The President of Nigeria Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua is very sick. No one except his wife and doctors know how sick he is. But however bad his illness is, Nigeria is in a worse state. Every day his illness exposes the fault lines along ethnic and religious lines with more than significant input from the ailing president. A nation is like glass. They shatter under sufficient pressure. In Nigeria’s case the pressure is building up. Has anyone told Yar’Adua that if his health has been politicised he caused it by not handing over power before he left in November 2009 for Saudi Arabia? In 2008, at the height of another medical crisis I wrote and published as follows: ‘the daunting issues of governance, namely provision of infrastructure, security, the crushing burden of wide spread poverty, Vision 2020 and a legion others are enough to task a normally healthy person. If President Yar’Adua needs three or even six months to seek proper medical attention in any hospital, anywhere in the world, he should tell the nation, hand over to the Vice President, supported by a team of core professionals and get the treatment he needs, then come back to continue in office. He owes this much to his wife and children and also the nation. That is the only way he would live his nine lives to the fullest, not through what is presently a clandestine, hide and seek medical care during which every day of absence seems to confirm the worst.’ This was ignored to his peril.
Given the lies, deception and stubborn hold on power since he took ill in November last year, it would have been naive to think that the effort of Yar’Adua and the cabal to heat up the nation would end with the rumour that he was expected at the Mosque penultimate Friday. I was therefore not surprised when news broke that some imams amongst other ‘associates’ visited Yar’Adua in Aso Rock. The Imams subsequently announced their visit in the National Mosque and have given interviews in a herculean attempt to flesh out what they saw or thought they saw. It was all scripted, actors carefully chosen to reach different constituencies. In their positions, Muslims will believe the account of the imams of what they saw. So addressing worshippers and granting interviews is a call to fellow Muslims to take note and defend Yar’Adua. The second message of the visit delivered by one of the august visitors, Datti Ahmed augmented by an advert by a group known as Friends of Yar’Adua is to the acting president and the new executive council of the federation not to invoke section 144 of the constitution and declare Yar’Adua incapacitated. The pointed references by unnamed sources indicating that Yar’Adua will resume soon, possibly next month is to further unsettle the acting president and the new ministers into inaction. Thirdly, one of those who visited Yar’Adua is Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state who is also his son-in-law. His colleagues will inundate him with calls to learn more about his condition. Predictably, the answers they will get will be designed to line up the governors against any move to end Yar’Adua’s presidency. If Yar’Adua could not speak and was immobile, how come the cabal expect him to return as president even by year end? Will he return to repeat the no action mode of the last three years? Who is going to profit from this? Does Yar’Adua truly love and believe in Nigeria? Calling pastors to come and pray for him is medicine after death. Even the indication that he would meet next with PDP chieftains and leadership of the PDP is to create the impression that the meeting with the imams was the first of a scheduled series of meetings. So far no mention is made of meeting with the acting president. The battle for the soul of Nigeria has just entered a new phase.
The real target of this ongoing show of shame is Goodluck Jonathan. Everything possible will be done to unsettle him in a rolling attack fashion with crisis engineered from every direction with the tacit approval of the phantom of Aso Rock. The widening gulf of enmity between ex Niger Delta militants, accentuated by their taking sides in the brewing crisis in Bayelsa state will work to Yar’Adua’s advantage. The long standing accusation has been that successive Nigerian governments mostly led by Northerners ignored and neglected the just demands of the Niger Delta. The ongoing divide and rule tactics is to ultimately show that even an Acting President of Ijaw extraction could not do anything for his people. This will be used by agent provocateurs of the North to explain the reason no past government was able to help the Niger Delta because they have always fought each other. To buttress this point they will dredge up the Ogoni Four and Ogoni Nine incidences. Before your brows flicker upwards in disbelief, the North will make any claim including as they did not long ago that the crude oil in the Niger Delta flowed there from the North! One of them Senator Kanti Bello is on record to have said Professor Akunyili goes to Aso Rock to cook for Turai Yar’Adua!
