On the eve of the all-important vote for Scotland's separation from UK, a Scottish lad was interviewed on public Radio about why and how he had come to a Yes decision after months of being undecided. He agreed that life was good with the status quo—Scotland in UK, as it has been for three hundred odd years. But, according to him, that's as good as it's ever going to get. On the other hand, there is something liberating about the concept of an Independent Scotland. There is now a chance to do much better, though difficulties may lie ahead. There's the opportunity to spread wings, to soar, to become more. That was the take from the 17-year old's view.
Imagine that: the promise, yes, only a promise, of becoming more. The Vision of a brighter future, which can only materialize by giving up the comfort and glow of a cozy and assured relationship to seek fortunes independently. Should the Scots, in a few hours, vote to leave UK, this may well be the tipping sentiment.
It is instructive to note that the Scottish independence bid is being conducted in a democratic and peaceful manner, using a referendum and the principle of Self Determination. It is an ironic twist of fate that UK has prevented a "peaceful" separation in Nigeria, going as far as supplying the arms and fighting on the side of the Nigerian government to murder millions of Biafrans in 1966-1970 just to force Biafrans back in to stay enslaved in Nigeria. Even to the present day, UK strongly opposes separation in Nigeria, and promises to once again back Nigeria militarily to prevent any section of Nigeria from exercising its Self Determination rights, the same rights that the Scots are enjoying freely in UK, fully respected by UK.
Yes: peoples struggling in Nigeria today and perhaps, the rest of Africa, do not sense the insult to the collective psyche of Africans, to the continent and even to the individual; or the violence done to their dignity when a country like UK (or what's to become of it) arrogates to itself the authority and power to deny the legitimate aspirations of Africans to exercise their right to Self Determination. Especially when it, UK, willingly supports and allows that same right among its own citizens. This is a shame; it is shameful for Africa and Africans, and especially for peoples suffering in Nigeria.
It is not a secret that the different ethnic groups forced together as, and in, Nigeria do not get along and are not getting along; they have really never gotten along. Pretenses and periods of true nervous unease shamelessly attributed to "peaceful co-existence" do not, cannot and should not, count. Nor should the parading of purely sham and obviously hypocritical, self-serving "patriotism" be taken seriously in Nigeria. The Scottish boy can truly say that life as a Scot in UK is in fact good; but no one in Nigeria can truthfully claim the same about life for any ethnic group in Nigeria being good; for specific ethnic groups, such life has actually been practically hellish. Yet, he could understand and articulate that the opportunity is there to be better, as an independent country taking care of its own affairs, even though there might be difficulties ahead.
So, we see the sharp contrast. UK allows the exercise of Self Determination among its own peoples even when it could and would lead to separation or secession; but the same UK will not allow such to be entertained in Nigeria or in Africa. We see that Self Determination can be conducted as a democratic, civil and orderly process in and by UK, but UK will incite a country like Nigeria to go to war and equip it for such in order to mar and stop the exercise of Self Determination by the peoples.
But the greatest lesson is yet this: even when given and assured good, a Scottish child will take a chance to prove and achieve better even if it means giving up the good. On the other hand, a Nigerian in unarguably bad situation would rather stay put than risk any chance for any improvement if it meant abandoning the bad situation. What a difference!
In a few hours, the fate of UK will be known. No matter how things turn out, there are ample lessons learned and to be learned; even for UK itself. As for Nigeria, no one should continue to be under any illusions of unity or stability or security. The peoples living in Nigeria can continue in dysfunction, powerlessness and violence, or they can decide to seek to exercise their Self Determination rights if there is to be any chance of escape.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen