The Under-Reported Issues of Northern Nigeria. Part III
“Islamization is not only carried out by Muslim rulers. Unsuspecting southern rulers are unwittily used to drive some aspects of the Islamization agenda:
- Under president Goodluck Jonathan, erstwhile central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi introduced Islamic banking.
- Former President has set up Almajiri schools for the exclusive benefit of muslims in spite of robust protest by the Christian community, whose schools were taken over.
- In many northern states of Nigeria like Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, and Gombe state governments refuse to give building permits for the erection of churches. As matter of fact, a disclaimer contained in buildings permits in Kano state specifies the building permit is not used to erect bars, brothels and churches thereby classifying churches among undesirable establishment like bars and brothels.
- In places were churches have been destroyed in the past three decades’ state governments in several states in the north refuse the owners permits to rebuild. In Borno, Kano, Niger, Bauchi, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina, and Gombe states churches numbering over five thousands have been lost in this way. None of the owners were compensated.
- The Hausa/Fulani insist that they are the largest ethnic group yet when former president, General Obasanjo wanted to include ethnicity and religion as issues to be disaggregated in the census exercise of 2006, the Hausa/Fulani elites pressurized him to drop the idea because doing so will expose the lie.
- The Hausa language international media outfits e.g. BBC, VOA, Dutch welle etc. Usually employ Muslim Hausa Fulani and the tend to propagate Islamic views of events in Nigeria in line with their religious perceptions of not identifying with any government not ruled by a Muslim”.
The subject of conquest or spreading of socio-cultural and economic ideology or a host of other reasons is a well-documented phenomenon the world over, whether the narrative is ideological or any other, the guise under which the subjugation and domination is pursed is mainly towards a political and economic order, when the subjugation force spreads its views of how the order of things ought to be by preaching, debating, coercing, fighting etc. for or under the banner of a preferred ideology has permeated all segments of the Nigerian polity and life. Religion as an ideology has proven to be a powerful galvanizing force that unites the most unlikely of people together in pursuant of a utopia of some sort, only in the case of religion it brings along with it, its own socio-cultural and economic model especially in the case of Christianity and Islam, which are usually same as that of the founders of the religious movement (Christianity and Islam) or that of its early recipients in that case religion is seen as a banner for socio-cultural and economic expansion. The crusades and Jihads of the medieval ages had been the main tool for expansion in that era, the renaissance forced a new paradigm in the way and manner religions expand their respective ideals and faiths. These two approaches had different durations of use over the course of time across different regions of the world, where in Europe the crusades took a back sit while evangelism and missions became the main vehicles for spreading the Christian faith that approach is maintained and is still the case in Africa, Islam took a slightly different approach, in that the jihads were relegated to a passive role in the parts of the Middle-East and Europe and thus Islam’s expansion were more incentivized through economics and slightly occasional preaching’s than coercion or force, but overt force and warfare were actively used in Africa and other less developed regions of the world even at a time when warfare was toned down in Europe, different arguments may be brought forward in either of these cases (Christianity and Islam) on how and why their approach changed but the aforementioned appear the dominant.
