Monday, August 7, 2000
|Priye S. Torulagha (Ph.D., MHR)
EMBEZZLEMENT, CORRUPTION, AND
Nigeria is a strange
country indeed. It seems to defy common logic or categorization. It contains a
highly intelligent people that seem to act very unintelligently. Nigerians are
well educated and yet seem to behave very irrationally. Nigerians seem to be
very religious and yet are very materialistic and greedy. Nigerians are so
eager to go to heaven, nirvana or to Allah, and yet, are willing to sell their
souls for a fistful of Nairas. Nigerians are very sophisticated and yet allow
themselves to be ruled by leaders whose main preoccupation is to
In short, Nigeria is a class by itself because it is a
country in which you can become a millionaire or a billionaire for that matter
without having to work for it. The concept of "making it by the sweat of your
labor" does not exist. You simply embezzle the money and become an instant
millionaire like somebody who has just won a lottery.
In Nigeria, no
news is a good news unless it involves a leader who has been caught or who is
"working" very hard to become a millioanire through stealing from the public
purse. Likewise, in Nigeria, you are considered to be stupid if you do not
steal millions and billions of Naira. Therefore, the shortest course to become
a millionaire is through public office. You can get it through the military,
business and politics. Or you can become one by becoming a stoogeor a praise
singer or a paper pusher or an invisible aide to one of the big "ogas" who wield
The question is: why are Nigerians, particularly the leaders,
become pathological embezzlers? In fact, it appears that the country suffers
from a chronic case of money-grabbing and " I want to become a millionaire"
syndrome, so much so that some Nigerians can't help themselves anymore. They
just have to embezzle, regardless of the stupidity of the circumstance.
To attempt to unravel the mystery of the almost abnormal psychological
behavior, one must dig into the politics and psychology of the country.
Perhaps, examining the 1) boomerang effect of the traditional cultures, 2) the
resistance to British colonization, 3)the failure of the early nationalists,
4)the personaliztion,tribalization and regionalization, 5) the "Oga did it"
syndrome, 6)the oil factor, 7) who is representing who?, 8) the fear of national
disintegration, 9) militant reactions and 10) what direction, might help.
1. The Boomerang Effect of the Traditional Cultures: Nigeria is a
contradiction. It was put in place despite serious resistance by the indigenous
ethnic groups and political entities. The pain of conquest has not dissipited,
despite independence. It should be noted that the Nigerian region of West
Africa seem to represent the heartland of African cultures. The traditional
kindoms were well pronounced in their manifestations of power, regardless of
size or population. The people were very proud of their heritage. Pick any
Nigerian group and examine the culture. The proud nature of the cultures are
easily detectable. When Nigeria conducts a traditional festival of the arts
and culture, it is very easy to mistaken it for an all-African festival of the
arts and culture due to the diversity and richness of the traditions.
Regardless of education, Nigerians from all works of life participates in
The traditional proudness accounts for the
reason that quite frewuently, only Nigerian diplomats appear in traditional
African attire at most international functions. It is always quite easy to pick
out the Nigerian representative from the crowd. Other African diplomats mix it
up, sometimes wearing traditional and sometimes appearing in Western suits.
When SubSaharan Africa is closely examined, West Africans appear more often in
traditional African attires than East, Central and South Africans.
people are strongly embedded into their cultures as do Nigerians, it becomes
very painful to accept domination by an outside entity. Therefore, British
colonization of the Nigerian region has not been fully digested by Nigerians.
The degree of Africanness among Nigerians is so high that even the most educated
and the most Westernized Nigerian still behaves like a typical African. In
challlenging debates, the Nigerian will not give up his/her position and will
fight if necessary to maintain that position. The Nigerian soldier behaves
similarly, willing to fight unto death rather than be humiliated. Hence, many
nonNigerians regard Nigerians as being "arrogant." On the other hand, in many
parts of Africa, the educated and the Westernized are expected to behave like
Westerners. This is very common, especially among citizens of Francophone
countries. Likewise, it is not uncommon to hear Francophone Africans say " I am
Frenchman" or "We French people." In heated debates, Nigerian and and Ghanaian
students in overseas, have screamed at Francophone Africans for calling
a. Due to the strong attachment to the African
culture, regardless of Christianization and islamization, Nigerians appear to
psychologically reject the colonially imposed "Nigeria". The best way to reject
it is by destroying it through sapping the financial lifeblood out of the
b. The strong loyalty to the traditional culture also
contributes to the Africanization of both Islam and Christianity in Nigeria.
