United States of Nigeria?




There were many of them, but the most interesting suggestion to come out of Nigeria in the past week was one by President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina to change this country’s name from Federal Republic of Nigeria [FRN] to United States of Nigeria, USN. Speaking when he received the 2024 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership, Adesina urged that the country be restructured and also rebranded. No wonder that this man is Africa’s top banker. This suggestion of his will solve many problems all at once. It will immediately end the Japa syndrome; why should people hide in trucks to cross the Sahara and board dinghies to cross the Mediterranean in order to get to Europe and USA when they are already living in USN which, alphabetically speaking, is higher than USA?

All the people who have been advocating for a restructuring of Nigeria in the last fifteen to twenty years have been short on the specifics. Beyond shouting themselves hoarse, no one has as yet tabled a blueprint of how the country should look like when it is restructured. Or, as some people say, when the 1999 Constitution is replaced by a “people’s constitution.”

Well, changing our name to USN will immediately provide us with a ready template to follow. To begin with, we can remake the preamble to our 1999 Constitution in American style and say, “We the People of Nigeria, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of Nigeria.” In case some people are still not satisfied, we can arrange for a US-style Constitutional Convention to adopt it, with Lokoja standing in for Philadelphia.

You know what? We have to increase the number of our states from 36 to 50 in order to give real meaning to a United States of Nigeria. There are some people in Nigeria who have never rested since 1996 and are still advocating for the creation of more states. This is their chance. Except for West Virginia, USA did not  create new states out of existing ones. Instead, it gobbled up new territories variously from British, French and Spanish colonies, from Mexico, and from Native American lands, in the process killing all the bison. In order to become a real USN, we can gobble up some Yoruba-speaking parts of Benin Republic, quickly admit Cameroun’s secessionist Ambazonia region, regain Bakassi Peninsula from Cameroun, the Browntree Agreement be damned; seize all the Lake Chad tumbus from Chad and cross the Gulf of Guinea to swallow up Sao Tome and Principe, AU Charter be damned. In case the UN Security Council passes a resolution against us, we can borrow a leaf from Israel and ignore it.

If it is capital of USA’s Washington, District of Columbia, we already have our Abuja, Federal Capital Territory. Because they located their own on the Potomac river, we located our own beside Aso Rock. They boast of White House, Capitol and US Supreme Court; we have our Three Arms Zone. They boast of Lincoln Memorial; we have our Eagle Square. If it is Pentagon, we can quickly rename our Ministry of Defence’s Ship House to Octagon, which is more than Pentagon. We should also rename our Central Bank of Nigeria to United States of Nigeria Federal Reserve. That will immediately make the naira to reach one-to-one parity with the US dollar.

My only fear for Adesina’s suggestion is that changing our name to USN will not end IPOB’s secessionist agitation. It could instead fuel it, because some people will go into History books and discover that from 1861 to 1865, there was something called the Confederate States of America, which pulled out of the United States. We could therefore have a Confederate States of Nigeria [CSN] pulling out of USN, with Simon Ekpa as the Nigerian Jefferson Davis.

Which reminds me. If transforming into a United States of Nigeria will not satisfy some advocates of restructuring, we should consider changing into a Dominion instead, a la Dominion of Canada. Since 1963 when we became a Republic, rancor has always followed our choice of Heads of State, so it will be a good idea to go and beg King Charles to resume as our Head of State from where his mother left off. We can then change our name to Dominion of Nigeria.

Or maybe a confederation will satisfy some Nigerians. We can borrow from the Swiss Confederation and change our name to the Nigerian Confederation, which will take care of many things such as resource control. If it is Alp mountains and Lake Geneva that Switzerland has, we also have Obudu and Zuma mountains and a portion of Lake Chad. If it is Swiss Army knife, who said our armed robbers cannot make it in their underground small arms factories? Even the watches that Switzerland was famous for, there was this story on CNN many years ago that “time is running out on the Swiss watch industry.”

