By Ogbo Awoke Ogbo
Nigeria is not dealing with religion. Nigeria is not dealing with terrorism. Nigeria is not dealing with ethnic suspicion and tribal hatred – we really don’t have issues with each other on personal levels. (Of my top five friends on earth, two are Yoruba, one Tiv, one Efik, one Igbo. And many of you don’t know but I have Yoruba in-laws, nieces and nephews. So, don’t get these things twisted, (if I must borrow the expiring slang of Nigerian teenagers.)
Nigeria is not dealing with corruption (or kwaraption, its current version). Nigeria is not dealing with leadership crisis – we’ve been crying about leadership since 1914. So, what is Nigeria dealing with? Nature – One simple Law of Nature – that if you refuse to learn from history, history will destroy you! Nature is stubborn! Nature has this uncanny persistence that its lesson MUST be learnt before any progress can be made. And so, for 100 years, Nigeria has pinned away on the same spot. Same stories. Same problems, same people, same mindset, same insanity. Nigeria thinks it can beat nature to its laws – repeating the same follies and expecting miracles.
We have learnt little from remote and immediate history. Very little! Perhaps no one captures the peril of our ignorance of history better than Sanusi Lamido Sanusi himself, the current Emir of Kano (now former). Hear him: “There is a new Igbo man, who was not born in 1966 and neither knows nor cares about Nzeogwu and Ojukwu. There are Igbo men on the street who were never Biafrans. They were born Nigerians, are Nigerians, but suffer because of actions of earlier generations. They will soon decide that it is better to fight their own war, and may be find an honorable peace, than to remain in this contemptible state in perpetuity. The Northern Bourgeoisie and the Yoruba Bourgeoisie have exacted their pound of flesh from the Igbos. For one Sardauna, one Tafawa Balewa, one Akintola and one Okotie-Eboh, hundreds of thousands have died and suffered. If this issue is not addressed immediately, no conference will solve Nigeria´s problems.” That was prophetic … 1999.
Look at those pictures in the post very well. I was there. That was my generation. I was only five years old, but I vividly recall those protruding bellies. I vividly recall standing in a long queue for a bowl of powdered milk being distributed by the Swiss Red Cross at the Ugoni Primary School, Okposi. I vividly recall the rich, heavenly taste of that heavily fortified milk as it made love with my grateful tongue. I vividly recall that first touch from the Swiss Red Cross. My mother was a nurse during the Nigeria/Biafran War, a trained nurse. It was from her that I first heard the word “kwashiorkor” from which many children had perished. She treated scores of kwashiorkor children at our home.
So, the handlers of Nigeria terminated the study of history in Nigerian schools — deliberately. Can you imagine a sensible nation hiding its history? Partly to hide the atrocities of that pogrom from the memories of upcoming generations. But you don’t hide problems; you solve them. Every plea for the terms of the Nigerian water and oil union to be negotiated have been met with the demonic stubbornness that “Nigeria cannot be negotiated!” Says who? And because history was banned from the school curriculum, we have a generation of Nigerian youth who know more about Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea than their own reason for existence. They are taught like parrots to sing a “national anthem” that has zero meaning. For instance, what is the meaning of the phrase “where peace and justice shall reign” or the more annoying “the labours of our heroes past?” Who exactly are these heroes past and what were their labours that won’t be in vain?
* Was Ahmadu Bello a hero? Yes… to the Northerners.
* Was Awolowo a hero? Yes, but don’t mention that to the Igbo man.
* Was Azikiwe a hero? Perhaps, but to only a few people in the East.
* Was Ojukwu a hero? Yes, but a Northerner wouldn’t drive through an Ikemba Nnewi Street.
So, who exactly were these heroes past? Grand deception. If there were ever any heroes past, nobody mentions them. And what do we now have? Exactly the same setup we had in 1966! The North-West Alliance called APC, the government sponsored pogroms in the Middle Belt, the demonization of a particular tribe, the strategic militarization of the Fulani herdsmen. But here’s why we will never fight another war in Nigeria: It is not necessary anymore. On good authority. There is a better instrument. But let’s go back a little bit — like two or three hundred years. You have to do your own research too. Many Nigerians have parboiled brains. They only think in one direction – their inherited beliefs, what others told them, and beer parlor conversations they listened to.