In all these attempts and efforts at propagating the two major religious groups in Nigeria egos were bruised, redlines crossed, in the mist of all these one group felt they were losing ground which had to be made up for and possibly gain an edge over and above the rival faith. For Islam the great wrench in the wheel of their progress was colonization, because with it came a new social and political order that drastically slowed the spread of Islam thus overnight the Islamic political and socio-cultural order that has been the mainstay in the north and gaining momentum in leaps and bounds as it sweeps down southwards on the heels of sweeping victories of the jihad campaigns of the marauding Usman Dan Fodio, was clearly on the back foot, with colonialism also came the added headache of having to contend with the new Christian faith eroding decades of the Islamization campaign of Usman Dan Fodio, which its leaders must have viewed as a dilemma of epic proportions, here again I must add that the campaign of Usman Dan Fodio was mostly targeted of well-established centers of trade and commerce towns and cities of the time while the hinterlands were not accorded the same level of investment in military assets, possible reasons being the scattered and low populations of such areas, secondly the terrains of the hinterlands with unforgiving and were more of hindrance than access costing valuable time not also ruling out accidents on such bad communication routes e.g the mountainous Jos-Plateau, Forested south and other natural barriers. The problem was made worse by the fact that Christianity’s propagation in the north was not a military campaign which they can easily answer and match pound for pound, but was a subtle consent seeking from an intellectual exchange/enlightenment viewpoint accompanied by provision of basic amenities and services that were hitherto completely nonexistent in these areas of the first missions. The answer for the sultanate and emirate councils was an agreement with the British administration and missionaries that their preaching’s and mission work is to be restricted to the domain of pagans in the sultanate/emirate area of control (outside the walls of city) and those at the frontiers of difficult and fruitless campaigns of the jihads (middle-belt and down south). The motive and reason was more of sarcasm and spite than any genuine attempts at allowing enlightenment, they felt okay since these “infidels” would not accept being schooled and culture in the Islamic tradition and civilization which prior to the coming of the European colonizers was the most advanced and dominant socio-cultural model in sub-Saharan Africa, both in technological and political terms at the time, of which they held onto strongly and propagated passionately hence the military campaign to spread it, but unknown to them the western civilization had long caught up and surpassed the Islamic civilization, because of this ill-informed precept they allowed the missionaries access to these “stubborn unrepentant barbaric tribes” and “rejects” to their system, and thus allowed the British to have a shot at enlightening these tribes in their own way (western) since they have rejected the Islamic way and order of life, just as the western civilization had surpassed the Islamic civilization so did the tribes that were exposed to the west’s way of life exploits in areas completely new to what was obtainable in the sultanate/emirate socio-cultural order/civilization. The sultanate/emirate “solution” was not at all effective for the sultanate/emirate as these “stubborn unrepentant barbaric tribes” and “rejects” tribes accepted and began enlightenment process both in servitude and in learning (both biblical and academic), comparable in many respects and most times surpassing the sultanate/emirate socio-cultural order/civilization, the results was rapid improvement in their everyday social life and excellence in their chosen fields of endeavour, for example within these “stubborn unrepentant barbaric tribes” and “rejects” were the first professionally trained personnel’s of the region Dr. Russel Barau Dikko (first indigenous medical doctor in northern Nigeria) from Wusasa in the Zaria emirate where missionaries were allowed to set up their mission field/station and Christianity flourished, Danladi Slim Matawal (first indigenous engineer in northern Nigeria) from present-day Plateau State formerly Jos and Pankshin division of the Bauchi province/emirate, this explains to some degree the acrimony and disdain that the sultanate/emirate have towards the non-Muslim communities a possible reason being that “how can these barbaric tribes that we tried to usher out of their primitive ways of the dark ages suddenly see themselves as better than us or our equals” this was definitely not acceptable. Their homeland became home and headquarters to many missionary efforts such as S.U.M (Sudan United Missions) and S.I.M (Sudan Interior Missions) which later morphed into COCIN (Church of Christ in Nations formerly Church of Christ in Nigeria) and ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All formerly Evangelical Church of West Africa) churches respectively are few of the many and are a testament to the work of the Christian missions, making the Jos-Plateau a bastion of the Christian faith and missionary efforts in Nigeria which continues to this day. The progress that these areas and the first converts to Christianity gained and enjoyed would at that time certainly attract more people to these areas and faith, exposing the futility of the sultanate/emirate efforts at steaming the tide of western civilization and Christianity’s expansion in the north, a new approach was need by the elites of the muslim elites of the north to change the tide. When the author or the Christian community raise alarm about attempts at Islamizing Nigeria it is usually referred to the strategies the sultanate/emirate employed in