Nigerians seem to practice their Christianity and Islam very differently.
Hence, there is a common saying that other Moslems do not trust Nigerian Moslems
in Mecca. This also accounts for why Church business is a booming economic
activity and going to Hajj in Mecca instantly turns a Nigerian (Alhaji) into a
wealthy business tycoon.
c. The aforementioned facts contribute to the
reason why while most Nigerians claim to be either Christians or Moslems, they
all tend to march to the shrines to worship their ancestors. Most eminent
Nigerians are members of traditional religons, secret, and mystical societies,
even though they go to the mosque on Friday and to the church on Sunday. These
contradictory religious behaviours are indicative of a psychological rejection
of the imposed religions and the state. Various Nigerian cultures are
reimposing themselves upon the Westernized state. The cultures are like the
2. Cultural Resistance: Although every Nigerian
regard himself/ herself as a Nigerian, psychologically and culturally, Nigerians
differentiate the colonially imposed state from their traditional state system.
When a Nigerian says "our army," the Nigerian is referring to the traditional
or ethnic based military institution. When a Nigerian says "the Army," the
Nigerian is referring to the Nigerian army which is sometimes regarded as the
"Government Army." Generally, the traditional institutions are much more
reveered than the modernized Nigerian institutions. For instance, the Obong of
Calabar, the Oba of Benin, the Obi of Onitsha, the Emir of Kano, the Amananabo
or Amananaowei of various Izon clans are much more respected than any military
or political governor in Nigeria. Nigerian modern leaders pay homage to the
a. LIkewise, Nigerians respect their traditional
norms and laws more than the Westernized and secularized Nigerian laws.
Consequently, Nigerians are not afraid of the Nigerian laws but they are very
afraid of the traditional norms and laws. Under the Nigerian legal system, a
Nigerian can steal or embezzle public money and lie about it without even being
afraid of the consequences. If that same Nigerian were to steal from a
traditionally connected money, the Nigerian will not hesitate to confess, for
fear of being punished by ancestral deities and forces. Can you imagine being
compelled to swear an oath in the name of your ancestor?
b. It is
obvious that since Nigeria is an illegitimate state, it does not have the
spiritual package that goes with traditional entities and institutions. People
are not afraid to steal from the Nigerian state. Generally, they will think
twice before getting to the shrine or palace or house of the masquerades in
order to steal. Therefore, it can be said that the secular nature of Nigeria
opens the country up for unrestrained stealing by those who have the opportunity
to do so.
3. THe Failures of the Early Founding Nationalists: Nigeria
is subjected to unrestrained embezzlement because, the early founding
nationalists failed to legitimized the country through Africanization of the
institutions. Assuming that after independence, the pioneering Nigerian
politicians had called a National Constitutional Conference to discuss what
Nigerians wanted, the country would have been legitimized since the issues would
have been debated and the constitutional package passed. Unfortunately,
Nigerians have never been allowed to discuss the issues in a thorough and proper
manner. Almost all the Nigerian constituitons have been imposed by those who
claim to be leaders and who think they know more about what Nigerians want than
the Nigerians. Also, the self-appointed leaders seem to think that if they
allow Nigerians to make the decisions, the Nigerians would destroy the country.
