" ITREALMS: May 2017


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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Opportunities in Biafra by Aliyu Nuhu!

Those that want an independent state of Biafra should know that there are more to do about nation building than making noise and declaring remembrance holidays.

Biafra is a bad case for nationhood. It is as bad for take off as nation as most parts of Nigeria. It is hopelessly underdeveloped without roads or cities. It does not grow any food to support its population. It has no power plants to power growth. 

With present power plants in the country, very few are in Biafra and cannot give enough megawatts to power growth. Of all the refineries in present day Nigeria,none is in the state of Biafra. Biafra has nothing to offer Igbos. 

With all the monies that went to the region, Biafra cannot boost of single motorable highway. Its leaders stagnated and undermined its development. 

It has little space for all,little universities, no rail network,no factories to work,no electricity,even within itself it is the most violent region in terms of armed robbery and insecurity,it has no domestic market to trade within, no seaports to export anything, no airport to fly anywhere. 

In short Biafra in so underdeveloped that its dream is close to insanity. If all Igbos leave the rest of Nigeria and migrate to Biafra,riots and confusion is what will ensue.

Igbos are stuck with Nigeria. The best option is to join forces with the rest of marginalized Nigerians to make Nigeria a better place for all. No state can emerge out of Nigeria and make any economic headway.
Its a fact.

( I have never seen a more ignorant and perverse presentation from an an otherwise very intelligent and informed person).

*Aliyu Nuhu​ wrote in from Lagos where he lives.
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ISOC, AUC collabo on Internet security for Africa

The Internet Society (ISOC) is collaborating with the African Union Commission (AUC) to unveil a new set of Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines (IISG) for Africa, at the ongoing African Internet Summit (AIS) in Nairobi-Kenya, for building a more secure Internet in Africa, reports ITRealms.

The guidelines, the first of its kind, ITRealms gathered would help Africa create a more secure Internet infrastructure and are set to change the way African Union States approach cyber security preparedness.

ITRealms also gathered that the guidelines were developed via a multi-stakeholder group of African and global internet infrastructure security experts, and are the first step towards building a more secure Internet in Africa. They will help AU member states strengthen the security of their local Internet infrastructure through actions at a regional, national, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cum operator and organizational level.

ITRealms further reports that Africa’s cyber security environment faces a unique combination of challenges, including a lack of awareness of the risks involved in using technology.

In addition, ITRealms gathered that Kenya was ranked the 69th most vulnerable country out of 127 in the 2015 Deloitte Global Threat Index. Some of the main reasons were the low awareness, underinvestment, talent shortage and overload of data, even as Deloitte further estimates that Kenya lost $171 million to cybercrime in 2016.

For the Director, Africa Regional Bureau at the Internet Society, Dr. Dawit Bekele, Africa has achieved major strides in developing its Internet Infrastructure in the past decade, but, the Internet would not provide the aspired benefits unless Africans can trust it.

“We have seen from recent experiences that Africa is not immune from cyber-attacks and other security threats. These guidelines, developed in collaboration with the African Union Commission, will help African countries put in place the necessary measures to increase the security of their Internet infrastructure,” he said.

Reacting, Head, Information Society Division, African Union, Mr. Moctar Yeday, said that this is another timely milestone achievement given the new security challenges in cyberspace.

“The Commission of the African Union will continue its partnership with the Internet Society on a second set of guidelines addressing personal data protection in Africa,” Yeday said.

Nonye Dom/GEE

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GTWorld mobile app debuts, Agbaje says it’s a one-stop app

The Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) plc has launched its more first fully mobile friendly banking application known as GTWorld, just as the Managing Director and chief executive officer, Mr Segun Agbaje described the new product as a one-stop mobile application, reports ITRealms.

Unveiling the new GTWorld at GTBank head office in Lagos, Wednesday, Mr Agbaje, told ITRealms, the app offers most of the things people could find in a number of different apps thereby reducing the number of mobile apps customers could install in their mobile devices.

“GTWorld is a mobile banking app that is designed to cater to all that’s important to customers easily and seamlessly,” he said.

This, he told ITRealms was built on the back of the bank’s customer-centric digital strategy, and thus, GTWorld is available for download from the Google playstore for Andriod phones and Apple Store for those using iPhones.

He explained that GTWorld has 12 distinguishing features comprising signing up for an account opening with or without Bank Verification Number (BVN) to be followed by retrieval of online details.

Customers on the go, he advised, could quickly access balance, own transfer, airtime, GTlocate, GTBtraffic, iReport, and socials among others.

Agbaje who was accompanied by some of the management team pointed out that its possible to login with electronic mails (emails), fingerprint, facials and password with GTWorld, just as there are features for transaction authentication with fingerprint, bills history payment could be called up, statements to embassies and other 3rd parties as well as transfers via phone.

In addition, the chief executive officer of GTBank told ITRealms that calls to and email GTconnect from the app have been streamlined for a better customer experience, while cardless withdrawals on GTBank and other banks Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are available.

The mobile banking app, he said, offers customers access to more than 90 per cent of the bank’s services on their smartphones and guarantees further security through biometric authentication and end users convenience through the Quick feature, which enables a user to perform transaction without signing in among others.

According to him, when switching to GAPS-Lite, the app offers small business owners access to real-time monitoring of all transactions and the ability to make bulk and single transfers on the go to any account in the world.

Declaring that “GTWorld also reflects our commitment to driving digital banking solutions that not only enable our customers to make financial transactions, but also position us at the centre of an ecosystem that offers them benefits beyond banking.”

