It has become a refrain for some northerners to chant that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Certainly, this guffaw emphasises the point that the country may soon give way if the so called northern leaders fail to relent in their passion of continually driving big harpoons that create gorges in the fabled body of our dear Nigeria. The submission, few days ago by Mr Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, that those agitating for the dismembering of the country are the problems of this country, is to say the least irritating and vexatious..
Shehu also wanted Nigerians to believe that the agitators for self determination, being Nigeria’s greatest challenge, are the reason for insecurity and other challenges the country is experiencing nationwide. Inasmuch as we acknowledge the fact that Mr. Shehu is defending his position as an aide to President Muhammadu Bahari, we should not lose sight of the fact that a credible and thoroughbred image maker should always know when to separate reality from the mundane and when to say the truth and when to tell white lies even when the butter is sweeter. Sacred fact nourishes the nerves.
So, to Mallam Garba Shehu, Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen, Bandits etc which are all the products of the north, are not the problems of Nigeria. To him, these blood thirsty bigots that waste human blood daily are innocent and vindicating. To him too, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), O’odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), Niger Delta agitators, Middle agitators are the real vampire of the nation that must be crushed. Yet, IPOB that is declared a terrorist group in Nigeria are the ones being offered political asylum on a platter of gold in Britain.
If the Senior Special Assistant to the President could be sincere to himself, he would acknowledge that issues that brought out agitations for self determination are caused by the arrogant nepotistic mien of the Muhammadu Buhari’s government which he serves. No government in the country’s history has so arrogantly favoured a particular ethnic group (the Fulani nationality) in clear humiliation of other,s particularly the southeast, than the Buhari government.
Apart from its primitive arrogance (arrogance in power is being celebrated under his watch), the issue of one-sideness of rulership, heist, mis-governance, misrule, haughtiness in power by his Fulani kinsmen are glaringly pronounced. If we argue that the Niger Delta agitation was propelled by environmental degradation of the zone, what can we say of the bandits and Fulani militia that the Buhari government is pandering with?
No group or individual would wake up any morning to agitate for a nonexistent issue. And so, agitations by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and lately the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) as well as those in the creeks and Middle Belt are goaded by the subjugation of their peoples by the Mohammadu Buhari-led government.
For instance, President Buhari runs Nigeria as if only the core north exists. In 2017, when the World Bank came up with a policy to develop some parts of the country, Buhari was quoted to have told the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, to concentrate its development agenda on the northern part of Nigeria.
Indeed, the revelation to this unpatriotic act was made by the World Bank chief himself, who told reporters in his New York office that “you know, in my first meeting with Buhari, he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern region of Nigeria and we’ve done that. Now, it has been very difficult”.
Again, during the escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 when all Nigerians were in lockdown, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, headed by a Fulani lady, Sadiya Umar Farouq said it spent hundreds of billions of naira on feeding of school children alone. While hunger and sickness ravaged the south east and its school children, the children from the core north enjoyed bumper harvests of foods and medicines from the ministry.
Southern politicians and clerics including the middle people as well as Christians in the core north are hounded daily with security agencies with impunity for daring to speak out and Mallam Garba Shehu and his likes continue to applaude the perpetrators’ of this misanthropic act. Is Shehu not part of the ‘bring them in and give them a clean bill of political health’ being perpetrated by the Buhari government on corrupt politicians who are not of the APC stock?
Tainted politicians now scurry into the All Progressive Congress (APC) in order to get their sins forgiven. Why should IPOB that carries flags and T-shirts of their leader be declared a terrorist group, while killer Fulani Herdsmen that kill and thereafter claim responsibility receive cuddles? Why should cows take preeminence over and above human lives when countries like the United States and countries in Europe spend millions to protect lives of their citizens? And now, they are talking of a database for cows. What an arrant nonsense!
Miyetti Allah cultural group issues damning security threats to individuals, groups and tribes and no security agency invites them for questioning. In order words, Nigeria runs two sets of laws; one for the superior and another for the inferior…Draconian for the south, particularly the south east and Acquiescent for the north. In the inner recess of his mind, does President Buhari think of the epitaph that would be written for him when he is no more? ‘Here sleeps a man who met Nigeria intact but left it shredded’. And Garba Shehu doesn’t think that way. To him (Mallam Shehu), to shout Afghanistanism is the way of running an image of a government and protecting his Fulani tribesmen.
Take a look at the security apparatus of the nation; no south easterner is heading any of it. 95 percent of them are headed by Fulanis of Muslim descent of the core north. So also major federal institutions such as NNPC, NPA, EFCC, ICPC, Customs etc. and Mallam Shehu blames IPOB and other agitators for fighting to right the wrongs. This is stupid!
Who says he that is pushed to the wall cannot struggle out? Certainly, the grunt by Garuba Shehu and some northern irredentists that the unity of Nigeria is sacrosanct is balderdash. When the center cannot hold, the segments will definitely shatter and that’s what is happening in today’s Nigeria unless Garba and his Master Buhari quickly apply the reverse gear. If nay, they would soon discover that their comfort zones are laid bare with no iron coat to protect.
The Soviet Union as huge and powerful as it was saw that it could hold the federating units together any longer in the 1990s and on its own dismembered. Today, despite the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia retains its title and strength as a world power, while the economy of other nations that came out it, such as Ukraine, Georgia etc remain buoyant.
Yugoslavia was a country in the south-east Europe as well as central Europe. Today they are separated when they found that separation can bring glory and prosperity to the nation. Here in Africa, Southern Sudan left the Republic of Sudan, Eritrea left Ethiopia. All these were done without any of the federating units going to war.
However, if the authorities in Abuja do not want the current spate of agitations to snowball into a huge bang, they should and must tow the line of remarkable change: jettison ego-induced arrogance against other tribes, ethnic group, religion or region and stop building structures in another country (Niger Republic) that is not part of Nigeria. Merit should be exalted above all in appointments, employments, promotions, awarding of contracts etc. United States of America and countries in Europe have little or no agitation for separation because people are given their due and excel through that.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.