They ignore the fact that Nigerians are very sophisticated and practical in
4. The Personalization, Tribalization, and
Regionalization of the Constitutions: Likewise, the various constitutions were
initiated by leaders who intended either to reward themselves or their ethnic
group/region. This being the case, each successive regime manipulated the
constitution to favor its narrowly defined objectives.
a. This is not
an overstatement; during the Parliamentary days, Nigerian constitution was
turned upside down in order to enable the regional leaders to assert their
authority over the national interests. During the first military regime, the
country was unitarized and unitarization became the popular choice of all the
subsequent military regimes. The Presidential regime of President Shehu Shagari
briefly attmpted to federalize but the regime was eventually regionalized in
favor of the North. All the military regimes, with the exceptions of the
first(January 1966 - July 1966) and second (July 29, 1966 - July 1975)were
regionalized and personalized.
b. As can be seen, the failure to
nationalize the constitutional framework led to personailzation, tribalization,
and regionalization of the state. This means that Nigeria is treated as the
property of those who rule. They could do as they wish. The leaders then copy
from each other. In a chain-gang manner, each regime tends to repeat the
behaviors of the previous regime. However, the level of embezzlement always goes
up. It works this way: if a previous regime was known for misappropriating
thousands of Naira, the next would increase it to a few millions. The one
following would increase the amount to more millions. In a pyramidal order,
the amounts eventually climbed to billions. By the time Gen Abacha got into
power, it was acceptable to literarilly take a truck to the Central Bank and
fill it up with money. It also became fashionable to decorate the house with
millions buried around the house.
5. "Oga Did It" Mentality: Since
birds of identical plumage tend to congregate together, the commissioners,
advisers, top-level bureacrats, directors, and any official who could be
managing some of the public purse follow in their leaders footsteps and
embezzled. To engage in the behavior, one had simply to say "oga take one
billion, me I go take 500 million." The other would say "me too I go take 300
million." Any opposition was countered by "if others take, why me no go take
a. The culture permeated every segment of the population to the
extent that family members would encourage their own relatives to take their own
share by saying "This, na opportunity for you to take your own share." If the
fellow refuses, the family would counter "The government na your papa business?
Everybody dey take why, you no go take."
b.. This attitude clearly
shows that Nigerians probably have doubts about supporting a colonially induced
state. They regard it as a booty. Therefore, whoever gets into power is
expected to loot as much money as possible. Those who refuse to loot are
laughed upon and called derogatory names for being foolish. It is now
understandable why the police, the customs, the post office, NEPA etc are
chronically corrupt. The police and the custom service seem to be more like
money collection agencies than law enforcement and tariff control agencies.
Members of these services fight to be posted to lucrative posts so that they can
make money. Generally, the collected money are passed along the chain of
command on monthly basis. No wonder, the Murtala Mohammed Airport is like a
highly guided military fortress. That airport seems to have more uniformed men
and women than any other airport in the woorld. It is always very frightening
to land at that airport. Even Nigerians are scared of it.
6. The Oil
Factor: It is not surprising that news of embezzlement and corruption are
flying all over the place in the recently installed democratic system. It
appears that many of the politicians got into office not to represent the people
but to have their own share of the Nigerian booty. Infact, many have been
salivating and waiting to gobble up any money that comes their way. The ongoing
investigations in the Nigerian Senate simply demonstrate without doubt the
endemic and addictive nature of the looting habit. Although the politicians
protested military rule, they are not doing any better, as far as managing the
money or protecting the peoples interests.
It is arguable that Nigerian
leaders and those in position of power tend to behave addictively toward
embezzlement of public funds because they regard the billions that flow into the
governmental treasury as "Oil Money." By implication, this means that the money
belongs to no one, so, it is open to "privatization." Hence, every political
and bureaucratic decision is primarily guided by "what can I get from this?"
Consequently, every contract and the price of every government project is
inflated. No wonder, Peoples from the Oil Producing Areas are so angered by the
fact that the OIL MONEY is not used for national development. No wonder, the
youths are waging a war of resistance to indirectly stop the looting of the oil
7. Who is Representing Who? It is arguable, based on the
attitudes of many Nigerian politicians that Nigeria is not a democracy. Nobody
is representing anybody and no politician cares about the feelings of any
constituent. The bottom- line is that most of the politicians are in business
to fill their own pockets and live like aristocrats for the rest of their
So far, many current politicians seem to be repeating the behviors
displayed by the politicians during President Sahagari's era. During that era,
Nigerian politicians were always travelling overseas for one reason or another.