Remmy Nweke/ED, Ops 
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Parable of a country: The Victors & Vanquished

And when the war ended, the victors sat down to share the spoils. One region got the oil wells and the other region got the foreign companies.

The vanquished region got two sets of gifts. While some got £20 each, others got to keep the houses in their own part of the vanquished region belonging to those who got only £20.

After six years, those who got £20 started, once more, to build multistorey residential homes in their part of the vanquished region. One town in the region cornered the pharmaceutical industry, another transportation and automotive spare parts, another town took the electronics and electrical market, yet another took the textiles market and another the building materials market. Now, the vanquished control all these markets in the entire sub-region and beyond. God indeed blessed his own people and they prospered.

Those who got oil wells and the foreign companies accused those who lost their houses and got £20 of being ritualists. As for those who got the houses belonging to those who got only £20, one protested vehemently and was hanged by those who got the oil wells, as most of the oil wells are in that region of the vanquished who got the houses belonging to the vanquished who got only £20.

Those who got the oil wells also got to keep power and government, inviting those who got the foreign companies to share the privileges and appurtenances thereof from time to time. They shared the revenue from the oil wells to the exclusion of those who got £20 and those who got the houses belonging to those who got only £20.

Because the victors got the government and power, they also created all forms of schemes and devices to enrich themselves and slow the growth and development of the vanquished. They even made these schemes important provisions in the current Nigerian constitution.

However, the vanquished who got only £20 still continue to prosper, producing many billionaires, authors, artists, scientists, sportspeople, distinguished professors, erudite jurists, medical professionals, lawyers and stubborn agitators. Whatsoever those who got £20 touched prospered. Like the Hebrews in Egypt, the vanquished are like the Army of Locusts.

Now, those who got £20 want to leave the country. Even the agitation has prospered in its vehemence. But those who got the oil wells and the foreign companies are opposing them.

Remember that the victors have the oil wells and the foreign companies. The victors also got the government and power. The vanquished got only £20 and lost their houses.

Now, what does the victors want? Probably human blood. They drank from over 2 million bodies of the vanquished before the war ended, and they have been drinking periodically even since. They recently drank from over 150 of the vanquished.

And that is the Parable of a country.

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TD storms Computer Village for Praise Flame

Africa’s acclaimed biggest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) distributors, Technology Distributions Limited, has said, all is set to storm Computer Village, Ikeja – Nigeria’s ICT and accessories hub – for the second edition of a market place evangelical initiative tagged Praise Flame, reports ITRealms.

Scheduled for Thursday, June 1st at Otigba Street, in the heart of Computer Village, the event is to feature a host of top Gospel ministers and artistes including Chioma Jesus, Sammie Okposo, Joe Praise, Monique, Enkay, Chika 100% and Big Bolaji, among others.

According to the Managing Director, Sales/Marketing at TD, Mrs. Chioma Chimere,, already, excitement has reached fever-pitch levels for the potentially mind-blowing event especially in view of the huge success recorded with the inaugural edition last year which had over 10,000 worshippers in attendance.

Chimere also said that the foregoing portends healthy signs for a much more impressive turn-out at this year’s edition of Praise Flame – the Computer Village Praise and Worship Festival, stressing that TD offers traders, customers, Original Equipment Manufacturers, members of the ICT eco-system as well as Nigerians from all walks of life a chance to worship God in an atmosphere of unhinged praise.

“We are delighted to be associated with this edition of Praise Flame. It is a unique opportunity for all of us to unite under the umbrella of fellowship and render maximum praises to God. Going by the figures recorded last year, we expect to have a larger turn-out for this year’s edition.

“TD is a socially responsible corporate citizen and part of our mandate is to continually support projects and initiatives which contribute to the moral, economic, social and religious well-being of our host communities, stakeholders and other publics.

“This is why we have thrown our weight behind this edition of Praise Flame. Through this event, we intend to further promote the spirit of oneness, brotherhood and love among all participants and Nigerians at large,” she opined.

ITRealms reports that the event has been slated to commence from 8am on Thursday June 1st will feature prayers/supplications to God as well as performances from the heavyweight cast of Gospel artistes lined up for the occasion.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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NCC takes Year of Telecom to market, motor park in Abeokuta

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) team from the Lagos Zonal Operations, has taken the Year of Telecom Consumer campaign to market and motor park in Kuto, Abeokuta, reports ITRealms.

The event, ITRealms gathered, attracted a wide spectrum of market men and women, motor park administrators and civil servants as well as their leaders, travellers and passers-by.

For the Zonal Controller, Lagos Operations, Mr. Kenneth Uzoekwe, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, told participants that the Year of Telecom Consumer campaign was launched by the Commission in March 2017, following the declaration of this year, 2017, as year of telecom consumer.

This, he said, demonstrated NCC's commitment to amplifying her regulatory activities towards ensuring that telecoms consumers enjoy services that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

Also, Uzoekwe said consumers have the rights to be informed, protected and empowered, hence NCC enlightens them on Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code dedicated for the consumers to have full control over unsolicited messages.

He equally used the opportunity to create awareness over 622 Toll Free complaint management number which consumers could use to report to NCC any challenge experienced in service provision which have not been satisfactorily addressed by service providers.

Additionally, participants were guided via Consumer Education on ElectroMagnetic Fields (EMF) radiation from telecom Base Transceiver Stations and emerging trends in electronic banking fraud, among others.

Ayo Midele/GEE

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Yudala prescribes10 must have gadgets @home

You’ve gotten your own place and it’s probably time to fix it up with all the necessary devices needed to turn your house to a home. The list of things you need are seemingly endless but on that long list, some items remain absolutely essential.

