Secession: Why UK may cease to exist – Kingsley Moghalu

“At lunch this afternoon with Prof. Christopher Adams, Professor of Development Economics at the University of Oxford, in Oxford. We discussed the political economies of Nigeria and the UK extensively, in particular the challenge of ethnic nationalism and how that might affect the future trajectories of the two countries.

 

The UK may cease to exist in the not too distant future and simply be England and Wales, if Scotland breaks away and the mainly Protestant Northern Ireland decides to reunite with the Republic of Ireland (they were once one country). But only a majority vote in internal referenda in the two parts of Britain can decide those outcomes.

 

There are three very important realities we must consider. One is the constitutional framework of the UK which allows for this kind of possibility (the constitutions of Spain and Canada, for example, do not allow separation, and the demands for self-determination in Quebec and Catalonia have been handled in that context).

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Two, there is a more mature political culture in which dialogue is used to discuss and resolve contentious issues, whereas in Nigeria and many African countries, the state reacts to such demands with aggression and suppression instead of a level-headed political dialogue (pro-independence forces in Scotland and Canada’s Quebec have failed to win majority support for their positions).

 

Three, in Africa the Organization of African Unity (today’s African Union) formally adopted the international law doctrine of uti possedetis that makes legal the boundaries of post-colonial African states as determined in the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century.

 

I certainly learnt a lot at this lunch that is relevant to leadership in Nigeria. Mental and intellectual exposure to world history, economics and politics is so relevant to the capacity (or lack thereof) of our leaders in Nigeria to handle issues of national cohesion and nation-building! Fact!”

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