Urhobo Historical Society

South-South Kinship within the Nigerian Nation


By EseOghene Ovie



Were the pundits proven wrong? So it seems, as they have been awed by the reality of a southern president. We might therefore have to reappraise the role of pundits in a nation like ours with its mixed political heritage and diverse cultural leanings. In a nation like Nigeria, the pundits are most definitely those with the loudest gongs and voices. These most times come from the predominant ethnic groups who by virtue of their persistent and somewhat ubiquitous drumming ,reinforced by their numeric superiority make us believe they were always right in throwing up new statistic and criteria for choosing those who lead and the led. More often than not they have launched an albeit deliberate attempt to prematurely cauterize our minds of the ills we suffer as southerners and particularly Niger deltans because we haven’t lent a voice to the National discourse on our heritage within a Nigerian nation. Our heritage as it has to do with leading and the led, in a country that depends on the resources from our soil for its sustenance.

The tendency to believe the persistence of a lie has been the bane of all written history and with oral history as mostly practiced by Africans bearing the brunt of the blame and fueling this historical bias. We have been traditionally low thinkers as we have been made from innate cultural leanings not to question what we hear and to be totally receptive to the ethos, norms and lore of our elders however erroneous those beliefs are sometimes. This has created a warping of our collective mindset that will take only the most astute and sagacious of individuals to free their thinking from the tethers of believing the stories that relate to us, the way things are usually done as against  the way things should be done taking into cognizance the realities of our times. Speaking of the realities of our times, we must not be misled into thinking this is an allusion to something that has just been thrown up in our most recent history. We are also referring to a reality that has been in existence from our pre-colonial days, through colonial times to this period of our professed “enlightened self rule and avowed enfranchisement.” These realities for the people of  South-South Nigeria are very much in line with what I had described earlier as the rule by an “elder class” within a system that didn’t court any kind of organized resistance to whatever falsity was being peddled as fed to us from history. A history poke marked with incoherence from the nature of their translation, which we have seen has been mainly oral and an unashamed acceptance of what our rights are or how they are defined by people with no kinship or relationship whatsoever with the South-South, save for their chance, imbalanced and accidental conjoining into the political space called Nigeria. Within the South-South, I am particularly interested in the way truth has been measured and received amongst the people of the Niger delta.

But for a few sparks here and there and scattered over time in a mostly untraceable manner we cannot but allude to a dearth of facts and figures that are supposed to throw light on our personages and interaction with the rest of our cultural space. The same cant be said of the Yorubas, Igbos or Hausas who have by the blessing of favorable demographics and their numeric strength been in control of the means of information dissemination. However disparate the sources of their information, they have with constant rehashing and reiteration formed the most of their thoughts and beliefs into an enduring monument to their credit be it true or false. Since the aim of this write up is not to cast aspersions on any person or group but to question the approach of the people of the Niger delta to stating their case in the most civil of ways, we have to begin to ask ourselves pertinent questions as they apply to our national space and our hitherto recorded history. The need for this is not far removed from the realization of the present being a precursor of the future and a reflection of the past. The cause and effect nature of things should lead us to an all out embrace of the prerogative and urgent imperative upon us to be more proactive in analyzing and properly disseminating information that is constructive in pushing the Niger delta interest forward and to the fore front of our national consciousness.

Bearing in mind the seeming acceptance of the need to remain in Nigeria as one nation, we are led to the necessary conclusion that for a disparate group of people like that found within the borders of Nigeria to coexist in harmony, there must be an understanding of the shared values(if any) amongst our cultures that foster this harmonious coexistence and the universally held truths that every human being must subscribe to by virtue of our singular beginnings; if mankind’s anthropological evolution from a common source be accepted. It is therefore only natural that every people must be somehow led and have at its behest a followership that agrees with the leaders it has chosen(if indeed it chooses them).divine right of rule might not be an idea we all willingly subscribe to(at least not amongst men, with the political revolutions in most of the monarchical countries of Europe ,Asia and Africa bearing this point out),we might at least agree to the almost universal urge to  look at the skies to a supreme being for help, solace and direction as is common in every race tribe and culture from extant recordable history of mankind.

So a nation like Nigeria must be made to accept its diversity and the natural laws of justice that pertain to representation, fairness and equity. Representation by virtue of the fact that the South-South collectively isn’t a minority as many will want us to believe ,fairness because from the South-South flows the means and lifeblood of our nations sustenance, and equity because we from the Niger delta are in no way inferior and by any standards we are not less prepared to lead in this nation Nigeria. As inopportune as we might have placed ourselves at the mercies of another mans pen, it is never too late to start now to reconstruct our history in a manner most forceful and with an approach that is wholly engaging in the types of discourse that emanates from the south. a look at the political map will find doted across Nigeria’s leadership timeline a majority of individuals  from the north, a few from the south west (who I must say attained such positions by the sleight of history),fewer even from the east(who still bear the most vocal resistance from certain quarters to their rising up to the office of President)and none from the South-South. So therefore if a people are as good as the leaders they choose and if leadership is the oil that lubricates the wheels of any nation, our stuttering, rickety and mostly out of joint national heritage must have been fueled by these same leaders.

Are we now making allusion to the South providing the messiah that the country needs? Definitely not; we don’t produce messiahs, but we can definitely change the way that part of the country is perceived by throwing up a style of leadership that is different from the norm. With the urgency of nationhood staring us in the face, we have been handed the best opportunity to prove to an unbelieving populace that things can be done differently. The onus is on us to provide credible and reasonable leadership. When we are silent we by default agree to the rule of silence is consent. Other parts of the country do not have more credible or enlightened individuals than we have in the south, some times even it is southerners and particularly Niger deltans who have served in those administrations that have distinguished such governments. If Nigeria must truly be considered a nation that caters for all its own, the time is now to also embrace the leadership of a southern president and not concoct schemes that further push a wedge into our consciousness, with the south-south being an integral part of this nation and particularly re-emphasizing that up until this time, we the people of South-South Nigeria remain a people  most marginalized.