Adeyemi Adefulu, MFR
I saw the demonstrations by the Yorubas in London on Saturday 11th September calling for the carving of Oduduwa Republic out of Nigeria. It is a reflection of the sobering state of the nation and the melancholy which has surrounded her. Today, it is clear even to the blind that the centre cannot hold and that, once again we are on the tipping point.
Put very bluntly, the Nigerian experiment has not worked. It has been an unmitigated disaster failing to live up to its promise in every respect. We have become a failed nation with a constantly failing leadership. Our leaders have not worked hard at making it work.We never behaved as if we have any realization that welding a multi-ethnic society into a nation was a serious business. The Nigerian experiment was always laced by a pre conceived ethnic goals of domination by the Fulani which long preceded the amalgamation of 1914. Conquest and territorial acquisition was always their goal. That ambition has never altered.
Right from the beginning the British were active collaborators of the Fulani in the latter’s quest for domination. They adopted the indirect rule of the Fulani in the North and actively worked for the realisation of the Fulani suzerainty over Nigeria. At independence they left many mines planted. Several ex colonial administrators have confessed to this effect. Census was rigged to always give them an advantage. The military was used to subvert the 1960 negotiated federal constitution and to consolidate the Fulani hold on power. When Gowon and his ilk took power in July 1966, they announced that “there was no basis for Nigerian unity” and were obviously going to divide the country. The British hushed them up. The military proceeded to alter the weak centre to a very strong one. The Fulani never shared a desire to work for the emergence of one nation with guaranteed rights and opportunities for all citizens. The union was always convoluted and skewed towards the domination by the Fulani ethnic group. With other strong tribes making up the union, conflict was always a matter of time. We saw that playing out during the civil war which consumed three million years lives but we learnt nothing from that tragic experience . Indeed,we have committed more terrible errors than the ones that led to the civil war.
To make matters worse, the resources of the country have been mismanaged wantonly in a rent seeking cronyism centered around economy dominated by the public sector. Economic privileges were distributed to enrich the elite and impoverish the poor even further. All calls for the reform of the constitution and governance have been ignored or sabotaged. Nigeria is a country which doesn’t learn from its errors. Rather we persist in them. While Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have profited from western education, to the rabid and demented zealot and wretched of the earth western education is “haram”.
The Nigeria has been a drag to the Yoruba nation, a great liability. The Yoruba people are a liberal, progressive, peace loving, hardworking, creative, accomodating, people who believe in the virtues of hard work, education, technological advancement, which Nigeria has checkmated. They would never have imagined their country becoming the poverty capital of the world. All the quest of the Yoruba for Nigeria to embrace the egalitarian philosophy which will lead to the unlocking of the potentials of Nigeria have been resisted and frustrated. Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo, MKO Abiola and many other people died in the pursuit of a better Nigeria. Their efforts were frustrated and sabotaged. All the calls for reform were similarly frustrated. The Fulani fully dominate the public service,security services, business policies, the judiciary etc. They control the police and have an army of occupation all over Nigeria. They control the ports and the internal revenue architecture and the NNPC. They control the oil wells while the people of the delta only live with and bear the brunt of pollution of oil exploration. They take advantage of the quota system when convenient and jettison it when they like. The sharing of the national revenue has been skewed the way they want it, in favour of the North. The Fulani have maintained a stranglehold on Nigeria power structure. No one can be anything in this country, unless it is by their desire and endorsement. Only their cronies can. This was a lesson MKO Abiola learnt too late. It is a hegemonic order, a stranglehold on the entire nation for which they have no apologies . The desperate quest of the Fulani which they have pursued for nearly 200 years is permanent and unchangeable. It is a jihad, a quest for conquest. It has no middle road. To them, Nigeria is their inheritance which they must wholly dominate and use as they like.
The extreme and absolute position of the Fulani presents the Nigerian nation and other ethnic groups, particularly, the Yoruba, with a frustrating and desperate dilemma to either submit to slavery or fight for their independent existent. It’s a choice they would have wished they didn’t have to make. But the Yoruba never surrender. But Nigeria as presently constituted threatens all the Yoruba stand for and leaves them with no choice but to resist. It is obvious from all the flash points all over Nigeria that the time to salvage Nigeria is fast running out. Unfortunately, there’s no leadership with a vision or demonstrable will to salvage the sinking boat.
In all of these things, I believe President Muhammadu Buhari, who had the unique chance to make a difference, has failed the nation and that history will be very harsh on him. I was one of those who, naively, believed that, given his long run at the Presidency, he had the opportunity to correct the wrongs of Nigeria. Having failed in his bid for the presidency on 3 previous occasions, it took the gamble of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to re-engineer his chances at gaining the long held ambition by forging what many thought was a risky alliance. You would have thought that this will not only be reflected in the power sharing but also in the whole tone and bearing of the government. But this was a misplaced hope. Typically, PMB ran Nigeria with a cabal, just as he had done in the past and pursued highly pro-North policies, blatantly dominated the security command with northern officers and turning deaf ears to all complaints. Even as these officers have failed abysmally to uphold the nation’s security, nothing has changed. PMB has left no one in doubt that the sceptics who said he will pursue the Fulani agenda were right. The support of the Yoruba for him yielded little and has not resulted in his releasing some of the draconian central hold on power. Those who understand geo politics know that the Fulani never owe anyone.
Even the lion of Bourdillon, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with all the cat and mouse games he has endured these past 7 years, will appear to have been left holding on to the wrong end of the stick and no matter how hard he tries to give the impression that all was well, the discerning know all was not well. PMB is a strategy gone awry and Bola is now locked in the fight for his political life. PMB is no nation builder and will never attain to the stature of an Ataturk, a statesman , a unifier, the father of the nation . If he ever had any ambition, National heroism was not part of it. He is, obviously, content with being no more than the champion of the conclave of Daura.
While the barbaric hold of the Fulani is against the cause of human history and modernity, it is, arrogantly, not going to beat a retreat. The dissolution of countries is nothing new. Most of the federations which existed at the time of Nigerian independence all over the world have been dissolved. So what makes the Federation of Nigeria sacrosanct ? But, let there be no illusion, the dissolution of Nigeria is not going to be a walk in the park. It’s going to be a long and bloody battle. It’s going to be a long struggle calling for severe political, diplomatic, military leadership and acumen. This will not be an opportunistic struggle or a quick win. This struggle calls for soldiers who will endure being in the trenches in very testy weather for a long time. But the intolerable state we are in is breeding discontent n extremism. These are not good signs. Already the security forces are stretched. Things are so charged now that Nigeria could easily be enveloped in widespread war. I pray and hope not. But those who pray must watch and do the needful. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. And as a sage once said, “those who make peaceful change impossible will make violent change inevitable.”