By Douglas Anele

Nigeria has what it takes to be great — Agric Minister

It is remarkable that President Muhammadu Buhari is applying the same knee-jerk strategy he used thirty-five years ago ostensibly to curb smuggling, minimise illegal migration, and halt the flow of arms from neighbouring countries.

In a recent lecture at the University of Lagos entitled “Unilateral Border Closures: Thirty-Five Years of Retrospection on Nigeria and Africa,” Anthony Asiwaju, emeritus Professor of history, wondered whether the recent border closure is not contradictory to Nigeria’s professed engagements with democracy and respect for people’s and human rights, particularly for those living in border communities.

In his view, a better alternative would be to empower specialised proactive border-management institutions to handle the complex political, economic, and socio-cultural issues that rear up with countries sharing land borders with Nigeria. Unfortunately, as usual Buhari apologists inside and outside government who enthusiastically support any action by the President no matter how inapt it might be see the closure as a great move notwithstanding the problems it has created for Nigerians and their neighbours on the other side.

The people praising Buhari hyperbolise benefits of the closure without considering its injurious effects on people doing legitimate businesses in the border communities, steep rise in prices of basic food items, and the potential for retaliation by neighbouring countries because of the unilateral abrogation of protocols for free movement of people and goods endorsed by countries under the umbrella of ECOWAS. Objectively considered, the border closure is not just a mixed blessing, it will probably do more harm than good as was the case in 1984. Right now,

Nigerians are already suffering from the radioactive effects of an unwise leadership that appears to act before thinking and bereft of historical imagination. To call a spade a spade, with Buhari’s second coming the normalisation of suffering, self-deception, and red herring has turned full circle.

There is growing anxiety especially among perceptive southern Nigerians that under President Buhari Fulani caliphate colonialism has reached an advanced stage never seen before in Nigerian history. Examples include the fact that the three arms of government are headed by northern Muslims.

Right from the beginning of his tenure Buhari handed over almost all the topmost positions in the security architectonic to fellow northerners and completely excluded the south-east. As if that is not enough, he has systematically been giving control of federal institutions that are decisive in the economy to northerners also.

Thus, not only are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Customs, Nigeria Ports Authority, and Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company headed by northerners, the President has just added the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to them as well. Initially, when the complaint first emerged that Buhari was surreptitiously northernising and Islamising the country, southerners like Pastor Femi Adesina, Lauretta Onochie and Dr. Chris Ngige actually defended him mostly with specious arguments that any perceived imbalance would be corrected in future appointments or that in terms of number of people appointed to various positions, Buhari had favoured the south more than the north. But future appointments by the President have not balanced anything: on the contrary, the situation has worsened to the detriment of the south and he carries on as if there is no problem.

And even if it were true that Buhari has appointed more southerners than northerners (which seems quite implausible), the issue is not about number but about the relative significance of each post in determining the authoritative allocation of power and resources in the country. As things stand right now, with the north’s expanding conquest of key positions at the centre, the number of southerners appointed by President Buhari to relatively inconsequential offices is misleading, a cheap distraction. Northerners are in charge now, and the country, as far as I am concerned, is gradually mutating into the Islamic Republic of Northern Nigeria, not the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The bizarre visa-on-arrival policy, to my mind, is a well planned design by the ruling caliphate cabal to reconfigure the demographic composition of Nigeria so that in the next decade or so the Fulani will compete numerically with the major indigenous ethnic groups in the country and increase the spread of Islam nationwide. At the risk of being accused of hate speech or promoting inter-ethnic and religious discord by the President’s lackeys, the point must be made that while Christians in the south are either sleeping or making highfalutin speeches condemning Buhari’s pro-Islam and pro-Fulani policies, the Fulani ruling class are implementing their stealth strategy of actualising Sir Ahmadu Bello’s vision of Nigeria under the permanent hegemony of northerners.

It is sad that whenever anyone points out the undeniable failures of the President in statecraft, sycophants in the Presidency try to muddy the waters by making baseless allegations of hate speech against the person or claim that he or she is an unpatriotic citizen trying to trigger ethnic tensions and misunderstanding.

But the southerners supporting Buhari in spite of his obvious favouritism for the north, including Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, are deceiving themselves thinking that they are on the same page with the Fulani cabal allegedly pulling the strings of power in this administration. Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole and others from the south working for this government are making the same costly mistake highly respected Nigerians like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Rotimi Williams and Prof. Ben Nwabueze made by thinking that Nigerian unity must be achieved at all cost. In my opinion, the failure of prominent sons and daughters of southern Nigeria to come together and speak with one voice on the need for restructuring has emboldened those the maverick writer, Chinweizu, called Fulani caliphate colonialists to act as overlords towards the rest of the country.

Without a doubt, the northern-dominated military dictatorships deliberately configured the geopolitical structure of Nigeria to favour the north, and produced constitutions to give it legal backing. The implication of this is obvious: so long as Nigeria continues to be governed based on the 1999 constitution which gives numerical superiority to the north in terms of number of states, senatorial zones, federal constituencies and local government areas which serve as channels for the exercise and flow of political power, northerners will continue to determine the political direction of the country.

And since politics and economics are intimately connected, the north will also continuously determine the allocation and distribution of economic resources. Anybody who has not grasped this simple fact cannot understand the depth of the challenges facing the country from now onwards.

Even so, notwithstanding the egregious flaws in the 1999 constitution when looked at from the prism of what I call mature federalism, President Buhari has flouted those provisions in it that could foster a sense of belonging across the country. Chapter 2 of that constitution which contains the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy stipulates, among other things, that the composition of the federal government “or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need for national unity…thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.” Section 15 specifically proclaims that national integration shall be actively encouraged “whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.” President Buhari seems to apply these provisions only when they favour the north, as if the south-east is excluded almost completely.

Given that he is in his second and final term of office, which means he will not need anybody’s vote, I predict that the trend will continue. With the exception of one or two people, prominent Igbo politicians are cowards. As a symbolic gesture of protest against Buhari’s anti-Igbo actions, what prevents Igbo members of the National Assembly from staging a walkout immediately the National Assembly was inaugurated on June 11, 2019? But then, Igbo politicians in particular lack the iron will to stand up for what is right and fight for their own people. These agbata ekee politicians are preoccupied with picking crumbs that fell from their Fulani masters’ table. Like hungry dogs they are chewing the cheap bone of Igbo presidency project which, in my view, is a hoax as long as the lopsided contraption we call Nigeria persists in its current over centralised geopolitical structure. So, politicians from the south – wake up from your slumber!

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