answering/countering the perceived challenge posed by the Christian missions thus the northern elites began an aggressive campaign to educate themselves in western curriculum and system barring the missions aspect (C.R.K “Christian Religious Knowledge”) component though separate but interwoven nonetheless others still took such lessons nonetheless, add this to their firm grip on the political/power structure (through indirect rule, were the sultanate/emirate served as the British’s administrative arm simply put overlords over the tribes of the north and middle-belt) of the of the north they could now formulate policies, laws etc. that were detrimental to the socio-political aspirations of the many ethnic groups (none Hausa-Fulani or Muslim) of the north. As the sultanate/emirates came to the realization that through political power and social administration which they control they could slow the growth and development of the ethnic minorities along with suppression of political freedom/expression for self-determination of these many tribes, one such freedoms being freedom of worship and religion (Christian) they exploited it maximally to stall such calls and reverse the growth of the Christian faith. These they achieved by making Islam attractive and unofficial de facto administrative religion without which one can barely attain the zenith of his/her potential growth in government establishments but the most effective was the balkanization of some of these tribes scattering them into different political boundaries thus depriving of the numbers needed to make any serious political impact the case of the Afizere a case in point (found in Bauchi and Plateau states across four local government areas) amongst many tribes that have found themselves scattered across different political boundaries and thus lacking the numbers, concentration and cohesion to make any credible political statement what this does in essence is create a situation where they are seen as second class citizens as their votes if juxtaposed with that of the adherents of the mainstream political (ethno-religious commonality blocks) won’t bring about a change in policy and political power, perhaps what proved more effective for the sultanate/emirate was subjecting traditional chiefs/paramount rulers of many northern ethnic group to blackmail in other for their traditional stools (symbols of cultural identity and unity) to be recognized and respected by the government to have any chance of being integrated into the socio-economic and political governance of such areas this trend was at its peak during the first republic when the northern premier toured the far reaches of the middle-belt wooing traditional office holders to switch their spiritual allegiance from traditional ancestral worship and or Christianity to Islam, chiefs that declined see their importance reduced, and access to governmental institutions and officials reduced to its lowest ebb. Hence it led to the redundancy of such positions a situation where if at all the there is any collaboration needed towards the actualization of any government plan or project because there exists little to no cordial relations between these two institutions access which was ceremonial absent and at best minimal thus those sort-after projects by government was lacking in the domains of these chiefs without the blessing of the sultanate/emirate because their stools lacked any political leverage or bite to translate into concrete deliverables on the ground for the traditional authority’s subjects, what this meant was a situation where such chiefs have no real power, and influence to otherwise improve the wellbeing of their people. In my discussions with senior citizens of Plateau state, the northern premier Sir Ahmadu Bello is said to offer, a mat, kettle, prayers bids similar to the Catholics rosary bids, turban (collectively Islamic spiritual items), and monies along with other grandiose promises in wooing paramount chiefs and traditional office holders to switch allegiance to Islam’s fold, thus traditional chiefs who accepts these gifts converts to Islam after negotiations, this can be said to the terminal phase of a multi fronts subtle attack, as the earlier phases as discussed earlier deals with the continuous eroding of traditional institutions to a point they are so weaken then are later supplanted and replaced with an emirate council or a model with an emir as the paramount head/authority in that area or maintaining the same court but changing its internal workings to directly mirrors an emirate system, Dass emirate in Bauchi, Lafia emirate in Nassarawa and all most all other emirates that were not founded during the Dan Fodio Jihads were achieved in one of these ways. The strategy was simple but brilliant get the shepherd and the flock will follow, so like his grandfather before him Sir Ahmadu Bello understood the use of soft power by appealing to the humane and or greed (not wanting their subjects to suffer from lack of basic amenities or getting rich and powerful respectively) sensitivities of monarchs and leaders of non-muslims domains in trying to bring them on board (for all the Islamization drive by Usman Dan Fodio not all areas that came under his control resulted from conquest, as its recorded some tribal leaders surrendered to avoid bloodshed while others simply wanted to hang onto power, malam Yakubu of today’s Bauchi emirate is an example of diplomacy, compromise, surrender and reward as he was later bestowed with the title of “sarkin yaki [Chief warrior] sarkin musulmai [Muslims king or Sultanate]” after signing of non-aggression pact with the sultan and their relationship matured, he was credited with the subjugation of surrounding tribes domiciled in present-day Bauchi hence the title), so Sir Ahmadu Bello can be said to have modified and adapted an age long skill honed over the years from the sultanate to post-colonial Nigeria to achieve his grandfather’s dreams.