The crisis in Bayelsa state provides a target rich environment for the cabal. What happens if some group like the Presidential Strike Force, with allegiance to the cabal kills any one of the ex militant commanders who threatened to return to the creeks and resume their attacks if the perceived harassment of Governor Timipre Sylva administration does not stop? It will create an irresistible opportunity for the enemies of the Niger Delta to target and eliminate more ex militant commanders which will be blamed on other Niger Delta combatants, further stoking the fire. The only ones to benefit is the cabal because any conflagration will considerably weaken Dr Jonathan as ineffective, hardly appealing to the party and electorate. This will pave the way for a Northern candidate who could be anyone of Yar’Adua’s sons-in-law who are presently serving state governors. It will keep power in the Yar’Adua family dynasty and satisfy the yearnings of the Governors’ Forum for one of them to emerge president in 2011.
Very few knew the Presidential Strike Force existed until Obasanjo’s government exposed them as killers for General Sani Abacha of many of his ‘enemies’ including Khudirat Abiola. In this climate of confusion, who will they be taking orders from? Is there any other ultra secret squad that is unknown to the Acting President, but sworn to the cabal, ready to execute their orders?
The North has this very apparent sense of entitlement that is difficult to explain and harder still to understand. It is now malignant arrogance and has succeeded in consigning Nigeria to a wheel chair, unable to help itself do things that small less endowed nations take for granted. I have come to the conclusion that while they disdain Prof Akunyili for daring to be seen and heard in a man’s world on account of their religion, their satisfaction with their lot, with influence peddling and mind boggling mediocrity is mostly a product of their culture. If you add, as is becoming increasingly evident but to a lesser extent their religion to the mix, you will not be wrong. It is now actually a highly combustible mixture. Some see it as the curse of the amalgamation of 1914, an exercise they believe even the British who did it for convenient administrative purposes now regret. The curse is alive and very well fed. It is abundantly clear that the South and the North are as different as white is from black, a fact that made the plotters of Gideon Okar’s coup to announce the unbundling of some Northern states from the rest of Nigeria. That sentiment against the Caliphate has not in any way diminished. They have in fact multiplied since then, emphasized by a world view that is primitive, narrow minded, manipulative and divisive.
In 1957 when the rest of Nigeria was ready for independence, the North declared they were not ready. We waited for them because we believed it would be worth it. As Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu said in an interview with TELL magazine of September 18, 2000, ‘Southern Nigeria should have gone for independence, leaving the door open for the North to join when it was ready. But rather the option was to wait for the North... From then, the North began to pull the strings of Nigeria’s independence.’ According to Ojukwu, ‘We made sacrifices. All the time we were making sacrifices. Anybody who is anybody today from the North will always look back and tell you that one Igbo man gave him the push up. And so permanent secretaries were constantly roaming around looking for a Northerner to promote. And so everywhere, no sacrifice was too much for the glory of the new country Nigeria.’ Fifty three years later, the rest of the nation is still making sacrifices. Fifty three years later the North is still pulling strings to mould this nation in their own image.
What is the difference between Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who locked up his daughter for 24 years and raped her more than 3,000 times and the North who have repeatedly raped Nigeria for fifty years? If in doubt take a look at the number of local governments in each state and how they shamelessly skewed them in favour of the North. Take a further look at the basis for sharing the monthly federal allocation which is based on population and number of local governments and not productivity. And guess which region has ‘more’ people and local governments - the North. Take a look at the number of states, again deliberately lopsided to give the North a majority and ensure that under the federal character scheme they get more people employed in federal institutions and have more representatives in the National Assembly. Yet when you travel by road or air to or through the North you wonder where the acclaimed population is. Even if the cows, sheep and goats are added to their figure, there is no way we have more people in the North than in the South. To perpetuate this lie, they made sure that ethnic group, religion and state of origin are not captured during census. The list of Northern malfeasance is endless. They have raped Nigeria for so long and have gotten used to it.
There is therefore no doubt that the North has a huge credibility deficit that will take at least a generation to change. Lee Iaccoca said that credibility is something you can earn only over time. And if you have not earned it, you cannot use it. Donald Trump postulated that you do not reward failure by promoting those responsible for it, because if you do, all you will get is more failure. Is it possible that another president from the North can change Nigeria beyond their extremely narrow world view which is further impaired by foggy ethnic and religious lenses that have given us only subprime leaders? Will he not think it is wrong to declare a state of emergency in the power sector when there are generators, lanterns and candles? Yar’Adua and the cabal have further done so much to expose and highlight in bold relief the stultifying Northern way of thinking. Here are the facts.
