By Adewuyi ADEGBITE
In 1982 or thereabout, the late Avatar, Obafemi Awolowo, wrote an open-letter to the then President Sheu Shagari about the precarious situation of Nigeria’s economy. He compared Nigeria’s economy to a rudderless ship that may hit a rock with catastrophe unless Shagari as the helmsman do the needful to save the day. The patriotic action of Awolowo was taken with a pinch of salt and he was called names. Alas, one year after, Nigeria was groaning under the effect of the economic catastrophe.
Like Awolowo, I want to appeal to the president of Nigeria, Muhammmed Buhari, to strive to stem the tide of separatist agitation in Nigeria. The fact is that it is not all Nigerians that want the nation to break up; breaking of Nigeria is a whirlwind that would blow no one any good. And as a matter of fact, patriotic Nigerian leaders always emphasize that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. However, with the clamour for new republics from Nigeria by Igbo especially and Yoruba, lately, two of the tripods on which Nigeria stands, calls for concern. The plight of the Igbo is understood. Since 1966, they had made up their mind to have a sovereign state and that gave birth to the Biafra Republic. Since that time and because of their inability to produce the president of Nigeria, they have continued to agitate for the rejuvenation of Biafra through the activities of MASSOB and lately IPOB. MASSOB and IPOB have consistently worked towards the goal at times violently and disruptively. IPOB in particular has internationalized the cause. Yoruba have never wished for Nigeria’s break up. This is realized from the activities of Yoruba leaders since the pre-colonial times especially during the independence struggle. Yoruba’s commitment to the unity of Nigeria has been total. The most critical time when Yoruba’s commitment was tested was during the Civil War when instead of following in the Igbo step, stood with Nigeria and we can correctly say that the Yoruba extractions in the Nigerian Army more than any other ethnic group, were responsible for the success of Nigeria during that war.
Awolowo’s exploits as Minister for Finance during the war needs not be repeated here because it is in the public domain upon which Igbo never forgave him. However, today, Yorubas, especially the youths, have lost hope in one Nigeria! Those in the Diaspora especially have internationalized the cause for Oduduwa Republic and are allegedly funding the cause at home. There are various separatist organizations in Yorubaland today. Unlike in the past when the apex organizations like Afenifere and YCE were calling for restructuring of the nation, these new groups are calling for the outright breakup of the nation and this was not done through rhetoric but actions as exhibited by activities of the Yoruba leader, Professor Banji Akintoye, who is coordinating the self-determination cause at home and abroad and have liaised with the United Nations on the cause. The rally held by a section of the self-determination group in Ibadan few weeks ago was unprecedented and should serve as eye opener to the federal government that the unity of the nation is threatened. However, President Buhari’s government does not see what many patriotic Nigerians saw. This is because no step has been taken to show that the nation’s unity is threatened.
What actually comes to my mind is that Fulani ethnic group as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari does not believe in the corporate existence of Nigeria. I am stood to be corrected in this position. What the group wants is perpetual domination of Nigeria in all ramifications. This, she has achieved and has been maintained since President Buhari assumed the leadership of the nation and will be sustained in post Buhari years.
Historically, Fulani’s dominance of Nigeria began with the elimination of the Habe rulers in Hausaland since 1804 and supplanting same with Fulani dynasty, using Islamic religion as a weapon of occupation. One important fact that should be noted is that the Fulani did not fire a shot to achieve their cause; they used other people as cannon fodders. This is noticeable during the colonial rule and in the build-up to Nigeria’s independence. It’s not on record that the north made any concerted effort towards achieving independence for Nigeria; rather it befriended the colonial power to make sure it dominated political power during and most especially post colonial period. We should recollect that when its dominance was threatened in 1957 when the eastern and western regions won self government, its leaders preferred the breakup because she was not ready for independence. The nation’s independence had to be put on hold until the road was clear for Fulani’s dominance of Nigeria. Also, the shenanigans that played out in the race to elect the Prime Minister for an independent Nigeria as the north preferred to exit Nigeria unless it got the Prime Minister position, is still fresh in memory. In addition, the 1966 coup which threatened Fulani dominance when the cream of its leadership was decimated was met with stiff resistance and the fear of Igbo domination in the Aguiyi Ironsi years precipitated Nigeria’s Civil War. The irony here is that the Fulani hegemonists rather than lead the war pushed minorities in the north as represented by Generals Gowon, T. Y. Danjuma and others to stake their lives and the Yorubas to fight the war. I can continue.
President Buhari does not believe in the corporate existence of Nigeria but Fulani hegemony. His policies since he became the president should not surprise anybody because they are tailored towards Fulanization of Nigeria. His various appointments thus far, described by Oshekhome, SAN, as nepotistic, cronystic, lopsided, sectional and prebendalistic, is to sustain northern domination of Nigeria and thus one of the causes of separatist agitation. His policies like RUGA, National Livestock Transformation Agenda, Water Resource Bill, Cattle Colony etc are all means of achieving the fulanization of Nigeria.
I want to reiterate my position that breaking up Nigeria is not the solution to the myriads of problems facing the nation. However, this is not the best of times as far as the unity of Nigeria is concerned. Ordinary Nigerians in the south and the middle-belt have lost hope in the nation. Unfortunately, Fulani hegemonists and southern politicians who are their foot soldiers, their hatchet men and women, do not feel concerned. To them, it is business as usual.
The fact is that the nation cannot move forward in the present situation and people would continue to suffer unnecessarily. I therefore appeal to patriotic Nigerians especially the retired generals who fought and staked their lives for the corporate existence of Nigeria to save the nation from perdition. President Muhammadu Buhari on the other hand must be sincere and fair to all Nigerians. His mandate is pan Nigeria and this was achieved after years of toiling. He should show and act as a nationalist and not a president of the Fulani alone. Nigerians gave him their mandate because he was believed to be a nationalist and a father figure. What is playing out since he came to power about ethnic relations especially, including socio-economic and political predicaments and politics facing the nation is not what they bargained for. Separatist agitations by southern Nigeria is not helping Nigeria’s image internationally. This can prevent foreign investors from coming to Nigeria. Another fact is that no nation can progress in the absence of unity. He should do the needful to assuage the negative feelings of Nigerians towards their country.
By Adewuyi ADEGBITE