This piece is not theological in nature but a direct response to the statement often rendered by political office holders in Nigeria each time certain agitations are raised for a fundamental restructuring or overhauling of the structure of the polity.
These persons defending Nigeria as a divine product are those who profits from the dysfunctionality that Nigeria has been made to become by politicians and their military allies through a cocktail of corruption and economic brigandage of Nigeria’s commonwealth.
Of course the bulk of those proponents of restructure or self determination are persons who feel that they are treated with the short end of the stick by those who have cornered political powers through hook or crooked means.
The latest sermon came from the speaker of the Federal house of Representatives Mr. Yakubu Dogara in which he alluded to the claim that Nigeria is a creation of God even as he dismissed the agitation for restructuring of the country as a product of some minds who have not sufficiently appreciated God’s desire for Nigeria’s unity.
Dogara’s house of representatives is seen as one of the main obstacles to the institutionalization of good governance.
Most Nigerians see the legislators as few privileged Nigerians who are reaping where they did not sow.
But this is not the perspective of this reflection nor is it a verdict on the apparent ethical deficit of the political class.
I’m concerned with debunking the error of judgment by Dogara and others who ascribed divine creation to the emergence of Nigeria.
Dogara, a lawyer by training seems to be responding to the very latest public intervention of the Nobel laurette in literature professor Wole Soyinka who had rendered an opinion that Nigeria as a nation is not cast in stone in such a way that it cannot be negotiated by the various component units that make up the whole.
Professor Soyinka was clearly responding to the cacophony of opinions by mostly reactionaries who believed that the groundswell of calls fro restructuring of Nigeria are generic product of anarchists bent on destroying Nigeria.
Soyinka, while fielding questions from students of a publicly built academy in Bayesia state recently and also from a renowned poet, Mr. Odia Ofiemun, on whether Nigeria should break up or not, insisted that such an argument sounded “hypocritical, dogmatic and dictatorial.”
The Nobel laureate said, “My response is basically a plea; we must stop confusing or mixing up the argument. When people come up with the question of whether to break up or not to, it always sounds hypocritical, dogmatic and dictatorial. And for the statement that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable, that, for me, is a falsity.
“Anything is negotiable. The right of people to determine their future is what is non-negotiable. Most nations came into being through negotiations. Sometimes, when people say negotiate, what they really mean is to restructure. What the argument or question should be is: should Nigeria break up? And my answer to that is no.
“But please, don’t tell me that Nigeria as it stands is non-negotiable. For me, this is a fallacy. The nation has got to be negotiated. Negotiation includes ensuring that there is no marginalization. Negotiation has to do with control of resources; it has to do with restructuring the nation in a way in which its components, its constituents are not feeding a bloated center to the detriment of their own development.
“So, Nigeria is negotiable. So, what we should say, the language we should use is, what are you willing to sacrifice, what efforts are you willing to make to ensure that Nigeria remains intact? That is the citizen question.”
In his direct response to the time -tested submission of Soyinka, rather than spend quality time to reflect before making his intervention, the Nigeria’s speaker of parliament Mr. Yakubu Dogara, a very young Nigerian, decided to adopt the intellectually lazy approach of holding on to the fallacy that Nigeria as a nation state was the creative work of God.
Hear him: “Those who think Nigeria is a mistake, it may be because they don’t know the purpose. But if you want to know the purpose of a thing, you have to go back to the manual, and who puts the manual together? It’s the manufacturer, so I would challenge them to go back to the manufacturer of Nigeria, who is God, so that we can get the manual for Nigeria.
“If we were a mistake, maybe during the first civil war, this country would have disintegrated but God decided to keep this country one and God has never made a mistake,” he stated.
The Speaker argued that for the country to have survived the civil war means that there is a purpose for the nation, and that “until the destiny of this nation is realized, nothing will happen to Nigeria.”
While acknowledging that the nation is facing multifaceted challenges, the Speaker urged Nigerians not to relent in offering prayers for the country as according to him, nothing is impossible with God, including Nigeria’s challenges.
“‘For our country, we will never cease to ask that prayers be made, especially collective prayers. We all know the benefits of collective prayers; it is said that whenever two or three of you come together and ask of anything, God will do it.
“‘We know the challenges we face, they are quite enormous challenges, they are very difficult, but they are not insurmountable. With God on our side, we will surmount them, and the only way we can do that is when we have the benefit of the wisdom of God; wisdom means application of knowledge.”
Although the Nigerian speaker spoke within the premises of a church during what is called a thanksgiving service, he nevertheless committed a grave intellectual error known as fallacy of over generalization.
There’s no law forbidden Christian worshippers from engaging in critical thinking.
I do not want to accuse speaker Dogara of committing heresy or a sacrilege, but I believe he got it all wrong by swimming along the incredible tide of illogicality of the ‘God theory’ in the matter of the political creation of Nigeria as a nation state in 1914.
Is God a politician? Not at all.
Aristotle made us know that only human being is a political animal by nature.
Speaker Dogara is wrong because the historical persona behind the nomenclature Nigeria and behind the coupling together of the various component parts to arrive at a geographical expression (apologies to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo)is no other person than the British colonial overlord called Frederick John Dealtry Luggard, first Baron Luggard (1858-1945).
This man is clearly identified in the official biography as a British imperialist and colonial administrator in Africa of the pre-independence era.
Does it mean that Dogara and all those political office holders who preach this political heresy of Nigeria being the creation of the Divine force not knowledgeable about the political history of Nigeria?