When he proceeded on his medical vacation without handing over the reins of power, Yar’Adua set the stage for a show of shame that has not yet run its course. While the whole world laughed at our backwardness, the President held on to power until the child of necessity was conceived by the National Assembly to declare the hapless Vice President, a Southerner, the Acting President.
In the face of glaring evidence that the president could not continue in office, he was brought home like contraband in the middle of the night, in a manner that further rubbished the president, the presidency and Nigeria before a global audience. Soldiers were deployed without the knowledge of the Acting President. Much has been said about this but it is important to state that the day the Vice President became acting president the buck stops on his table. He became the symbol of power and authority. Every organ of government especially the security apparatus responsible for his own personal security were bound to take orders from him or his appointed representatives. The Brigade of Guards exists solely to protect the president. Deploying them to safe guard the returning president was not wrong. What was wrong was that the Acting President was not aware of the return of Yar’Adua because some persons felt in their wisdom it was better not to tell him, even though the then Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, Adamu Aliero, a Northerner knew and was at the airport. How did he know?
Soon after the vice president became acting president, the North rose as one to declare that he should not run in 2011 because they have not exhausted their ‘sacred’ mandate. It became obvious they would do anything to achieve their aim including frustrating him at every turn, in the political, social and economic spheres to make him a lame duck president cast in the mould vacated by Ernest Shonekan in 1993.
Some of the actions the Acting President has taken including dissolving the Executive Council of the Federation are to prove he has what it takes to lead. But Yar’Adua, though still invisible to the Nigerian people continues to haunt him and Nigeria like a ghost. The recent rumour that he was expected at the Mosque and the visit to Aso Rock of imams prove this point. It is only in Nigeria that this kind of absurdity can happen. They do not trust Jonathan and will not let him do better than Yar’Adua or let him succeed where he failed spectacularly. Now that Jonathan is directly in charge of the Ministry of Power, they will sabotage his efforts to deliver the elusive 6,000 megawatts of electricity, stall the rebuilding of crumbled infrastructure and the fight against corruption. The only reason they will not kill him or chase him out as they did to Ernest Shonekan is the fear of the very visible and deadly stick welded by Niger Delta militants whose weapons, knowledge and skills acquired in combat are ready to be redeployed if they dare to humiliate or kill Jonathan.
Fear is a potent weapon against the North. The fear of the credible threat of NADECO gave the Yorubas the presidency for eight years. The growing strength, sophistication and determination of Niger Delta militants fight against ‘historic grievances,’ gave them the vice president and now acting president. That fear is Jonathan’s insurance policy. After what is happening in Jos with obvious bias displayed by the army, Jonathan cannot be complacent. He should learn from General Aguiyi-Ironsi’s naive mistake and put his personal security in the hands of those he trusts. It does not matter if they are all Niger Deltans and all Christians. But if the crisis in Bayelsa degenerates and militants return to the creeks as they threatened in their paid newspaper advert, Jonathan becomes fair game. The excited talk up North will be that a Northerner got the ‘amnesty’ in place and the major beneficiary Goodluck Jonathan and his fellow Ijaws destroyed it. In which case, a coup looks like the solution much to the liking of the Caliphate. I cannot overemphasize that the ultimate losers will be Niger Delta. Let cooler heads prevail. It is the only way to prove whether or not the original amnesty was designed to succeed or to buy time. But the fear factor will only lead to more violence for threats to be credible and ethnic groups taken seriously.
Out of fear that the report of a delegation of the then Federal Executive Council about to head to Saudi Arabia would end Yar’Adua presidency, a group of Northerners whose spokesman was former minister of steel, Bashir Dalhatu, quickly issued statements to the effect that the Acting President is not empowered to change service chiefs or reconstitute the Executive Council of the Federation. It was designed to set boundaries, lines in the sand Jonathan should not cross. That actually marked the revving up of the consolidated strategy of the North. The decision not to gamble was made and executed and Yar’Adua was smuggled back. To achieve their goal, Turai was convinced to bring back her still seriously ill husband. The looming power outage may have been painted by the cabal as unthinkable for her, creating in the process the ultimate tool in their hands.
