- Posted by Editor
- On May 17, 2020
- 0 Comments
I had an experience today Saturday 09/05/20 that further strengthened my belief in an imminent explosion of the Nigerian state. It seems as though we are seated on a keg of gunpowder awaiting eventual detonation. I was at one of the business centre in Warri to get a coloured printout of two important documents, at the instance of my boss. The first was a proposed map of Biafra. The second, also a map, was that of the purported Oduduwa Republic.
The attention and interest of my boss (and mine as well) had been drawn to these documents especially because the Biafranone had listed major Urhobo territories such as Ughelli and Warri as part of its provinces. The Oduduwa map, on its part had Warri and Sapele included in its purported republic. These inclusions would naturally, out of patriotic feelings, elicit concerns and questions from enlightened citizens. For instance, on the basis of what factors were these inclusions made: historical, linguistic, cultural, ethnological, sociological, political, etc. Or was it borne out of colonialist, neo-colonialist, expansionist and imperialist mindsets?
There were about six middle-aged men at the centre and they all soon got enthusiastically interested in the documents I had printed.
The discourse started with an innocent question from one of them thus: “Are you Biafran“? to which I responded “no”. This question drew the full attention of everyone to the issue. The next question came from another of the men, “So are you for the Oduduwa Republic”, to which again I responded in the negative. Apparently, they were mostly, if not all Urhobos so I decided to chance on the opportunity to both state my position and orient them.
I told them we had a serious fight on our hands, and that the Biafrans and Oduduwas are our targets. The reason being that they have included our territories as part of their proposed republics.
Their response was both shocking and eye-opening.
“Bros, make una no fight them o. This country don tire everybody. Abeg na them get the force to take fight this Nigeria. Anywhere them drag us enter, make we dey there, sofa we comot from Nigeria”.
This position proved very interesting to me.
First, it reflected the mindset of the average Nigerian citizen on the street. That they were fed up with the system and would readily welcome an alternative, any alternative, outside Nigeria. I could see the subjective readiness as they spoke in one voice. Unlike the Independence through the civil war era of the 60s and 70s where people enlisted freely to join the pro-Nigeria forces to keep Nigeria one, even at the risk of their own lives; this time, the majority, including some of the armed forces themselves would happily fight for the disintegration of this unworkingNigerian state. People are just simply fed up!
The second point I drew from the conversation was that our people were in dire need of orientation.
Unfortunately, we do not seem to have the institutions or platforms to adequately orient our people. The apex socio-cultural organization of the Urhobo Nation, Urhobo Progress Union, (UPU), doesn’t seem to be living up to expectations, or perhaps is too conservative or too slow in decision making to match with the rapidity of unfolding events in the country at present. Besides, we do not have a media outfit (print, electronic, social) that adequately accommodates and amalgamates the feelings, yearnings and aspirations of our people.
I had to assume the role of the UPU mouthpiece to tell them that they all had a point in the view they unanimously held, but that there were other sides to the story.
I told them that politics is all about consultations, negotiations and the ‘striking of deals’. There was nothing wrong if either the Biafrans or Oduduwas or both approached the Niger Delta peoples, of which the Urhobo are an integral and conspicuous part, to strike a deal to join forces and exit Nigeria; but that would be on clearly defined terms and conditions, chief of which is a federal system where constituents have a 100% control of their resources and right to their autochthonous languages as official languages in their regions. Every other detail could then be worked out, including the right to independent existence any time any region feels up to it, and of course rotation of power at the centre.
Then I told them there is even a third option that had a titillating grandeur about it. That while the so-called big two (Igbo and Yoruba) are fighting their way out of Nigeria, the Urhobos can as well seek for independent existence as a republic. Nothing confines our survival outside Nigeria to an attachment to any so-called ‘larger group’. The secret of Europe’s advancement since after the two world wars was the new realization that for sustainable development to be attained, political boundaries must coincide with cultural (ethnic) ones, and that education must then be done in the indigenous language. Furthermore, that any people having its distinct language, fairly long history, definite territory and same psychological trait deserve to exist as an independent nation state. This is what led to the ‘balkanization of the Balkans’ out of which have emerged several independent nation states in Eastern Europe today.
If Urhobo were in Europe, it would not only be independent, it would be among one of their largest countries, being of the same population and size as Switzerland. It would participate in the World Cup as an independent nation. Interestingly, with its rich natural resources of oil and gas, and rivers, bridges, forests and land, it would also be among the richest.
The Oduduwa and Biafran visioneers must realize that by laying claims to the same Urhobo territories as part of their proposed republics, both of them cannot be right, although they could both be wrong. Interestingly, they are both wrong in this case. Urhobo territory is neither Biafran nor Oduduwa. It is purely and authentically Urhobo. The neo-colonialist mindset to draw up maps in the comfort of one’s bedroom in spite of, and regardless of the feelings and wishes of the peoples whose lives, destinies, histories, cultures and wealth will be affected is an outdated imperial practice, and a sad reminder of Africa’s better-to-be-forgotten experience in the hands of Otto Von Bismarck and his cohorts in Berlin in 1884/85. Africa may never recover from the resolutions from that Conference.
Marxist thoughts teach that two factors are adequate for revolution to happen: the objective factors and the subjective readiness. The objective factors have always been with us in form of corruption; underdevelopment, poverty, lack, and nauseating mismanagement of our commonwealth; but the subjective readiness have been what have been missing. It seems the people are now ready. Our Armageddon doesn’t seem far away. And when that eventuality happens, Urhobo would then look forward to life in paradise as an authentic, self-determined Urhobo Nation State!