By Femi Fani-Kayode
‘’Do not call a conspiracy what these people call a conspiracy, neither fear ye their fear but sanctify the Lord your God in your heart and let Him be your only fear”- ISAIAH 8:12
In an essay, titled, ‘’Afenifere: A Syllabus Of Errors’’, written in 1998 and published in Gamji.com, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi wrote the following:
‘’Anyone who needs a lesson in how not to be a politician, and how never to win power in Nigeria should study Yoruba politicians.
“Unless the Yoruba masses disown Afenifere, this group of degree-bearing political illiterates will lead Yoruba land down its own version of a syllabus of errors, an island unto themselves, allucinating in their own idiocy and content to remain marginalised citizens in their own country while blaming the North for their self – inflicted woes.
“The syllabus of errors remains a black spot on the history of the Catholic Church. Afenifere will be an even blacker spot on the political history of the Yoruba.
Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi’s pedigree speaks mountains of what his political stance would be ab initio. “He probably believes, like other Fulani politicians, that the problems of this country have a lot to do with the shift in power away from the Fulani to individuals like Babangida and Abacha, products of lower cultures’.
“The Fulani of the North, proud of the history of the Caliphate, remain proud of the roles played by Fulani leaders of the political and military establishment in Nigeria- Ahmadu Bello, Murtala Muhammed, Aminu Kano, Shehu Yar’Adua, Shehu Shagari, Jubril Aminu.
“They are sad that other Nigerians do not know the difference in ethnic background between say, Murtala Muhammed and Ibrahim Babangida. They do not understand how a man like Abacha, born to a cigarette-seller in Fagge quarters of Kano (and this speaks mountains of him, how he ruled and how he died), can be taken as the quintessential representative of the Caliphate whose head he disgraced and whose culture and values he sought to erode.
“So, Shinkafi probably believes in the need for a power-shift: Back to the Fulani. He may not be alone in this tendency. Politicians like Mahmud Waziri, Bamanga Tukur, Jubril Aminu, even M. D. Yusufu may consciously or unconsciously have similar views.
“To the Fulani, there is nothing like ceding the presidency or power. If you want it, you work for it…If you lack the stomach to dig in and fight, too bad for you. Southern politicians have always failed to understand the complexity of the North and its politics’’.
These are interesting words from an interesting Fulani man. The disdain and sheer contempt that Emir Sanusi harbors for non-Fulanis and southerners and for Afenifere and the Yoruba people in particular remains intact till today. His assertion that ‘’southern politicians have always failed to understand the complexity of the North’’ is false.
Despite the fact that we southerners understand the nature of core northern politicians and leaders very well, we have always chosen to hold our peace, condone their excesses, carry their baggage and accept their strange ways and complicated peculiarities in the name of national unity.
The truth is that it is Emir Sanusi and his Fulani people that have misunderstood southerners all along. We in the South may be accommodating, tolerant and generous people, but our kindness and liberal nature must never be mistaken for stupidity or weakness. That is the mistake that people like Sanusi often make with their racist views and condescending words. He forgets that the culture and history of most of the southern empires and kingdoms predate that of the Fulani Caliphate by hundreds of years.
17 years after Sanusi wrote this piece about southerners, I have decided to respond to him by sharing my views about the core North and its Fulani leaders. This is especially so because we have a hardline Fulani conservative at the helm of affairs in our country today.
Sanusi wrote his views about the South in 1998 when his fellow northerner was Head of State, but I choose to write my views about the North, not when my fellow southerner is in power, but rather when a northerner is President. I have not taken offence at Emir Sanusi’s views about southerners and I sincerely hope that he and his people will not take offence at my views about core northerners.
This essay will not only be deemed as being controversial but its contents will also be keenly contested and scrutinized. This is because I am going to express some home truths here which the majority of our people know to be true but few are prepared to voice.
Conspiracy of silence
I am making this intervention not out of hate but out of love and compassion for those who have lost their lives at the hands of our adversaries over the last 55 years. I am also mindful of the fact that every single person that is a member of the ruling class or that has held a position of leadership in this country between 1960 and today, including yours truly, has to take partial responsibility for the terrible things that our people have experienced over the years, for the criminal negligence that we have all indulged in, for the shameful conspiracy of silence that we appear to relish and for the abysmal and pitiable situation that we have found ourselves in as a people and as a nation.
Those of us that are members of the ruling elite are all, in varying degrees, guilty and it is to partly ameliorate that sense of guilt that I feel constrained to speak out and expose the truth.
I am not a racist or tribalist. I deplore violence and bloodshed. I have no hate in me for any individual or ethnic group and I am a firm believer in the view that all men are equal before God regardless of the circumstances of their birth, their creed, their tribe, their nationality or the color of their skin. Whilst I hold these truths to be self-evident , I also believe that it is incumbent upon those of us that lay claim to being leaders to always speak the truth about the history and unfolding events in our country no matter how uncomfortable that truth may be.
Despite all the insults, threats, misrepresentation and, often times, slanderous and utterly bizarre allegations that I, my family and my loved ones have been subjected to over the years from ignorant, venal and hate-filled men, I shall be counted among those few voices.
If nothing else that is good enough for me and with that alone I would have made a meaningful contribution to my nation’s history and done my forefathers proud. It is with this in mind that I urge readers to fasten their seat belts and consider the following contribution.
When Cain killed his brother Abel, the Bible tells us that God asked him the following question: “Where is thy brother Abel?”
