NIGERIA AND 2015 BREAK UP PREDICTION

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FOR some time now, news of the United States of America being behind a prediction of Nigeria’s possible break up in 1915 has remained persistent in spite of official denials both within Nigeria and abroad. The US played a key role in the dissolution of countries like Vietnam, Korea and the Soviet Republic, but has been contained elsewhere (for instance, Cuba). Critics of Nigeria’s continued existence within the country itself, particularly the self-determination groups in the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones of the country, are always quick to refer to the USA’s supposed prediction that Nigeria might break up in 2015 as a pointer to the international validation of their position.
 To such groups, the political unrest within the country and the current, seemingly intractable security challenges are signals of Nigeria’s possible break up in 2015. But by far the most potent factor for the sentiments regarding a break up has been the North/South divide in the country. Should Nigeria break up in 2015, however, would it be back, for instance, to its pre-amalgamation status of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria, or would it, given the pattern of the linguistic/ethnic majorities, fragment into a New Biafra (for the Igbo), Oduduwa Republic for the Yoruba, and Arewa Republic for the Hausa? While either option looks attractive, the ethnic complexities of the Nigerian nation, analysts say, might pose serious challenges to it. Sir Hugh Clifford, Governor General of Nigeria between 1920 – 31, described Nigeria as “a collection of independent native states, separated from one another by great distances, by differences of history and traditions and by ethnological, racial, tribal, political, social and religious barriers.”
Genesis of the prediction
Although one of Nigeria’s foremost politicians, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had, in 1947, referred to Nigeria as “a mere geographical expression,’’ a colonial secret document, the Tinubu Square Edict’ or Accord of 1914, which was reportedly signed into law at the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 and similar to the British/China accord of Hong Kong, showed that the Nigerian experiment meant to last for an initial 100 years (that is, till this year), following which it should be reviewed. In 2006, the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) gave a damning verdict on Nigeria: “While currently, Nigeria’s leaders are locked in a bad marriage that all dislike but dare not leave, there are possibilities that could disrupt the precarious equilibrium in Abuja. The most important would be a junior officer coup that could destabilize the country to the extent that open warfare breaks out in many places in a sustained manner. If Nigeria were to become a failed state, it could drag down a large part of the West African region.’’
The CIA however added a caveat: “States with high levels of violence will not automatically be failed states; indeed, the ability of African countries to continue to muddle along, despite high levels of violence, should not be underestimated. For instance, 20,000 people have been killed in Nigeria while that country has maintained its democratic facade.”
Indeed, to assess the readiness of its military to respond to a possible war in Nigeria, Somalia and some other African countries, the United States military, in May 2008, conducted a war games test called Unified Quest 2008. A 2013 war date was in fact later set to test how AFRICOM could respond to a crisis in Nigeria in the event that rival factions and rebels fight to control the oil fields of the Niger Delta, and government collapses.Even then, a new security report entitled “Nigerian Unity in the Balance,” authored for the United States Army War College, again warned Nigerian leaders to beware of another civil war or an outright break-up. It said: “Having already experienced one brutal civil war, Nigeria is at risk for a recurrence of conflict or dissolution, especially since some of the underpinning motivations of the war remain unresolved.”
In spite of the foregoing, the American government prefers to deny any linkage with the 2015 doomsday prediction. For instance, speaking with the media in Ibadan on Thursday, February 1, 2012, former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Terence McCulley, insisted that said the US never predicted that Nigeria would break up by 2015, claiming that the prediction was made by a private agency that carried out a survey rather than the US government. McCulley said the US government considered Nigeria a strategic partner in Africa, whose role in peace keeping operation in the continent had been pivotal.
“Nigeria is a country of diverse faiths, and draws its strength from this diversity. In spite of this-perhaps because of it-some people seek to exploit religious differences in Nigeria. But many Nigerians have refused to let this happen,’’ he said. His views were echoed by his predecessor, James Entwistle, in January this year. Speaking during an interactive session with some journalists in Lagos, he said: “I don’t see any sign of a break up. You have challenges in this country, but you are moving forward towards a bright future. Yes, your country had a devastating civil war just like my own country. It almost tore us into two. The idea that Nigeria is going to fall apart in the coming months is news to me; I am not sure where that idea is coming from.” And speaking in Sokoto during a media roundtable, Entwistle pointed out that there was no American official that said Nigeria would break up in 2015. “What I see is a country that will steadily match forward with the U.S. by her side”, he said.
Reactions
Speaking while receiving members of the Muslim community in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja who paid him Sallah homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja last year, President Jonathan said:“For those who are predicting that this country will separate in 2015 based on the fault lines as of the time of amalgamation, they will know that this prediction will not be of any consequence.”
Again, speaking as the guest lecturer at the 7th Distinguished Lecture Series of School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Victoria Island, Lagos, in February, elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, dismissed the suggestion that Nigeria will break up in 2015.
“I don’t see Nigeria breaking in 2015. People are just saying this because two American scholars who conducted a research some years back, postulated that Nigeria is in a balance or that Nigeria will break. They based their postulation on jostling for political power and the small arms being imported into this country. Now certain obnoxious statements have been made that there will be war, bloodshed, if Jonathan wins or does not win the 2015 elections. These statements which support the assertion by the American scholars is not enough to break Nigeria.’’
Indeed, speaking at the weekend on the insecurity in Nigeria due to the activities of the Boko Haram sect, Lt-General Theophilus Danjuma (retd) stated: “Nobody has the mandate to scatter Nigeria and nobody must be allowed to scatter Nigeria”. He however lamented: “Our society and economy are in tatters in a highly competitive world; our children are missing out in getting qualitative and functional education; the masses of our people are chained down in dehumanizing and grinding poverty while we continue to maintain a few islands of false prosperity in a turbulent ocean of penury and squalor. There cannot be peace and harmony where there is wide disparity between the few rich and multitude of the poor.”
Although the 2015 doomsday prediction date appears unrealistic, the nation would do well to remember that, as the US War College report noted, Nigeria is at risk for a recurrence of conflict or dissolution, especially since some of the underpinning motivations of the war remain unresolved.’
Culled from Tribune

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