WE ARE NIGERIANISTS NOT JUST NIGERIANS!
On 22 April, 1990, Late Major Gideon Orkar in an attempted coup, made a broadcast that North-Eastern and North-Western parts of Nigeria had been excised from ‘main’ Nigeria.
In the early hours of the morning of 22nd of April, my colleagues and I in the student/youth vanguard movement, Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria (PYNN) were in a consultative meeting with the Leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). This was at the Nelson Mandela secretariat headed by its President, Opeyemi Bamidele. I was part of the immediate past NANS Exco that just handed over to the Opeyemi’s leadership. Some excited students intoxicated by the repeated broadcast by Orkar who had seized control from Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FCRN) in Ikoyi Lagos, (when Lagos was still the seat of power), rushed to NANS Secretariat calling for support of the coupist.
Some of the students were arguing that after all, Orkar had offered NANS and the Youth representatives’ seats in his provisional ruling council. Of course in that era, every political group was wooing the leadership of the student’s association which at that time after the two weeks long anti-sap uprising, became effectively the main opposition movement in the country in alliance with a section of the radical intelligentstia and radical bar.
The students in record numbers came with assorted maps of Orkar’s new Nigeria, chanting solidarity and war songs. They were specifically infuriated by counter broadcast at the Bendel Radio by Colonel Odeleke, they demanded leadership from NANS to storm the broadcast station in Benin and chase Odeleke and his troops away from the Bendel State Broadcasting Station.
After brief deliberation, we took a position against the coup, especially as it concerns the excising of the North-East and North-West of Nigeria. Our major task was how to contain the students in their numbers who were chanting ‘ACTION’.
It was my lot to bring these students under control and skillfully divert their energies to our point of view, it was a tough call as Bamidele approached me and said “Comrade you have the popularity as the hero of the last uprising, they will trust you.” God helped me, I did the job; we contained the students ,the NANS opposed the coup, rejected the offer of seat in Orkar’s ruling council, the coup collapsed.
Why did we do what we did?
We did so because we are Patriotic Nigerians; who despite our opposition to the military government of the day believed in the indissolubility and indivisibility of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We are not just Nigerians who love their country, we are Nigerianists, who are fundamentally committed to the preservation of the unity of Nigeria.
As it was then in 1990, our position on the unity of the country remains the same, we know that our country faces enormous challenges, but this is not because we are multi-ethnic; America and India are multi-ethnic too. We believe that whatever it is that is wrong with Nigeria can be corrected within Nigeria by devolving powers to the sub-national components of the Nigerian state (Local and State Government) for a more efficient federation.
With increased visionary leadership, elected into various offices and increasing enlightenment and attitudinal change of the citizens, the latent potential of this great Nation will be transformed into concrete reality.
We are firm believers in the possibility of the greatness of Nigeria, Africa’s best hope; that is why we are NIGERIANISTS.