The return of Yar’Adua achieved its desired effect but only temporarily. It emboldened his supporters. Dogs are said to be able to smell fear in their quarry. Their political equivalent – some governors, the ‘wise men’ amongst the sacked ministers, some members of the National Assembly mostly from the North thought they smelt Jonathan’s fear. They closed ranks swiftly, fanned out and viciously fought back. They thought Jonathan blinked, that he was sufficiently brow beaten. It was therefore not surprising that the Northern Parliamentary caucus called for the resignation of Prof Dora Akunyili who they accused of insufficient patriotism and loyalty, for daring to demand answers to begging questions. Being blunt is a major fault of the honest, a significant liability in the political environment, as Professor Akunyili found out. The North will never forgive or forget that it was her memo to the Executive Council of the Federation that preceded and provoked the child of necessity resolutions of the National Assembly. During the senate screening of ‘new’ ministers Senator Kanti Bello’s infantile ambush against Prof. Akunyili proved to be true to type. It showed the Senator as the one with questionable loyalty to Nigeria. He ended up ridiculing himself, awakening and nourishing the more than fifty years of ethnic suspicion.
Our rulers have often asked us to be patriotic. But when we demanded from Yar’Adua to justify his patriotic credentials and quit as president in order to spare Nigeria needless tension and division, he failed miserably. Patriotism demands of us to reach beyond ourselves and narrow interests and do what is right for the good of our nation. Instead, what we witnessed was and still is a tragic and consistent default of political will, a consistent denial of reality by the cabal around Yar’Adua who held Nigeria by the jugular and still do not want to let go. The same kind of ass kissing people who suggested Yar’Adua should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Niger Delta amnesty. The same fawning people who upon his return to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia claimed to have heard him refer to acting president Jonathan as Vice president. The same people who said Jonathan as Vice President was not empowered to send troops to Jos when it was burning in January. The same people who said it was illegal for Jonathan to hold the weekly Federal Executive Council meetings. The same people, who said Jonathan could not tinker with the Federal Executive Council, replace service chiefs or submit documents to the National Assembly. If Jonathan could not do these things, would Nigeria not have completely ground to a halt as was becoming so evident? Is this drifting what Yar’Adua, Turai, Tanko Yakasai, Dalhatu and the cabal prefer? And how come Mike Andoakaa, the first face and voice of the cabal told the whole world the vice president had effectively stepped into the shoes of the president when he was so powerless? Never before has doing nothing been such a powerful weapon in policy and in the service of mediocrity and the North. If these men and women who wanted to dictate to Jonathan are not members of the cabal, then who is? Yar’Adua, Turai and the former Attorney General Mike Andoakaa, the man who overdosed on loyalty and ‘patriotism’ had the opportunity to choose between right and wrong. They chose wrong and got shame.
The North does not want Goodluck Jonathan with full presidential powers because he will be too powerful to handle, making his imprint and influence on the 2011 election a lot easier. This, more importantly include their fear of him eventually running in the election. Once again, they will do anything to checkmate him. If Jonathan accepts to run as the vice president to someone else in 2011 with the hope of running for president in 2015, he will be shocked there will be no ‘vacancy’ in 2015 and when the vacancy will exist in 2019, he will be humiliated as pay back for ‘humiliating’ Yar’Adua. This will be done with the active connivance of South South governors who are positioning themselves to become president after the end of their second gubernatorial terms. The same South South governors have ‘dutifully’ played their roles in denying Jonathan substantive presidency by effectively dividing the then Federal ministers to completely foreclose easing out Yar’Adua. The governors’ forum went as far as hinging their continuing support to Jonathan on strict adherence to their conditions.
No matter how much the world has hailed the political solution that brought the child of necessity about, it is unconstitutional, a booby trap that will be sprung midstride when the nation has settled down. It is clear that the National Assembly exercised powers they did not have when they voted to make Goodluck Jonathan Acting President. The likes of Tanko Yakasai will pursue this matter up to the Supreme Court which will rightly declare the doctrine of necessity unconstitutional. When that happens, all the decisions of the Acting President become null and void, creating for Nigeria a scenario where all those sacked including ministers will stage a raucous return. Unless the new set of ministers swiftly declare Yar’Adua incapacitated, the crisis that will erupt when the Supreme Court nullifies the child of necessity proclamation will rock Nigeria to its foundation.
