“Unlike them we were never traders but we were (and still are) industrialists and when it comes to the professions we were producing lawyers, doctors, accountants and university graduates at least three generations before they ever did. That is the bitter truth and they have been trying to catch up with us ever since. For example the first Yoruba lawyer Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams was called to the English Bar in 1879 whilst the first Igbo lawyer, Sir Louis Mbanefo, was called to the English bar in 1937. Again the first Yoruba medical practitioner, Dr. Nathaniel King, graduated in 1875 from the University of Edinburgh whilst the first Igbo medical practitioner, Dr. Akannu Ibiam, graduated from another Scottish University in 1935.”
Be that as it may, the salient questions should be; has that educational superiority transformed Nigeria into a first world country with a GDP largest than those of the United States, Japan and China? Is Nigeria any more industrialized than Somalia or war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo? On account of that superiority, are we seeing foreign students from all walks of life flocking to Nigeria to learn from our professors in our well-funded and equipped world class universities? Due to the claimed educational superiority over the Igbos, has Nigeria become the undisputed hub for scholarship, jurisprudence, medical innovation, ingenuity and creativity? My friends, what is perturbing and equally disheartening is the fact that such pretentious pontifications are emanating from the so-called political elites that are supposed to take Nigeria to the Promised Land. With such narrow-minded ethnic purists at the helm of affairs, should we ponder any further as to why our nation is abundantly awash with corruption, bad leadership and assorted ethnic wars? Should we ponder any further why we continuously lack behind in most global indices while the likes of Singapore is surging economically and ahead of Nigeria in almost all spheres of human endeavor? While the likes of South Korea, a country which was once at par with Nigeria in the economic sense is making waves technologically and leaving giant footprints in the electronic and auto industries, Fani-Kayode, Orji Kalu and their co-travelers are vigorously fanning the ember of ethnic discord, chanting war songs rather than discussing ways to rescue the country from the looming tsunami. A recent review of South Korea’s GDP reveals the mess that is Nigeria as it (South Korea) ranks #15 in the world against Nigeria’s 39th. This information becomes relevant and puts into perspective our lot with bad leadership given the fact that Nigeria, not South Korea, is the world’s 8th largest oil producer. One of my mentors, a fellow political scientist, once noted during a paper presentation at an international conference, “That the worth of a nation is measured by its level of tolerance.” By this statement, the revered political scientist was referring to the ability of a nation to accommodate the interests of its minorities or the marginalized segments of the population. But if Fani-Kayode’s venomous discourse is anything to go by, Nigeria by this estimation is worthless given the height of intolerance blazingly exhibited by its political elite. We must admit and sadly so that Fani-Kayode’s holier than thou attitude and unilateral ascription of self-righteousness belie a deeper affliction on a nation whose progress has been amply retarded by the curse of ethnicity and religiosity culminating in the stagnation of a mass of people that should have long taken their place in the world. Nigeria appears to be the only country on earth that sheepishly adheres to the policy of “Federal Character”, placing ethnicity above competence and ability, resulting in abject ineptitude of ministers, permanent secretaries and even presidents. Due to political expediency, this process, to the detriment of our corporate existence, has produced the likes of Mr. Fani-Kayode, who today, has a platform to debase other nationalities. What is particularly disappointing about Fani-Kayode’s article is the fact that education and exposure have had no impact on his worldview and his relationship with other nationalities that share the Nigerian space. The purpose of education and why most people seek it years on end is to improve one’s lot and provide us the mental ability to challenge our own assumptions while engaging in self-evaluation. From the aforementioned, we do not need a soothsayer to advise us that there is something inherently wrong with our polity that requires far-reaching corrective measures and perhaps, a sober assessment of the Nigerian project to determine its sustainability and practicality in the face of current realities and agitations. In the grand scheme of things and at the end of the day, we must ask the cogent questions rather than basking in past glory that has taken us nowhere. Does it really matter who owns Lagos, does it really matter who owns Port-Harcourt, does it really matter who owns Abia; what should matter to every Nigerian is the need to develop those areas and build the much needed capacity, institutions and infrastructure that would enhance the ability of the country to be an economic force. With Mr. Fani-Kayode, Orji Kalu and their likes comfortably nesting in their primordial tribal mentality of yester years, we must not dream of attaining the sophistication and tolerance of the United States where an Austrian immigrant in the person of Arnold Schwarzenegger can become governor of one of the biggest states in the union, California; or a Canadian-born citizen, Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan; or an Illinois-born Ronald Reagan the governor of California? Will the Fani-Kayodes of Nigeria allow us to dream, my friends?]]>
On that same trip four years ago, after leaving Saudi Arabia, Obama toured the greater part of the Middle East and Egypt and in speech after speech he apologised to the Arabs for American policy in the Middle East over the previous 50 years. He did this despite the fact that in most of those countries christians,shia muslims and ethnic minorities have no rights at all and even though they have been killed, persecuted and supressed for many decades. Again he did this even though none of those countries were democracies and even though all of them, except for two, have refused to acknowledge the right of the Jewish State of Israel to even exist.This left a bad taste in the mouth of many at the time and the question that came to my mind was whether the ”Hussein” was coming out of the ”Barrack Hussein Obama” more than the ”Barrack” itself was. Yet whatever anyone may feel about the issue of his touching his toes with his head and his bowing before the Saudi king, as far as I am concerned, President Obama is not what he appears to be. There is far more to him than meets the eye. A couple more questions will suffice to illustrate this point.
Why is it that each time Barrack Obama is about to submit himself for a Presidential election and seek a mandate from his people there is a raging, monuemental, earth-shattering and record-breaking freak of a storm which kills numerous people in America? It happened a few days before his Presidential election in 2008 and it is has just happened again a few days before his Presidential election in 2012. Again why is it that on the first day of the convention of the opposition Republican party, both in 2008 and again this year, yet another violent and dangerous killer storm hit the towns in which the two conventions were held causing them both to be partially disrupted? What is Obama’s relationship with the elemental forces? What is his relationship with God or some lesser deity? What is his source of power and what is his spiritual foundation?
There is no doubt that he is a powerful orator and that he delivers brilliant speeches that mesmerises his audience. Yet so did Adolf Hitler and we all know what he was. I ask these questions because President Obama has supported every anti-christian and anti-faith policy that the American permissive state has thrown up and endorsed in recent years. The violation and literal denunciation of these religious core values, in my view, betrays the unfolding of an illicit,dark, sinister and subterranean anti-Christ agenda which must be rejected by all true men and women of faith. They must be renounced by every christian, every jew and every muslim and indeed all those that truly espouse the noble values and virtues of any of the three Abrahamic faiths. They must be rejected by all those that believe in the supremacy and efficacy of a monotheic God whose core values and holistic principles and standards are worthy of emulation and of being respected and cherished.
There are many examples of these gross violations of our core religious values but permit me to share just four of them with you here. Firstly, President Obama has endorsed a woman’s right to have an abortion and he has publically denounced ”the right to life” of unborn babies. Secondly, he has endorsed same-sex marriages. Thirdly, he has consistently supported homosexuality and the rights of homosexuals and lesbians. And fourthly, and perhaps the most disturbing of all, he has endorsed the right of same-sex couples to adopt and raise children. Quite apart from these four Obama has also endorsed all manner of social perversions and deviant behaviour in the name of humanism, ”new age” liberalism and the permissive American state. No true believer or person of faith can possibly accept such practices, endorse such values and still stand right before God.
To put the cake on the icing let me make one more point. Rev. Jene Robinson, a vocal and practising homosexual, whose ordination as a Bishop split the Anglican Church in America into two, was specially selected by Obama to deliver the invocation of the name of God and prayers at the beginning of the inaugral weekend of his inaugration ceremony as President in 2008. What message was Obama trying to send to America and to the world by insisting on this?
Outside of the area of social and religious values President Obama has also failed in the area of foreign and domestic policy. A few examples will suffice. The unprecedented number of drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan which has led to record highs in the number of deaths of innocent muslim civilians, women and children in both countries. The alienation of Pakistan and Afghanistan as key allies in the war against terror. The destabilisation of north Africa and the opening of the door for islamist insurgents in the north African Arab Sahel states and the west African sub-region. The display of weakness and procrastination before Iran and it’s covert agenda to build a nuclear bomb. The display of double standards in the State of Bahrain and the over-pampering of the Arab Gulf states. The sheer mess that has been created in Syria and the indecision and procrastination of the Obama administration who have abandoned the opposition forces in that country even as thousands of innocent people are being slaughtered by Assad’s brutal regime.The insincerity of purpose and sheer coldness being displayed towards Israel and the indifference to her dangerous and existential plight. The disdain and contempt shown to all people of faith, the evangelical movement, the christian far-right and the vision of the old Pilgrim Fathers that founded the great country that is known as the United States of America.