This situation is further complicated is further compounded by the fact that for any traditional stool outside the influence of the government which was in turn controlled by the sultanate/emirate (were the state or regional administrator is muslim), contested traditional stools who had one contending party to be Muslim (even if such claims where questionable) that party gets installed even in the face of popular discontent, disapproval and even protests, this is possible because most tribes of northern Nigeria didn’t have monarchs from known history, but adopted it after WW II others after independence while others continue to seek for such socio-cultural self-determination when they saw the need to have direction is search of their aspiration of the latter and also measure up to the more politically established ethnic groups, this issue of traditional stools a very sensitive to the generality of northern tribes in Nigeria as it is not just an institution for maintaining law and order, attracting government attention and or development but transcends all that as it is the bonding institution that holds together their identity fabric so denying or taking away, or interfering with it is tantamount to generational distorting/tampering of any group’s identity has consequences that are far reaching thus limiting the collective capacity of the people to be part of the larger society and contribute meaningfully to same. The aggregate of these manipulations has created a situation that turned the tide against the pace at which northern Nigeria tribes can negotiate politick and or influence policy and have freedom to practice their faith because of the aforementioned interference of the northern oligarchy.
In an attempt to answer the question “why go through these great lengths to manipulate these tribes,” it is deemed fit to note that the answer lies in resource control and political power/domination. First the conglomeration of these many different tribes (but with lots of cultural similarities and links, one of such unifying factors and similarities is the Christian faith) is the biggest political block in the region. Leaving them on their own to chart their chosen course in socio-cultural and political development, will result in them rivaling the Hausa/Fulani for political relevance and supremacy of the region and the nation at large. The second is who gets to control their resources, of which the middle-belt is a powerhouse in the country. For example, Nassarawa state is has the highest deposit of solid minerals in Nigeria, Plateau state is second on that list along with a temperate like weather that gives it a near monopoly in the agricultural production of exotic crops not peculiar to the tropics (strawberries, apples, cucumbers, mushrooms etc. among many others) not to say anything of its massive tourism potentials, Benue is christened the food basket of the nation, need I say more, Taraba and Niger states have important geographical features that make them valuable to the nation, the Mambila and Kainji, Shiroro hydro-electric projects respectively. But above all these its human resource that is truly of significance to it as a region, as it is no secret that the core north of the Hausa/Fulani has the highest illiteracy rate in the country thus there is a massive shortage in manpower to operate vital segments of its economy, so just as in the post-colonial days when the British provided a supervisory role over all socio-political activities so also the Hausa/Fulani sultanate/emirate overlords provides that supervisory role over the real drivers of the economy as they head vital government institutions handling administration while a technical savvy middle-beltan (northern tribesman) or southerner deputizes and handles day to day tactical operations a case in point is the agitations of the Niger-Delta against not having managerial roles in Nigeria’s nation oil company the NNPC. In keeping these northern tribes marginalized and scrambling for income to meet everyday challenges, bickering amongst themselves keeps them subservient making them a herd of followers from brilliant potential leaders the northern oligarchy stays in control of the collective destinies of many.
