Remi Oyeyemi's Open Mind

For those ambitious ''willing tools'' desperate to shortchange their people and their rights in the service of the Uthman Dan Fodio's great grand children, they should look back at the fate of those who did so before them.
Thursday, October 24, 2002

Remi Oyeyemi


"This New Nation called Nigeria, should be an estate of our great grand father, Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South, as conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us, and never allow them to have control over their future"
-- Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Region)
The Parrot of October 12, 1960

hen the Spanish born American philosopher, George Santayana said that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of history, he probably had Nigerian politicians in mind. Nigerian politicians never learn. It is the only reason for the continuing paralysis of the Nigerian state. Or how else could one explain the outrageous attitude of those Southern politicians "willing" to be "tools" in the hands of those who have held Nigeria to ransom since 1960? It is painful that leaders whose people have fought a war of liberation in which over a million people died would be so nave to compromise inalienable right to a dream history itself deems sancrosant.

Once again, is this a function of amnesia and myopia on the part of the Jim Nwobodos, Graham-Douglas' et al of this world? Or is this a case of what some described as "political astuteness"? Was Obasanjo sincere in his request for other tribes or sections to bring their requests for balance, given his pedigree as the North's errand boy? Could it be that Chief Alex Ekweme is now a born again Nigerian having dined and wined with the same northern oligarchy in the notorious NPN in the second republic? Could this be why he cited the supremacy of the constitution for his refusal to sign the so-called northern agenda?

We all know that politics is the art of negotiation. There may be nothing wrong for the "North" to protect its interest, which is to enslave the rest of Nigeria (?). There may be nothing wrong with Jim Nwobodo et al to be sagacious in their bid to achieve a legitimate ambition. The problem is that judging from the media reports, what transpired here did not appear to be a negotiation. It seemed to be more of an "arm-twisting."

When Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi implored the armed forces not to be loyal to their commander-in-chief during the impeachment confusion, it was not a Freudian slip. He was making the appeal in the belief that Nigeria has a caliphate army. Given the history of the political role of the "Nigerian armed forces", no one doubts this. It was the fruition of a deliberate plan by Alhaji Ribadu, the Defence Minister under Alhaji Tafawa Balewa as instructed by the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello.

If anyone was wondering why the "Nigerian army" since 1963 has witnessed the rise of mediocre Generals more adept at kleptomania as opposed to more intellectually oriented military that the modern world requires, there lies the root. It is the only reason why the likes of a Sani Abacha could rise to be a General as opposed to the likes of a Gideon Orkar with all their talent, courage and professionalism. The Caliphate Army euphemised as the "Nigerian Army" has been used repeatedly to scuttle the emergence of a true nation, pulling back the hand of the clock of the Nigerian project to attain the enunciated dream of the Sokoto feudalism as articulated by its Sardauna.

The thinking that led to the arm twisting of those southern aspirants is not in anyway different from the philosophy postulated by late premier of Northern region. It is the only reason why in Adamawa State, where the Fulanis are only three percent of the population, they have always cornered all the major federal political appointments allocated to the State! It is the only reason why the only "thriving business" in the Tivland, the Benue Cement Factory could be taken over by a Dangote. It is the only reason why a well-meaning military governor would be dismissed for deposing a child-molesting Emir.

It is the only reason why Ibrahim Tofa would be allocated rights to lift thousands of barrels of oil without any functioning company and outside the properly laid down rules. It is the only reason why the Delta region is wallowing in emaciating want and poverty while the grandsons of Uthman Dan Fodio could fly in dancers and prostitutes from the Middle East. It is the only reason why Mohammed Abacha could connive with his father to loot our treasury (or is it their great grand father's estate's safe?) and go scot-free while Ken Saro-Wiwa was guillotined for legitimately demanding better life for his people.

It is the only reason why heroes like Pa Alfred Rewane could be murdered in cold blood and villains like Umaru Dikko who told the "servants" in his great grand father's estate that they should be scavenging from the garbage to feed themselves would gallivant all over brokering political deals. It is the only reason why Nigerians would have a free and fair election only to be canceled by the great grand children of the estate's owner.

It is the only reason that Dele Giwa and Bagauda Kaltho have been murdered to protect the atrocities of the great grand children of Uthman Dan Fodio. It is the only reason why Mohammed Abacha could be a hero in Kano State and even begin to scheme to become the next governor of the state. It is the only reason a "willing tool" in David Mark could tell Nigerians on the threshold of 21st Century that telephone "is not for the poor." It is the only reason why Southerners could not be trusted with Defence, Internal Affairs, Industries among other ministries in their government.

The enslavement and exploitation of the rest of Nigeria has gone on for so long that it has become a state of mind. Otherwise, how do you explain the idiocy of an "Olusola Saraki" as a fulaniman? Or how do you explain the shamelessness of a "Sunday Awoniyi" as an Arewa champion? How do you explain the spinelessness of an Obasanjo, reportedly a retired General, whose presidency could not enforce the rule of law? How do you explain the inanities of an Arisekola Alao in his bid to justify the tyranny of an Abacha? Or how do you explain the mindset of a Jim Nwobodo whose people have been repeatedly violated, exploited, maimed, raped and killed still inexplicably attracted to being a "willing tool" to the source of the calamity?

It is the reason why all Nigerians of different tribes who truly believe that they should not be second rate citizens in their country should stand up and be counted. It is the reason why all politicians from other tribes should put on their thinking caps. It is the reason why the political leaders from all nooks and crannies of Nigeria should bury the hatchet and work for the liberation of Nigeria from the stranglehold of feudalism and its concomitants of oppression, exploitation and psychological humiliation.

For those ambitious "willing tools" desperate to shortchange their people and their rights in the service of the Uthman Dan Fodio's great grand children, they should look back at the fate of those who did so before them. The end was never what they envisaged. Need we go into details? A word is enough for the wise.