By Femi Fani-Kayode
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it but, in the end, there it is” – Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain (1940-1945 and 1951-1955).
Nothing empowers the spirit more than the truth. Nothing warms the soul more than the truth. Nothing dispels the darkness more than the truth.
Nothing emboldens the noble more than the truth. Nothing sheds the light more than the truth. Nothing enlightens the ignorant more than the truth.
Nothing frees the enslaved more than the truth. Nothing liberates the mind more than the truth.
Nothing purges the evil more than the truth. Nothing hurts the vile more than the truth. Nothing troubles the murderous more than the truth.
Nothing exposes the reprobate more than the truth. Nothing burns the slanderer more than the truth.
Nothing chains the liar more than the truth. Nothing heals the wounded more than the truth. Nothing brings the peace more than the truth. Nothing torments the oppressor more than the truth. Nothing haunts the wicked more than the truth. Nothing punishes the tyrant more than the truth. Nothing humiliates the proud more than the truth. Nothing restores our hope more than the truth. Nothing serves justice more than the truth. Nothing
delivers the captive more than the truth. As Churchill said, ‘’the truth is incontrovertible”. It is overwhelming and it is irresistable. It is powerful and it is beautiful.
It cannot be destroyed. It cannot be denied. It cannot be suppressed. It is eternal. It will always be revealed at the appointed time. It may be ignored for a season but it will eventually resurface to torment the receiver.
With truth comes the opportunity to repent and to forgive. With truth comes justice, healing, peace, love, restoration, reconciliation, reparation, redemption and the chance for new beginnings. Without truth, there can be none of these blessings or virtues: only darkness, deceit, ugliness, suspicion, hate, carnage, violence and the enthronement and celebration of bitter and wretched souls. Without truth, evil goes from strength to strength. Without truth, the wicked crushes innocent souls.
Without truth, the oppressor continues to thrive and flourish, but with truth, the righteous rises and reaches the top. Without truth, nations wither and perish, but with truth, they prosper and excel.
Yet, what truth resides in our beleagured country? A country that feeds fat on lies and revels in deceit. A country that refuses to teach its children our history in order to cover up the many wrongs and injustices of the past. A country whose elders refer to the oppressed and disillusioned as desperate ‘’miscreants’’. A country whose leaders refer to those that seek to enforce their legitimate rights as ‘’money-loving drug dealers and skillful scammers’’.
A country that cannot make a distinction between those that seek to peacefully exercise their right of self-determination and those that terrorise, kill and maim others in an attempt to impose their faith. There are many truths that the Nigerian people will have to come to terms with before our nation can be at peace with itself.
An ocean of blood has been shed in the name of a united Nigeria, yet the perpetrators of state-sponsored violence have never been brought to book.
Many souls have been wasted in trying to keep us one. How much more blood has to flow before those that have ruled us from time immemorial accept the fact that nations cannot be established by subjugation and tyranny, but only by justice, equity, truth, equal rights and consensus.
The truth of the Jos massacre in 1945 where hundreds were slaughtered cannot be denied. The truth of the Kano riots in 1953 where thousands were butchered cannot be denied. The truth of the pogroms in the North in 1966 where hundreds of thousands were killed cannot be denied. The truth of the slaughter of millions of innocent civilians, women and children between 1967 and 1969 during the Nigerian civil war cannot be denied.
The truth of the Asaba masssacre in 1969 where 1,000 little boys and old men were rounded up in the town square and shot in the head cannot be denied.
The truth of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Christians and ethnic minorities all over the North and particularly in the Middle Belt throughout the 80s and 90s cannot be denied. The truth of political Sharia with its attendant violence, trauma, blood-letting and butchery from 2000-2003 in the far North cannot be denied.
The bitter truth of Boko Haram and the relentless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent Nigerians by Islamic fundamentalists in northern Nigeria from 2009 up until today cannot be denied. The truth of the murder of dozens of young NYSC members and hundreds of other people in the far North in 2011 cannot be denied. The truth of the brutal slaughter of innocent Nigerians by Fulani herdsmen over the last 20 years and up until today cannot be denied. O Nigerians, who has bewitched thee? Why do we hate truth and those that speak it with such passion? Like the ostrich, we have buried our heads in the sand and we act as if these things never happened.
We refuse to acknowledge the evil within us and we refuse to honor the dead by atoning for our sins and calling for retribution and justice.
These horrendous events cannot be denied and neither shall they ever be forgotten. The blood of the innocents that were slaughtered by these relentless Huns speaks through the ages and from generation to generation.
Conspiracy of silence
That blood cries out to God in heaven and it calls for vengeance. It is time for justice to be done. It is time for those that consistently kill and shed blood in their ignoble quest to rule us forever to be brought to book. It is time for the Tutsis of Nigeria to be brought to heel. It is time for those that starved millions of little children to death in the name of crushing Biafra to be exposed.
It is time that those who seek to play down these events and who seek to cover up their complicity in genocide be called out and shamed. It is time that some of our elders and so-called leaders are sent to the International Criminal Court for genocide and murder and for crimes against humanity. It is time to rediscover our humanity. It is time for the ancient leaders and guardians of the Nigerian state to admit that they have built our so-called unity on nothing but murder, carnage and the blood, guts and bones of millions of slaughtered innocents.
