Ihenacho’s Home Truths

Our country Nigeria, it must be admitted with sorrow to the world, has in fact failed. It has failed to generate and build authentic Nigerian communities where patriotism trumps ethnic interests.
Monday, November 25, 2002

David Asonye Ihenacho


man who would have been among the best symbol of all that was glorious, noble, wonderful, attractive and patriotic about the seemingly impossible nation of Nigeria spoke up this past weekend. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Talkback Africa program had reached the best living African intellectual, an ambassador of the un-imitable African culture, and the ultimate creative novelist of the second and third millennia Africa, Chinua Achebe, even as BBC-TV and CNN showed horrific images of mangled bodies and charred vehicular skeletons littered on the streets of Kaduna and Abuja as a result of the recent religious rioting in Nigeria over Miss World pageant. Notwithstanding the fact that the organizers of the event had taken extra measures to exclude all the territories and states overwhelmed by Islamic fanaticism, and irrespective of the fact that government television stations in the Shariah states of Northern Nigeria had the option to block the program from their stations, Islamic fanatics jumped at the least provocation from an innocuous opinion article in ThisDay Newspaper to resume their routine murderous spree among some Christians of Nigeria.

Seeing the tragic madness that had repeated itself a zillion times in Nigeria's recent past, the universally celebrated author of Things Fall Apart gave vent to the lamentation of his heart which in fact spoke directly and eloquently about how things had completely fallen apart in his beloved country of Nigeria. According to Achebe, "Nigeria has been more disappointing than I had hoped or expected…. It is tragic because we have such potential … we have been given so much abundance by providence that it just seems extraordinary that we should do nothing but shoot ourselves in the foot…. We have dug ourselves into Shariah; into a situation where we have become a laughing stock of the world, because we are discussing things like stoning women to death in the 21st century." Professor Achebe cannot be more eloquent about the horrendous situation of Nigeria of today. Hardly can anyone think of the seemingly intractable tragedy of the Nigerian nation nowadays without a deep-seated anger, frustration and prolonged lamentation. As Achebe rightly implied, Nigerians all over the world today are embarked on an inconsolable cry for their beloved country.

Achebe's lamentation on Nigeria's tragedy is in fact a voice given to the bleeding souls of most Nigerian peoples and professionals across the world today. While Nigerians at home are reeling with the unimaginable pains of horrendous socio-economic privations, murderous Islamic fanaticism, armed robbery and officially sanctioned corruption, Nigerians in Diaspora constantly drench their pillows at night with lamentation over the lost soul of their fatherland. Nigeria of today has become the poster-child for all the tragedies of Africa and the black race. The black race as represented by Nigeria is today at crossroads. It is suffering from a massive identity crisis. It is caught up in the crossfire of the war between violent Islamic fanaticism and the lure of western modernity.

The fear is as violent Islamic fundamentalism intensifies its war to repel the invasion of western modernity in Nigeria, the Nigerian Christians whose orientation is usually towards western values will continue to be victimized and to pay a very heavy price. And this presents a dilemma to everybody who lives or has roots in Nigeria: what can be done to avert the terrible war that is looming? How could Nigerian Christians preserve their liberal way of life, individual rights and their open society in the face of intensifying violent Islamic fanaticism? Are Christians and Muslims of present-day Nigeria not necessarily headed to a cataclysmic Armageddon?

However, the lamentation of most Nigerian citizens and professionals today appears not to be primarily on the unavoidable war between retrogressive Islamism and modernity neither is it on the toll this war is taking on the Christian way of life and the civilian population in Nigeria. Rather it is a little bit historical. In fact it is a hindsight game. It is based on the fact that all the fanatical Islam-induced tragedies of this day could have been avoided a little less than a century ago if not for the greed and injustice of the British colonialists that brought about the impossible nation of Nigeria. If the British Frederick Lugard had not actualized the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates into an artificial nation he labeled Nigeria in 1914, Northern Nigeria would have been perfectly at liberty to head backwards into history in its pursuit of the Taliban-like intolerant Islam while Southern Nigeria pursued its liberal Christian values. But British colonialism planted the time bombs that have been imploding the Nigerian nation for the past forty-two years.

