OZODI THOMAS OSUJI
Pat Utomi, I read where you said that Nigerians feel like they are caged and are seeking escape from the cage. Initially, I responded by asking: where are they escaping to and saying that as long as Nigerians feel that they can always run to elsewhere they have not felt their backs against the wall, a situation that generally compel people to solve their problem or die trying to do so. If a man has hope that he could go start afresh elsewhere he does not buckle down to solve his problems? Nigerians need to buckle down and solve their problem.
What is the main problem of Nigeria?
About a hundred and twenty years ago, the British forcefully amalgamated several African tribes into one country that they called Nigeria. These tribes are as different as night and day. Their cultures were evolved in isolation from each other and thus they seem to have nothing in common..
The far North is composed of Hausa states. A group from Guinea called Fulanis, under Sheik Othman Dan Fodio, used force to conquer the Hausa states and has ruled them since 1804.
Below the Hausa states are conglomeration of small tribal groups around Kaduna; below those are the Plateau small groups; thereafter are the Niger-Benue groups, including Idoma, Tivi and Nukpe; below those are Igbo, Yoruba and Edo, Ijaw and others.
None of these groups were consulted before they were packed into a country. Frederick Lugard, in his book, “The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa”, said that he did what he did to save on administrative cost of ruling the Northern and Southern protectorates separately. From his perspective what he did made sense.
But his reasoning does not replace the reasoning of the natives. The natives do not want to live in one human polity. Nevertheless, the British governed them as an artificial country, what Obafemi Awolowo called a mere geographical expression but not a nation state in the sense of meeting the indicators of a nation-state, such as having a common language, a shared history, a sense of being one people etc.
Nigeria was given paper independence in 1960. Since then Nigerians have not been able to forge a real nation-state.
So far, the Fulani using their control of the Nigerian Military have imposed an uneasy peace in the land, a peace enforced by Fulanis totting guns everywhere you look in Nigeria and killing folks at random to intimidate the rest of the people to kowtow to their rule.
In effect, Fulanis are terrorists using intimidation to arouse fear in Nigerians and out of fear Nigerians allow themselves to be ruled by those holding them hostage, Fulani kidnappers.
How long do you think that the Fulanis can continue keeping people who do not want to be in a cage caged?
Are marriages maintained against partners desire not to be in them? Can you eternally use force to keep people who want to be apart together?
Many Igbos do not want to be in Nigeria, how difficult is that to grasp?
What would you say if despite Africans desire for independence the British ruled them? You would call it colonialism.
Are we then supposed to accept Fulani colonialism just because Fulanis are black folks? If colonialism by whites is wrong it is also wrong if it is black colonialism. Let us move on.
They say that might rules the world; Fulanis have power so they rule Nigeria but how long will that delusion that they are entitled to rule Nigeria by force last?
They probably will continue ruling Nigeria for as long as they control the oil revenue from the Niger Delta and with it buy weapons from the West.
In life nothing is permanent; change is the only thing that we can predict in life. Oil wells will, sooner or later, run dry or the West will discover an alternative to fossil fuel.
At that point the Fulanis would have no money to pay their military and would have to let them go and they would wander about Nigeria’s byways as brigands and highway rubbers; that is, Nigeria would become a failed state.
Does that have to be the only option? Of course not. Nigerians can sit down and put their heads together and figure out a realistic solution to their problem.
In other papers I laid out what needs to be done to make Nigeria work; I proposed that each major ethnic group in Nigeria to be made a state, and smaller ones grouped together into states for a total of twelve states in a Nigerian federation. Each state should control its resources and each Nigerian pays 20% flat tax and with that revenue the central government is maintained. This is true federalism, as in the USA.
Here, I want to address the issue of Yoruba role in the mess that is Nigeria.
YORUBAS ARE ENABLERS OF FULANI ADDICTS TO POWER;
YORUBAS ARE IN A CODEPENDENT RELATIONSHIP WITH FULANIS
Yorubas, Willy-Nelly, rescue Fulanis and enable them to maintain the mess that is Nigeria. Yorubas and Fulanis are in a codependent relationship.
The drug addict, Fulanis are addicted to the drug given by possessing political power, and his enabler, those that make it possible for the addict to get his sense of high, in this case from taking the drug of power, are equally sick. Both need to be healed of their addictive disorder before it destroys both and those around them.
Apparently, Yorubas do what they do in a misguided effort to get some bread crumbs from the ruling Fulanis and also because they seem to believe that they are in competition with Igbos and must form an alliance with Hausa-Fulani to keep Igbos out of political power in Nigeria.
When Yorubas stop siding with Hausa-Fulani, Fulani’s back would be against the wall and they would come to the bargaining table to restructure Nigeria into twelve independent countries or states in a kind of confederation.
However, as long as Yorubas keep on rescuing Fulanis because they are afraid of Igbos, Nigeria will remain a mess until it becomes a totally failed state and refugees slosh all over Africa looking for succor.
During the civil war Yoruba sided with Fulanis. Fulani’s gave Obafemi Awolowo a token political office as a kind of vice president of Nigeria. At present Fulani gave Yumi Osibanjo the do nothing position of Vice President of Nigeria. When would Yorubas realize that the politically astute Fulanis merely use them and will discard them when they are no longer useful to their grand design to rule Nigeria in perpetuity?
Yorubas provided the bulk of the thoughtful officer material that led the largely illiterate Hausa soldiers that fought with Biafrans; if Fulanis had not obtained that much needed Yoruba brain power, Biafra probably would have made mincemeat of the Nigerian army of illiterates?
Since the war ended in 1970, at every turn on the road, Yorubas are in cahoots with Hausa-Fulanis and work with them instead of asking them to come to the table with a demand for the needful to be done: break up Nigeria into 12 independent countries (Alaigbo, Oduduwa, Benin, Ijaw, Efik, Idoma, Benue, Plateau, Hausa, Bornu, Niger, Adamawa) or make each of those groups a strong state managing its affairs in a Nigerian confederation, as in Switzerland.
These two scenarios are the only solutions that would work (I used to believe in true federalism but it seems that that position is now out of the window; there is just too much water under the Nigerian bridge; Fulanis have hurt Igbos to the point that I doubt that both can get along with each other).
The various Nigerian groups are too different to really make it as one unitary country as is the case at the moment (they killed Aguiyi Ironsi for trying a unitary government in Nigeria and then are now trying to make the impossible unitary state work in Nigeria).
If Yorubas keep doing what they are doing, they give Fulanis the impression that Nigeria is the real estate of their Sheik Othman Dan Folio; Fulanis will keep trying to rule Nigeria until they ground it to the ditch.
It is now time for Yorubas to grow up and stop playing their self-deceiving games and come to the table with Igbos and let Nigeria do what she has to do to make that patch work of a country work or let each group go try to rule itself.
It is really annoying that for sixty years Nigeria has remained mere potential that no one can realize in its present form.
Nigeria is the sick man of Africa; it is now time to heal that sickness. I have outlined the cure for Nigeria in my writings.
Your take on Nigeria, Pat Utomi, also seem well thought out. Politics inheres in taking ideas from many stakeholders and merging them into a form that all of them would accept. Politics is the art of making compromises.
So far Fulanis have tried to rule Nigeria as their father’s heritage and see what they have made of Nigeria, a royal mess!
There is another way to rule Nigeria.
Cheers, my dear Professor Pat Utomi!
Dr. Osuji can be reached at (907) 310-8176