By Osita Ebiem
In Nigeria’s political arrangement, the President is the highest office. Over the years the picture that has been presented to the world is Nigeria as a majority Islamic country. As we go further down we will see how this picture appears to be changing and why the pace of crisis of all kinds seems to have picked up speed in the recent time. Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian from the south and he is currently Nigeria’s President.
To maintain the picture of Nigeria being Islamic, whoever that occupies the prominent and symbolic position of the President in Nigeria at any given time is important. Nigeria as a union of different ethnic peoples and diverse cultural/religious persuasions was brought together into an inconvenient marriage of strange bedfellows through the accident of British colonialism. These different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic divisions are not just merely mutually contradictory; they are mutually antagonistic and irreconcilable. In order to fix the Nigerian problem this colonial mistake of joining peoples of different ideological and cultural convictions must come completely undone. Nigeria must be divided into separate independent countries along these existing ethnic, cultural and religious lines.
We will look broadly at how these divisions occur. In the southern part Christianity is dominant while Islam dominates the northern part. The British left the country on independence in 1960. They are often accused today of deliberately handing power and leadership of the country to the northerners through some unorthodox and unfair means.
By this singular gesture it is said that the north came to believe that they have the prerogative to control and rule the country and define its image, and how the country should be seen by the outside world. Most analysts have traced the so-called northerners’ born-to-rule disposition as having its root from this poor judgment on the side of the colonialists. Unfortunately, today everyone seems to be suffering from this mistake; the indigenous peoples and the colonialists alike.
The case in point here is the prevailing terrorism as unleashed on all by the Islamic jihadists – a display of impunity created through this unfair allocation of political power in Nigeria. Islamic fundamentalist groups like Boko Haram and Ansaru are on the rampage and in the process they are murdering Igbo people, Birom, Tiv, etc. and, as well as British and other European citizens. (There are numerous cases of these unnecessary and unfortunate killings by the Northern Nigeria jihadists but we will refer here to only two such incidents. The March, 2013 killing of 7 foreign hostages: A British, an Italian, a Greek and 4 Lebanese citizens by the Ansaru Islamic group http://rt.com/news/nigeria-hostages-kidnapped-killed-065/ and the murder of the British Christopher McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara by Boko Haram group in March, 2012 British Hostage Killed In Nigeria
The clearly defined and widely proclaimed goal of the northern Nigerian jihadists is to establish a separate Islamic state in the north of Nigeria. And here lies the root cause of the endemic ethnic/religious crisis going on in Nigeria today. This in itself is the readjusted objective of the northern peoples’ original agenda. The original plan was to use the political power inherited from the colonialists to intimidate and overwhelm the southern peoples, Islamize the entire country and establish a Saudi Arabian replica of an Islamic state in the heart of Black Africa.
Nigeria in the opinion of the Islamists is strategic and seen as a coveted trophy which they will give anything to add to the list of conquered territories in their pursuit of the overall global Islamic agenda. When one looks at the prevailing political contours and power struggles in most of the dysfunctional colonial countries on the Southern part of the Sahara Desert, it is not hard to understand why there are so much sociopolitical and cultural/religious conflicts.
It is the Islamic agenda of territorial acquisitions and forceful proselytizing that has left most Black African societies in a state of perpetual social tension, bloodletting conflicts, complete breakdown of law and order, political corruption, impunity and societal instability. With these many problems the peoples are left with little or no time to embark on projects and initiate programs that engender progress and encourage economic prosperity in their societies. It’s been a longstanding Islamic agenda to Islamize the Southern part of the Sahara as it was done in the Northern part where the Arabs did not only Islamize the population; they nearly exterminated the entire indigenous Black population of that part of Africa and occupied their land.
Here is a little illustration of how the colonial and other external influences have helped create the ongoing disasters; the common saying is that the thief who was sent by the father (a father-figure backer) to go steal will instead of being stealthy and discreet about it, by maybe finding a way to pick the lock, will rather break the door using his feet or any other loud noise producing method to gain entrance to the house. Most times such bold thief apart from the fact that he might be acting under the influence of drugs, is also emboldened because he has this false belief in the father-leader who could not possibly be wrong. An experienced investigator of a crime scene usually begins on the premise that if the thief had displayed much impudence and foolhardy bravado then he must be acting from a gang backed by a powerful leader as against a thief that is acting alone. If there is an existing list of active gangs and gang leaders, from the list the investigator begins by looking for this sort of signature evidence as a clue.
The above illustration helps us to understand why there is so much display of bold and scandalous impudence in the Nigerian political and social “robbery” scenes. The “thief” (the leading political class and the ordinary citizens) is acting believing he was right in doing what he is doing. In the eyes of the child the father is hardly ever wrong. This partly comes from the British colonial legacy and the infamous role played by the British during the Biafra-Nigeria war.
