A time to reason, differently
Inasmuch as I believe in resource control, I believe the extent of the control should not go beyond the borders of one’s state into another; even to the sea. While trying to understand why the new phrase “ethnic jingoism” became popular and why the threat of Nigeria’s secession, I came to realize that most people advocating for such actions are myopic about their views, ignorant or simply misinformed. Secessionists believe in sudden acquisition of massive wealth in terms of oil acreage to their states on the eve of a division. Yes, this is true, but there is a limit. I tried to understand why China and Japan were at each other’s necks about Diayou/ Senkaku islands and why Nigeria could claim oil blocks close to Sao Tome and Principe, despite it being closer to Sao Tome than Nigeria and what I found enlightened me. The United Nations upon its creation understood that territorial waters will easily become a subject of disputes within nations with littoral access and tried to solve the problem from the onset by UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. In its solution, countries agreed that the distance you can claim into the sea is totally dependent on the size (in length or breadth depending on the littoral status) of that country. So, Nigeria for instance, claims up to 200 nautical miles into the Gulf of Guinea because of its size, 72% of which is regarded as north as a part of the continental shelf. To explain this, if there was no north, there wouldn’t have been a Bonga deep sea well! The north however, does not have access to the Atlantic Ocean and cannot claim any right to it except it is joined to the south. The south, with its access to the sea, like Sao Tome, cannot claim more than a few kilometres into the sea because it has no continental shelf…. most of which has no substantial oil. For countries to enjoy the benefits of such access to the sea, they must work together just like Nigeria and Sao Tome formed the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) which allows both countries the right to explore and exploit under certain sharing formulas. Our exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the sea are interwoven. Maybe if Sao Tome were a bigger country, we would have been at loggerheads.
Some jingoists and secessionists just for the hatred of the union called Nigeria will prefer that the country separates and everyone loses, but we must ask ourselves if this is best. We all know that Nigeria, as an entity, has only benefitted the ruling class, most of who are at the ongoing National Conference to decide our future. The year marking our 100 years of history has turned out to be the most dreadful, discounting the civil war. But despite this, we are better united than 100 fragments that may breakout should Nigeria cease to exist. Let’s ponder: would the Ijaw, Igbo, Ikwerre, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Ogoni, etc, agree to live together in harmony without accusations of marginalization? Would the Hausa, Fulani, Tiv, Idoma, Bachama, Jukun, Nupe, Kanuri, and the other 400 tribes agree to live together? The answer would be more of scepticism than affirmation. I personally believe Nigeria will break into a minimum of 10 countries should that happen…and another civil war, like that of South Sudan, could ensure. Resource control will have two effects on the country; most states will have no choice but to develop their resources by doing the hard work necessary to build a country and a few others will fold their legs and watch others work while enjoying oil, gold or solid minerals in their backyards for perhaps another 50 years. I think we are better off that way.
No state is too bare not to produce resource; it’s just that our leaders have been too lazy to do any work. If Israel, with its arid lands can export agricultural products, Saudi Arabia, the desert kingdom, can also export food and perfume oils; UAE can export tourism, then what are we complaining about? Free access to oil? Some would argue that the Arabs are lucky to have oil; I disagree. History tells us that before the discovery of oil, the supposedly lazy Arabs travelled the deserts of the Middle East to trade spices, perfumes and other things from the Orient to Europe on camel back!
If Nigeria disintegrates, what remains of it may not be able to survive the catastrophe that would follow. But if it does survive, there will be a lot of farming to do because that will be the only worthwhile source of livelihood.
Jauro wrote from Abuja<email@example.com>