No region in Southern Nigeria needs One Nigeria to survive. The problem is mental laziness on the part of the people who have been running the country like a conquered territory. Those who understand the principles of agenda-setting theory will see the goals in the face-off between the South West and Fulani North. It was the birth of a new order, where the wings of a bunch of ‘see no evil, say no evil politicians’ were clipped. Agenda setting, keeping a topic on the front page to underscore its importance, in this instance, the herders’ crisis. While the South West and the rest of the South East, South-South and North Central see the herders crisis as a threat to their existence, the Core North see it as a means to an end, and will achieve it with the silence of people like “where are the cows?
There are several theories to the escalation of banditry in the North and herders’ terrorism in the South. The most realistic of these theories is the position that these foreigners were used to boost the voting population in the North, using them to win the 2015 election, and abandoning them. Since they have acquired arms, with a lack of political will to chase them away, those who imported them are determined to put them to good use. This is primarily why each region down south has resorted to self-help. For the first time, regions like South East and South West are relying on non-state actors like the ESN and OPC, and Sunday Igboho for their safety from the menace of herders terrorism. If this is not evidence of a failed state, maybe you should go back and read John Locke’s Second treatise of government.
As the Sunday Igbohos, the Nnamdi Kanus etc agitate for an end to the killings by the herders, the Sheikh Gunmis, the Bala Mohammeds justify the killing by presenting the herders as victims, victims who should be rewarded with lands for their business, and/or amnesty. While Rotimi Akeredolu and Samuel Ortom are shouting over the illegality perpetrated by the herders, the Maitawalles and Yugudas counter by saying “if you want them to stop these illegalities, give them land or amnesty”. The overall silence by Buhari on these issues is a testament to this agenda. He had once sent Femi Adesina to tell us that the only way to avoid being killed is to donate land.
However, the end of herders terrorism is not amnesty. The end is something akin to Niger Delta Development Commission which has been replicated with the North East Development Commission. While the Niger Delta feeds the nation and has suffered decades of environmental degradation and deaths, politicians in the North East fueled Insurgency by widening the Socioeconomic gap, mass-replication of poverty and illiteracy and allowing radical religious ideologies to grow unchecked for decades. Poverty and insecurity are the SI units of underdevelopment. It backfired but they turned around to use the Nigerian state to clean up their mess. If you understand what Sheikh Gunmi implies, by blaming it on injustice, then it will be clearer. It is a case of those who were used and dumped to achieve a goal fighting back but since they are our people, let us give them amnesty, land and constant money.
Buhari’s government is a necessary evil. Necessary in the sense that each region that makes up the contraption called Nigeria has come to see the union as an open-faced lie that it is, and is weighing its options. While the South West, which became the backbone of the Northern dominance over the South for the past 6 years tries to pull back from the alliance, the South East and South-South which have been waiting for South West to get ready to crash the fraud, sit back and watch. South West has managed to corner the economic power of the country while the North keeps the political power through the unverified population claims. While the South West negotiates with economic and media power, the core North negotiates with unverified population political power. The South-South, especially the Ijaw areas negotiates with cutting off the mainstay of the nation’s economy. This implies that if the gas trunk line from Escravos is cut off, half of Lagos and Ogun will be out of power till it is restored, so they’re listened to. But South-South lost so many economic potentials due to years of inter-tribal wars and militancy. Lagos was able to gain what South-South lost by promoting itself as safe and peaceful; again with the power of media. The Ijaw-Itsekiri war forced many multinationals to relocate to Lagos from Warri. Years of militancy further stripped Port Harcourt of its garden city status, removed most of the benefits of oil the region had to the gain of Lagos while it became an ecological wasteland.
However, the South-East has nothing to negotiate with, because it has failed to build a local economy with its huge human capital, natural resources and individual financial war chest. Building an economy entails full industrialisation of the region. The governors have not thought beyond the monthly allocation from the federal government, and their innate quest to fritter away the commonwealth of the people of the region to set up a system that taps from the ingenuity of their people. Setting up this system means that there will be a direction and objectives to be achieved in say, 10,20, 30 years time. This system will build a market that is interconnected and becomes a go-to for entire West Africa. Instead, the economy of the region is scattered in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and only returns to either build filling stations or hotels. But the “hotel and filling stations” economy does not offer sustainability or keep the money in the East as no raw materials and labour are sought. The inability of the leaders to think beyond their stomachs is why Aba has no good internal roads, let alone the ones that connect her to Akwa Ibom to facilitate the movement of goods from Nigeria to Cameroon.
Nigeria is dominantly a gas nation and has the highest proven gas reserve in the whole of Africa with over 202 trillion cubic feet of gas reserve. A greater proportion of Nigeria’s gas reserve is in the south East. None of the Igbo leaders licking the anal hole of Abuja men has thought it wise investing in electricity, using their Abuja connections to add value to the economy of the region except one. Investment in electricity is a good starting point for industrialisation. The totality of Imo, Anambra and Abia are sitting on huge NAG reserves. While Escravos Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS) supplies 2.2 Million standard cubic feet per day, the Assa North-Ohaji South project which holds more than 4.3 trillion cubic feet of NAG is the largest greenfield gas condensate development projects being undertaken in Nigeria and expected to supply 600 million cubic feet of gas daily. This will translate to 2.4 GW of electricity that can power more than 5 million homes. But the shocker is that it will not be used for electricity in the South East. Imagine 2.2 GW of electricity in Onicha and Nnewi and Emene industrial areas. The first conceptualised domestic gas supply project was the Aba-Owerri-Nnewi-Onitsha Pipeline Project but it was abandoned for the Ajaokuta – Kaduna – Kano project. There is also no domestic gas project covering the entire Niger Delta, despite the fact that the region supplies to Lagos and Ajaokuta. So what have the leaders in these areas been doing?