There is hardly any doubt that many Nigerians would today wish that colonial Britain had spared them and their entrapped ethnicities the intractable tragedy of being lumped into an impossible contraption of a nation called Nigeria. Suppose we had been born in a River Niger area where the Islamic far North stood on its own with the Catholic and evangelical north central ever reserving the right to join or not to join them as one country? Suppose we had had a scenario where the mixed and tolerant southwest stood on its own alongside the Catholic and protestant southeast and Niger delta as confederated or independent nations with the reserved right of self-determination when and if they so choose? Obviously we would not be having a situation whereby our streets are routinely covered with the bloods of butchered human beings who are dying simply because some Islamic fanatics had chosen to register their objection to something as mundane as staging a beauty pageant. How we all would wish even today that colonialism had been reversible for the nations that constituted Nigeria to be set free to pursue their own destinies and national aspirations. But it appears that in the Nigerian case we are condemned to cry over spilt milk.

There is no question that the more than 250 ethnicities of the present-day Nigeria are living like prisoners of the colonial Britain who, after nearly a century of incarceration, are still awaiting their parole or outright release from an unjustifiable colonial jail sentence. It has become clear that what the colonial British officer Frederick Lugard had achieved in 1914 was to hand down a millennium jail sentence on a section of the present-day Nigeria in the name of amalgamation. The peoples of southern Nigeria are in fact today serving what appears to be a colonially decreed jail sentence under the supervision of Islamic fundamentalism. Nigeria, in all intents and purposes, has become an expansive dungeon whose keys are in the hands of Islamic fanatics. Their mantra: it is our way or no way at all! Unfortunately the rest of the world does not seem to appreciate what majority of Nigerians is going through in its own land. Many Nigerians are not far better off today than the anonymous Christians of Saudi Arabia and the overly repressed Christians of Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, etc.

But the real challenge for Nigerians and the rest of the world today is; how could these unjustly incarcerated peoples of southern and central Nigeria get their freedom back so as to start living a full human life in their own lands? How would the peoples of Southern and central Nigeria be released from colonial jail sentence so as to enjoy to the full their inalienable right to commune with their freedom-loving peers of the civilized nations? What arrangements and structures could be put in place in Nigeria so that those fanatical Muslims of Northern Nigeria who are intent on heading back to the era of Prophet Mohammed could have their wish fulfilled without impinging on the rights of most other Nigerians who would wish to exercise their rights to enjoy the freedom of the modern era? I believe that it is time for the international community under the auspices of the United Nations to step in and show the way forward to the current administration of Nigeria that appears totally lost in the quagmire and confusion of the present-day Nigeria.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Northern Islamic fanatics had multiple victories these past few days. They had succeeded in killing many innocent citizens, which made them happy. But more than that, they had gotten the president to once more appease them and to assure them that their murderous strategy worked.

Our country Nigeria, it must be admitted with sorrow to the world, has in fact failed. It has failed to generate and build authentic Nigerian communities where patriotism trumps ethnic interests. It has failed to inspire and to generate good political leadership to show the way and to liberate its people from socio-political strangleholds. Nigeria has failed to lift her citizens and to reverse the course of their ever-deteriorating and degraded lives. Our country has failed to command the respect and loyalty of her peoples and the admiration of the world. Instead Nigeria has become a breeding ground for criminals and a training arena for swindlers of the nations. It has become a specimen for bad government, a factory for corrupt and criminal politicians and an object of ridicule for the entire human race. Our nation has become a dungeon in which people are ever on a look out for escape roots. The image of Nigeria today is almost like that of a giant slave ship from which overly frustrated youths are jumping out into the warm embrace of ravenous sharks of the Atlantic Ocean. It has become abundantly clear that our nation may not be far from the moment in which it must be declared perhaps by the UN that she has lost her moral right to continue to exist as a single entity. But the problem remains, who will bell the cat? The international community is showing no interest at all to the severe political conditions of the terribly impoverished peoples of Nigeria.

For many months before the issue came to a head this past week, the event of Miss World pageantry scheduled to take place in Nigeria in the month on November 30 had generated a lot of bad blood between the Islamic fundamentalists of the North and the peace-loving peoples of the different nationalities of the south and North central of Nigeria. The organizers of the beauty pageant had obviously tried to attend to the sensitivities of the Muslims by shifting the grand finale of the competition away from the high tide month of Ramadan. To further placate the fanatics of the North, they had avoided staging the event in any state or city dear to them. But after all this, Islamic fanatics of the North remained unimpressed. They demanded their pound of flesh. The fanatical Islamic minority would not countenance the worldly beauty pageant staged on what they considered to be the Sacred Shariah Land of the Islamic Republic of Nigeria.

