There is an age long presumption in Nigeria’s political discourse about the existence of a Hausa-Fulani axis of evil that has supposedly monopolized the country’s politics since the infamous amalgamation of the country’s divergent groups by Lord Lugard in 1914. This cabal is said to have been determining the course of the country’s political voyage since the unification exercise and have become so deeply entrenched that all attempts to dislodge it have run into brick walls. In attempts to establish the validity of the existence of this northern hegemonic group, literature of eclectic hues have poured forth in torrents over the years as intellectuals, politicians, commentators and casual observers (mostly from the southern political divide) compete with one another in their quests to postulate the best theory to explain this historical phenomenon.
Without a doubt, the Hausa-Fulani led north, due to the incongruous structuring of the Nigerian federation by the Colonial masters, have seemingly benefited more from the Nigerian State system than the south. Some historical facts validate this painful reality. Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Aviation Minister, and one of the chief trumpeters of Northern political domination, recently posted a very fiery piece on his twitter page, purportedly mailed to him by Temi Banjo, an “anonymous friend”, titled, “The Seven fold Yoke and the Cabal that Owns Nigeria”, which encapsulated the very idea of northern hegemony. The piece can be accessed from @realFFK. The seven yokes or burdens contained in the said list – which captures the collective mindset of most southerners concerning their supposed vassal status in the Nigerian caste system, in juxtaposition with their northern counterparts – include: 1. “Political Yoke”. 2. “Economic Yoke”. 3. “Religious Yoke”. 4. “Cultural Yoke”. 5. “Administrative Yoke”. 6. “Diplomatic Yoke”.7. “Security Yoke”.
Femi Fani-Kayode’s passionate exposition would make for interesting reading any day, like all his other well researched, crisply written articles and position papers on burning national issues that are constantly syndicated on different media platforms – regular and social. I would advice anybody who has not read this piece to do so. It will open your eyes to so many facts about politics in Nigeria that many of us are obviously ignorant of. But in as much as I cannot but agree with most of the facts – historical, statistical et al – contained in the extensive list, I bluntly disagree with the idea it was intended to sell: that the Hausa-Fulani political establishment is the sole problem of Nigeria. It is an inductive, highly parochial attempt to answer a national question from a largely subjective perspective.
Contrary to widespread belief in some sections of the south, most traditional arguments bordering on Hausa-Fulani domination of Nigeria’s leadership structures belong to the large web of conspiracy theories often woven and brandished by the southern wing of the political establishment as bargaining chips whenever they feel shortchanged by their co-conspirators from the North in the appropriation of the national wealth and control of government apparatuses. It forms part of a medley of concocted myths adopted by the southern ruling class to explain away their inability to deliver the dividends of democracy to their constituencies. The same weapon employed by their northern counterparts who start crying “Wolf” whenever the political arrangement is not in their favour. When any of these power blocs gain control of the Leviathan, everything is just perfect, no one bothers about marginalization.
The truth is that politicians scramble into ethno-religious gazebos when they feel their interests are no longer being protected in the national mansion. During the tenures of Obasanjo and Jonathan, the Northern political elite made large meals out of how the south was supposedly marginalizing the north. This same rhetoric is being trumpeted by their southern counterparts in the current dispensation. Accepted that some of these protests or agitations can be validated with facts, they are mostly projected towards selfish ends.
Northern political domination is an infinitesimal fraction of a larger national milieu, as the only homogeneity that has ever existed in Nigeria is the demonic alliance forged by its elite forces who constantly struggle to maintain their hold on the joysticks of power due to the several doors it opens to them. If there is a cabal misdirecting Nigeria’s ship of state, it is the one constituted by its national political elite, not a mythical, mystical power bloc from the north. These native supremacists cut across the country’s ethnic, religious and other sub groups; a fraction of the populace who are involved in the reprehensible business of commandeering “our” collective wealth for “their” common good. You find them in government, as members of the diplomatic corps, as top brass of the armed forces (serving and retired), as members of the Council of State, as party chieftains, as contractors, as traditional rulers or high chiefs, as heads of organized religions, as heads of big businesses, as commanders of militant groups, as heads of organized criminal consortiums and in other contrived capacities. They constitute the legendary “Nigerian Establishment”.
Nigeria’s political establishment is an amalgam of money mongers, the pantaloons in Nigeria’s national pantomime, who make investment decisions for the “Federal Enterprise of Nigeria”. They decide who produces, what is produced, how to produce, what is distributed, when to distribute and to whom to distribute. They nominate candidates for political positions and other appointments. Despite posing as representatives of their constituencies, they represent no one but themselves and their cronies. This assemblage of bounty hunters, form the soft-landing base that eases the business of corrupt enrichment, especially during times of national crisis when they take up the mischievous roles of “Peace Ambassadors” or “Emissaries”, “Citizen Diplomats” and other contrived nomenclatures that are meant to cloak their self-aggrandizing dispositions.
