By Kayode Emola
In his 2017 interview with the BBC, Philip Hammond, then in the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer of UK, stated that no divided nation can ever prosper. He was referring to the diverging views of the British public regarding Brexit. He called on the UK population to form a united front in order to negotiate the best deal from the EU. He recognised that if Britain were to have any chance of making the tough calls necessary during the negotiations, the country needed to come together and bury their differences, uniting in the common cause irrespective of how they voted in the referendum. I’m not sure if his call was heeded, but one thing was certain: the British people had made their wishes known through their referendum vote – they had decided to leave the EU and nothing could stand in the way.
There have been many different quotes about working in unison and how a divided house can achieve nothing but to destroy the work at hand. For instance, the Holy Bible recorded many examples where a divided house brings about failure. The very first one was the breaking of the singular language of mankind, meaning that every man on the project to build the tower of Babel had their language confounded. There are other similar instances recorded: the Lord Jesus Christ Himself stated that “A house divided against itself shall not stand”. The famous Old Testament Prophet Amos asks rhetorically, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”
Nigeria, the giant of Africa, has been sick for a very long time. Rather than looking for solutions to the many problems plaguing the country, the leaders are constantly engaged in fighting the symptoms. This has been futile in remedying the downward trajectory the country has been facing. The Nigerian nation continues to face many challenges in seeking a united agenda because the country itself was started on a false premise, from its acquisition to its disposition by Britain. The union we now know as Nigeria can best be described as a sham marriage destined to hit the rocks, where no one is happy staying in the house yet everyone finds themselves trapped in the union.
The multitude of divisions in the country means that building unity would be near impossible, yet without unity prosperity cannot even be envisaged. There is no doubt that when Britain, as the colonial masters, was occupying Nigeria, it was subtly using a method of divide and rule to subjugate the people and keep them as one country. This it did well, to the enrichment of Great Britain, and though some of what they brought to the people was beneficial, nothing they did was in the interest of building a united country.
If it is difficult for nations that have cohesion to prosper, how much more so is it difficult for a divided nation like Nigeria to taste anything called prosperity. The country has and continues to exhibit all the indices of a failed state, one currently living on a life support. The only thing sustaining Nigeria is the resilience of its young population and their resolve to survive by any means necessary. Analysis shows that Nigeria can never work, despite the optimistic hopes of many people both within the country and among the international communities. The gross division that exists within Nigeria is beyond any country that I have ever known, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In fact, every new day births a new kind of division, from the north to the south, and the east to the west. The greatest division, however, that I have seen in Nigeria is that of class: the division between the haves and the have nots is as far as the east of the earth is divided from the west.
One of the first questions an elderly woman asked me when I arrived the UK, around 2012, was, what is the major challenge in Nigeria, especially with violence reported all of the time? In her words, “There are a lot of religious crises which tends to be in the news every day.” I responded that, on the contrary, Nigeria doesn’t have religious crises and what has bedevilled the country is the continuous ethnic crises – what we now know as ethnic cleansing. I gave the example that for the Yoruba people, we have no problem with having people of mixed faith within the same family and we still dip hands in the same bowl to eat. Although the same cannot be said of some other tribes in the north, people in southern Nigeria generally take a moderate and measured approach to their faith. The northern oligarchs have been the ones provoking an ethnic division, indoctrinating their followers to term it as a religious fight. This they do knowing fully well that an average northern Nigeria person will willingly die for his faith in the belief that paradise will be secured.
If Nigeria cannot be resuscitated – and so it must seem, given that the country is now undergoing a prolonged period of coma – then the safest approach would be to begin the process of winding it down in a peaceful manner. This would avert the currently looming war, saving millions of lives. The country is now on the verge of borrowing $1.6bn to procure military hardware to fight insecurity. This is the most insane approach in addressing the root cause of the problem. There is no doubt that you don’t begin building a house when it is already raining – you do everything to get the house ready before it even begins to rain. Nigeria already has so much debt it is not able to service. Heaping more debt in an attempt to save a dying nation will not bring the nation back to life. Rather, it will inflict even deeper wounds on the country: critical infrastructures will be neglected, steering the country into further debt causing even more divisions.
If the divisions in Nigeria have costs the country so much already that it has become the poverty capital of the world, I do not believe the industrious Yoruba, Igbo and other tribes of Nigeria should kill themselves for the sake of maintaining the status quo. The talk of one indivisible, indissoluble union and how God formed us together as one nation, peddled by those who should know better, has finally fallen like a pack of cards, the lies unable to stand the test of time. The union of Nigeria was not negotiated with our forefathers, and so cannot hold any bearing on our generation. The Yoruba people, who represent the most populous indigenous peoples of Nigeria, must stand now to save their race and the other minority tribes from the impending doomsday ahead. The Yoruba people need to unite themselves in the face of this collapsed house called Nigeria. We must not allow the tragedy of Nigeria to overtake us due to our failure to prepare. We must leave behind every bickering and hesitation to focus on the task at hand, for only in so doing will we begin to set our eyes on the promised Yoruba nation.
The Yoruba people advocating for their own independent nation must now, as a matter of urgency, lay aside every form of bitterness towards one another. We must understand that to start and not to finish is worse than not to start at all. If we are to win, we must now do everything in our power to come together and find that common factor that unites us. In the face of a divided Nigeria, the only way we the Yoruba people can save ourselves and the coming generations is to remain united and focused on the task ahead. We must understand that failure is not an option, that the only way we can come out on the other side is if we come together to work as one. We must hold each other’s hand in fellowship with unyielding belief that one day the night will end and a new day will dawn.