By Alaowei Cleric
Statehood, nationalism and nationhood operate from different perspectives according to their broader definitions. Statehood and nationalism can be narrowly and jointly defined to mean a collection of ethnic groups to form a union. Nationhood on the other side is a union of equal partners where the consideration of sectional interest is less attractive.
Statehood and nationalism are therefore fused into nationhood when a union attains the latter. The United States of America (USA) is a good example of nationhood. She has metamorphosed from Statehood to nationhood. Thus, in America tribal or racial consideration is less attractive because national consideration is the thinking of every average American.
In Nigeria, the foundation was built towards promoting sectional interest right from the beginning of time. Our nationalism struggle was prepared to give the Country independence for the protection of ethnic interests.
None of the nationalists save Ernest Sesei Ikoli, Anthony Enahoro amongst some few of them from the minority ethnic groups were fighting for the independent of Nigeria in order to promote national interest. They were just there promoting sectional interest under the toga of the nationalists struggle. This was one of the driving force that compelled Major Isaac Jasper Boro to declare Niger Delta Republic in February, 1966, having seen that the nationalists struggle was for the promotion and protection of ethnic interests.
The fears being expressed by Chief Harold Dapper-Biriye at the Independent Conference, Lancaster House, London in 1957 about the fate of the minority ethnic groups in an independent Nigeria, kept on manifesting till date despite the measures taken by the British Government to allay their fears. Until the success of the counter coup in 1966, the North never wanted a united Nigeria because they felt their ethno-religious interest would not be protected. The reasons being that the Nigerian foundation was never built to promote national interest.
It was not an accident for the legal luminary, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, SAN to say he was first a Yoruba man before he became a Nigerian and that if his Yorubaness clashes with his being a Nigerian then the Yorubaness prevails. The great Zik of Africa, Chief (Dr.) Nnamdi Azikiwe said through some of his proxies that the Igbos would rule Nigeria till eternity.
Worst of all, the Sarduana of Sokoto, Alhaji Amadu Bello said on the 12th of October, 1960 that the new nation called Nigeria should be seen as an estate of our forefather, Uthman Dan-Fodio. The Southern minorities are conquered people, while the northern minorities are willing tools. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of government. We must not allow them to have control of their destinies.
The above statements only presuppose that the nationalists mostly from the majority ethnic groups were fighting for Nigeria of sectional interest. That’s what we are seeing till today. From 1960 to date, only Goodluck Jonathan considered national interest above his personal or sectional interest. No wonder he said his ambition does not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
The man who said he is for nobody and for everybody appeared unrepentantly for a sectional and ethno-religious interest. Why then Nigeria can attain nationhood? Of course corruption is another cankerworm that will continue to hamper our road walk to nationhood.
When talking about corruption, none of the past and present leaders are exculpated. If we must attain nationhood then Nigerians should begin to consider national interest above personal/sectional interest. Nigerians in every sector should commit suicidal sacrifice for the progress of the Country.
We can never develop and become an emerging nation with corrupt practices feasting on our public governance. We need to recap a national orientation devoid of ethno-religious and political interest to eradicate corruption from our body polity.
In the meantime, Nigeria needs ethno-religious and political-cum economic restructuring in order to engender competitive economy. Fiscal restructuring is one of the undeniable ingredients that grease a State to attain nationhood. America remains a good example, especially for the fact that Nigeria is also practicing federal system of government like the USA.
By Alaowei E. Cleric, Esq
Writes from Delta state.