By Abdulrahman A. Abdulrauf
A federal lawmaker, Sani Zoro Mohammed, has said more than any individual or group, late Head of State, General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi should be blamed for the present woes the nation faces in its 57 years of independence, leading to incessant calls for restructuring.
He also cautioned advocates of restructuring, warning that embarking on such ventures might lead to the country’s breakup in line with the current global order.
Mohammed, who represents Gumel/Magatari/SuleTankarkar/Gagarawa Federal Constituency of Jigawa state, believed the reversal of the regional system to unitary structure by Aguiyi-Ironsi, caused the setbacks the nation encounters in its close to sixty years of independence.
He made the positions known in an interview with our reporter in Abuja.
He noted that the handling of the military coup which swept off crème de la crème of the northern political and military class by the administration generated a lot of bad blood which was to later lead to series of military putsch.
In the Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu-led coup of 1966, notable northerners like Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello among others were killed.
Also killed from the region during the putsch were Brigadier Zakariay Maimalari, Kur Muhammad and Abogo Largema, both lieutenant colonels.
Asked where the nation started getting it wrong, Mohammed declared: “This started when some misguided military officers sabotaged constitutional democracy by staging a coup and murdered or wiped off the entire political and military elite of a regional government which made the whole coup a one-sided affair.
“And to worsen matters, when the coup failed and Gen. Ironsi came to power, instead of him to do the needful which were just two things –get those plotters arrested according to military law, he refused but wanted to do something else, and that gave the impression he was a collaborator.
“And secondly, he now operated a unitary government instead of allowing the regional government to continue, imposed unitary government under Decree Number One. And that Decree Number One, I have never seen a decree that has been so draconian and barbaric in the history of military rule.
“One, it referred and conferred the title of Supreme Commander on General Ironsi, and at the same time made the Supreme Military Council subordinate to him. In other words, the SMC which under Gowon and other two other military rules and even elsewhere, was the main executive council at which policies were made.
“Under Decree Number One, it was just to serve as advisory body to the Supreme Commander. Because of the bad intention of Aguiyin-Ironsi administration , because of the bad standard exhibited by a faction of the Nigerian elite , which clearly was intended to sabotage the progress of a regional independence under a federal government, Nigeria slipped into a civil war.
“And under the civil war, strategies that were purely military in nature and undemocratic ,had to be deployed in order to keep the country one, one of which was the creation of states, while some economic measures were now deployed because Nigeria was now operating a war budget. After the three-year war which was actually a war of resources, Nigeria again under the military, could not revert to democracy as there were coups and counter coups.
“The consequence, therefore, was the abandonment of all development plans and also brought to the fore the issue of the ethnic and divisive character of the Nigerian military itself, which also rubbed off on its civilian counterpart. It led to policy cancellation, reversals and summersault. That explains why our journey has been turbulent and in complete contradistinction to what the colonial masters left behind.”
So, by my own reckoning, Nigeria has been grappling with the problem of leadership and that is why its contemporaries that got independence almost at the same time, and even when hopes were placed on Nigeria because of its advantage in terms of size, location, resources, and in terms of its leaders, well-cultivated elite were stranded and detained by same issues as we had some 57 years ago,” he further added.
On the call for restructuring, Mohammed, a former President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, cited the situations in the old Soviet Union, Iraq, Spain and the recent decision of US President, Donald Trump to erect a Mexican wall, warning that such might be lot of the nation in view of the hidden separatist agenda of an ethnic group.
“Personally, from a reflection, if we drive this agitation agenda beyond brief, I can’t see Nigeria surviving it. I say this with all sense of responsibility. First of all, you discover that the recent international relation system is now undergoing a major change.
“One, it is due to the appearance of President Trump erecting the Mexican Wall. Before him, there were agitations, I won’t say breakup, that has signalled the political and economic blocks that were heading towards merger of a very strong block like the European Union. But Britain has exited from the European Union and so many analysts had predicted that eventually, other powerful countries in the forum would follow.”