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Rejoinder to Dr. Nkwocha’s “No Basis for Unity” – By Dr. Philip Ikomi

By Dr. Philip Ikomi | NNP | March 22, 2014 – It is said that there are several ways to skin a cat. So also there are several ways to argue. It is usual for a person to pick ideas that best support what they intend to portray or convey to the listener or readers. An argument is made more convincing if the person making it gives examples of authorities whose positions support the person’s stance. A person arguing on the basis of attacks on the character of an opponent in an argument is often dismissed as one making an ad-hominem argument which is generally in bad taste as the person is seen to deviate from the substance of the argument to appeals to emotions and prejudices.
Aside from pointing to authorities to buttress one’s position in an argument, one could also make a philosophical argument to justify one’s position. In the absence of these supporting ideas or in addition to them, one can borrow from real or empirical situations that in the past evidenced examples of the current situation that one is interested in portraying. Of course, one could also use analogies to bring the argument into better focus for the listener or reader. So, what did Dr. Nkwocha pick to support his thesis that there is no basis for the unity of Nigeria?
He chose to pick out what a former military leader of Nigeria said as well as point to what an Irish writer wrote and finally what the British government said of northern Nigeria probably prior to the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria as one administrative unit in 1914. It is pertinent to point out that how convincing an argument is depends partly on the weight of the evidence as well as the value given by the listener or reader to pronouncements of any authority marshaled by the person making the argument to support his/her position.
Well, if we were to relive 1966, we would see that August 3, 1966 was only a few days removed from the counter coup that brought Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon to power. We also would recall that he was quite a rather young leader at that time; and to not consider the enormity of the challenges that he faced in those early days would not be fair to him or to Nigeria. In fact, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon said something to the effect that the north was back on the saddle and so northerners should relax and not create any more problems. He spoke those words in Hausa.
That was obviously something you do not say if you are interested in the unity of the country but he was young and obviously overanxious to please the north especially as he was not considered a “true” northerner. I can imagine that those pronouncements were made in the heat of the moment. As he evolved in the leadership position we could see him changing with the result that he no longer thought there wasn’t a basis for Nigerian unity; but pressed the military and all Nigerians to “go on with one Nigeria.” In fact, we saw his evolution unfold because at first, after Biafra declared its intention to secede Gowon started a police action to get Biafra back in the fold. But he quickly realized that he was not going to get Biafra back without war so he embarked on one.
At the end, he said there was no victor or vanquished and started the program of three Rs for reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Contrary to what Dr. Nkwocha wrote Gowon did not declare that Nigeria won the war against Biafra. So we cannot really take Gowon’s statement, made early in his ascendancy to power as something he could not walk away from.
The Lagos conference did not suggest that Nigeria should disintegrate like the foreign intervention that led to the dissolution of Yugoslavia, but to become a confederation. In a confederation, there is still unity! So it is clear that Nigerians do not want to leave the union. I am somewhat pleased that Dr. Nkwocha did not choose the example of Yugoslavia to point out about people going their separate ways but chose Scotland that is having a referendum unlike Fani-Kayode who does not seem to know that forces beyond the people in those countries worked to bring down the boundaries and create new ones for the benefit of the purveyors of the disintegration forces. I say this because the break-up of those Eastern European nations was done by powers that want to control the rest of humanity only for their selfish ends. Those break ups have no bases in the reality of the people concerned. They are being imposed through wars accomplished through massive media deception and make belief.
Nigeria has several bases for unity. They are just too many to enumerate here. It is a human characteristic to be territorial. Humans also want to arrogate to themselves superior character while demeaning all other humans as subordinate to them in character. Back in my home town, our people call the Urhobo slaves. That has not prevented the Itsekiri from inter-marrying the Urhobo. That the Fulani and the Hausa have so many bad words to say about the Igbo and their southern counterparts does not mean that we cannot live together in a country. Humans are just like other mammals in being territorial. However, uniting in large numbers we are able to do much more than being in small groups. China is the ultimate example.
What is plaguing Nigeria today is not that we are diverse, which actually gives us strength, but corruption and lack of patriotism which makes us feel that we need to separate ourselves from our perceived “less performing” comrades. A question you should ask is: “Is there a part of the country that is obviously more developed than any other part because of the present dispensation of forced unity?” The answer to this question is objectively “no”. There is no part of the country for instance, where electricity failure is not heard of. Roads are not better maintained in the northern parts compared to the southern parts. It just happens that rains do not fall as heavily and as frequently in the north as in the south and so the roads last longer without maintenance in the north than in the south.
There are also many more vehicular traffic in the south than in the north and these greatly wear down the roads leading them to require maintenance which they hardly get. Corruption is endemic both in the north and south. There is crass lawlessness everywhere. Nigerians have truly integrated throughout the country. When in 1980 you could hardly see a Fulani milk woman in Lagos, now they are ubiquitous in Lagos, plying their trade. They are also in Warri and I’m pretty sure they are in equally large numbers in Port Harcourt although I have not traveled to PH recently. A lot more southerners now speak Hausa. Rather than push for division of the country, we should push for the adoption of a Nigerian language to motivate us into building a more united country rather than continuing to use the colonial language, English.
The English language Nigerians speak contributes immensely to making them unpatriotic because they always regard the English or American way to be superior and so take whatever advice they give, especially through their multinational organizations. If you think I am making a false assertion here, just remember what you think of somebody who does not speak impeccable English. Naturally you think they are not well educated. Thus it would be more difficult for you to accept an advice from a person who speaks impeccable English than from one who speaks English falteringly. Thus an English or American individual making suggestions on democracy or a financial policy will be better accepted than a Nigerian making suggestions on similar matters to you.. The earlier we jettison English the better for our national cohesion and advancement.
I posited that corruption and lack of patriotism are the two factors leading Nigerians to think that there is no basis for unity for a number of reasons. First, corruption makes the government incapable of providing for its people. As people do not see economic and social progress, they think that perhaps the resources are inadequate because of having to cater to a large population occasioned by being part of Nigeria. The quick fix then becomes to partition the country. Why this is not going to solve the problem is that the corrupt officials that prevented development while part of Nigeria will still be parts of the new entities and thus the lack of development will continue in the new republics. Lack of patriotism exists when government officials who are supposed to bargain for the best terms for the country in international negotiations fail to do so and accept policies that are not beneficial to the country. For instance, the IMF and World Bank usually have conditions for the loans they give countries. These bodies being foreign owned usually have their own agenda which in most cases are never the same as the agenda of Nigeria.
Basically they insist on policies that make the Nigerian economy dependent on European or United States economy and the government officials do not usually try to counter their submissions but assume those policies as the policies of the country to the Nigerian detriment. For instance, back in 1984, under the Buhari/Idiagbon government, the World Bank asked the Nigerian government to subscribe to a policy that would ban graduate education to Nigerians and the Buhari/Idiagbon government adopted that policy. I had mentioned this policy in an earlier column but basically the World Bank wanted Nigeria to concentrate on basic education to the neglect of graduate education beyond the bachelor’s degree. Although Buhari/Idiagbon pursued this policy, I was able to beat it by attending graduate college.
I simply said that I was going to continue my undergraduate education in another institution and I got approval for my funds to be sent. Thus, Nigeria by any other name or grouping will continue to be corrupt and unpatriotic and will continue to be deprived of development unless together as one country, Nigerians solve these two problems bedeviling their country.
Capt. Philip A. Ikomi, Ph.D.
Retired Airline Captain and I/O Psychologist

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Posted by on Mar 22 2014. Filed under Articles, NNP Columnists, Philip Ikomi. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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