The same behavior is now taking place. Already, some of the governors have
repeatedly travelled overseas. One governor is alleged to have said that he was
going to buy rice. Rice became a major commodity during the Second Republic and
it might become one again.
Many citizens of the Oil Producing Areas are
worried that monies allocated under the Niger Delta Development Commission might
be embezzled by the state political leaders.
8. The Fear of National
Disintegration: The attitude by those in power seems to be that they might as
well have their own share of the national loot before the national treasury is
exhausted. In short, there is a race to loot before it is too late. This means
that the politicians and those in power have no faith in a future Nigeria. They
seem to suggest that Nigeria would soon cease to exist. Consequently, they want
to get as much as possible. This attitude is comparable to people rushing the
bank in times of financial crisis for any bank. Generally, when there is a
rumour that a bank will soon default, customers would rush in to withdraw their
money before the bank is closed. Nigerian leaders and those who suppose to
manage the country seem to think and act in like manner.
Reaction: It is not surprising that ethnically based political and militant
movements are becoming a major feature of Nigerian politics. As the Nigerian
state is gradually being destroyed by those who supposed to manage it, youthful
groups are coming out of their ethnic regions to redefine the nature of Nigerian
politics. They are playing many roles, including enforcing the law, responding
to government strong-arm tactics with militant counteraction, summarily
executing criminals, warning the politicians to behave, and attempting to bring
equality in the process of economic and poltical redistribution of national
resources. In short, Oodua Peoples Congress. Movement for the Survival of Ogoni
People (MOSOP), Izon National Congress (INC), Izon Youth Congress(IYC), the
Urhobo National Assmeby (UNA), Urhobo Youths Movement, Igbo Peoples Congress,
Arewa Peoples Congress (APC), etc. Increasingly, they would become the major
opposition to the politicians who want a free hand to party all night with the
10. What Direction? Thus, Nigeria is being transformed
and is either likely to remain as a federal state or fold into the many ethnic
parts that existed before the British put it together. In anyway, the rampant
corruption is indicative of a state that is being delegitimized. President
Olusegun Obasanjo has many war fronts to fight in order to clean the Nigerian
House. He must be uncompromising as far as trying to clean up the mess. He also
needs to recruit and mobilize Nigerians who have clean records and do away with
some of those Nigerians with highly tainted and unrehabilitable Nigerians. The
democratic experiment can only work if the generality of Nigerians have faith in
it. No government can impose a democracy.
The aforementioned observations
are some of the ways in which the incredulous activities of Nigerian
power-wielders can be explained. If not, then it becomes very difficult to
explain why those who supposed to run the country are the primary destroyers of
Sunday, July 30, 2000
|Priye S. Torulagha (Ph.D., MHR)
Empowerment And the Stabilization of Nigeria
Power is like a
mirage. Now you see and experience it and now you don't. It is quite possible
to have all the physical and material attributes of power without actually
experiencing it. It is also quite possible not to have the physical and
material attributes of power and still feel powerful. Thus, the ability to
control, influence, manipulate, and dominate has more to the do with the
psychological state of the mind than the physical and material aspects of power
This is the reason why very mighty nation-states like the
United States had problems controlling Vietnam and Somalia and the former Soviet
Union could not defeat the Afghanistani people. This definitely accounts for the
difficulty with which the Russians have had trying to defeat the Chechnyan
Since power is like a mirage, it is very fluid. It can change
very rapidly and turn mighty nations into powerless entities and turn powerless
nations into powerfull entities.
This being the case, it is rather
surprising that the minority groups in Nigeria have for so long accepted to play
the role of a doormat to the majority groups.
