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Present-day Nigeria was founded by the British when it officially amalgamated the Northern and the Southern protectorates into one entity in 1914. This would mark the birth of a nation where its inhabitants are divided sharply along ethnic and religious lines. In the north, the inhabitants are predominantly Muslims with Arab civilization influence, despite being Hausas. Although, many studies have claimed that the Fulani migrated from Futa Jallon during the early Islamic conquest of the region in the 18th century. This event led to the hybridization of the Hausa/Fulani as one tribe. However, there are pockets of other ethnic groups aside from the dominant Hausa/Fulani group.
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Around the middle-belt areas, the people belong to the following ethnic groups such as Idoma, Tiv, Ngas, Nupe, Jukun, and many other ethnic groups numbering about 200. Before colonial rule, they practised various indigenous traditional religions. At the advent of colonialism, most were converted to Christianity, even to this day. Although, there are a considerable number of traditional worshippers as well as Muslims.  In the southern part of the country, most of the dwellers belonged to either of the two major ethnic groups, the Yoruba and the Igbo. However, various ethnicities are numbering over a million such as the Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio, Anang, and Itsekiri among others. Like their middle-belt neighbours, they were converted from their indigenous practices into Christianity during colonial rule. However, there are a great number of animists and Muslims living within these spaces. In total, linguistic and historical evidence has shown that the entity called Nigeria is a conglomeration of over 500 ethnicities and over 800 linguistic groups. It was in this potpourri of complex structure that the British held everyone with artificial lattice and called them a nation known as Nigeria. It was this phoney arrangement that set the platform upon which the nation will birth many crises. In 1960, Nigeria became politically free from British rule. It was all joy and ecstasy, full of expectations. However, this joy was going to be cut short when the nation was thrown into a bloody civil war. Following a series of sociopolitical instabilities including two coups of 1966 and the pogrom that saw the death of over 50,000 Igbos in the north, the nation found itself fighting to stay as one in a bloody civil war. The civil war was between Nigeria and Biafra, a secessionist republic consisting of the Igbo people and other sub-Igbo groups and other ethnicities in the present-day Niger Delta. The war ended with the defeat of Biafra, but not without claiming over 3 million military and civilian lives.
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Since the end of the war, it all seemed that the various factors that led to civil war have not been addressed by the political class. Some of these factors include mutual mistrust and hate among various ethnic groups, fears of the minorities over perceived and actual domination by dominant ethnicities, political corruption, and embezzlement, among others. Unfortunately, these problems have placed so many question marks on the nationhood of Nigeria. Experts have warned that Nigeria is bound to disintegrate. The concentration of power at the center has helped buoyed these factors that threaten unity. The failure to address the plethora of problems that threaten the nation’s unity has manifested in a multi-hydra dragon that spits fire on all. In the north, three terrorist groups – ISWAP, Boko Haram, and Bandits – have plunged the region into bloodshed. Several conflict studies have presented gory figures of deaths. According to Statistica, between 2011 and 2021, over 70,000 people have been killed as a result of activities of terrorist groups in North East and North Central. In the oil-rich area of the Niger Delta, which is politically called the South-South, the activities of Niger Delta militants such as the Egbesu Boys and Niger Delta Avengers have led to both losses of life and properties, including environmental pollution and degradation caused by illegal oil bunkering, and general oil exploration. In the eastern region, the Indigenous People of Biafra are threatening to secede from the rest of the country to form their own country called Biafra. The group has deployed both peaceful and violent means to achieve its goal. In recent times, the violent activities of Unknown Gunmen and Eastern Security Network have caused major concerns nationwide.  Conflict theorists and experts have pointed out state failure and corruption as reasons for the rise of multi-headed insurgencies. And at various points, these groups have emerged following perceived and actual socioeconomic and sociopolitical marginalization of their region. Worst still, the national government has confronted each of these insurgencies with the use of brute and has failed on many fronts. 
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Several solutions have been suggested to these painful manifestations of violence across the country. The most prominent has been restructuring. Restructuring means many things to many people. For some, it is the return to regional governments where each region would have its government, control its resources, have its security forces, and have a great deal of autonomy. While for others, it is simply running a confederate system, where there will be various independent nations with a weak central government. In the same vein, some of having defined as it bringing government to the grassroots, hence, granting autonomy to local governments. Another definition is the zoning of the presidency among the six zones. Whatever definitions that exist, restructuring Nigeria is imminent.  The question remains what is the best form of restructuring. In this article, I want to suggest that we either adopt the system of the United Kingdom or Switzerland. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Each country has it is own legislative, judiciary, and executive arms, yet they meet at the Palace of Westminster, where the central government operates by de jure and elect the prime minister. Each country sends its representatives to Westminster.  On the other hand, the country of Switzerland can serve as an inspiration to the Nigerian problem. The country of Switzerland is made of various ethnic groups, which are distributed into 26 cantons. Swiss politics is played out at three levels, the Confederation, the cantons, and the communes. Each has the autonomy to decide on certain matters according to the principle of subsidiarity: a decision is made at a higher level only when it is beyond the powers of the lower level to do so. The head of state is the federal president; the post is purely ceremonial, and by tradition rotates annually among the members of the Federal Council (the cabinet). To illustrate further, there is a president and six vice presidents – from various cantons. These seven people form the cabinet, and the presidency is rotated among them. In conclusion, the restructuring of Nigeria cannot be negotiated. It is a middle ground for those who want secession and those that insist on the nation remaining a single unit. Featured Image Source: ThisNigeria
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This article was first published on 24th May 2022


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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