OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT, GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI
I am constrained to write to you this open letter. I decided to make it an open letter because the issue is very weighty and must be greatly worrisome to all concerned Nigerians and that means all right-thinking Nigerians and those resident in Nigeria. Since the issue is of momentous concern to all well-meaning and all right-thinking Nigerians, it must be of great concern to you, and collective thinking and dialoguing is the best way of finding an appropriate and adequate solution to the problem. The contents of this letter, therefore, should be available to all those who can help in proffering effective solutions for the problem of insecurity in the land.
One of the spinoffs and accelerants is the misinformation and disinformation through the use of fake news. A number of articles, in recent days, have been attributed to me by some people who I believe may be seeking added credence and an attentive audience for their opinions and view-points. As you know very well, I will always boldly own what I say and disown what is put into my mouth. But the issue I am addressing here is very serious; it is the issue of life and death for all of us and for our dear country, Nigeria. This issue can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance, swept under the carpet or treated with cuddling glove. The issue is hitting at the foundation of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our Nigerian community. I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay. Without being immodest, as a Nigerian who still bears the scar of the Nigerian civil war on my body and with a son who bears the scar of fighting Boko Haram on his body, you can understand, I hope, why I am so concerned. When people are desperate and feel that they cannot have confidence in the ability of government to provide security for their lives and properties, they will take recourse to anything and everything that can guarantee their security individually and collectively.
For over ten years, for four of which you have been the captain of the ship, Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land and in spite of government’s claim of victory over Boko Haram, the potency and the activities of Boko Haram, where they are active, remain undiminished, putting lie to government’s claim. The recent explanation of the Chief of Army Staff for non-victory due to lack of commitment and lack of motivation on the part of troops bordering on sabotage speaks for itself. Say what you will, Boko Haram is still a daily issue of insecurity for those who are victimised, killed, maimed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery and forced into marriage and for children forcibly recruited into carrying bombs on them to detonate among crowds of people to cause maximum destructions and damage. And Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks alone, carrots must overweigh sticks. How else do you deal with issues such as only about 50% literacy in North-East with over 70% unemployment?
Herdsmen/farmers crises and menace started with government treating the issue with cuddling glove instead of hammer. It has festered and spread. Today, it has developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and killings all over the country. The unfortunate situation is that the criminality is being perceived as a ‘Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite in the different parts of the country for a number of reasons but even more unfortunately, many Nigerians and non-Nigerians who are friends of Nigeria attach vicarious responsibility to you as a Fulani elite and the current captain of the Nigeria ship. Perception may be as potent as reality at times. Whatever may be the grievances of Fulanis, if any, they need to be put out in the open and their grievances, if legitimate, be addressed; and if other ethnic groups have grievances, let them also be brought out in the open and addressed through debate and dialogue.
The main issue, if I may dare say, is poor management or mismanagement of diversity which, on the other hand, is one of our greatest and most important assets. As a result, very onerous cloud is gathering. And rain of destruction, violence, disaster and disunity can only be the outcome. Nothing should be taken for granted, the clock is ticking with the cacophony of dissatisfaction and disaffection everywhere in and outside the country. The Presidency and the Congress in the US have signalled to us to put our house in order. The House of Lords in the UK had debated the Nigerian security situation. We must understand and appreciate the significance, implication and likely consequences of such concerns and deliberations.
No one can stop hate speech, violent agitation and smouldering violent agitation if he fans the embers of hatred, disaffection and violence. It will continue to snowball until it is out of control. A stitch in time saves nine, goes the old wise saying. With the death of Funke, Chief Fasoranti’s daughter, some sympathetic Nigerian groups are saying “enough is enough”. Prof. Anya, a distinguished Nigerian merit Laureate, has this to say “We can no longer say with certainty that we have a nation”. Niger-Delta leaders, South-Eastern leaders, Middle-Belt leaders and Northern Elders Forum have not remained quiet. Different ordinary Nigerians at home and abroad are calling for different measures to address or ameliorate the situation. All the calls and cries can only continue to be ignored at the expense of Nigerian unity, if not its continued existence.
To be explicit and without equivocation, Mr. President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities:
abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type.
spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda-type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened.
similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours, fears, intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom.
violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country.
It happened to Yugoslavia not too long ago. If we do not act now, one or all of these scenarios may happen. We must pray and take effective actions at the same time. The initiative is in the hands of the President of the nation, but he cannot do it alone. In my part of the world, if you are sharpening your cutlass and a mad man comes from behind to take the cutlass from you, you need other people’s assistance to have your cutlass back without being harmed. The mad men with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core value have taken cutlass of security. The need for assistance to regain control is obviously compelling and must be embraced now.