The removal of the words “God” and “Israel” from the Democratic Party Convention. The disasterous handling of the American economy that has acquired a five trillion dollar deficit in the last four years. The rise of islamic fundamentalism in Mali and Nigeria due to a shortsighted and reckless policy in Libya. The taking of power by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the rise in power of Al Shabbad in Somalia and East Africa. The inexplicable refusal to declare Boko Haram (the islamist terror group that is bombing and killing thousands in northern Nigeria) as a terrorist organisation.The gradual turning of America into a quasi- welfarist state where ”big government” reigns and in which the traditional engine room of growth that is known as the American middle class is being systematically weakened and destroyed. The desecration of the traditional family unit and good old fashioned christian values by the adoption of strange and liberal “new age” practices, values and philosophies. The inability to protect the lives of American diplomats living abroad and the lack of firm reprisals after the killing of the American Ambassador and other Americans by terrorists in Libya. The massive foreign debt that America has acquired in the last four years. The huge quantum of cash that America is is now owing China and so on and so forth.
These are just some of Obama’s disastarous legacies and sadly the mistakes he has made in his foreign policy in north Africa particularly impacts on us directly in Nigeria and in west Africa. Let me give you just one example of that. Had it not been for the fall-out of the mess in Libya and the brutal way in which Muammar Ghadaffi, the Libyan leader, was murdered in cold blood one year ago, his Taureg friends and allies in north Africa would not have been inspired and driven to take over northern Mali and create a Taliban-style islamic fundamentalist state there and northern Nigeria would not have been flooded with jihadist footsoldiers and all manner of sophisticated arms and bombing devices for usage by Boko Haram.
With Obama all we see and hear are beautiful and inspirational speeches, a good deal of doublespeak, a failed economic policy and a weak, dangerous and thoroughly uninspiring foreign policy. Worst still all we see in Obama’s African policy is unpredictability, chaos, the appeasement of terrorists and utter confusion. Given this I cannot come to any other conclusion than the fact that President Barrack Hussein Obama cannot be trusted with America or indeed the world for the next four years. In my view he is a very mysterious, strange and complex man and sadly he has proved to be a thoroughly disappointing President. Consequently my prayer is that Governor Mitt Romney defeats him in the Presidential election which will hold in a few days time. If he does not I fear that the much predicted “beginning of the end” of America as a world economic power may have just begun. With China on the rise, Russia waxing strong, Brazil, India and Japan flexing their muscles and the European Union finally beginning to take shape and find her feet, in the next twenty years the world will be a very different place and America may no longer be “prima inter pares” (the first amongst equals). Only Romney can stop that downward trend. I am aware of the fact that, given Obama’s ancestry, this may not be a popular position to take amongst those of us that are people of colour and that are Africans but nevertheless it is still my position. I may be wrong but at least I have provided some food for thought. God bless America.]]>
Yet even with that expectation nothing prepared me for the virulence and sheer ferociousness of his counter-attack. And that counter-attack was launched during a public lecture on August 1st 2012, when the elderstatesman, during the course of his lecture, passionately proclaimed that I was holding myself out as a ”moral icon” after ”embezzling funds” that were entrusted to me when I was Minister of Aviation that were meant to be used to ”stop planes from crashing and to reform the aviation sector”. This was on live television and it was being watched by millions of Nigerians from all over the world.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims in Nigeria today fall into the former category but there is a small and growing minority that sadly fall into the latter. That group constitute those that we describe today as Boko Haram and they have been waging a relentless and brutal war of terror against the Nigerian state and people for the last few years. They are indeed the enemy within. The question is what should our collective response be to these men of violence and blood. That, together with the a cursory analysis of how we got into this mess and the way out of it is the topic of this essay.
Some are of the view that we ought to enter some form of dialogue with Boko Haram and that this would eventually solve the problem. My younger brother, Mujahid Asari Dokubo, enunciated that position rather well in an article titled ”How To Address The Boko Haram Problem In Nigeria” (25th June, 2011) . He suggested that President Goodluck Jonathan should enter into negotiations with the islamist terrorist group as quickly as possible regardless of the fact that they themselves have made it clear that they are not interested in any form of dialogue with the government and that they have murdered thousands of innocent and defenceless Nigerian men, women and children in the last three years alone. I respectfully beg to differ with Dokubo on this issue and indeed with all those that share this view.