It is from these many perspectives that northern Nigerian tribes see a concerted effort and strategy of domination confronting them, while actions by some northerners and groups has done little to allay their fears such as the massive celebrations and eruption of joy by Muslims across the country following the dead of Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna state (Christian) in a helicopter crash, and also the plane crash of Dan Baba Suntai of Taraba state (Christian), that pushed both out of office and their Muslim deputies being elevated to the post of governor, as stipulated by the constitution in all these national tragedies there were wild celebrations on some if not most northern streets and neighbourhoods of the respective states major cities, if citizens of the same country who are constantly told to be united and be their brothers keepers, will rejoice over the misfortune of their fellow brothers and countrymen the future looks bleak for Nigeria as these sorts of actions and inactions, continues to feed into the fears, hate, and suspicion of particular segments of the population, which will eventually consume the nation Nigeria if not checked. Popular Hausa proverbs such as “sabuwa the kaza bata hana yanka” (translation “Being conversant and friendly with a chicken doesn’t stop/protect or is no guarantee that it can’t be slaughtered) pathetically even tribal converts to Islam say such phases or derogatory terms like “Ar’ne” (Infidel) amongst many other derogatory terms, it is very difficult not to feel threatened, offended and worst, so it is in this light that some of these acts as exemplified here, which harbors and promotes contempt for the Christian community many Christians are rightly afraid of moves or policies that sounds or looks supportive of Islam.
The Boko haram insurgency is only the least in Islamist insurgencies in the north and they have vowed to drive away, if unable to kill all Christian and non-moslems from northern Nigeria:
- There was Maitatsine rebellion in Kano, in 1980, that sought to bring to pass an Islamic fundamentalist order;
- There was the Bulumkutu rebellion in the north east that sought to do the same thing in Maiduguri, Borno state; Jimeta, Yola; Adamawa state; and Bauchi, Bauchi state.
- There was the Kala kato rebellion in Bauchi state in the 1980’s.
- The eighties and nineties also witnessed riots perpetrated by muslims in Kano, Zaria, Kafanchan, Maiduguri, and Bauchi;
- Since the return of democracy, Jos has witnessed four major religious riots perpetrated by muslims including the murder of more than 500 indigenes of Dogo Nahawa in the dead of the night in 2010. Boko Haram claimed responsibility.
Points 1-4: Is history repeating itself?
Pundits, analysts and researchers alike will take a scientific or philosophical route in explaining, what were the immediate and remote causes of these violent outbreaks and the destruction of billions worth of property, while also disrupting vital economic activities. But to an average non-political and non-partisan citizen such submissions are superficial at best and only propagated to cover a more sinister design to stifle his/her religious freedom. And it is along this direction that I wish to draw our attention to, as the vast majority of the populace subscribe to this perspective, as the reason and their convictions on why these events are a reoccurring decimal. It is a common speech after most of these civil disturbances that religious clerics come out to issue public condemnations, while reaffirming an age long argument that such dastardly acts don’t represent their religious teachings, and individuals that engage in such mindless destruction of lives and properties are deviants, touts, society’s misfits etc. who do not represent the mainstream of the religious group, but for generations the powers that be on these religious bodies have not clarified portions of their scriptures under which these “deviants” leverage on to commit such heinous crimes, or is it as simple as what the average citizen on the street defines it to be and rightly fears for his religious freedom, where believing in a different faith earns him/her a bulls eye on their backs, there are religious and scriptural connotations that are easily twisted, to excuse such dastard acts, and if Nigeria has taught us anything it is that these blur sections are left unexplained and even advanced in private conversations to achieve an edge on the politically.
Researchers and analysts might be right in their submissions about the root causes of such religious induced clashes as being poverty, illiteracy, and suable for scarce resources but well prepared reports, fine speeches are totally incapable of dispelling these factually rooted fears, and mutual suspicions of minorities as they are complex strategic document that x-rays socio-economic problems of populations, concerned with the simple basics of life, with one of such basics being able to freely choose and follow any religious believe. For these reports, whitepapers etc. to stand any chance of addressing these mindless killings is for the authorities concerned to pursue and deliver qualitative education to the majority of the population where religious tolerance should be given top priority, while religious superiority, fanatism and quest for dominance is relegated to a cosmetically personal affair if at all. Religious extremism lies at the center of these inhumane acts thus combating extremism and associated criminal acts should be sort after and eliminated, extremist ideologies and propaganda should be nipped in the board sprouted one ripped up and expunged, through vast and reliable intelligence apparatus, not burdened by ethno-religious inclinations/considerations and other bureaucratic bottlenecks as is the case with Nigeria today.