First, you will NEVER understand the genesis and prognosis of Nigeria’s intractable troubles until you give a vigilant analysis to the revealing declaration of Ahmadu Bello’s on October 12, 1960: “The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future.” Three years before then, in 1957, the very same Bello had openly declared: “We the people of the North will continue our stated intention to conquer the South and to dip the Koran in the Atlantic ocean after the British leave our shores.” (Underline dip the Koran.) And so that you don’t think that the conquest and enslavement of the South was only in Ahmadu Bello’s imagination, here is what Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister had said in 1947– it’s shocking from the mouth of a “hero past:”
“We do not want our Southern neighbors to interfere in our development. We have never associated ourselves with the activities of these people. We do not know them, we do not recognize them, and we share no responsibility in their actions. We shall demand our rights when the time is ripe. If the British quit Nigeria now at this stage, the Northern people would continue their uninterrupted conquest to the sea.” (underline: uninterrupted conquest to the sea). Believe me, people in the South might be stupidly naive but the North isn’t! You derogatorily call them ‘aboki.” Yet, with all your Ph.D’s and conquests of Math, Economics and English (the white man’s language), you still can’t match the stealth, the consistency, the strategy, the unity and the brilliant execution of the people you look down upon as ’abokis.’
Here’s is the incontrovertible thesis: No one will EVER understand Nigeria’s troubles or its solutions until he digs into Ahmadu Bello’s charge of October 1960. You will never understand why the “Fulani herdsmen” have strategically occupied every land space in the South. You will never understand the open visa arrangements being sought with die-hard Islamic countries. You will never understand the meetings in Saudi Arabia. You will never understand the so-called Grazing Bill that is hopefully dead on arrival. You will never understand the new school curriculum of unequal yoke of unrelated subjects of Islam and Christianity. Also, Ahmadu Bello gave us another deep hint for the endless blood flow in Nigeria: Othman (or Usman or Uthman) dan Fodio, the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate!
I learnt about Usman Dan Fodio in my Primary School history, and later in Secondary School. His courage, his rise to power and conquests fascinated me as an adventurous little boy. Little did I know that I wasn’t done with Usman dan Fodio. He may have died in 1817 as we were taught but his spirit is alive and well and poised for more trouble. (Reread Ahmadu Bello’s statement.) Dan Fodio is not done yet – that is the crux of Nigeria’s troubles! I repeat, if you do not understand Ahmadu Bello’s vow, echoed by the then seemingly harmless Balewa, and resurrected in the current leader of Nigeria; and if you do not understand the role of the British in the evil that took residence in Nigeria, please respect yourself and go sit down. And if possible, shut up. Because until you do, you will never appreciate why we are where we are, and why the future remains precarious unless our collective consciousness acknowledges and confronts these undercurrents.
Nigeria is in … I think Americans call it … “deep sh*t.” But I have hope. The yoke shall be broken. Not by bravado. Not by war. Not by more bloodshed. But by one single stone. The destiny of every Goliath is a little pebble to his forehead. Every Goliath has a pebble with his name on it. Just one more insight into dan Fodio before I let the wise be wise and the fool be fool. Dan Fodio’s impressive jihads were finally wedged at Ilorin and Upper Benue. But then, he left a dying request, which isn’t a secret anymore – that his followers must dip the Quran into the Atlantic! And let me tell you this: Lebanon learnt their lesson too late. While you may pride yourself in being “open minded” about these things, the scions of Othman Dan Fodio do not play by the same rules. The Quran has been dipped in the Atlantic via the Ilorin route. Ever wondered why the very last street bordering Nigeria and the Atlantic Ocean was named Ahmadu Bello Way?
Here’s the summary of the current affairs in Nigeria: The Quran is not yet dipped into the Atlantic through Benue and Igboland. Second, another powerful scion of Dan Fodio is now the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal republic of Nigeria who also doubles as the Grand Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers Association of Nigeria. Don’t smell something if you don’t want to! “Kwaraption” my foot! As usual, I will get names and attacks after this article. But hey, your praise or criticism means nada to me. I’m too old to write to impress you. And I’m already as famous as I never wanted to be. There is NOTHING in this article you cannot find in the public domain if you do just a little research and a little thinking. So, what’s your beef with reality?
If you have better information backed with facts, you’d better present it to the world rather than the usual dimwitted comments like “Ogbo, you’re a fool” or the favorite blackmail type “Ogbo, you’re stirring up hatred.” The one that trips me most is “Be patient, the President is working on something … Rome was not built in a day!” This has nothing to do with patience! Neither with Rome! If you were hungry and knew food was cooking in the pot, being patient makes perfect sense. But suppose what is in the pot isn’t food? The signs are so glaring even the blind could see them. Armed “Fulani herdsmen” have mapped out our villages; they have literally occupied every inch of our ancestral lands. They are applying the secret spiritual principle that states that “every place the sole of your feet shall touch I shall give you.” But the saints and sinners alike are snoring! Those who are awake are arguing with the signboard!
*Ogbo Awoke Ogbo is a political analyst who calls a spade by its name wrote this opinion some years ago.
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