Home Governance PLURAL LOYALTIES & MULTIPLE IDENTITIES IN POST-INDEPENDENCE NIGERIA – Part 3

PLURAL LOYALTIES & MULTIPLE IDENTITIES IN POST-INDEPENDENCE NIGERIA – Part 3

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PLURAL LOYALTIES & MULTIPLE IDENTITIES IN POST-INDEPENDENCE NIGERIA Part 3 – CONCLUSIONS Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, FNAL Two inferences can be drawn from the above. One, the British colonial administrators used divide and rule tactics to deliberately divide Nigeria on regional lines, creating multiple identities without national cohesion for the people of Nigeria as was the case with British India. Secondly and more importantly is that the division transcends beyond politics and cut across all spheres of life of the people. This perhaps was why Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who became the first and only Prime Minister of Nigeria had said, in 1947, that “since the amalgamation of Southern and Northern provinces in 1914 Nigeria has existed as one country only on paper … It is still far from being united. Nigeria’s unity is only a British intention for the country.”[i] This diversity and lack of unity between the North and South was evident to the colonial masters and was highly exploited. Equally, all of these differences were obvious to Nigerian leaders who, in spite of them, decided to fight as one for Nigeria’s independence and form a nation. This was succinctly captured by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, in his address to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) at its 50th anniversary celebration at the Polo Grounds, New York City, on July 19, 1959: My parents are natives of Eastern Nigeria, the arsenal of republicanism in Nigeria. Although I am Ibo, yet I speak Yoruba and I have a smattering of Hausa. I am now Premier of Eastern Nigeria, the land of my fathers, which lies five hundred miles from Lagos and almost a thousand miles from the place of my birth in Zungeru, in Northern Nigeria. Each of our three Regions is vastly different in many respects, but each has this in common: that, despite variety of languages and custom or difference in climate, all form part of one country which has existed as a political and social entity for fifty years. That is why we believe that the political union of Nigeria is destined to be perpetual and indestructible.[ii] One cannot but give the founding fathers of our nation such as Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others the credit for trying to deal with this challenge created by our colonial masters by adopting federalism and advocating a policy of unity in diversity…

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