He looked gaunt with protruding eyes and had that stare of the true believer and zealot. We went into perfunctory greetings but his mind was not really in it. I asked him what was all this trouble starting in the north east of Nigeria. Hear him. “We do not like what is going on in Nigeria. We want to be left alone. We do not want democracy, we do not want western education” I interrupted him by pointing out to him that it was too late in the day, as to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done. He stopped, glared at me and continued. “Wahallahi, we do not want to mix with kafirci or infidels.” Are you saying you do not want to share the country with non-Muslims. He answered: “Yes.” I shifted on my feet and threw the next question. What would you do with people like David Mark, Sam Nda Isaiah and Mathew Francis Kukah? It was as if I had touched a sore nerve. With his eyes bulging he craned his neck and shouted: “Those are slaves we keep in the north to run errands for us”. Really? I countered. He responded: “Since the white men came and turned everything upside down, these slaves have been putting on airs. Could you imagine them bearing two biblical names? That is serious haram and is unacceptable!”
I paused and shook my head to clear it, because this was getting complicated and then forged on. What do you have against education, after all Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna himself started Ahmadu Bello University cleverly named after him? He did not miss a beat and responded immediately: “That fellow was misguided, he even had the effrontery to open a brewery in the north.” I couldn’t help but point out that a current Minister Rilwanu Lukman wants to open a petroleum university in the north. “Over my dead body,” he retorted. “Lukman is an apostate and if we ever meet up with him, he is a dead man.” Are you affiliated with MEND? “Mai nini MEND”? One of his disciples came in and whispered into his ear. He cleared his throat and continued: “Apart from Alhaji Asari Dokubo, who is a true believer we do not want anything to do with those infidels except wiping them out, before dipping the Koran into the sea.
What about the Eboes, you do not seem to like them as you have been killing them and looting their properties since the 1950’s? “They are the cause of their own misfortune and Allah permits one to acquire the properties of its fallen enemies” What have they done to you? “They wanted one Nigeria, then they said they don’t want one Nigeria, and after all what we have done to them, they keep returning and manage to prosper more than us. It is as if they are mocking Allah. This area is strictly for Muslims”. What about the Eboes that convert to Islam like Alhaji Muhammad Okoronkwo? “Okay, we would allow them in as second hand Muslims, provided they know their place and never challenge us for power”. Some are suggesting that this problem started because an Eboe man was made Inspector General of Police, is there any truth in that statement? “Who Onovo?” Yes. “Let me tell you, two unbelievers as Inspector General one after the other, is an assault on our senses. All these are possible because of democracy, are there no Muslim police officers in the country? We do not want democracy, we do not want to share this nation space with unbelievers.” But you are benefiting from it. Money from oil wealth is used to build palaces for your Emirs, send you for hajj, open hospitals etc. “Wahallahi ba na so”
What do you have against democracy? After all Yaradua who is a Muslim is now the president and the last one had no religion? “It is not the present that we fear but tomorrow. What happens when Yaradua leaves, won’t that unbeliever with two biblical names take over?” You mean the vice president? He does not have two biblical names. “What is the difference? Goodluck Jonathan reminds us of too much of white men who came and used force to change everything.” Are you saying that if another Muslim takes over from Yaradua, everything will be fine? “Maybe, provided no non Muslim will ever become president.” Is that your problem with the 1999 Constitution? “Yes, and a host of other things.” What do you mean? “Nigeria cannot be a federation, we do not want equality with women like that Akinluyi” What did she do? “She co-sponsored a petroleum bill asking for 20% of our God given wealth to be given to those unbelievers instead of 100% to the federal purse controlled by Yaradua.” Do you like Yarriba people? “Dan banza shege.” Excuse me, I stuttered.
What if Nigerians do not want to give you what you want? He seems to come out of a trance and ask that the interview be halted as they were planning an attack on their positions in Kano. I persisted knowing that this might be the only chance I had to speak to him. He relented and allowed one final question. Are you a member of the Arewa Consultative Forum? “Buruba”