The topography called Nigeria is so diverse, so kaleidoscopic in outlook, so complex, so random at times, but the minds of those who call for a split is set, in black and white; binary at best. So binary, that such minds are not absorbing new information. Such minds think of a monolithic Yorubaland, Hausaland or Igboland. In reality and in truth, languages actually flow from one settlement to another.


2023 is approaching. Frustration is setting in in many places. The president’s nephew and the only one remaining of his three initial confidants, Mamman Daura, among many others, especially from the north of Nigeria, are saying there is nothing like rotational presidency, that the best man should be voted for the job (that is assuming votes count in this country). This is in response to those talking about North-South rotation. Even among these, there are two groups: The ones who push for an Igbo presidency, and those for a Yoruba presidency. Totally shoved to oblivion are the minorities of Nigeria, whom some reckon should have no say, even in the symbolism of producing the nation’s president. Should it even matter where a president is from? If people’s lives were well-improved, who will care about who comes from where? Yet, there is a collateral damage in the thought that a people are debarred forever from producing the occupant of the highest office in a country.

Another issue that is gaining increasingly higher decibel in the political space is the almighty restructuring. We are seeing more and more people asserting the need for Nigeria to break up. In the hearts of millions of Nigerians, that is restructuring, pure and simple; stripped of its garments. I am not concerned about liberal elements who have also towed the line of restructuring. Many such liberals don’t really know what they seek, but some (like me) believe that if we could restructure the economy to reduce inequality and corruption; if we could reduce the number of loafers and freeloaders in government or at least reduce the amount of money available for the whims of state governors etc, then we may have achieved something akin to economic restructuring and we would be on our way to somewhere. We only stopped restructuring effectively from 1999. Before then we often tweaked the sharing formula, looked into the exclusive and recurrent lists, created states (even on the basis of the pressure from the girlfriends of military rulers). All movement in that direction has stopped since 1999. The politicians have had a free reign and constituted a suffocating weight on the very existence of the country. Even they must now be wary, lest they get consumed in the sickening contraption they have created.

Below is my comment on the YouTube recording of a meeting of some of Nigeria’s best political brains, at which restructuring took centre stage. It is important to post this here because it encompasses my thoughts on the subject:

“I think most people here are still thinking in () binary fashion (black or white). But our world, and our problems, are now presented in kaleidoscopic colours and contours. We are still thinking in terms of oil and stuff, still bellyaching about colonialism, bemoaning our union and doing nothing about it. I call on us to a higher level of intelligence and thought process. If only we were fair-minded, we will know that running a country is no walk in the park and no country in the world is having it as easy as they want/wish/hope to have it. We have to stop living in a fantasy world. I doubt if we are ready for the terrible sacrifices that some of the countries we admire today had to put up with in the past. The problem is with us. We cannot hold our breaths and achieve something tangible. like our ancestors, it is still difficult for us to put our minds to complex tasks (such as manufacturing, such as hardware tech) and achieve something of them. So we wait for easy things – like oil, entertainment and even software development (which shows we can think, but we must address the hard issues). I must dispute some of the fantastic stories too. No, Nigeria as an entity was NOT in the process of nation-formation before the British came. In fact the Yorubas were at war for 16 years in the 1870s through to the 1890s. Sokoto was still a slave trade centre and many parts of Nigeria warred intermittently, for territory, for slaves, for mutual suspicion and what not. We were many nations and there existed much distrust (just as there still is), even though there was much interaction in terms of trade and culture. Before we call this colonial mentality, we should note that even in Europe, same things happened. My Akure people were conquered by the Binis, which had influence in the region up to Lagos. To be honest, the concept of nationhood in these parts was not as sophisticated as what obtained in Europe. More importantly, no one was going to wait for us to get our acts right. Also I agree with the man who stated that EVERY NATION IS A PRODUCT OF MILITARY CONQUEST, WHETHER INTERNALLY OR EXTERNALLY. That is a fact. We should study the story of even Britain. We will learn a lot. It is still the unfairness, the selfishness, the short attention span, the quest for quick results and gratification, the little contests and unnecessary competition amongst us, that makes us want to show off our achievements in comparison to others; the inability to form and sustain big ideas, the mutual revenge we are machinating against each other for past mutual infractions, the interference of extremist proselytising religions, amongst others… is why we are here rooted on a spot today; making little progress, worshipping the god of small achievements.”