A couple of weeks ago at a public lecture, I had said, among other things, that: “In all these issues of mobilisation for national unity, stability, security, cooperation, development, growth and progress, there is no consensus. Like in the issue of security, government should open up discussion, debate and dialogue as part of consultation at different levels and the outcome of such deliberations should be collated to form inputs into a national conference to come up with the solution that will effectively deal with the issues and lead to rapid development, growth and progress which will give us a wholesome society and enhanced living standard and livelihood in an inclusive and shared society. It will be a national programme. We need unity of purpose and nationally accepted strategic roadmap that will not change with whims and caprices of any government. It must be owned by the citizens, people’s policy and strategy implemented by the government no matter its colour and leaning.
Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are: traditional rulers, past heads of service (no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in), past heads of para-military organisations, private sector, civil society, community leaders particularly in the most affected areas, present and past governors, present and past local government leaders, religious leaders, past Heads of State, past intelligence chiefs, past Heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant.”
The President must be seen to be addressing this issue with utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch and getting all hands on deck to help. If there is failure, the principal responsibility will be that of the President and no one else. We need cohesion and concentration of effort and maximum force – political, economic, social, psychological and military – to deal successfully with the menace of criminality and terrorism separately and together. Blame game among own forces must be avoided. It is debilitating and only helpful to our adversary. We cannot dither anymore. It is time to confront this threat headlong and in a manner that is holistic, inclusive and purposeful.
For the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians, I pray that God may grant you, as our President, the wisdom, the understanding, the political will and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or favour. May God save, secure, protect and bless Nigeria. May He open to us a window of opportunity that we can still use to prevent the worst happening. As we say in my village, “May God forbid bad thing”.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has insinuated that former Head of State Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) cancelled the June 12, 1993 election presumably won by MKO Abiola due to “bad belle”.
‘Bad belle’, Nigerian slang, is synonymous with jealousy. It is used to express the resentment of a person(s) towards a thing or individual(s).
Obasanjo insinuated this on Sunday in Abeokuta, the Ogun capital, after his investiture as a trustee of the Abeokuta Club.
The Owu-born elder statesman was honoured alongside Abiola. The late philanthropist was awarded a posthumous vice-patron of the club.
He said IBB’s action denied Egbaland and Ogun the privilege of producing three occupants of the nation’s top seat, including Ernest Shonekan, ex-Head of Interim National Government (ING)
“I want to thank the club for this honour being bestowed on me and the honour being bestowed on my school mate MKO Abiola which he richly deserved”, The Nation quoted him as saying.
“When you win a cup three times, you keep that cup. Isn’t it? If not for bad belle, Abeokuta would have produced the President of Nigeria three times, in which case we should have kept it permanently.”
Obasanjo assured of his continuous commitment to the development of the state, Nigeria, and global peace.
Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo described Obasanjo and Abiola as proud sons of Abeokuta.
The traditional ruler added that “bad blood” didn’t allow Abiola to emerge President.
The presidency has rejected calls by the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye; former president, Olusegun Obasanjo; Catholic Bishops, among other personalities for the restructuring of the country, noting that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would not succumb to “undue pressure.”
Senior special adviser to President Buhari on media and publicity, Malam Garba Shehu who said this in a statement on Sunday, described the renewed calls for restructuring by these eminent Nigerians as “unpatriotic outbursts” that are not helpful to the nation.
He warned those making the outbursts about the nation breaking up to desist from it, as according to him, the president will not succumb to threats.
“THE Presidency responds to the recurring threats to the corporate existence of the country with factions giving specific timelines for the President to to do one thing or another or else, in their language, “the nation will break up.”
“This is to warn that such unpatriotic outbursts are both unhelpful and unwarranted as this government will not succumb to threats and take any decision out of pressure at a time when the nation’s full attention is needed to deal with the security challenges facing it at a time of the Covid-19 health crisis,” the statement said.
“Repeat: this administration will not take any decision against the the interests of 200 million Nigerians, who are the President’s first responsibility under the constitution, out of fear or threats especially in this hour of health crisis.
“The President as an elected leader under this constitution will continue to work with patriotic Nigerians, through and in line with the Parliamentary processes to finding solutions to structural and other impediments to the growth and wellbeing of the nation and its people.”
” I am conversant with much of world history yet I have NEVER read or heard of a people that are more comfortable with tyranny and bondage and pleased with poverty and suffering than Nigerians.
Push a Nigerian to the wall and rather than fight back he will dig a hole into it to escape.
Consider Gen. T.Y. Danjuma. He still can’t find the balls to speak the truth and reveal all yet he is complaining about others! He more than any other helped put the north in power on July 29th 1966. He also supported Buhari in 2015.