Please let him and others do just a simple research on the founder of Nigeria Mr. Lugard of Britain so as to cure themselves of this class heresy. I have undertaken to conduct a very brief historical research on the personality of Lugard who founded Nigeria in 1914.
As recorded in his official biography, Mr. Frederick Lugard was born on Jan. 22, 1858, of missionary parents in India. He attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, England.
He obtained a commission in 1878 and returned to India, where he participated in the Afghan War of 1879-1880.
In 1885 he accompanied the Indian contingent to the Sudan, joining the Suakin campaign to relieve Khartoum; in 1886 he joined military operations in Burma.
In 1887 Lugard returned to England, but unable to resume his commission for medical reasons and despairing over an unhappy love affair, he set out for the east coast of Africa.
In 1888 he arrived in Mozambique, where he entered the employ of the African Lakes Company, for whom he commanded a mission to Lake Nyasa to relieve a trading station besieged by Arab slave traders.
In 1890 he went to Mombasa, where he was employed by the Imperial British East Africa Company to open a trade route to Buganda. Lugard remained in the interior of East Africa for 2 years, where, through a combination of diplomatic skill and military force, he established the suzerainty of the company over the region of present-day Uganda. During this time the company decided to withdraw from Buganda, a decision Lugard chose to ignore.
He returned to England and launched a political campaign designed to convince the government to annex Uganda. In England, Lugard was criticized for his activities in Buganda, particularly for his treatment of French missionaries. Therefore, in defense of himself and in advocacy of his imperial vision, he published his first book, The Rise of Our East African Empire (1893), an autobiographical account of his activities in Nyasaland and Uganda.
In 1894 Lugard visited West Africa for the first time. Employed by the Royal Niger Company, he led an expedition to forestall a French effort to establish a position on the lower Niger River. After a brief tour to Bechuanaland for the British West Charterland Company, he returned to the Niger in 1897 as commissioner for the hinterland of Nigeria and commander of the West African Frontier Force, a military contingent designed to aid the Royal Niger Company in defending its territorial claims.
When the charter of the Royal Niger Company was revoked in 1900, the British government assumed administrative responsibility for former territories of the company, and Lugard became high commissioner for Northern Nigeria. At that time, Northern Nigeria existed in name only, since the company had never extended any form of administration beyond the banks of the Niger.
During his tenure Lugard laid the foundations of British rule in the North, first establishing British sovereignty by conquest of the Moslem states which had resisted alien domination and then by developing the forms of administration whereby the British would rule.
In 1906 Lugard resigned as high commissioner and the following year accepted an appointment as governor of Hong Kong, where he remained until 1911. Then, in 1912, he returned to Nigeria as governor of both the Northern and Southern protectorates, charged with amalgamating the two territories into a single unit.
Lugard’s plans for amalgamation provided for the extension into the Southern Protectorate of the policy of indirect rule which he had developed in the North. Indirect rule was designed to allow for the administration of colonized peoples through the agency of indigenous institutions.
Historians recorded that although indirect rule was not uniformly effective among peoples of very diverse traditional institutions, Lugard pushed hard for its adoption and as a guide published his Political Memoranda, earlier directives he had circulated in establishing the Northern administration. By 1919, when Lugard retired as governor general, Nigeria had been set well on its way to becoming a unified territory administratively… his wife, the former Flora Shaw, was the author of A Tropical Dependency, a history of Nigeria.(See http://biography. yourdictionary.com/frederick- john-dealtry-lugard).
Two distinguished legal minds Yinka Fasakin and L.O Alimi also authored an opinion which provides a historical preamble to underscore the fact that the nation state known as Nigeria is a human creation of the British overlords.
In the researched article titled: “The continuing debate of systems of government and good governance ideals-the best model for Africa, ”published in the book titled: “Globalization, National development and the law, “edited by Professors D.A Guobadia; and Epiphany Azinge (SAN),the duo laid out a very convincing empirical evidence to show the historical context in which Nigeria as a nation state came about.
Hear them: “Over the years, countries in Africa have experimented with various systems of government in search of good governance for their citizens. Various countries in the continent after independence from COLONIAL OVERLORDS, moved from the parliamentary and Westminster model of government to the military system of government. Many of them are presently coming back to democratic governance”.
Also,in a piece by Max Boot,titled “origins of United States Indepence defamed by here and now,” the author was clear that even the United States of America whose independence status was heralded by a church bell,there are clear historical evidence that America was created by the people and not by some Divine Being.
The author wrote thus: “On July 4, 1776, church bells rang out across Philadelphia. The Continental Congress had approved a Declaration of Independence to inform the world that the goal of the colonial revolt, which had begun more than a year earlier, was not mere autonomy within the British Empire. Rather, the rebels were seeking the creation of an independent republic the likes of which the world had never seen.”
“Their demands were couched in then-novel language of natural rights; “all men are created equal”, they wrote, and “they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
The authors of this revolutionary text warned all governments to respect these rights or else face the consequences: “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”
So Dogara and all others who think that Nigeria was created by God should go back and dust up the history books to appreciate the historical fact that it was one Mr. Lugard a British who created Nigeria.
I’m not sure if Speaker Dogara has not committed the fallacy of knowing that since Frederick Lugard attaches the title of a Lord, it is therefore conceivable to ascribe some forms of divine authority or mandate to his political activities for his then home British empire in coupling up Nigeria.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human rights writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)