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Nigeria: Anxiety of a divided nation

By Ayodele Fagbohun


“The breaking up of Nigeria as a federation into a number of sovereign states would not only do permanent and incalculable damage to the reputation of contemporary Nigerian leaders but would usher in terrible and agonizing disasters which would bedevil us and many generations to come”

That was the canon of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s stern  warning to Nigerians as far back as August 1966, shortly after his release from 10 years’ imprisonment on phantom and frivolous charges of treasonable felony and conspiracy to overthrow Alhaji Tafawa Balewa led Federal Government in the First Republic.

In the same vein, during the dark days in the nation’s history and prior to the country’s unavoidable infanticidal civil war. Obafemi Awolowo, who had gone down in the annals of Nigeria’s history as a redoubtable political avatar was openly averse to the break up of Nigeria as a banana country but to be preserved and nurtured as a virile nation and bequeathed Nigeria to coming generations a sovereign nation.

Despite June 12 election debacle and the attendant political imbroglio which nearly put Nigeria in precarious situation and brinkmanship, the historic event remained a political limestone in the nation’s electoral malfeasance which must truly be observed with deep reflection and magnanimity to rebuild the nation as a virile, sustainable economy for the unborn generations of Nigeria.

Hence the need for urgent, realistic and painful reappraisal of Nigeria’s demography as per the linguistic and ethnic composition in the country with a view to remedying the past injustices, inequity and wrongness of obtuse, purblind and inept political leadership saddled as a fait accompli on the country since independence in 11960.

Over 250 ethnic groups in the country; 10 of them are identified as principal or major. However, for this essay, four of them are pertinent for mention as follows:- Hausa 5.6 million; Yoruba 12.8 million, Igbo 7.7 million and Fulani 3.1million.

It is instructive to note that the Fulanis who are in the minority and can be aptly described as infinitesimal; more often than not, do not occupy a continuous territory or contiguous territories to the exclusion of their hosts, the Hausa for the Fulanis live a pastoral life.

The Fulanis migrated, roamed and are still roaming and wandering around from their homeland in Futa Toro in the present day Sene-Grambia in the sub West Africa.

Besides, they are in to frantic search for pasture for their castle to graze.

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The success of Jihad revolution of 1908, led by a prominent Fulani Muslim cleric, Uthman dan Fodio, was a dramatic climax in the expansionist and aggressive conquest to overrun the Northern Nigeria. The Hausa (Habe) ruling class was overthrown by either duress or subterfuge or both! Feudalism and Fulani hegemony were installed as the order of the day to fully exploit, oppress and repress the Hausa who were and are still in the majority under the pretext of evangelizing the “heathen” Habe ruling class.

Having overthrown the existing ruling class, the Fulani imperialists vowed to dip the Qur’an to the sea that the political conquest of Southern Nigeria was imminent, and as sure as the day follows the night.

What an arrant nonsense, a mid night summer dream and gratuitous affront on the intelligence of the more advanced, enlightened, educated, cosmopolitan and articulate Yoruba and Igbo ethnic intelligentsia predominant in the south.

In the 21st century we must strenuously jettison the antediluvian, anachronistic and pernicious style of government surreptitiously imposed on the beloved country which is gangsterism per se.

We must promptly strive hard to douse the present panic striken situation, anxiety, flux and socio-economic  and political dilemma hanging precariously the sword of damocle on the nation giving vent to frustration, despair and negativity that may provoke free for all and fierce suicidal bid in armed struggle against the territorial integrity of Nigeria as a virile, resilient sovereign republic.

It is high time the country was liberated, free entirely from petty bourgeois, naked native tyranny, economic saboteurs, Shylock traders, callous autocracy of a primitive obdurate and notorious cabal steeped in oligarchy seen and unseen across the Nigerian federation.

At this juncture, we must pause, take stocks and deeply ruminate on the epic and yeoman struggle of the three famous frontline builders and undying heroes of our nascent democracy and nationhood at independence viz. Zik, Awo and Bello.

In retrospect, the great Niger River and its area re-christened Nigeria by the wife of Sir Lord Frederick Lugard, the British colonial administrator, in a boisterous spirit for the unqualified success of his experiment  in India. Sir Lugard  was drafted to replicate the feat in the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914.

