendum introduced a new law, an Order-in-Council, in the recent case of Scotland, which enabled the Scottish independence vote. The English campaigned with love and exhibited desperation for the Scots to stay, unlike the Nigeria’s oligarchy which would have threatened hell fire and brimstone, as if it created and owns anybody. On 18th September 2014, the Scots voted 55.30% to stay in UK.
Canada is another example of civilised reaction to agitation to the right to self determination by a component unit. The province of Quebec is occupied mainly by French-speaking Roman Catholic Christians, unlike the rest of Canada which is dominated by English-speaking Pentecostal Christians. Twice, Quebec, 1980 and1995, went to polls in referenda to separate or stay but twice voted to stay. Through all these, Canada deregulated, devolving powers to the regions including the earlier Official Language Act of 1969 which made Quebec’s French language equal official language with the English. Quebeckers have been 13 times Prime Minister out of 23, since Canadian independence of 1867. The current PM, son of a former PM of Canada, also a Quebecker, is a Quebecker. Yet the province of Quebec in 2014 was only 23.07% of Canadian population.
Catalonia, a province in Spain, has been agitating for separation since the 19th Century AD and sometimes calls out millions of demonstrators to block and lock down the streets of its provincial capital of Barcelona; but no one has ever been hurt. But in Nigeria between 2015 and date President Buhari’s regime has massacred over 300 unarmed self determination rights agitators in prayer sessions, meetings in their homes and occasionally demonstrating on the streets, for daring to agitate for lawful rights! Come on, Nigeria is returning to life in the 7th Century AD Arabian nights in which might is right!
Kosovo (majority of Moslems) achieved independence from Christian Serbia peacefully without a fight. And so did over 23 independent nations emerge through non-violent agitations from the collapse of the Soviet Union into 15 Republics in 1991; Czechoslovakia into two Republics in 1993; and Yugoslavia into six Republics in 1989. Federations come and go if they fail. Violence cannot sustain failed federations like Nigeria! Peaceful and truthful negotiations can.
In 1995 Ethiopia dumped its autocratic 1931 Constitution because the constituent states agreed that it was not representative enough and like the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, was forced on the people of Ethiopia without the democratic process of constitution-making which ought to culminate in a written Constitution that establishes a new social contract after extensive popular discussion and compromise. On 21st August 1995, Ethiopia adopted its 1995 Constitution whose objective is to respect people’s freedom, rights to live together without any discrimination and inequality. Article 39 of the Constitution entrenches the right to Self-Determination and Secession of the federating units. This provision has the natural tendency of humbling the majority groups to respect minority rights, the same time it encourages the minorities to stay as equal and free citizens with no bullying from the majority.
14. Means of Achieving the Right to Self Determination
Throughout history, the right to self determination has been achieved in various countries through two forms, namely: (a) War and (b) Pacifist non-violent agitation.
I am a Prince of Nri, the oldest kingship in Nigeria, which as far back as the 10th Century AD, combined pacifism and spirituality in shaping the culture and tradition of most of Igbo land. It abhorred and still abhors violence of any kind over the past 1,000 years. I therefore abhor war, not only for its destructive nature but its bestiality, brutality, its futility and stupidity. I subscribe to the view that war mongering is not only uncivilised but also a cowardly escape from the problems of peace-making. I completely agree with General Dwight Eisenhower, the five-star US Army General, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe which defeated Germany in World War II, the first Commander of NATO and the 34th President of US (1953-1961), on the futility of war as encapsulated in his now famous War quote: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can; only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”
Douglas MacArthur, another US five-star war-tested General and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army and who was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theatre during the World War II, appears to have validated Eisenhower in his own popular quote:
I know war as few other men living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its abolishment, as its destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.
Above views are consistent with the views of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), the Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer, best known for The Prince written in 1513: One ought never to allow a disorder to take place in order to avoid war, for war is not thereby avoided, but only deferred to your advantage.
