This is hopefully an easy to understand explanation of what the Constitutional Force Majeure (CFM) declared by the NINAS Movement on 16th December 2020 has heralded. It is a historic development that will transform the lives of children, teens and young people, so it is important that they understand what has happened, and how they now have hope of a new, and even a bright future.
To start at the beginning, human beings migrated in groups of related people, settling down in pleasant lands. Over time, as their numbers grew and others joined them, a village would develop. Some would move not too far away to start another village. These villages would then organise themselves to form a kingdom since unity helps for security, plus makes a better economy. As time passed, kingdoms that were ethnically similar became a Nation. Thus, we have the Ijaw Nation, Tiv Nation, Efik Nation, Yoruba Nation, Igbo Nation etc. These Nations could remain so, or, decide to come together as a country of several Ethnic Nations under say, a Federal arrangement. The Federation that would come to be would be created by the people: they decide which Ethnic Nations would be part of it, plus they decide how that Federation would work out. They would consolidate their Union by writing a Federating Constitution which would be legitimized by Referendums. To make it clear, a Federation is a made-up political entity, created by a Federating Constitution, so it would not exist without one.
Now, before Independence in 1960, the Ethnic Nations in their formations as three Regions, decided that they would only unite their Regions into a country called Nigeria if that country would be a Federation plus if that country was a Secular one. The military coups of 1966 terminated that Union and the arrangements that had been agreed by abolishing the Federating Constitution and bringing in Decrees. At the present day, the 1999 Constitution being used is a forgery imposed upon Nigerians, under the pretense that it is a real one. It was not made or agreed by the people, and that 1999 Constitution is actually the grand deception of Military Decree 24 simply renamed. Illegitimate and fraudulent as it is, that 1999 Constitution nevertheless states the universal truism that Sovereignty belongs to the people. That simply means that it is indigenous Ethnic Nations that are king over their ancestral land and resources, not government. Plus, it means that the people decide the type of government they want, so the politicians governing them are their public SERVANTS. In short, the indigenous peoples are the Owners of their lands, and the politicians they elect are their Hired Managers. Holding on to one’s Sovereignty is all-important, throughout history, the only people whose Sovereignty are snatched from them, are slaves.
For long, the desperate response of many Nigerians to the unitary country created by that illegitimate 1999 Constitution is to flee Nigeria. Professionals use the benefit of their skills to escape to Europe, America or Canada. Young people whose parents have the means, escape by being a student but with the intention of never returning to Nigeria. The poor and unskilled become illegal migrants seeking which foreign country can have mercy on them and take them in. Without doubt, that illegitimate 1999 Constitution creates a burden to all except to those who crafted it and are benefitting from it, plus their Judas Goats, who help uphold and defend that document. Instead of fleeing abroad, even to become a burden on other countries, the more reasonable approach would be to REMOVE that thing that causes Nigeria to be a burden on its people – the sham 1999 Constitution! That is what the non-violent NINAS Movement is doing. They started the process to Decommission the 1999 Constitution in a manner similar to how South Africa Decommissioned its own Apartheid Constitution. Logic and justice are being applied. These two questions are asked:
What did the Ethnic Nations unite to do before Independence? (ie, the nature of the Union)
What kind of Union do they now have?
Given that a Constitution is a social contract, and that sham 1999 Constitution is used as if it is such, two fundamentals that are the basis of this social contract are that Nigeria must be a Federation, plus it must be secular. These two conditions have been comprehensively breached. The twelve Arewa states in the core North were the first to Repudiate and reject the 1999 Constitution when they imposed Islamic Sharia. Those twelve Arewa states knowing that Nigeria must be a secular state, had to pull out of the Union in order to impose Sharia, so their action has been interpreted as having seceded from the secular Union. Taking up Sharia is a total departure from the agreed social contract. That is one major factor that compelled the NINAS Movement to proclaim a Constitutional Force Majeure.
The term “Force Majeure” is French for “superior force”. From internet sources it is defined as: a provision in contracts that relieves the parties from performing their contractual obligations when certain circumstances beyond their control arise, making performance inadvisable, impracticable, illegal, or impossible.
Clearly, the taking up of Sharia is enough for the Constitutional Force Majeure to have been declared, but there are so many things that the illegitimate 1999 Constitution has foisted on indigenous Ethnic Nations such as a Unitary system not Federal, a presidential system not parliamentary, suzerainty not self-determination, etc.
The Arewa Bloc exercised their own right to self-determination when they unilaterally took up Sharia, ignoring even the provisions of the sham 1999 Constitution, and ignoring the outcomes and agreements of discussions and negotiations that went on before Independence, and that were conditions of any Union. The rest of Nigeria who are the New South (the NINAS Alliance territory) have now stepped into their own right to self-determination by the proclamation of Constitutional Force Majeure.
Commendably, the NINAS Movement is determined to resolve this Union Dispute that has lingered on since 1966. Only an irresponsible generation would leave it festering, to hand it down to the next generation to bear the consequences.
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.