It is incredibly difficult to carve out regions or countries that are contiguous on the basis of language in Nigeria. Yes, it seems if we all spoke one local language and shared the same culture, it will be easier to solve our problems. But do we want to solve internal problems and create external ones? Do we have plans in the event everything breaks down?


I have done some editing and paraphrasing but the above captures my thinking on restructuring. I wish those who are talking of splitting Nigeria the best of luck. It’s going to be an incredibly impossible task. A friend suggested we split Nigeria north and south of the River Nigeria. I whipped out the map of Nigeria from Google. We found out, on the spot, that south of River Niger and Benue, we had parts of Kebbi and Niger State, all of Kwara – including Baruten and other Nupe speaking areas, 95 per cent of Kogi, Benue and Taraba, and 50 per cent of Adamawa. Already that project has failed, as the separation we seek on the basis of tribe or religion has been defeated by the Rivers Niger and Benue. This is why I say, that we must be scientific in our quest. We must be logical. I personally do not complain for long about anything. I act on my complaints. That is why I ran for president in 2019. If we want to truly split Nigeria, we must first embark on a huge sociological study and map the languages and cultures of Nigeria. If I was a consultant to the advocates of a split, this is what I will do. The topography called Nigeria is so diverse, so kaleidoscopic in outlook, so complex, so random at times, but the minds of those who call for a split is set, in black and white; binary at best. So binary, that such minds are not absorbing new information. Such minds think of a monolithic Yorubaland, Hausaland or Igboland. In reality and in truth, languages actually flow from one settlement to another. And every society picks its cultures – including mores, norms, languages, religions, farming implements and customs etc., from north, east, west or south of its territory. I am yet to see any society anywhere in the world that looks like it dropped to one spot from wherever.

I hear there is a village or little town in Delta State, right inside Asaba, where they speak a version of Yoruba. The place is called Olukumi – typical old Yoruba for ‘my friend’ and the name that Yorubas are called in Cuba, Brazil and elsewhere (Lukumi). There are Igbo speaking areas in Benue State, but before the usual ethnicists readily claim them as Igbos, it could also be that they are Idomas whose languages infiltrated into their neighbours’ culture in what is today known as Igboland. Many parts of today’s Igboland borrowed their culture from Benin, from Akwa Ibom and Cross River and Rivers States, and vice versa. The communities in these states I mentioned also borrowed cultures from as far as Cameroon. I have always had an interest in the subject of etymology (the study of the origin of words or languages) since my days as a budding Scrabbler, and what I have learnt so far is the unity of humanity. We are one. We may have wronged ourselves so badly, stabbed ourselves, sold ourselves into slavery. We have been undermining ourselves, cheating ourselves, robbing each other, plotting against ourselves, ripping off, even killing ourselves, but humanity is one. If we cannot see the universality and unity of humanity within Nigeria here, how then can we ever end racism?

I have some questions and puzzles for proponents of restructuring, especially those who are so vehement that it is about ethnicity or religion, or those who believe it is about separatism. This does not apply to those who are thinking around economic restructuring. Again, I understand that we have done really annoying things against each other but it also brings attention to the fact that many times, it is your kinsman, your own brother or sister, who knows you inside and out, and remembers your history from birth, that shows you the most disdain and does you the most painful harm. Not so? So, here it is. The quest for restructuring should not be seen as an easy task. It should be seen as a complex Venn Diagram, where the only options open to us are after we may have taken due cognisance of the following truths:

1. All nations in the world are indeed geographical expressions;

2. The term ‘geographical expression’ was first used in terms of Italy in the 19th Century by Count Klemens von Metternich, an Austrian state minister. Italy has not broken up in spite of its diversity. It got stronger;

3. All nations are indeed products of military conquests – a few times internal but mostly external;

4. Colonialism is war by another means. Nigeria – and other colonised nations – were simply conquered;

5. Colonisers, in their time, were only a little better than slave traders. They could do and undo with their subjects – us.