It is thus therefore appears that in contemporary thinking, war among the enlightened, is stupid and should be avoided at all costs! Not so in Islamic fundamentalism. According to the African/American missioner/ scholar, Dr. Peter Hammond: The ultimate purpose of Islam is the establishment by force of a worldwide Islamic State where Sharia Law is enforced on all. To achieve this is the goal of Islam.
And this objective is over 90% the source of Nigeria’s woes of development since the 1960s.
I therefore vote against any war. Instead I stand for non-violent rejection of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria; and the ultimate restructuring of Nigeria back to the 1963 Constitution with only one amendment. Instead of four regions Nigeria should be reconstituted into six regions under Parliamentary democracy as against the now primitive and very corrupt and arbitrary system of Presidential democracy.
15. In Nigeria it is becoming a culture since 2015 for the security agencies to attack kill and maim unarmed rights agitators as if they are criminals. IPOB, which has not been found to have killed even one person, has been proscribed as terrorists; the same time the same government cuddles herdsmen militants, which is internationally ranked in the world as the fourth deadliest terrorist organisation for killing thousands annually in terrorist attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon.
16.The Nigeria military governments imposed feudalism on Nigeria through it 1979 and 1999 Constitutions because that is the only way of life known to the northern Generals who have dominated the Nigerian Army since 1967 – the corrupt and unaccountable rulership of the Emir through his Serikis, branded Presidential system and a so-called federation, which is only so in name. The National Bureau of Statistics confirms that the North West and East remain the capital of poverty in Nigeria. This is despite their permanent domination of power at the centre and unlimited access to the Federal treasury.
17. The on-going effort of the Buhari administration appears like the implementation of the resolutions of the 1989 Islam-in-Africa Abuja Conference with a view to formalising Nigeria as an Islamic Sultanate. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo belatedly called an operation he had tremendously facilitated as Military Head of State and elected President, Fulanisation and Islamisation. I welcome him to his rebirth to reason. Otherwise what are the moves for RUGA and its various mutations; Grazing Reserve; Cattle Colony; Water Resources bill; National Livestock Transformation Plan, Hate Speech; Anti-Social Media Bills; Broadcasting Code; Community Policing subsumed under the failed Nigerian Police; Closing Nigerian borders but leaving it open for the flotsams and jetsam of Fulanis of Africa who need no visa to invade Nigeria with VIP-visa-on-arrival; flooding of Southern Nigerian forests with trailer loads of Northern and Fulani unemployable able-bodied youths who are provided motorcycles on arrival and probably automatic weapons; attempted efforts by the Minister of Education to subsume Christian Religious Knowledge under Islamic Studies; the illegal humiliation and hunt-down of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Hon. Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen and his replacement by a Sharia Judge afflicted with Sharia mentality; raiding of homes of Judges of Courts of Record; masked raiding of the National Assembly; emasculation of State Governments with illegal Aso Rock Executive Orders; the swearing in of the Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad on nothing (no Quran); the 2019 swearing in of President Muhammadu on nothing (no Quran as per official photograph of the event in the internet), thereby driving opacity as prevalent in all of Nigeria’s MDAs; failure to query and discipline Alhaji Justice Tanko for calling for violation of the secularity of the Nigerian State implicit in his irresponsible statement calling for amendment of the Constitution to accommodate the peculiarities of the Sharia Code and his very unbecoming boasting that they, the Moslems, have the votes in the National Assembly to amend the Constitution to suit their own positions as Moslems; the constitution of the Federal Character Commission contrary to the Law and/or its spirit; indiscriminate violation of the federal character provision in Chapter II Section 14(3) and (4)the 1999 Constitution despite the double speak in Section 6 (6) (c); the dubious intention to manipulate the coming Census figures by appointing the Chairman and Secretary of the Census Commission from the same section and faith of the country, contrary to the approval of the National Council of State, thus appearing to compromise the Census figures even before the count; the