Someone please tell him that Nigerians have already lost their sleep and that he should speak up NOW & free us from the bondage that he helped put us in.
Obasanjo, Danjuma, Babangida, Tinubu, Adeboye, Mbaka, Atiku and all the others that helped put Buhari in power in 2015 and destroy Nigeria will answer to God for what they did.
Due to their poor judgement hundreds of thousands have been killed in the last 4 years and so many lives and families have been decimated and destroyed. The blood of these innocent souls and victims screams from the earth and is crying to God in Heaven for vengeance.
We must be bold enough to speak the truth and the truth is that Buhari is not our only problem but all those who colluded with him and conspired to put him in power in 2015.
We warned them over and over again yet they refused to listen. Worse still they insulted us, ridiculed our concerns, laughed us to scorn, belittled our fears and stubbornly and blindly insisted on putting a beast in power. Now they are ALL complaining!
As a people Nigerians have nothing to lose anymore. We have lost it all already but we just don’t know it or we refuse to accept and admit it!
Our nation, our freedom, our pride, our dignity, our honor and our self-esteem: all gone! The only thing that we have left to fear is fear itself and death: yet, as the Bible says, “to die is Christ and to live is gain!”
I urge my people to shed their FEARS and to find the courage to stand up and speak truth to power! I urge them to be the men and women that they were destined to be and not to accept the tyranny of tyrants or choose to be part of a colony of slaves.
It is time to make a choice between freedom and servitude. It is time to choose between light and darkness. It is time to stand for good and the forces of light against evil and the forces of darkness.
I have made that choice and I urge you to join me: I would rather live free for a short period of time and make a difference than live a slave for one thousand years! ”
(Femi Fani-Kayode, Ex-minister for Aviation)
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Another civil war in Nigeria has become imminent and inevitable. The reason for its inevitability is simply because Muhammadu Buhari, the Northern Nigeria Fulani oligarchs and the wider network of Fulani in Sub-Saharan Africa have concluded plans to adopt Nigeria as the homeland for all Fulani in Africa.
They have realised that the wandering and rootless lifestyle of cattle herding Fulani is no longer tenable in the twenty-first century. Fulani need to have land to call home and rear cattle and that land should be Nigeria. The indigenous peoples of Nigeria have vehemently and stridently opposed this diabolic plan and both sides are mobilising for war. The Fulani won’t relent and the indigenous people will not give up their land.
The same Fulani Project, having failed so shamelessly and woefully in the Central Africa Republic, will not be allowed to fail this time as the Nigerian Fulani project is better funded with the massive creaming of the sovereign wealth of Nigeria through nationwide kidnapping for ransom by lower class Fulani and seizure of the reigns of Government and wealth by the elite Fulani.
Kidnapping and the seizure of the institutions of Government are all for the purpose of implanting Fulani into the mainstream and control of politics and the economy of Nigeria for the objective of funding the Fulani Project in Nigeria.
The Central Africa Republic (CAR) has gone through exact same experience that Nigeria is going through right now in the hands of the Fulani. The country has been run down by the killings and destitution wrought by rival gangs in the fight to destroy the chokehold the Fulani had on the politics and economy of their country. Although the Fulani hegemony over the CAR has been defeated, the street gangs that defeated the armed forces have turned on one another and themselves, unable to rise above petty gang warfare to rebuild their nation.
The Fulani have become a blight on Africa and it’s biggest country Nigeria. Unable to break out of its centuries old cow herding and wandering culture, it continues to pull down every nation wherever it has any populations. Some countries in West Africa, Ghana and their ancestral home Guinea, have mastered the brutal tactics of dealing with Fulani and the Fulani have learnt the bitter lesson by staying away from these countries.
In the CAR, the Fulani following the pattern of their ethnocentric politics, had seized control of the commanding heights of the country’s military and financial institutions, the foreign exchange trade, the mining and export of gold and above all the governing structures of Government. Mitchel Djotodia, a hare brained military officer and his Fulani faction seized power in a brazen coup by a demographic minority. All the non-Fulani military officers were flushed out of the forces, all the mineral deposits in the country were seized by Fulani merchants, non-Fulani traders were barred from trading in foreign exchange and the entire top echelon of the Civil Service were occupied by Fulani by as much as 83%.
France, the former colonial masters of CAR watched them do all these over the years and did not raise a protest. As in Nigeria, the Fulani were just 3% of the population of CAR, tucked in the desert recesses of the nation’s Northwest. No world or regional power raised a whimper even though the ethnic groups of the rich southern forest regions roiled. The Fulani went even beyond the provocative as they are doing now in Nigeria.