Point 5: Attempts at genocide in Jos
Growing up in the city of Jos I can relate to its edgy religious flashpoints which exists since a major religious crisis of 7th September, 2001, and others that followed in the years ahead. The events of Dogo Nahawa of 2011 was particularly gruesome due to the fact that women, children and the old were deemed legitimate targets and were systematically and completely annihilated in their sleep through well planned and executed genocidal intentions, purportedly carried out by members of boko haram whose campaign of terror was “against western education and government instillations”. One would then ask how does a lowly sleepy rural community devoid of any major government presence/installation at all, attract such extremist fanatics hundreds of kilometers away to decimate its citizens in their sleep. To what end is this heinous act being executed meant to achieve? There are talks of such attacks being reprisal attacks for losses of cattle and loved ones suffered by the Fulani who are nomadic pastoralist which itself can be traced to farmers vs herdsmen clash which is dominant in the middle-belt (As the minorities of this zone of Nigeria are known to be predominantly farmers, which serves as the main economic activities of such areas and thus their means of livelihood, the same can be said about the Fulani herdsmen who value their cows above all else, the grazing on farmlands of these communities is attributed to be the spark of such violent clashes and thus the seemingly endless circle of violence. Others argue against this being the only driver of such barbarism and point to other more sinister plots of domination and control of vital socio-economic resources through ethnic cleansing, this will be another topic all in itself). Sadly, this is the tragic tale of many communities on the Jos-Plateau and Plateau state as it in many communities of the middle-belt generally and continues to this very day, thus the only explanation that seems to fit these madness is that some powers that be, lurking in the shadows wish to cleanse this land of its people because they are of different ethno-religious strand and or covets their resources.
“Each time something irks the Muslim world anywhere in the world, Nigerian Christian are made to pay for it. In 2003 a Danish newspaper published a cartoon that Muslims felt painted prophet Mohammed in a bad light. Nigerian Christians were slaughtered in cold blood in Maiduguri, Kano and Bauchi and their properties looted and vandalized. After US planes attacked Tripoli, Libya in the 1990’s Nigerian Christians were attacked and killed in northern Nigeria. After US forces started its war on Iraq, Nigerian Christians were attacked and killed in some northern states.”
Just as it has been said by many commentators on issues concerning Nigeria, religious considerations thrum national interests and true national unity. As these events as detailed as they are documented by the writer, it is no hidden secret that an average Hausa/Fulani Muslim views an Iraqi, Libyan and any other Arab or Muslim around the world as more of his/her brother than his next door neighbor who is not a Muslim. As I have argued many times, this will continually be the case except and until restructuring the Nigerian state into a truly federal state is carried out, where we have a weak center and strong peripheries, where areas that have different and unique demographics from what is generally obtained on the mainstream of their larger region are allowed to craft the right socio-political order to propel their development, while contributing part of the proceeds from their productive ventures from the sectors they hold comparative advantages for national development and unity.
“After late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua fell ill in 2009, there was concerted efforts by the northern political elites to prevent then vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, from being elevated to the position of acting president. The then vice president was made to take an undertaking that he would not vie for election in 2011 before northern governors gave their members in the National Assembly the green light to elevate Jonathan. Before he was elevated to acting president, Nigeria had no leader. As a matter of fact, the 2010 Appropriation Act allegedly signed by Yar’Adua in Saudi Arabia was procured through forgery. Yar’ Adua was not in a position to sign anything!”
Purely a political affair but as in all things in Nigeria it was not immune to the interests of the politicians which often than not is tainted by ethno-religious considerations.
