“Since 1914, the British government has been trying to make the Nigerian people into one country but, the Nigerian people are historically different…the Nigerian people have shown no willingness to unite. Her unity is a British invention.”
– Tafawa Balewa (1948)
In 1960, Tafawa Balewa became Nigeria’s prime minister. His administration did not take any legal moves to effect a disintegration of Nigeria, despite the ethnic turmoil of the first republic.
“Nigeria is not a nation, it is a mere geographical expression. There are no Nigerians in the same sense as the ‘English’, ‘Welsh’ or the ‘French’, the word Nigeria is a mere geographical appellation to distinguish those who live within the boarders of Nigeria and those who do not”
– Obafemi Awolowo (1947).
Obafemi Awolowo in would eventually be the brain that brought an end to the civil war (the closest Nigeria came to dissolution) when he suggested a food blockade to the east. He would also later contest for the presidency under an ideology of socialism. Secession appeared to no longer be on the table for him.
“It is better for us and our admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, then the experience of the Democratic Republic of Congo will be a child’s play if ever it comes to our turn to play such a tragic role.”
– Nnamdi Azikiwe (1964)
Azikiwe would later redraw his support for section it’s Biafra as the war ragged on. The once former Nigerian president, turned Biafra emissary would advocate fora united Nigeria.
A united Nigeria is real whether you like it or not.
However I do wonder why whatever it is that keeps Nigeria united has not been able to ensure we have good leadership. Just food for thought.