The Rotting Iroko

When I think of Nigeria, the image that comes to my mind is that of a mighty Iroko tree precariously standing on rotting roots. What can be done to this tree? Cut it down before it falls by itself with disastrous consequences. How can Nigeria be saved without the cleaning and removing of all the debris in the rotting foundation that is threatening the collapse of the nation. We know that patching things up does not work. War did not teach us anything, did not change anything, instead it multiplied the problems. While before we had to contend with only three regions, today we have to contend with thirty six States plus Abuja.

After the civil war, the ruling class decided to weaken the big power blocks by carving the country up into smaller States. This process did not solve the perennial problems of the country but rather created much bigger problems.The exercise became a colossal failure because it was still done along language and tribal lines, still consolidating and concentrating power. As a result, every tribe and every language now want their own State. If the ruling class had foresight or at least had interest in unifying the country, they would have followed a different pattern in creating the States, a pattern that did not lump the same tribe or language together in the same State, but a pattern that brought together an equal ratio of the different peoples that make up Nigeria into one State, even if this would mean uprooting people and planting them elsewhere.

This pattern would have created less States with equal representation, and although painful at first, in the long run it would have the whole country running as one. The problem of how to quell that constant demand for more States will be nonexistent. In the present system, the minority languages and tribes still see the rationale behind the creation of the present States as exclusive of them and their interests. The constant clamor for the creation of more States will continue to plague the country and will not disappear. If care is not taken, Nigeria will end with States made up of single families.

There is no way we can solve the problems of Nigeria without feeling the pains, and there is no way we can begin to solve these problems without changing our mindset. No single people should believe that they own Nigeria. The survival of Nigeria as a country lies squarely in the hands of Nigerians. They can either go it the way of peace, or the way of war. But I can assure you, my people, the way of peace is the only way. We have tried the way of war and it did not work. Let us put our greed aside, and our self-serving aside, and embrace peace, or else …