In my view the solution is simple to the Boko Haram problem is simple. They must be utterly crushed by the Nigerian state and certainly not negotiated with. This is because in any serious society there can never be dialogue, compromise or any form of negotiation with terrorists whilst they are still carrying arms and waging war against the state and the people. Worst still there can be no compromise with those that seek to forcefully establish a 17th century Islamic fundamentalist caliphate in our country and those that seek to impose their strange and outdated values on each and everyone of us. Worst still there is no doubt in my mind that Boko Haram is part of the world-wide Al Qaeda-sponsored ”global jihad” and if we give them one inch they will definitely take a mile. We cannot afford to have peace with them on any terms or peace with them at the cost of our hard-earned civil liberties, liberal and cherished values, plural and multi-cultural society and modern way of life. There must come a time when we as a people can boldly say ”enough is enough” and when we draw the line in the sand. And if Boko Haram crosses that line they must be confronted by the full force of the Nigerian Armed Forces who must be ready, willing and able to unleash hell on them regardless of the collateral damage and immense infrastructural destruction that this will cause in various parts of our country. President Olusegun Obasanjo did this decisively and with ruthless efficiency in the town of Odi in the Niger Delta area a number of years ago with remarkable success. By the time the Nigerian Armed Forces finished shelling Odi from the land, the sea and the air there was not one building left standing there except for, interestingly, the local bank. The casualties in terms of human life were extremely high but the point was made and the objective achieved. From that point on the Niger Delta militants stopped killing policemen and soldiers right up until the time that Obasanjo left power. Why can the same solution not be applied to the Boko Haram problem by the Jonathan administration today? What is the fear? Why should the same treatment not be meted out to any city or community in our country that grants the foot-soldiers of Boko Haram covert support, safe haven, sanctuary or shelter? This is all the more important because they are not true Muslims or believers in God.
Rather they are a cancer that must be identified, isolated and cut out of our body politic before they spread their terrible disease of hate, extremism, violence and intolerance throughout the federation and the reprisals begin. That is what a strong, focused, resolute and purposeful government ought to do. Sadly we have not seen any such thing from our government. Instead what we have witnessed from them are a series of feeble and pathetic pleas for dialogue with the enemy and the shameful display of weakness, incompetence and insensitivity when faced with their terror. To make matters worse the National Chairman of the President’s own ruling PDP, Alhaji Bamangar Tukur, recently declared that Boko Haram was ”fighting for justice”. What a thing to say by an elder statesman who I not only have tremendous respect for but who I have always regarded as a father. I really do wonder what type of ”justice” he is referring to when churches are now being blown up virtually every Sunday morning all over the north and when thousands of defenceless Christians are being slaughtered on a daily basis. Is that what the Chairman calls ”fighting for justice”. Are these the people that are denying Boko Haram their justice and that are denying them their rights? Are they the ones that killed their leader, Mohammed Yusuf, a few years ago? Boko Haram started by targeting government institutions and security agencies with extreme and deadly violence but now they have graduated to killing the followers of Christ and they have made known their intention to wipe out Christianity in northern Nigeria and to stop Christians from peacefully worshipping their God. Is that the ”just cause” that they are fighting for?
We must understand that Boko Haram, what they stand for and what they seek to establish is patently evil and that what they are doing represents the greatest threat to Nigerian unity since our civil war. They are not just a danger to Christians but to all true Muslims as well. Real Muslims like Dokubo, Tukur and all the others that believe that Boko Haram are fighting a ”just cause” would do better by trying to educate and enlighten their misguided islamist brothers. They should advise them to stop the violence, to stop the slaughtering of Christians and true Muslims, to stop destabilising the Nigerian state, to stop trying to Islamise northern Nigeria, to stop trying to return our country to the dark ages of the 17th century and to stop trying to wage a global war of terror against the rest of humanity. We as a people must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by their evil agenda and we must vigorously and courageously resist them no matter what it takes. No responsible and strong government would compromise or enter into negotiations with such barbarous and evil men that have so much blood on their hands. To throw down the gauntlet and confront such evil is one of the major challenges of our time and it is a challenge that our government must not fail to rise up to in a fearless, vigorous and responsible manner.
