That , perhaps, may be carrying our collective eccentricities and mutual fears, too far,too soon. When it is realised that the North does not fit into the strait-jacket description or compartmentalisation of being inhabited solely by Muslims because there is a large oasis of Christians in the ‘Desert of Boko Haram Muslims’, that is the Middle Belters- Benue,Plateau axis, Taraba, Adamawa and the people of Southern Zaria in Kaduna State are Christians.
One, therefore, does not foresee a conflict that would be so devastating as to cause a religious war except between the 12 states in parts of the core North which might desire to produce a President of Islamic and Sharia extraction and persuasions , and finally call the bluff of Christians, and decide to secede and forcibly Islamize the minority Christians locked in their womb to form a country through declaration of a Jihad. That would be preposterous and disastrous. To be able to carry out the unconstitutional act of secession, they would have to contend with the rest of Nigeria. This was the case in 1967 when the Igbos of Nigeria decided on the path of secession by declaring a state-The Republic of Biafra led by then Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. A civil war ensued between the rest of Nigeria and our brethren East of Nigeria. For 30 months, the war raged under a military head of state. The war almost tore the country apart with the loss of some two million odd Nigerians on both sides of the fratricidal divide.
No matter the provocations of the band of Boko Haram, Nigeria would muddle through. It is, therefore, not feasible for Nigerians to go the way of Sudan, a country that had gone through some 20 years of civil war between the North and the South with a new nation borne early in July 2011 when Southern Sudan became the newest country in Africa. The odds are against the proponents of breaking Nigeria into a North and South dichotomy after the Biafran failed experiment.
No single ethnic nationality in the country can go it alone because it is becoming unprofitable so to do. Not even the gas and oil bearing wetland, alias Niger Delta, can take the risk in spite of all the petro-dollars at their beck and call. The Sahelian plains that currently is home to the extremist Muslim sect in parts of Bauchi, Borno, Katsina, Kano,Yobe ,Adamawa,Kaduna and Kano states cannot in their wildest dreams contemplate a cataclysmic adventure like declaring a Sharia country of their own, except perhaps, with the support of countries like Iran,Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
For them, Nigeria is their political farmland, bequeathed to them by the exiting British former colonial overlords, and over which they had ruled for the better part of 35 years.
When the Northern political elite , for example, the Northern Elders Political Forum, shout to their roof tops ‘One Nigeria’, it is done from a position of assumed demographic preponderance either under the military or civilian democratic dispensations. The North prides itself as the chosen group who must rule from Sokoto- the Caliphate- to the Lagoon in Lagos, Maiduguri to Calabar, willy nilly.
No Northern politician worth his salt would toy with the idea of splitting Nigeria into two with all the wealth buried in the South – South states. They would spill the last blood running in their veins to keep Nigeria together, even if, they are forced and compelled to remain permanent vice presidents for eternity.
To some watchers of the polity, this is not the first time such religious overzealousness had reared its monstrous fangs. We can recall the Maitatsine outburst in Kano during the Second Republic while Shehu Shagari was President. Burning and looting were the order of the day and before we could say Shehu, the rascals were routed in parts of Bulunkutu in Kano metropolis by a combination of mobile policemen and soldiers.
We could say it was, perhaps, easier for President Shagari to dislodge the religious fanatics, being a Muslim himself. Under the present dispensation Christian Goodluck Jonathan, would find it pretty hard to do what Shagari did in 1980s and without being accused of ‘genocide’ against Muslims in the North.
Secondly, without deceiving ourselves as Nigerians, for more than 35 years when the power baton had been routinely handed over from say Murtala Ramat Muhammed to Obasanjo for a brief spell, the flood gate of core Northern military and civilian rulers entered the scene in quick succession-Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar. This succession Northern military leaders ensured that the North gained a foothold on the military establishment as they turned out thousands of commanders and generals.
We also know that the armament and arsenals of the nation are scattered in many parts of the North and this is also true of the police establishment where their sons are mostly commissioners of police in most states of the federation. For a Southern minority president in Goodluck Jonathan whoever he sends to quell the resurgence of Muslim extremism in any part of the North are most likely to be their kith and kin.
The dilemma facing the Commander-in-Chief is, how much loyalty can he expect from the troops moving against the ‘Boko Haramites’, who in most cases have been found to have superior weaponry?
Even in war, blood appears to be thicker than water. In all good conscience, would a Brigadier Amadu or Dogonyaro carry the war to vaporize the Boko Haram killer squads without first of all feeling he was now fighting a fellow Muslim brother on behalf of an ‘unbeliever’ Christian Commander-in- Chief?
In a situation that can be likened to a Holy War by Boko Haram against anything Western or values against Sharia tenets, what guarantee do we have that a Northern soldier would not fraternize with his Muslim renegade Boko Haram sect kinsman with killer instincts?
Mr Bozimo, a veteran journalist, wrote from Asaba