A tax consultant with the Lagos State government, Adeyeye Jokotoye has set the Nigerian ball rolling indeed. The import of his proposition for Nigeria’s name to change to United Africans Republic, UAR, can be felt on the social media space. Referring to instances in the Bible, Jokotoye, is reasoning that it could well be the beginning of a new era for Nigeria. This is in sync with many, who feel that Nigeria, coined by Lady Shaw, the mistress of Lord Frederick Lugard at the time, may have resulted from an orgasmic outburst.
This group of individuals has seen no correlation between the name and our heritage despite the explanations that it represents ‘Niger Area’. Names of entities, just like persons in Africa are representative of experiences encountered or hoped for. Africans have lived with this for a long time and it has grown to be part of our belief system. In any case, whatever necessitates the change of any name is a pointer to something very grievous.
The buzz Jokotoye’s proposition is eliciting amongst Nigerians, especially in the South should be of concern to all of us. It is a referendum that the present system is obtrusively on the brinks. Like everything Nigerian, expensive jokes are being infused into it to make it lively. I have seen the currency of this dream UAR, which has been designed and named Sapa, with Desmond Elliot, the actor, on the ‘5 Sapa’ denomination….LOL.
The long and short of these exchanges is that Nigerians need a new deal, a national rebirth. Rebirths do not necessarily have to start with a new name, but having it would be a bold step. In Abia State where I grew up, a certain community named Obiekwensu (meaning Heart of the devil) felt its name was becoming a factor in their encounters and decided to change the name of the community to Obichukwu( Heart of God). Ghana, Tanzania, Myanmar, and a few others did change their names and their heavens did not fall.
But change of name is just an integral part of the whole process. Whatever is wrong with Nigeria will also rear its ugly head in United Africans Republic if the basics are not addressed. All the gunmen-known and unknown, kidnappers, Boko Haram and corrupt politicians who are terrorising Nigerians will grow fiercer in UAR if it is built on injustice and lies like Nigeria. For this United African Republics of ‘our minds’ to make any meaningful progress, the citizens need to sit and jointly agree on the kind of leaders they need and the process of enthroning that leadership. I am sure UAR will not need a leader who rarely talks to them and when he does, only ends up dividing them with self-serving comments. UAR will need a leader whose sense of nationalism extends beyond his immediate environment, not one who measures competence by consanguinity.
It is obvious that UAR will learn so much from Nigeria and know how to handle the herder-farmer issue without stepping on anyone’s rights. This dream nation of UAR would reason that there is a limit to what government can do for private businesses like cow rearing, to the exclusion of other citizens. In terms of structure, it is pertinent that UARians, will opt for a federalism that lives up to its billings, where every component of the structure will be allowed to control her resources and pay revenues to the central government for use in maintaining the armed forces and other agencies in that guise; and that that the military will not be a tool of suppression against any of the component parts.
While UAR will be a truly democratic entity, her resources must be made to work for her citizens and not one that will be pocketed by the elites at Abuja and their cronies. The ludicrous sums being expended to maintain political office holders must be jettisoned by reducing the number of legislators to sixty, ten from each geopolitical zone working on part time basis in just one chamber. The other politicians who would be displaced can join other Nigerian youths in the farms. After all, the politicians often talk about the vast farm lands in Nigeria ready to absorb the youths. With these in place, peace would reign and I am sure many would be proud to be called UARians!