Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a political entity. Significant secessions have been: Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and Algeria leaving France amongst others. Secession, a process which commences once a group proclaims a declaration of independence, has one goal: the creation of a new entity independent from the one it seceded from. Such act will definitely have implications. This article examines 5 implications of secession in Nigeria.
In 1914, the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria were amalgamated to form the single colony of Nigeria. Looking back now, many think the amalgamation wasn’t done for the benefit of Nigeria but the then British empire. Nigeria was programmed to fail, from the beginning. It was created on faulty foundations of deceit along ethnic, religious, demographic and geographic positions. The British started it with their conspiracy to set the North against the South with cooked census and demographic figures (“Can Nigeria break up?” Vanguard, September 16, 2013, available at https://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/09/can-nigeria-break-up/amp/. Accessed July 8, 2021).
The tragic events which led to the Nigerian Civil War further showed that Nigeria had several tribal differences and enmities. With these, agitations for secession were bound to rise. Ever since, the possibility of Nigeria splitting has grown over the years.
Agitations around Biafra have drowned out other separatist agitations giving the impression that Biafra only, threatens the unity of Nigeria. The truth is that there are separatist agitations in virtually every area in the country. Among the Yoruba, there is a direct call for the Oduduwa Republic. In the North, there are intermittent demands for Arewa Republic.
In the Niger Delta, there is a demand for the Niger Delta Republic too. Although this shows Nigeria might not remain united so for long, the implications of secession in Nigeria might equally be devastating.
The implications of secession in Nigeria
Secessionist movements and their supporters usually claim the separation will be for the benefit of the newly independent region. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most times, the end result of such movements is war. A war is the worst potential consequence of an attempt at secession. This was what happened in Nigeria when Biafra attempted to secede from the nation. There have been examples of successful secessions such as Algeria leaving France and Ireland leaving the United Kingdom. This means there is a possibility of new independent regions seceding successfully from Nigeria and without war. However, it will be devastating if there’s another civil war.
Destruction of infrastructure
Violence has broken out in several parts of Nigeria due to the rising agitations for secessions. This has led to the destruction of several infrastructures be it government or private. If an attempt at secession ends up in a war, such destruction will be on a massive scale.
Refugee camps and Internally displaced persons
If a secession attempt results in a war, there is bound to be refugee camps and IDP’s. This will be due to the general insecurity of wartime and the fact that places of residence have been destroyed. Although this possibility is not desirable, it might be inevitable.
Outbreak of diseases
A war will lead to the loss of lives and properties, the displacement of persons and the outbreak of diseases. When an epidemic sets in, it makes matters worse and complicated. With such massive health challenges, the whole purpose of establishing a new entity might be defeated. If in the newly seceded nation there are no people to rule, the nation cannot be said to exist.
Whether secession leads to economic loss depends largely on the economic policies adopted by the new nation. Estonia and Slovakia are examples of nations that prospered after secession by adopting better economic policies than they had before. Notwithstanding, improved economic policy is far from being an inevitable result of secession.
Transition costs could also lead to economic loss for newly seceded nations. Transition costs usually come up as a result of setting up a new government and dismantling the old regime. The costs will be particularly high if the pre-existing state tries to resist the secession by force. With the rise in agitations for secession, violence has broken out in several parts of Nigeria. This alone has affected Nigeria’s economy. If eventually, new nations secede from Nigeria, there is bound to be some economic losses.
While much has been written on why nations breakup, little is known about its consequences. The uncertainty surrounding secession should be enough reason for anyone to stop and think before attempting it. Looking at the implications of secession in Nigeria examined above, it is advisable to avoid unnecessary secession in Nigeria.