By Tony Nnadi
I write the following on behalf of the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-determination (NINAS) Secretariat in response to a suggestion that the methods adopted by the agitators for the cxreation of Midwestern Region could be a guide for attaining the Self-determination goal of today by the various groups seeking Autonomy, Self-determination and Independence in today’s unitary Nigeria.
First is to note that there was a settled Constitution of Nigeria at the time the campaign for the creation of the Midwestern Region was waged and eventually won in 1962/1963 so the exercise was basically a plebiscite under the 1960 Constitution.
Today, we do not have any Constitution under which such could be pursued except we want to elevate the Caliphate-imposed fraud of 1999 to the status of a Constitution. This makes the situation radically different from the reality of the 1960 Federation of Nigeria.
Next is to note that in the period leading to Independence in 1960, the minorities of each of the three Regions of the time (ie Northern, Eastern & Western Regions), had demanded and vigorously agitated to be separated from the majority ethnic groups in each of those Regions, prompting the setting up of the Willink’s Commission of 1957 which main mandate was to examine and address the fears of the minorities, ahead of the 1960 projected date of Independence.
The minorities of the North (Middlebelt) led by the likes of Joseph Tarka wanted a separation of the Middlebelt from from the Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri-dominated Northern Region.
The Peoples of the Midwest wanted to be Separated from the Yoruba-dominated Western Region.
The Minorities of Eastern Region (Niger Delta) wanted to be separated from the Igbo-dominated Eastern Region, as they demanded for the creation the COR States pre-Independence (COR is Cross-River, Ogoja and Rivers).
For these minorities, any Independence from the British colonial control that would leave them in the belly of those ethnic majority-dominated Regions was tantamount to mere transition to Internal Colonialism and therefore amounted to Incomplete Decolonization for them.
It is significant to note that the eventual excision of the Midwest from Western Region of the time had to do with the wider orchestrations against the embattled Chief Obafemi Awolowo, (then imprisoned for ‘Treasonable’ offenses), by the Caliphate Controllers of Nigeria who sought to whittle down the towering Influence of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
It is also significant to note that the Eastern Minorities’ agitation for the creation of COR States was attended to by the Federal Government of Nigeria in mischief, May 27, 1967, practically on the eve of the May 30, 1967 Declaration, by the embattled Eastern Region, of itself as the Republic of Biafra.
In other words, amidst the Coups, Union Disputations and Chaos of 1966/1967, the fracturing by the then Disputed ‘Federal Government’ of the time, of Eastern Region, into Rivers State (now broken further into Rivers and Bayelsa States) ; the South-Easterm State (now broken further Cross-River and Akwa Ibom States), and the East Central State (now Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States), by Gowon’s Decree No.14 of 1967 was a pre-emptive measure by that. Illicit ‘Federal Government’ to Block and Truncate the May 30, 1967 Secession of the then Eastern Region as Republic of Biafra.
The Pre-Independence Autonomy agitation by the Middlebelt has not been addressed to date, maybe because there has not arisen yet, an occasion for the depth of mischief that birthed Midwestern Region, the Old Rivers State and the Old South-Eastern State.
Perhaps, if the Gideon Orkar Coup of April 22, 1990 had succeeded, the Middlebelt would, lIke the other minorities of the Western and Eastern Regions, been delivered from the suffocating bowels of the Old Northern Region.
Let it be understood by all that, armed by the History of these heavily manipulated ‘Nation-building’ processes and the lessons of that history, the strategic objective of the NINAS grand script is to peacefully complete the Decolonization of Nigeria in a manner that fully restores the Sovereignties and Self-Determination Rights of the various nations and peoples forcefully conscripted by British Colonial fiat into the failed Lugardian experiment of 1914 the World calls “Nigeria”, now encapsulated and defined by the Rogue 1999 Constitution.
Tony Nnadi, Esq., NINAS Co-convener and Coordinating Secretary wrote the above on behalf of the NINAS Secretariat.