Rather than acknowledge the efforts that had been made to accommodate their concerns Islamic fundamentalists of the North demanded a total cancellation of the event citing its purported conflict with their Shariah code. In other words, Nigeria was for them a fundamentalist Islamic country like Iran where every social event would have to be censored by Islamic clerics and Mullahs. Unknown to many Nigerians, Islamic fanatics had believed in their hearts that the whole Nigerian nation had been organized on the basis of Shariah morality. In fact it had not bothered them that Shariah practitioners did not constitute the majority of Nigerians, and that there were many more non-Shariah religious men and women who wanted the Miss World event staged. They would not consider the fact that the non-Shariah adhering individuals had the right to enjoy such an event in view of the cultural and religious diversity of our artificial country of Nigeria. But in line with their fanatical ways, it was either their way or no other way at all. As the events of last week had shown, Islamic fanatics in Nigeria are ever willing to destroy hundreds of innocent human lives to make a statement and to achieve a political goal.

On the days preceding the start of the pageantry events in Nigeria, the challenge of everybody involved including the Nigerian government was to find a healthy medium between the fundamentalist Muslims who had completely rejected it and the liberal majority made up of those who cared very much and those who would not give a damn one way or the other about the event. In the final analysis, rather than cancel the show and give in to Islamic fanaticism, the organizers of the event as well as the government of Nigeria reached a compromise of a sort that would allow the events to go ahead in three cities, Abuja, Calabar and Port Harcourt. The international community that had been frightened into threatening to boycott the event as a result of the fanatical Islamic court's condemnation of the breast-feeding mother, Ms. Amina Lawal for the child she had out of wedlock as well as the stone-death punishment the fanatics had meted out to her, seemed to have found some accommodation in the assurances of the Nigerian government that Amina Lawal would be spared through a promised government intervention. More than 95% had sent representatives to the competition. Excitement about the event was sky-high in Nigeria and the world at large.

As the beauty pageant rolled out in style in both Abuja and Calabar despite fears that it would be hampered by massive international boycotts, the reviews started pouring in. And a lot of the reviews both from the Nigerian press and the contestants of the participating nations were quite positive if not totally remarkable. Nigeria was well on its way to reaping a windfall in good publicity and financial gains, something she had not had in decades. Things were turning out better than had been anticipated. Journalists began to fall over themselves trying to manufacture stylistic and idiosyncratic ways to convey to the entire world the coup de grace that was going on in Nigeria with regard to the Miss World contest. Some journalists became carried away by the sheer glamour and glitterati of the moment and would ultimately get into real trouble, as was the case of Miss Isioma Daniel of the ThisDay newspaper and the editor of the Saturday edition of ThisDay, Simon Kolawole. On the other hand, it became quite clear to many Islamic fanatics that Nigeria could move on without their fanatical influences and disruptions. But history has shown over and over again that Nigerian Islamic fanatics do not usually back down from a fight. The bigger the stage the more primed they would seem to become in their commitment to wreck the foundation of the whole nation.

So, while the beauty pageant buzzed on with force and glamour from Abuja to Calabar, Islamic fundamentalists of Nigeria started searching for issues to hinge their yearlong plan to cause disruption in the event so as to embarrass the Nigerian peoples. They went about scouring the nooks and crannies of the nation looking for issues of trouble. And that they readily found it in an opinion article in the ThisDay newspaper of November 16, by the Style reporter of the paper, Miss Isioma Daniel: The World at their Feet…

Having found an issue to hang their grievances so as to wreak havoc in Nigeria, the Islamic fanatics of the North throttled straight ahead. What better place to start than in Kaduna city, the center of tragic religious upheaval in Nigeria. In hindsight the whole thing had played out exactly the way the fanatics had planned it. They must have celebrated with soda and their favorite Nigeria brew, ogogoro, immediately their foot soldiers littered about a hundred dead bodies in the streets of Kaduna and Abuja thereby forcing the organizers of the beauty pageant to cancel the remaining events in Nigeria and transfer the rest to London. It was a major loss to the Nigerian nation. Nigeria had lost not only face and economic resources, but, even her own soul to stand against Islamic fanaticism in the future. But despite the costly loss, which had included those of many innocent human lives, one cannot but congratulate the Islamic fanatics of the North. They achieved their goal. Once again they employed their familiar instruments of murder and social upheaval in altering the course of things in Nigeria. But did they have any case?