In other words, Nigeria's
minority groups almost willingly accepted not to challenge the supremacy of the
three major ethnic groups in the governance of Nigeria. It is as if God had
ordered them never to challenge the authority of WAZOBIA. Due to this
passivity, WAZOBIA became arrogant and assumed that the Hausa/Fulani, Igbo, and
Yoruba have mandate from God to do as they wish.
political and economic problems are directly linked with the arrogance of the
majority groups and the passivity of the minority groups. For Nigeria to become
a great nation-state, the minority groups must become very active and challenge
every political and economic decision of the majority groups so that
accountability can lead to a truly representative democratic political system.
This, in turn, will lead to a stable Nigeira. Only the minority groups can
effectively play a stabilizing role since the three majority groups are like
wild elephants constantly fighting for power.
To support the argument
that Nigeria's problems are linked to the arrogance of the majority groups who
think that they have power and the passivity of the minority groups who think
that they are powerless, a brief historical trek into the balance of power games
that have been played in Nigeria will tremendously shade the light.
During the colonial days, the British colonial authority exercised power
single-handedly in Nigeria. This form of power could be characterized as a
2. Between 1960 and 1966, the three major ethnic
groups exercised power in Nigeria in what could be characterized as a tripolar
system of balance of power.
The Tiv people of the Middle Belt stired the
honest nest by carrying out two major riots to express their frustration with
the system. They were crushed. Nevertheless, this was a warning signal to the
This was also the period in which the Late Isaac Boro
initiated a short-lived revolution in which he declared the secession of the
Niger Delta. This was a warning shot of the future turbulence in the Niger
Delta but arrogance did not allow the majority groups to grasp the scope of the
unhappiness of the minority groups.
The Efiks and the Ibibios too
mounted serious opposition to the NCNC dominance of the South-Easthern Nigeria.
The people of Nsidung (Henshaw Town) openly declared the NCNC to be null and
void in their area of Calabar. Names like Eyo Uyo and Eyo Ita were frequent
3. Between 1967 and 1975, for the first time, minority
groups became a dominant force in Nigeria. Gen. Yakubu Gowon, a minority from
the North and other prominent minorities literally ran the country, both during
and after the civil war. It was during this time names like Graham Douglas,
Gen. David Ejoor, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Dr. Okoi Arikpo, Michael Ani, Wenike
Briggs, Chief Joseph Tarka, Gen Theophilus Danjuma etc. became household words
in the country. This period could be characterized as a multipolar system
because the Yorubas and the Hausas/Fulanis were also involved but they exercised
their presence in a subtle manner.
It is not a coincident that this was
the best period in Nigerian history, since independence. The reason being that
the country was ran democratically since every segment of the country was
represented, even though it was a military regime. Moreover, since minorities
are not necessarily afflicted with the desire to dominate, compared to the
majority groups, who are always bent on dominating, a balanced of power was
achieved on all levels.
Thus, efforts were made to ensure that all
segments of the population were recruited into the federal governmental
machinery. In particular, the Nigerian armed forces were opened up to admit
citizens, almost on quota basis. The purpose was to eradicate the preNzeogwu
era in which the officer corps came mostly from the East and the
non-commissioned ranks came predominantly from the North and the West was left
almost empty with fewer officers and NCOs.
4. Between 1975 and 1979
when Gen. Murtala Mohammed/Obasanjo regime took over, Nigeria was characterized
by a bipolar balance-of-power system. Basically, the minorities were gradually
pushed aside while the Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba exercised power. The Igbos were
marginalized due to the civil war.
5. Between 1979 and 1983 during the
reign of President Shehu Shagari, the tripolar balance-of-power system was
reactivated so the Hausa/Fulani, the Igbo, and the Yoruba continued from where
they stopped before the Nzeogwu military coup. The federal system started
closing up again to serve as the domain of the three majority groups. The
minority groups began to serve again as hapless dogs. In particular, the people
from the Oil Producing Areas (POPA) did not even make any noise as to the
fairness of the economic distribution of Nigeria's resources. At this time,
people from the Non Oil Producing Areas (NOPA) felt that they have a God given
right to take the oil and loot the money.
