Russia-Ukraine Crisis, a Curse on Separation Struggle in Nigeria

Russia-Ukraine Crisis, a Curse on Separation Struggle in Nigeria

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By Robert Nwadiaru

Nigeria was a tender baby of Britain. She gained her independence from the colonial master in 1960. Six years after independence, the country was involved in a horrible and avoidable civil war.

Nigeria is broadly divided into North and South. Arabian culture and religion entered the country through the northern part and flourished there since the ninth century. Western culture and Christianity came to the country from the South.

The South made rapid progress because of Western education and Christianity. Shortly, they started to agitate for an end to colonial rule and for Independence. The colonialists did not take their agitation for self-rule lightly. The North with its Arabian culture was not receptive to Western culture but did not agitate for independence. Their stance pleased the colonial masters.

The British colonial masters skewed every colonial policy in the country against the South in favor of the North. These included but not limited to political appointments, census, electoral districts, national infrastructure, etc. They stealthily prepared the North for leadership of the country and handed power over to them at Independence in 1960.

Colonialists’ preference for the North nurtured monstrous nepotism and religious bigotry. Because of this unenviable culture, nothing worked well after independence. Politicians were intolerably corrupt and selfish. Just six years later, young military officers knocked on their door and flushed them out of power.

The military takeover of the government in 1966, sparked a civil war that lasted from 1967 – 1970 and more than 2 million people were killed. More people died due to blockade and malnutrition than in the battlefields. This was the result of the malicious advice that emanated from #10 Downing Street to make sure that the people of Southeast were severely punished. The Nigeria-Biafra war remains the worst civil war in Africa till date.

From 1966 up until today, Nigeria has not breathed well. It has been from one type of misrule to another. From one incompetent leader to a more clueless ruler. A particular region and religion, North and Islam, have dominated the political landscape of the country. Thanks to the colonial masters!

Nigeria has had 13 presidents and heads of state since 1960. 9 Northerners, 4 from the South, 8 Muslims, and 5 Christians.

Those from the South must be approved by the North, making them puppets of the Northern political, religious, and traditional leaders. This lopsided distribution of leadership of the country has created deep-seated animosity in Nigeria.

At the beginning of this republic in 1999 – the period of civilian administration after military regime or regimes in Nigeria is dubbed “republic”. So, at the inception of this republic, political parties in the country opted for an unconstitutional rotational presidency as a solution to the imbalance. It was this consolatory option that brought Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan to power.

This idea that is inimical to the virtue of merit and hard work paved the way for Muhammadu Buhari to be in the government house for a second time as a civilian president in 2015. He was a military head of state in the 1980s. He has demonstrated so much incompetence as a civilian president since 2015. And because of his willful political weakness, he has made the country very fragile.

There were few separatist movements when he came to power in 2015. Instead of adopting the concept of efficacy of dialogue, he went for a sledge hammer! His approach did not calm down frayed nerves but escalated the situation. He has unwittingly created more space for self-determination struggles in Nigeria.

Britain is still deeply interested in Nigeria and has opposed separation struggles in the country no matter how reasonable. Even Boris Johnson said it before he became the Prime Minister and still maintains that idea now in office. The self-determination advocates rely on Washington to help them. But with the current situation in Ukraine where America strongly opposes Russia for recognizing separatist regions of Ukraine, it’s going to be difficult to receive positive support from the US.

Russia, like China, is not a reliable ally and a model for democracy. Apart from being the country that was used by Britain to destroy Biafra during the civil war under the policy of no permanent enemy but permanent interest, international relations is not black and white but gray. Russia under President Vladimir Putin has become a pariah state and can hardly help anybody to achieve a successful liberation struggle especially outside Europe.

The key to the liberation struggle in Nigeria now is proper strategizing. Individual and selfish approach will yield no result. Good result will come from a collective approach. This approach will explain to the West, especially Washington, that situations in life are similar but not the same. That the situation in Ukraine is different from the situation in Nigeria.

Nigeria is long overdue for separation if the West wants the region to be peaceful, productive, and stop the migrant crisis from sub-Saharan Africa. This means supporting a referendum that will bring about peaceful separation.

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