By James Eze In his first and only visit to West Africa in 2009, Barrack Obama, former president of the United States, left African leaders with an enduring chastisement. After taking a swipe at the continent for strong men who often allowed their bloated egos to plunge their countries into wars and afflictions, President Obama…
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was at Awka, Anambra State, preaching some political gospel the best he knows. Ribadu is not an ordinary citizen. He is a visible member of ‘‘the new elite’’. Those are the citizens who have longlisted themselves as saviours of modern Nigeria. And as much as circumstances have allowed, Ribadu has played his acts, some professionally. His theatrical image is that of a Nigerian, who is clean, courageous and plausibly nationalistic. That is give or take, Ribadu may pop up as a candidate for Nigeria’s future presidency. He even once ran for that.
However, the point is that Ribadu, as a universal man of courage, of moral cleanliness, etc. is a telescopic view. Under the microscope, there are molehills of dust, blurring the otherwise bright and beautiful mug Ribadu wears when seen from a distance.
First, Ribadu is a product of the Nigeria Police. And the Nigeria Police, however else it sees itself, is taken by Nigerians as pathetically corrupt and corruptive. And to have been a product of the Nigeria Police, and yet allegedly as clean as burning stars, is some improbable. It is like claiming one is a well-practised surgeon, yet never sighted blood. Perhaps, the far reality of the famous blind surgeon is now made real. Perhaps again, that is why the quote of the DSS, that Ibrahim Magu, a policeman, has no integrity [to head the EFCC] so fits. So, we just might grant a working caveat: Ribadu is a holy man as canvassed…
Ribadu again is a northerner, a Fulani and a moslem. And these qualities by themselves would have been mere statistics, say in Ghana or America. It is just that they are not. Nigeria is a deeply divided and divisive nation. And it was purpose constructed by coup-made generals, perhaps, as their booty of winning the Civil War. Certainly, it is this divisiveness more than anything else that has in justice wrestled Nigeria down into the mud.
Of this divided and divisive Nigeria, the matter is largely simple. The winners of the Civil War studiedly failed to construct a post-war all-inclusive consensus. Perhaps, they bewitched themselves that at gunpoint any solutions can be hammered out, including that of being a civilisation. That is, they were deluded that one can banish his own barbarianisms at gunpoint?
It thus follows that the single greatest roadblock to Nigerian unity and development is a related fact. That fact is that all consequential constitutional redevelopments, of the Nigerian state, from 1967, were the exclusive handiwork of northerners, acting as coup-led generals. These coup-driven generals acted strictly, despite propaganda, on behalf of themselves, their regions and religions, and never on behalf of a Nigerian nation. Any intellectual, who fails to admit to this is either crassly ignorant or a braindead imperialist. The facts are too much in the open to be hidden.
Perhaps, we all need courage to say these things. The point is not just to save the South, but counterintuitively even the North itself. To repeat, the winners of the Civil War, unlike their civilised American counterparties, began a programme of direct political banditry and redevelopment, of all boundaries, via serial coup making. Their purpose? To constitutionalise their regional, political, cultural and religious dominances. The facts of these are indisputable. And that, we repeat, is the greatest source of our instability. The point is that unity, if it is to ever become, must be constructed on facts not self-delusions, even when weaponised.
The implications of all we are saying are: 1. Instead of Ribadu precipitously going to Awka to preach Nigerian unity, he should have gone to Daura to canvass against the politics of regionalism, ethnicity, religiosity and others-exclusion, hoisted upon the nation by his Fulani cousins. Even the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nassir El’Rufai, a fellow Fulani, moslem and northerner, has fired salvos on the same of Fulani ethnic insularity of this present regime.
2. Rather than going to Awka to preach against secession, Ribadu should go to Minna and confront General Abubakar. He should ask him the following questions, amongst others: [A]. Of the constitution that was forged under his command and watch, was there one single Yoruba, Igbo, etc. who was privy to its final formulation? Let him name them. [B]. Why is it that each and every subsequent state redevelopment, aka creation of LGAs, federal constituencies, states, etc. all by northern generals, led to the balance of power and sharing and electoral privileges being deliberately scaled up to favour the North and disadvantage the South generally, and more specifically for the South-East and South-South? [C]. Is the import of this, not that the northern coup generals have converted the rest of the country into their dependencies and tributary states? That is, to be a southerner is to be politically indentured to the North? These are more important issues than a Ribadu, hawking apocryphal nationalisms all over the place.
