Former Nigerian Presidential Aide, Okoi Obono-Obla advocated for the renaming of streets and avenues in state capitals and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in honor of Nigerians and Africans who stood out for their historical influence.
He said that no street should be named after colonialists who came to Balkanize and dehumanize Africans.
He made the call in Calabar in a statement, frowning at the dislike shown by many when President Muhammadu Buhari took steps to name a highway in Abuja after the Nigerian president.
“All roads, streets, public structures, and monuments in Nigeria named for European administrations must be altered and named after well-known Africans,” declared Obono-Obla.
He said that in Abuja, many highways, roads, streets, and avenues are named after European, North American, South American and Asian leaders, and he wondered what was wrong with giving such an honor to an African leader like the president of Nigeria.
“Every time I read about people being upset and deducing meanings from naming streets after Africans, I shudder.
“I asked what is wrong with naming a road or highway after an African president or man? In the spirit of Pan-Africanism and good neighborliness, this is an excellent, noble and laudable gesture.
“In Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, and other places, don’t we have public structures or avenues named after colonialists who came to dehumanize, exploit, and debase Africans and our values? Must we interpret everything? I shudder,” he exclaimed.
Obono-Obla, activist and social advocate, referenced history by recalling that the Conference of European Powers of 1884 was convened by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck together with other European leaders to decide how Africa should be divided among themselves.
He said that until then, Africans had no borders and stated that Africans were peaceful, good-natured people and lived together harmoniously.
“Ethnicity didn’t mean much to Africans until Europeans created their divide-and-conquer policies to permanently crush Africans.
He explained that “The Europeans made several mistakes during the Balkanization of Africa in 1884 because they had a very limited understanding of African philosophy, history, culture, anthropology, ethnography, and geography.”
“Regardless of how Africa was thousands of years ago, Balkanization was random and arbitrary.”
“For example, the Yoruba people were divided. Some were recorded in Togo, Benin and later in Nigeria. The Hausa people were deployed in Cameroon, Niger, Ghana, etc.
Speaking about the history of his people during the colonial era, the former presidential aide explained that his people, the “Ejagham-Ekoi” were relocated to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He added that the Akan people can be found in Ghana and are a people split up by the Europeans, later forced to relocate to Togo and Ivory Coast.
Obono-Obla insisted that Africa’s decolonization process must begin now.