October 11, 2022

The Kanuris fly their flag again (4)

The Kanuris fly their flag again (4)

By Eric Teniola

From last week, the piece continues with the recommendations made to the military governor of the  North Eastern State created by General Yakubu Gowon in 1967 over the choice of a state capital. 

ON the question of finance alone he was made to understand that it would take many years before the North-Eastern State could afford “the money with which to build such a capital”. On March 18, 1968, Brigadier Usman accepted the experts’ recommendation and selected Maiduguri as the permanent capital of the state.

The Kanuris no doubt fought hard to make sure Maiduguri was the state capital. Top Kanuris who fought hard to make Maiduguri the state capital include Kashim Ibrahim, a famous business man; Alhaji Mai Deribe, who died on March 13, 2002 and Alhaji Musa Daggash, a top civil servant at that time. He used all his contacts in government to make sure Maiduguri was made the state capital. 

Alhaji Musa Daggash attended Higher College, Katsina, 1934-1938, University of Oxford, England, 1950-1951, University of Manchester, England, 1960-1961; joined Department of Forestry, 1938-1959, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Mines and Power; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Defence, retired, 1969, later chairman Defence Industries Corporation, General Manager, Chad Basin Development Authority, member, Constituent Assembly, 1977-1978, and Commissioner, Local Government Service Board, Borno State, 1978.  Alhaji Daggash was a detribalised Nigerian; his best friend was Chief Amusa Matthew Tiamiyu, a top civil servant from Iperu in Ogun State. 

Borno State was created out of North East on February 3, 1976 following the directive of General Murtala Ramat Mohammed (November 8, 1938 – February 13, 1976), ten days before he was assassinated. He created Borno, Bauchi and Gongola out of North Eastern State. Borno State has been inhabited for years by various ethnic groups, including the Dghwede, Glavda, Guduf, Laamang, Mafa and Mandara in the central region; the Afade, Yedina (Buduma), and Kanembu in the extreme North-East; the Waja in the extreme South; and the Kyibaku, Kamwe, Kilba, Margi groups and Babur in the South, while the Kanuri and Shuwa Arabs live throughout the state’s north and centre. 

On September 20, 1978, General Olusegun Obasanjo, lifted the ban on political activities. Less than 24 hours after, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (March 6,1909- May 9, 1987) launched his Unity Party of Nigeria, whose cardinal programme was free education at all levels, etc.

A new party was, however, formed on September 22, 1978. Called the Nigerian Peoples Party, it is a fusion of three groups. The groups are the National Union Council, Club 19 and the Council for National Unity and Progress. Although the party hadnot picked a leader, Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim read a written statement to reporters at the launching ceremony at 8, Ojuelegba Street, Surulere- the party’s offices. “We of the Nigerian Peoples Party offer our services to this country in the firm belief that our programme will fulfil the hopes and aspirations of our people”.

Alhaji Ibrahim listed the aims and objectives of the party as to promote and sustain the unity of Nigeria and uphold her territorial integrity, to work for the integration and equality of the peoples of Nigeria without regard to ethnic affiliation, religion or sex, to work for equal opportunity for all Nigerians to participate in every aspect of national life and to promote political, social and economic equality of all sections of Nigeria, to work for full employment of Nigeria’s manpower and natural resources with a view to building a self-reliant economy, to promote the just and equitable distribution of the fruits of economic development among persons and states of Nigeria, to work towards free and high quality education at all levels and to work for a secular state which upholds democracy, the rule of law and freedom of worship.

“The party believes that ultimate power belongs to the people and in respect for the sanctity of human life. It also believes that every state in the Federation shall enjoy the same and equal status and opportunity as well as in the principle of creation of more states in the country.” He announced that the party “is open to every Nigeria citizen” and added that “this is a momentous opportunity to usher in a new era of hope, stability and progress.”

The written statement distributed at the launching ceremony by Chief M.O. Obiekwe, my friend, had 42 names and their states of origin. The names listed included Mr Solomon Lar-Plateau; Mr. Matthew Tawo Mbu-Cross River; Chief J. Edewor-Bendel; Alhaji Yusufu Dan Tsoho-Kaduna; Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya – Lagos; Dr. Obi Wali-Rivers and Mr Joe Asogwa-Anambra. Others include Alhaji Ado Ibrahim-Kano; Dr Ben Nzeribe-Imo; Alhaji Megida Lawal-Kwara; Chief Theophilus Benson-Lagos; Chief Basil Okwu-Anambra; Mr Paul Unongo-Benue; Dr. Omo Omoruyi- Bendel; Chief Kolawole Balogun-Oyo; Mr Sam Mbakwe-Imo; Chief Olu Akinfosile-Ondo; Chief Samuel Onitiri-Lagos and Alhaji Jafaru Mango-Borno.