They started seizing ethnic lands, raiding churches and killing worshippers, the most brazen being the attack on Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in a town near Bangui the capital, where dozens of Catholic faithful were massacred during mass. The Fulani used their cattle bases allotted by Government to launch attacks and gun fights on the surrounding communities for robberies and ransom paying kidnaps as is happening now in Nigeria.
Again, as is happening in Nigeria today, the purpose of all the action of the Fulani was simple; to transfer all wealth available in the CAR by all and every means and place it in the hands and control of the Fulani. It is the same play book guiding the actions and policies of the Buhari Government in Nigeria. The Fulani elite are raiding the Central Bank, buying dollars and other currencies at heavily discounted rates, other Fulani are raiding the NNPC, ploughing through the vaults and trading Nigerian crude for personal gain.
The educated wing are mowing down governing structures, taking forceful charge and control of all commanding heights of Government and the armed forces. The uneducated Fulani herdsmen are engaged in kidnapping for ransom and now primed to take over ethnic lands, spreading themselves across the nation in settlements acquired with public funds to terrorise indigenous populations.
It will be of great use to retell the story of CAR so as to have the understanding of how the youth of the country removed the yoke of unremitting oppression by the Fulani. The youth formed street gangs and committed to take on the army with all their vaunted training and intimidating and deadly weaponry. The youth had locally fabricated flint guns and machetes, while the army was menacing with their machine guns, grenade throwers and rocket launchers.
When the fight started on that fateful day in 2013 in Bangui, everyone expected a complete annihilation of youth on the streets but the youth took the fight straight to the Guard Brigade near the Presidential Palace.
By evening of the same day, soldiers bodies were seen littering the streets while some were cut to pieces. By night fall, the streets of Bangui had become the play ground and the killing field of the youth of Bangui. In three days of street fighting, the entire Presidential Guards of the army of the CAR was decimated, in disarray running to their ethnic base in the far north and President Djotodia, the Fulani tyrant had abdicated and run away from the Presidential Palace and Capital, Bangui.
Tyrants survive for only as long as the people live in fear and choose to tolerate them. The Buhari Government is counting on deploying the Nigerian armed forces against the many ethnicities where the RUGA will be sited, beginning with the minority groups.
Buhari’s plan is to deploy Nigerian troops to subdue Nigerian people for the benefit of Fulani. Central Africa Republic provides a veritable lesson on how to deal with the unrelenting Fulani menace. The Niger Delta and Boko Haram if anything, have shown that the Nigeria army is not invincible in a fight with local forces. If anything, the Nigeria Army will likely disintegrate if made to fight in many fronts at once.
It is a known truth that the Fulani will not relent in their quest for the conquest of Nigeria until they have seized all sources of income and made everyone else subservient to their rule and hegemony.
The Fulani in Nigeria, in nearly a century of political and economic ascendancy have acquired so much power and money that it will defeat the purpose of such acquisition if they don’t deploy it for the very purpose for the grasp for power, which is the conquest of Nigeria for the overlordship of the Fulani. The final stage of the grand plan to subdue Nigeria for Fulani overlordship are afoot and Buhari and his people cannot back out now. So a war has to be fought to resolve matters.
Our people say that you don’t strip a woman Unclad just to start looking. Nigeria has been stripped Unclad and with the RUGA monstrosity on the works, the next thing is to start the deployment of troops to protect RUGA in their various locations of development.
It was bound to happen that the Fulani who have been taking so much out of Nigeria and have succeeded in binding Nigeria hand and foot politically and economically, will take the wrong step into the abyss one day. The logical culmination of all the rapaciousness would be the last ditch attempt at the ultimate land grab, to seize the lands belonging to indigenous communities and hand it over to Fulani.
Internecine war in different RUGA locations and different fronts is therefore inevitable. Communities will rage to keep their land or lose it to their eternal shame and regret. Communities, particularly in Igboland will rather choose to be annihilated than lose their land to a hostile and predatory People.
Fulani have no land in Nigeria because they are not indigenous to Nigeria. They are migrants into Nigeria. The decision by the Fulani to seize land by force in Nigeria can only lead to war in the many places where this seizure will happen. The people must resist as of necessity. They have done so in the Central Africa Republic and reduced the country to rubble and they will do it again in Nigeria.
Buhari will be compelled to deploy police and soldiers to defend the settlements and war will be declared everywhere there is a RUGA settlement in Nigeria. Fulani have no land to hold dear and protect in Nigeria. In fact, Fulani have no stake or investment in the project called Nigeria and will not care if Nigeria burns, in fact Fulani will be very willing to let Nigeria burn if the people are not willing to submit to their overlordship.