Cain responded in a defiant manner: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God responded by telling Cain that his brother’s blood was crying to Him from the ground for vengeance. From that point, Cain was afflicted with a terrible curse which could not be lifted because it came from the Living God.
Wherever he went, the curse that goes with shedding his brother’s innocent blood followed him. This was made worse by the fact that he refused to repent or show remorse for what he had done. Everything that he did failed and everywhere he went he was despised, rejected, feared, hated and viewed with suspicion by his compatriots, colleagues and fellow men.
Tragedy and misfortune stalked him and he ended up being nothing but a vagabond, a marauder, a parasite and a wanderer in foreign lands. He became a byword and a proverb: a herder of goats and cattle who lived and survived by guile, doublespeak, stealing, pillaging and intimidating others. He became the proverbial leech who made a headway in life only by benefiting from the sweat, labour and hard work of his hosts and benefactors, by sponging off whichever community gave him succour and by resorting to violence and bloodshed at the slightest opportunity and at the drop of a hat.
He also acquired an obsession with controlling others and an insatiable lust for power and the perpetual domination, suppression and conquest of what he perceived as “lesser tribes and lesser people”.
Simply put, he was a dangerous predator who sought to milk others dry and conquer by guile and assimilation. There are comparisons to be made with Nigeria here.
Sinister forces and dark elements from the deeply conservative core North have killed more Middle Belters and southerners than any other in our country over the last 55 years. Worse still, those forces do not just kill but they also establish their own communities in the land and territory of their victims and forcefully occupy it. They have refused to stop doing so and, to all intents and purposes, they have developed an insatiable blood lust which compels them to shed innocent blood at the slightest whim in order to subjugate others and to remain in power.
The South, whom our British colonial masters once referred to as the “rich wife”, has effectively become the Abel of Nigeria whilst the conservative core North, whom they once called the “poor husband”, has now become the Cain. For many years, the Lord has been asking the core North what they have done to their southern and Middle Belt brothers and why they keep doing it.
For years, the conservative core North has responded with defiance and anger and asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The result of this open defiance and lack of remorse is simple and clear: It has attracted. God’s wrath. Is it any wonder that Boko Haram now ravages the core North? Is it any wonder that every single core northern leader that has ever ruled Nigeria since 1960 has either been killed or died in mysterious circumstances whilst on the throne or was removed in a military coup and then subjected to a number of years in detention?
Is it any wonder that the core North is totally dependent on the rest of the country for its sustenance and economic survival? Is it any wonder that a UNICEF report, released a few years ago, stated that if Nigeria were to ever break up, that the core North would be the most impoverished, the most backward, the most unsustainable and the most barren area in the whole of the West African sub-region?
Is it any wonder that they were viewed with so much suspicion by others that the core northern states were excised from the country by Major Gideon Orkar in his 1991 coup broadcast and asked to re-apply if they wanted to be part of Nigeria again?
Is it any wonder that the leading south-western politician within the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) is secretly complaining and quietly lamenting the fact that he was used in the 2015 elections by the core North simply to put one of their own back in power so that their hegemony could be resurrected and their agenda of perpetual and everlasting northern rule could be established forever? Is it any wonder that, according to a survey carried out this year by Global.
Terror Index, which was published in the United Kingdom’s Independent Newspaper, that two of the four most deadly terrorist organisations in the world today are based in core northern Nigeria and are led, funded, peopled and inspired by some core northern Nigerians?
According to the report, Nigeria’s Boko Haram is now officially the world’s most deadly terrorist organisation whilst what they have described as ‘’the Fulani militants’’ (aka Nigeria’s Fulani herdsmen) are number four. Is it any wonder that, according to the same Global Terror Index report, Nigeria is now the “third most terrorised nation in the world” whilst Iraq and Afghanistan remain the first and second and Syria and Pakistan remain the fourth and fifth respectively? Given this, is it any wonder that there are loud and increasingly persistent calls for self-determination in southern Nigeria?
Is it any wonder that the core North is ravaged by poverty, disease, violence, strife, conflict, stagnation and bareness more than anywhere else in our country? Is it any wonder that, according to a 2015 UNICEF report, Nigeria has the ‘’highest number of child brides on the African continent’’ with no less than 23 million child brides in the North?
Is it any wonder that, according to the World Health Organisation, northern Nigeria has the ‘’highest number of young girls in the world suffering from vagina vesicovaginal fistula (VVF)’’, a disease which comes as a consequence of sexual intercourse with young under age girls?
Is it any wonder that many core North is afflicted with a self-serving and calculating ultra-conservative ruling elite who keep their own people in perpetual subjugation, darkness and bondage and who come from a distant foreign land called Fouta Jallon in modern-day Guinea?
Is it any wonder that most core northerners name themselves after the towns and villages that they were born and raised in rather than after their families and forefathers? Is it any wonder that we have a core northern President who finds it difficult to stay at home?
Is it any wonder that an influential leader from one of the core northern states, who later became a traditional ruler, was an Islamic fundamentalist in his youth, and was one of those that inspired and orchestrated the murder of Gideon Akaluka for “desecrating the Koran?”
Is it any wonder that a core northern Nigerian by the name of Omar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the ‘’underwear bomber’’ who tried to blow up an American airliner that was filled with passengers in Detroit, told the FBI that his ‘’most trusted mentor’’ and ‘’favorite uncle’’ was a well-known and leading core northern leader? Is it any wonder that Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, one of the most respected northern voices in the country, recently, said ‘’the northern Muslim elite laid the foundation for Boko Haram?”
Read the second part here
*Fani-Kayode was Minister of Aviation under the Obasanjo administration.