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KonkNaija Media | May 2, 2016

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Prominent Nigerians react over Amalgamation of 1914

| On 27, Feb 2014

• It’s a mistake –David West
…It expired yesterday –Agbeyegbe
…We can sustain it if…Ritalori Ogbeboh
As the Federal Government intensifies efforts towards celebrating the country’s centenary, prominent Nigerians have aired their views on the 100 years of the country’s existence. While some are of the views that it worths celebrating, some say there is nothing to celebrate.

To former minister of Petroleum Resources, Professor Tam David-West, the country still exists along ethnic and religious divides, insisting that there was nothing to celebrate.

His words: “There is nothing to celebrate. Nigeria amalgamation is a mistake. From 1914 till today, Nigeria cannot showcase any tangible achievement. We are yet to get a nation because we don’t love ourselves. We are still living with ethnic sentiment. We still have divisions along ethnic and religious lines, which are now worse under President Goodluck Jonathan.
“So far, it has been 100years of motion without movement. So, what are we celebrating? If we are a serious set of people, the celebration should be used for deep reflection on where do we go from here.
“If after 100years, we are still looking for a national dialogue, so what are we celebrating. All along we have been after money, milking the resources God endowed us with.
“The way we are going, I don’t see any hope. Things are getting worse everyday. We are not making any improvement. I am less concerned about U.S prediction about Nigeria breaking up, but the way we are going, we are not going to celebrate another 100years. I am a great believer in Nigeria but I am also a realist.
“Nigeria breaking up is not in the interest of anybody as our strength is in our unity. But until Nigeria is led by selfless, focused leaders, godly leaders, statesmen and not politicians, we are not going to make any headway. The future is bleak. The economy is down. To make our future bright, we have to take care of today and we are not taking care of today.”

Speaking in the same vein, a constitutional lawyer, Chief Fred Agbaje asserted that the marriage was a wasted alliance.
Hear him: “Whatever was the reason for the amalgamation and the intention, looking in retrospective, the amalgamation is the beginning of the problem of Nigeria. It was a criminal amalgamation for the selfish British economic and political reasons.
“The amalgamation put the political administration of Nigeria in the hands of some people instead of an equitable distribution of power.
“So, it has been 100 years of wasted alliance; wasting, in the sense that it has retarded the growth of some section of the country. In terms of law and legislation, most of the laws that were imposed on us as at 1914 were laws that were diametrically opposed to our cultural, political and socio-economic situation. There is no prospect unless through a national conference where those anomalies imposed on us by Lord Lugard can be addressed.”
Another lawyer, activist and Itsekiri leader, Chief Fred Agbeyegbe in an interview with Daily Sun declared that Nigeria ended yesterday, insisting that “Nigeria ceased to exist yesterday December 31, 2013, based on the principle of amalgamation treaty.”
According to him, Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914 by treaty, pointing out that “in international law, any treaty that is not dated expires after 100 years and invariably marks the end of the country as it ceases to be legal entity.”
He warned of imminent danger unless Nigerians avail themselves of the opportunity offered by the confab proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan to chart a way forward.
An elder statesman, lawyer and chieftain of the pan Yoruba Socio-cultural organization, Afenifere, Senator Olabiyi Durojaye was of the view that the relationship that lasted a century was a worthwhile experiment.
According to him, remaining together is preferable just as he advised that all the shortcomings of the past should be corrected to allow for forging ahead as one united nation, saying there is a big advantage in being together than being in pieces.
Senator Durojaye would wish Nigerians utilize the advantage of the size and geographical location of the country to have a better nation, regretting that the bane of the country was bad leadership, misplaced priorities that had led people to suffer amidst plenty.
He, therefore, advised that “we should have behavioral rebirth as well as truly people constitution to move the country forward.”
Another Itsekiri leader, Chief Ritalori Ogbeboh in her comment said “if we are still to remain together, there must be respect for the rule of law and justice,” maintaining that “in a situation, where some ethnic groups would continue to oppress minority groups, there would be no choice than to stay apart.”
According to her, there are a lot of political, social and economic benefits in being a big country citing examples of China, USA and other big countries which size, she said was to their advantage.
Founder and President of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Faseun congratulated Nigerians on their 100 years relationship insisting that “it is better to be together than to go our separate ways.”
According to him, the way things were today in Nigeria, peaceful break-up is not possible just as he warned that “nothing should be done by anybody to plunge this country into another civil war,” stating that “no nation survives two civil wars anywhere in the whole world.”
He therefore, urged Nigerians to embrace the confab being put in place by President Jonathan. He wondered “what would happen to people involved in inter-ethnic marriages,” advising that “we should always try to hammer more on what unites us than what can divide us.”

Speaking with Daily Sun, a chieftain of PDP from Osun state, Barrister Tunde Odanye declared that the country derived its size from the 1914 amalgamation, but noted that the people are frustrated as a result of marginalisation orchestrated by politicians.
“I think every Nigerian agrees that there is load of benefits of being one country. All the negatives we hear is borne out of frustrations. But we all know that our place in Africa is derived from our size and population; we couldn’t have got that without amalgamation.

“But quite a few believe and rightly too that they have been marginalised– but it isn’t static, it takes different shades, we all get the short end of the sticks.

“But no Nigerian should be marginalised, we should be like the United States, where no one is marginalised.

Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), a legal luminary and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said that the country has done well in spite of challenges which he said is part of the evolution of a nation.
He pointed out that the country could have done better but that there has been some progress.

“We have progressed from colony to an independent country, we have gone through a civil war and our educational system has improved from what it used to be during colonial times because today we have more schools in spite of the problems.
Adding,even though corruption has not been fully tackled, I think that we have improved because building a nation is not an easy task.”

Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption Network,  Otunba Dino Melaye has decried the non-growth status of Nigeria as a nation, even at its 100 years of amalgamation.

Melaye, a former member of House of Representatives, stated this in an interview with Daily Sun on Tuesday.
He noted that countries like Dubai (UAE) and Ghana were behind Nigeria few decades ago but have now out-shadowed the country in term of its economy and commercial growths.

According to him, “Nothing to celebrate about Nigeria’s centenary markings because we are a failed nation and propelled by bad leadership. To me, Nigeria is just a crawling giant at 100. Countries like Dubai and Ghana were far behind Nigeria about 20 to 30 years ago but today, the development impact in those countries were so amazing.”

Former President General of Igbo-pan cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife called for the division of the country into nations.

Ikedife, who was reacting to the planned celebration, said it would amount to mere wastage of Nigeria’s scarce resources to celebrate a nation’s centenary that does not worth celebrating.
He therefore, stated that, “The usefulness of centenary is for you to decide how to divide this country peacefully to compatible viable nations.”

The apex Northern socio-cultural organization, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has also called Nigerian leaders not to allow insecurity and sole dependence on oil wealth to tear the country apart, 100 years after the south and northern protectorates were joined together as a nation by the colonial government.

Speaking with Daily Sun in a telephone chat, the National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Anthony Sani said despite the people’s ethnic and religious diversity, they could still overcome elements that may divide them by working collectively as one nationality.   Sani also advised that younger generation should use their numerical advantage to make their votes count on election day so that emerging leaders would be transparent and accountable to the people in order to make poverty a thing of the past.

Source: Daily Sun