“Highly visible northerners in the then ruling PDP (including former president Atiku Abubakar, former NSA General Aliyu Gusau, former Kwara State Governor Bukola Saraki [present senate president]) banded together to fight Jonathan under the “consensus arrangement”. One of those leaders, Aliyu Gusau is today Minister of defense and this complicates the fight against Boko haram because Gusau is a dye-in-the-wool Islamist.
The 2011 post-election violence was orchestrated in places where Goodluck Jonathan did not win the required 25% (Kano, Bauchi, Maiduguri, Yobe). The spike in Boko haram violence is a continuation of that episode. Boko haram has not hidden its ambition to drive away if not able to kill all non-Muslims from northern Nigeria. The inspiration for the current insurgency of Boko haram and the murderous activities of the Fulani militia on the rampage in the Middle Belt is about the desperation of the Muslim north to have power at the center returned to it, whether the Nigerian electorate say so or not. In Gombe State where president Jonathan got over the 25% votes, post-election violence was unleashed against Southern Gombe Christians who gave president Jonathan 70% of their votes compared to the few votes he got in Gombe north. This violence led to the house of the State PDP Chairman being burnt and he was never compensated until his untimely death.”
Politics makes a bed of strange fellows where usually personal interests and with such interests as the over ridding factor in Nigerian politics, efforts and compromises during electioneering by such individuals is rewarded after victory at the pools with plume jobs in lucrative state MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) or state corporations, the concern of aggrieved/threatened groups sometimes is appointing into sensitive posts persons of truly questionable nationalistic credentials/convictions, this of course is a worrying sign for people who have reasons to fear such persons due to their actions, inactions and utterances in times past, this is particularly worrying because as it is said in common parlance “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, how is it possible to ensure that a religious extremist, tribal bigot or both guaranty’s the peace and safety of fellow citizens, by not abusing the powers of his/her office in furtherance of an ideological or ethno-religious goal, how then does the government that appoints such persons dissuades the fears of such alarmed groups and make them feel safe? Just because an individual or party with questionable credentials campaigned that they would do things differently, these groups simply just exercise their human instincts of self-perseveration and are most at times right in their suspicions that such appointments are tacit and or covert operations designed to keep them in servitude in the least or extinction in their optimal designs. The 2011 post-election violence has joined the long list of Nigeria’s bloody history which has not been properly investigated even with evidence lying around for all to see, ostensibly this is also for ethno-religious considerations/reasons in a bid to cover some persons who share the same interests as the individual or group pulling the levers of power and influence, persons or groups that harbor such fears view such appointments as a strategic positioning of state officials to repress and dominate them, thus denying them the opportunity to express themselves freely.
“Six northern governors namely: Alhaji Magatakarda Wamako of Sokoto State; Alhaji Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State; Alhaji Sule Lamido of Jigawa State; Alhaji Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and Alhaji Abdulfattah Ahmed of Kwara State banded together with Rivers State Rotimi Ameachi to demand that the sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan, should undertake not to partake in the forthcoming 2015 presidential election. The refusal of the president to give such an undertaking led to an orchestrated crisis in the PDP, and led to the willful abandonment of the party by five of the aforementioned governors. Members of the National Assembly, States Houses of Assembly and other party faithful’s in those states also exiled the PDP. Such is the desperation with which northern Muslims want power at the center in Nigeria.
A well-known fact in Nigerian politics is the fact that every ethnic group or region covets the central power of the Nigerian presidency and will go to great lengths to achieve that goal because they don’t see leadership as a medium to better the lots of the general citizenry but an opportunity to subjugate or purse their tribal or religious goals at the detriment of other regions of the country. The aforementioned politicians are of northern extraction who at that moment felt shortchanged having a southern minority in place of his northern boss whom he replaced when the latter died (President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua), this to them was an anomaly and they felt a sense of regional duty to correct . Politics in Nigeria is almost impossible to divorce from religion, so many questions will naturally arise as to what end they were vigourously pushing for power. Was it for personal interests, regional or religion, with the present mutual suspicion and mistrust many, just like the writer will go for the latter.
