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My top Brexit takeaway: Politics : - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum


My top Brexit takeaway

By: dayan (M) |Time : July 04, 2016, 08:11:04 PM
My top Brexit takeaway

On July 4, 201612:29 am

By Ochereome Nnanna

THE fateful 23rd June 2016 referendum vote by a majority of the United Kingdom, UK, citizens to take their country out of the European Union has left the whole world reeling. Perhaps, many people did not really expect the “ayes” (or “leave”) to have it. But they did by 52 percent of an exercise where the younger segments of the society did not bother much to participate in the voting.

Much of the “leave” votes came from England, the heart and head of the UK; and of course, Wales, but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted massively to stay in Europe. And that is where the bone in Her Brittanic Royal Majesty’s kingdom throat is now located: Scotland may sue for a repeat of the 2014 referendum to determine if her people would value their continued membership of the UK above their membership of the EU. If this takes place and Scotland leaves the UK while Northern Ireland reunites with the rest of Ireland, it will result in unanticipated and unpalatable consequences for a mighty power that created our country and made us what we are today.

For me, this is the most important lesson. Yes, the issue of the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron resigning as soon as the vote went against his advocacy for stay is equally important. That Britain and other civilised polities regularly hold referenda to let their citizens decide on crucial geopoloitical issues affecting their lives is also a great object lesson. That the leadership respects the people’s choice of action by implementing it is something we must emulate. And that a leader who loses the vote when the majority of the citizens refuse to buy their advocacy throws in the towel is the moral content of politics that we must aspire to for our democracy to be taken seriously.

However, we are still eons away from the day when the Federal Government will summon the courage to organise a referendum here in Nigeria. There is too much fear of what could result from such an exercise. I am sure that the quandary that the exit vote puts Britain in today would heighten the fear of staging a referendum in Nigeria, especially the type that Biafra separatists are hoping for.

I have been wondering what is likely to happen if President Muhammadu Buhari, in the extremely unlikely situation, decides to stage a referendum asking  Nigerians if they want the country to stay as one or we should go our separate ways. The answer, to me, is obvious. Majority of voters in the North and (to a lesser degree the South West) will, like Scotland and Northern Ireland, likely vote to stay. The North depends on the South for its upkeep. The South West’s pole position as the crucible of the Nigerian economy owes to Lagos being the former federal capital, where the major national investments in infrastructure make the zone (especially the Greater Lagos conrubation) the greatest beneficiary from the Nigerian commonweath.

If the capital of Nigeria had not been transferred from Calabar to Lagos by the colonialists, it is obvious that what we see in and around Lagos and the South West would have been the lot of Calabar and the entire East, more so with the impetus of the oil resources of the Niger Delta. Nigeria has invested so much in the West, and the West, in turn, has provided a platform of unity for everyone’s economic livelihood. The fear that the South West might vote “leave” is a major factor that will ensure no such referendum will ever be held.

On the other hand, current sentiments might tempt majority of Nigerians of South East and South-South extraction to vote “leave”. This will be more so for the South East than the South-South which, because of their Minority splinter configuration, might still feel safer staying in Nigeria.

The main theatre of a possible “leave” verdict will be in the South East. The younger population of that part of the country are dead serious about their agitation for Biafra because they have lost hope that Nigeria will ever be fair to them if, forty six years after the civil war, they still do not have a sense of belonging in Nigeria like oher Nigerians.

    But, like most British citizens, any section of Nigeria that votes to leave will wake up the following morning asking for another vote to come back. This will be more so for the Igbos for so many reasons which I do not intend to go into right now. Even the South West, the most geographically-assured section of the country, will discover that the perceived Yoruba unity only exists because of the rilvalries that exist among the various ethno-religious groups in Nigeria. By the time Igbos are forced to return to their new country, leaving their hard-earned investments behind in other parts of Nigeria to start again from the scratch in a landlocked Biafra, Biafrexit will turn into Biafregret, just as Brexit has turned into Bregret in many quarters in the UK.

As for the South-South, one country from this geopolitical concoction will be a virtual impossibility. The fear of Ijaw hegemony will dampen the enthusiasm for separation. The Ijaws will not enjoy any peace because they will be warring with every ethnic group they share territories with in all the coastal states except Bayelsa.

The bottom line of it all is that a referendum to determine the continued existence of Nigeria as a single country is totally uncalled for and will likely result in a massive reaffirmation of our unity if the various groups are permitted to think through the consequences of a break-up at this time of our history. It could be possible some time in the dim future, but not now.

All agitations for separatism are myopic and defeatist. This country belongs to all of us. When old Northern loudmouths like Junaidu Mohammed and Usman Bugaje boast that the oil of the Niger Delta belongs to them, tell them that the solid minerals in the North, its vast agricultural lands and livestock belong to you. Don’t even bother to take offence. They are just shooting empty mouth bazookas to provoke you.

Nigeria is a wonderful gift of God to all of us. God used colonial Britain as His tool to carve out this patch of paradise, run it for 46 short years and hand it to us to inherit. The only thing that is bad about Nigeria is the system, which is unable to produce good leaders. If our agitators for separatism spend a fraction of their time and energy to fight for the enthronement of a more workable system, Nigeria will be the better for it.

Instead of baying for separate republics, Nigerians should reject bad leadership. Nigerians should vehemently oppose any leader that takes over power, violates the principles of Federal Character (which is aimed at giving everyone a sense of belonging) and puts his kinsmen in office to dominate other sections of Nigeria. Anyone leader who ignores the secular nature of Nigeria and imposes his religion; any leader who seeks to seize other people’s lands and give it to his kinsmen for their cattle business; any leader who looks the other way while his kinsmen are slaughtering innocent Nigerians and driving them away from their communities like the Janjaweed of Omar Al Bashir’s Sudan must be run out of power at the earliest possible opportunity. He is an enemy of Nigeria’s continued existence as one country.

Unfortunately, we Nigerians fight the wrong battles. We stupidly clap for those putting iron manacles around our feet, and when we wake up to find ourselves in chains, we want to leave Nigeria.

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