Yudala – Nigeria’s fastest growing composite e-commerce outfit – provide an insight into the top ten must-have device for your home.

1.Electric Kettle: Making Eba (Garri)? In need of some hot water for a cup of tea? Looking to fast track boiling your rice? Or you simply wish to sterilize your baby’s bottle with some sizzling hot water? Then you definitely need an electric kettle.

2.Blender: The Blender is one of the most under-rated home appliances ever! How often do you actually want to go out and grind your pepper at the public roadside grinder’s? Do you feel this is a hygiene issue for you? One word: Blenders.

3.Home Entertainment System: Are you a movie or music lover? Do you crave the surround effect and acoustics difference which a quality entertainment system delivers? Then you definitely have to get a Home Theatre System. Imagine watching the Fate of the Furious in your living room, supported by a powerful Home Entertainment System. Certainly an experience worth having.

4.Microwave Oven:  Nobody likes coming home to eat cold food after a long, hard day. A good microwave is in order and a very essential appliance for your home.

5.Refrigerator: Cold water, cold drinks, fresh fruits, preserved left-overs, what do all these wonderful things have in common? Yes, you got it right, a quality fridge. The importance of a refrigerator can never be overemphasized!

6.Gas Cooker: You definitely have to cook something at some point. Even if noodles are all you are good at; a table top gas cooker is perfect. There are several great options at Yudala. An added incentive is that gas cookers are quite durable and easy to clean.

7.Air Conditioner: The weather in this part of the world can get really humid. Gone are the days when a good air-conditioning unit was considered a luxury. With several competing brands in the market, you can now get an air-conditioning unit that combines excellent design with great functionality!

8.Washing Machine: Dirty laundry? No worries. Now you can do your laundry in record time and without expending your energy. With a small budget, you can get a useful, quality brand that can handle your laundry tasks for many years.

9.TV Set: Your home is certainly incomplete without a TV set hanging from your living room wall. Interestingly, TV sets come in various screen sizes and in most cases, the bigger the screen, the better for your viewing pleasure, especially for movies and sport lovers.

10.Inverter: One of the most important items your home needs is a quality inverter. How do you intend to power all your appliances when public power supply fails? Unfortunately, supply is often erratic and cannot be relied upon exclusively. If noisy generators are not your thing, you can give yourself and the neighbours the much-needed peace of mind by getting an inverter.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Osinbajo’s top 10 tweechats on Democracy Day

The acting president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo in the spirit of Democracy Day 2017, shared some 10 interesting tweets. Excerpt is brought to you by ITRealms.

1.    “We have in the last two years added $500 million to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and $87 million to the Excess Crude Account.

2.    “We have taken seriously our promise to save and invested for the future even against the backdrop of our revenue challenges.

3.    “The Efficiency Unit of the Ministry of Finance has succeeded in plugging leakages amounting to billions of Naira over the last two years.

4.    “We are also institutionalizing safeguards and deterrents. We have expanded the coverage of the TSA & introduced efficient budgeting systems

5.    “In the fight against corruption, we have focused on bringing persons accused of corruption to justice. We will not relent in our efforts.
“We are working with State Govts to design effective strategies to deal with recent threats to security such as herdsmen clashes with farmers’

7.    “Included in that new vision is the long overdue environmental clean-up of the NigerDelta beginning with Ogoniland which we launched last yr’

8.    “President Buhari’s vision for the NigerDelta is a comprehensive plan that will ensure the people benefit fully from the wealth of the region

9.    “In the last two years, close to 1 million displaced persons have returned home and 106 of our daughters from Chibok have regained freedom.

10. “In the North East of our country, Boko Haram that openly challenged our sovereignty has been put on the back foot by our gallant military.

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Death of a nation: Biafra and the Nigerian question

 “There are two basic questions that must be answered by all Nigerians. One, do we want to remain as one country? Two, if the answer is yes, under what conditions?” – Chief Bola Ige


To paraphrase the historian, mathematician, journalist, Marxist, and progressive thinker, Edwin Madunagu, every political history has its significant dates, landmarks or turning points. In Nigeria’s political history, for instance, landmarks would include October 1, 1960, (the day Nigeria gained independence from Britain), January 15, 1966, (when the first of what would become a tradition of military coups occurred), July 6, 1967, (the official start of the 30-month Nigeria-Biafra war) and January 15, 1970, (the official end of the civil war).

To these dates, I will add January 1, 1914, (the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by the British to create Nigeria), May 27, 1967, (the beginning of state creation in Nigeria), and May 30, 1967, (the official declaration of the secessionist state of Biafra). The latter dates, May 27 and May 30, 1967, are significant in many ways. On May 27, 50 years ago, Yakubu Gowon, who served as head of state of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975, perhaps in anticipation of the audacious move by the Military Governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu, announced the division of Nigeria into 12 states from four regions. The division of Nigeria into 12 states and Ojuwku’s declaration of Biafra were decisions that would change the country forever.

Gowon’s action did not only alter the structure of Nigeria, it led to the reconstruction of the nascent nation through the lenses of the so-called Nigerian military; a military that was provincial in outlook as it was ill-equipped for leadership. The military centralized economic and political power and moved Nigeria from a federal republic to a unitary state. In many ways, we can conveniently say May 27, 1967, was the day Nigeria began to unravel and any attempt to understand the current crises and our inability to make progress as a nation must necessarily return to the action of the military junta on May 27, 1967.  