It is incredibly difficult to carve out regions or countries that are contiguous on the basis of language in Nigeria. Yes, it seems if we all spoke one local language and shared the same culture, it will be easier to solve our problems. But do we want to solve internal problems and create external ones? Do we have plans in the event everything breaks down?


6. We too had quarreled and warred with ourselves, taken slaves of ourselves, and so slavery and oppression is not entirely alien to us. Till date, some royal houses have slaves and eunuchs. And most middle class houses have the modern slaves who usually have no rights – houseboys and housegirls;

7. Some of our people were involved in slave trade. Tricia Nwaubani wrote of her great-grandfather the slavetrader. We also know of Madam Tinubu, King Kosoko of Lagos, Efunsetan Aniwura and many others. Yes, we buy the story that the white man may have exaggerated the roles these people played in order to cover their own tracks, but for sure these elements benefited from the trade. Our people sold their own people as slaves;

8. Nigeria was created as a business. George Goldie descended from a family of smugglers from the Isle of Man. He and others saw Nigeria as a place filled with ignorant people from whom they stole as much as they could and brought back wares from their country to sell at exorbitant prices;

9. The white man did worse things to themselves;

10. The “WE THE PEOPLE” that precedes the American Constitution in 1776 is as fraudulent as the “WE THE PEOPLE” that commences our 1979 and 1999 Constitutions. Almost all of the American founding fathers were military men too. All of them were aristocrats who claimed their people asked them to write the constitution, even though they had no mandate in that regard;

11. The first American constitution precluded people without land, blacks and women from voting. These rights were only later acquired. In fact, blacks were considered two-thirds of human beings in that constitution, even though it was later explained as the product of some simple political compromise;

12. Women could vote in Nigeria since 1952. In Switzerland, women could not vote until 1971. Many western nations had similar legacies. What did we do with our democratic advantage?;

13. England, our coloniser, was equally forcibly cobbled together by Germanic tribes in the 11th Century, conquered and imposed upon by Germanic tribes, Belgians, Danes, Romans and the French. The turbulent and bloody history of Great Britain, our coloniser is a clear example that no nation finds it easy;

14. The first country colonised by the English was Ireland. The brutality shown to the Irish is the reason why Republic of Ireland (Irish Free State) does not see eye to eye with Britain till tomorrow. Ireland only got part independence in 1922, after centuries of colonisation and oppression (since the 16th Century);

15. Australia, Tasmania, as well as parts of the Philippines, among other nations, were penal colonies, were the first settlers were criminals sent from colonising nations. The state of Georgia in the USA was a colony for bankrupt people;

16. Nigeria had it relatively easy to obtain its independence, compared to countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe, even in Africa. Those ones had to fight long, bitter guerilla wars. We must make something of our relative luck;

17. Africa was largely in a state of its own flux when colonialists came with their disruptive interests, having carved us up in the Berlin Conference. They were apparently more advanced than we were and had a better knowledge of the world and the elements that make it up (they still do). We must not indulge in illusive self-deception about our greatness. I advise we try and stoop to conquer – like the Chinese. Look, we cannot brag, huff and puff our ways out of this tight corner;

18. There was no way the world could wait for Africa to slowly catch up. The colonising era was an era of pirates, privateers, thieves and chancers. There was no United Nations and no International Court to complain to. There was no way the colonisers could have asked all the ethnicities or nations that make up Nigeria – or indeed any other African nation – whether they wanted to live together. There was therefore no way they could have created thousands of independent nations in the continent of Africa. We must be realistic;

19. It is incredibly difficult to carve out regions or countries that are contiguous on the basis of language in Nigeria. Yes, it seems if we all spoke one local language and shared the same culture, it will be easier to solve our problems. But do we want to solve internal problems and create external ones? Do we have plans in the event everything breaks down?

If advocates of hard restructuring could navigate these booby traps and make provision for these realities. If only they will accept the above truths and cast away any bone of dishonesty in them, or refuse to play mind games due to its futility, perhaps we could be up to something. If we continue along the delusory ways, the whole thing will result in another big pity.

‘Tope Fasua, an economist, author, blogger, entrepreneur, and recent presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), can be reached through topsyfash@yahoo.com.