Dangerous times in the dear country
The demons of death are on the loose, arranging mayhem and spreading annihilation all over Nigeria. We walk an ungodly but very familiar Nigerian road littered with shattered bones and broken dreams.
The struggle for political power is all the rage with the ruling party presenting a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a multi-faith country while the main opposition party presents a Northern Fulani Muslim candidate to succeed a Northern Fulani Muslim incumbent after eight years of incumbency. There is the third force rousing the youths into fervid activity such that if the elections are tampered with the EndSARS riots may pale into a child’s play. The dangerous times of Nigeria today cannot but force one to look back in anger at the country’s history on how the land came to this pass.
A lot of ink has been wasted on the colonial policy of the British in amalgamating a tripod with three unequal legs. As Lord Harcourt said back then, there was the need to join up the big Northern youth that was sapping the British home economy with the Southern “lady of means.”
This British arrangement was done even before the discovery of oil in the selfsame rich South. With the opening of the colonial files of Britain, it has been revealed that the colonial masters deliberately enthroned the North over and above the entire country by rigging the census and the independence elections.
The British ostensibly left in 1960 following Nigeria’s arrival at flag independence, but the reality today is that the potentates of the North continue to insist that this country owes them a living, even at the expense of their very own people!
When the military struck in January 1966, it was translated as an Igbo coup, which led to flagitious massacre of members of ethnic group until the bloodier revenge coup of July 1966 returned power to the North. The Northern coup-makers were screaming “Araba!” or “Secession” until the British High Commissioner told them that they risked going home to sure death in their arid region.
The attempt to address the Nigerian debacle in a meeting at Aburi in Ghana was thwarted in Lagos after the far-reaching accord had been adopted. Then there was war.
The aggregation of forces in the Nigeria-Biafra war did not help matters as the North somewhat inherited the mantle of defending the federal cause. The Northern Christians who enforced the return of power to the North back in 1966 “because they killed our brothers” have had sordid tales to tell ever since from their Muslim brothers.
The then Western Region and the minorities of the South and North found a ready ally in the Northern “federalists” in fighting “secessionist” Biafra dominated by the Igbo.
The eminent historian, Prof Ebiegberi Joe Allagoa, bears me out on the fact that Isaac Adaka Boro led his “Twelve-Day Revolution” largely because he was afraid that power has left the North following the January 1966 coup made by Majors Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Chukwuma Nzeogwu, as he writes in his 2004 book, The Uses of Hindsight as Foresight: Reflections on Niger Delta and Nigerian History: “The Niger Delta activists also tried to forge an alliance with the politicians of Northern Nigeria.
Indeed, it was the fear that the murder of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in the 1966 military coup had destroyed the final hope of the peoples of the Niger Delta that persuaded Isaac Adaka Boro to launch his ‘Twelve Day Revolution.”
Of course Isaac Boro died fighting on the Federal side during the civil war, and there is the official no-go history that he was shot from the back by his so-called allies!
The embrace of the North was taken to a new height in the course of the war and after by my friend Ken Saro-Wiwa such that when he was ignobly hanged by General Sani Abacha it became the lot of the ex-Biafra leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu to lament thusly: “What do you want me to do in the circumstances when Ken was killed by his mentors?”
It’s even easier for Igbo quislings to make it in Nigeria! Any hustler from the former Biafran enclave who touts “national unity” gets abundantly rewarded. It is an old game of bandying patriotism to feather one’s nest. But as Samuel Johnson said back in time, “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”
The perennial legend is that something grave would come upon the country if the North is somewhat not allowed to call the shots all the time. That is why a perennial presidential contestant who had previously failed in five attempts at becoming the Nigerian president can boast that electing him president this time is the only way an Igbo person can become president!
The promoters of what one may call the divine right of the North are only clever by half. Nigeria needs to confront her demons now. This country is not meant for any particular group as the owners of Nigeria, and Nigerians must as a whole insist that we are ruled by constitutional means instead of the wishes of some devil-may-care power-grabbers.
What has to be understood is that real development does not depend on where power is based. Otherwise the dominance of the North in ruling the country over the years since independence would have transformed the region beyond all others.
Emphasis should now be placed more on the devolution of powers than piling up everything in the centre. This way, the injurious pampering of the Northern oligarchs that has resulted into the underdevelopment of the entire country, particularly the overlord region, will be stemmed.
The annulment of the June 12, 1993 election won by Chief MKO Abiola all but sundered the country for good until the second coming of Obasanjo was arranged, and then Goodluck Jonathan somewhat happened. The back is back to worse than square one with the promotion of the old ills of the past as per one-faith and one-region domination.
The 2023 election is the final make-or-break point for Nigeria. The ostrich that buries his head in the sand risks having his head cut.