The chief character of Nigeria’s political class is best defined by its relentless and extreme struggles for the possession of political power, as has been consistently demonstrated over the years. This is due to the fact that political power guarantees its wielders access to, and control of, the country’s economy, which has always been the main attraction for the seekers of political office and is largely responsible for the criminal system of corruption and the various ethno-religious and other politically motivated conflicts that have stunted Nigeria’s growth and delayed its transformation into a truly united, prosperous nation. The rule is that when you seek first the political kingdom of Nigeria and all its accoutrements, you are guaranteed access to larger chunks of the national cake. Power is all that matters to the ruling political elite, not the people’s welfare, which comes’ last on their scale of preference. Power has become a currency that must be obtained at all costs. This “get and keep power by all means” syndrome, has traditionally defined the behavior of Nigeria’s ruling classes over the years, and accounts for the constant infighting within their ranks.
Nigeria has remained backward in virtually all segments of national life decades after it came into being due to the unpatriotic intransigencies of its rulers. These dark forces are responsible for the relentless tugs on Nigeria’s fragile unity, and the disruptive inconsistencies in its operation. These inglorious bastards structured this emasculated and chaotic order of injustice to serve their conceited interests. Hence, in our attempts at understanding the major factors stalling our country’s transformation into a united, progressive nation-state, we must desist from casting stones solely at imaginary factors such as “Hausa-Fulani Domination”, “Colonialism”, “Ethnicity”, “Religion”, “Amalgamation” or “Mistake of 1914” and other contrived factors, which are mostly superfluous, and channel our mental energies towards understanding the character of the country’s ruling class, our common enemy, who manipulate us at will to feed their inane vanities.
Politics is simply the extreme struggle for access, ownership and control of the minds and resources of the people by the political class in any given human society. The struggles for power among Nigeria’s leading political actors are meant to satisfy their gluttonous appetites and not to better the lives of their peoples. Nigerian politicians do not give a hoot about the welfare of its citizens. That is why nobody should be taken in whenever politicians resort to whipping up nationalistic sentiments to explain away the constant infightings within their ranks.
The truth is that most of the gang wars that Nigerians have become spectators to are not being fought because Nigerian politicians care about the people, or that they wish to better their lot in anyway; they are simply contested hereditary claims meant to protect – and possibly expand – the territories of the godfathers from been encroached on by their competitors. So, when you hear of southern or northern politicians facing off with each other, it means there are disagreements over how to adequately appropriate the commonwealth, and not because of their philanthropic dispositions. It is not from the kindness of political journey men that we should expect the blessings of government, but from regard to their personal interests. We must address ourselves, not to their synthetic compassion, but to their greed, and never to their sense of sacrifice, but to their profit-making motives. This lack of piety and honor among these political crime bosses and the hatchet men involved in the several territorial wars that have been consistently fought on Nigeria’s political stage over the years are expiations of their pitilessness.
Restructuring Nigeria is a brilliant idea as it will create a more level playing field among the country’s constituent units, but will this balance in power relations put an end to official corruption, religious bigotry, nepotism, ethnocentrism and other systemic challenges that have stalled the country’s march to full nationhood? Will it bring about good governance and positive peace in the country? The blanket answer is a capital NO! For any new structural arrangement to work, the country needs a new political class to lead the nation into a new era of peace and prosperity anchored on justice and fair play. That is the only way forward! (I dwelt more on this in my soon to be published book titled, “Punch Lines”)
As Femi Fani Kayode rightly posited in his abovementioned piece, “Freedom from the Cabal is NOT about “North versus South”. Thus, the struggle for the soul of the Nigerian State is the struggle between the carnivores member of the political establishment, the real enemies of the Nigerian people, versus all lovers of liberty. Here is enjoining all Nigerians to henceforth ignore any overt or clandestine attempt by the mischievous members of the political class to drag them into their personal disagreements. From now on, we must desist from obeying all villainous calls to bear arms against one another. If we must fight, it shouldn’t be against one another, but against our common foes: the ignoble mischief makers in our midst; those agents of darkness masquerading as angels of light; those bigoted ethno-religious champions who have perfected the art of playing us against one another to satiate their ravenous appetites for the appurtenances of office; the master con artists whose infamies are well documented.
All Igbos, Hausa-Fulanis, Igalas, Binis, Tivs, Angas, Ijaws, Urhobos, Yorubas, Ikas, Christians, Muslims, animists, traditionalists and members of all the country’s indigent groups and faiths, despite their diversities, must begin to see themselves as potential allies in the quest for a new, united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria. Nigerians must recognize more of those things that bind them together, and detest those divisive issues that estrange them. If we must fight, let us start by first of all identifying the fifth columnists in our midst (the political jobbers who exploit us to access power, the corrupt politicians stealing our commonwealth, the conflict entrepreneurs and instigators who exploit our diversities to foment strife, the ethnic apologists who abuse their privileged positions of authority to promote personal agendas et al) and confront them. If we must fight, let us come together in one accord to massively resist the actively corrupt members of the ruling political establishment.
We must stand together against the forces of disintegration in our midst, or crash divided. The choice is ours. God save Nigeria!