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What next after edict that created Nigeria expires in 2014?

By Konye Obaji Ori
Posted on Monday, 16 December 2013 10:47

On December 31st, 2014, the document that amalgamated Nigeria into one country would expire. The British colonial edict of 1914 could be renewed or denounced, and the Nigerian state could stay united or split into several entities.

We ought to agree either to extend it [amalgamation edict] or not

Starting from January 1, 2014, Nigerians and power brokers of the fourth republic must decide whether or not the country should remain a united entity.

The Movement for a New Nigeria (MNN), a secessionist organisation has emerged to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding the colonial order, and the array of ethnic and tribal centred problems. “We ought to agree either to extend it [amalgamation edict] or not,” MNN secretary general Tony Nnadi told reporters on 10 December.

For many, the clogs in the wheels of Nigerian unity began even before the Union Jack was lowered for the green and white flag.

As established by scholars, public figures, and political commentators, the 1914 amalgamation edict authored by Britain’s Lord Frederick Lugard was illegitimate because it was done without a referendum.

It has also been criticised for ignoring the complexities of the ethnic and cultural divisions of the Niger-area. Hundred years after Nigeria’s amalgamation, the north has remained the North, and so has the East and the West.

Consequently, advancing the Nigerian state has lagged behind regional placations.

As the 1914 British order expires, Nigerians must be prepared to address the state of the nation and its continuity through a national conference or the National Assembly.

Nigerians must be willing to talk about its existence as a unified entity. In the words of Nigerian scholar Femi Ajayi, “refusing to talk is like wanting to avoid variance in our daily life”.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to get Nigerian power brokers to talk about the country’s unity, but the 2005 National Political Reforms Conference, fell through.

Likewise, President Goodluck Jonathan proposed his national conference to discuss Nigerian unity and continuity.

The expiry of the amalgamation pits Jonathan’s proposed national conference against growing disillusionment, religious and ethnic divisions, political posturing, and terrorism in Nigeria.

The implications of the 1914 edict under the current state of affairs in Nigeria are complex: Legally, Nigeria would seize to exist after 2014; the country would return to the pre-1914 structure that is the Lagos colony, the northern and southern protectorates; and the Nigerian people must re-enter a new agreement under their own terms.

Contingency plans have been reported to be underway by foreign powers who are convinced that Nigeria would split by 2015.

Nevertheless, in a pivotal phase of the fourth republic, Nigeria must decide whether or not it wishes to challenge the legality of the 1914 amalgamation edict or continue or abandon the dictates of the order.

Apparently, if there is a consensus, Nigeria’s continued existence can be negotiated and a new union treaty created.

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