By Femi Fani-Kayode
The first part was published last Sunday
Is it any wonder that on October 12, 1960, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sadauna of Sokoto and the Premier of the Northern Region, said: “This new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must RUTHLESSLY prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as conquered territory. We must never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over the future?”
Is it any wonder that in 1990, Sheik Abubakar Gumi, the leader of the most powerful Muslim sect in northern Nigeria said ”no Christian will be allowed to rule over Nigeria unless it is over his dead body?”
Is it any wonder that my friend and brother Governor Nasir El Rufai, once warned the Nigerian military against what he considered to be their excesses in the fight against Boko Haram and told them that “anyone, whether soldier or otherwise, that kills a Fulani must consider it as a debt that, no matter how long, will be repaid?”
Is it any wonder that in 2001 some unscrupulous and irresponsible leaders in the core North invoked ”political Sharia” as a secret weapon in their attempt to discredit, destabilize and destroy President Olusegun Obasanjo, a southern Christian President?
Is it any wonder that in 2001, President Muhammadu Buhari, a core northern Muslim, said ”what is the business of Christians if we Muslims chop off our limbs in the name of Sharia” and went further by saying that it is his intention and desire ”to spread Sharia all over the federation”. Is it any wonder that the same man said in 2014 that “an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the North?”
Is it any wonder that Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State said that there was a link between Boko Haram and the Fulani militants/ herdsmen and that they both “kill people and rob them of their property”.
Is it any wonder that virtually every single notable southern leader in our political history that has ever aligned with the North, including MKO Abiola, Ken Saro-Wiwa; Isaac Boro, and many others ended up secretly regretting it because after all, their noble efforts of regional and ethnic bridge-building, they ended up being cheated, insulted, marginalized, humiliated, maligned, misrepresented, used, dumped, jailed or killed?
Worse still, in the case of Saro-Wiwa, after he was hanged, acid was poured all over his body in order to remove all trace of him.
Is it any wonder that Dr. Junaid Mohammed, one of the leading apostles of northern hegemony, said that Nigerians should ”let the Biafrans go” and that ”they need Nigeria more than Nigeria needs them?”
Is it any wonder that Chief Bola Ige, of blessed memory, once referred to the Fulani as “the Tutsis of Nigeria” and that Mohammed Yusuf, a leading core northern civil servant, once referred to the Tutsis as “the Fulani in diaspora?”
Is it any wonder that virtually every single courageous, moderate, honest, liberal and truly progressive core northern leader, like Abubakar ‘Dangiwa’ Umar, Nuhu Ribadu, Kashim Ibrahim Imam, Halilu Akilu, Tanko Yakassai, Sule Lamido and Lawal Batagarawa that sought to build bridges of peace and understanding with the South throughout his life and career, that insists on equity and fairness between the ethnic nationalities, that refuses to describe his tribe as the ”master race”, that resists racial and religious bigotry, that deplores injustice and wickedness and that stands up against the excesses of his own leaders and people, is persecuted, viewed with suspicion, misrepresented and not allowed to achieve his full potentials by the deeply conservative and reactionary leaders of the ultra-conservative core North?
Is it any wonder that many are of the view that ”the biggest unifying factor in Nigeria is not football but crude oil? The very moment crude oil (in significant commercial quantity) is discovered in the North, that day will mark the beginning of the North’s agitation for a breakaway from the entity called Nigeria”.
The Bible tells us that “God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform”. When the misguided and ultra-conservative leaders of an ethnic nationality in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic state prides itself on building an empire, enslaving others, occupying their land and holding on to power by consistently using violence, religion, subterfuge, lies, deceit, manipulation and the shedding of blood, a terrible price has to be paid.
For those that doubt the veracity of my earlier assertion that every single core northerner that has ever ruled this country has either died in office or been removed from power and detained for a number of years, permit me to enlighten you.
Kindly note the fact that General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who were also Heads of State and who were also from the North, were not core northerners but Middle Belters.
That is what set them apart and made the difference. We are talking about core northern leaders here and the bitter and tragic end that each and everyone of them suffered after being Head of State, President or Prime Minister.
Consider the following. Sir Tafawa Balewa, who was Prime Minister from 1960 till 1966, was from the core North and he was killed whilst in office. General Murtala Mohammed, who was Head of State from 1975 till 1976, was from the core North and he was killed whilst in office. Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was President from 1979 till 1983, was from the core North, and he was removed by a military coup whilst in office after which he was detained for two years during which he almost went blind.