The road to Biafra

Three days later, May 30, 1967, Lt. Col Ojukwu, a Nigerian soldier of Igbo extraction declared an “independent sovereign state of the name and title of Republic of Biafra,” officially excising the Eastern Region from Nigeria. Ojukwu based his action on the resolution, four days earlier, on May 26, 1967, of a joint conference of the Eastern consultative assembly and leaders of thought that asked him to declare the Eastern region as separate republic at an “early practicable date”.   

The declaration of Biafra was the culmination of a series of tragic events. First was the bloodletting that started with the January 15, 1966, military coup. That coup led to the assassination of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Belewa, the country’s first and only prime minister and Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Northern Region, among other high-profile casualties. Some recollections by Edwin Madunagu in “Settling account with Biafra” (The Guardian, May 4, 2000) are apposite here: “One, the politics of the First Republic (1960-1965) was heavily characterised by ethnicity, especially towards the end of that tragic period. Two: Of the five army majors that are more frequently mentioned as leading the coup attempt, only one, Major Adewale Ademoyega, was non-Igbo by ethnic origin. Three: No Igbo political leader died and the only Igbo military casualty occurred not because he was a target but because he was considered a ‘nuisance’. Four: The attempted coup was the culmination of a long period of political crisis in Nigeria, a crisis whose centre of gravity was Western Region where, before the military intervention, the crisis had become an armed popular uprising.”

On July 29, 1966, there was another military coup led by officers from Northern Nigeria and Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon became head of state. According to Madunagu, the coupists “first made a move to pull the Northern Region out Nigeria, but when they were advised that they were now in a military situation to rule the whole country, instead of a part of it, they dropped the idea of secession and became champions of ‘One Nigeria’. Lt. Col Ojukwu refused to recognise Lt. Col Gowon as head of state.”  

The second coup led to the assassination, among other high-profile casualties, of the country’s first military head of state, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo, as well as the military governor of the Western Region, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi. This was followed by, as Madunagu notes, “mass killings not only in the North, but all over the country, except the Eastern Region. Now, multiply the May 1966 tragedy by a factor of 50, add to it the fact that the killings were now led by armed soldiers whose commanders were now in power and add to this the fact that the killings did not abate for at least five months and you begin to have an idea of what happened.”

The criminal indifference of the Nigerian state to the manifest pogrom against people from Eastern Nigeria, particularly Igbos, the repudiation by the Nigerian contingent (and the “unilateral implementation” by the Eastern regional government) of the agreement on decentralization of power reached at a meeting in Aburi, Ghana, involving the main protagonists, Yakubu Gowon and Emeka Ojukwu, at the instance of Gen. Ankrah of Ghana, finally paved the road to Biafra.

The accounts of what took place in those turbulent days are as varied as there are ethnic groups in Nigeria. But one thing is certain: the effects of those events, particularly the actions of May 27 and 30, 1967, are still being felt today. In one fell swoop, the military unilaterally restructured Nigeria according to its dictates. While Ojukwu drafted “unwilling” minorities in the Eastern Region to create a Biafran state where Igbos were in the majority, the Nigerian military which was nothing but the armed wing of a reactionary feudal class that had power thrust on it at independence began the implementation of an agenda of conquest. Interestingly, barely a year earlier, the section of the military that seized power after the January 15, 1966 coup had attempted to reconstruct Nigeria as a unitary state with the promulgation of the unification decree 34 of 1966. That attempt was opposed fiercely by those (including a section of the military) who felt they had lost out in the power equation. The rest is history.

When history repeats itself

Unfortunately, Nigeria is on the cusp of that tragic history repeating itself. Regrettably, 50 years after the declaration of Biafra many young Nigerians of Igbo descent are trying to recreate Biafra. In a few days, there will be events in Nigeria and around the world to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra on May 30, 1967. Forty-seven years after the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War, Biafra still resonates with individuals and groups within and outside the country; perhaps, a testament to the fact that the war hasn’t ended in the minds of the protagonists and victims and the reality that many of the issues that propelled the civil war are still with us today.

So, how do we deal with this conundrum? Is Biafra the solution? In other words, can we solve the problems of 2017 Nigeria using the tragic solution of 50 years ago? As S.M. Sigerson noted in The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? “A nation which fails to adequately remember salient points of its own history, is like a person with Alzheimer's. And that can be a social disease of a most destructive nature.”

Seventeen years ago, Edwin Madunagu, in the piece referenced above, admonished “the young Nigerians now threatening to actualise Biafra (to) forget or shelve the plan. In place of ‘actualisation’ they should, through research and study, reconstruct the Biafran story in its fullness and complexity and try to answer the unanswered questions and supply the missing links in the story. This is a primary responsibility you owe yourselves: you should at least understand what you want to actualise. If 30 years after Biafra, you want to produce its second edition, you need to benefit from the criticism of the first. History teaches that a second edition of a tragic event could easily become a farce—in spite of the heroism of its human agencies. On the other hand, those who enjoy ridiculing Biafra—instead of studying it—are politically shortsighted. My own attitude to Biafra is neither ‘actualisation’ nor ridicule. I propose that accounts should be settled with Biafra.”