The North knows that Yar’Adua is not coming back but they are scared that somehow Jonathan will overcome all their traps and obstacles, succeed and possibly run in the 2011 election. Tanko Yakasai is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Arewa Consultative Forum. I believe that through his statements, Yakasai was trouble shooting on their behalf. Their plan B will be to instigate a coup that will see a Northerner emerge as military head of state. The expected Supreme Court judgement aborting the child of necessity, a fresh crisis in the Niger Delta linked to Jonathan’s ‘meddling’ in Bayelsa state, orchestrated widespread ethno religious killings in the North and reprisal attacks in the South, all coming at the same time will be tailor made excuses for military intervention. If they succeed, they will as they did in 1967, appoint a Northern Christian to head the military government while real power resides elsewhere. Democracy will be shot dead because Yar’Adua refused and was encouraged not to send a simple letter to the National Assembly handing over power, a process that would have preserved his government and legacy.
Those who plotted Yar’Adua’s strategy first killed him off politically and by rushing him back from Saudi Arabia may also kill him physically. With his physical condition as described by Datti Ahmed and other imams, it is obvious he is still very sick. What does the cabal hope to gain by disgracefully propping him up like a dummy to receive ‘visitors’ and making a fool of him when he should be recuperating?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a cripple before he won the presidential election in the United States during the great depression. He was elected to four consecutive terms. He died in office during his fourth term. His disability was not a hindrance. But Yar’Adua’s ailment effectively disabled his capacity to run even a local government. Whatever was left of his reputation pre November 23, 2009, has been completely shredded by the inexplicable and disingenuous way his ill health has been handled. With the bare faced lies that he was getting better, exercising by climbing stairs, the cabal publicly added moral bankruptcy to a political one, bringing heavy fog across the land. It will take time to unclog our severely damaged political arteries. The initial flip flopping of his administration was actually an advanced warning of what to expect. He became a blend of incompetence and inaction personified. We will never know what kind of president he would have been if he is not so chronically ill.
During the peak of the better forgotten fuel scarcity in January, I overheard some commercial motor cyclists talking about an accident involving one of their own and a car driven by a woman on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. Seeing that the damage was significant the commercial motor cyclist begged for forgiveness without success. The commercial motorcyclist, obviously a huge man suddenly lifted the unforgiving woman and plunged with her into the waters of the lagoon to end it there. The story teller swore that the woman drowned while the cyclist, a good swimmer survived and is hiding out in his village. Because Yar’Adua refused to hand over power, he lost all sympathy rightly due to him and the public plunged with him into the very deep and fast flowing river of public opinion. It was the public outcry that exposed the Federal Executive Council as spineless and forced the Governors’ Forum and National Assembly to come up with the doctrine of necessity. Yar’Adua and Turai to all intents and purposes are politically dead in the water, victims of their own unreasonableness goaded by members of a self serving cabal.
The truth is Yar’Adua’s life is not in our hands but his political life and how he conducts it, is. His health is not the issue, it is the problem. Lee Iaccoca said he found out the speed of the boss is the speed of the team. Where was Yar’Adua in 2008 when only about 23 per cent of capital vote was spent? By mid 2009, only 43 per cent had been spent, even when infrastructure had moved from inadequate to nonexistent. Under his watch Nigeria recorded 98% failure in the November/December 2009 NECO examination, surely a new world record. We are losing the future before we get there. How much worse should it have gotten before Yar’Adua and the cabal recognise that Nigeria is a political, economic and social black hole that needs urgent and concentrated attention, the type he cannot provide. According to Professor Akunyili: ‘...everybody knows he (Yar’Adua) is a fine gentleman and with a beautiful spirit’. However, it is a case of the spirit is willing but the body is weak, refusing to cooperative with its owner and the cabal.
