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Disunity In Nigeria Was There Before Independence, As was Captured By Time Magazine On Nov 10, 1958

In a very perfectly worded article by the Time Magazine of November 10, 1958, it was very obvious that the amalgamation of Nigeria into one country was a mistake.

Sometimes in history, Nigerians are told as an utopian narrative that their forefathers or founding fathers were united and sort after a united Nigeria.

But a very cursory glance at the article from Time Magazine exposed such narrative as a very disturbing lie.

The founding fathers or those who fought for Nigeria’s independence were never united and such disunity seems to have passed down to the present generation.

In fact, this country Nigeria has never been united and there are no signs that it will ever be one in the future.

Below is the article from Time Magazine, just about two years before her independence.

“INDEPENDENCE WITHOUT DIFFICULTIES IS A DREAM OF UTOPIA.”

For one month, delighted Londoners watched the 80 ceremonially dressed Nigerians—some with necklaces of animal teeth, others with feathered straw hats, at least one with a jeweled crown—parade into Lancaster House for their historic conference.

Everything possible had been done to make them feel at home.

For the Colonial Office’s big reception at the Tate Gallery, all nude statues were carefully screened so as not to offend Moslems. The Lord Mayor served up a banquet of stewed peanuts and one paramount Chief—His Highness James Okosi II of the Onitsha —fulfilled a lifelong ambition: to ride the escalator at the Charing Cross underground station.[?]

In the end, the Nigerians got what they had come for: on Oct. 1, 1960, the largest (373,250 sq. mi.) of Britain’s remaining colonial territories would get its independence (TIME. Nov. 3). But behind the scenes, the conference had revealed ominous signs of trouble to come.

From the start, there was a clash between the personalities of the Premiers of the three regions —each obviously more important than the scholarly Federal Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

In Western eyes, Obafemi Awolowo of the Western Region seemed the most statesmanlike: as the conference began, the London Times carried a full-page ad proclaiming his declaration for freedom under the title “This I Believe,” prepared with the help of an American public relations man.

In contrast, U.S.-educated Premier Nnamdi (“Zik”) Azikiwe of the Eastern Region seemed to have learned more in the U.S. about Tammany tactics than Thomas Jefferson, and was somewhat under a cloud as a result of a British tribunal’s 1956 investigation into corruption in his administration.

The North’s Premier, the Sardauna of Sokoto, a haughty Moslem of noble birth, could barely conceal his contempt for his less aristocratic colleagues.

Insults & Accusations. Under the great chandeliers of the Lancaster House music room, where Chopin once played for Queen Victoria, the Premiers bickered, shot insults back and forth like poisoned darts.

When the conference took up the ticklish problem of how to protect the rights of minorities among Nigeria’s 250 tribes, Awolowo suggested creating three new states. The North’s Sardauna, not wishing to relinquish any of his own territories, vetoed the idea. Nor did he like the plan for a centralized police force under the federal government: he much preferred to use his own force, which, answerable only to him, can pop a man in jail with no questions asked.

At one point, the Sardauna accused Awolowo of sending his supporters to Israel to be trained as saboteurs in the North —a charge fabricated out of the fact that Western Nigeria has imported agricultural experts from Israel to advise its farmers. Awolowo countercharged that the Sardauna flogs his prisoners.

At receptions, the delegates sipped their orange juice, icily aloof from one another. In elevators, the conversation would suddenly stop if a delegate from another region got on.

Compromises & Contests. But as the weeks passed, the Sardauna grudgingly consented to let the constitution carry a bill of rights, though he was so thoroughly opposed to giving the vote to women that the conference decided that this was, after all, not necessarily a “fundamental” right.

The delegates then agreed on a centralized police force, but one that would be administered by a council of representatives from each region. Finally, with their own independence from Britain assured (as well as that of the adjacent British Cameroons, should they choose to become a part of Nigeria), the delegates started for home.

Until Nigeria’s federal election takes place next year, the three Premiers will continue jockeying for power, and the fate of Nigeria could well, hinge on who comes out on top. Last week, even as the National Planning Committee of Independence opened its contest for the design of a national flag (first prize: $300), many Nigerians had grave reservations about what lay ahead.