6. Between 1983 and 1985, the
minorities were now being treated as noncitizens. In other words, their rights,
concerns and feelings were utterly disregarded in the national policymaking
process. In addition, minorities who were posted to top level federal positions
were expected to behave as slaves and do whatever the top dogs of WAZOBIA
ordered them to do. Many of them became merely instruments of money transferring
schemes. The tripolar system continued to reign undisturbed by the
7. Between 1985 and 1993, the tripolar system continued.
During this time, states were created most particularly on the strategic
interest of the three major groups. Gen. Babangida wanted to make sure that the
three groups were on his side. At this time, citizens from the Oil Producing
Areas were now treated as colonial dependents of the Nigerian Government. Their
share of the oil revenue had been drastically reduced to pittance. Money from
the oil went directly into individual pockets, not into the federal coffers. It
was allowable for individuals who were connected to the three major groups to
literally hire oil tankers and steal Nigeri's oil in what is known as "oil
The Nigerian armed forces resorted back to the old ways with
excessive tilt toward the North and the West.
The looting of the oil
wealth became so much that the minorities, especially the youths, began backdoor
guerrilla tactics to impede the further exploration of oil in their
communities. Oil pipe explosions became quite frequent. Then the Ogonis woke
up from sleep and began a vigorous effort to stop the exploitation,
marginalization and colonization.
8. The period between 1993 and 1998
was characterized by a unipolar system since the efforts put in place by Gen.
Babangida had materialized to put the North as the only dominant force in
Nigerian politics. Other segments of Nigeria looked like doormats as the North
wielded power politically, economically, and militarily. The concentration of
power by one region led to serious resistance. The Yorubas mounted a frontal
politcal attack on Gen.Abacha and the Nigerian system. The Ogonis were rioting
frequently. The Izon youths were preparing for war on all fronts to remedy an
unacceptable political and economic situations. In short, every minority group
was ready to explode. This led the Igbos too to begin to talk about
marginalization since the end of the civil war.
9. The period between
1998 and 1999 could be characterized as a period of transition. Hence, Nigeria
was unstable and ready to disintegrate. Gen. Abdulsalram Abubakar did a good
job by attempting to calm the situation. He quietly adopted strategies which
embraced a multipolar balance of power system by recruiting prominent Nigerians
from all sides into the federal government.
Since it was a transitional
period, many groups were already either fighting the government or fighting
against other ethnic groups. Continuing from where the Ogonis had stopped, the
Ijaws took up the fight in a big scale and shook the country up. The Itsekiris,
Isokos, Urhobos, etc. joined the campaign.
The period between 1999 and up
to the present could be characterized as a multipolar balance of power system
since President Olusgun Obasanjo has been working furiously to quiet the
country. However, Obasanjo's leadership has shifted the locus of authority from
the North to slightly in favor of the South. Hence, the North is boiling
politically. The religious riots in Kaduna and other Islamic cities of Northern
Nigeria show the feeling of powerlessness by those who used to wield absolute
Having made a politico-historical trek through the alignment of
political power in Nigeria, it can be argued that the minorities allowed
themselves to be marginalized for too long. It is also argued here that
minorities in Nigeria will continue to be exploited, marginalized and used as
messengers to help ferret away stolen money by individuals from the majority
groups. It is further argued here that minorities can effectively change the
situation around and help to make Nigeria a truly democratic country. The
following suggestions might help in this effort.
1. Minorities must
realize that power is not a constant phenomenon. The fact that the three
majority groups have huge populations does not necessarily mean that they have
to exercise power all the time. Power is a state of mind, therefore, think
powerful and power will begin to reflect your wishes. Think powerless and power
will run away from you. When the Ogonis rebelled against exploitation, power
flowed to them. When the Ijaws acted, power flowed toward them and Nigeria
realized the immense power of the group.