Let’s relate it to a particularly difficult aspect noticed often by an observer of the Nigerian inter-ethnic and sociopolitical relationships. Very often there is friction which results from the north people complaining about the people from the south whom they believe regard the northerners as being stupid. Why this is so may not be difficult to see by an objective careful observer. The south people find it difficult to understand why the north people can be so bold and impudently assertive by always insisting on being entitled to have most of the leadership positions and resource allocations in the country without the due consideration of the other partners in the Nigerian union. The south finds this seemingly irrational attitude of the north too hard to rationalize so they tend to think that the northerners’ attitude is not just foolhardy but actually stupid.
Femi Fani-Kayode is from the southwest and was a Nigerian federal aviation minister and a regular commentator on the country’s issues. In reference to the ongoing contentious Nigerian National Conference this is how a southwest delegate to the conference, Adekunle Adesina Odunmorayo as quoted by Fani-Kayode succinctly puts the north peoples’ attitude;
”I see arrogance. I see harassment. I see it’s either our way or no way by the same group [the north people] who felt the country belongs to them only- the people who are holding this country by the jugular at this conference. The same way they have been behaving since the creation of the Nigerian state is the same way they are aggressively exhibiting their character at this conference.
But gone are the days when any part of Nigeria can be intimidated, can be coerced or harassed into submission. The majority of Nigerians have realized that 50 years of their domination, albeit illegally, has come to an end. They must sit down now and discuss. The odds are not in their favor. The threat of boycott or walkout will not change anything. We are all equal before the law. We are all equal before God”
Fani-Kayode commenting on Odunmorayo’s statement said; “Odunmorayo’s words shall go down in history as being a prophetic and final warning to a people that have lost touch with reality and that feel that they must always have their way in Nigeria. The message is loud and clear and it basically says that there are no more slaves and slave-masters in Nigeria. It says that we are all equal before God and we will never go back to the old days of northern masters and southern serfs. If the north walks out of the conference simply because they are not allowed to operate what amounts to an effective power of veto when it comes to voting, then they may as well walk out of Nigeria as well. And if they do so, to hell with them. It is time for the south to begin to come together and insist on their rights. Some things are way and above party politics and they are basic and fundamental- this matter is one of such things. The north does not own Nigeria and the rest of us do not live for them or at their beck and call. We all own this country and the wishes of the north cannot be forced down the throats of the south.”
Northern peoples’ conception of what the Nigerian state stands for is very contrary to what the southerners believe. Moreover, due to the distorted discoloration resulting from the north mixing Islamic religion and politics, the typical northerner’s perception of what the Nigerian state should be runs contrary to realities and what is reasonable in today’s world such that it is simply impossible to continue sustaining the unity of Nigeria as one country. In a plain language all the sides or parties to the Nigerian union simply do not understand why they should exist together as members of the same country and cannot see eye to eye on most issues. And the only reasonable response to this dilemma is to resolve it by dividing Nigeria along the existing dividing lines of culture, religion and ethnicity.
The confusion resulting from the forced unity is so real and is behind virtually all the major troubles that are going on in Nigeria today. It is this confusion that is responsible for the very unbelievable level of poverty among the over 85% of the population in spite of so much available and potential wealth-creating resources. It is also responsible for the kind of beyond-all-reasons political and social corruption in the country where no one who breaks the law expects any punishment whatsoever. The same confusion is responsible for why peoples of other religions or ethnic groups find it easy and even justified to not just discriminate against others from other religions and ethnic groups; they simply feel justified to kill those from other groups just because they believe, think and act differently.
This confusion in Nigerian society and polity justifies each ethnic/religious group in believing that they are exclusively right and others are inexcusably wrong in every issue that is of common interest to all parties to the union of one Nigeria. At the root of all the problems in Nigeria are the diversities of irreconcilable cultures, religions and different original indigenous sociopolitical ideologies. The real solution to Nigeria’s problems will be found on the day that all who are concerned about Nigeria decide to solve this problem from this fundamental angle.
The various peoples in the Nigerian union must choose to separate themselves from one another into the pre-colonial, originally occurring demarcations of ethnic, religious and cultural boundaries, and form genuine independent countries. Nigeria as it is, is the conception and creation of foreign colonial masters who did not understand nor appreciate the existing deeply dividing and unbridgeable ethnic, cultural and religious lines of the peoples. No one can dream of fixing the seemingly many problems of Nigeria by ignoring the existence of these demarcating lines and the indigenous peoples must abandon the colonial map and redraw it to reflect realities.
Written By Osita Ebiem
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