If we don’t want to restructure into a Confederation, at least we can borrow a leaf from Commonwealth of Australia and rename ourselves Commonwealth of Nigeria. Why not? If it is because Australia has a mostly arid mainland and some quirky islands such as Tasmania, we also have some arid mainland areas and a lot of Lake Chad islets presently on lease to ISWAP and Boko Haram. We can rename parts of Benue State to Outback so as to match Australia, and we can bring in some kangaroos, duck-billed platypus, spiny echidnas and even some saltwater crocodiles to create the true feel of a Commonwealth. Since our Navy has not been able to stop oil theft, if we release a few saltwater crocodiles in the Bayelsa creeks, who will go there to puncture a pipeline?

Or even, we can borrow the idea from the Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] that was created when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. It was a most peaceful arrangement; the former Soviet Republics all agreed that Russia should take all the USSR embassies around the world, take all the nukes, and also take the USSR’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council. It is a very good lesson in peaceful resolution and if we become the Commonwealth of Nigeria, we will learn to share critical things peacefully. Not like now, when we bicker over everything from census to IGR to VAT to onshore/offshore dichotomy to open cattle grazing to selection of Super Eagles squad to uploading election results on IReV.

Or maybe we can go to the heart of Europe, borrow a system from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and rename ourselves Grand Duchy of Nigeria. Why, we could quickly build our GDP per capita to become one of the highest in the world, but first we must agree on which family will provide the Grand Duke. My own suggestion will be the family of King Jaja of Opobo, or if we can’t agree on that, let us assemble the families of the greatest chiefs we have had in Nigeria’s history and arrange them in a line of succession like that of the Olubadan. When one dies, every other one moves up the line of until it comes to his turn. Emi l’okan, kind of.

Or maybe we should go the whole hog, borrow from Saudi Arabia and create a Kingdom of Nigeria. The beauty of this system is that unlike the Grand Duke who is a ceremonial monarch, we will have a King who is an absolute monarch. As soon as we become a Kingdom, our oil reserves could go up from a paltry 37 billion to 266 billion barrels. Even though Kingdom of Saudi Arabia produces about 11 million barrels of crude oil a day, it has enough reserves to last another 221 years at current production levels, all because it is a Kingdom. I think we should try it; with that kind of money, no one will attend Federation Account Allocation Committee meetings again because states will still be struggling to spend last year’s money.

Actually, if not because the British came here and disrupted our local plans, we would have an Empire of Nigeria by now. The great Kwararrafa armies would by now have subdued most of the territories and one mighty Aku Uka would be ruling from Wukari. Our own will by now have rivalled the Roman Empire, British Empire, Persian Empire, Mongol Empire, Empire of Japan which existed until 1947 and all the Islamic Caliphates. We will only assure our African neighbours that unlike the Empire of Japan, we will not go sacking territories and raping women, such as the 1937 Rape of Nanking, when Japanese troops raped an estimated two million Chinese women within a month.

Maybe we could borrow a leaf from the Persians, one of the world’s oldest civilisations, and create an Islamic Republic of Nigeria, complete with holy cities, Revolutionary Guards and centrifuges for enriching uranium. But since Christian Association of Nigeria [CAN] is certain to make a howl of protest, we could do an amalgam, say, create an Islamic Republic/Holy See of Nigeria, complete with a synagogue for Nigerian Judaists, an Amritsar-style Golden Temple for Nigerian Sikhs and an Angkor Wat-style temple for Nigerian Buddhists.

I know that Nigerian Leftists are fretting at all these suggestions. The only thing that will satisfy them is for us to borrow a leaf from China and transform into a Peoples Republic of Nigeria. A one-party state is better for us. What did we gain when, a decade ago, INEC had more than 90 political parties in its register? Okay, which party should we install into the role of the Communist Party of China? Is it APC, PDP, LP, NNPP, APGA or which one? Which one of them has anything resembling an ideology, a towering founding father such as Mao Zedong, a glorious history such as The Long March, a 65-year experience in governance, Confucian-like ethics including death penalty for corruption, and a national development program with laser focus such as CPC’s and Xi Jinping’s?

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