By Mfon Uyeh
The indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria, as desired by the founding fathers, is boldly captured in the country’s constitution.
Over the years, successive administrations have tried to ensure that the country remains an indivisible entity.
In fact, at different fora, especially in government circles when discussions are focused on matters of national integration and unity, most participants are always unanimous in concluding that Nigeria is better off as one indivisible entity.
Contrary to the position of those who want the country to continue as an inseparable entity, there are groups and individuals who are clamoring for separation.
To such persons or groups, continued coexistence as one nation is no longer desirable.
The agitation for self-determination is largely pronounced in the South Eastern and South Western part of the country; the major areas where the agitation has gathered momentum and attracted sympathy and support from a good number of persons.
It should be noted however that separatist agitations or movements are not limited to Nigeria; they are found in some other countries of the world.
There are some countries that came under separatist agitations in the past while some are still contending with the situation, just like Nigeria is doing now.
As a matter of fact, the constitution of Nigeria frowns at such separatist tendency, hence the recent steps taken by the federal government to go, even beyond the shores of the country, and apprehend the arrowheads of separatist movements to face litigation.
While the zeal of past and present administrations to keep the country as one indivisible entity is highly commendable, one is of the opinion that it has become imperative for the leadership to painstakingly examine the causes of agitation for secession.
However, studies have established that a feeling of alienation and dissatisfaction among some sections of a country easily triggers agitation for separation.
Research has also confirmed that most the uprisings are by-products of injustice and abuse of power.
In other words, problems of inequality, economic deprivation, and non-adherence to the rule of law, especially the principle of federal character, are the possible reasons why some people appear hell-bent on self-determination.
It can be said that it was in an attempt to forestall the feeling of alienation, injustice, and deprivation in the country that a conscious effort was made in the constitution to give every section of the country a sense of belonging.
To keep the urge for secession at bay and promote national unity, as well as command national loyalty, the constitution insists that the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies must reflect the federal character of Nigeria.
Apart from the composition of the government of the federation, the constitution states definitively, that the conduct of government’s affairs must also be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of the country.
What that implies is that there shall be no predominance of persons from a particular state, sectional or ethnic groups in a particular government or any of its agencies.
Now, the question is how well has a government, past and present, adhered to the principle of federal character in the conduct of its affairs or composition of government?
Whatever the answer to that question may be, the government should ensure strict adherence to the provisions of the constitution in the composition and conduct of its affairs.
Also, there should be conscious efforts to assuage feelings of alienation, marginalization, and injustice, and ensure that access to privileges is not lopsided, even as actions, policies, and programmes of government should not stoke ethnic solidarity.
Such moves have the tendency to deter or neutralize the quest for secession.
To further sweep the issues that trigger demand for self-determination under the carpet while clinging to litigation may not be the best bet in the long run.
Government should therefore swiftly address those factors that trigger separatist agitations bearing in mind that most Nigerians believe strongly in the indivisibility and indissolubility of the country which of course must be based on the principles of freedom, equity, and justice for all citizens.