By Ndidi Uwechue
Although indigenous peoples of Nigeria curse Frederick Lugard, the Amalgamator, before him was an equally unjust man also with racial supremacist views: the merchant George Dashwood Taubman Goldie who formed the Royal Niger Company (RNC), originally the United African Company then the National African Company. Even before obtaining a Royal Charter that gave Goldie and his company enormous powers, Goldie had managed to get Treaties signed by native Traditional Rulers. Some would have signed those Treaties under threats (“by gunpoint”) but some would have happily signed them for personal gain (ie the willing tools). By these Treaties, Traditional Rulers handed over the Sovereignty of their People to Goldie and his RNC. Quoting from Royal Niger Company by nigerianscholars.com:
“Even before gaining its charter, the [Royal Niger] Company signed treaties with local leaders which granted it broad Sovereign powers. One 1885 treaty read:
We, the undersigned King and Chiefs […] with the view to the bettering of the condition of our country and people, do this day cede to the National Africa Company (Limited), their heirs and assigns, forever, the whole of our territory […] We also give the said National African Company (Limited) full power to settle all native disputes arising from any cause whatever, and we pledge ourselves not to enter into any war with other tribes without the sanction of the said National Africa Company (Limited).
We also understand that the said National African Company (limited) have full power to mine, farm, and build in any portion of our territory. We bind ourselves not to have any intercourse with any strangers or foreigners except through the said national African Company (Limited), and we give the said National African Company (Limited) full power to exclude all other strangers and foreigners from their territory at their discretion.
In consideration of the foregoing, the said National African Company (Limited) bind themselves not to interfere with any of the native laws or customs of the country, consistently with the maintenance of order and good government … [and] agree to pay native owners of land a reasonable amount for any portion they may require.
The said National African Company (Limited) bind themselves to protect the said King and Chiefs from the attacks of any neighbouring tribes (Ibid.).
The company considered itself the sole legitimate government of the area, with executive, legislative and judicial powers, all subordinate to the rule of a council created by the company board of directors in London…”
While the Nigerian reader may be shocked at the text of this example of a Treaty in Victorian times, TODAY the 1999 Constitution, a known Forgery foisted upon Nigerians achieves the very same thing! Here are some ways the 1999 Constitution robs Nigerians. Firstly, by the false claims in its Preamble, the Sovereignty and Self-Determination of indigenous Ethnic Nations are hijacked, and it is made to look as if Ethnic Nations put their signatures to it.
Secondly, through the 68-item Exclusive List (Second Schedule, Part One) indigenous Ethnic Nations lose control of their lands and the valuable resources in them.
Moreover, since Arms and Ammunition are in this Exclusive List, Ethnic Nations cannot protect themselves against armed invaders, and must depend on Central Government, and if such government has been accused of being complicit with the genocidal insecurity as President Buhari has been, indigenous peoples then face a serious existential threat.
Thirdly, although in Chapter 2 of that 1999 Constitution, welfare and security are promised to Nigerians, these are cunningly ousted in Chapter 1 by section 6. (6)(c).
Just as those Treaties of old were intended to steal from indigenous peoples, and dispossess them, those are also the goals of the illegitimate 1999 Constitution, whose beneficiaries are the Fulani, rigged into dominating power by the departing British in 1960. As the NINAS Alliance of indigenous Ethnic Nations of the South and Middle Belt has identified, that 1999 Constitution is the instrument used to rob indigenous Ethnic Nations, and also bring about Ahmadu Bello’s Declaration of 1960 that Nigeria would be converted into the “estate” of the immigrant settler Fulani.
Sovereignty is defined as the most essential attribute of an indigenous Ethnic nation in its ancestral land, meaning that it has dominion and supremacy to control its present and its future. Therefore, playing the role of the “ever ignorant African” is not advisable in this, the 21st century. So it is not acceptable for indigenous Ethnic Nations of Nigeria to continue to allow the 1999 Constitution to rob them of their inalienable position of Sovereignty, and power of Self-Determination. The same way Nigerians are today horrified that (somehow) those Victorian-age Treaties got signed, is the same way future generations will be horrified that indigenous Ethnic Nations allowed the operation of a Forgery, that illegitimate 1999 Constitution, over them, their resources, their lands, and their future. Therefore, terminating the operation of the 1999 Constitution is a task that MUST be done!
As at today, the 1999 Constitution has been Repudiated and a Constitutional Force Majeure declared. Not surprisingly, the Fulani-dominated government has refused to acknowledge this – a big mistake on their part because indigenous Ethnic Nations did not make or agree that 1999 Constitution, and therefore did not sign away their Sovereignty. What not just Nigerians, but the rest of West Africa deserve is that Unitary Nigeria, a Union of death maintained by gunpoint, be brought down in a peaceful and controlled manner, and then be Renegotiated using globally accepted tools, which is what the NINAS-template Transitioning Arrangement is about. The NINAS Propositions have been on the Table since 16 December 2020.
Ndidi Uwechue is a British citizen with Igbo heritage from the Lower Niger Bloc. She is a retired Metropolitan (London) Police Officer, she is a signatory to the Constitutional Force Majeure, and she writes from Abuja.