General Muhammadu Buhari, who was Head of State from 1983 till 1985, was from the core North and he was removed in a military coup whilst in office after which he was detained for four years. General Sani Abacha, who was Head of State from 1994 till 1998, was from the core North and he died under mysterious circumstances whilst in office. Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua who was President from 2007 till 2010, was from the core North and he died under mysterious circumstances whilst in office.
No-one deserves to be killed or to die in such mysterious circumstances and no-one deserves to suffer incarceration unlawfully. I am saddened by what each and everyone of these respected leaders suffered and by what they were forced to go through. I deplore murder, violence, bloodshed and the unconstitutional removal of democratically-elected Presidents and Prime Ministers.
I do not relish what happened to any of them and neither do I endorse what befell them. However it is clear to me, as it ought to be clear to any discerning reader, that there is more to all this than meets the eye. It is not a coincidence.
The Abel in Nigeria
There is a clearly established pattern of sad and unfortunate events here that cannot be ignored or wished away and that must be critically examined. In short, there is clearly a bigger picture in all this and a concise message that many of us fail to appreciate, acknowledge or recognize.
The Bible says “he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword”. The efficacy of this spiritual truism and powerful scripture is better proved and exhibited in our country than perhaps any other. Today, in Nigeria, God is asking Cain ”where is your brother Abel” and this time He must get an answer.
Yet, who precisely is Abel? The answer is simple and clear: Abel is Gideon Akaluka, the young man from Benue State who was dragged out of a Kano police station by a barbaric mob and whose head was cut off and placed on the end of a long pole for allegedly desecrating the Koran.
Abel is the little Igbo girl who was ravaged by kwashiokor and starved to death during the Nigerian civil war. Abel are the two young men that were shot to death in Enugu for marching against injustice, for demanding the release of their leader Nnamdi Kanu and for calling for the establishment of Biafra.
Abel is the pastor whose church was burnt down, whose family was butchered and who was crucified at the altar by an irate mob of terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists in Borno State. Abel is the Muslim girl who was stoned to death for falling in love with a Christian boy and attempting to marry him in Zamfara State.
Abel is the woman that was hacked to death with her children and thrown down a well by a mob of Muslim fanatics in Jos. Abel is the Kataf man that was castrated and chopped into pieces, the southern Kaduna girl who was burnt alive and the Berom woman that was mutilated and raped to death by Fulani militants.
Abel are the five young Igbo traders that were slaughtered in their shops for “not being able to recite the Koran” at Madala market in Niger State.
Abel are the 105 brave young soldiers who were attacked with chemical weapons by Boko Haram in Borno State and who our government have refused to acknowledge or honour in death.
Abel are the 200 girls from Chibok, the 170 girls from Bam and the thousands of other young girls from all over the North who were abducted from their homes, schools and communities and who were raped, tortured, enslaved, maimed and murdered in cold blood by Boko Haram.
Abel are the hundreds of thousands of Igbo that are always butchered whenever there is any conflict or dispute in the North. Abel are the 21 Shiite Muslims who were blown to pieces in Kano by Boko Haram. Abel are the nine young Igbo martyrs that were shot to death by security forces during a peaceful IPOB march in Onitsha.
Abel is the palm wine tapper who was cut to pieces in Delta State and the royal father that was hacked to death in Enugu by Fulani militants. Abel is the embattled community in Delta State who were forced to ban the Fulani militants and herdsmen from entering their land due to their consistent acts of rape, murder, terror and violence.
Abel are the great souls that the leaders of the core North conspired to destroy by setting them up with trumped up and malicious criminal charges. These include Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was sent to prison for three years on the watch of Sir Tafawa Balewa and President Olusegun Obasanjo who was sent to prison for three years on the watch of General Sani Abacha.
Abel is Colonel Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who fought against the mass murder of his people, who protected his kith and kin from Cain’s genocide and who was driven into exile.
Abel are the young Igbo boys and old Igbo men that were rounded up in the town square in Asaba and executed by our troops during the civil war. Abel are the one million Biafran children that were subjected to genocide and to a slow, miserable, painful and horrific death by our government during that same civil war.
Abel are the 800 innocent souls, including eleven young youth corpers, that were butchered by President Buhari’s supporters in the core North after he lost the presidential election in 2011. Abel are the 350 teachers that were killed by Boko Haram in Borno State.
Abel are the 100 Shiite Muslims that were slaughtered by our army for staging a peaceful protest in Kaduna.
Abel is every single one of the hundreds of thousands of innocent souls that were killed in sectarian violence and ethnic pogroms in northern Nigeria over the last 55 years.
