Book Title: Nigeria :The Case For Peaceful And Friendly
Dissolution Author: Adedapo Adeniran
Reviewer: Anote Ajeluorou
Nigeria has variously been dubbed a contradiction, a geographical expression lacking the status of a nation; a country lacking in clear direction, whose leaders demonstrate abysmally unpatriotic spirit as they fail to define a path to greatness for the country.
Those who make these arguments have strong indicators to corroborate their point. Corruption, ethnic affiliations that have entrenched such obnoxious and mediocre formulas as “quota system, geographical spread, disadvantaged areas, cut-off mark, catchment area, political thuggery, the Niger Delta question,” and the like do not make serious argument for a country ready to embrace oneness.
The questions always arise: What direction should Nigeria go? Is it the way of peaceful co-existence, where the principles of federalism are practised to the letter or a simple and peaceful dissolution into ethnic nation states? For how long will the state continue to totter on shaky legs because those who lead continue to pay lip service to the country’s oneness while actually doing things that otherwise continue to undermine unity and greatness? But legal activist and writer, Adedapo Adeniran will not dwell on the realm of conjectures. He says it as he sees it in his book, Nigeria: The Case for Peaceful and Friendly Dissolution that has benefited from fourth revision. Adeniran argues categorically that Nigeria is founded on a wrong foundation as amalgam of different ethnic nation States by the British colonialists.
What is needed, according to him, is for the various ethnic nation States to go their way and exist independently of each other. It is only that way would their potentials be variously realized rather than what now exists that is totally at variance with every known aspiration that makes up nations
Adeniran traces the historical path that led Nigeria’s creation starting from the Berlin Conference of 1884, where Africa was carved out like a cake at a table for the European powers. Thirty years later in 1914, Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates to be known as ‘Nigeria.’ Adeniran writes, “Effectively, Lord Lugard and Lady Lugard are the bane of the Southern and Northern Nigeria. The situation is long overdue for correction”.
He further makes argument against the continuing use of the name ‘Nigeria’ after independence. Most other nations in Africa have long changed their colonial names to ones that are in consonance with the spirit of those nations. What this means in his view, is that Nigeria should have been fractionalized long before now as the unity is one founded on false premise. It is the writer’s view that by retaining the colonial name, Nigeria has not made itself open to modern ways of thinking and doing things.
He writes, “It is instructive to note that a good number of African countries christened with foreign names have so progressed in their thoughts that they no longer bear those colonialist appellations. Gold Coast became Ghana, Upper Volta became Bourkina Faso, Northern Rhodesia became Zambia, Nyasaland became Malawi; yet the self acclaimed ‘Giant of Africa’ – Nigeria, which should have led the way in that direction still retains that element of colonialism, when in reality it should be looking forward to fractionalisation with a view to formation of independent and sovereign nationalities in aid of patriotism and nationalism”.
The author surmises that from earliest times, there have been elements of disintegration in the union called Nigeria but which have been glossed over by opportunism from those who strongly canvassed for it initially. He blames the British for this as he insists that the North was always against the Nigerian union, and had actually threatened to pull out. Now, he insists the North has been the unintended beneficiary of a union they disdained from start.
Evidence abound to suggest that they were persuaded to stay put during the second military coup in 1966 that ushered in Yakubu Gowon as Head of State.
So, he states, “Ours is a marriage of inconvenience, of heterogeneous incompatibles resulting in abuse of power, position, avarice, disregard for human rights, lack of mutual esteem, vanity, ignorance, corruption, unfairness, lack of meritocracy, and all other unimaginable ills not arising from intellectual objectivity, tolerance and meaningful dialogue, but from empty arrogance, the barrel of the gun, ignorance and pig-headedness. Religious fundamentalism, bigotry and intolerance laced with ethnic nepotism seem to be the order of the day”.
In Nigeria: The Case for Peaceful and friendly Dissolution, Adeniran is certain Nigeria’s doomsday will yet come if the structures that continue to emphasise the artificially created country are not dismantled. The civil war of the 1970s was one such doomsday. “Inevitably, ethnic differences are natural and in bold relief; so it does not serve any useful purpose to deceive ourselves until doomsday,” he states. “One such doomsday was the Biafra war when the Ibos felt truly that they did not belong to the colonialist artificial entity of a misnomer labeled Nigeria.”
Mr. Adeniran’s book might be considered an inflammatory work considering efforts being made to heal whatever wounds that have been inflicted on different ethnic nationalities within the Nigerian union. But he certainly is worth listening to for the benefit of hindsight contained in his book, which he has bequeathed to his generation. Such hindsight should be a source for informed insight into the future and what the continuing schisms in the union may portend if things continue to decay.
The book should be seen as a wake up call for dedication from the political class that continues to operate gangster leadership style to deprive ordinary Nigerians their due. However, the section, ‘Less .we forget’ is in bad taste and makes Adeniran’s entire argument narrow and Yoruba-centric.