The aggravation of hostility between the federal government and the popular liberation organization, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF BIAFRA seeking a referendum by peaceful means, did not come as a surprise to anyone. Indeed one of the cardinal principles of the Organization, remains non violence.
Over the years, successive Nigerian governments have repeatedly stated that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is not negotiable. This by implication means that no nation within the Nation state can exit while the structural imbalances , corrupt leadership, and regional marginalisation remain intolerable.
This is bound to create tension and dissent and that is exactly what happened with the emergence of IPOB.
Indeed the military enacted 1999 constitution, which itself is Unitary in form and substance and a great departure from our autonomous regional and parliamentary system bestowed to us by Britain which carefully considered our ethnic and religious pluralism , stated that Nigeria is indivisible.
That military constitution, has been amended severally, and reenacted and now forms the principal law of our land and its supreme, law over any and all laws. This is what is known as the supremacy of the constitution.
This constitution now in force is known as the 1999 constitution which has been severally amended as earlier noted.
This constitution is a systemic enactment to create a unitary state, deprive regions of resources control, create States with regional imbalances and privileges which enabled the North Nigeria to control and exploit the resources of South Nigeria.
This is not our contract with Nigeria and our colonial masters, Britain when we agreed to come under the umbrella of the entity called Nigeria.
Under the previous colonial constitution, in force from 1960-63, there was North South Parity and deterrence to prevent any structural imbalances and domination by any one region. We had devolution of powers, fiscal federalism, and parliamentary autonomy, which provided safety in diversity.
It became clear that for a federal government to emerge, it required the electoral agreement of at least another region. The centre cannot form a government without consensus and controlled lesser resources.
But presently, under the 1999 constitution, using land mass and unverifiable and doubtful census figures, the North has overthrown, the British model for revenue allocations, regional autonomy and power sharing. It now insists on land mass and population figures as criteria for the creation of electoral units, allocation of revenue and federal spending rather than the erstwhile 50% for the producing region.
This had led to disenchantment and a call for the restructuring of the country.
The North Nigeria hegemonization has created great hardship in the East and underdevelopment and contributing to the emergence of ethnic militias and secessionist organisations due to its biased, inept, clueless, and vision less leadership from its successions of military rulers.
The refusal of the North to restructure the country to undermine unitary administration and advance true fiscal and political federalism has made the opposition to the status quo irreversible.
This is in the backdrop of the fact that the North contributes little or nothing to be shared by the federation and yet allocates to itself more than 60% of the Southern resources including the accruements of taxes like VAT!
It is instructive that the North has been able to accomplish this by overthrowing the contract with Nigeria through military adventurism in politics. The region has consistently falsified Census figures to give itself undue advantages and leverage in the political calculus.
It is now possible for one state Kano to override, the South East which accounts for at least a quarter of Nigerian population by 1960 through unfair creation of polling units and constituencies.
In spite of North Nigeria claim to overriding population density, it is not reflected in fiscal responsibility and school enrollments.
Consistently, South East Nigeria collectively produces the highest number of school enrolments within its region and Nation wide in the last decade or more, and yet is allocated less than 5% of National resources and denied developmental benefits, more ferociously by the government of Mohammadu Buhari, a divisive government with a theme of North west Nigeria aggrandizement.
The region of the South East has witnessed unprecedented marginalization and underdevelopment , more specifically under the present dispensation . This is a region that has existed in the Niger delta before the emergence and migration of the Ijaws from Elmina, Ghana ,to Nigeria for slave trade and were much limited to the coastal creeks for that purpose.
The Kalabaris also migrated from Calabar and depopulated the Igbo Aborigines into Slavery, many of whom ended in the Americas, West Indies, Puerto Rico and Europe. Till today, their shrines remain in the Niger delta Islands, including, Chikadibia cult. The existing Igbo populated in the Niger delta are integrated but nonetheless, the fear of Igbo restoration of these inlands, remains one of the most intricate complexities of Nigerian politics, which has led to fiery distrust and mutual antagonism, fueled by the enemies of the region
The Igbo founded coastal settlements of Okrika, Amadi Amadi, in port Harcourt, bearing the same names, with Amadi Ama and Umuokirika in present day Mbaise, of Imo State. Today they are referred to as Ijaw people or else!
The earliest settlers of the Niger delta were from Urashi provinces, in the south East and the Ikwerres are not an ethnic group but intra ethnic groups from various parts of the south East. This remains contentious under the Nigerian marginalisation policies which wants to ensure the subjugation and disunification of Igbo lands.
While accepting that the ethnic minorities other than the Efik Ibibios ( aboriginal in their own lands) have earned their tights to separate existence but yet the entire south East is less than the land mass of Niger state with the Igbo everywhere, inseparable from any balkanization.
Indeed the unfair depopulation and denationalization policy of the federal government soon after the war, were inimical to growth and peaceful coexistence in the Niger delta which culminated in the enactment of the abandoned property laws, to deprive the Igbo of their port Harcourt’s Assets , the emerging capital of the East, which engendered insecurity and divisions in Eastern Nigeria.
This served the federal government. Without Igbo leadership as regional power, the conglomeration of small settlements with urban Port Harcourt were easy pickings. This policy however remains divisive but cannot divide Igbo territories permanently, especially with the clearly sustainable Biafra separatist agitations.
The Igbo population and territory extends as far as Warri west were the Egbema peoples are aboriginal. This Igbo Clan today under the divisive federal protocols are not Igbo while their kins in Imo and Anambra, remain marginalised as Igbo.