December 5, 2022
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Founding fathers like Ahmadu Bello responsible for Nigeria’s disunity ― Historian – Vanguard

  • November 1, 2021
  • 6 min read
Founding fathers like Ahmadu Bello responsible for Nigeria’s disunity ― Historian – Vanguard

An academician and professor of history, Prof. Echefuna Rotimi, has decried the endless killings and insecurity currently ravaging the country and blamed it on the founding fathers of the country whom he said sowed the seed of discord at the nation’s independence.
Prof. Rotimi, who spoke in a paper titled, Nigeria Unity, a Myth, Mirage or Reality, as the Chairman of the conference organised by the United People of Nigeria Initiative UPNI at NUJ House, Utako, Abuja, at the weekend said that some unguided statements made by people like the Premier of the Northern Nigeria, Sir. Ahmadu Bello has brought the country to a state of mistrust and mutual suspicion among the citizens, leading to the endless crisis and killings witnessed today which has reduced the daily loss of lives of Nigerians to mere statistics.
The UPNI conference titled: ‘It Is Time to Change the System’, was aimed at finding ways of changing the course of the system that is not workable in Nigeria.
According to Prof. Rotimi, Nigeria has a long history in the struggle for national unity, particularly from independence in 1960.
Quoting The Pilot Newspaper of 12th October, 1960, the Don said the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir. Ahmadu Bello made a shocking and surprising commend, less than two weeks after Nigerian Independence, where he was quoted to have said, “The New Nation called Nigeria should be an Estate of Our Great Grandfather,  Othman Dan Fodio,
“We must ruthlessly prevent the change of power, we use the minorities in the North as willing tools, on the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to have control over our future’’.
This comment by Ahmadu Bello, according to him, negates the very basis of Nigerian unity at independence from Great Britain, though was somehow dismissed by majority of people but insisted that our contemporary history tends to show that there is some element of truth in the assertion, adding that ever since then, no part of Nigeria has known peace.
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‘‘The aims and objectives of UPNI is quite laudable and very good dream that every well-meaning Nigerians can’t wait for its actualization. In the midst of the very precarious situation the present day Nigeria, the importance of coming together as a people with unity of purpose and a common destiny anchored on equity, fairness and justice under God Almighty cannot be over emphasized.
‘’Surprisingly, less than two weeks after Nigerian independence, precisely on October 12th 1960,  Pilot Newspaper published a shocking comment by the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir. Ahmadu Bello, where he was quoted to have said, “The  New Nation called Nigeria should be an Estate of Our Great Grandfather  Othman Dan Fodio, We must Ruthlessly prevent the change of power, we use the minorities in the North as willing tools, on the south as a conquered territory and never allow them to have control over our future’’.
‘‘Ever since then, neither any part of Nigeria has known peace. Some doubted it, some gave it the benefit of doubt.
“For instance, by May 21 1962, the Governor of Western Region then, Sir Adesoji Aderemu, who was then the Ooni of Ife,  following the unhealthy rivalry between Awolowo and Akintola, appointed another Premier  E S Adegbenro, a leader of the faction group then to take over as the Premier of Western Nigeria. And that was the kind of seed that was sown and has been undermining authorities and try to bring anarchy.
‘‘Also, by May 29 1962, Alh. Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister of Nigeria, declared the state of emergency in the Western Region. And by September 11, 1963, the late Chief Awolowo was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on an allegation of treason felony trying to topple Tafawa Balewa government.  And the judge said his hands were tied, which became subject of various interpretations.
“By May 25 1965, violence erupted in the Western House of Assembly in Ibadan, in which supporters of Awolowo and Akintola engaged in destruction of public property.
‘‘These contributed to a lot of other crises that erupted and engender insecurity in the system.
“What we are witnessing today did not start today because the seed was sowed in the past.
“By January 14 1966 the first coup occurred in which prominent politicians died. This coup led to other uncertainties, counter-coup and civil war in 1967.’’
Continuing, Prof. Rotimi said, ‘‘after the declaration of No Victor, No Vanquished in 1970, one would have expected there would be a genuine reconciliation, harmonization, and integration reconstruction, which was never kept. If in truth and indeed Nigeria had stood on those proclamation, we will not be where we are.
‘‘The concession that was made in 1960, where the people that championed the independence compromised and relinquished power on the shoulder of those who were reluctant for independence has not been reciprocated.
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‘‘Nigeria has never been divided as it is today, if we had continued in the spirit of give and take, the country would have been better today.
“With injustice and insurrection we have today, how can you convince, the ethnic nationalities that constitute Nigeria to have a buy-in in the Nigeria project of national unity, when their own ancestral lands are being invaded and, kidnapped and raped, maimed and killed.
‘‘As good as the project appeared, it remains an onerous task to secure the buy-in of the various people of Nigeria, who have no jobs and food on their table not to be angry.’’
Earlier in his goodwill message, President General and Initiator of UPNI, Sirwealthson Chukwidi said the call for unity was to unite the Nigerian youths and all Nigerians towards a political goal for the better Nigeria.
He said one of Nigeria’s biggest problems is that politicians don’t play politics in the interest of our nation, instead they play it to achieve their personal interest to the detriment of the people.
‘‘The idea of connecting everyone together regardless of tribe or religious affiliations is to enable UPNI build strong political pressure group that can help checkmate the leadership in Nigeria and the process that produces them.
“The process will help us integrate our youths into Nigerian leadership at all levels,” he added.
Also in her address, the national Coordinator UPNI, Rosemary Chukwuka said the organization is committed to uniting the Nigerian masses both at home and in diaspora irrespective of religion, tribe, ethnic differences and status having realised that unity and masses enlightenment is the greatest weapon for a better Nigeria.
Vanguard News Nigeria

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