Why not shut down completely so everyone goes his own way? Why not divide Nigeria, so there will be peace?
On the 15th of November, 2016, former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, insisted that “unity in Nigeria was not negotiable” which remains consistent with a wartime slogan (to keep Nigeria one) that ‘justified’ the Biafran war. He insisted that the division of Nigeria will distort the map of Nigeria and destroy the gift of unity from the colonial masters. President Muhammadu Buhari has continuously maintained that Nigeria is indissoluble and thus, must remain united despite all odds. On August 24, 2016, the former INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, at the second annual lecture organised by the National Broadcasting Commission in Abuja, described Nigeria as an indissoluble marriage of ethnic groups. He compares the unity of Nigeria with the Roman Catholic marriage, which is indissoluble “till death do us part”. For them, there is no reason to divide Nigeria.
However, in response to the claim of indissolubility of Nigeria by statesmen like Mr. Yakubu Gowon, President Muhammadu Buhari, and lately, Prof Attahiru Jega, the renowned Catholic theologian from the Dominican Order of Preachers (OP), Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Anthony Akinwale, responds that the Catholic Church institutes matrimony after some principal requirements have been met: the requirements of mutual voluntariness, honesty and commitment to the growth and welfare of the union. In the Catholic Church, once a marriage is not valid, it is considered that there was never a marriage from the beginning. There is no option for divorce in a valid marriage, but an invalid marriage, which was based on deceit, force and convenience, is bound to be dissolved. Fr. Akinwale notes: “I do not know if [Prof. Attahiru] Jega has ever witnessed the celebration of a Catholic marriage. If he had, he would have observed that the first question the couple is asked is: have you come here freely to be united in marriage? Freedom of consent is an absolute requirement for the validity of Catholic marriage.” The diverse ethnic communities that constitute the geographical entity called Nigeria were forced into this “union” by colonization and amalgamation. The British colonizers never sought the consent of the various ethnic groups. Thus, Nigeria is not a marriage, not a union in the proper sense of the term, but an amalgam of ethnic communities held together at gunpoint.
In a similar stance against the dogmatic unity of Nigeria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi stated on Tuesday, 30th August, 2016 that “if Nigerians cannot live together and allow peace and development to take place, then let’s go our different ways and to our different places, so we can concentrate and develop our children and grandchildren in peace.”It is better to divide Nigeria, than to remain in a stagnant relationship that will not produce anything for any of the parts.
ADVANTAGES OF REMAINING TOGETHER
The continuation of Nigeria as a united entity could have several advantages among the League of Nations.
Number: population is one of the advantages and measures used for grading influential nations. High population distinguishes a nation as a destination for commerce, research and other social activities that require high participation. It lays the foundation upon which industrial education can be impacted for further development. Hence, the call to divide Nigeria may not be in the full interest of Nigerians.
Galaxy of ethnic beauty: an observation of the night sky displays an array of different sizes and types of heavenly bodies, the stars, the moon, the cloud. It gives a good view to watch and interpret the different shapes formed by the clouds, and to admire the different stars. With the development and display of the different ethnic communities in Nigeria, the nation becomes a parade of beautiful cultures and traditions.
Complement for one another: monotony is a killer of interest, and variety is as the spice of life. The personalities of the people who constitute Nigeria differ slightly and are all complementary in the association within Nigeria. The average temperamental classifications of the regions are distinct and complementary. The east are considered proud and industrious, the west are considered crafty and diplomatic, while the north are considered humble, simple and docile. These characteristics complement one another in their encounter with the environment.
Increased productivity: The different ethnic communities in Nigeria have been helping one another from the earliest times through trade. What one community lacks, it obtains from its neighboring community in exchange for what it produces. From the beginning, the northern Nigeria supplies its variety of food to the nation, the eastern parts supply palm-oil and lately exchange from crude oil, while the west supply timber and cocoa.
On the other hand, there are some DISADVANTAGES of remaining together, which include DISTRUST, CONTINUOUS CONFLICT AND STAGNATION
The absence of consent by the different ethnic communities in the formation of Nigeria to become one nation, and the military force with which it is held together instills a mutual suspicion among the different ethnic communities. There were no agreement on the terms and conditions, or the possible compromises that will sustain the formation of Nigeria.
This mutual suspicion has degenerated into arm conflict from the beginning, till the most bloody conflict of the Biafran war, which was done to keep Nigeria one. Since after the Biafran war, the conflict and calls to divide Nigeria continue in different degrees, and without fundamental address, may become worse.
With the continued disposition for conflict and defense, Nigerians are distracted from the main elements of development, which are evaluation of fundamental social and industrial values, education of the fundamental values and the practical output of the values through industrialization. Apart from the crude supplies, Nigerian ethnic communities can render more services of processing the crude resources in Nigeria when indigenes are educated with a renewed social value of precision and discipline, and empowered to process their resources both for local consumption and exportation for the whole nation.
Nigeria can be a great nation, given the human and mineral resources that are deposited therein. The first element of progress is unity of purpose; and unity of purpose is never obtained through coercion or force but through free-will and pledge of commitment to work with other people in order to achieve peace and an overall social cum industrial development.
A retreat to the ethnic communities is required to address and re-negotiate the basis of the nation’s unity, without the habitual recourse to military force. The ethnic communities must identify, evaluate and modify their social and industrial values to meet the requirements of the new age. When the ethnic communities have fortified their foundational values, they can then decide whether and how to align with other communities for their common interests. This is to reestablish the foundation upon which a new and progressive Nigeria can be built.
Without a discussion of whether and how the ethnic communities and tribes that constitute Nigeria should align and relate with one another, Nigeria will never have unity of purpose, which is fundamental to any form of national progress. Without unity of purpose, there would not be proper validation of social and industrial values, and thus, no human development or productivity. Hence, the high (uneducated, uncultured and technologically unproductive) population which could have been an economic advantage to the nation will remain an element of liability, crisis and chaos. In the absence of agreement, the agitation to divide Nigeria may never end.
 Yakubu Gowon, http://news2.onlinenigeria.com/news/general/560909-peace%2C-unity-in-nigeria-not-negotiable-%E2%80%94-gowon.html
 Yakubu Gowon, http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/10/nigerias-unity-negotiable-says-gowon-80th-birthday/
 Anthony Akinwale, http://guardian.ng/opinion/nigeria-and-catholic-marriage/26-September-2016
 Anthony Akinwale, op cit.