Objectively speaking, Miss Daniel's article was a beautifully written essay that celebrated the success so far of the beauty pageantry event in Nigeria. It should not have caused any tensions at all talk less inciting tragedy of the magnitude we saw last week. There was absolutely nothing offensive in that piece of writing. The statement about what Prophet Mohammed would do with the pageants was sheer comedy. After all it is an undeniably historical fact that the prophet of the Islamic religion had about a dozen wives. Daniel's comedy is comparable to the current adverts being run by some evangelical Christians in the USA against gas-guzzling Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) dealing with the type of cars Jesus would be driving if he were still with us today. There are in fact many Jesus' comedies that have not been declared offensive even by the most conservative and puritanistic Christians. The problem is mainly that Islamic fanatics in Nigeria have refused to lighten up. They are too uptight and angry to live in any human society. One thing seems certain though, if they must continue to live in pluralistic societies like those we have in Nigeria they will have to ease off or found their own countries of eternally sad people. The fact is comedy is part of what journalists do for a living. A real comedy is no respecter of persons or institutions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, etc., must one way or the other feature in comedies. That is the way it is!

Moreover, it was abundantly clear in that essay that Miss Daniel did not mean to disparage the prophet with her inclusion of that clearly fun statement. The whole thing was meant to be entertaining to her readers. When I read it before it would become an issue for rioting and murder, I burst into a hysterical laughter. And that was all it was meant to serve. I had not laughed because I hated Muslims and their prophet. I had laughed in an honest reaction to a piece of comedy in a good essay. Is there any argument against the historical fact that the prophet had a good soccer team and one reserve of great women? What is inherently wrong in rationalizing about what he would do if the wonderful options of today were available to him? A writer who is not able to interject some fun into his/her writing cannot be considered accomplished in journalistic writing. Moreover, I cannot fault Miss Daniel for exercising her constitutional and journalistic right of free speech. Her attempt to create an incisive comedy in her essay was more than fair and reasonable. It is most unfortunate that some Islamic fanatics found her Mohammed humor offensive enough as to incite their blind followers to embark on a killing spree that claimed hundreds of lives on the streets of Kaduna and Abuja.

But the equally pathetic tragedy of this past week was that the beauty pageant religious rioting once again revealed the leadership vacuum in present-day Nigeria. Once again the government of President Obasanjo was almost caught napping by the enormity of the riot. It is understandable that there is hardly any way any government could have predicted the reaction that would follow an innocuous opinion article buried in the inner pages of a newspaper. But what has been most surprising to some of us is the way the government has reacted to the incident and the lesson it might eventually draw from it. As the riot escalated, the president did his usual ritual. He called Northern religious and political leaders to sue for peace. He went to the television and radio to call for calm and restraint and to emphasize what unites Nigerians against what divides them. Once again he repeated the determination of the country to survive the current crisis. In one of his speeches quoted by the BBC (Saturday, Nov 23) the president tried to placate the fanatics by promising to prosecute the "irresponsible journalists" who had attacked Islam. And according to reports the editor of ThisDay on Saturday Mr. Simon Kolawole has been arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) and taken to an unknown destination. The writer of the "offending" article herself, Miss Isioma Daniel, has been summoned to surrender to the SSS (Vanguard Nov 23). Why is the president of Nigeria doing all this in a democratic country of freedom of speech? He is hunting for sacrificial lambs to appease Islamic fanatics.

In other words, in the mind of the president of Nigeria, the fanatics who had started the murderous rioting had a point. They were right and deserved to be appeased and compensated. The real criminals of the rioting were the journalists. They are the ones who would ultimately be prosecuted and jailed for exercising their rights of free speech in a purportedly democratic country. But the murderers of the riot and their patrons would be compensated because they had been incited and injured in their religion and the person of their prophet. The president of Nigeria chose to reward the fanatics thereby granting them the reason to embark on their murderous escapades sometime in no distant future. This is the scary way the mind of the present administration in Nigeria works. It can't seem to find the appropriate way to respond to an event of such a magnitude. Rather the president who had come to power under the good graces of the Muslim North has only one strategy to deal with fanatical religious riots in the North, namely, placate and appease all Islamic fanatics and give them reason to kill more Christians another day.

