All leaders of conscience in Nigeria, my apprehension about the future of Nigeria flows from the fact of the expiration of its Amalgamation Treaty, which brought into existence the country called Nigeria. This expiration, in my thoughts, has grave legal, moral and spiritual implications and effects on the continued existence of Nigeria, especially with the heightening political tensions and distrust, murderous ethnic and religious clashes, general instability and disunity, as well as the mutual destruction and sabotage prevalent in the country today!
For the avoidance of doubt, the Nigeria Amalgamation Treaty was sealed between colonial Britain, through its authority vested in the Federick Lugard colonial administration and the leaders of the original indigenous peoples of Nigeria on January 1, 1914, as a legal instrument for unifying all the component units and peoples within the territory now known as Nigeria. However, the fact of its expiration on January 1, 2014, is hinged on a copy of the Treaty sighted, which stipulated a 100-year tenure for the Amalgamation (just as any other similar treaty around the world, which conventionally runs and lapses after a maximum tenure of 100 years), thereby foisting legal, moral and spiritual burdens and crisis on the continued existence of Nigeria, such that every unit and component of the country, as things stand today, has the legitimate right and basis to seek its own self-determination, peace and well-being separately, either in terms of autonomy or secession or even to remain within the present Nigerian contraption, if it chooses to, as permitted by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of 2007, since we can no longer pretend that Nigeria, as a corporate legal entity, has not expired since 2014 and therefore requires a new peoples’ covenant to remake or dissolve the union.
To this end, the only remedy that can be applied now, which, in my humble opinion, should have been undertaken before the unfortunate expiration, atleast to review the democratic future of Nigeria into some sort of political cohesion and stability, is for the Nigerian government, its federating units and peoples, to agree urgently, through a national consultative and reconciliatory procedure and mechanism (which can be spelt out in details when required), to bring about a popular national democratic resolution and proclamation of the Nigerian peoples and federating units on the legal status and preferred governance structure for Nigeria. This can be adopted by a popularly convened constituents assembly of the indigenous peoples and federating units of Nigeria; an assembly, which, in other words, can be regarded as an indirect referendum of the peoples and citizens of Nigeria towards reaffirming the legitimacy and legality of the Nigerian union for future political cohesion and stability.
It is also my well reasoned view that with a military decree No 24 of 1999 erroneously subsisting as the current Constitution of Nigeria, notwithstanding its successive panel beatings, tagged amendments, since 1999, the country’s unity has been, all along, fragilely toyed with and essentially sustained by sheer force of the Nigerian state and government, and not by any verifiable popular and legitimate wish of the peoples and citizens of Nigeria, who are the ultimate sovereigns over the country, since a military decree can never conventionally suffice as a Constitution but will ever remain a mere law of government, and sadly in this case, of a junta, because there’s a clear difference between a law and a Constitution, especially a people’s constitution that can only be given to the country by the citizens and peoples of Nigeria through a Constituents Assembly or/and Direct Referendum and not by government/National Assembly, as is common with every democratic legitimate constitution in any society.
Furthermore, to make the matter worse, participation of the Nigerian peoples and citizens in successive elections can also not be deemed popular enough to continue to carry and sustain the legitimate and legal existence of the Nigerian state, as less than 40 per cent, precisely 34.75 percent, of Nigerians of voting age participated in our presidential elections, as it also happened in 2019, thereby rendering the present Nigerian contraption illegitimate.
Finally, in the light of the above, I think the Nigerian state is simply sitting on a keg of gun powder by merely exploiting the patience or ignorance of the indigenous peoples and citizens of Nigeria, and for not being proactive towards enabling the assertion of their rights to self-determination and taking their destinies in their hands based on the clear grounds highlighted above.
Therefore, before the bubble bursts and as a final intervention on project Nigeria and its national democratic question, I strongly recommend that an urgent formidable step, in line with the proposals above, be taken to douse and neutralise the heightening political tension and bloodletting in the country. These have arisen from perceived political lopsidedness and marginalisation, as well as the murderous ethnic and religious distrust and clashes prevalent in Nigeria, under which no productive governance and prosperous economic can ever take place, no matter who is on the saddle. For “if the foundation be faulty, what can the righteous do?”
Olawale Okunniyi is secretary-general, Project Nigeria Movement.
Source: Premium Times