Albert Speer, the German Armament Minister under Adolf Hitler, at end of the Second World War declared that ‘History always emphasizes terminal events.’ This is also Yar’Adua’s lot. History will largely remember how shamefully his presidency ended. Those who helped to destroy him are all those who convinced him not to write that simple letter of medical vacation and those still urging him to fight on and heat up the nation when all we have heard he said since he returned to Nigeria is a grunted ‘amen’. With every attempt to impose himself on the national stage, he loses sympathy and understanding. But something tells me his efforts to undermine Jonathan will not stop here. It is now malignant foolishness.
The PDP has hinged its call on Jonathan not to run to make way for the North to complete its tenure on their constitution. It is generally believed that should the PDP present a Northerner and he wins through fair or foul means that man will do two terms. And as that man’s first term enters the third year, all manner of men and women would come out to ‘beg’ him to do a second term. Like it happened during the Obasanjo era third term debate, the PDP will be silent. By the time we know what is happening, there will be a second term through fair or foul means. The fallacy of this will be truly exposed if a Northerner on the platform of the opposition party wins the presidential election. Will he do one term and step aside or do his constitutionally allowed two terms? To hold Nigeria to ransom on the basis of a political party constitution is wrong and will cause more grief.
As the 2011 election draws close, everything will be done to bring Yar’Adua back as president before the election to ‘empower’ the PDP and INEC to deliver the election through any means to their candidates. The National Assembly controlled by the PDP will issue the necessary clearance through the fraudulent voice vote with a false medical certificate to bring him back as president to ensure their own survival and re election at the polls. Their fear will be that if Jonathan chooses to write his name in gold by conducting a credible election as is most likely, most of them will not return to the National Assembly, so why take that risk? The return of the child of necessity or whatever it will be christened will be anchored on the personal interest of the legislators to bring back the one man who takes no prisoners and who will do anything to get them re elected. Because this arrangement will help the governors get re elected as well, they will also support the National Assembly but Nigeria will be worse off for it.
If in spite of the best medical effort, Yar’Adua is unable to return to influence the election in favour of the PDP, I still expect a soft landing of some sort. One week or two before the end of the first term, the National Assembly will return Yar’Adua to his position without any medical certification. The argument will be, ‘it’s only for one week or two.’ ‘Let the man finish his term as president honourably.’ Anyone who faults that argument will be seen as mean spirited. Yar’Adua will finish his term as president and Jonathan as vice president. This will be considered a victory by die hard Yar’Adua loyalists.
Nigeria’s descent into the ranks of failed states is gathering pace. General Buhari, a Northerner and veteran presidential candidate has warned of Nigeria taking the route Somali took to become a failed state in what he called ‘Somalisation of Nigeria’, stating that ‘we are more vulnerable than Somalia.’ It is possible this is the outcome extremist Northerners want so that bands of religious bigots can establish Sharia law in the areas under their control with their ‘Janjaweed’ militia seeking Christians for massacre as in Darfur. The signs are all there already. What kind of people will hack to death hundreds of women and children in Jos just because they are Christians who refused to be dominated in their own land? If Nigeria becomes a certified failed state, Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists will move in as they did in Afghanistan to operate from and spread their brand of terror all over West Africa and beyond. What General Buhari did not say is that the last ruler of Somalia, General Mohammed Said Barre died in Nigeria where he spent most of his years in exile. This is not a good omen.
Was that Sunday morning massacre in Jos part of facilitating the ‘Northernisation’ of Jos on the one hand and creating the excuse for a coup on the other or both? Again, let us look at the facts on ground. The Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Domkat Bali had accused the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3rd Armoured Division, Major General Saleh Maina of taking sides with the murdering Hausa/Fulanis. The GOC had refused to take General Bali’s calls and that of the state governor, Jonah Jang. Jonah Jang wanted to pass intelligence information to the GOC about the impending Sunday morning massacre. General Bali wanted to draw his attention to what he saw. In his own words in an interview with Thisday General Bali said, ‘The reason I called (the GOC) was that there were fake soldiers from Niger, Chad and so on. They were flashed on the television screen and I saw some of them wearing canvas, slippers and so on... With what I saw on the screen, they (the fake soldiers) and the army were virtually operating together, and the army did not arrest or stop them as far as I know anyway.’
