Just In: Nigeria may eventually break up Details Revealed!

just nigeria may eventually break

PROFESSOR Banji Akintoye is a renowned historian and a member of the Southern Leaders Forum.

In this interview, Akintoye maintains that Nigeria may eventually break up if it is not properly structured.

He also gives an insight to the controversy over who were the original settlers of Lagos


You are an advocate of restructuring, what are your views on it ?

When you have the type of country that we have, with many different people living in it, they have evolved their own pattern of expectations and their own kind of responses to the modern world, the only way you can fix such a country is to have a proper federation so that each people will be able to manage their own affairs and then contribute their own to the building and prosperity of Nigeria.

Our founding fathers recognised that in the late 1940 after WWII when they were called together to discuss the future of Nigeria.

As at that time, there was no Nigeria because the British were ruling the Southern and Northern protectorates but there was nothing between the two.

But after Second World War, when it became clear that they could no longer keep their African empires, it was the first time the leaders were called upon to discuss the future of Nigeria.

The British themselves began to think of the future of Nigeria and the consensus was to have a federation.

There were no details of the component parts of the federation but it was agreed that we should form a federation and whatever component part we had should manage its own affairs.

So, we had a situation in which the British created three regions in Nigeria.

There were a lot of agitations that the north should be broken into two so that there would be a Middle Belt region and North East region.

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There was also some noise that the Western Region should be broken into two so that there would be a Western region and a Mid Western region.

The British did not want to go into such details for two reasons. First, they did not have the political will any more to go on and also they had their own ideas that the north must remain as it is and be dominant in Nigeria.

So, for those reasons, they rejected it, they even set up a commission when the noise was becoming irresistible.

The Lord Willink Commission went round and said what the people were saying needed to be addressed.

The British did not want to address anything but they just wanted to get out.

They wanted to put the north in charge and get out and the reason they wanted to put the north in charge was because the north was the least educated region whereas in the south there were a crowd of lawyers, doctors, professors and so on.

The north did not have such thing and they were afraid of the south.

So, the British decided to tap into that fear and they used it for their own advantage.

They were leaving and they needed the economy of Nigeria because their own economy was down. So, a sort of pact developed between the British and the leadership of the north.

The British left but before that happened, in the years when the three regions operated from 1952 to independence, there was a greet deal of progress. Each regional leadership did well for its people.

The right thing would have been to continue with that but the northerners who became the dominant group after independence thought that to continue with that would not be easy for them. The British could have done it but they didn’t do it.

just nigeria may eventually break

So, it was an attempt to control the regions that led to the crisis in the Western region in 1962 that the region should be under the control of the federal government.

All that resulted ultimately in a major crisis in the Western region with people rioting and the federal government abdicating authority to the military which then gave the military the courage to carry out a coup.

Now, when the military carried out a coup, a very unfortunate thing happened, they came to the conclusion that they could only rule Nigeria the way they knew.

The military wanted to control Nigeria centrally and that is where the trouble started. It created trouble.

The military has destroyed the economy of our nation, they destroyed our federation, and they have destroyed trust among our people and created anger and bitterness, enmity all over Nigeria.

just nigeria may eventually break

They have created a reign of corruption and they have now led us to the point which looks like our country is going to break up. So, the answer is that we should go back to the federation.

But some people have expressed fears over restructuring.

They are not afraid. It is not that they are afraid of restructuring, the northerners have a lot to gain from the present situation, they don’t want to lose it. It is not that they are afraid.

You recently declared that Nigeria may break up, what informed such remark?

I fear and I still fear as I speak today that if we continue like this without restructuring the federation and loosening the centre a little, Nigeria will break up.

What attracted you to the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo?

What attracted young people like me to Awolowo was because he was talking sense about our country, you couldn’t be sure of what others were saying but you could be sure of what Chief Awolowo was saying.

He wanted a federation with each section able to carry on its own affairs, in its own way and moving forward in its own way and developing Nigeria into the greatest Black Country in the history of the world, which attracted people like me to him.

That is the reason why I believe today that I was fortunate to come to his side because he gave me a great picture of my country and our future.

just nigeria may eventually break

I think it is the only way forward, anybody who thinks there is any other way is lying, is just deceiving himself. Nigeria will break up unless we go back and create a proper federation.

The president has said he won’t implement recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. Where does that leave us?

What he is saying is that ‘I maintain the position of the Hausa/Fulani people and therefore, a restructuring of the country is not on the slate’. It is not a statement of principle; it is a statement of sectionalism.

just nigeria may eventually break

Away from that, as a renowned historian, what do you make of the controversy of the real owners of Lagos?

The different nationalities in Southern Nigeria and part of the Middle Belt evolved about the same time and they spread out and took part of the forest as their own.

The Yoruba took part of the forest which is now known as Yoruba land; the Edo took their own part of the forest further to the east and so on and so forth.

The Yoruba section spread out to the coast, the Edo section spread out to their own part and that was it.

Part of the Yoruba section that took over the coast were the Ilaje, Itsekiri and so on. Those are the Yoruba coastal people.

The Awori are the coastal section of the Yoruba nation and they were settled in the island all the way to Ota.

At about the 10th AD, a time came when the Yoruba began to evolve kingdoms, that is a long story but the first kingdom they created was Ife and with the example of Ife, then spread out and people began to create the Oduduwa kind of kingdom all over Yoruba land.

just nigeria may eventually break

Three such kingdoms emerged in the Awori country; one in Ota, which was the oldest, another one in Isheri and then finally, another one on the Lagos Island and Iddo island which became the kingdom of Lagos with an Awori king.

just nigeria may eventually break

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