THROWBACK THURSDAY – AMALGAMATION OF NIGERIA
January 1, 1914, marked the formal beginning of what would become the largest black nation on planet earth; it was the day the amalgamation of Nigeria took place. Here lies the basic reason why policies borrowed from other countries, especially the “western world” tend to fall flat on their faces when applied in Nigeria.
The process that saw the emergence of the USA and UK/Great Britain is very different from the one that created Nigeria. Nigeria was not a product of political, cultural or social need, rather it was a means of “balancing the books”. Considering how Nigeria is bounded strictly by french colonies, the northern and southern protectorate was experiencing a stark contrast in economic fortunes. While the southern protectorate was yielding profit to the colonialists, the northern protectorate was running at a loss. The British government decided to unify its governance in order to cut costs, ease ruling and maximize manpower.
Pre-Colonial Nigeria was a dispersion of kingdoms, cultures, and heritages, with systems in place that worked for the purpose it had been established. It would have taken years, but a large probability exists that a kingdom would have risen that would have gotten bigger and stronger, becoming an African equivalent of the UK, swallowing up smaller kingdoms in the process.
Fast-Forward over a hundred years later, independence, coup, civil war, coup, return to civil rule, coup and more coup, stepping aside, Interim National Government, coup, death of a sitting head of state, democracy headed by a past military ruler, first-ever civilian to civilian hand over, first-ever handover to an opposition party led government headed by another ex-military Head of State, and in between all of these, the impact of the amalgamation is still present all over that country.
Nigeria has never truly been united, we only put aside our differences to watch football matches, roast Ghanaians on Twitter over Jollof Rice, music or whatever else they are claiming to be better than us at doing at that moment, abusing the government in power at the moment, and most importantly, complaining about being marginalized.
Occasionally, the government in power decides to hold a National Conference under whatever name they choose and end up throwing the report of the said conference in a bin tagged “how to fix Nigeria” which is a bin they never open. Of course, except for adding more reports to the bin.
It is time to revisit the amalgamation of 1914, to ask the constituents of this country what they want in exchange for what they bring to the table. With calls for restructuring rising in different sections, the best place to start has to be a revisit of the initial amalgamation arrangement. Then we can proceed to national identity, sharing the national cake and more importantly, baking the national cake.