“Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”
– John Adams Second President of the United States
“Give me liberty or give me death”
– Patrick Henry, American Revolutionary
Suffice to say that one has been looking for ways out of this Nigerian quagmire since 1991. The question has been “How can Nigeria be rescued?” I have looked almost everywhere and eventually come to the final conclusion that it is a matter of time before Nigeria would have a date with its destiny of dismemberment. This conclusion was not arrived at lightly. After participating in Nigerian politics at the highest levels, toured extensively all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, read as many books on Nigeria and many other countries with a similar socio-political challenges, examined the nature and character of Nigeria as a state, as well as the nature and character of its elites or if you like, its political class, one has come to the conclusion that there is no way out for Nigeria as a single entity.
The latter day nationalists may throw as many intellectual tantrums as they want, they may call the rest of us, the protagonists of dismemberment of Nigeria all negative names under the sun, they may blackmail, intimidate and cajole all they want, they may use all their leverage in the media to try to silence us, they would not be able to change the appointed destiny of Nigeria, which is its break up. It may be swift in coming, it may come slowly, but one thing is certain, it is inevitable. The victory of nature over the vagaries of human inanities is inescapable.
To the idea of Oòduà Nation and or balkanization of Nigeria, it should not be surprising when some try to ridicule and trivialize it. That is the way it usually is. It was the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) who once contended that “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” The year Schopenhauer died (1860) was when Theodore Herzl was born. Herzl was the first man to moot the idea of an Israeli State in his published work Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) of 1896. Herzl and his ideas were vilified by the Jewish establishment throughout Europe, and other continents. His ideas were perceived “both as threatening their efforts toward acceptance and integration in their resident countries and as rebellion against the will of God.”
But adamant and convinced of his stance having analyzed the situation correctly he went ahead in a speech on September 3, 1897 to say the following:
“At Basle I found the Jewish State, If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years and certainly in fifty years, everyone will know it.”
And fifty years after, on May 14, 1948, the Jewish State of Israel was born. And everyone has known it.
Charles Sogbesan once wrote as follows:
“Oduduwa (Or whatever it will be called) remains a fantasy, because like my (Political) friends will say, the facts on ground don’t support your argument. Those facts are its people (The political class who comprehend the machinery of thoughts).”
Firstly, the way and manner Theodor Herzl was ridiculed, scorned, mocked by the Jewish establishment in the 1890s is the way those who see the future and know that Nigeria would be dismembered eventually are being treated. The Nigerian political class, regardless of the ethnic nationality who are benefitting from the misery of Nigeria and their paid sentries in the compromised sections of the Nigerian media are the ones engaged in this buffoonery. They pretend all is well with Nigeria when they know all is not well. Their intellectual ostriches have their tails wagging in the air, making efforts to convince Nigerians that their daily experience is not real except the farce being sold to them. They are the ones who think that the average Yoruba man is not ready for the Oodua Nation. Or that the average Igbo man is not ready for his Biafra. Or that the average Ijaw man would not seize the opportunity when it presents itself to be free. Or that the Middlebelters would not run fast enough not to have anything to do with the Hausa/Fulani. Or that if push comes to shove, the Hausa/Fulani would not call the bluff of the rest of Nigeria to go it all alone.
Secondly, the people are the only one that matters. If the leaders are slow to understand and respond, the people would move and jettison them, new leaders would emerge and the train would leave the station. The political friends of Mr. Sogbesan are like King Louis Auguste de France XVI (popularly known as Louis XVI of France) and his wife Marie Antoinette removed by the French Revolution; King Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov of Russia (popularly known as Nicholas II) removed by the Russian Revolution, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran overthrown in 1980, Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. and his wife Maria Imelda Marcos overthrown in the Philippines revolution of 1986.
Mr. Sogbesan’s friends are like King Charles I (1600 – 1649) who ruled over England, Scotland and Ireland until he was beheaded by the Cromwellian forces on January 30, 1649; King Mohammad Idris of Libya until he was overthrown on September 1, 1969; King Fuad II, the last of Mohammad Ali Dynasty overthrown by the Egyptian Revolution led by Gamal Abdel Nasser on June 18, 1953; Fulgencio Batista overthrown in the Cuban Revolution of 1959 led by Fidel Castro and President Gafaar Nimeiri of Sudan removed through an uprising in 1985 among many others. One could go on and on. They all had eyes but could not see. They all had ears but could not hear. They were all human beings but could not feel.
