By Douglas Anele
Caliphate colonialists from the north would not have succeeded in their schemes for so long without using southerners, more disappointingly the Igbo, to do their dirty work. We have already noted that during the regime of Gen. Murtala Mohammed, Justice Akinola Aguda from the south-west chaired the committee that recommended Abuja as the new capital of Nigeria. Karl Maier, in This House has Fallen, wryly noted “the spectacle of two former Biafran wartime propagandists, ‘Comrade’ Uche Chukwumerije and Walter Ofonagoro, plying their trade on behalf of the Babangida and Abacha dictatorships…and the young pro-military campaigner, Daniel Kanu’s comical YEAA, for Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha… .” Now, as Gen. Abacha was consolidating his grip on power with Machiavellian tactics, events unfolded in an extraordinary sequence that, if novelised, would make an absorbing piece of fiction focusing on the precariousness of human existence and everything associated with it.
On June 8, 1998, Abacha died of heart attack in controversial circumstances, and was replaced about twenty-four hours later by the relatively unknown chief of army staff, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. As at that time, the June 12 issue was still unresolved. The new military ruler evoked the assistance of Kofi Annan and Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former secretaries-general of the United Nations and Commonwealth of Nations, respectively, among others, to meet Abiola and try to convince him to relinquish his mandate.
On July 7, in what seems like a well-planned clandestine elimination plot by both local and international actors, Chief Abiola took ill while having a meeting with United States officials led by the undersecretary of state, Thomas Pickering. He was taken to a medical clinic where he died ninety minutes later. Once again, with Abdulsalami Abubakar as head of state, the caliphate has triumphed; but there was growing apprehension because of the increasing feeling in the south, in Yorubaland particularly, that application of the born-to-rule theory of Maitama Sule by Babangida, Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar was the main reason Abiola was denied the presidency. Probably because of the brief period at his disposal, Gen. Abubakar could not do much for caliphate colonialism. However, the unexplained but massive reduction in the country’s foreign exchange reserves within six months meant that Abubakar presided over a hideously larcenous interregnum.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s contrived emergence as President in 1999 demonstrates the audacity of caliphate colonialists in determining the oscillations of power pendulum in Nigeria. Obasanjo was serving a fifteen-year jail sentence slammed on him by the late Abacha for allegedly plotting to overthrow him. To retired senior military officers from the north, including Babangida, Abubakar, Danjuma and others who still wielded enormous economic and political power in the Animal Farm called Nigeria, Obasanjo, a southern agent of the northern ruling establishment and former head of state who handed over power to a democratically elected northerner, can be trusted not to rock the boat of caliphate colonialism. As a result, Babangida and others ensured that Obasanjo emerged victorious in the February 1999 presidential election under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Chief Obasanjo, smarting from the humiliation of imprisonment and torture by Abacha, retired what he called politically exposed military officers, most of whom were from the north and loyal to the hegemonist vision of the caliphate. Expectedly, some prominent caliphate colonialists were not happy with Obasanjo. In response, they launched what might be called sharianisation of the core northern states, a move that tended to challenge the purported secularity of Nigeria. Unfortunately, Obasanjo naively believed that the sharia movement will fizzle out. He was wrong. Chinweizu reports that on March 28, 2005, the emirs met in Kaduna under the auspices of the supreme council of Islamic affairs with the sultan of Sokoto as chairman. At the meeting, retired Major Mustapha Jokolo, emir of Gwandu then and, ipso facto, second in command to the sultan, lamented that northern muslims have been marginalised by Obasanjo. Therefore, “we must decide what to do now…Let our people withdraw from the confab…Muslims are not afraid and they will come out to say the truth.” Jokolo continued: “We [muslims] have been pushed to the wall and it is time to fight…Obasanjo is trampling on our rights and muslims must rise and defend their rights. The more we continue to wait, the more we will be marginalised.”
Obasanjo’s failure to recognise at the initial stage the dangers posed by the introduction of sharia and boko haram and deal with them decisively was a serious blunder that has actually strengthened the grip of caliphate loyalists on power at the centre. By the time Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was elected President in 2007, several other states in the north had joined Zamfara state in proclaiming sharia. Moreover, boko haram had mutated into a well-funded instrument of terror and destruction with links to Al Qaeda. Yar’Adua was a scion of the caliphate, a mild-mannered gentleman whose capacity to perform in office, including dealing with the boko haram insurgency, was hampered by ill health. It has been alleged in certain quarters that Obasanjo deliberately picked Yar’Adua knowing that he might not finish his tenure so that power would be transferred to the non-caliphate Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
“Of course, the allegation might be true, but there is no evidence to back it up. The demise of Yar’Adua paved the way for Jonathan to become the first President from the south-south geopolitical zone. Like Yar’Adua, Jonathan is a cool-headed humble man lacking the military aggressivity and bullying tactics of Obasanjo. There are clear indications that caliphate colonialists were not comfortable with his presidency, although we must admit that Jonathan himself played into their hands by his failures, which were magnified in the media by opposition politicians and their hired lackeys. Frist, several prominent members of the northern establishment kicked against Jonathan’s decision to ignore the zoning policy of the PDP and contest in 2011 after serving out the remaining period of his joint ticket with Yar’Adua. As early as October 2010, Alhaji Lawal Kaita stated that “The north is determined, if that happens, to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan or any other southerner who finds his way to the seat of power on the platform of the PDP against the principle of the party’s zoning policy.” Two years later, in Katsina, he threatened that “We hear rumours all over that Jonathan is planning to contest in 2015. Well, the north is going to be prepared if the country remains one.
“That is, if the country remains one we are going to fight for it. If not, everybody can go his way.” Jokolo and Kaita were not the only prominent northerners that used bellicose language to express their demand that the presidency must return to the north, especially in 2015. Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, in May 2012, warned that should what happened in 2011 election repeat itself in 2015, “the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.” But why are northerners so obsessed with political power at the federal level to the extent of threatening violence if one of their own did not become the President in 2015? Answer: because they are convinced beyond any iota of doubt that Allah had destined Nigeria to be ruled by the descendants of Uthman Dan Fodio, as enunciated in 1960 by Sir Ahmadu Bello and reaffirmed thirty-two years later by Maitama Sule.
“In economic terms, this means that the north must control oil revenue from the south in a manner that benefits mostly members of the northern ruling elite, both military and civilian. In that regard, the Biafran conflict was fundamentally a war by northern region against the eastern region for the control of oil. It is remarkable that after more than forty-seven years since the war ended, members of the northern establishment are still fixated about control of oil proceeds from the south. The Guardian of May 28, 2009, contains a statement by Alhaji Bala Ibn N’Allah, then a member of the House of Representatives and now in the Senate, to the effect that “What is happening in the Niger Delta is pure criminality of the highest order, arising from total disregard for constituted authority. In Iraq, thousands of people lost their lives because of an insurrection against the government during the reign of former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. We can do away with 20 million militants for the rest of 120 million Nigerians to live.” Similarly, Usman Farouk, former military governor of north-western state during the regime of Gen. Gowon, in his reply to Asari Dokubo who threatened that his group would trigger secession of the Niger Delta from Nigeria, boasted that “We subdued the Yorubas and conquered the Ijaws; we will do it again.”