It is time for them to apologise to the Nigerian people for their insufferable conspiracy of silence and their insatiable greed. It is time for them to tell the truth about our blood-soaked and frightful history, to confess their sins, to kneel down before the Ancient of Days and to beg Him for forgiveness. It is time for them to start fearing the Lord of Hosts, to stop hating the messenger and to start dealing with the message.
This brings us to the unfolding situation in our country today. It appears that northern leaders of yesteryears were far more honest and forthcoming in the expression of their views and disposition about the South than the ones of today. Let us consider the following.
In an essay titled, ‘’Nigeria’s History and A Morbid Obsession With Unity’,’ written in Vanguard Newspaper of October 6, 2013, Dr. Douglas Anele wrote the following:
“Now, it should be pointed out that before the July 29, 1966 (northern military ‘revenge’) coup, prominent northern leaders, led by the Sardauna of Sokoto, much more than their southern compatriots, disliked the unification or amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. For instance, at the inauguration of the Richards Constitution in 1947, Tafawa Balewa, who later became Prime Minister, declared, ‘We do not want, sir, our southern neighbours to interfere in our development. …I should like to make it clear to you that if the British leave Nigeria now at this stage the northern people will continue their uninterrupted conquest to the sea.’”
At the General Conference held at Ibadan in January 1950, the Emirs of Zaria and Katsina made it quite clear that “unless the Northern Region is allotted fifty per cent of the seats in the central legislature, it will ask for separation from the rest of Nigeria on the arrangements existing before 1914.”
In March 1953, during a heated debate at the Federal House of Representatives, Ahmadu Bello (who later became Premier of the Northern Region), remarked that “the mistake of 1914 has come to light and I should like it to go no further.” When a delegation from the Action Group decided to visit Kano in May that same year “to educate the northern peoples about the crisis in the House of Representatives over the self government motion,” Inua Wada, Kano Branch Secretary of the NPC, declared, in a speech two days before its scheduled arrival, that, ‘’having abused us in the South, these very southerners have decided to come over to the North to abuse us”.
Although the visit was cancelled eventually, it did not prevent the Kano riots in which scores of Ndigbo were murdered”. (END OF QUOTE).
Wada, who later became Minister of Works in Tafawa Balewa’s government, was particularly virulent in his choice of words and many are of the view that his fiery submissions and threats of violence sparked the Kano riots of 1953 which took place two days later and in which thousands of southerners were slaughtered.
To reiterate this point, Bobson Gbinije, in his article titled, ‘’Igbo and Northern Leaders: Hate and National Cohesion”, published on September 2015, wrote the following:
‘’The invidious and inveterate mutual hatred and antagonisms between easterners and northerners through inspired hate speeches and media publications, dates back many years before independence. Sporadic out breaks in northern towns, particularly the Jos riots of 1945, had been occurring in the past but the British administration barely took them seriously. However, after the ruthless massacre in Kano in May 1953, the British were constrained to look into the matter by setting up a commission of inquiry on the Kano disturbances.
“The report on the Kano disturbances posited that the remote causes suggested at the time could not by any means be referred specifically to easterners. The attacks were attributed to the clash of cultures, the disparities in economic and social development between northerners and southerners, the occupation of strategic posts in the administrative, technical and commercial sectors of northern life by southerners and the leveling impact of Western religion and political ideologies introduced into the North by southerners.
“It is on record that there were series of polemical and aggressive verbal exchanges between Northern Representatives and the Action Group members during the Lagos Conference. But the fuse that really set off the explosion in May, 1953 was the proposed visit to Kano of an Action Group (AG) delegation led by Chief S. L. Akintola, an Ex-Minister (who was Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s deputy and who later became the Premier of the Western Region) .
“The organization and preparation of northerners for the riots did not suggest to easterners that they would be the main object of the attack.
Northerners denied in 1953 that the massacres were ever organized or premeditated. But it is on record that two days before the disturbances began on Thursday, May 14, 1953, Mallam Inua Wada, then Secretary of the Kano Branch of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and later Federal Minister of Works, convened a meeting of the Native Administration sectional heads at the Works Department in Kano during which he made a very ill-advised and provocative speech against the proposed visit of the Action Group delegation led by Akintola. Inua Wada said, inter alia, ‘Having abused us in the South, these very southerners have decided to come over to the North to abuse us but we have determined to retaliate the treatment given us in the South. We have therefore organized about 1,000 men ready in the city to meet force with force. We are determined to show to Akintola and his group what we can do in our land when they come. The Northern Peoples Congress has declared a strike in all Native Administration Offices for Saturday, 16th May, 1953. We shall post a sufficient number of men at the entrance of every office and business place and we are prepared to face anything that comes out of this’. (END OF QUOTE).
It appears to me that with the ‘’shut up” rhetoric of Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State and serving senator, to Yoruba leaders, we need to watch it. Whichever way, history must not be allowed to repeat itself and southerners must not be massacred. Let us pray for the peace of our nation and let us hope that men like Rabiu Kwankwaso do not cause another national crisis. Most important of all, let us remember the power of truth and the importance of justice in our lives and in the affairs of our country.
- Fani-Kayode served as Minister of Aviation under the Obasanjo administration.