Nigeria was colonized by Britain in 1885, and later became a British protectorate in 1901. Colonization lasted up until 1960, when an independence movement succeeded in gaining Nigeria its independence.
[History of Africa, Kevin Shilington]
Like the legend of ancient Rome when two brothers Romulus and Remus fiercely contested where the city would be located and who will rule the city, Romulus killed his brother Remus and named the city after himself. In the case of Nigeria, Sir Frederick Lugard, the Colonial Governor, was responsible for unification of the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria joined with Northern Nigeria Protectorate to form the Single colony of Nigeria in 1914. Just like in Polyzygotic conception– many multiple fetuses produced by this zygotic unification are congenitally fused that many specialists have had nightmares prescribing antidotes.
Unlike the ancient Rome that eventually birthed Pax Romana [Roman Peace], Nigeria unification was done for economic rather than political reasons-Northern protectorate had a budget deficit and the colonial administration sought to use the budget surpluses in Southern Nigeria to offset this deficit. The struggle for community identity and self-definition of the zygotic fetuses was that of horse-trading, blackmail, tribal supremacists, and economic plundering which led to stagnation and stunted growth. The complexity of managing over 500 ethnic nationalities scattered across Nigeria and beyond to other countries like Chad, Cameroun, Niger and Benin by parochial leaders became an enigma. Every ethnic group like American Robin or Asian Koel has been singing marginalization and self-determination ever since.
The ideological political underpinnings of the colonial era were indirect rule of governing and brutally foisted on British colony Nigeria-it is a system of control through pre-existing local power structures for taxation, communications and other matters. This has put Nigeria perennially on a steeped gully steered many times by egomaniac captains good at drumming ethnic lyrics to the noisy passengers on board. The heartbreaking paradox is that Nigeria is a country of unimaginable abundance—blessed with natural resources, the richness of her people and the incredible growth in the population currently put at 183 million is her potential. Her human and natural resources make her one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. Nigeria represents one of the richest tapestries of culture in Africa. Yet, despite these countless blessings and riches, Nigeria remains undeniably poverty stricken, a broken country fractured by many conflicts stained with blood.
Like in the movie “The Bad” where Zoil reveals that he’s been Paul’s man on the inside all along and then takes a bullet in the shoulder from the Big Guy for his troubles, many state actors in Nigeria had claimed victimhood. Standing before the Oputa Panel, also known as the Human Rights Violations Investigations Commission, formed on June 14,1999 by President Obasanjo as a Truth Commission to heal the wounds of the past and move beyond through reconciliation, was just talking to a brick wall.
Political issues are violently discussed across ethnic and regional lines. Hegemonic ambitions of different regions fragmented any sense of true federalism and patriotism took to flight. National discourse was dotted with religious and tribal colors and henceforth many religious crises and ultimately civil war was fought. This has etched almost irredeemable memories on the victims. This is the political tipping point where if one region produces the President, other region [s] undermines it. There is no consensus to nation building. There have been two sets of rules: one for the Muslim north, the other for the rest of the country. This has affected our criminal justice system. Nigeria has experienced ethnic differences in the processing of criminal cases. There is disproportionality and this occurs when groups are represented unequally relative to their numbers in the general population. We have disparity and this occurs when two offenders who are similarly situated are treated unequally.
Manipulation of national data has destroyed our effort for adequate national planning and budgeting. We have had population census where animals are enlisted in the head count or figures approximated for political advantage. A typical example of 2006 census conducted in Lagos State clearly implicates the state actors. The federal government listed Lagos state figure a at little above nine million. This figure was disputed by Lagos state government consecutive head count, which later released its own population data, putting the population of Lagos Metropolitan Area at approximately 16 million.
The criminality is morbid. We have never included religion in the head count in our population census and therefore, it is dangerous to divide Nigeria into religious fault lines. The Muslim north and the Christian South is a Pandora box that the world needs to discard fast. The fault lines in Nigeria extend to many homes comprising of Christians, Muslims, Atheists, African Traditional Worshippers, Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic faiths. If there is overtly ethnic or religious domination in any region, it is because one has used state powers for self-preservation to the exclusion of other groups.
Nigeria is deeply divided along religious, ethnic and regional lines and one of the aftereffects of the division is the civil war fought in 1967-1970. Many regions have come up with resistant groups for self-preservation; some benign and others virulent amongst which are boko haram terrorism, Fulani militia, Biafra agitators, Niger Delta Avengers and OPC etc. These hostilities have claimed over 6 million lives since Independence.
The solution to this logjam that has held the polyzygotic fetuses from maturing is the call for restructuring where fiscal federalism or inter-governmental fiscal relations takes over the current arrangement. Our problem enumerated above has emanated from historical, economic, political, geographical, cultural and social factors. The panacea comes from restructuring, and by this term the majority of Nigerians are saying what functions and instruments are best centralized and which are best placed in the sphere of decentralized levels of government.
Stephen S. Enada
Advocate for Justice