In The People’s Republic published 1968 Awolowo wrote and I quote: “Since these principles were first publicly enunciated in Thoughts on Nigerian Constitution about two years ago, several events happened which, rather than weaken, have tremendously strengthened their validity. In Britain the Scottish Nationalists are ground fast; and the likelihood is greater now than ever before that the Scottish people may have an autonomous Government of their own under a federal or quasi-federal Constitution of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. If the Scottish Nationalists succeed in their aspirations, the Welsh will certainly not be left behind. In Belgium, the language feud between the Flemings and the Walloons has assumed alarming and frightful proportion. It has threatened the continued existence of the five-centuries-old University of Louvain; and it has brought down one Belgian Government. There are now strong movements in Belgium for the partition of the country into Flemish- and French-speaking Sovereign States, and for the union of the two linguistic groups in a Belgian federation. In Spain, the minority ethnic groups there have begun what appears to be a determined and concerted agitation for regional autonomy within a Spanish federation. Right here in Africa, those who advocate federalism for Sudan have emerged, in recent elections, as the strongest political party in the southern part of the country. Sudanese leaders who hold contrary views will only succeed in delaying, but will certainly fail in preventing the ultimate evolution of Sudan as a federation of the various ethnic and linguistic units which inhabit the country. I realize that many multi-lingual and multi-national countries continue to be governed and administered with a great measure of stability under a unitary form of constitution. But I am of the opinion that the stability enjoyed by these countries with inappropriate constitutions is false and an illusion; and that such stability is possible, mainly because there is, temporarily and for reasons which can be ascertained and demonstrated, an absence of national consciousness and ferment among the ethnic units which compose these countries. And since time and the forces of dialectical progression are not on the side of any fundamentally defective system, I predict that every multi-lingual or multi-national country with a unitary constitution must either eventually have a federal constitution based on the principles which I have enunciated, or disintegrate, or be perennially afflicted with disharmony and instability.” Awolowo wrote those words in 1968. Later this year, in September, after over 700 years of Rule Britannia, the people of Scotland will be voting on whether to remain part of or become independent from the rest of the UK. Belgium today has one of the most radical federal constitutions in the world with the following four articles as its openings: Article 1: Belgium is a Federal State made up of communities and regions. Art. 2: Belgium is made up of three communities: The French Community, the Flemish Community and the German Community. Art. 3: Belgium is made up of three regions: The Walloon region, the Flemish region and the Brussels region. Art. 4: Belgium has four linguistic regions: The French-speaking region, the Dutch-speaking region, the bilingual region of Brussels Capital and the German-speaking region. Each commune of the Kingdom is part of one of these linguistic regions.” On 9 July 2011, after one of the longest civil wars in Africa’s history, which started in 1955, South Sudan became independent from Sudan. Had he been alive, I am sure Chief Awolowo would have appreciated how much he was proved wrong, namely that in all the cases he mentioned, the outcome had been more extreme than he predicted. No doubt the old man is smiling in his grave and probably wishing Nigeria, as presently structured, well. I am not aware that he predicted the emergence of Czech and Slovakia, nor the balkanization of Yugoslavia with the attendant human misery nor what became of the mighty USSR or that Eritrea will separate from Ethiopia. Awolowo walked his talk when he became the premier of the old Western region. He was a militant advocate of the restructuring of Nigeria on states based on linguistic compatibility and cultural continuum. -General Alani Akinrinade.
Posted on: Sat, 01 Mar 2014 19:55:25 +0000
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