Madunagu’s admonition needs no elaboration. It is clear enough for the young people pushing for the actualisation of Biafra, many of whom were born after the end of the Biafra war 47 years ago. The aspect of his position on Biafra that I want to focus on is the aspect that warns of the “political shortsightedness of ridiculing Biafra”.
Balkanizing the nation
When the military regime headed by Gowon divided Nigeria into 12 states, it sought to weaken the prospect of the different groups in the Eastern Region uniting against the Nigerian state. Of course, that action was music to the ears of minority groups, particularly those in the Eastern Region, who had long demanded their own state. With the creation of states, however, the military not only unilaterally abrogated the geo-political structure that existed then, it went a step further to destroy the principle of federalism on which Nigeria gained independence in 1960 and which had sustained and kept the country together. We need to understand that this principle was adopted not only to assuage the fear of domination by a single group in the country but as recognition of the differences (multi-ethnic and multi-lingual) of the various “ethnic nationalities” that were brought together to create Nigeria. 
Part of Gowon’s broadcast on May 27, 1967, signalling the breakup of Nigeria into 12 states is pertinent here: “The main obstacle to future stability in this country is the present structural imbalance in the Nigerian Federation. Even Decree No.8 or Confederation or ‘loose association’ will never survive if any one section of the country is in a position to hold the others to ransom.
“This is why the first item in the political and administrative programme adopted by the Supreme Military Council last month is the creation of states for stability. This must be done first so as to remove the fear of domination. Representatives drawn from the new states will be more able to work out the future constitution for this country which can contain provisions to protect the powers of the states to the fullest extent desired by the Nigerian people.

“As soon as these are established, a new revenue allocation commission consisting of international experts will be appointed to recommend an equitable formula for revenue allocation taking into account the desires of the states. I propose to act faithfully within the political and administrative programme adopted by the Supreme Military Council and published last month. The world will recognise in these proposals our desire for justice and fair play for all sections of this country and to accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.

“I have ordered the re-imposition of the economic measures designed to safeguard federal interests until such time as the Eastern Military Governor abrogates his illegal edicts on revenue collection and the administration of the federal statutory corporations based in the East. The country has a long history of well-articulated demands for states. The fears of minorities were explained in great detail and set out in the report of the Willink Commission appointed by the British in 1958. More recently, there have been extensive discussions in Regional Consultative Committees and leaders-of-thought conferences. Resolutions have been adopted demanding the creation of states in the North and in Lagos. Petitions from minority areas in the East which have been subjected to violent intimidation by the Eastern Military Government have been publicised.

“While the present circumstances regrettably do not allow for consultations through plebiscites, I am satisfied that the creation of new states as the only possible basis for stability and equality is the overwhelming desire of the vast majority of Nigerians. To ensure justice, these states are being created simultaneously. To this end, therefore, I am promulgating a decree which will divide the Federal Republic into 12 states. The 12 states will be six in the present Northern Region, three in the present Eastern Region, the Mid-Western will remain as it is, the Colony Province of the Western Region and Lagos will form a new Lagos State and the Western Region will otherwise remain as it is.”

What the military regime of Gowon gave with one hand it took with the other. And that would become the hallmark of subsequent military regimes in Nigeria. Gowon failed to realise, or deliberately ignored the reality that the issue wasn’t the division of the country but the reluctance or inability of the military to keep its promise, viz., “This must be done first so as to remove the fear of domination. Representatives drawn from the new states will be more able to work out the future constitution for this country which can contain provisions to protect the powers of the states to the fullest extent desired by the Nigerian people.”

Unfortunately, that never happened. It couldn’t have, considering the rapacious and parasitic nature of the Nigerian military so-called and the interest it represented and still represents. Once the military couldn’t deliver on that promise, it also meant that the second part of its declaration that, “The world will recognise in these proposals our desire for justice and fair play for all sections of this country and to accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country,” was nothing but meaningless soundbite by a rampaging military sub-class in desperate search for legitimacy.

Since then, there has neither been “justice nor fair play for all sections” of Nigeria. There hasn’t been any serious attempt to “accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.” The sham of a federation that the military created has evolved into a Frankenstein's monster. Fast forward 50 years. Cleary, it is the nebulous federal government that is holding the country to ransom. The moment the military government took economic powers from the states, there was no way we could ensure justice and fair play. And once you can’t ensure justice and fair play, there is no way you can stop the concomitant disquiet.

The politics of state creation
When Gen Murtala Muhammed created additional seven states—three in the “South” and four in the “North”—bringing the total to 19 states, and a new federal capital territory, Abuja, on February 3, 1976, ten days before his assassination on February 13, he left no one in doubt that the conquest was real. While Gowon showed an inclination to balance Nigeria geo-politically, Muhammed ensured that the “North” had ten states while the “South” had nine. It has been alleged that the decision was to create four new states in the “North” and four new states in the “South”, but when Muhammed announced the creation of states, instead of creating two states (Cross River and Akwa Ibom States) out of the old South-Eastern State, he simply announced the transformation of South-Eastern State into Cross River State.

Subsequent military regimes continued the conquest, not just on the political front, but on the economic front as well. Ten years later, in 1986, when the self-professed evil genius, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, set up a Political Bureau to review the country’s political and democratic system, one of its recommendations was the creation of an additional state (Akwa Ibom State) in “South” to create a geo-political balance of ten states each between the “North” and “South”. Babangida spurned that recommendation. He did create Akwa Ibom State, but he added another state (Kastina State) in the “North” to maintain the imbalance. It was the same pattern that was adopted in subsequent state creation in 1991 (under Gen Babangida) and 1996 (under Gen Sani Abacha). Geo-politically, today, Nigeria is composed of 36 states: 19 states in the “North” and 17 states in the “South”.

Ordinarily this should not matter. After all, in a federation, the federating units (states) are supposed to manage their affairs substantially and contribute to the sustenance of the federation. Therefore, only those who feel their states can sustain themselves would clamour for the creation of such states. Of course, more self-sustaining states would mean more opportunities for the national government to benefit from the exploration and exploitation of resources in every state. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Nigeria.

