Nigerians uncomfortable with Nigeria

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Why are some people uncomfortable with the style of unity in Nigeria?



“Nkem bu nkem, nke anyi bu nke anyi” is an Igbo adage for “what is mine is mine to maintain, and what is ours is for anybody to maintain” that explains the idiom that ‘a cow that belongs to the community dies of hunger’. This is because most members of the community are more interested in getting their share of beef from the cow’s flesh than in growing the cow. However, if the cow is sold and the money realized is used to distribute different species of fowls to the different families in the community, each family will surely take care of the fowl that has been particularly allocated to their family. The father of the family will assign the one who takes care of the fowl, so that the fowl could lay eggs and reproduce more fowls for the wealth and sustenance of family. With full concentration on one’s own productive capacities for one’s fulfilment and sustenance, one is able to specialize in a specific field and become more productive and self-sustaining.


Human society is sustained by the productive activities that produce and process the resources that are used to satisfy human needs in the society. The more the productive specialization each of the smaller units in the society has, the more productive output it generates for its members and for exchange with other unit’s products, just like the families in our story will be able to feed more when they are able to rear the chicks to produce and reproduce more. Presently in Nigeria, the regional capacities for industrial productivity (in mineral and human resources) have been bound together. Hence, Nigeria is comparable with the society in which everyone expects to get milk and beef from the cow without thinking of how the cow will survive. They have sold off the fowls belonging to ethnic communities of the Nigerian society in order to purchase a cow (selling crude oil).


Specialization is the cradle of industrial development and each region and state in Nigeria has special productive potentials and excellence that are unique to them even before colonization. A fish is a genius in swimming, but it would be unfair to discard the fish as ‘good-for-nothing’ when it is forced to climb trees and be judged with the measure used for judging a monkey in climbing trees. Nigerian ethnic communities have demonstrated the ability to engage in technology (though crude at the time), which can as well be developed to modern standard. However, when all the regions are forced under a unitary style of government to continuously wait for the milk and beef from the national cow, the ethnic units will not be dedicated to rearing their individual fowls and, therefore, are not as productive and self-sustaining as they should have been. The whole region are made to queue up in waiting for milk and beef from the community cow.


The land use act is a decree which was used “to vest all land comprised in the territory of each state (except land vested in the federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State, who would hold such land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the state and to organization for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes while similar powers with respect to non-urban areas are conferred on local government.”[1] The lands that are vested in the federal government are the lands that have found to contain special mineral resources like crude oil, gold, copper, limestone. The right to extract minerals from the lands in Nigeria is reserved for the federal government to give out, while the proceeds from sales and taxes of these mineral resources are distributed to the units according to the discretion of the federal government. Owing to this forced role of queuing to obtain benefits, different regions of the territory called Nigeria would prefer to own, extract, process and distribute their resources themselves.


Governor Ajimobi of Oyo state, in an interview with the Nigerian Television Association, lamented the situation in which the federal government grants access to the mineral resources in a state to strangers without any consent or even information to the state government where the mineral is deposited. This system of general possession of resources and management by strangers to the ethnic communities weakens the individual commitment of states and its peoples to the security and development of both the mineral and human resources.


Diligent individuals and ethnic communities in the present system of queuing for benefits in Nigeria would prefer to be allowed to possess their right to extract, process and distribute whatever resources they find in their states. This will engender a sense of personal ownership and commitment for work towards the protection and development of the environment, its inhabitants and its mineral resources.


[1] 29th March 1978, Land use act. P7