In his Chief Bisi Akande’s interview published in The Nigerian Tribune online, the highly respected Afenifere chieftain, Chief Olu Falae was asked;
Do you see the agitations for self-determination affecting the 2023 elections.
Self-determination is a movement that force cannot stop. In my book again, I addressed it and I gave copies to the federal government but they won’t read it. I said in that book that since the collapse of international communism, the collapse of the Berlin wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, that a new thing has become a dominant force in international relations and that is ethnic self-determination, exemplified, for example in Europe, by the Bosnia Herzegovina war in the very heart of Europe. That area of Europe is called the Balkans. That was the centre point of the holy Roman empire. But in the cause of history, they broke into smaller pieces.
The 19th century was the period to bringing smaller entities to create larger entities in Europe because of the competition for colonialism and access to raw materials in the colonies. That was how Germany evolved under Bismarck. It was Bismarck and others who brought various German principalities together into Germany. It was the age of aggregation. Smaller entities were coming together to be able to compete for colonies and raw materials because industrial revolution was taking place in Europe. But since then, with the collapse of communism, those smaller entities had been agitating for self-identity, especially in the Balkans.
Josip Broz Tito as the President of Yugoslavia, because of superior of statesmanship and love for the people, was able to keep the various entities together. But the moment he died and lesser men took over in Yugoslavia, the agitations started again. Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro people asking for their self determination and then the war started in Bosnia Herzegovina. After 10 years of war and the deaths of thousands of people, Yugoslavia broke into pieces. Seven or eight countries have come out of Yugoslavia alone. Because the leaders of Yugoslavia didn’t have the sense to see that they could not stop self-determination. I called that Resisted Change Model.
There is another model in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was also created during that period of aggregation, but in this period, the Czechs and the Slovaks wanted to go their different ways. The leaders had the sense to sit around the table and negotiate and they broke into two friendly countries till today. We now have Slovakia and Czech Republic. That is the Managed Change Model. They managed the change. Yugoslavia was Resisted Change Model.
Yet, a third model is the British Model. In the 16th, 17th centuries, England and Scotland had been rivals. But by the time of Queen Mary who was the daughter of Henry the Eighth and was married to the Scottish king, so they had both British and Scottish royal blood and they united the two crowns eventually by the Act of 1707, the Act of what they called Permanent Union between England and Scotland.
Of course, Wales has always been close neighbours of England. So, eventually we have the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland. But by the time of Harold Wilson as Prime Minister in England, agitations began especially in Wales and Scotland for self-determination. Harold Wilson organised a referendum in Wales which was passed by a half of one per cent, 50.5 to 49.5 per cent in favour of home rule against the home rule. Today, if you listened to Sky News when they are talking about what Britain is doing about COVID-19, they say the four nations of England, Wales, Scotland and North Ireland. Those were the people who colonised us and we saw them as one monolithic country, United Kingdom under the British crown.
The most unitary of all unitary governments is monarchy because the government finds expression in one single person, the king or a queen. So therefore, it is the most unitary of unitary governments. Today, it is a de facto federation of four nations. Today in Britain, self-determination has lead to the emergence of four nations.
So, in Yugoslavia, in Czechoslovakia, in Britain we can see recent examples of what self-determination has achieved. And it continues in other places including in Nigeria. So it is for us to make a choice now. Do we choose the system of resisted change which is what we have been doing, where we have been saying it is Igboho, it is Kanu, we won’t change? Let us see where that is going to lead us. We must learn from history, otherwise we will make the mistake of history. Do we take the Resisted Change Model or do we go to Czechoslovakia and take the Managed Change Model or the Managed Change Model of Britain? Managed change has A and B. A is Czechoslovakia that resulted in two different countries or B, Britain, they are still together but emerging as different nations. It is up to us. I don’t want to be too academic, but these are facts, contemporary facts. You cannot stop it. If you want true self-determination from Britain, why do you think you can prevent 448 ethnic nationalities from rearranging this country in a way that will be acceptable? No way.
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