In a country where the military had hijacked and centralized the control of economic resources and political power by, for example, arrogating to itself the authority to create local governments as well as placing itself in the position of chief dispenser of funds based on its own criteria, including population, land mass, number of local governments, derivation principle, etc., the dog eat dog demand for states was inevitable. Thanks to the military—the armed wing of Nigeria’s dominant power bloc—Nigeria has a weird federation where states can’t create their own local governments; where local governments are listed in constitutions that have been nothing but military decrees writ large. Thanks to the military, Nigeria has spurned justice and fair play and disregarded the genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.

It is not for nothing that Nigeria is described as a federal republic. It was a choice made by the three regions in Nigeria preceding independence. Both the Eastern and Western regions obtained internal self-government (independence) in 1957, while the North got same in 1959. Each region could have opted to go its own way in 1960. We could have had three countries as opposed to one at independence. The decision by the regions to be part of a shared territory called Nigeria came with some obligation and expectation. There is little to suggest that the federating region were willing to jettison the greater part of their economic and political independence for the sake of “one Nigeria”.

In 1963, the regions (the precursor of our current states) controlled 50 percent of the revenues accruing from their region; today we are quibbling whether the states have right to as little as 13 percent. In a sense, this manifest heist by the federal government has perpetuated injustice in some sections of the country while condoning indolence in others. It is this quest for control, or lack of, that is at the heart of the Nigerian crisis.

Biafra of the mind vs Biafra of the field

What is Biafra? If that question was tough to answer in 1967, it is even more difficult today, fifty years after. As a nation, Biafra was going to be difficult to sustain even if it had been actualized. Was Biafra a nation made up of ethnic nationalities? In other words, was Biafra a microcosm of Nigeria? One of the things those who are agitating for Biafra have not been able to define or communicate effectively is answer to the question: What is Biafra? The answers to this question are as varied as there are agitators.

There are those who will tell you that Biafra encompasses the area that used to be the Eastern Region of Nigeria and beyond, including parts of Southern Cameroon and stretching to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Some define Biafra as simply the former Eastern Region of Nigeria that was given the name Biafra on May 30, 1967. Some say it is the five states (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo) in south-east Nigeria where the Igbos are the major ethnic group. Yet, others define Biafra as encompassing all the Igbo speaking areas of southern Nigeria, including parts of present-day Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Benue States. The issue of definition is important because the lack of understanding and agreement can pose great problems.

Of course, up until May 30, 1967, there was nothing like Biafra as nation or political territory. The only thing that bore the tag Biafra was a bight off the West African coast, in the easternmost part of the Gulf of Guinea, stretching to Cape Lopez in Gabon, over which Britain established a colonial protectorate in 1849. Biafra as a nation was a child of circumstance that would become a child of necessity.

What if the bloody January 15, 1966, coup and the attendant assassinations didn’t happen; if Igbo political leaders had been killed alongside their counterparts from the “North” and “West”; if the “revenge coup” of July 29, 1966, and the attendant murders didn’t occur; if the Nigerian state had reined in the murderous groups (military and civilian)  that had targeted Igbos after the July 29 coup; if Gen Aguiyi Ironsi—the first indigenous general and leader of the Nigerian Army—an Igbo who was not part of theJanuary 15 abortive coup, had not been a major beneficiary by seizing power and becoming head of state; if Gen Ironsi had executed the coup plotters of January 15 as military tradition dictates; if the regime of Gen Ironsi did not promulgate Decree No. 34—which abrogated the country's federal structure in exchange for a unitary one; if the “January 15 boys” had completed their “project” either by one of them becoming head of state or as some have alluded, released the imprisoned leader of the national opposition, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and installed him as prime minister; if the Nigerian government led by Gowon had implemented the agreement reached at Aburi?

We can raise many questions and speculate as much as we like, but we will never know. Of course, a few things are known. Madunagu reminds us that, “In Eastern Region, a militant group in the present Bayelsa State, led by Isaac Boro, rose in armed rebellion against the (January 15) coup. They wanted political autonomy for the minorities, not the replacement of (the premier) Dr. Michael Okpara (an Igbo) by Col. Ojukwu (an Igbo). Boro’s rebellion was defeated after 12 days. My studies and reflections convince me that this rebellion was the authentic position and voice of the minorities of Eastern Nigeria at the time.”

I don’t think that position has changed even though many advocates for Biafra would say otherwise. My own research convinces me that if the minorities in the Eastern Region wanted “political autonomy” from the Igbos 50 years ago, today that feeling is even stronger today. If this is the situation, how then do we construe the renewed clamour for the actualization of Biafra? If the minorities refuse to be part of the renewed Biafra experiment, will they be forced to be part of it? Some Biafra activists believe that should be the case. If we equate Biafra to the Igbo ethnic nationality, how do we define Igbo (or any other ethnic nationality) in a country where ethnic borders have become amorphous and miscegenation has taken place for over a 100 year?

Clearly, once the Biafra experiment failed, it was going to be difficult to put it back together again. Perhaps, that was why Ojukwu, the man who led the Biafra war of independence many years later spoke about “the Biafra of the mind” as opposed to “the Biafra of the field”. On January 9, 1970, shortly before the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War on January 15, 1970, Ojukwu handed over power to his second in command, Chief of General Staff, Major-General Philip Effiong, and went into exile in Ivory Coast where he lived for 12 years.