A few home truths must now be told. We Christians take strong exception to the fact that literally hundreds of thousands of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters from all over the country have been brutally killed by Muslim fundamentalists in northern Nigeria over the last 50 years for no just cause. The innocent blood of those people cries to God in heaven for vengeance and it gets louder and louder by the day. Boko Haram have said publically that they want the adoption of full Sharia law and the establishment of an Islamic fundamentalist state in all the northern states of Nigeria before they stop killing and bombing innocent people and spreading terror. Yet the truth is that that will never happen as long as Nigeria remains as one nation and remains a secular state. And if Nigeria ever stops being a secular state then we will simply break it up and go our separate ways. It is as simple as that. No-one wants a full blown religious war but neither will anyone run away from it if it is foisted on us. For how long can the people of the south and the Middle Belt sit by idly and watch silently as their own kith and kin that reside in the core north and their northern minority Christian brothers and sisters are subjected to nothing less than genocide and mass murder from the most ruthless and barbaric terrorist organisation that this country has ever known. I believe in restraint but is it humanly possible that we will be restrained forever?
Yet I believe that there is still hope and that a war can still be avoided. That hope lies in the speedy convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. That, in my view, is the only vehicle that can provide a lasting solution to the monumental challenges that we are facing in our country today, including the scourge of Boko Haram. I say this because whether we like to admit it or not, Nigeria is more divided today on ethnic and religious lines than it has ever been since our independence in 1960. We should iron out all these issues at such a conference once and for all. These religious clashes and killings feature in the northern part of Nigeria alone and hardly in the south. In the south-west where I come from the Christians, the Muslims and the traditional worshippers are one and we treat each other with love, respect, understanding and sensitivity. We do not kill ourselves on account of our religious differences. That is simply our way and clearly many from other parts of Nigeria and indeed the rest of the world have a lot to learn from us.
My position is that if Nigeria cannot be built on a foundation of equality, equity and fairness for ALL her people, whether they be Christian, Muslim, northern, middle-beltern or southern, then we should reject the concept of a united Nigeria and we should begin to renegotiate the terms of our union. I love this country and I would always be amongst those to defend and speak up for her unity but the truth is that there is absolutely nothing that is sacrosanct about the unity of the Nigerian state if we cannot live together in peace. As a matter of fact there has been a school of thought since 1914 when Nigeria was first created that it was an ”unworkable union” and a ”cruel joke”. Lord Frederick Lugard’s vision, and indeed his intention, when he recommended the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914 was ably described and enunciated by his own very words when he said that the northern protectorate of Nigeria could be described as the ”poor husband” whilst the southern protectorate could be described as the ”rich wife”. He then pronounced the ”permanency” of our forced union by saying- ”today we marry the two and our prayer is that this union lasts forever”. That is how the north and the south got ”married” and that is how the famous amalgamation of 1914 came about.
The problem was that the two young spouses were never asked by their British masters whether they actually wanted to stay together, let alone get married. Worst still the ”poor husband” was never given the opportunity to court woo or propose to the ”rich wife”. To make matters worse the two spouses came from different worlds, had different backgrounds, had a different religion, had a different history and had a different world-view. Today the ”rich wife” and the ”poor husband” have suffered immensely in each others ”loving” arms. The marriage has been strained and turbulent. We fought a brutal and avoidable 3 year civil war from 1967 in which we killed no less than 2 million of our own people. Since1960 the story has been more or less the same and the tales of tragedy and woe have just continued to pour in. If it is not genocide, mass killings or sectarian butchery by groups like Boko Haram then it is always something else. Yet today’s barbarism and mass killings are far more horrendous than ever and are far better planned, funded, orchestrated and executed by those that are behind them than ever before. The question is how much longer can the ”rich wife” and the ”poor husband” give and take this sort of thing from one another? For how long can the centre hold before the voices of reason and restraint are completely drowned by the irrational, compulsive outrage that is gradually building up and the uncontrollable outcry for reprisals and revenge? For how long can our hope and fervent prayers prevent the dogs of war from being unleashed? May God save Nigeria.]]>
Many bodies are still lying under the rubble undiscovered and unrecognised even in death. I am convinced that there is only one thing left for President Goodluck Jonathan to do if he wants to turn the tide of public opinion that is mounting against him and if he wants to save himself, save his government and save Nigeria. He must find the courage to convene a Sovereign National Conference of the various nationalities that make up the geographical expression called Nigeria in which the terms and conditions of our continued union will be fully renegotiated. If he can do this quickly and if he can pull it off successfully his image will be redeemed and his name will be carved in gold in Nigerian history forever despite all that has happened in the last two years. If he does not do this the Islamist slaughter, the sectarian bloodshed and the inter-ethnic mayhem will just continue, his government will eventually fall and Nigeria may well break up in the process. Mark my words.