The military campaign against Boko haram in the North-East has not been the spectacular success that would normally be expected of the Nigerian Armed forces because:
- The armed forces and other security agencies are divided along religious lines. There are instances Where Muslim soldiers have fired on their rifles in the air rather than take aim because they do not want to harm fellow Muslims.
- Muslims in the rank and file of the armed forces and other security agencies serve as active moles for Boko haram in their different organizations. Recently, soldiers of the division of Maiduguri mutinied against their General Officer Commanding, a Muslim, because they perceived that he ordered fallen colleagues into Boko haram ambush;
- Corruption is a pernicious problem in Nigeria, and the armed forces and other security agencies are not immune to it. There are allegations that funds meant for purchase of hardware, operations and troop welfare are diverted to the coffers of the brass.”
All the aforementioned points are grave allegations but to appreciate the enormity of the author’s statement, I will recount the incident of a qausi mutiny in Maiduguri when soldiers turned on their commanding officer who they felt colluded with the boko haram terrorist which led them right to an ambush that got most of the patrol killed. This was because the commanded insisted on a particular route they should take for an operation, many of such stories exists and moves within the rank and file of the Nigerian armed forces. Another pointer to the aforementioned suspicion is the statement accredited to the present governor of Borno state the hotbed of boko haram activities, were he said soldiers of southern and minority extraction are more effective than soldiers of northern origin, if that is related to the common saying in global parlance about Nigeria of a “muslim north and a Christian south”. then these allegations begin to have a semblance of clearity.
There is an active jihad and much of the rest of the country, especially the south, are sleep-walking into what could be a fait accompli. This agenda is being actively pursued with the imprimatur of the authorities in several states.
The federal government seems incapable of appreciating the true dimensions of the problem and is often a facilitator of the jihad agenda.
All Nigerians must be prepared to play by the rules. The country is practicing democracy and in any democracy, power issues from the ballot. The international community should not be hoodwinked into supporting the attempt by Islamist to conquer Nigeria, because that is what Boko haram and the Fulani militia are attempting.
The west including the United States of America, United Kingdom, France etc. should be wary of information they get about Nigeria if they do not want to be guilty of helping the Islamist agenda. The comments coming out of the west alleging that the president Jonathan’s government was anti-North reflects flawed intelligence about Nigeria and misinformation.
The Nigerian public must begin to ask more questions concerning how humongous amounts are given to the armed forces and other security agencies in the past three years are expended. The National Assembly of Nigeria ought to be very interested in how funds appropriated were spent.
The Nigerian public should go beyond the façade of erected by contemporary politicians to tease out what they are saying publicly. That is way out of sleepwalking into the Islamist agenda that we are faced with.
Demography of ethnic groups
The present security situation in Nigeria especially its northern region with particular emphasis on the central and middle-belt is not just worrying but a catastrophe in waiting. The activities of Fulani herdsmen men reign of terror where they leave wanton destruction of lives and properties in their wake, is a chilly reminder and confirmation of the complicity of highly placed political office holders in orchestrating these evils. The statement accredited to Gen. T.Y Danjuma which is generating heated debates and much controversy, in which he accused the security forces of colluding with the Fulani militia to ethnically cleanse his home state and the country at large thus calling on the people to defend themselves in the face of government ineptitude and or complicity in tackling the security problem of the country, this is indeed a worrying sign of Nigeria tethering on the brink of civil unrest of national proportion.
The mainstream media and western governments reliance on lopsided version of events in the country from sources who are from particular sections of the country who apparently represent a local language version of the news on their respective networks, hampers their sense of judgement on who, why and what is the source of these problems and shuts out critical angles of the problem as their reporters are mostly sympathetic to the perpetrators of such terror activities, as always for ethno-religious affiliations which taints their objectivity.