Ojukwu was granted political asylum by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny whose country had recognised Biafra on 14 May 1968. He returned to Nigeria to a hero’s welcome in 1982 after he was granted state pardon by the civilian government led by Shehu Shagari. He joined the ruling party at the federal level, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), to the disappointment of many who had hoped or wanted him to join the party that was in power at the state level, the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). Unfortunately, he couldn’t receive enough support (or was sabotaged by his own party as some have alluded) from his kinsmen to represent them at the Senate.

Ojukwu ran unsuccessfully for president in 2003 and 2007 under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) winning just 3.3% of the votes in 2003. 2015 estimates put the Igbo population at around 33 million, close to 20% of Nigeria's estimated 180 million people. Ojukwu died on November 26, 2011, in the United Kingdom. Does this narrative signify anything? Maybe, maybe not. Until his death, Ojukwu remained quite vocal about the Nigerian dilemma. He had no regrets, rightly so, about his role in the declaration of Biafra. But he also realized that the circumstances had changed. He was concerned about the injustice in Nigeria, but he was also passionate about the need to deploy new arsenals, taking into account current realities, in the quest to end injustice in Nigeria.

I think it was this realisation that led him to the conclusion in his 1989 book, Because I am Involved. According to the late warlord, “All over Nigeria, there is Biafra but that Biafra of today is ‘the Biafra of the Nigerians and not the Biafra of the Igbos’; the Biafra of the mind not the Biafra of the fields.” Quite evocative. Clearly, we can hear the shouts of injustice (read Biafra) across the length and breadth of Nigeria. The question then is what must we do to get Nigeria out of the current quagmire and ultimately save the country from self-destruction?

Mythical nation

There are no easy answers, considering the historical trajectories of Nigeria and the beating the country has taken from rogue rulers (military and civilian) in the last 57 years. But we can start from somewhere. A genuine national conversation founded on shared existential experience can be a good starting point. We must come to the realization that we have very limited choices and time is of the essence. The single agenda of such national conversation is to work out an agreeable and sustainable structure for the country. This is critical for many reasons, the most important being that it is on such agreement that every other thing, including the survival of the country, rests. It is this sentiment that the late politician and lawyer, Chief Bola Ige, expressed when he noted: “There are two basic questions that must be answered by all Nigerians. One, do we want to remain as one country? Two, if the answer is yes, under what conditions?”

Undoubtedly, majority of Nigerians would respond in the affirmative to the first question. The question then is if we agree to remain together, under what conditions? Do we want a truly federal nation? Do we want a secular and egalitarian nation where the rule of law prevails? Do we want a semi-feudal and religious republic that poses as a modern democratic society? Do we want a nation where some citizens are treated as second class citizens? Do we want a nation where some people feel ostracized, marginalized, dispossessed and neglected or an inclusive nation of equal opportunities, freedom, responsibility and trust? The choice is ours, but that decision must involve majority of Nigerians. Enter the term restructuring!
To understand Nigeria and why we need to restructure the country, we need to debunk a few myths and lay bare certain facts. Myth: God used the British to bring Nigeria together and, therefore, not only is there nothing we can do about that, we shouldn’t attempt to alter what the British put together on behalf of God. Fact: Nigeria was brought together by the British for purely economic and imperialistic reasons. Myth: The size of Nigeria is an asset. Fact: Of course, size is an asset, but no country is great simply by the size of its population. Myth: Nigeria has always been one “united” country. Fact: Nigeria has not always been like this. Nigeria was basically two different countries (Northern and Southern Protectorates). The British brought these two countries together for economic, administrative and expansionist interests as well as its desire to check the burgeoning French interest in Africa. 

The evil colonialists created one country yet did everything to keep the people divided. The fault lines still exist today. Myth: Once the British “conquered” the people that would later form Nigeria, they lost the right to “self-determination”. Fact: The ethnic nationalities that were “conquered” by the British were not “conquered” collectively as one group and the fact that they were “conquered” by the British does not in any way vitiate their right to “self-determination”. Only a hegemonist and internal colonialist will push such a position. Myth: Nigeria is non-negotiable and indivisible. Fact: Nations are not eternal constructs; they come into being at certain historical junctures due to different factors and can likewise go out of existence for different reasons. Myth: Nigeria is a mere geographical expression. Fact: Nigeria is not a mere geographical expression. The country is simply no longer the sum of its constituent parts. There are people and institutions that are Nigerian.

So, let’s not romanticize Nigeria or take it for granted. Having said that, it is also important that we understand that there is nothing special about the way Nigeria was formed. And this is in response to those who refer to Nigeria as a “fictional nation” or an “artificial creation”.

Who is afraid of restructuring?

For those who fear the word restructuring, let it be clear that it doesn’t imply breaking Nigeria into tiny sovereignties or going back to the status quo ante. That is far-fetched. Of course, there are many positions just as there is much misperception and confusion when it comes to restructuring. Many people genuinely do not understand what is at stake when the issue of restructuring is mentioned vis a vis the politics of Nigeria, while others, for purely partisan and ethnic reasons, decide to conflate the issue.