Depending on the choice that he makes he will either be known as the saviour of Nigeria or her destroyer. May God guide our President and cause him to make the right choice. When I first made this suggestion about the convening of a Sovereign National Conference on my facebook page many asked why it was that the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, which I served, did not convene a Sovereign National Conference at that time and why I didn’t support such a course of action then. My answer to them was as follows. A few of us most certainly did push for a Sovereign National Conference when we were in power. Some of us in that government, including Chief Akin Osuntokun, Professor Julius Ihonbere and a few others pushed for it very hard but you know very well that essentially President Olusegun Obasanjo is a conservative and he resisted it. As a matter of fact that is what qualified him and that is why he could be trusted with power and the job of President in 1999 by the northern power-brokers that brought him out of jail and put him there. They knew that they could trust him not to let them down and not to do what they did not want. And what they did not want was a Sovereign National Conference because they saw it, wrongly in my view, as a precursor to a break-up of the country.
The Yoruba nation, on the other hand, has been pushing for an SNC since 1993 and the June 12th annulment and many of our people were killed over the years in the pursuit of that noble cause. Again when OBJ’s government was in power every single one of the 6 zones in the country endorsed the call for an SNC except for the north-west and the north-east. That was 4 for it and 2 against it. Yet OBJ would still not do it. Instead he listened to the objections of the two core-northern zones and came up with that celebrated and famous quote that ”we cannot have two sovereigns at once” and that ” the Nigerian people have given their sovereignty to me through my mandate and I will not relinquish it to any conference”. Of course some of us, including me, took him up on that publically and we disagreed with him openly. My leader and my boss and the man that I still consider to be the father of our nation, President Olusegun Obasanjo, with the greatest respect, just didn’t get it then and perhaps he never will. We discussed this matter with him privately on many occasions and he resisted the idea but with the recent developments in our country I am sure that he wished that he had listened to us at that time. When we joined his government in 2003 there were many of us that had been NADECO men who urged him to find the courage to call the SNC but the man regarded us as dangerous radicals and he felt that we just wanted to break up Nigeria. Well he was wrong, we were right and history has proved this to be so. If we had had this ”sovereign” national conference long ago we would have had a better, stronger, restructured and more united Nigeria by now which would have been a true reflection of the will of the people. We would also have had either a true federation or a confederation.
We would not have still had what is in real terms essentially a unitary government with a Federal facade and we would not have still been busy killing ourselves over the little crumbs that we get from the federal table.
The reason that it was not so urgent when OBJ was in power, despite the fact that even then most Nigerians wanted it, was because religious and sectarian violence and ethnic and fratricidal butchery hat we see today did not exist at that time. Our government was able to contain the violence and threats of the Niger-Delta militias, the OPC, MASSOB, the Egbesu Boys, the Bakassi Boys, the Arewa Youth Congress and the core northern pro- Sharia lobby through a firm and strong ”no-nonsense”-style of leadership and we did not have to deal with a vicious and extremely violent, well-funded and well organised islamist sect with an Al Qaeda-style agenda like Boko Haram at the time. Sadly now we do and we are on the verge of a monumental disaster and violent breakup of the country simply because our President is weak, indecisive, inexperienced and he does not have the guts to crush the internal enemy or the ability to protect the people. Worst still Boko Haram and those that secretly support, arm and fund them have made it clear that they are at war with the government, with the security agencies, with CAN, with Christians and with Muslims that do not share their extremist views and or espouse their vicious brand of Islam.
They have also said that they want a northern Nigeria which is free of Christians, which is free of western education, which has an Islamic fundamentalist/Taliban-style government and which practices full Sharia law. They are not just demanding for this but they are also waging an open and terrible war and what is essentially a form of ethnic cleansing and genocide against a section of the people of northern Nigeria in order to achieve it. If we had a conference such demands could be put there peacefully assuming that is what the people of the core north really want. Other regions and zones also have their legitimate demands which should and would also be considered. The Niger-Deltans want resource control and derivation as a principle for revenue allocation, the Yorubas want regional police and armies, the Igbos want to live in a country where they are not considered as second class citizens anymore and where their people are not killed like chicken, the Middle Belt want to be emancipated from the core north and we all want guarantees that Nigeria remains a secular state where no religion lauds it over the other and where we can all practice our respective faiths without being marginalised, killed, bombed or persecuted for it.