If the Yoruba leaders, likewise other leaders of other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, fail to respond to their populations, if they refuse to see what is going on in the farce called Nigeria, if they adopt “deaf and dumb” attitude to the cries and wailings of their peoples and if they refuse to feel the pains and agonies of their peoples, then they would have themselves to blame when new leaders emerge to lead the people. The present leaders of Yoruba land should not be concerned about their greed and become oblivious to the imminent spring of freedom and self-determination of their peoples. It would be dangerous for them to remain incorrigible and fail to hearken to the supplication of their people, The struggle would commence without them at the appropriate time, these leaders would be jettisoned and new leaders would rise and the journey to the promised land would begin.
Like Herzl was dismissed and ridiculed, the protagonists of the Oodua Nation are being dismissed and ridiculed too. They are referred to as dreamers. But their antagonists have forgotten that if you cannot dream, you cannot strive to achieve. The bottom line is that those who can write should continue to write. Those who can preach should continue to preach. Those who can campaign should continue to campaign. Those who can strategise should continue to strategize. Most importantly, those who can mobilize should continue to mobilize. It is the best way to get your people out of slavery. It is the best way to pilot your people to self determination. It is the greatest lesson ever taught by the Great Osagyefo, Dr. Kwameh Nkrumah.
It is important that we keep this issue in the public purview. It is important that we continue to debate and ask for the Oodua Nation. It is important that we continue to put out literatures to argue our position. It is important that we continue to challenge fake nationalists who mouth Nigerian unity all of the time because of their personal gains, even when they know that Nigeria’s days are numbered. It is important that this idea continues to be sprayed and planted all over, among our people at home and in Diaspora and among well wishers in the international community. It is not a crime to want to be in control of your destiny. It is not a crime to want to be on your own. It is not compulsory for us all to remain in Nigeria. There is nothing sacrosanct about Nigeria while everything about Nigeria is evidentially evil and devilish.
John Milton’s greatest contribution to the Oliver Cromwell’s revolution against King Charles I, was not as a civil servant to the Commonwealth of England but as a poet and polemicist. His epic poem Paradise Lost written in 1667 was more than a clarion call to change, a call to which an entire nation responded. Thomas Paine’s greatest contribution to the American Revolution was not on the battle field, or for his five hundred dollar contribution to the war effort but his pamphleteering. His writings for the Pennsylvania Magazine which he later edited despite the fact that “he never learned to write faultlessly grammatical English,” is viewed much more favourably by History. His words from The American Crisis written from far away in England inspired the American troops to continue their battle for independence. His most famous pamphlet entitled Common Sense inspired the American Nation and its peoples even when it was still uncertain whether they would ever be free from the tyranny of the British King George William Frederick (known as King George III).
Without the Jean Jacque Rousseaus and Voltaires of this world, the French Revolution would have been more confused than it was in those early days. Without Friedrich Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right,” Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital,” Friedrich Engel’s “The Condition of the Working Class in England,” Vladimir Lenin’s “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” would there have been Europe of today? Would there have been anything known as Welfarism in the American capitalism? The writings and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and several others paved the way for the American Civil Rights struggle and accomplishments. Without the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, his good news about freedom would not spread beyond the shores of South Africa to grow self dignity, self determination, independence and democracy in India.
Though, force may not be mutually exclusive to any struggle, every struggle for self determination does not necessarily have to begin and or end with a bullet. The struggle for self-determination does not necessarily have to be violent and or bloody. It is better fought with ideas, sound, logical and well thought out ideas. While bullets can be seized, AK 47s rounded up and armoured vehicles confiscated, ideas can never be conscripted. It can never be rounded up, confiscated or be imprisoned. No selfish leader no matter how rich and influential can even frustrate it. No chain can hold down an idea. No walls can limit its movement. No army can defeat it.
The destiny of Nigeria is to break up. That destiny is rhapsodically knocking on the door. It would be wise to open that door peacefully.
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”
–John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1960
*© Rèmí Oyèyemí