Why is Jos North which has significant Igbo, Yoruba and other tribes the target of the North Hausas? Again, according to General Bali, ‘The Hausas were instrumental to creating the Jos-North. That was done during the Babangida era. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had just left the Babangida regime then. But it was done with bias to favour the Hausas... and I think the aim was to allow the Hausas to dominate.’ He went on to say, ‘You see, the Chief of Army Staff is an Hausa man, the GOC is an Hausa man. They dictate who should come here and who is to serve in what position. My position is that they should remove Maina, because he has shown bias for Islam and it is a dangerous thing not just for Plateau but the whole country. The moment this country is broken along religious lines, there may be no Nigeria any more. Especially as it regards the military, because the ultimate force bringing Nigeria together is the military.’ During the Jos crisis in January, there were several sighting of men in army uniform gunning people down. The question then was who were these men? The answer is now obvious.
It should be recalled that one of the financiers of the murderous Boko Haram sect, Buji Foi was a former commissioner in Borno state. We now have a GOC and his men acting as armourers and protectors of religious fanatics. How high up is this quest to dominate not just Jos North but all of Nigeria by the North? Yar’Adua was one of twelve governors who hoisted the flag of sharia in the North, an act that told the common man in the North that anything done in Allah’s name is right. During the 2008 Jos crisis, Yar’Adua’s altercations with Governor Jonah Jang exposed his bias for the Hausa Fulani just like Ibrahim Babangida two decades earlier.
The Ajibola Commission set up after the 2008 Jos crisis was not satisfied with Babangida’s explanation that he did not create Jos North to favour the Hausa/Fulani. The commission found out that Babangida created Jos North local government in 1991 to favour the Hausa/Fulani of Jos North as it was the Hausa /Fulani that demanded for the local government in the form it was created. This confirms General Bali’s view. The blood of all those who have died in Jos are on Babangida’s head, the original creator of the mess.
There are reports that the same General Ibrahim Babangida is mulling running for president. This time he is at the head of his reconnaissance battalion testing the waters, infiltrating the ‘enemy’, locating weaknesses and strengths. After 8 years of dribbling Nigeria and himself, what does he want? This pronounced North/South, Christian /Muslim divide would have been dead and buried if Babangida had not annulled the 1993 election. In that election Christians showed so much maturity such that they did not care that M K O Abiola and his running mate were both Muslims. It was a turning point that Babangida aborted. Some of his foot soldiers have bravely said that Babangida has the best interest of Nigeria at heart. What Babangida wants is the best interest of Nigeria in the bank, his bank. Think for a moment how much fun we will have if an opposition party will summon the courage to bring back the former chairman of the EFCC Nuhu Ribadu to run against General Babangida for president. How about being trigger happy for once? It will give us the unique satisfaction of pulling the biggest electoral trigger in Africa and finally politically executing General Ibrahim Babangida.
Before this GOC Major General Saleh Maina, another Northern Muslim who was Deputy Commissioner of Police Alhaji Hamisu Isa during the 1994 Jos ethno religious crisis was also roundly condemned for bias. After him came Alhaji M D Abubakar, Commissioner of Police during the 2001 Jos crisis. The Justice Niki Tobi Commission of Inquiry which was set up after the crisis was of the view that the role of M D Abubakar led to the death of thousands of lives and recommended that he should be eased out through retirement or dismissed if he failed to retire. The man M D Abubakar was neither retired nor dismissed. He is now an Assistant Inspector General of Police.
The quintessential Quisling, former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu and a former Minister of State for Information and Communication amongst others who are all Muslims were recommended for investigation by the Ajibola Commission after the 2008 killings but nothing happened. Thisday in its balanced editorial on the latest Jos mayhem observed as follows: ‘Each flare up had been followed by a panel of enquiry that winds up nowhere. Whereas it is obvious that the killings are politically, ethnically and religiously motivated we do think that the state can trace the perpetrators of the crimes if there was the sincerity and political will to do so. Although enquiries were commissioned into these killings, little or nothing was heard of their outcome. Neither the culprits nor their sponsors were revealed or punished thereafter. Consequently, each massacre becomes an incentive for others more heinous to follow... In the meantime, the government must go after the sponsors of the latest mayhem. Some of the arrested suspects have admitted that they were sponsored. This is the time to go for the sponsors too! ... Also the idea of moving suspects to Abuja is not a transparent course of justice. They should be tried in the state if only to allay the fear of many that in Abuja suspects are freed at the instance of their political sponsors. We also find unacceptable unofficial government excuse that punishing those involved in the massacre would cause further attacks.’