Now the details. A Ribadu or just any northerner, preaching national unity must be out of his wits or is a closet internal colonialist. This is especially so, when as with Ribadu references are made to states that have broken up, and never lived in peace thereafter. Those were the same reasons the British and other imperialists gave to stall the independence of Africa.
The fact is that the examples Ribadu and his kind restrict themselves to, are not the totality of all historical experiences. Sudan and Somalia which they tout, are just two of one kind. There are other kinds. Of course, everybody knows that Singapore came off Greater-Malaysia. And Singapore, a multi-ethnic state, is not only a state in harmony, she is a model state. Taiwan, a 90% plus mono-ethnic state, is, of course, a breakaway province of China. Today she is one of the greatest and most peaceful territories ever. And many breakaway ex-Soviet states are just doing as well.
Fact is, closet imperialists need not bother with the future of others. Let them first deliver justice for all, now and here. The point being that if justice is all-inclusive, no constituent parts will be wanting out. Wanting out is a desperation for justice. That is, secession is in the denial or rigging of justice against a people by local supremacists.
And these imperialists mischievously miscalculate a point. A country is first and above all a consumerist good, a utilitarian product, like gbegiri soup, nkwobi, or tuwo. A country is not a graven image, holy Zion or groove, like the Ganges or Ibini Ukpabi/Long Juju of Arochukwu. Countries are formed to deliver growth and development nutrients, like justice, all-inclusiveness, freedom, compassion, etc. And to achieve nationhood, no group must go about it, wielding guns like thugs or coup makers, in a scheme to constitutionalise advantages for themselves or their regions, cultures or religions.
If a country’s founders are smart, they could develop an ecological, that is self-sustaining state. But if they are barbarians they will develop a blood-bathing spatial machine, just as Nigeria apparently is? It is this un-ecological nature of empires [or countries founded by barbarians] that mercifully indicate their breakup. People want out in justice, because they are not wanted in, by ethnic, racial, class, etc. supremacists. And that is a sacred not whimsical right. If you want everybody in, then keep your thuggery, your guns and coups and negotiate under a roundtable.
And just like all man-made systems, every country has its ‘best by dates’, whatever else closet supremacist ignorance canvasses. Immediately a country moves towards those dates, the best thing is to redesign it, redevelop it, replenish it. If you don’t, it will of its own degenerate into a non-ecological, that’s toxic spatial union. It will be a self-eating monstrosity, just like a Nigeria?
As things stand now, the only northerners who have nationalist credentials are folks like Abubarka Atiku. The Atikus are not preaching the all elusive and delusive unity. They are preaching practical life and unity, giving frameworks – restructuring. The point is that nobody, including Ribadu needs Nigerian unity. What is one to do with such a superfluous nonsense? Or is it unity contrived by the gunshots of northern coup-made generals?
The point needs to be stressed. No amount of gun totting or weaponised political banditry can procure a solution, a national solution. At best it may engender a suspension. A nation if well founded should be a living solution and a harmonious aggregator of her separate peoples. A nation is not meant to be like the Ottoman empire. That is a suspension of the many others within a solvent-dominance provided by a [tiny] elect, however defined – say by thuggery or by blood.
So, if Nigeria is doomed, it is really as the victors of her civil war and their travelling salesmen like Ribadu will it. Readers may see our book How Yoruba Fought and Lost the Biafra Nigeria Civil War for greater clarity.
Professor Niyi Osundare, scholar, poet, tops up to 70!
One of the random treasures of life lies in what times one lived in. It may thus not be out of place that historians would say of our age: ‘‘We lived in the years in which Professor Niyi Osundare and a few others wrote.’’ That is, if as already predictable, Osundare’s poetry endures, a classic, that is immortal, we are thus also made immortal for being there at its creation. Perhaps, that explains why the Igbo will say inodebe ogalanya nso amaka. It is always a thing of beauty and profit to live in nearness to greatness, to poets and mathematicians.
The Turf Game joins with millions to celebrate one of the world’s best and brightest, Professor Niyi Osundare, as he hits 70.
‘‘Without geniuses… Inspired poets and elegant mathematicians, all the world would have been orphaned. These men come to help mankind crush stones and press for milk. The yield may be small but the bit is divine.’’ -Mother A’Endu