Restructuring and Economic Federalism were and still are issues that dominate the political landscape. The clamour for these demands were largely muted during the military regime. But they became strident calls and matters for the soapbox since the reinstitution of democracy in 1999. The present administration made restructuring one of the cardinal principles of its electioneering campaign.
Secession was not as dominant a public issue until very recently when shadowy figures and nondescript platforms emerged to make it a matter that is attracting the attention of Nigerians as a whole not just the ruling elite. At a point, it was restricted to the South east with organisations like Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State Of Biafra (MASSOB) under Ralph Uwazurike. When a splinter group, Independent Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB) came on the scene, it was more of an attention seeking, rabble-rousing show off until the misadventure by the federal government turned a complete nonentity like Nnamdi Kanu into a folk hero.
Recently, there have been other characters like Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho, Asari Dokubo and the faceless unknown gunmen. These figures and whatever they stand for are not the subject of this editorial. They do not deserve such elevated attention. We mention them tangentially as we expose the tendencies that are floating behind the masks and threatening to inconvenience everyone. The only way to interpret the boldness on the part of those figures clamouring for secession or dominance is to understand that there must be someone of relevance instigating and even financing the moves.
It is obvious, in our considered opinion, that the calls for secession are induced by some politically exposed persons who feel left out in the ongoing dispensation. These jobbers are making impact or achieving their purpose of bringing about political dissension because of the pervasive misgovernance at all levels. Or even absence of it. Conspiracy theories around the issue have become so poignant that ignoring them or refusing to give them the attention they need but do not deserve makes one complicit.
It needs to be restated, however, that this newspaper is unwaveringly committed to the oneness of this country. We believe that in it lies our strength as a people, the diversity that makes the nation look like a rainbow coalition. We will, therefore, continue to support and encourage attitudes and behaviours that conduce to a healthy relationship among the peoples that make up the entity called Nigeria and that includes the subscription to policies and programmes that make the people, as ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse as they are, equal partners in the Nigerian enterprise.
As much as we oppose any move that will lead to the dismemberment of the country, it is pertinent to emphasise that such calls will end up as all ‘sound and fury signifying nothing’ when the enterprise is better managed and everyone gets enough for their need and less for their greed.
It is disturbing, in our view, that those at the forefront of this secessionist tendencies are the youths. And the reason is not far to seek. It is not so much that they sincerely want to bring down the roof. Rather, it is just that they want to participate in the discussions on Nigeria. They feel marginalised because this is not happening at a level that they desire. Most of them are unemployed and economically disenfranchised. In that condition, they become agents of destabilisation. Any viewpoint appeals to them. Politically, they are dismissed as upstarts too much in a hurry to take over affairs of state. In other cases, they are labeled lazy just to justify the obvious lack of inclusiveness in governance especially at the federal level. And because of this leadership vacuum, the country is in such a situation that there is genuine fear that there might be an implosion or even outright disintegration
And this, in our opinion, is where the leftover politicians come in to feel the void. They twist, turn and manipulate these young minds and inundate them with the wrong ideas that are antithetical to nation building. Otherwise, why would anyone be listening to Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Adeyemo, Asari Dokubo or Miyetti Allah?
These, in our opinion, are the issues. Sadly, the ruling elite in their disposition prove unhelpful in providing solutions that are capable of assuaging the pent-up emotions of the youths. Instead of positive and constructive engagement, the youths are dismissed as irresponsible and unserious. To make matters worse, the political leaders talk about secession so glibly that one is persuaded to imagine that they are actually praying for it to come about.
The point to be addressed, if we are to suggest, is that the politicians, the ruling elite across all political divides must give the challenge the youths face the serious attention it deserves and find a way to manage them in a manner that will make them feel like Nigerians again. They must be empowered in all the sectors. This calls for political inclusiveness, economic accommodation and good governance. These are the magic wand needed to perish the idea of secession and also that of insecurity. Anything else is shadow-chasing.