The list of aspirations and demands of the various nationalities go on and on and these old soars and wounds are now festering and making us all bow in pain. The fact that they have not been treated is slowly killing our nation because no government has seen fit to address these issues once and for all and actually muster the guts to answer the all-important ”nationality question”, or as some prefer to call it the ”national question”. Most importantly when President Obasanjo’s government was in power Nigeria was still regarded by most Nigerians as a place where they all wanted to remain as one. Today that feeling is not as pronounced, national unity and cohesion has been badly eroded and we are more divided as a people than we have ever been before. The need for a Sovereign National Conference is more relevant and obvious today than it has been at any other time in our history. We will either answer it or convene one expeditiously or eventually two or three of the ethnic nationalities that are badly aggrieved in this country will not wait any longer and they will attempt to secede.
This will be resisted by the rest of the nation and that will lead to a civil war that will last for no less than 50 years. We must avoid that at all costs and we must acknowledge and appreciate the right of the various nationalities and peoples that make up present-day Nigeria the right to secede and to self-determine if that is what they really want. If we want Nigeria to remain together it must be in everyone’s interest that this is so, no-one must be made to feel like a slave to anyone else, everyone must enjoy the right and privilege to rule the country without being threatened simply because they are not of the right faith or ethnic stock and the terms and conditions of our union must be properly negotiated and agreed upon. The truth is that Lord Lugard’s Nigeria, which was a forced amalgamation of incompatibles in 1914, is long dead and things can never be the same again in our country. We either settle these fundamental issues by talking about it around a table at a Sovereign National Conference whose findings and resolutions would be binding on ALL our people or we will eventually settle it with bullets and bombs. Sadly this is the reality that we must face and accept.
Femi Kayode was a minister in the federal republic of Nigeria]]>
“…I can go back to fight a war to keep this country together even at 71…..some people are saying that “should anything happen to President Jonathan, forget about Nigeria” and so on. I know those who are saying this. Yes, they are supporters of the President. But I know the President is a sensible person so don’t waste your time saying that the world would come to an end if something happens to your son. Of course he is your son but he is our President. I have always respected these people but these things that they say amaze me. These are the same people that went to school, people who went to universities, people that are educated and people who have held positions of responsibility. There is a doctrine known as the ”Doctrine of Nigeria’s Settled Issues” and nobody should attempt to tamper with them. Number one, I don’t want any one of us to tamper with anything to do with Nigerian unity. Number two, the republican constitution is also a settled issue, more or less. Number three, the states are the federating units of this country and number four we are a capitalist country. Anybody that wants to talk about this country must make sure that he doesn’t do anything that will disrupt these basic settled issues in our political life. Anyone that is talking about dismembering this country you should not listen to him. If we see such things as ”christian south” and ”muslim north” we should disregard it. Even if such people say it the media should ignore it because you know it is not the truth, so you should not even write it”-
GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA, The Daily Trust Annual Dialogue, Abuja, 26th January 2012.
Femi Fani-Kayode’s response to IBB
I have nothing but the deepest respect and affection for General Ibrahim Babangida and those that know me can attest to this. He is not only a great and profoundly good man that has sacrificed so much for our nation but he is also one of the very few truly detribalised leaders who genuinely and honestly love Nigeria and who passionately believe that the interest of every Nigerian is better served if our country remains as one.
I do not for one minute doubt General Babangida’s sincerity of purpose or his deep sense of patriotism. Anyone that can take a bullet to keep Nigeria one must always be given his due respect and honour. Yet despite my personal feelings and affection for the General I am afraid that, from an intellectual and political perspective, I have to respectfully and humbly disagree with him on this issue. I do not believe that there is any such thing as a ”Doctrine of Settled Issues” in our body polity and neither, in my view, is Nigeria as we know it today a sacrosanct, unbreakable or unchangeable union.
It is trite that the only thing that is certain in the life of men and nations is change. Whether we like it or not change is like an irresistable tide and, when its time comes, it is like a moving train and a raging wind which crushes or blows away anyone or anything that stands in it’s way.
