My concern for Nigeria-Professor Akintoye
Professor Bamji Akintoye Pic.(The Parroters)
London, Oct. 27, 2017 (AltAfrika)-A leading African historian and an elder statesman in Nigeria, Professor Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, has appealed to the government of Nigeria to save the country from disintegration and do something urgently to restructure the county’s deficient structures.
Professor Akintoye is concerned that except an urgent action is initiated to accommodate the concerns of majority of the people, the country’s chance of survival with the present arrangement is slim.
The 82 years old Director of the Institute of African Studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State in the South-West of Nigeria is also not happy about the present constitution of Nigeria, which he describes as a Military document.
He said, “Nigeria cannot become a nation under a constitution foisted on the people by a handful of dictators.” The concerned don is of the strong conviction that, only a restructured polity that would allow recognition of various ethnic groups in the country is the only panacea to all the incessant agitations across the county.
His words: “The fundamental problem is that Nigeria is not and can never be a nation. It is a country of many nations. These nations had long existed thousands of years before the British came and amalgamated them together to form a country.
“The only hope for the country to live harmoniously is for us to recognize and respect each nation. If the people who found themselves in control of the affairs of the country have come to the conclusion to destroy, push down or suppress these nations in order to build the unity of the country, they will create serious problems. And that is what we are seeing now. When the British amalgamated Nigeria in 1914, they had no idea of what to do with Nigeria.”
He therefore submitted emphatically that, “the only way you can make them live together in one country is to respect them and manage the affairs of the country in such a way that, that respect is obvious.”
According to the erudite scholar, it looks obvious to most people that the present arrangement cannot unite the country, reminding that, “even the United Nations’ assessment published a few months ago says Nigeria as a country is constantly producing protests of people who feel they are being marginalized, cheated and even targeted for destruction.”
While saying that, the elder statesman still wants the country to keep on existing as a country, adding, “yes, I love Nigeria; I don’t want it to break up,” just as he doubted whether it would live for long the way it is being managed.
“This is not a question of what I wish; it is a question of what I can see. It is not a question of wanting Nigeria to disintegrate. The thing is that I fear the way we are handling the affairs of this country, it is likely to disintegrate soon. I know restructuring will go a long way to prevent that. And that is why I am supporting restructuring. If we do that, we can settle down.”
Even with that, Akintoye does not believe that Nigeria will exist forever, saying, “I don’t know. I doubt it. But the important thing is that it will not disintegrate now.”
The only solution that can keep the country intact for ever, according to him, is the restructuring being asked for.
“It is the only way. We are living under government fashioned by the military. It won’t work. I don’t want Nigeria to break up. I cannot purge myself of the feeling that Nigeria can become a great country. We must do the needful,” he stated emphatically