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Who Needs a Return to the Old North? – By Ubanese Nwanganga

old nigeria mapOn May 27, 1967, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon (as he then was), divided Nigeria into twelve

states. The north and south had equal numbers. Today, the north has two states advantage over the south! The immediate cause of the exercise was to deprive Ndiigbo of the support of the eastern minority nationalities in the event of war between the north and the east, which appeared imminent.  By seizing Lagos and occupying Yoruba land, the north had already forced Yoruba land into its quarrel with the east. Although the Yoruba did not like Ndiigbo, given a choice they would have preferred their independence to going to war against the east. 

On the other hand, the remote cause of the division of Nigeria into twelve states was the agitation for self-determination by the minority tribes, which had been lumped together with the majority tribes in the three regions of east, north and west by the British colonial administration. In the east, the Ijaw, Ibibio, Annang, Efik and Ogoja were lumped together with Ndiigbo. The Urhobo, Itsekiri, Bini, Afemai, Etsako, western Igbo, etc were looking for breathing space in the west under the control of the Yoruba.  

In the north, the Tiv, Idoma, Igala, Birom, Angas, Gbagyi, northern Yoruba, Jukun, Bachama, Mumuye, several small tribes in southern Kaduna, etc struggled for self-determination against the stranglehold of the Hausa/Fulani. The struggle for self-determination was fiercer in the north than elsewhere because of the persecution of Christianity and traditional religion by Islam. Although Islam and Christianity existed side by side in the west, there was no persecution of one by the other. Yoruba Islam was and still is enlightened, accommodating and tolerant of other faiths and devoid of violence. 

The existence of dual instead of triple heritage in the east made the pursuit of self-determination less fierce, on the surface. Christianity and traditional religion were common to the people of the east. As Christianity became dominant, it continued to recruit from the traditional religion and never the reverse. The struggle for self-determination by the minorities of the east was not as a result of the persecution of Christianity or traditional religion in the east. The people wanted to be free from what they perceived as Igbo domination of the region.  

The majority tribes however succeeded in manipulating the situations in their respective regions to their advantage. They recruited from the minority tribes, sons and daughters into the dominant political parties thereby giving the impression of unity in diversity. In the east and the west, several prominent sons and daughters identified with the NCNC and the Action Group respectively, although in the case of the former, its national appeal explained the membership of minority politicians from the east. 

Despite open discrimination based on religion, imposed language and the feudal social structure, the Hausa/Fulani found a very clever way of pulling disparate ethnic minorities together by presenting Nigerians from the south as their mortal enemies. The fear of being swallowed by the south was the beginning of wisdom among the minority nationalities of the north, even when religion (Islam) and the use of Hausa language represented more serious threats to their self-determination than the imaginary threat of being swallowed by the south. In other words, the feudal overlords of the north secured the support of the minorities on the basis of non-existent fear of domination of the north by the south. So, instead of being avoided, the minority elements embraced the Hausa/Fulani and gave them their support in the inevitable contest for the leadership of post independent Nigeria. 

General Gowon, a minority Angas from Plateau, by divine intervention, saw through all the manipulations by the majority tribes and set about to deliver the minorities of the east and north by the creation of states in 1967. Before then, the creation of the Midwest region in 1963 settled the minority question in the western region. 

From that moment, the minorities of the east saw to it that the freedom that General Gowon granted them on a platter of gold was not tampered with. They threw their support behind the north against Ndiigbo (for that was how they saw Biafra) in the ensuing civil war of 1967-70. However, they exercised their autonomy in such a way that sowed the seed of ethnic hatred between them and Ndiigbo. 

Surprisingly, the story was totally different in the north where the minorities beyond savouring their political autonomy of being ruled from their state capitals instead of from Kaduna, continued with “one north, one people, one destiny,” although one monolithic north had disappeared from the map of Nigeria on the day that young Gowon divided Nigeria into twelve states. 