So they are minded to adopt a scorched earth policy to obliterate Nigeria. They have nothing to lose. They did it in CAR and they will do same in Nigeria. It will be the responsibility of the indigenous people of Nigeria to find common grounds to protect the land of their ancestral inheritance and prevent the Fulani from putting a knife on their unity and their need to bind themselves together in one nation, but they cannot do this without first containing the Fulani. Fulani will try to divide them.
Buhari and the Fulani oligarchs are counting strongly on deploying the armed forces to quell insurrections that will arise from this massive land grab, but that will be the Achilles heel of their grand plan. Once soldiers are armed to put down these insurrections, they will turn against their commanders to defend their communities. Nigerians should therefore await the great unravelling of their armed forces.
Do the Fulani have the firepower, the men and the capacity to fight? In the entire history of the Nigerian armed forces, the Hausa/Fulani officers and enlisted men have always been promoted far beyond their qualifications and competencies. The capacity to fight and man the different departments of modern warfare will be put to overwhelming test in any ensuing encounter.
The Fulani never fight an enemy in a frontal war. They attack isolated and undefended villages. In any direct confrontation, they run away. It was evident even in the battle of Bangui. Well armed Fulani soldiers could not take on street gangs with flint guns and machetes. It has also shown in the war against Boko Haram. The poor performance of commanders of their ethnic stock is a bad joke among soldiers in the front.
Hausa/Fulani soldier had to be sorted out and protected from slaughter by Boko Haram forces. This is not to talk of unending betrayals of their Christian colleagues and commanders in the battlefront.
Buhari, a Fulani irredentist, will use to his advantage and for the benifits of his agenda to divide, the ethnic and religious cleavages among the people of Nigeria. But the people aught to know that the Fulani are friends to no one and that a Fulani friend today can become an adversary tomorrow. You are only friend to Fulani for as long as you continue to serve a purpose in their overall plan.
Let the talk cease and the battle begin.
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Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, says his mango plantation in Howe, Gwer East Local Government Area will employ over 1,000 workers in Benue State.
Mr Obasanjo made the disclosure on Monday in Howe during a visit to the farm to inspect the progress made so far.
He said the plantation would produce and process finished products such as juice from assorted fruits and oil from the seeds that could be used by pharmaceutical companies among others.
“I have come for four things, first to see how the farm has started, thank the governor for his encouragement; thank the community for accepting us and lastly give the workers the way forward.
“The workers are from this community. The mangoes will start producing between three to four years time. We have about 140 hectares of land for the project.’’
The former president said that factories for processing fruits would be built and over a 1,000 people would be employed at completion.
He said the oranges, mangoes and other fruits produced by farmers in the state would not enough be enough to run the factories, hence the need for the plantation.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who accompanied Mr Obasanjo on the visit, said the state government was ready to facilitate the enabling environment for investors to invest.
Mr Ortom said agriculture remained the only permanent gold mine in the country, stressing that it was even far more than oil.
He said his administration would support the private sector and promote development and provide employment for the Benue people.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Obasanjo had earlier laid foundation of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi School for “Children with Special Needs” in Igbor, Gwer East local government area.
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The Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode in this explosive interview with The Nigerian Express touched on very touchy past, present and future political issues in Nigeria.
He discussed about Buhari, Tinubu, Osinbajo, Awolowo, Obasanjo, Jonathan, IPOB, Biafra-Nigerian civil war, the North, The South and more.
Below is the interview.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister is a lawyer, essayist, poet and a political activist. He spoke to AKANI ALAKA on the contemporary political developments in Nigeria, relations among the ethnic groups in the country, the civil war, agitations for self-determination, the need to restructure the country, as well as the jostling for the 2023 presidency among politicians from the South, among other issues.
QUESTION: Just recently, Nigeria celebrated its 59 Independence anniversary. You also celebrated your 59th birthday some days ago. As an historian and somebody whose father also played a significant role in ensuring that Nigeria became an independent nation, would you say the country’s founding fathers will be proud of the position the country is in now 59 years after?
ANSWER: I think we ought to have gone much farther than we have gone. And if I am to be frank, I will tell you that those that fought for Independence of Nigeria, including my father and many generations before them, will not be too pleased with the situation we are in today.
We were meant to have gone much further, become much stronger, much more united. We were meant to be the greatest asset of the Black man on planet Earth. But we have failed in all these respects. And consequently, I will have to say that I am rather disappointed.
We are like a giant that has shrunk into the position of a dwarf. We have been dwarfed in many ways – even by countries that are far smaller, with less potential than us, even in the African continent. And that’s not good enough. And I think it all boils down to one thing – the fact that we have had leadership that has not been the best for much of the past 59 years.
And of course, the other part of the problem is that we have not been able to answer the fundamental questions like, for example, the national question and the outstanding issues concerning the Nigerian civil war and so many other things.