You either bend with it or you break. I am a student of history and it may interest those that subscribe to this rather arcane and anachronistic theory known as the ”Doctrine Of Settled Issues” that Nigeria remains the only mega-nation and forced union of incompatibles that the British colonial masters cobbled together at the beginning of the 20th century that still remains together today. There were actually three in all and the other two, namely the Sudan and India, have broken into two and three pieces respectively over the years. Why should Nigeria be any different?
More importantly why should we be told that Nigeria MUST be different? Would this have been so if there was oil in the north? Again when one considers the delightful and miraculous ”crumbling” of the almighty Soviet Union (another forced artificial union) or the breaking up of the old Yugoslavia and the emancipation and creation of numerous new countries in the Balkans and eastern Europe which came as a consequence of that magnificent change. I ask again, why should Nigeria be any different?
The words of the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher are instructive here. In the September 2, 1991 edition of Newsweek she said, ”the lesson of this century is that countries put together artificially will fall apart. National identities will not be suppressed”. Twenty years after these famous words were spoken we are beginning to witness their relevance and veracity in Nigeria. The right to self-determination and to forcefully resist what many feel is an internal colonial system is a legitimate and inalienable right of all free men and women. You cannot hold me down and keep me in your house on your own terms and deny me the right to be free or to say or do as I please.
If you do not treat me fairly and if you continue to make me feel worthless and full of fear of your terror and ability to inflict violence on me and mine, then eventually, whether you like it or not, I will leave. No one signed their life or their future away to bondage and none of us subscribed to the view that decisions about our country and our furure can and have been made by our past leaders and heroes and that they can no longer be changed or altered. I say that they can if the circumstances determine that this must be so. And if you do not give us our rights eventually we will exercise them by force and regardless of how you feel.
As much as I am amongst those that have criticised the Goodluck Jonathan administration forcefully, objectively and vigorously over some of their policies in the last few months let me make two things clear. Firstly my criticisms are borne out of my concern for our country and nothing else. I have nothing against Mr. President personally other than the fact that by not getting it right he is playing into the hands of the ”born to rule” northern cabal who believe that he does not have a right to be President simply because he is an Ijaw man. This cabal believes that no southerner should have the right to rule in peace without being told what to do or being teleguided or controlled by them.
They have sworn to make the country ungovernable for Jonathan and we are now seeing the results of that threat. For the record let me just warn these ethnic supremacists that they must not misconstrue the position that some of us have taken when it comes to this government and it’s policies as an endorsement of their deeply conspiratorial and despicable ethnic agenda. I should also add that Jonathan must not die under any mysterious circumstances. If this were to happen there would be no Nigeria left afterwards. This is because we that are from the south, together with our compatriots from the Middle Belt will rise up, join hands together and resist the Phillistines, the Amalekites and the usurpers in our midst to the last man.
By the time it is all over they will know that it is only when you kill a madman that you will know that he has friends and family. The new Nigeria has no place and no room for those that believe in the ”born to rule” philosophy or those that subscribe to any form of Boko Harm or Taliban-style islamic fundamentalism. We will not tolerate it, we will not bow to it and we will resist it with every fibre of our being.
I have said it before and I will say it again- if Nigeria is not a place that every ethnic nationality is regarded as being equal and is treated as such then let there be no more Nigeria. There is nothing that is sacrosanct about a forced union of incompatibles. If you are in a bad marriage you get out of it before you kill each other. The Lugardian ”poor husband of the north” cannot force the ”rich wife of the south” to remain in this unholy and iniquitous union for much longer unless the terms are right and unless there is equity and justice for all.
The mistake we made in 1967 by not standing on Aburi will not be repeated. The days of the master/servant relationship that we have witnessed between the north and the south for 51 years of our national existence are long over and they shall never return again. This country is moving forward and she is not going back and if Presdent Goodluck Jonathan can just get his act together and vigorously resist the hegemonist giants in the land he would have my full support and that of millions of others. This is the time for a new vision for our country. It is the time for new leaders who are ready to stand up and speak the truth about our precarious state of affairs and about the direction in which our nation must go. It is the time to talk about the convening of a Sovereign National Conference and to answer the Nationality Question. It is the time for courage. Let us not take our unity for granted or treat it as ”a given”. Nigeria must change, she must be restructured, she must be reformed and she must make every single ”Nigerian” believe that he or she can get to the top regardless of their nationality or faith. Other than that, whether we like it or not, Nigeria will eventually break.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode is a two time former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria]]>