The Muslim Hausa/Fulani majority are masters at manipulations. They allowed General Gowon to continue in office while biding their time to regain control of Nigeria. Properties owned by the old north were allowed to remain joint properties of the new north. A forum was created for the governors of the six states to meet regularly to review developments in the north. The minorities played prominent roles in the national government as well as in the military. From time to time, they were reminded by the Hausa/Fulani that their enemies were to be found across Obollo Afor and across Ilorin, 95% Yoruba town but ruled by the Fulani; all this to ensure that the Hausa/Fulani remained relevant in Nigeria.

Let me make this remark here. In actual fact, the Hausa are being pilloried for playing supportive role to the Fulani. Of the seven or so presidents from the north, none of them are Hausa people, who prefer the Fulani to other Nigerians because of religion and the fact that they are well taken care of by the Fulani overlords. So, they lend their support to the Fulani unquestionably, at all times.

To illustrate the twin points of manipulation of the rest of the north by the Hausa/Fulani as well as Hausa attitude to Fulani hegemony, let us consider the following quote taken from Garba Deen Muhammed’s Bark Bite on “One bright Monday morning” published on the back page of the Daily Sun of Friday August 7, 2015: “Finally, and by far the greatest achievements of President Buhari so far, is probably the least noticeable or, perhaps, the least appreciated: the dismantling of check points across the country but mainly in the north. For four years, the northern part of Nigeria was under military ‘occupation,’ thanks to the obnoxious, demoralizing and dehumanizing checkpoints mounted all across the northern part of Nigeria. Travelling through the north under the Jonathan regime was like travelling through a war zone. What came to mind every time one ventured out of his home was trauma that awaited one, which was everywhere. Motorist, pedestrians, cyclists, nobody was spared. A journey of two hours, from, say Kano to Kaduna was taking four to five hours to complete. Clearly those checkpoints were mounted with calculated aim of strangulating the northern economy, humiliate the northern people and render even the most resilient among them impotent. With those cruel checkpoints, strategically located to inflict maximum pain and anguish, northern Nigerians were gradually being reduced to subhuman; suddenly what we were reading about when our brothers in South Africa were struggling under apartheid, and what the Palestinians are now going through under a ruthless Israeli occupation in West Bank were being replicated right here before our very eyes, and us the victims! It was, honestly, like watching people dig your grave!” (Emphasis mine.)

An evil attempt at unifying the north against the south! A Tarok or Birom from Plateau state will definitely not fall for this orchestration of the Muslim feudal north. Or will the Tiv farmers buy into this trash? Since the ‘mistake’ of August 2, 1966, has any minority northerner become leader of Nigeria under any arrangement? The minority northerners are northerners enough to plan coup and after execution, the lord of the manor steps out majestically to claim the price.  This is Buhari’s second coming. He is a Fulani man from Katsina, the home town of late President Yar’Adua. 

From the same Hausa/Fulani Muslim stock of northwest, we have had Murtala Mohammed, Buhari, Shagari, Babangida, Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar. Where are the Christians and Muslims of the minority nationalities of the north? Why is it that zoning of Nigerian political leadership is between north and south? The simple answer is that the minorities of the north shall be represented by their overlords, when it is the turn of the north. Check the names of the past governors of the Central Bank from the north and you will understand. Is there any Christian police officer from the north, north enough to head the Nigeria police force? What of Secretary to the Government of the Federation? Are they north enough to be Minister of Federal Capital Territory? What of Minister of defense?

Let President Buhari publish who is who in his office. I am quite certain that almost all his principal officers are Muslims from the Muslim north. Being a Muslim Yoruba may not be good enough. Compare it with Jonathan’s time. I will not be surprised if there were more Muslims than Christians. 

