The real trouble with Nigeria

By Douglas Anele

The inauguration of British colonial rule truncated the jihadist ambitions of warmongering Dan Fodio and his cohorts who used violence and deception or taqiyya of Islamic purification to conquer Hausaland.

Yet leading members of the northern military-civilian establishment never really gave up the idea of “dipping the Koran into the sea.” That was why when Nigeria got what is now with the benefit of hindsight regarded by several scholars as flag independence, and from May 1966 to the northern revanchist coup two months later, the overwhelming mood in the north was for araba or secession as a prelude to the eventual annexation of the south.

During colonial rule, especially at the constitutional conferences convened to formulate appropriate constitutional framework for the country after the British might have departed, northern leaders openly expressed preference for either a federal constitution with loose central government and strong regions or to pull out of Nigeria altogether.

The July 1966 coup tilted the political and military balance of power in favour of the north and led to a volte face by northern emirs and leading politicians who began championing One Nigeria with a strong central government and weak federating units.Before then, on May 24, 1966, the military government of Maj. Gen. J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi issued the Unification Decree 34 which abrogated the 1963 republican constitution.

The move triggered serious premeditated riots across the north in which Ndigbo were maimed, massacred and their properties destroyed. The unitarist provisions of that decree was deepened and expanded by Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon who introduced the divide-and-rule policy of state creation and concentrated political, fiscal and monetary powers on the federal military government.

Interestingly, the north that had violently kicked against Decree 34 accepted Gowon’s consolidated version of it because he is a northerner. From 1967 to May 29, 1999, a succession of northern military dictators issued decrees which further increased the powers of the federal government and configured Nigeria’s political architectonic to favour their own part of the country.

On the other hand, since independence leading members of the southern military-civilian elite have been working hard to sustain One Nigeria despite obvious signs that their northern counterparts are intent on dominating and dictating to other Nigerians.

For instance, Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s foremost nationalist, naively agreed to play second fiddle to Alhaji TafawaBalewa when he accepted the post of President, which is essentially a ceremonial position without any real executive power because he wanted to avoid serious political contestation that might derail the newly independent country.

Aside from naivety the major weakness of southern leaders is malignant self-centeredness and ignorance about the hegemonist intention of hard core Fulani supremacists whose religion (Islam) requires that they create a Muslim community orummah.

Keep in mind that despite receiving western education, for a typical member of the Muslim Fulani elite sharia is superior to any constitution, whereas the Koran and hadith provide theological rationale for the ever present ideology of global Islamism. Now, the 1999 constitution places Islam above other religions in the country by making provisions for Islamic law. Naira notes and the Nigerian army coat of arms have Arabic inscriptions.

Nigeria has been a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference since 1986. In 2001, at an Islamic seminar in Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari affirmed that “I will continue to show openly and inside me total commitment to the sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria.

God willing we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of sharia in the country.” To demonstrate that he was not joking about his desire to make Nigeria an Islamic state (because that is essentially the implication of his declaration above), Buhari as President has appointed or supported the appointment of predominantly Muslims to the topmost positions in most critical areas of our national life such as the legislature, judiciary, security services, Customs, Immigration, Interior ministry, NNPC and so on.

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So, notwithstanding the shibboleths and vaporous denials of a Fulanisationor Islamisation agenda in Nigeria (the two are virtually synonymous) by some dishonest Fulani caliphate colonialists and pseudo-intellectuals there is strong circumstantial evidence that the dominant faction of the northern ruling power block is committed to actualising Ahmadu Bello’s ambition to make Nigeria a colony of the nomadic Fulani.

And Buhari’sultra-nepotic approach to governance has considerably strengthened that suspicion, thus providing valid reason for Nnamdi Kanu, Prof. Banji Akintoye, and Sunday Igbohoto agitate for self-determination.

The controversy concerning which tier of government should collect Value Added Tax (VAT) has once again exposed the bizarre character of Nigeria’s political economy and the inefficient governance architectonic built on it. It started when the irascible Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, got a court decision which affirmed that the state, not the federal government, should collect and keep proceeds from VAT generated there.

Expectedly, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has been trying to upend that consequential judgment for two major reasons which, in my opinion, are unconnected with fairness and the developmental aspirations of states that collect the biggest quantum of funds from VAT.

One, the court’s decision is unfavourable to northern states that have been benefitting from what late Yinka Odumakin described sarcastically as feeding bottle federalism. Two, if the judgment stands, it would deny the big men and thick madams in FIRS access to the kind of money they want to maintain their sybaritic lifestyles.

The absurdity of the present VAT regime is that a state like Kano where the antediluvian hisbah police enforces sharia by regularly destroying alcoholic drinks still collects more VAT money – which includes huge revenue derived from alcohol sales – than most southern states where sale and consumption of alcohol is not prohibited.

Even, there is a media report that Gombe State’s commissioner for finance and economic development, Muhammad Magaji, has pleaded with southern states to be their brother’s keeper on the issue of VAT.

Magaji’s dishonest appeal commits the fallacy of argumentum ad misericordiam: it appeals to pity instead of addressing the issue of how northern states with huge adult population that can vote during elections cannot generate adequate revenue to run their states. Or are the numbers concocted for political purposes?

Northern leaders who support feeding bottle federalism are indolent knuckle heads that have failed to harness the impressive natural resources domiciled in their region for development. The VAT issue is similar to the preferential low cut-off mark reserved for northern states in entrance examinations at various levels of education.

After decades of operating the quota system, the educational gap between the north and south seems to be widening instead of reducing. Rather than encourage different parts of the country to harness what they have and develop at their own pace,feeding bottle federalism so beloved by northern leaders encourages them to be lazy and continuously depend parasitically on revenue generated from the south.

And instead of abolishing antiquated socio-cultural and religious practices that cripple individual initiative and self-reliance, the northern elite invest heavily in politics for their own bulimic selfish interests, leaving the talakawas and the almajiris to suffer unnecessarily.

The emirs and educated class in the north should be ashamed of themselves because, among other things, after decades of dominating government at the centre the average northerner remains poorer, far less educated and more disadvantaged and alienated than his southern compatriot.

Even so, in all the administrations led by northerners, southerners have always participated in propping up their northern masters to the detriment of the south. Listing all the specific instances will prolong this essay considerably.

Of particular interest, however, is the ignoble role of southern top federal civil servants in dissuading Gowon from implementing the Aburi Accord;Justice BasseyIkpeme’s controversial judgement on the June 12, 1993 presidential election; and the support Gen. Sani Abacha received from prominent members of the Yoruba and Igbo elite after his palace coup in 1993.

Consider also the abominable group of southern politicians and professionals led by Bola Ahmed Tinubu who helped Buhari return to power after a thirty-year hiatus, and have continued to support his ultra-nepotic government ever since. They are all part of the real trouble with Nigeria. 

Concluded.   

Vanguard News Nigeria

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