Make no mistake, the “restructuring” of Nigeria both politically and economically has been a continuous process since amalgamation in 1914. The restructuring in 1939 saw the division of the South into two regions, the West and East. In 1946, the country was again restructured to create a federation of three regions: East, West and North. The process continued in I963 with the creation of Mid-Western Region out of the former Western Region, the unitary system in 1966 and beyond, the creation of 12 states on May 27, 1967, etc. Add to this, the emasculation of the states through the reduction of the percentage of revenue accruing to states from their resources.
Basically, what restructuring will do is to create new, workable and generally acceptable rules on how Nigeria should federate. We need to reorder the polity for effective governance. Clearly, our fortunes as a nation is tied to the kind of political, economic and social structure we put in place. We need to review revenue generation and allocation. We can’t talk or wish our way to prosperity as a nation. We must end financial irresponsibility and fiscal rascality by revisiting the issue of fiscal federalism. We must allow states to share greater responsibility in the policing of their states. We must abrogate local governments as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and allow states to create local governments according to their needs. We must redefine citizenship rights and banish the indigene-settler dichotomy. This is what restructuring is about. We must continue to interrogate Nigeria because our misleaders (past and present) have failed to forge a nation out of what was bequeathed to us by the colonialists. The nationhood question is never settled. The way out is to never be afraid to confront it.  
Any attempt to understand and tackle Nigeria’s seemingly intractable problems must go back to the basic principles of the formation of Nigeria. We may not have it the way it was in 1960 or 1963, but it is important that whatever way we decide to have it, the decision is inclusive and acceptable. That is the essence of restructuring. Restructuring is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve all our problems, but trying to solve our national crises without restructuring the country effectively will amount to putting the cart before the horse. 
The bottom line is that Nigeria is not working for Nigerians. It may be working for some Nigerians, either Igbos, Fulanis, Yorubas, Hausas, Kanuris, Efiks, Tivs or Ijaws, but for the majority across the country, it is a nightmare living the Nigerian dream. We can point to poor leadership, bad governance, corruption and the need for attitudinal change, but these are symptoms of a much insidious problem, the existential crisis that confronts Nigeria. 

Nigeria is not working not because Nigerians can’t make it work or are not willing to make it work. Nigeria is not working simply because there is no incentive to make it work; there is no allegiance to the Nigerian dream, if it does exist. That explains the mindless corruption in the country, the contempt the rulers have for the country and its citizens, their eagerness to run it aground and their willingness to run to the Metropole at the slightest opportunity either for medical attention, to educate their children or simply to enjoy the good life. And, the country, the proverbial giant of Africa remains, in the words of Noble Laurette, Prof Wole Soyinka, “the open sore of a continent”; a nation that made billions of dollars from oil, yet (with Pakistan and Afghanistan) is one of the three-remaining polio-endemic countries in the world with one of the highest cases of out-of-school children and maternal mortality.

Reclaiming Nigeria
The purpose of restructuring, therefore, is to set Nigeria on the path of a civic nationhood, a modern egalitarian society, and not to create new fiefdoms for ethnic warlords. It aims to end internal colonialism wherever it exists in the country and to free the creative and intellectual capacities for Nigerians from the east, west, north and south, to contribute to the development of the country.
Can we reconstruct Nigeria? Can we reclaim the country and provide succour to millions of our countrymen and women in the east, west, north, and south who have endured decades of misrule, impoverishment, injustice and oppression? This is the question that should engage true patriots and the current generation of Nigerians. Can the post civil war generation of Nigerians reclaim the country and create a new Nigeria that can become a global contender? I think it can. But nation building is not a tea party. This generation must learn to overcome the fear and loathing; it mustn’t allow our tragic history to repeat itself.

The future of Nigeria belongs to young men and men, millions who are unemployed and daily roaming the streets of major cities across the country. I share your frustration, pain, suffering, anger and anxiety. But no one feels the pain more than you and, therefore, you are in the best position to bring about the kind of change you and Nigeria need. 

You must rise to the occasion. You are the future of this great nation. Nigeria of 2017 is not Nigeria of 1914, 1960, 1966, or 1967-70. John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, once admonished Americans, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” Kennedy was speaking to Americans and the “right” answer may not be in the interest of non-Americans, but the same principle can apply in our own situation. In seeking solutions to the country’s problems, you must learn from the past but you should not allow the past to cripple you. You must accept your own responsibility for the future. You should see yourselves as Nigerians first before being Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, Fulani or Ijaw. And in seeking to deal with the Nigerian question, that should be your guiding principle.

Nigerian youth must seize the moment and define the kind of future they want to create. Nobody will live that future but you. Don’t let our crooked politicians and so-called statesmen define that future. You can’t leave the solution to Nigeria’s problems to those who created it in the first place for, as Einstein poignantly put it, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Our rulers have defined themselves and the country for too long; they have no right to define you and the future.

Our rulers and so-called elders shouldn’t speak for you any longer. Don’t let a 90-year-old Edwin Clark or Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who as Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University from 1979–1986, was more of a despot than an administrator, ruining the future of many students in the process, speak for you. Don’t let the dishonourable men and women posing as your representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives speak for you. Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo, OPC, Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), IPOB, MASSOB, and sundry agglomeration of ethnic jingoists and bigots, shouldn’t speak for you.  

Your reality and challenges—in the light of globalization and a world where oil is increasingly becoming irrelevant and advances in science and communication technology are changing the way we live and operate—are different from the realities of your forbears. Don’t let the prejudices of the past hold you down. We have wasted 57 years as an independent nation, we can’t afford to waste the next 50 years. As we mark the 50th anniversary of Biafra and the start of the civil war, we must remember our fellow citizens from the east, west, north and south and everywhere in between who lost their lives or loved ones, were injured or maimed for life in that unfortunate 30-month war and resolve to say never again!

I believe we can a build a nation where no group or individuals place their ethnic, sectional, state, regional or religious interests above the national interest. That is the condition precedent for the survival of Nigeria. That is what restructuring can do for us.

The eternal words of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, the great Pan-Africanist who died on Africa Day, May 25, eight years ago, are apropos: don't agonise, organise”.

*Chido Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. Connect with him by emailconumah@hotmail.com; Twitter: @conumah

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