By Douglas Anele
It is a notorious fact that northerners have more oil blocks than their southern compatriots in whose areas the crude oil is located. Now, the practice of individuals owning such an important source of national income is wrong; it is even abominable that non-indigenes from parts of the country without a drop of oil (and as a result their communities do not experience the serious environmental problems that arise from crude oil exploration and extraction) are benefiting more than those from oil-bearing communities.
Make no mistake about it: the civil war was essentially a war about the control of the revenue from crude oil, which explains why Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, supported Nigeria in order to retain and expand existing lucrative oil deals that lubricated British economy. Generally speaking, with what has been going on in the country since 1970 typified by the senseless recycling of mediocrity in leadership especially at the federal level, one can be forgiven for thinking that Nigeria was designed to fail.
Considered retrospectively, the eagerness with which Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon and the hawks in his government declared war on the new nation, Biafra, had very little to do with preserving a country that works for everybody. So whenever former military dictators from northern Nigeria claimed that the Biafran war was fought to preserve the country’s unity, they deliberately omit to tell Nigerians that the real reason for it was to maintain northern political dominance which allows Fulani caliphate colonialists and their enablers to appropriate economic resources from the south.
There is documentary evidence that right from the very beginning northern Nigeria has been economically dependent on the south, as late Prof. B. C.Ijoma conclusively proved some time ago in his well-argued riposte to the falsehood by one of the theoreticians of Fulani caliphate colonialism, Prof. Ango Abdulllahi. Indeed, one of the major reasons for the amalgamation was that British colonial officials wanted to shift the financial burden of administering northern protectorate from the British treasury to “the southern lady of means,” as explained in 1913 by Sir William Harcourt, Secretary of State for the colonies (1910-1915).
Of course,northern dependency syndrome has not gone down at all since that time. On the contrary, it has grown worse, to the extent that the northern ruling class will go to any length to maintain the colonial amalgam staunchly supported by the former colonial master. Therefore once the northern continuing quest for political domination and economic exploitation of the south are inserted in the Nigerian equation, the rationale for the shibboleth “One Nigeria” by Yakubu Gowon, his successors and “useful idiots” from the south since the civil war ended leaps into bold relief.
In all this, southern Nigerians (particularly Ndigbo and their immediate neighbours) should stop blaming northerners alone for dominating the country even if their divide-and-rule strategy for sustaining One Nigeria which gained traction when Gowon carved the eastern region into three states on March 27, 1967has aggravated the forces of disintegration. Why? Because Dr. Azikiwe, Chief Awolowo and their successors at various times had the opportunity to alter the trajectory of Nigerian political evolution but they blew it.
As I have already argued, British colonial officials were not really keen to hand over Nigeria to the best hands and brains from the south. Incontrovertible proof of that can be found in Prof.Omoruyi’s work cited earlier where he details how and why the last British governor-general, Sir James Robertson,anointed Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister even before results of the 1959 federal elections were fully in for reasons that have nothing to do with competence and proven track record of performance.
Moreover, Islam the dominant religion of the Fulani ethnic group, mandates muslims to rule wherever they find themselves in furtherance of the long term aspiration of those who wrote the Koran regarding Islam’s global domination. At any rate, without the One Nigeria ideological political praxis championed by Dr.Azikiwe and other prominent southern politicians of the First Republic, probably there would have been concerted move by the first two southern regions to form a country of their own or, at the very least, their political leaders would not have made concessions any time northern leaders threatened to secede, concessions that eventually helped Fulani caliphate colonialists to consolidate their stranglehold on power with the passage of time.
It is ironic that the north which clamoured for a federation with very weak centre and strong federating units later embraced completely a highly centralised political system or unitarism. For those conversant with Nigerian history, the change in approach is not puzzling at all: the northern volte-face occurred after the revanchist coup of July 29, 1966, an indication that key figures in the northern military-civilian establishment executed the coup not just as a repulsive payback for the so-called “Igbo coup” six months earlier but also as a means of seizing and retaining political power in line with Ahmadu Bello’s vision of using minorities of the north as willing tools and the south as conquered territory.