And I think this is why our development has been stagnated and in many ways, has become retrogressive.
QUESTION: You talked about the national question – what is that national question and do you think there have been sincere efforts to address it?
ANSWER: I don’t even think most political leaders or politicians in Nigeria even know what the national question is. And that is really, really worrying because as long as you don’t answer that national question or address that issue, we will continue to go round in circles.
Of course, it starts with one fundamental question, which was asked in 1947 by the great Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, The Path To Nigerian Freedom. And the question was simply this – “Is Nigeria really a nation?” He (Awolowo) concluded by saying, No, that it’s a geographical expression.
He added that there is as much difference as between a German and a Turk as there is between a Fulani man and an Igbo man and everybody ought to be able to develop at his or her pace within his or her own region or zone. That was essentially Awolowo’s contention in 1947. And many decades later, I still think he was right.
We pretend to be one nation, we tell ourselves that we are one, but deep down, we know how much we resent one another for various reasons. We continue to act as if this is a marriage that is eternal, even though we don’t want it. That’s the reality of Nigeria’s situation today.
Most politicians will not say this to you because they are interested in getting votes from all over the country and so, they prostitute their principles and compromise on so many issues. But the new type of politicians that I think will deliver this country will not think like that. I don’t think like that.
I will rather tread the path of truth and justice than to say things that are politically correct in order to gain favour with Northerners or anybody from any other part of the country.
The path of truth is the path that will deliver this country into the light of God and the greatness that she deserves and we must not shy away from treading that path. We are not a nation; we are a union of ethnic nationalities that are yet to resolve our fundamental differences and fundamental issues.
The questions that were raised before the Nigerian civil war and in the course of that war are still being raised today. And my prayer is that it does not take another war or civil conflict in this country for us to resolve those issues.
We can resolve them in amicable and peaceful way, so that everybody will feel equal before God and everybody will feel they have equal opportunity to aspire and to excel in this country as citizens and not that we have some that are born to rule and some that are destined to serve.
QUESTION: How can we, as a country resolve this question – because some like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, want every tribe in the country to go their separate ways as independent entities while others think restructuring of the polity will give every Nigerian a sense of belonging. On which side of the divide are you?
ANSWER: The battle for restructuring is dead and buried. Restructuring is not discussed in the National Assembly. It’s not discussed even in the main political parties. As long as they are concerned, restructuring is a dirty word.
To me, it is a way out of the mess that we have put ourselves in. But to most politically correct politicians, who are mostly insincere and cowardly, they won’t even talk about it. The leadership of the two main political parties – the PDP and APC – will not talk about it as a matter of policy and neither will most of the small political parties.
But this is something so obvious, that ought to have been done long ago, not now. And the problem now is that it may well be too late for that. The sentiment is so strong now for ethnic nationalism – it is happening all over the world. Look at what is happening in Germany, in the US with Trump, in the UK with Brexit, the right wing political parties in Europe like in Holland and Germany.
The rise of ethnic nationalism is going on all over the world and Nigeria cannot be isolated from that. In this country, we have major ethnic nationalities that see themselves as members of that nationality before seeing themselves as Nigerians.
There is nothing wrong with that. It’s the perfectly natural order of things and that is the conflict we have in Nigeria. This globalized hybrid state, that we must all become one, to my mind, is not natural. Yes, we can become one if we share common values, common vision, a common understanding about how life should be and common worldview.
But if we don’t have that, and if one believes that he is king and the others are slaves and must be slaves forever, then, on what basis can we continue to stay together? And why should we remain together, just because a rather misguided man in 1914 by the name of Lord Lugard, with his wife, decided that we should be together? I resent and reject that.
I am a proud Omo Kaaro o o jiire, I refused to use the word Yoruba. I am a proud son of Oduduwa and I believe proudly and passionately in the rights of the people of the South-west to self-determination, if that’s what they choose to do. I believe that the people of the East, the Igbo, have that right as well, if that’s what they choose to do.
And I believe in the power of referendum, self-determination and I think it is absolutely wrong for anybody to say I don’t have a right to exercise that right, provided I do it in a peaceful, logical and rational way.
QUESTION: Are you calling for the dissolution of Nigeria as a country then, because that is what this right to self-determination will amount to…
ANSWER: I’m calling for the self determination of any ethnic nationality that chooses to be self-determined based on referendum. This happens all over the world, international law backs it and it’s something that should be done, provided it’s what the people want and it is done peacefully. And that’s my view.
Even if I don’t believe in it, I don’t think it will be right for me to impose my will on others and deny them the right to believe in self-determination or the right to referendum to decide whether or not we should remain as one.
