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To Divide Or Remain United: Should Nigeria Follow Scotland’s Example?



Today Scotland decided against independence through a historic referendum to remain in the 307-year-old union with the United Kingdom. Opponents of independence won 55 percent of the vote while those who want self-rule for Scotland won 45 percent with all 3.6 million votes counted in a record 85 percent turnout.

The referendum was a landmark democratic process not only because of the gravity of the consequence of a yes vote- which would have split the UK, but also for several other significant reasons among which was the near-perfect display of the right and responsibility to vote, and the peaceful acceptance of the people’s wish.

On one side the Alex Salmond-led YES to Independence, on the other the Alistair Darling-led and England-supported NO for the Union, and in-between them the nearly 5 million eligible voting Scots galvanised and wholly interested in taking the destiny of their nation in their hands. The Scottish referendum resonated beyond the British Isles attracting attention from all corners of the world and mirroring in faraway lands the questions, demands, aspirations of “to separate or to remain united?”.

Listening to Nigeria’s Diverse Voices

One of those many lands is Nigeria. The most populated African country with over 200 ethnic groups and more than 250 languages, Nigeria has within it very pronounced ethno-religious differences that have remained a boiling pot for socio-political tensions since the creation of the country by British colonial masters. These simmering tensions have spewed into violent confrontations at several times in the course of the country’s history most notably the Nigerian Civil War caused by the Ojukwu-led Eastern move to secede from Nigeria.

The civil war may have ended with a victory for the continued unity of Nigeria, but the ethnic suspicions have remained and continues to stifle genuine nation building and subvert honest patriotic cooperation across tribal lines. Campaigners for independence among the many nationalities that make up Nigeria have also never gone away, most popular among them the Movement for The Actualization of The Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) still calling for the secession of the Igbo-dominated South-East and the Oodua Peoples Congress in the Yoruba dominated South-West.

Although the campaign for secession in Nigeria is relatively feeble, it does not translate into a political unity across the dominant ethnic lines. Rather the opposite, Political parties in Nigeria still remain heavily built on regions and ethnicities, those who have attempted to bridge the divide have only witnessed struggling results. Government officials and public office holders are most often judged or supported not on their merits but on the basis of where they hail from or how they worship. Resource sharing is also another huge dividing point with regions often at loggerheads with each other over who gets what, all sides supporting the basis that most suits it –from majority control of resources advocated by the generators to distribution dependent on the level of developmental needs by the less resource-filled regions.

Religious differences also leave the country divided even by issues as mundane as the age of marriage for girls. Connected with religious leanings is the difference in the acceptance of the moral and cultural direction of the Nigeria, split between those who see it as a secular country based mainly in the Christian-dominated south and those who support more religious ordinance for the country based in the Muslim dominated Sharia practising north.

Populated with all these tensions, suspicions, sentiments and differing ideologies that mix to hamper social, economic, cultural and political development, taking the Scottish way may be the best choice for Nigeria in its search for a clear path going forward.

Will a Referendum spur a deeper reflection on the Nigerian project?

Albeit independence was the simple question on the ballot, the answers Scotland sought at the polls were of complex issues ranging from cultural identity and desire for a clearer national direction to the demand for political reform as well as greater economic prosperity. Even with the NO vote wining at the end of the day, Scotland definitely seems on the path to finding those answers.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, obviously delighted with the vote against Scottish independence, admits that the issues that brought up the question in the first place now has to be addressed. He has now vowed to forge a new constitutional settlement that would grant Scotland the promised powers but also give greater control to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on these issues,” Cameron words showed that the Scottish vote meant far more than just the question of independence rather of reform for the whole of the UK.

The Leader of the campaign for independence and of the Scottish parliament Alex Salmond has also responded to the NO vote.

“Scotland has by a majority decided not, at this stage, to become an independent country. I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland”. Salmond typifies the peaceful acceptance of the will of the people, the very character that democracy breeds.

The Scottish path could also suit Nigeria very well. With the milieu of problems and challenges facing the country, perhaps an honest question on the workability of the amalgamation, on which Nigerians had no say, could well give the country a clearer perspective of its destiny. Such referendum in Nigeria could also spur a genuine reflection and discourse on the pros and cons of remaining united as happened in Scotland. If unity triumphs as it did in Scotland, then it would be on terms acknowledged and accepted by majority of Nigerians.

This would end skirmishes, diffuse suspicions and bring about greater stability for the faster realization of the multitude of potentials abounding in Nigeria. Like Cameron said after the vote “There can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.” Nigeria’s leaders could do more knowing and accepting the genuine will of its people. Economic growth and development as well as business investments all react to stability especially with one that provides clarity on the political and societal future.

Getting Everyone Involved in The Nigerian Project

The Scottish example is made more remarkable by the fact that the referendum transcended the political space to get to the ordinary man. It went beyond being a discussion monopolised by politicians to finding its way in the streets and homes of common men. Galvanised by a sense of responsibility Scots as young as 16, understanding the responsibility and importance of their vote, came out en masse to decide their destiny, the result was an 85 percent turnout- one of the highest percentages of democratic participation in the history of modern day democracy.

Nigeria needs this bit of direct democracy; the country held a national conference this year with delegates from the several segments of the society. The representatives have already been criticised in some quarters as not representative of the real demands of the masses. In the case of such direct democracy, everybody’s say counts, something not currently being achieved in Nigeria’s democracy.

Elections in Nigeria struggle to interest even a fraction of the eligible voters with political apathy rife due to the perception of politicians as not genuinely representing the people. As the Scottish example has shown, perhaps a question on the path of the country open to all Nigerians will galvanise national and political awareness and inspire national participation in the direction of the country.

The exemplary peaceful acceptance of the will of the Scottish people must also be something Nigeria has to try to imbibe even in her regular elections where results sometimes throw up skirmishes. To get to that peaceful acceptance however, Nigeria needs fairer and transparent elections. [VA]

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ogbonna tubaba

    October 20, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Lets divide i want nigeria to divide because i dont believe in one nigeria beside we all know that we dont love each other so no need for us to stay together gosshhh still blaming nnamdi azikiwe for all this problem that he has put igbos into.

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Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?



Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye



We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth



By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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