Another reason why these gas reserves in the East are not being developed is because of the so-called “competitive market and infrastructure to harness them”. Oil Serve is deep into gas development in Ukwa and Asa and built the supply base for the 188 MW Geometrics gas-powered plant. But Igbo leaders sat down and watched as Bat Nnaji and Emeka Offor’s Interstate electricity battled for nearly 8 years, depriving Aba of the needed power that will restore its industrial potentials. The funny part is that it took Vice President Osibanjo to wade into the dispute to settle it while Ohanaeze drank champagne from house to house. Taunting yourself as holding over 60 per cent of the country’s capital while there is no back up local economy will backfire as it did in the 60s when push comes to shove.
Igbo leaders over the years missed the lecture. Their inability to invest in youths like Zik, MI Okpara and Sam Mbakwe did, by setting up critical infrastructures like electricity and good transport systems pushed the youth to the wall. Their complicity and reliance on Abuja meant that their people no longer take them seriously. Instead of Arthur Eze using police to harass Abba people, he could have teamed up with Seplat and Oil Serve for a gas pipeline to Onicha and Nnewi. They can source $3 billion for the project. With Arthur Eze’s connect in Abuja, nothing will stop it. But what do we get? People who just want us to clap for them for driving Rolls Royce on tattered roads. Now the youths are fighting back, choosing death than to back down. Currently, there is a struggle for the control of the soul of the East, between the youths and the traditional politicians. Instead of using dialogue to settle the disagreement, the politicians rely on the same Abuja which understands nothing but brute force to crush the resistance. However, the consistent militarization of the East has not scared these youths but has emboldened them. From flying flags to now wielding AK 47 assault rifles, the next phase is already known. They have failed to understand that this generation won’t tolerate what their fathers tolerated.
Moving on, Nigeria breaking up, violently, is a matter of when and no longer that of ‘if’. We have all come to the brutal reality that each region needs an armed group that will speak for it in times like these. Even the central government with its clear lack of direction is beginning to prepare grounds for eventual break up of the union, through the appointment of people of Buhari’s ethnic group in juicy positions to steal as much as they could and using the wealth from the south to build an economically irrelevant railway to the Niger Republic. Despite all the noise, they would find out that all they contribute to the union are onions, cabbage, tomatoes and meat.
It is funny that Nigeria has not found a way to connect its economic clusters of Lagos, Aba, Onicha and Port Harcourt with rail but has all of a sudden found a way to connect an economically arid Niger Republic whose GDP is not up to that of Anambra. The significance of this is profound. The North West has more affinity with the Niger Republic, Chad and Mali than the rest of the country. It is why under Buhari, railway, refinery etc will get to Maradi. It is also why governors from the Niger Republic attend political campaigns in places like kano and Katsina. It is why herders are imported from Niger down to Chad and the Central African Republic to cause mayhem all over Nigeria while Abuja turns the other way. It is why Gas is channelled from Obrikom/Obiafu to Kaduna, Kano while Bayelsa has no stable electricity.
Nigeria is the biggest fraud to ever exist and it took the docile South just six years of Buhari to finally see what has been going on for about 60 years .
It was within these 6 years that the people who criminalised Kanu and his IPOB for only flying flags and demanding their own country began actively negotiating with terrorists, resettling them and publicly demanding amnesty for them. When they moved against Igboho, the South West resisted. The core North was handicapped and couldn’t sustain its propaganda in the Sasa incident because the South West plugged off its media power from their mouth. Outdone, they sent Kadiari Ahmed to appeal to journalists not to blow up the country while failing to put the blame squarely at Buhari’s nepotist feet. Nobody threatened to burn down their shops in order to cow them, a common threat issued to our people from the South East.
Will the bandits get the amnesty? I bet you they will. If you doubt it, then you are not paying attention enough. If the politicians whose actions led to the insurgency in North East, found a way to create a North East development commission, banditry is also geared towards a North West development commission which will sap more money from the South to the North while the wait for the D-day continues. Those shouting that the “Unity of Nigeria is not negotiable” are only waiting to steal enough. With the way the union is tearing apart, there will be little to no time to even negotiate.
Those who tell you that South East is landlocked do not see how wide and deep River Niger and Imo River are. The Port of Hamburg which is the 15th busiest port in the world and the busiest in Germany is along the Elbe River which is not as wide as the Imo River or Niger River. Google is your friend. They tell you that these rivers pass through other states to get to the ocean. But if Nigeria breaks up, those rivers will be bound by international water treaties or might be decided through other unconventional means. If you go to St Petersburg in Russia, you notice several motorised bridges that open at night for cargo ships to pass and close in the day for vehicles. While the biggest vessel to ever berth in Nigeria is 10,000 TEU, the Elbe River carries vessels above 24,000 TEUs. If Hamburg is Nigeria, you know how the story will turn out. The government is not thinking. You should also not stop thinking. Those who make peaceful coexistence impossible make violent balkanisation possible. Sadly, they’re in power.