How many other prominent Northerners are burrowed deep everywhere, at every level waiting to protect and finance the next set of vicious, planned and programmed killing? Is this not a replay of the Pakistani situation where state security and intelligence agencies were sympathetic to terrorists and religious extremists?
The scenario in Plateau is pathetic. Where will they stand if Nigeria breaks up? Even if they become a nation, they will not survive Northern invasion as they quickly become another Darfur, hunted down and driven from their land.
Amongst the Islamic extremists, there is no agreement on which version of Islam is the correct one. But they agree when the targets are Christians. The step taken by women and children of Plateau state to ask for adequate protection from the nation or seek it from the United Nations is telling but it is the right thing to do. The Northern Caucus in the House of Representatives typically blamed the constant crisis in Jos and other parts of their region on poverty and frustration. They did not own up that their kind, past and present institutionalised poverty and frustration when they allowed the begging bowl to be the most prized asset for millions of their people up North. Typically, they want the yet to be implemented Niger Delta master plan replicated in their region as well!
Why should we be shocked that America exercised its right to judge us as a potential terrorist breeding nation? The real surprise for me is that it has taken this long for suicide bombers to emerge from the North. Does America not know of the consistent slaughter of Christians in the North whose number far exceed those killed on September 11, 2001 in the United States? Surely, we know that the whole world knows that not a single person has been prosecuted for the slaughters. Nigeria should have made this list of nations of interest sooner because the evidence on ground supports no other outcome.
The reports that the former governor of Zamfara state, Sani Yerima, the man who first installed sharia law in a state, in his early sixties to a 13 year old Egyptian girl as his fourth wife is not an isolated case. It is the product of both culture and religion. The North has for long condemned many of their young girls to the deadly Vesico-vaginal Fistula –VVF, which leaves victims who are mostly kids forced into marriage with uncontrolled leakage of urine. Thisday threw more light on this as follows, ‘According to a recent study published in the Annals of African Medicine Journal, almost 73% of VVF victims in Northern Nigeria are between ages 10 and 20. Most of the patients had their first marriage between the ages of 10 and 15.’ Dr Clara Ejembi, a consultant community physician with Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital also disclosed to Thisday that out of 2 million VVF victims worldwide, Nigeria accounts for 800,000, about 70% of them in the North, another world record on the index of misery. According to her, the major cause of VVF is early marriage. It is also not surprising that studies have established that Northern Nigeria has one of the highest rates of maternal deaths in the world.
Certainly Sani Yerima’s new child wife will not come up with VVF because after paying $100,000 as bride price, there is more where that came from to get her the best medical care. But his example will be copied across the North. It is beyond amazing that these children who still need their mothers to lean on become mothers themselves! To make way for his new 13 year old wife, Yerima had to divorce another wife, a child mother in order not to offend the decreed four wives rule for Muslim men.
Sani Yerima is presently a senator, a member of the National Assembly that in 2003 (while was still governor) passed the Child Rights Act which makes it illegal for any man to marry any girl below the age of 18. As governor, he must have come face to face with VVF sufferers, made outcasts by a condition inflicted upon them by men like him old enough to be their grand fathers, even great grand fathers. If the calibre of Northern men who should be protectors of their immature young girls become their predators who will then protect them? Will the federal government remain missing in action while the lives of these tender young girls are destroyed? How long will it take to take action to stop acts that cause leaking bladders of these girls from watering the tree of ignorance? Thanks to Sani Yerima for inadvertently and unintentionally ‘helping’ to highlight the scourge of early marriage and its twin, VVF. Meanwhile the shame of a region multiplies and lives on.
Our standards cannot be different from those of the civilised world. We do not live in caves anymore but our actions including that of Yar’Adua, Turai, Tanko Yakasai, Kanti Bello, Sani Yerima and others like them suggest they still live in the primitive caves of their minds and should be isolated. Nigeria is dying because people like them have sucked out all the oxygen. If we are satisfied with the status quo, let us play along, if not, let us take the quest for a second independence into our own hands.
Okechukwu Peter Nwobu