Abel are the so-called wretched of the earth: the weak, the helpless, the voiceless and the downtrodden. Abel is the silent majority who have no voice to speak for themselves, who are not members of the so-called ”master race”, who were not ”born to rule” and who were cut short and sent to the great beyond before their time.
For every nation and every evil seed comes a day of reckoning. In Nigeria we are almost there. It is just a matter of time.
Until then Cain, the rejected of the Lord, shall remain rejected and Abel’s innocent blood shall continue to speak against him and his seed.
The Lord God of Hosts, the Ancient of Days, the Man of War and the God of All Flesh is speaking and He is saying ”let my people go”. The question is whether Cain is listening.
I am also Fulani
Before I conclude this piece, permit me to clarify one or two issues. It has been said that I am ”anti-core North and anti-Fulani” yet nothing could be further from the truth.
The only thing that I am ”anti” is injustice and wickedness. I would like to remind readers that one eighth of the blood that flows through my veins is Fulani and this derives from my maternal great grandmother who was a pure Fulani woman.
I am very proud of that aspect of my ancestry and I am equally proud of my almost pure Yoruba bloodlines and heritage. I can hardly be described as a hater of the Fulani when I am partly Fulani myself.
However, if some believe that criticizing the leadership of the Fulani and the atrocious and often times irresponsible way that they have behaved over the last 55 years makes me “anti-Fulani”, then so be it.
I would also like to remind my traducers that I was introduced into politics and given my first political appointment in 1992 by a highly respected and much-loved elder statesman who happens to be from the core north by the name of Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, the Marafan Sokoto. Marafan is like a father to me and he is a man that I cherish. If I was ”anti-Fulani” or ”anti-core North” this would not be the case and I would harbor no such affection for this great Nigerian. Again, I have defended my friend and brother Colonel Sambo Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser, and resisted the ruthless persecution and misrepresentation that he has been subjected to by the Buhari administration as much as anyone else over the last few months.
Dasuki is a Fulani of royal blood and noble lineage. If I ”hated” Fulanis, I doubt that I would have bothered to do so.
If I raise issues about the core-North or the Fulani, it is because I believe that they can do far better and I am of the view that they need to do a lot of soul-searching about their role and purpose in a wider Nigeria.
If this country is to remain one, then the tendency in the core North that honestly believes that the Fulani were ”born to rule” must retrace their steps and think again.
This point has been eloquently enunciated by Mr. Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB, the OPC, MASSOB, Afenifere, the Yoruba Council of Elders, Ohanaeze, the Ijaw National Congress, the Niger Delta militants and so many other ethnic nationalists and self-determination groups over the years and who can blame them?
Like President Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, said 210 years ago, “we prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery”.
Again like President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, the father of pan-Africanism, once proclaimed, ”we reject the tranquility of servitude”.
Again, like Rev. Martin Luther King, the father of civil rights and African-American liberation, once said, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor: it must be demanded by the oppressed”.
Again, like Mr. Yinka Odumakin, the spokesman for Afenifere, said, “methinks that it is Nigeria that is dead and that the quest for self-determination is very much alive”.
The point is simple and clear: the days of ”masters and slaves” or ”horse and horse-rider” are long over in our nation. In today’s Nigeria, every tribe, every ethnic nationality and every individual, no matter how big or small, must be treated with sensitivity, caution, dignity and respect and must be regarded as equals. If this fundamental principle is not respected and if we refuse to answer the ‘national question’, I have no doubt that eventually this country will hit the rocks and will break into two or more pieces.
Those that choose to misrepresent, misconstrue and misunderstand me may continue to do so if it makes them feel any better. Regardless of what they say, I shall continue to stand up for the oppressed whether they be Christian or Muslim, northern or southern or whether they are Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Ijaw, Hausa, Edo, Isoko, Tiv, Idoma, Berom, Kanuri, Efik, Ibibio, Nupe, Shuwa Arab or anything else.
As long as God gives me life and a strong voice, I shall continue to speak the truth, I shall continue to educate others about our nation’s history, I shall continue to resist injustice and oppose evil and I shall continue to treat my detractors with the contempt and disdain that they deserve.
Some may hate me for writing this piece and they may seek to discredit and destroy me because of it. This is because the truth hurts and they cannot bear to hear it.
Let me assure them that my covenant with the Lord will not allow them to achieve their evil plans for me or mine. No weapon fashioned against me shall prosper and every tongue that rises against me stands condemned.
The blood of Jesus speaks for me. The Lord is my shield, my glory and the lifter of my head. He alone gives me utterance, knowledge, wisdom and understanding. He alone gives me courage and strength. He alone do I fear.
*Fani-Kayode was Minister of Aviation in the Obasanjo administration.