Nigeria Matters

'One Nigeria': To Be Or Not To Be? (4)

“Many became pessimists by financing optimists.”
Charlie Johns.

“ACF is to protect the interests of the North in the overall concept of Nigeria, so remember that. That’s yours; protect it, the interest of the North, the former Northern Region,”

Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State during Nigeria’s bloody civil war. Presently chairman, Grand Patrons of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).
Excerpt of speech during the first anniversary of the death of Sunday Awoniyi, former chairman of ACF. April, 2008.

“…Why is anybody expecting the present government to do well? Governance is about vision, mission and deep process of thinking. You just don’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed and say you want to be president or governor. Great countries of the world did not achieve greatness because they just stumbled on leadership style…”

Chief Bisi Adegbuyi. Chieftain of the Pro-national Conference Organisation, and senatorial candidate of the Action Congress in the April 2008 elections. Excerpt of interview given in December 2007.

“…As far as the 100 days of (President) Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in office is concerned, what it means to some of us is that the illegality, the lack of legitimacy and acceptance by the Nigeria people have continued. And it is in spite of the diversionary and public deceit involved in the policy statements are essentially superficial. They only scratch the surface of the country and do not go down into the fundamental problems of the country. The fundamental problems of the country are these disabling level of corruption, stealing, waste and lack of legitimacy of government, unemployment, poverty, disease, ignorance, illiteracy and neo-colonialist political structure and heritage. The superficial policies have not dealt with them at all. In fact, what we are seeing is an attempt to even generate politically. For example, the abandonment of the anti-corruption campaign, in particular, by the Code of Conduct Bureau, ICPC and EFCC and the recent call for a return to feudalism in the form of constitutional role for un-elected leaders, in the country…”

Alhaji Balarabe Musa. Excerpt of interview given in 2008

“…At independence, most political leaders were concerned with winning independence. That was their main target, our hope rather. There wasn’t any dishonesty in the vision. It was a great vision of what we wanted for Nigeria at independence. We wanted to rule ourselves, even if we misrule ourselves in the process. We just wanted to be independent. We wanted other people to let off our country. When independence came, I believe the leading political figures were unprepared for what freedom meant. And because of that, infighting among the nationalists, among the leaders at that time, set in with the result that the abundant energy that the people, especially their leaders had, was dissipated in bickering and quarrelling, which greatly undermined the success of the vision. We failed to come together to put Nigeria first, to work for Nigeria and to meet the hopes and aspiration of Nigerians and the Africa nation. Looking with hindsight, one could say that the civil war was avoidable. With foresight and strong will, many human disasters, like wars, could be avoided. But somehow, the excesses of war come to pressure or submit to political considerations, rather than human and material considerations. The civil war in Nigeria was most unfortunate. I came to know much about the Nigeria Civil war, its roots, its causes, its mission; how it started, how it was fought and how it was won. I happened to be a government official in Northern Nigeria during the war. I travelled throughout the Biafran enclave as it was won over by the federal troops. I travelled to all the divisions with the Marine Commando, which was in the Southern area. I travelled in the thick of the war, met all the commanders – General Mohammed Shua, and others. Shua was Lt. Col. then, before Bissalla replaced him.
In the 2nd Division, I knew Murtala well. I saw him in action. I knew members of his troops. Under him were Musa Yar’Adua, Col. Jallo, Col. Ibrahim Haruna. When the 2nd Division was reorganised, General Jallo was the commander in Benin and General Haruna was in the front in Onitsha. Onitsha had been conquered and the bridge had been crossed…”

Alhaji Magaji Dambatta, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Arewa Consultative Forum, was one of eight young men who founded the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). Excerpt of interview, published May 1, 2008.

“…History is a weapon. There is another way to get our compatriots to play along. That is to remind the masses up ‘North’ of the continued need for ‘operation Araba’ option championed by Murtala Mohammed. Amazing how much history is contorted and rascals are celebrated as heroes. To think an airport here is named after that fellow after he abused Yoruba hospitality to go hunting-door-to-door! We will have a lot of sign-posting to do changing street names, once this is over. As for looking to our southern borders in the event of self determination. There is a long-running animosity between the Edo and the Ibo, caused by the latter’s annexation of the former’s land mass into the Biafran republic. A similar spat lingers between the riverine ethnicities and the Ibo due to the latter’s annexation of the former’s landmass in a bid to reach the Atlantic Ocean. I still do not know how Ojukwu and Company reasoned that annexation of Yoruba land was the route to Sokoto and Kano. But Nowamagbe A. Omoigui made relevant comments on the occupation of the midwest. Hail the 24-hour Republic of Benin! With each coup and counter coup, our compatriots have convinced themselves that the issues relating to ‘regionalisation’ of military capability can be resolved by relocating all meaningful force or resource control to the north of the Sharia Line and so to neuter the south. Time will tell if this Sudan strategy works with our backs to the seas. Meanwhile, as the tanks are withdrawn upwards, other compatriots diffuse to Eko and declare it the new (cowardly, hmmn) Canaan. The monkey refuses to let to of the cookie jar even though his behind is being beaten with sticks. Is it not doomed when the owner reaches for the machete?…”

Iyaalata. NVS member. excerpt of comment on part 3 of article, April 28, 2008.

