By Obi Nwakanma
I do not quite want to be so dramatic – I might be unable to match the inimitable Femi Fani Kayode – who found his moral groove with the election of Buhari, after being in government himself, living splendidly as a minister of government in Nigeria, and telling off Nigerians, who dared to speak up against his own political masters. These days, Mr Fani Kayode writes with powerful missionary aplomb, about the failings of government – the degeneracy of this government led by Muhammadu Buhari. And indeed there are very glaring failings in the government of not only of the federation, but of the governments of the federating states of Nigeria.
Prophecy is either the product of inspired madness or calculated observation or both, and in his two-part essay in march, Mr. Fani-Kayode warned the president to “beware of the ides of March” – much in the spirit of Spurinna, the soothsayer or diviner’s warning to Gaius Julius Caesar. Fani-Kayode’s allusion to the Latin classics might have passed over the head of his younger readers, who may, given this age of ignorance and miseducation, not have read Shakespeare’s revisionary play, Julius Caesar, much less Plutarch or Suetonius’ biographies of Caesar. But the “Ides of march” often alludes to deadly plots and the hideous pride of the powerful not to heed counsel. And president Buhari has indeed not heeded the injunctions of the courts, and the counsel of many concerned citizens to heed court rulings regarding the political rights of the Shiite Sheik Zarky-Zarky and the Biafran Zionist, Nnamdi Kanu. The consequences of the president exemplifying a disregard for the courts is quite clear.”
Soon, ordinary citizens themselves will begin to see the court of justice as an inconsequential organ of the state, and will disregard either the courts or the rulings of the court. When a nation can no longer rely on an organised court system to adjudicate or mediate justice, the alternative is fundamentally hideous, and signals the end of the state. It is the law that glues the state together. If citizens feel no regard or fear of law; if the enforcement of the law is unjust and arbitrary; if the court is seen as powerless, and the mere footmat of an executive authority who places himself above it, the state loses a fundamental grip on the consciousness of a citizenry who may no longer be expected to abide with the laws of the state or regard the courts as a just arbiter in their interest. They too will disregard the courts, disobey the laws, and seek alternative justice.
This is the meaning of the lawless state, the condition of which President Buhari is risking by refusing to heed the injunctions of competent courts to release the leader of the Shiites and of the neo-Biafran movement.
Buhari beware! In another essay last week, poignant the more for its nuggets than its general truth, Femi Fani-Kayode again wrote about the “legacies” of Buhari days of “sorrow, carnage, and affliction.”
Frankly, there is little Fani-Kayodesque hyperbole here, for indeed Femi is known to sharpen the edges of truth a notch higher than truth itself on those occasions when he is gripped by the “loa” or what his right-wing Christian soulmates would call the “holy spirit.” But ask an Ifa priest, and they would clearly see “Esu” at work in these moments when the spirits grip you, or ask a proper Igbo man, who knows a thing or two about the ways of the universe, and they’d shrug their shoulders in that amused nonchalance of knowing, and say, “Agwu ji ya!”
But whatever it is, the Hermetic call often compels us to voice truth, and there is profound truth in Mr. Fani Kayode’s critique of the now really near two years of the Buhari administration: the economy is belly-up, Boko Haram is still rampaging vast tracts of the North Eastern Nigeria and kidnapping women, the administration has not slayed the monster of corruption yet as evidence indicates that it has weaved a more intricate nest in the very heart and operations of this administration, and the Fulani Herdsmen, Nigeria’s own version of the “Janjaweed” are in open rampage, and law enforcement is powerless. Nigeria is very close to the open revolt of the citizens who no longer see the federation as capable of protecting them. In the North central areas, in Kaduna, down through much of that Middle belt of Nigeria, the criminal activities the so-called “Fulani herdsmen,” but who may actually be something more deadly, and whom Nigerians are increasingly suspecting of having the secret backing of certain powerful forces in this government, is pushing the population towards arming themselves and forming citizens militia groups.
In the South East and South West, the terrible sense of a “Fulani invasion” is mobilising a new mentality of siege, and groups are arming themselves for self-protection. The Buhari government’s seeming inability to arrest the situation, and contain this perversion fuels this sense of siege. President Muhamadu Buhari has not only failed to end the Boko Haram insurgency, but under his watch, Boko Haram, which in the last years of President Jonathan seemed finally on the run, has made a dramatic come back, evidenced in last week’s kidnap of more women by the group (although the military claims it is not true).
Under this president, a new terrorist phenomenon known as the “Fulani Herdsmen” has arisen. The trouble is we do not know that they are “Fulani herdsmen.” They certainly operate like a trained and complex army, and increasing evidence has spotted among them, Berbers, Fulani, the “Godogodo,” the jackals of the desert wars, unsettled by the pressures and arms freed in Libya. The killing of Moumar Ghadafi who kept them reined-in for so long has unsettled the balance of things, and many of these people are pouring in all manners of disguises, including as “Fulani herdsmen” into Nigeria and regrouping. The capture not long ago among the fighters of Boko Haram of a “white French national” also puts a clear wrinkle in the narrative of the Boko Haram insurgency. The Nigerian media has been guilty of sensationalism in these matters.
They seem to be reporting merely the surface of the drama playing out in the North of Nigeria which has significant implications to the entire national security of Nigeria. It is indeed dark days here. To compound it all, this president has not been to strong, health wise and seems more sedated than awake to his responsibilities. The North is indeed “barren” – to use Fani-Kayode’s piquant term for it: poverty, disease, ignorance, and paedeophilia – rampage this part of Nigeria. Sanusi, the Emir of Kano, is recently reported as saying, that all the indexes point to what we generally call “the core North” as Nigeria’s missing link. And that is why it is amusing when ignorant folk talk about a “Fulani hegemony.” As I tried last week in the “Orbit” to say, that part of Nigeria is far too impoverished and weak to constitute the kind of force that creates a hegemony.
It is not a hegemony; it is more a millstone on Nigeria’s neck. By all indices life is brutish and short in much of the North. And this fact should be a problem of deep concern to the South, where life is only slightly better. We cannot run away from our obligations to the North. With nothing really to lose, or gain, a docile population becomes the harbinger of great tragedies. That is what is playing out in Buhari’s North. It is the North where a governor, Abubakar Yari, of Zamfara State, sees the scourge of Meningitis C as a “curse from God,” and not a public health crisis requiring well-thought remediation policy that would include behavioral change through sustained public education. It is the kind of backward “North” which the “South” feels outraged by, and regard quite clearly and justifiably as “drawing us all back.” It is the North that requires, not the prayer that Fani-Kayode actually prescribes led by his tribe of prophets –David Oyedepo, Hassan Kukah, Enoch Adeboye, Mike Okonkwo, Apostle Suleman, T.B. Joshua, Tony Rapu, Paul Adefarasin, etc.- who he thinks would pray the North up to prosperity and change. No. What is needed is action and partnership between progressive, forward looking men and women in the North and the South, who must form a new secular nationalist spirit.