Visions of Nationhood: Prelude to the Nigerian Civil War, 1960-1967by G.N. Uzoigwe
Visions of Nationhood is a refreshingly bold and informed study of why Nigeria's three dominant sub-national groupsthe Hausa-Fulani of the Northern Region, the Igbo of the Eastern Region, and the Yoruba of the Western Regionwere collectively unable to reconcile their conflicting visions of Nigerian nationhood, and thus created situations that forced the
Visions of Nationhood is a refreshingly bold and informed study of why Nigeria's three dominant sub-national groupsthe Hausa-Fulani of the Northern Region, the Igbo of the Eastern Region, and the Yoruba of the Western Regionwere collectively unable to reconcile their conflicting visions of Nigerian nationhood, and thus created situations that forced the Nigerian military to topple the government of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa within six years of Nigerian independence. Obliquely, the book is an engaging treatise on government, emphasizing in the tradition of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau that government is essentially a contract between the ruler and the ruled, a breach of which by either party leads to disastrous consequences. Thus, the failure of the Nigerian central government, either deliberately or through inability, to fulfill its sacred undertaking in the contract of government led to the secession of the Eastern Region and made the descent into civil war unavoidable. Indeed, all over the contemporary world, in both the industrialized nations and the industrializing oneseven among those that claim to be democraciesthose who exercise political power have not always recognized their obligation toward the ruled, have not always operated as if government is a sacred contract between the people and their government. For many of the so-called democracies, a government erected through the process of universal adult suffrage, often riggedsometimes even blatantlyis seen as an end in itself rather than as a means to an end.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one is an account and analysis of the post-colonial traumas in Nigeria between 1960 and 1967 that led to the civil war. Part history and part memoir with the historical sections dominating, it is further enriched by the inclusion of the author's conversations with important national figures during the period in review. These include General Yakubu Gowon, Nigerian Head of State and government (1966-1975) while in self-exile in London. Likewise Dr. Michael Opara, Premier of the Eastern Region (1959-1966) also in self-exile in Dublin, Ireland. These were two individuals who were at the very center of the events analyzed in this book; which also includes numerous discussions on the events with a cross-section of the Nigerian population over the last forty years, discussions reflecting, indeed, their conflicting perceptions and interpretations of what happened.
Part two reproduces in its entirety a previously unpublished treatise on government I wrote in 1969 in defense of the secession of Eastern Nigeria, raising the issue of the end of the state and of political obligation. In other words, what is the state and why should an individual or groups obey it?
Part three reproduces a selection of two original and important documents intended to illuminate the narrative and analyses in part one, thereby aiding the reader to understand the author's interpretations of the events discussed.
- Africa World Press
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
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