But more disturbing about this inciting quote is the attempt to compare the security measures taken by the Jonathan administration against Boko Haram to apartheid in South Africa and Zionism in Israel. Boko Haram started by burning churches, killing Christians, especially Ndiigbo and destroying their businesses. To the average Muslim from the core north there was nothing wrong with it. It was in agreement with the jihad or holy war against non-Muslims. What was Buhari’s initial attitude to Boko Haram?

The Muslim north gave birth to Boko Haram. At a point, there was a president of Nigeria who was a Christian from the south. Initially, he was careful not to offend Muslim sensibilities in tackling the insurgency. In fact, he went about it timidly. But when the murderous Islamic sect continued in its deadly bloody business, President Jonathan had to do something about them. He took measures to secure the corporate existence of Nigeria. Introduction of military checkpoints became obvious when the devils chanting “Allah Akbar” after beheading Christians and posting it on the web as well as began to extend their deadly attacks to even Abuja.  

The failure of our Muslim brothers to join in the campaign to establish a caliphate in northern Nigeria angered the insurgents who then turned their guns and bombs on their fellow Muslims. In response, the Muslims began to accuse Jonathan of incompetence, lack of leadership and being incapable of defeating Boko Haram. Yet, Buhari had accused Jonathan of giving bullets to Boko Haram insurgents while showering his Ijaw brother with dollars. 

To compare President Jonathan’s action to contain the insurgency with Israeli handling of Palestine self-determination or apartheid is a wicked thing anybody can say of the former president. It is evil.

While I admire Buhari’s tenacity, I do not subscribe to his being worshipped. I see the same old trick of the Hausa/Fulani man playing out, the purpose of which is to control Nigeria and remain relevant at all times. Integrity is not the preserve of any religion or nationality. President Buhari is receiving the overwhelming support of Nigerians who want their country to succeed. However, if from day one a sizeable segment of the Nigerian population threatens and even goes ahead to make it difficult for him to succeed, he will not succeed. That was what was done to President Jonathan. If President Obasanjo had not been a soldier he would have been disgraced out of office in the same way Jonathan was. 

I therefore call on the entire minority nationalities in the north on whose back, the Muslim Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri have always ridden to power to think twice. The day a Buhari, a Muslim, Fulani was born in Daura, another man of integrity was probably born somewhere in Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi and Niger states. They have not flourished because of the manipulations of the Muslim Hausa/Fulani nationalities of the north. 

After being freed from their manipulation by General Gowon, is it not sad and indeed disappointing that the minority nationalities of the north have always allowed themselves to be dragged back to Egypt? Arewa Consultative Forum! Interestingly, a minority northerner is the head! But no political party facilitated by the Muslim Hausa/Fulani can nominate a minority northerner, especially a Christian as its flag bearer! Northern Governors’ Forum! Is it in whose interest? Do you need it? 

Henceforth, refuse to be used. The monolithic north died on May 27, 1967. Do not allow yourselves to be manipulated any more by especially the Fulani (less than 5% of Nigeria’s population) who only need you to continue to remain relevant in Nigeria. The unity of the north (say Fulani supremacy) is the antithesis of Nigeria’s unity and greatness. 

Buhari is being hailed as the messiah, the new sheriff in town to save Nigeria. Has anybody stopped to ask the question: who destroyed Nigeria in the first place? Buhari declared Abacha not corrupt while the man bled Nigeria to death. He worked for Abacha. Now, there is no credible person outside the Muslim north to work with him. Yes, the office of the SGF has been dangled to the Christian minority of the north. What else is there for them?

The Fulani herdsmen are the only Nigerians who are not security men who carry AK47 assault rifles to the full knowledge of the police and other security agencies. All over Nigeria they terrorize farmers who try to prevent them from destroying their crops with their cattle. They own Nigeria. They are the President’s king’s men.  

As Dambazzau takes over the defense portfolio, with the president as minister of petroleum resources, the two most important sectors of our national life will be returned to the control of the Fulani who also produced the president. What is corruption? Is it only stealing government money? Judge for yourself. 

Ubanese Nwanganga; ubanganga@gmail.com

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