And with his insistence on appeasing Islamic fanatics of the North what lesson will the president learn from the most recent religious rioting in Nigeria? He will learn absolutely nothing. That is more than clear. He had concluded that the Islamic fanatics were provoked into rioting. His conclusion is that if they had not been provoked they would not have rioted. And what does he consider the provocation of those fanatics? Of course the president feels that the article's author Miss Daniel and her negligent editor Simon Kolawole provoked the Muslims to go on a murderous rampage and therefore should be the ones to pay the heavy price of the killing spree. So in a Nigerian world envisioned by this president there will be no humorous journalistic articles and the editor would have to take responsibility for every piece of newspaper statement that is misconstrued by unthinking fanatics. This is very scary indeed!

But much more than that, by trying to go after the journalists, the president is showing himself incapable of understanding the implication of what had happened these past few days in our nation. The journalists had done what their counterparts do in the free atmosphere of a democracy. We must completely reject the claim that Isioma Daniel had embarked on an irresponsible journalism. She had embarked on deductive reasoning that had hinged on facts of the Islamic religion. The whole irresponsibility of the tragic riot lay with the murderous fanatics and the way the Obasanjo government had chosen to treat the fanatics. The fanatics are wicked criminals that are being appeased and petted by the confused government of Obasanjo. They are owed no apologies. Rather they should apologize to the whole nation after which they are rounded up and sentenced to a long jail term. The fanatics were not just reacting to ThisDay's article per se. They were acting out what they had been threatening since it became clear that the beauty pageant would go on despite their objection. With Daniel's harmless and humorous article, they found a reason to sabotage and to eventually stop the beauty extravaganza, which they had disdained from day one.

What is the direction of our future in the Islamic Republic of Nigeria? The one obvious implication of the events of this past week is that Nigeria will hardly continue to exist as it is. The victory won by Islamic fanatics last week demonstrated that Nigeria is a failed single nation. The great division of Nigeria has been made permanent.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Northern Islamic fanatics had multiple victories these past few days. They had succeeded in killing many innocent citizens, which made them happy. But more than that, they had gotten the president to once more appease them and to assure them that their murderous strategy worked. The appeal and appeasement of the fanatics was a clear assurance that their murderous strategy would work to intimidate the government any day. And I bet you they will try it a million times again in Nigeria. Why change what works? However, the ultimate prize of the Islamic fanatics this past week was that they finally succeeded in getting the beauty pageant cancelled. That was what they had aimed at doing from the beginning. They had desired from the word go to show that they could flex their muscles to disrupt an event of such magnitude. And they made it. Kudos to them! In other words, the past week despite the obscene tragedy of innocent lives snuffed off violently in the streets of Kaduna and Abuja, was a great one for Islamic fanaticism in Nigeria. They must have earned the maximum respect of their counterparts in the Taliban villages of Pakistan and Yemen.

But what does their victory mean for Nigeria of today and the future? It means that Islamic fanatics have found the way to bring the Nigerian nation under the reign of the Shariah law. No matter what Christians might say, they would henceforward have to live under the Shariah law either by choice or by force. It appears that no international events would ever hold in Nigeria again without the approval of Islamic fanatics. And should the nation not seek their approval before staging the event, the fanatics have found their ace about how to sabotage and ultimately stop such events. Their strategy is simple, cause a social upheaval and kill as many innocent people as possible and you will get the event cancelled as well as the apologies of the federal government. We have entered a brand new era in Nigeria when fanatics will have a great deal of say on Nigeria's social life. In other words Nigeria has got her own virtues police in place as in Saudi Arabia and other fundamentalist Islamic countries. The Islamic fundamentalist police would henceforth monitor and tell us what social event is permissible and what is not according to the Shariah code. What a brand new day for Nigeria! All this has been made possible by the fact that our democratic government seems completely out of ideas. As I said, this past week was a great one for Islamic fundamentalism in Nigeria.

But what is the actual lesson of this past week for all freedom-loving Nigerians? What is the direction of our future in the Islamic Republic of Nigeria? The one obvious implication of the events of this past week is that Nigeria will hardly continue to exist as it is. The victory won by Islamic fanatics last week demonstrated that Nigeria is a failed single nation. The great division of Nigeria has been made permanent. The south is forever not going to be one people with the Muslim North. This much was demonstrated when Islamic fanatics had their way with the cancellation of the beauty pageant of last week. No matter what the Obasanjo government might attempt to accomplish in its one or two hundred year-tenure of office, Nigeria appears to be doomed for good. It is clear that it will take something in the nature of a divine intervention to forge a single nation out of the completely divided peoples of Nigeria of today. What is left for Nigerians is to find a way to recognize what was revealed last week and the courage to act on it. What Nigerians should pray for is a visionary leader who possesses both the wisdom and the courage to lead the nation to confront her destiny of multi-nationhood living in peace side by side with one another.