The UK that brought us together and declared our marriage one – between the poor husband of the North and the rich wife of the South – and said that we must remain one forever is doing that today.
They are brexit-ing, based on referendum, from Europe, and they are also doing it internally within the United Kingdom. Scotland had a referendum recently. They narrowly agreed to stay in the United Kingdom. If they hold another referendum in the next few years, definitely, Scotland is leaving United Kingdom.
All the polls suggest that, and they will be allowed to leave. It is on that basis of expression of freewill that you can say you will create and establish a nation. Now, if you don’t want that part to be taken by the people, the only way is to treat them with respect, love and apologise to them when you got it wrong. I will cite the case of the Igbo people and I have said it over and over again.
A situation where three million people -civilians- were killed during the civil war, the greatest act of genocide in the history of African continent -black on black, not white on black- because King Leopold ll killed 10 million Congolese.
But we killed three million Igbo -civilians, men, women and children- in a space of three years and we have not apologized for that. This is a crime against humanity. It is a war crime. And for that kind of thing, the Nigerian commanders in the field, the Nigerian Head of State at that time, all should be at ICC. But I haven’t called for that.
All I am saying is that, at least, we should have the decency to apologise and also apologise for the fact that between 30,000 and 100,000 of them were killed just before the civil war by mobs in the North. These are the fundamental issues.
Every country that has indulged in such barbarity in the past has apologised, including the Belgians. The only country that has refused to do so and has committed genocide is Turkey. And I don’t think we should be in the same bracket as Turkey.
They killed one million Christian Armenians and they haven’t acknowledged it. We don’t want to be in that category. Everybody else, including the Germans, what they did in the Second World War, 50 million people died, six million Jews gassed to death, they apologised.
Everybody at some time recognizes the power of apology, reconciliation and restitution but we haven’t done that. Instead, we are still killing Igbo people till today. Is that how a nation is built? And when they say they want to go because they are tired of being killed even now, we are still killing them.
It is unacceptable. Sadly, it is not just the Igbo now that are being killed; if you go to the Middle Belt, Niger Delta, the West, Mid-West you will find slaughter. All these slaughterings are being carried out by Fulani herdsmen and, of course, you have Boko Haram in the North-east. It is so bad that Fulani herdsmen are even killing the local Hausa in the North itself.
The ethnic group carrying out this havoc, seven per cent of the population, that’s what they are, and we will sit here and say we are one nation. We don’t have the right to retaliate, we don’t have the right to cry, we don’t have the right aspire to be leaders in this country because we are second class citizens, even, when we are the indigenous people of Nigeria.
And you are saying we must accept that? I will never do that. Unless they change and these things stop, Nigeria’s unity can never be something that will be accepted by all of us.
QUESTION: Some critics, especially from the North had always faulted the call for apology to the Igbo people over the civil war with the argument that the war was a reaction to the killings carried out in the first coup of 1966, led by officers who hailed mostly from the then Eastern region…
ANSWER: I am very conversant with the history; I am part of it. They came to my father’s house in January 1966; I was conversant with what they did. And my father was the only person that was taken away from home that night who was not killed. About 20 people -key leaders in the military and the government of that era- were killed.
My father only escaped by divine providence because the federal troops saved him at Dodan Barracks and I appreciate that. And I appreciate the pains that were caused that night because I felt the pains too. I will never forget it. I witnessed it. I saw it. And I suffered the consequences of that for many, many years because it traumatized me.
The killing of all those people was barbaric and unacceptable. I have said so. Definitely, the majority of the participants were Igbo, I am not disputing that. But the question that you have to first answer is did those Igbo officers conduct a referendum in the East before embarking on the coup? Did they do it on behalf of the Igbo people?
Because if you say you want to punish a whole ethnic nationality because of the action of a few people -barbaric action in terms of the slaughter. They killed 20 people. You now say you want to wipe out entire nationality, I think that’s an unacceptable behavior. The reaction is even more barbaric and quite unacceptable in my view.
QUESTION; The argument was that the killings took place during a war situation…
ANSWER: It was not a war, because there was a coup in January 1966, 20 leaders were killed from all over the country and only one leader was killed in the South-east. It was a tragedy. It was a wicked act. I accept that. But there was no war at the time, there was a coup, an attempted coup. The coup failed.
And what happened next? The Northerners now decided to do a counter coup. Again, there was no war. It was what they called a Northern revenge coup to avenge those that were killed in the first coup. And what did they do? Here is what they did.
They killed 300 Igbo officers in one night. They killed an Igbo Head of State – Ironsi. They killed a Yoruba Governor of the Western Region, Fajuyi and they killed a number of other people – all in one night. Now, look at it in numbers – 20 of yours were killed, you killed 300 of theirs, plus the Head of State and Yoruba Army officers six months later.