“The question still remains, how is the dismemberment going to happen? Definitely, not by way of armed struggle for these reasons: The Biafrans do not want to use their heads to break the proverbial coconut the second time. The Odua people are not interested in going to a war they cannot predict the victorious outcome beforehand. The Niger Deltans are too few to face the rest of the country alone, they have therefore resorted to playing hide and seek game with the Nigerian Armed forces. The North, not interested in being taken unawares have made sure that all the strategic military formations are located in the North. Break up can only happen when all Nigerians come to realize that the big size bequeathed to us is a drag on our progress, to the delight of the people that forced us together in the first instance. We can then come round to a negotiating table and sign the divorce letter. The North, in spite of their diversity have always been managing to speak with one voice when it matters most. The South have always spoken with a cacophony of voices, with each section believing it is better than the other, or that it can go it alone while antagonising the other. The same reason why the North with its limited resources is lording it over the south with its abundant resources. It is Northern soldiers that head the JTF that is rampaging the Niger Delta today. It is a northern soldier that headed the special task force on Ogoni the other time with all the atrocities committed. Yet the South-South always vote the same North (or rig elections in their favour).To those calling for war, it should be realised that regardless of the advantage the north may seem to have now in terms of armoury, they can not be any match for a combined forces of Southern Nigeria. But, will that be? Can that be? If the south cannot agree to speak with one voice on politics, on Cyber discourse, on calling for a National Conference, is it war we will be willing to fight together? Our inability to see eye to eye in the south will only delay the eventuality of Nigeria’s disintegration if the glaring injustice inherent in it is not addressed, it will not stop it…”

Mikky Jaga. NVS Villager. Excerpt of comment on part 3 of article. April 29, 2008.

“Your post (Mikky Jaga’s) has thrown up many salient points that clearly make the break up of Nigeria desirable for the south. Its no use asking how this would be achieved. A break up could only come thru peace or war and there are precedents in our world. It is wrong to assume that the Igbo would not fight again having been beaten once. No serious people succumb to cowardice in the face of slavery and marginalization. You never stop fighting for your freedom. If it were so, the people of Chechenya would not be fighting Russia today, the Palestinians would not be warring against Israel. But I personally feel that the Igbo have never stopped fighting. MASSOB has been suffering casualties from the Nigerian state. For the people who have been felled by the bullets fired by agents of the ruling cabal, it is exactly like dying in war. If you say the Odua people are afraid of going to war, who are they going to fight against? I doubt if there is any southern group that would take up arms against the Yoruba should they wish to abandon the Nigerian state. If not for anything, their signal to leave Nigeria would herald the much needed demise of the criminal political entity. The point you mentioned about the north not willing to be taken unawares by accumulating arms, helps to puncture whatever reason one has to egg Nigeria on. It clearly demonstrates that the south is under siege. You may have said it innocently but this a slip of the finger. If Nigeria was founded on equity and justice, why would a segment of the country have the need to procure and localize arms as a tool of coercion? This is bringing out the myopia of southerners who believe Nigeria must be one till eternity. Why go into a partnership when you are clearly disadvantaged? Why belong to a country when there is arms build up in another region to exterminate you? There is even a plan to for Nigeria to acquire nuclear technology with the reactor located in the north. This would complete the enslavement of the south.All the points you raised have been addressed at various fora and times. The issue of a loose confederation could have been the solution but what would you do when the stake holders dont even want us to come and sit on a round table. The call for a sovereign national conference have been on for several years but the oppressors would not listen. They would rather sponsor and finance subversive elements in the south to cause division among us.
Lastly it doesn’t really matter if the problems of the present Nigeria spill over into the new republics. People would be much happier being cheated by an indigene. You’d think twice before ****ing your people because you live among them. It is like the case of say Peter Odili who may never live in River State until he passes on. But the advantages would be numerous and a lot of problems would vanish. A situation where soldiers of northern origin loot and rape the Niger Delta people would be no more…”

Overdryv, NVS member. Excerpt of comment on part 3 of article. April 27, 2008.

“…I have no problem with Obasanjo. Obasanjo was not the one who first arrested me. Before Obasanjo came to power, I didn’t know him, neither did he know me. My brothers in the North, because of selfish personal interests, told lies about me to Obasanjo and advised him to arrest me. As a result of this, I have no problem with Obasanjo. It is a home matter. They know me and I know them. I suffered all that I went through because I refused to toe their line and opted for true democracy. This was not what they expected. So I had to be taken care of. While some of my people were praying for my welfare while in prison and even making efforts to secure my release, some of these, my brothers, were holding high level consultations with the government of the day to ensure that I never get out of there. But I have left them in the hands of God. My freedom ordained by God. God brings succour especially if you stand on the path of justice. Today, the lie has ended and I am now back home. When it was uttered, that a military man would be made president, I said I did not agree and I would not support such a proposition. General Danjuma came to my house when I was Chief of Army Staff and talked to me about this issue. I told him, even if he is the person, I would not support him. General Aliyu Gusau is still alive. He too did the same and I said the same thing, that I would not support the proposition. It is not that the government did not like the truth. When we wanted to hand over power, even Gusau asking me the question, he was tired. And indeed, we are tired of military rule. Was this not true? So, it was not proper at that time to impose a military man on Nigerians. Now, we have seen the result. This is what I stood up against and I was punished for almost nine years, for standing up for democracy. What we have got in eight years of Obasanjo has taken us 20 years backward. The incumbent President is doing his best probing here and there. If they had heeded my advice, I am sure the difficulty we are passing through, even if we were meant to suffer, it would not have been of this magnitude. But I am glad that since I was put in detention, they were the ones that took the shame. They are now the same people abusing and castigating Obasanjo everywhere. I don’t abuse Obasanjo. I have finished my part…”

Former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi.

Excerpt of interview. May 2008.

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