It is very unfortunate that the many nations from which Nigeria was constructed in 1914 have resisted melding together for nearly ninety years. Rather as the years had elapsed the gulf among them had continued to widen. It seems not worth trying any more to insist on bridging the insurmountable gaps among the Nigerian peoples. Generations have died in despair waiting in vain for Nigeria's fortune to rebound. The present generation of Nigerians must refuse to be a part of the generations of the past that died in abject despair over Nigeria's refusal to transform itself. It has become very clear that Nigeria can never transform itself. People who are committed not to repeat old mistakes must transform our nation. Nigerians must take their destinies into their own hands. The present generation must resist the complacency of the past. Let us get back to the basics and redefine whom we are, and what the terms of our relationship should be. With the current situation of things, something will have to give for our people to survive. There has to be some kind of a re-arrangement, a redefinition of the artificial nation of Nigeria to enable her people to live in peace in close proximity with one another.

But what is the role of the present democratic administration in view of the current situation of our nation? How much can the president accomplish in a permanently polarized Nigeria? In view of our hobbled nation, President Obasanjo has become what many American politicians describe as a lame duck president. But if he is wise, he should know that he has at least one more ace left in his arsenal. It seems abundantly clear that his democratic administration is destined to perform only one more function for Nigeria. And that seems only what it could hope to accomplish whether it has one more year or some hundreds of years to lead this country that is obviously on a life-support. Should he be able to accomplish that, Obasanjo will go down in history as the deliverer of the peoples of Nigeria from the sharp teeth of Islamic fanaticism.

President Obasanjo and his administration must realize that they have been called to serve as a midwife for the multiple nations that must succeed the present unworkable and impossible jumbo nation of ours. I think the problem with President Obasanjo and the members of his administration is that they do not seem to be able to understand the role destiny has assigned to them at this point in time in our democratic experience. If this president could listen for one moment, he should know that the only way he could prove and acquit himself in the current chaotic situation of Nigeria is to immediately convoke a sovereign national conference in which the future of our people could be determined. President Obasanjo could do this now and get the credit and appreciation of history. But he could turn a deaf ear as he had done very often since his second coming as Nigerian leader. But whichever way he chooses, the judgment o f history is waiting for him.

But we have also a brief message for the Islamic fanatics of the North: there is no possible scenario under which the Nigerian Christians will come under your Shariah law. You can continue to try whatever tricks you may still have. But you must realize that that Islamic Republic of Nigeria of your dreams will never come to pass. The facts are clear. There is no way any sensible Nigerian Christian will surrender his/her social life to the virtues' police of Islamic fundamentalism.

To the Nigerian Christians we say: never compromise any iota of your God-given freedom. Never allow your constitutional rights to be abridged. Stand firm and demand your right to freedom of expression, religion and association. You must not allow the fanatical Muslims of the North to slip their cruel Shariah law through your backdoor. They had successfully done it this past week. They must never be given any more chances to repeat their successes. Try again they must. You must be vigilant enough to beat them the next time around. Let all hands be on deck to ensure that Nigeria remains an open and a modern society that is welcoming to all peoples and tolerant to all possible ways of human expressions of religion.

One final note on the resolution of the present Nigerian conundrum: it is either that the Shariah North will create her own fanatical nation or that the peoples of Nigeria will establish their independent nations. The die is cast. The fanatics have won the first round. They got the beauty pageants cancelled in Nigeria. That is a trophy they can hold onto for the longest time in their future. They are primed to claim the next. But they must be stopped. The stakes are very high. The question is; shall we continue to be free and happy like the civilized nations of the world or shall we surrender our freedom to a clan of ignorant and violent Islamic fanatics and forever remain a miserable nation? President Obasanjo could help himself as well as save the lives of the innocent citizens of Nigeria by heeding the call for the convocation of the sovereign national conference. What is at stake is the urgent need to create an open society in Nigeria where citizens will enjoy personal freedom. Since the fanatical Islamists from the North do not accept such a society it is past time to tell them the home truth that they are not one of us and we are not one of them!