As alluded to the above the early political exploits and escapades of our foremost nationalists earned them the well deserved laurels and accolades of founders of a united, indivisible and indissoluble nation.

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The British colonial overlords there and then formally handed over the beautiful bride, Nigeria, to the great pathfinders. Zik, Awo and Bello at independence.

Other men and few women of brain and brawn made of sterner stuff emerged and were thrown into ever slippery political arena by the exigencies of time to prove their mettle in the nationalist activities which culminated in political independence in the First Republic.

These titanic men include: Hon. Anthony Eronsele Enahoro, member of Action Group (AG.) in the House of Representatives, representing Ishan/Edo in the defunct mid-west, then an integral part of Western Region.

At 30, Anthony Enahoro moved the historic motion of self government for Nigeria in 1956.

Hon. Michael Adekunle Ajasin, member of AG, House of Representatives, Owo. Ajasin wrote policy papers on free education which led to the introduction of free Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme 1955 in the Western Region.

Malam Aminu Kano, founder of Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU),  political party of the left, fearlessly championed the good cause of the “talakawa,” the less priviledge and the downtrodden people in Northern Nigeria.

Where are then of public spiritedness, bright prospect and strong political will to continue with the work of administration and purposeful governance that could effectively put the present insecurity, and youth criminality into abeyance?

The unfortunate political setback and reverses in the January Revolution of 1966, designed to wipe out graft, corruption, regime of fascism and mounting political leadership, which still remains alabatross and food for thought under the fragile and badly managed economy.

Some hot heads and petulant young Northern Army Officers led by Colonel Murtala Muhammed, a favourite son of Muslim Hausa/Fulani oligarchy, struck in another bloody counter coup to carry out a reprisal attack.

This blatant nefarious act further weakened, polarized and further ethnicised an otherwise nationalist and patriotic armed forces devoid of partisanship, and ethnic or tribal colouration.

Thus, the entire Armed Forces in Nigeria have graduated as a notorious offshoot of right wing political class which continually subsumes the political sovereignty of the nation into-mess of porridge.

It should not be easily forgotten that while the political crisis lasted, Captain Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, a Northerner in the mutiny arrested his boss, the Supreme Commander, the Head of State, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi and had an altercation. A height of rank indiscipline in the army!

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General Ironsi and his host, the military Governor of Western Region, Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi were abducted in the government house, Agodi Ibadan and were dragged to the nearby forest where Captain Thelophilus Danjuma and his vicious gang murdered his boss, Ironsi and Colonial Fajuyi in cold bood.

It is remarkable to note that the counter coup of July 1966 did more harm than good to compound the anxiety of a divided country. The fendal oligarchy and establishment of Northern Nigeria by virtue of sheer tyranny of preponderant number in the army over and above the rest of the country combined.

It tried to neutralize the erstwhile domination of Igbo in the public service and in the commanding  heights of the economy to further pursue aggressively the overall conquest of the entire country.

The bottom line is the enforcement of fundamental human and  inalienable rights of the people of Nigeria and by extension people of the world over to self determination. The people deserve the type of government it gets. It stands to reason therefore that Nigeria should identify the right political leadership with the right frame of mind, character and excellent previous track records and solid background to prosecute good government in all its ramifications.

It behoves the Federal Government ably led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to insulate the armed Forces and its apologists especially some chronic ex-military adventurists from the contagion of partisan politics now in active practice.

The more every ethnic group in the country is represented, almost equally in the armed forces, the more fears of mutual ethnic hostility and suspicion are allayed for the good of the country.

It is humanly impossible, unrealistic and impracticable for any government, no matter how fair the good intention, to ensure equal representation of over 250 ethnic groups in the armed forces.

However, it stands to reason again that the ruling government must of necessity and urgency cultivate positive broad outlook and right ideological orientation or framework to rejig security architecture across the country; set up people oriented militias for up to date intelligence gathering, and to involve every ethnic group not in the regular armed forces to have a proactive sense of belonging, commitment and patriotism in the survival and political stability of the country.

A stitch in time saves nine! For Nigeria shall be great again!!


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