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Can Restructuring Still Save Nigeria? – By Yinka Odumakin

Afenifere is a self-determination platform for the Yoruba.

Yinka Odumakin, an Afenifere Leader, was a delegate at the 2014 National Conference

A freelance American journalist, Brian Hall, was one of the last outsiders permitted to freely take a tour of Yugoslavia during the final days of its existence. From early May to mid-September 1991, he interacted with members of the various Balkan “tribes” in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo and points in-between, taking notes of their comments on their history, prejudices, superstitions, fears, aspirations and opinions of other ethnic and national groups. He wrote a book titled “The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia” in which he described the last days of peaceful coexistence among Yugoslavia’s religious and ethnic communities and highlighted conflicts that would trigger the horrors of “ethnic cleansing” and war.

In the gripping account of the former Yugoslavia’s decay and collapse in 1991, Hall’s powerful sense of location and mentality is expressed through a blend of close friendships, high-level interviews, and courageous questions. Hall moved comfortably among Serbs who perceived the nation as a “super personality”, Croats who remained ambivalent toward their World War II fascist regime, and Muslims like Bosnian president, Alijah Izetbegović, who claimed only the “freedom to define themselves as a people.” By January 1992, the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia ceased to exist having dissolved into its constituent units.

Murderous Fulani Herdsmen

It is only those blinded by hegemonic desire for domination and control that cannot see today that Nigeria presently is wobbling through its last days regardless of whether a Brian Hall is travelling through it or not. Never in the history of this country (save for the civil war years) has there been the level of bloodletting currently going on along its fault lines. There is hardly any day one opens the newspapers now and don’t read of Fulani herdsmen dispatching innocent souls to the great beyond in the hapless Southern and Middle Belt communities of the country. Shorn of pretenses, these hitherto stick-wielding herdsmen who are now the only group “officially” sanctioned armed group in Nigeria (not one of them has been arrested for wielding AK 47 rifles in public) are out on an expansionist mission as the level of violence they are unleashing cannot be about cattle rearing.

Images of woes from Northern Nigeria, Waves of terror originating from Northern Region put tremendous stress on the pre-existing geopolitical fault lines that negate “unity” of Nigeria

As a child, I remember how we used to run after their forebears who grazed animals in our communities without any harm befalling us. The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Olasupo Ayokunle, a few days ago, was moved to deliver a timely warning to the Federal Government on the unhinged monstrosity of the Fulani herdsmen. In asking for the Federal Government to prosecute the herdsmen arrested in connection with the recent killings in Benue and Southern Kaduna to ease tension in the two states, he declared: “We also want the Federal Government to investigate, through intelligence gathering, those unpatriotic Nigerians supplying the herdsmen with weapons being used to perpetrate evil. “If the government fails to stop the provocation by the Fulani herdsmen militia, they should be prepared for war. No ethnic group has a monopoly of violence and no ethnic group should be a monster to others.”

The CAN President summed up the hopelessness and frustration in the country today as there is official indifference to the ruthlessness and criminality that is going on as the marauders have set evil loose on their host communities. Given the happenings in Nigeria presently, rational thinking dictates that those who think that the only possible means of survival is milking others would, at least, be interested in the continued corporate existence of Nigeria by cooperating with reforms that could extend the life span of the entity, but hail no. They would rather become much more insensitive and unfeeling. They have continued to task the long sufferings of patriots who stand in the gap between Nigeria and disintegration by campaigning for restructuring.

On May 2, I travelled in company of some compatriots from the Southwest to Abuja to join our former colleagues at the 2014 National Conference for some reunion. On the eve of the meeting, one Bashiru Dalhatu was circulating a text message to Northern delegates not to attend the meeting as his rebel group of Northern Delegates Forum (NDF) had met earlier to declare the reports dead and buried. Attendance from the North at the meeting, however, proved that Dalhatu was representing only his fraction of the country that he misnamed the “North”. He could not have been speaking for those communities in the North whose killers, instead of being arrested, are being compensated with taxpayers’ money. Neither could he have represented Southern Borno where Elder Paul Bassey told the meeting was still under heavy bombardment from Boko Haram despite official claim by government that it has been degraded.

Minders of the Sokoto Caliphate. Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, NEC, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai

Those who still engage their brains, of course, know that you cannot exchange commanders of a murderous group for innocent Chibok girls if indeed you are not claiming false victory. One poignant message from Elder Bassey to the meeting was that all the reconstruction the Federal Government is spending fortunes on is concentrated only in Northern Borno with total and virtual neglect of the Southern Borno communities, whereas the hegemonists talk of “one North” glibly. We left the Abuja meeting that faithful Tuesday with a beautiful communique signed insisting on the implementation of the 2014 National Conference recommendations under the chairmanship of Alhaji Tanko Yakkasai.

The following day saw the presentation of a book by General Alani Akinrinade in Lagos during which the need to restructure Nigeria came on the front burner from speaker after speaker. By Thursday, Alhaji Yakkasai was already telling The Sun Newspapers that Southwest leaders campaigning for restructuring are envious of the North and are unpatriotic. I had to check “envy” and “unpatriotic” in the dictionary again to be sure the elder statesman cannot be right. Any doubt about Taqqiya (deception) at play was put to rest when Alhaji Yakassai told The Guardian of May 12: “I have always suspected the motive behind such clamor (restructuring). The whole idea is to deny the North its God-given advantage of population and landmass which it has effectively used to earn appreciable allocation from the Federal Government. Those behind it are not interested in Nigeria’s unity and progress.”

This is the crux of the matter for the Yakassais of the North as exemplified also by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) which met in Kano a few days back. And what it all says is that we are dealing with the deepest contradictions flowing from clash of civilizations which are nonnegotiable. It is like the notorious man, Leo Tolstoy, talked about who said he would do all humanly possible to ease the lot of the fellow he was riding on his back, except getting off it. It is clear at this point that the Nigerian contradiction has gone beyond restructuring.

I watched the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo on Channels TV years back showing his deep understanding of the Yoruba language as he waxed eloquent on the Nigerian situation. He said when something is damaged, the Yoruba would say “o ti ra” (it is rotten). And that when it is irretrievably damaged, they will say “o ti se din” (it is maggot-infested). Nigeria is already maggot-infested. Maybe, it’s about time campaigners for restructuring suspend this appeasement and see how long the hegemonists can run this contraption before it answers the call of nature.

Culled from Vanguard Newspaper

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