The idea that the Nigeria’s unity is nonnegotiable is a self-refuting argument. Unity is said to have been achieved in a place when all the fragments that make up its whole agree in the formation of that whole. Born out of the desire to forge a future within its constituents element, it is debated upon, negotiated, sorted out and the terms for its existence clearly spelt out. When forced or commanded, it is not unity. When it is imagined or assumed, it is a nightmare. When it is described as ‘nonnegotiable’ there is an evident error in thinking. A fallacy of reasoning. The nature of unity abominates the absence of negotiation. By nature, unity negotiates.
Various Nigerian leaders have always used the line that our existence as a nation is nonnegotiable. They bring up that line whenever any section of the country or persons within the geographical region called Nigeria, do what they think threatens the existence of the country. They use words to reaffirm and bind the country together.
They act as though what we say is more important than what we do. Among them are men who have had the chance to correct the wrongs in the system but failed woefully. Men who had the chance to unite the country but failed woefully but are advisers today. Men who ought to be quiet when we talk about changing the shape of the country.
The real truth is, the statement is a logical impossibility. It is like a sentence in English language that is wrong. For example, when someone literally says: ‘the man who is mad is also sane’. How can something that doesn’t exist be tampered with? No amount of personal deceit, delusion and belief will transform the nature of something absent in nature. Unity is neither a good or bad thing.
It can be positive to build a person or people or to wreck and destroy a person or people. The reality is, the only unity in Nigeria is unity of the elites in ripping the country’s resources apart. The unity of coming together to steal and keep the people in perpetual poverty and backwardness. The true unity for the prosperity of the republic is absent. Nigeria is a spiritually broken country and when I say spiritual, I am not talking about Religion.
Their has to be a recognition of the fact that Nigeria is not united. The document serving as our collective wish and desire to stay together is a constitution compiled by men on camouflage. It didn’t represent the idea of Unity the man on the street understands. It didn’t even give the people on the street something great to look up to.
It was simply the opinion of few men on camouflage who felt that they have the sole right to decide what millions of people understand to be unity. If it was advanced and greatly civilised it would have been a thing of beauty. But it was the very example of how not to get unity. As long as we have democratically elected leaders who think that this nonexistent unity is nonnegotiable we will keep get closer to failure.
When men pretend and try to solve a problem by ascribing qualities derived from this pretence, they are not ready to have a better life. Words are not enough. Building a mantra out of certain words will not save them either. No matter the number of persons that believe in a lie, it will never become true.
The same thing is true for truth. Lying will only prolong our day of healing. Our leaders must first recognise that this country is not united. The definition of unity here is a sham. And the idea of a ‘nonnegotiable unity’ is illogical. The demand by any group of people or persons in any sane place must also be respected.
You don’t force patriotism on people. Patriotism is built and encouraged not forced. You don’t achieve patriotism with threats, you achieve it by projecting an image that depicts you as the best alternative. So, when men like Nnamdi Kanu and Gani Adams, demand for Biafra or an Oduduwa Republic, you don’t solve the problem by suggesting, even if passively, visiting them with fire.
You foster and achieve unity by listening to their demands and presenting a stronger argument that neutralizes that of the proponents of secession. Secession is an idea and if you must defeat any idea, you must present a stronger idea, through actions and words. Especially actions.
You also cannot achieve any unity if people who make hate speeches are treated like kings and lords. The reason we fail to curb hate speeches is the unbalanced treatments of those making hate speeches. Our laws shouldn’t be seen to follow George Orwell’s Animal Farm rules. No person should be ‘more equal’ than the other. Nobody should be treated with royalty even at the height of their moral decadence.
Doing this is invitation to chaos. Simply screaming that the Unity of Nigeria is nonnegotiable is unproductive. Their must be a visible attempt to establish unity. It must be neutral because once the people sight any element of bias, support is given to one of their own when he or she commits a crime.
IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu, in the course of seceding, has made so many hate-filled comments about different regions and people of the country. He insulted everyone and anyone he felt and feels stands in the way of achieving independence for the sovereign state of Biafra. Asking to have a country of your own is not treasonable or wrong but insulting people and sowing more hatred is bad. While he was incarcerated, so many laws were broken to make sure he spends time behind bars. Wrong.
The government’s abuse of the rule of law in the trial was off and showed bias. And because Nigeria was structured tribally, it became honorable for tribesmen to identify with him. The truth is, if his wrong was tackled without sentiments and disdain to rule of law, he wouldn’t be this popular or influential.
About a month ago, I watched as the Spokesperson for the Arewa Youths, who ordered Igbos to leave the north before October 1st, was interviewed on NTA. Their was no remorse. He spoke with authority and argued that the intention was to silence the rising agitation for secession by the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB. According to him, their resetting mechanism(turning the faulty mindset of certain Igbos who wanted out of Nigeria, by threatening the entire Igbos in the north, to correct settings) worked.
Should a country interested in unity allow its National TV interview such a person? If certain Igbos wanted out of Nigeria, is it then right, logical and democratic for anybody to ask ALL Igbos out of a part of Nigeria? Is it even Democratic to threaten the specific secessionists? Why should any person even rejoice and feel proud about such method of securing unity? Why is he still walking freely?
When you consider how both hate speeches were treated you’d see what is wrong with the so-called ‘nonnegotiable unity’ of Nigeria. It will be difficult to argue for the absence of sentimentalism in both scenarios. Kanu made a hate speech and was accused of treason. The Arewa Youths made a hate speech and were invited to the National TV to explain why they called off the threats.
You can’t achieve unity with such imbalance in the prosecution of crime. Once the impression that some persons are more important than others is created, you create room for division. People are not stupid. They are watching and are always connecting the dots. Condemnation is not enough. Actions that show your stand on hate speech and unity should be taken.
Some weeks ago, a song encouraging genocide on the Igbos on 1st of October, was released. Up till this moment, nobody has been arrested to that effect. Not a single arrest has been made. Their is no sign of investigation being conducted. Nothing. When the Arewa Youths asked that the Igbos leave after rising from a meeting at the Kaduna Convention, their was also a call for their arrest by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai but none was arrested.
People are not stupid. Nigerians are not entirelly stupid. They are watching and connecting the dots. They watch how the system responds to threats by different sections of the country. Rather than saying, our unity is nonnegotiable, steps should be made to bring this unity to light.
Lastly, I’d like to say that the idea of an indissoluble Nigeria is slavish. The idea that we must stay together because the Brit, Lord Lugard, joined us together is a poorly thought submission. The idea that our forefathers joined us and we must stay together, because they joined us, is also poorly thought. This is our existence. Our life. Our time. We decide what makes us happy. Let our existence today be because we choose to live together and not because a Brit or our forefathers joined us.
The idea that we must stay together because we were joined is a symptom of neocolonialism. We have lived differently and peaceful for over 1000 years before we were joined and the idea that an attempt at dissolution must be met with war smacks of poor mental health. If our unity must exist, we must define it, describe it and live according to the terms we agreed upon. It’s time we stop prolonging our salvation.