For all its jubilation, Nigeria’s West African Pilot felt obliged to warn: “Independence without difficulties is a dream of Utopia.”

(Time Magazine – Monday, Nov. 10, 1958)

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Buhari To Ndigbo: You’re Not Marginalised; I Appoint Heads Of Security Agencies On Merit

•Promises infrastructure development

 

Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that the appointment of the heads of security organisations under his government has been based purely on competence and merit.

 The president stated this while addressing the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe,  Zik’s son, Ambassador Emeka Ayo Azikiwe, traditional and religious rulers while on a courtesy call at the Obi’s palace on the sidelines of his campaign visit to Anambra State.

 Responding to issues raised by the traditional rulers about marginalisation of the South East states particularly, in the security sector, President Buhari commended the courage of the leaders in speaking their minds.

 He, however, explained that he had remained fair to all regions of the country since his assumption of duty as president on May 29, 2015.

 He said: “I am pleased that you have the courage to present issues about your constituency but I expect you to be more patriotic in your presentation.

 “In the South East, there are five states, in the North, I think there are 18 states. In the South East, out of the five states,  I think five members of the Federal Executive Council, are from this region, trade and investment, foreign affairs, labour, science and technology ministers. And seven of the northern states have only minister of state,” he noted.

President Buhari stressed that he had appointed most people into the country’s security architecture without knowing them personally except their professional records.

 According to him, “I think I tried to be fair. And you can ask these ministers. I never asked them how they are running their parastatals, their boards. I appointed them and I trusted them. I allow them to work.”

 He said the same complaints from the South East have been coming from other parts of Nigeria but that did not reflect the truth.

 “I don’t have to tell you what noise the other states are making especially when compared to the votes I got in 2015. So, I think I try to be fair.

 “The question about the police. Those of you who were in the military even in the Biafran Army, know that the entry point is the same and you go for basic training until you go to your formations or institutions whether it is Army, Navy, Air Force or the police. The most competent or senior person is the one that gets there.

 “If there are half a million soldiers, only one man can be the Chief of Army Staff at a time. This is so for the rest of the troop. In recruitment, we make sure that by states, people are recruited. At least, this is what I do; people are recruited from each state. For those who manage to get recruited, it’s up to them to get to the top if they are professional and work for it.

 “The present Chief of Army Staff, the Chief Air Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff even the previous Inspector General of Police that just left, I didn’t know them personally before I appointed them. I follow records,” the president said.

 President Buhari explained further that the current acting Inspector General of Police Abubakar Adamu, was also appointed based on merit.

 “The same thing with the IG, that one was appointed last week. I don’t think I have ever seen him; I follow records. So, appointments in the armed forces and other law-enforcement agencies depend on individual performance after recruitment not where you think you come. At least between me and God, this is what I do,” he noted.

The president emphasised that his government had done a lot in the provision of infrastructure for the entire South East region including Anambra State.

 “On the issue of infrastructure, a lot of you that are here know that the last time the Enugu -Onitsha road was done was during the PTF days and it was also done again from Enugu to Port Harcourt.

He urged traditional rulers in the state to support the government in improving the security situation in the country at the grassroots.

 President Buhari who promised that he was committed to the development of the region pleaded for the Igbos to vote him in the February 16 election.

 Speaking on the fight against corruption, the president said going forward, he would jail those who have over the years, run down the fortunes of the nation saying that such individuals should not be allowed to go scot free.

 He attributed his slow-pace in prosecuting alleged treasury looters in the country to the need to follow due process of the law but assured Nigerians of his commitment to restoring the dignity of Nigeria while he serves as president.

 Governor Willie Obiono while welcoming the president thanked him for putting down a total of N30billion for the completion of the second Niger Bridge.

He also commended the president for the government’s intervention on the Enugu-Onitsha road and the on-going work on the second Niger bridge. He further told the president to also work on the Onitsha-Nsukka road.

 Present at the brief event were the Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige and the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola among others.  (The Sun)

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