by Femi Fani-Kayode
In 418 B.C. Herodotus, the Greek philosopher who is known as the “father of history”, said “a man who does not know anything about the events that took place before he or she was born will remain forever a child.” Not only was he right but one must go a step further by saying that those who refuse to learn from their history are condemned to repeating its mistakes.
In 1957, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Saurdana of Sokoto and the Premier of the North, said the following: “We the people of the North will continue our stated intention to conquer the South and to dip the Koran in the Atlantic ocean after the British leave our shores.”
Three years later, on October 12, 1960, he went a step further by saying the following words to the Parrot Newspaper: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future”.
That same year he said: “I will allow Sir Tafawa Balewa to go and become Prime Minister and lead the unbelievers of the South whilst I will stay in the North and lead the faithful”.
One year later, in a television interview with the BBC (which can still be viewed on YouTube) he was asked whether his “Northernisation Policy” would be a temporary or permanent feature. His response was as follows. “In actual fact the policy is a northerner first. If you cannot get a northerner then you get an expatriate like yourself on contract. If we cannot get that then we will employ another Nigerian from the south on contract too. This is going to be a permanent policy as far as I forsee”.
Not to be outdone, in January 1947 on the floor of the Northern House of Assembly, Sir Tafawa Balewa, a man who was to become the first Prime Minister of Nigeria 13 years later, said the following words:
“We do not want our Southern neighbours to interfere in our development. We have never associated ourselves with the activities of these people. We do not know them, we do not recognise them, and we share no responsibility in their actions. We shall demand our rights when the time is ripe. If the British quit Nigeria now at this stage, the Northern people would continue their uninterrupted conquest to the sea”.
The passion for the total domination of the Nigerian state by the North has not in any way diminished over the years. As a matter of fact it appears to have become even more pronounced and, for some, it has become an obsession. Consider the following.
On October 2, 2014, one Aliyu Gwarzo said the following to Pointblanknews:
“When I say that the Presidency must come to the north next year I am referring to the Hausa-Fulani core north and not any northern christian or minority tribe. The Christians in the north are nothing and the minorities know that when we are talking about leadership in the north and in Nigeria, Allah has given it to us, the Hausa-Fulani. They owe us everything. This is because we gave them Islam through the great Jihad waged by Sheik Usman Dan Fodio. We liberated all these places and all these people by imposing islam on them by force. It was either the Koran or the sword and most of them chose the Koran. In return for the good works of our forefathers Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria to rule and to do with as we please. Since 1960 we have been doing that and we intend to continue. No Goodluck or anyone else will stop us from taking back our power next year. We will kill, maim, destroy and turn this country into Africa’s biggest war zone and refugee camp if they try it. Many say we are behind Boko Haram. My answer is what do you expect? We do not have economic power or intellectual power. All we have is political power and they want to take even that from us. If they don’t want an ISIS in Nigeria then they must give us back the Presidency and our political power. Their soldiers are killing our warriors and our people every day but mark this: even if it takes one hundred years we will have our revenge. Every Fulani man that they kill is a debt that will be repaid even if it takes 100 years. The Fulani have very long memories”.
The full text of Gwarzo’s contribution can be read on Pointblanknews or elsewhere. His words are self-explanatory and they need no further analysis. Thankfully his views do not represent the thinking of the majority of Hausa Fulani people but he does speak for a dangerous and vocal minority and his words constitute a clear statement of intent. Simply put, it is his desire to conquer and subjugate Southern Nigeria and to restore northern domination and supremacy in the affairs of our nation in perpetuity.
The quest for Northern domination in the affairs of our country is as old as the hills. It led to a brutal civil war between 1967 and 1970 in which millions were killed. It led to pogrom after pogrom and slaughter after slaughter in the North. It led to a series of military coups and counter coups. In 1991, it led to a coup by Major Gideon Orkar which, if it had been successful, would have resulted in the excision of the core Northern states from our country. It led to the annulement of Chief MKO Abiola’s presidential election of June 12, 1993, which almost resulted in a second civil war.
It led to the brutal suppression of the South by General Sani Abacha and the murder, torture, incarceration and exile of many southern leaders. It led to stiff opposition to the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo in the North which came in the guise of “political sharia”. And finally it led to it’s most barbaric and hideous expression in the relentless opposition to the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan which came in the form of Boko Haram.
Judging from recent events, with President Buhari now in power it appears that those who have been lusting for total northern domination for the last 55 years have finally had their way.
The inability to think deeply or profoundly is a curse. The inability to read widely and learn from others is a pitiful and costly affliction. If there were ever a time for profound thinking and deep and sober reflection when it comes to the affairs of our nation, it is now. I say this because only three months after President Buhari has been sworn into office the power configuration, vis-a-vis North and South, has resulted in the following mess.
1. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – North. 2.Senate President – North. 3. Speaker of the House of Representatives – North. 4. Chief Justice of the Federation – North. 5. President of the Court of Appeal – North. 6. Chief Justice of the Federal High Court – North. 7. Secretary to the Federal Government – North. 8. Chief of Staff to the President – North. 9. Chief of Army Staff – North. 10. Chief of Air Staff – North. 11. Comptroller General of Customs – North. 12. Director-General of State Security Services (SSS) – North. 13. National Security Advisor – North. 14. Director General, NIMASA – North. 15. Chairperson of the Independant Electoral Commission (INEC) – North. 16. Comptroller-General Immigration – North. 17. Accountant-General of the Federation – North. 18. Commander of Civil Defence Corps – North. 19. Chief Security Officer to the President – North. 20. ADC to the President – North. 21. Principal Secretary to the President – North. 22. Senior Special Assistant to the President on media – North. 23. Chairman of the EFCC – North. 24. MD Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) – North. 25. Head of Service – North. 26. DG, National Communication Commission (NCC) – North. 27. Chairman NDLEA – North. 28. CEO, AMCON – North.
There is no gainsaying that this is unacceptable. Some of us warned that this would happen but we were insulted and lampooned for doing so. These appointments are not only lopsided but they are also a manifestation of the fact that in just three months southern Nigeria has finally been relegated to being little more than an occupied region and a vassal state. The people of the south appear to have been placed in servitude and bondage. Our chains may be invisible but they are very much there.
The question must be asked: is Buhari the President of Nigeria or is he the King of the North? Some have argued that the federal character formula has no place in our affairs anymore and that merit ought to be the only criteria for government appointments. Permit me to qoute a young man from twitter who responded to that absurd logic rather well by saying “if federal character isn’t important, why is the Vice President also not from Daura? Educated people should not speak like illiterates”.
Others have said that we should wait for the ministerial list and that after that things would balance out. Again this is absurd logic and those that spout such convoluted thrash appear to have forgotten the fact that the President is compelled by law and the constitution to appoint a Minister from every state of the federation, including each of the southern states.
Whether he is President of Nigeria or King of the North, Buhari would do well to retrace his steps. The consequences of not doing so for both his government and the unity of our country will be grave and costly. The south cannot be subjugated and treated with contempt and the people of the South will never be slaves. Fairness and equity in the distribution of national resources and key government appointments are a fundamental pre-requisite for peace, security and national unity in our country.
It has served our collective interest well for many years. Those who seek to upset the applecart and jettison it today are not considering the inevitable and monumental consequences of their actions. Power may have returned to the North but the people of the South must be treated with respect, sensitivity, dignity, fairness and decency. Those that refuse to accept this counsel and that insist on charting a different course do so at their own peril.
Femi-Fani Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He tweets from @realffk.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.