Ken SaroWiwa and top federal civil servants from the south such as Solomon Akenzua, H. A. Ejueyitchie, Phillip Asiodu, and Allison Ayidaunwittingly played a key role in furthering Bello’s subjugationist intention by persuading Gowon not to implement the Aburi accord that probably would have saved the country from the devastating Biafran war. During the civil war proper, the Yoruba led by Chief Awolowo and minorities of the middle-belt fought against Biafra.
Even, prominent indigenes from the old Rivers and South-Eastern states abandoned Biafra and switched sides. Betrayal of the Biafran cause by fellow southerners was part of what the iconic novelist, Prof. Chinua Achebe, tried to explain when he said that resentment of Ndigbo by compatriots from other parts of Nigeria was caused by ekwolo (envy and jealousy) triggered by the unsurpassed success of Igbo people nationwide made worse through crude and noisy exhibitionism.
It is unfortunate that up to this moment most prominent southern leaders have not learnt the most important lesson from the civil war and its aftermath, namely, that the muslim Fulani ruling class is committed to making Nigeria the homeland of all Fulani in West Africa and beyond.
That is why since 1970 several notable Nigerians from the south have actually helped midwife policies that entrenched northern domination, with the Sokoto caliphate as the invisible government or puppeteer controlling the visible puppet governments in both military and civilian dispensations.
Remember, Justice Akinola Aguda, a Yoruba, headed the panel that recommended Abuja in the north as the new federal capital to replace Lagos, while Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was the military head of state when the 1979 constitution was packaged and promulgated. Groundwork for that very document was spearheaded by late Chief Rotimi Williams and Prof. Ben Nwabueze, chairman of the constitution drafting committee and a sub-committee chairman respectively.
Needless to say, the 1979 constitution reaffirmed the over-centralised or unitary system which the north leveraged on to enhance its control at the centre and also opened the door for recognition of sharia hitherto categorised under customary law as a full–fledged distinct legal system applicable in both civil and criminal cases.
Since the gravely flawed 1999 constitution now in operation is a mutant or clone of the 1979 version, Obasanjo, Williams and Nwabueze are jointly responsible for abandoning what is sometimes euphemistically referred to as “true federalism” in favour of a highly centralised political arrangement that has crippled the federating units particularly in southern Nigeria notwithstanding the fact that successive administrations in the southern states with few exceptions have taken mediocre leadership to unprecedented low levels.
Northern (that is, muslim Fulani) political domination would not have been possible without northernisation of the military which began in earnest immediately after independence. With Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister, northern quality- or standard-destroying interference in the army gathered momentum because the four most senior posts in the ministry of defence were occupied by northerners: Inuwa Wada (defence minister), Ibrahim Tako Galadima (minister of state for the army), SuleKolo and Ahmadu Kurfi (permanent secretary and deputy permanent secretary ministry of defence respectively).
In concert with Ahmadu Bello and Balewa these four officials,encouraged by the nonchalant attitude of southern politicians to skewed recruitments into the army,lowered the educational qualifications for enlistment into the officer corps of the military and introduced quota system which guaranteed northern region over fifty-percent of all new recruitments.
In addition, since independence till the present most major military institutions and installations are located in the north. In his book, The Nigeria Revolution and the Biafran War, Alexander Madiebonotes that before the first military coup of January 15, 1966 sixteen of them were located in the north, three in the west, while the east had only one. Surely, the situation has become more appalling in the former eastern region as a result of losing the civil war.
Focusing attention now on the current troubling situation in the country, Buhari’s government(alias the amorphous or opaque “presidency”) has widened and deepened the ethno-religious cleavages that have bedevilled the counstry since 1914.
To be continued.