Only a genuine commitment to a unifying Original African cultural platform based on common origins, identity, linkages and aspirations can empower a restructuring movement towards a true confederation of self-determined states. Not a movement inspired by separatists agenda fueled by reactionary mindsets against Northern Fulani hegemony.
There are only 3 political options for Southern Nigeria – Northern alliance, Southbelt Original African alliance or Separatists. The Northern Islamists have been politically dominant with the core Northern regions – Northwest and Northeast – co-opting the North Central (Middlebelt) and any one of the three Southern regions. The Southbelt alliance between the three Southern regions and Northcentral (Middlebelt) is the newest option and most feasible counterbalance to Northern and European military hegemonies. Separatists are mainly emotional ideologues with no means, in terms of population and weapons, to achieve their aspirations.
A restructuring movement needs two thirds to change the constitution, which ordinarily should be four out of six regions. However due to gerrymandering and underhanded practices, the number of States in the four regions are short of a few states, like Taraba and Adamawa which were mischievously added to the Northeast region. Based on legislative votes, the restructuring movement would also include South Kaduna. Therefore a South and Middlebelt alliance was necessary.
At the 2014 National Sovereign Conference, the foundations of the Southbelt alliance was based on common understanding of the collective aspirations of each region. When the Yoruba delegation raise the issue to restructure back to regions, other regions accused Yorubas of having intentions to use it as an avenue to Odua separatism, which they won’t support.
Naturally, the Middlebelt won’t support an alliance that will leave it landlocked, tied to the Northern Caliphates, nor inspire unending separatists wars across the North Central region. Even the seriousness of the Biafran and Niger Delta separatists is in doubt. For example, the Niger Delta won’t leave one hegemonic relationship in Nigeria to be minorities in an Igbo led Biafra state, as it is doubtful whether Biafra would still be attractive as an overpopulated landlocked nation.
Although the Southbelt alliance leadership, the top echelons of Afenifere, Ohaneaze, Pandef and Middlebelt forum, the likes of Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief John Nwodo, Edwin Clark, Wogu and Odumakin show genuine commitment, the realization that the only pragmatic way to move forward has made many Yoruba and Igbo separatists tacitly join the Southbelt alliance for restructuring as a stop gap towards separate nationstates. If unchecked, their overwhelming numbers might turn the noble cause into a marriage of convenience without the resolve that couldn’t face the test of time against established cultural spheres of the Fulani and Western Powers.
Separatists by nature are discriminatory, especially Yoruba and Igbo separatists that spew hatred and harbor misgivings towards themselves and other regions, and essentially prefer to be big fishes in small ponds.
Yoruba seperatists are uncomfortable with the number of Igbo economic migrants that appear overly aggressive and culturally insensitive, and can’t differentiate between South-South and Southeast nor between Northcentral and the core North. The Biafrans are still bitter about the Awolowo role and that of Northcentral Middlebelt soldiers in civil war, and lays claim to South-South territories which angers the Niger Deltans.
Though the Southbelt alliance has made the seperatists restrain their ethnic misgivings in public, it is doubtful whether, if the Southbelt leadership don’t imbue into their followership true love based on cultural linkages, the marriage can match the Northern political alliance whose core is based on well-articulated cultural linkages identified and cultivated over a long period.
It would be easy for the core North to convince the Middlebelt by pointing out that its Southern partners want to leave it landlocked and they have the same aspiration of access to the sea. It would then require only one of the three Southern regions for the North to keep its political dominance by playing their separatists and other short term political aspirations against each other.
For example in 2023, if Yoruba’s can’t be truly their brothers keeper and accept, that if the Presidency returns to the South, it is the turn of the Southeast Igbo region, instead of a free for all contest, the Southbelt alliance will wither.
Without Yorubas and Igbo understanding and appreciating their common genetic and cultural origins, and use the cultural brotherhood as the foundation of their Southbelt alliance, instead of relying solely on collective political aspirations liable to political horse trading, the Southbelt alliance would be vulnerable. Unfortunately due to colonization, westernization and Abrahamist cultural platforms, many believe the cultural disorientation of the Niger-Congo ethnolinguistic family, of which Yoruba and Igbo are the two largest groups, is too far gone for genuine cultural unity to exist, short of a cultural revolution.
It is known that such cultural unity previously existed but the mindset was changed over time. It is also known that public perceptions do change with social engineering techniques. It is a monumental uphill task but must be done if the Original Africans of Southern and Middlebelt are to build a strong sociopolitical platform to achieve their collective aspirations of restructuring.
With the available genetic and linguistic evidence, the Niger Congo ethnolinguistic family aka Original Africans can present a well articulated narrative of their common origins and linkages, which will dwarf the misgivings of contemporary history, and stop the hate of their reflections in each other.
The previous Black movements against slavery and colonization were essentially anti-White and collapsed after Whites reduced their direct visibility. So, an Original African movement shouldn’t be against Afroasians or Europeans but an appreciation and celebration of Original African culture and a platform for articulation and presentation of political and cultural aspirations in an organized structural fashion.
While newspapers were used to educate and agitate against slavery, and radio and television were used against colonization, new media like social media has the ability to let the truth catch up with 1000yr old lies in a short while. As long as there is the understanding by the cultural and political leadership that there is no other way, and finance is available, it is achievable.
Otherwise, without a strong Original African cultural unity, the time consuming political negotiations might test the resolve of the Southbelt restructuring alliance, and derailed by the separatists backed by the teeming numbers of impatient youth. The Yoruba and Igbo separatists might be emboldened to take the blind leap towards secession.
Unfortunately, Yoruba will end up the greatest losers as the Biafran movement will be hampered in its attempt to include the Niger Delta, leaving Yorubas boxed into a lonely but resolute position of the Igbos in 1967. The Middlebelt, Niger Delta and even Igbo will be used to invade, destroy and conquer Yorubaland back into Nigeria since the separatists never showed true cultural love to each other and was based on political marriages of conveniences.
Therefore the South and Middlebelt leaders must engage their separatists intellectually. First, by discussing their separatists objectives, whether the smaller pond will actually improve the economic and sociopolitical wellbeing of the people. Second, by discussing their means and feasibility – whether they have the population and arms to cut territory out of Nigeria. Third, educating them on the cultural linkages and making them realize the truism that charity begins at home and the cultural family.
These issues must be tackled head on and in public.There is no shortcut to true freedom and the universe has forced us to reevaluate and appreciate our cultural foundations before we can ascend as a proud Original African people.