Sunday, 12 November 2017 20:55

A Follow up to Handshake Across the Niger

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The motion on the floor seems to be “the Igbo (Oha Na Eze) and Yoruba (Afenifere) should meet in Enugu to consider if they have a common ground in the effort to stabilize Nigeria.” On the “yea” side are Messrs. Attueyi and Kassim among others and on the “nay” side are Messrs. Kayode and Deinde and others. I am coming from the “yea” side. But first let me comment on what I hear from those opposed to the idea.

  1. A general distrust of the Igbo. This distrust is in statements such as

 I don't have to wait before I tell you what they are up to. I've read their minds and that's my conclusion. ..Corruption is like a bad tree with several branches. No matter how you cut the branches, if you do not cut down the problem tree, you will always have the same problem and more problems than you started with, because it will continue to grow beyond your imagination. ..'Handshake Across The Niger' or whatever you want to call it, is a symptom of corruption in Nigeria. It emanated from the clamour for division and the so called restructuring of Nigeria. The organizers have corrupt minds and hidden agenda. They're all hidding behind the veil of Handshake…

Kayode

 

  1. I assume that these sentences refer to the Igbo, one of the parties to the Hand shake.
  2. A general distrust of the ability of Afenifere members in negotiations. Mr. Kayode seems to believe that the 7ft tall, 180 IQ Igbo would confuse and win over Afenifere members even against the Yoruba interest.
  3. There is no suggestion on how to improve the country that is falling apart.
  4. A general acceptance that the status quo is OK or will change itself without human intervention.

To me Mr. Kayode may have not read or heard President Kennedy’s advice to Americans during the height of the Cold War. He advised, “let us not fear to negotiate and let us not negotiate in fear.” The Igbo and Yoruba in the proposal for a handshake across the Niger are trying to abide by this wise counsel. Each side is self-confident and believes that it will negotiate a deal that would be beneficial to both sides and eventually to Nigeria.

Another fact. Difficult problems are usually solved either by negotiation or by armed struggles. Afenifere and Oha Na Eze have chosen the path of negotiation instead of warfare. Mr. Kayode and others may have other ideas.

There is nothing that has been revealed that shows that Handshake Across the Niger is the final handshake in a Nigeria mired in inter-ethnic confusion at the expense of one Nigeria. The more likely outcome of the Igbo/Yoruba agreement is that such terms could be extended by another handshake at Lokoja, the confluence of Niger and Benue. A major contributor to Nigerian problems is the conflict between the Igbo and Yoruba. If the two nations can speak with one voice; it will be easier to reconcile this position with the single position coming from the North.

Negotiations usually accomplish at least two things. (a) The Yoruba position will be made clear to the Igbo and vice versa. If nothing else is achieved this clarity of positions would be a great achievement. (b) Both sides could at very least agree to a seize fire. Both (a) and (b) above would be great contributions to the Nigerian polity.

Another point that Mr. Kayode hammers on each time is the contribution of corruption to Nigerian governance. He seems to fall into the trap that Nigerian corruption is a moral failure. There is some element of morality in corruption but the Nigerian version is an economic failure that can only be cured by waging an economic warfare. Nigerians are like other people in the world. We have moral standards but we also adhere to the theory that survival is the first law of nature. If you are fighting a war of survival your morality will take a beating. A case in point is cannibalism at sea. Sailors are known to have killed and eaten fellow sailors as food ran short. When I was a higher Elementary school teacher, I did not ask for favors from my students because my salary could last me a month if I spend it wisely and I did and also had some savings. It was definitely true of junior civil servants, junior police and military men. Not one of these men and women can live off his/her salary these days. So they try to find alternative means of survival.

To fight corruption outside economic arena is a waste of time and resources.

I want to restate that Igbo and Yoruba should not be afraid to negotiate and ought not to negotiate in fear. Be bold for the Lord is with you.

 

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

Boston, Massachusetts

November 12, 2017

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Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba  currently lives in Medfield, Massachusetts.