one-sided filling of all the top positions in the Presidency and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including all the Armed services with Nigerians from one section and faith ; the glaring condonation of monumental looting as evidenced in the Auditor General of the Federation’s (AuGF) 2017 Audit Report, in all these offices (Presidency and (MDAs) headed by untrained and inexperienced hands generously referred to by the former Governor of Jigawa State and Foreign Minister, Alhaji Sule Lamido, as Nigeria’s 2nd Eleven, but at best, apprentice officers; the condonation of terrorists – Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen militants and several flagrant compromising of the security, welfare of the Nigerian people and the office of President and Head of State of Nigeria; the squelching of patriotism in the corrupt and incompetent leadership of Federal MDAs who all now seem to share the Sultan of Sokoto’s loyalty to the Quran and not the Nigerian Constitution, as it is typical, world-wide, with fundamentalist Islamists and so many other horrible infractions
18. Nigerian financial affairs are grossly mismanaged, perhaps, a deliberate effort to accumulate funds for the ultimate Jihad to Islamise Nigeria. The 2017 AuGF Report confirms that nobody appears to be in charge of Nigerian finances; and that the Federal Government of Nigeria is a mere Bazaar in which officers spirit off billions of Naira unquestioned. Over N300 Billion was found to have been stolen from almost all MDAs of the Federal Government of Nigeria within the 2017 financial year.
The 2017 report further revealed that the nation lost a whooping N5.785 trillion on unauthorized deductions from the Federation Account from 2014 to 2017 from a trio of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The same time, the Debt Management Office (DMO) told the Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts in June 2020 that deficit financing of the revised 2020 budget would rise from N2.18 trillion to N4.56trillion. If someone is in charge of the Federal Government of Nigeria, with the necessary political will, the N5.785 trillion infractions could be recovered to fund the entire budget deficit and save the nation from sliding into debt trap it has virtually fallen into.
Instead, the FG continues to indulge in toxic foreign loans; and the borrowed funds are again re-looted. By the beginning of 2015 total Nigeria’s foreign debt was around $9.7 billion and by 31st August 2020, it stood at $26.6 Billion.
19. Nigeria’s Debt Service/Revenue Ratio: At N24.34 trillion as at December 2018, the Nigerian government debt to GDP ratio was estimated to be in the region of 24.1%. The budget implementation report from the Budget Office suggests that total spending in 2017 was in the region of N6.05 trillion against total revenue of N2.71trillion.The World Bank prescribes debt service to revenue ratio of not more than 22.5%. Nigeria’s Debt Service to Revenue ratio was at over 60% of total revenue, which means for every N100 earned, it spends N60 in servicing debt. In the first quarter of 2020, Nigeria recorded debt service to revenue ratio of 99% – debt service of N943.12 Billion as against the Federal Government retained revenue of N950.56 billion.
20. Debt Trap: A country walks into a debt trap as its revenue earning becomes unable to service its external debts; and the cost of servicing accumulates, thus building up the total foreign debt and annual cost of servicing the total accumulates.
21. Nigeria is already world capital of extreme poverty and at the same time, the most terrorised country in Africa. It also holds the record of the world’s highest mortality rate of under 5 years old infants. It also belongs to the club of most corrupt government in the world. Again in human development Nigeria is in the lowest human development category.
22. In governance the executive branch has emasculated the legislature as well as the judiciary. The state governments have succumbed to infantile relationship with the presidency. Most state governors are afraid of the high handedness of the presidency.
23. The Way Out
The 1999 Constitution is Military Decree no. 24 of General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s military government. It is not the people’s constitution. It was devised as a one-man dictatorship road-map to ruinous religious state, instead of a federation of over 378 diverse ethnic nationalities.
To save these nationalities from ruinous and factitious end it is being driven to, the immediately available option is to return Nigeria to the democratically chosen 1963 Constitution as Parliamentary Democracy, with the federating units as the six zones already being operated. The autonomy of the six should be enlarged to enable each secure itself and develop within its desires and limits.
Nigerian politicians do not have the decency for operating presidential democracy which is more prone to impunity and corruption. Besides, comparatively, world-wide, parliamentary democracy has overwhelmingly delivered more human prosperity than the misery, impunity, corruption, poverty, violence and instability, human rights abuses, abridgement of press freedom and less free democracies which are more common in presidential democracies. More details are available in pages 406 to 425 of my 2017 title, TO THE RESCUE – The Right to Self Determination, the Pathway to a Genuine Federation of Peoples with No Shared Values.
Parliamentary democracy will dispel the likes of Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari from politics because it will humble them to attending parliament regularly with their ministers, all of who would be elected parliamentarians. It frequently requires the prime minister to answer questions on every aspect of governance from members on the floor of the House. A simple majority of votes would easily remove the Prime Minister, the Head of Government, as against the protracted impeachment procedure required to remove a President. In parliamentary democracy the state is represented by a non-executive President, whereas the Prime Minister is the Head of government.
24. Leadership of the Agitation for Restructuring:
Western Nigeria and Middle Belt/ Northern minorities who defeated Aburi restructuring in the Civil war and therefore conquered Nigeria, must lead the way in the agitation for the right to self determination.
Sir Ahmadu Bello, never saw the four walls of a University, nor did he have a degree in Political Science, Law or any of the Humanities; but successfully out-manoeuvred the more educated Azikiwe and Awolowo in constitutional negotiations for Nigeria’s independence from the 1ate 1940s to 1960. Whenever he failed to get others to agree to stipulations that would protect the less educated North from the more educated South, he drew back; threatened secession and if the threat did not work, he unleashed riots on Southerners in the North – 1945 Jos riots and the 1953 Kano riot. That compelled Azikiwe and Awolowo to surrender. And he continued with that strategy until he got Nigeria under his firm control. A few days after Independence of October 1, 1960, with his deputy as Prime Minister, he issued the call to order of Jihad (Parrot newspaper of October 12 1960) which his descendants are still executing:
“The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate from our great grand- father, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to have control of their future.”
His ability to play Zik and Awo was reason why his equally less educated deputies referred to the more educated Southern politicians as “Intellectual Fools.”
To get the oligarchy forego the privileges the fraudulent 1999 Constitution conferred on them, the South, led by the West and the Middle Belt, must organise and demand their right to self determination including the right to secede. They both restored the oligarchy on the driver’s seat in 1967-70 and elements in the West and Middle Belt performed the 2015 wonder. Any of them unwilling to agitate for the right to self determination, must stop deceiving others for such person is either lily-livered or is an agent of the oligarchy.
25. Prof. Banji Akintoye-led Yoruba World Congress (YWC) and the O’Odua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC) led by Oluwole Suleiman, Michael Popoola and Mrs Aduke Fadahunsi, have all brazed the trail and anybody in the West serious on meaningful restructuring should join in their efforts. Alhaji Ahmed Bola Tinubu should be told that he is not any smarter than the Yoruba sage, Chief Awolowo, and the business/political wizard, Chief Abiola. Repeating a formula several times and expecting different results, Einstein, the Science guru, branded that madness. Tinubu, with eyes wide open, brought this reign of locusts on Nigeria; and therefore must step back in order that his brothers would resolve his mess.
26. To rebuild a nation betrayed and destroyed over the last 60 years is unlikely to be a one-day affair. It might be a relay race. Catalonia is still in a struggle started in the 19th century. Apartheid struggle in South Africa lasted 1948-1991. South Sudan fought for 39 years and by 2011 when they achieved independence, the violence of war had stolen most of their peace values.
I am aware that the oligarchy has dug deep into the Middle Belt and divided them. A lot of organisation is required to muster a resounding followership. But there is no alternative.
Whenever the West shows the genuineness of its leadership, they will see that the East and the South-south are ready. The West must do some work on their cousins in Edo.
(Details of this exposé are in process of international publishing and is likely to be early next year)
Chukwuemeka I. Onyesoh
14th Sept. 2020