2. To exercise power, Nigerian
minority groups must realize that they have a common problem, regardless of
ethnicity, region or religion. A minority group in the North suffers from
political exploitation as a minority group in the South. The recognition of a
common problem would lead to a reassessment of the situation.
instead of dancing to the musical tunes of the majority groups, the minority
groups must come up with their own strategy to fight the majority groups. In the
past, minority groups in the North tended to vote for Action Group in the West,
Minority groups in the East tended to vote for the Northern Peoples Congress in
the North and the Action Group in the West. Minority groups in the West tended
to vote for the Nationationl Convention of Nigerian Citizens in the East and the
NPC in the North. This tactics did not help that much.
4. Likewise, in
the past, the minorities tended to create their own small political parties.
These parties then affiliated with the three major regional parties. This
strategy was a failure because it helped to divide the minority
5. Under various military regimes, the majority applied the
divide and conquer tactics by appointing minority individuals who were
subservient to the national players. It is not a secret that many minorities
from the Oil Producing Areas served as heads of various federal agencies dealing
with petroleum management. Ofcourse, most of them were expected to serve as
figure heads. They were rewarded with a share of the looted wealth for
remaining quiet while their communities were being polluted, exploited and
6. Instead of forming small political groups and
movements, the minorities should put their political resources together and come
up with an all-embracing political party that is capable of competing with any
of the major parties. The political head of such a party would be nominated
only after a national minority convention has been held. Any candidate that is
nominated must have a national appeal to win a presidential election.
Minorities must realize that they are not powerless as most of them seem to
think. During the civil war, minority officers and men fought gallantly on both
sides. Infact, minority soldiers in Nigeria are some of the best fighting men
in the world. The Middle Belt leads Nigeria in the number of military
officers. This is a potent power. It should be recalled that Gen. Babangida
almost boasted at one time that a military coup was nolonger possible in
Nigeria. Yet, the foiled Orka coup of April 1994, carried out mostly by
minority officers and men demonstrated to the entire country the military
capability of the minorities.
8. The Tiv riots. the Isaac Boro
rebellion, the exploits of the Ibibios, Edos, Ijaws, Itsekirirs, Tivs, Idomas,
Efiks, etc. during the war, the militant actions of the youths of the Oil
Producing Areas etc., have shown that minorities can feel powerful if they
choose to express their feelings appropriately.
9. To form a united
front, the minorities in the South should avoid using the geographically
motivated appellation South or SouthSouth. To do so is to divide the minorities
into two groups - those in the North and those in the South. This is a no
winner politically, in the context of Nigerian politics. Southern minorities and
Northern minorities must work together as one in order to elevate their status.
This is very important, considering the fact that during the religious
riots in the Islamic North, the minority groups in the Middle Belt declared
10. This being the case, regional political objectives
can be accomplished within each region. Such efforts must be done diplomatically
so as not to impede the desire to create an impact on national politics of
11. As a prelude to creating a third political force, all
minority groups should hold a convention with the aim of establishing a
political party that will compete vigorously in the future. Such an effort will
draw the attention of the majority groups who would want to create political
12. After the convention, a communique should be issued,
addressing some of the ills of the nation.
13. Ofcourse, the
aforementioned third force in Nigerian politics will not be possible untill many
of the intercommunal and intracommunal conflicts that exist among many ethnic
groups are solved. Thus, Nigerian minority groups must endeavour to resolve
interethnic disputes that tend to boil over and cause a lot of damage.
14. The first thing to do is to create a framework for dialogue among
all minority groups. After this is done, a structural framework for other
meetings can be put in place. This is to build confidence and trust.
is time Nigerian minorities should stop lamenting about their powerlessness and
begin to build a political dynasty that will become a potent force in Nigerian
As can be seen, the majority groups have not been very helpful
to the development of Nigeria. Their unrestrained ambition to rule has been very
destructive to the body politics of Nigeria. On the other hand, it is very
tempting to say that minorities have been responsible for holding the nation
together. Their role in bringing peace after the civil war is highly
commendable. No doubt, minorities can play a major positive role in reversing
the sad situation in Nigeria. To do so, they must realize that they are not
powerless. They should not wait for power to come to them. They should not
expect the majority groups to hand over power to them. They must embrace power
and do those things that manifest power.
|Minority Empowerment And Stabilization of Nigeria