And there was no war declared. You didn’t stop there, but went a step further few months later and you slaughtered in the North -the official figure is 30,000, the real figure is close to 100,000- Igbo civilians who knew nothing about coup plotting, who did not participate in it, who are equally victims and were still mourning that their people were killed.
Those killings took place in few pogroms in a space of two months and again, no war had been declared at that time. But you didn’t stop there. When the Igbos said it’s enough, let’s go back to the East, as they were going back, you were killing them at train stations, firing bows and arrows at them.
And when they got to the East, they now said ‘look, if you want to wipe us all out, it is perfectly natural for us to say we want to leave’ and they now said they want to go. First, you agreed that they will go based on terms agreed to at Aburi, then, you now change your mind that even Aburi, which you have signed and agree on, you are not going to accept.
They must stay by force and the war started. And what did you do during the civil war? You killed three million Igbo civilians. The number of Biafran soldiers that were killed was not more than between 30,000 and 40,000. But you killed three million Biafran civilians. One million of them were starved to death with the policy of starvation that you put in place.
And you justified that policy before the world when you, Nigeria, said starvation is a legitimate weapon of war. Have you ever heard anything as inhuman as that? I know who said that. I don’t want to mention the man’s name.
Another government official, a minister in Gowon’s government, went to America and when Americans were crying that we were committing genocides against the Igbo people, he said ‘no, we are simply defending ourselves, we will starve them to death.’ The people that said these were politicians, civilian leaders, but military commanders executed that policy.
Then, at the end of the war, you said ‘no victor, no vanquished,’ but that was the biggest lie from the pit of hell. You gave them 20 pounds and then, you took all their properties.
It is only in the South-west that their properties were not taken and you turned them into not second, but third class citizens. And today, one of those who participated in that war and all those atrocities is now our President.
Now, we have killed many in the last four years. You killed many IPOB people. And now, they are saying they want to go and you are saying they have no right to go. Is that just or right?
QUESTION: The civil war was followed by a succession of military regimes and in 1999, Nigeria returned to democracy. How well would you say we have done as a democratic nation since 1999?
ANSWER: I don’t think we have a real democracy and I will tell you why. In a real democracy, political parties can be formed based on whatever criteria you choose. Anybody can literally get up and say, this is my party, register it, I’m going to run as an independent, as whatever in my local government area.
But here, INEC, which is essentially a tool for government of the day controls everything in terms of elections. And if you have a man who is the chairman of INEC working against you as the president, which is what happened in 2015. (Attahiru) Jega worked against Jonathan at that time.
I’m accusing him of that right in this interview. And I’m also saying that there was time he was asked to resign and the evidence was clear on why he has to …. but, in my view, very naively, (former President Goodluck) Jonathan decided to keep him there. If you can control the INEC and the chairman of INEC as an opposition party or if you can put your man there to run INEC as this government has done since 2015, then, you know you have no democracy.
Yes, they can let you win some states as they did in 2019, but they can rig you out wherever they like. If you control the courts and you can remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria just like that or you can raid the houses of judges at night with the DSS and you have, more or less, captured the judiciary and intimidated the judges, you don’t have a democracy and neither do you have rule of law.
If you can send DSS officers to the National Assembly to go and raid the place and lock out legislators because you cannot control the place as happened some months ago, then you don’t have a democracy. Today, the APC, by design, controls the National Assembly.
They control it because they control virtually all the elections and so, they returned as many people as possible through INEC – mostly unfairly. They control the elections tribunals, in my view.
They control the courts, in my view, and they control the media, in my view, because this kind of interview, I will be surprised if you publish what I am saying. You may publish it online, but if you publish it in your paper, you may get into trouble.
They control the television. If you go there and you say anything against them that is strong, factual, the NBC will come down on the television station. And you called that democracy? It is tyranny. It’s a dictatorship. And everything that I, FFK, said in 2015 during the course of the election that would happen if Buhari became the President has happened.
And everybody that insulted me then, laughed at me then, and said I was talking rubbish, even from within the PDP itself, are now being prosecuted. All of them are now calling to say I was right.
And everybody that stood with them (APC) then, including Atiku, Obasanjo, Kwankwaso, Tambuwal, Dino Melaye, Saraki has come back now. And now, they are all victims of this monster that they helped to create in 2015.
Now, we fought them in 2015 and we are still fighting them up till today. And until the end of time, we will continue to fight them, not as individuals, because I have nothing against anybody personally. If anything, I have more friends in APC than in PDP.
That’s the truth. But in terms of ideology, politics and what I think is best for my country, I see them as immortal enemies; I see them as nothing but darkness. And I see those that seek to liberate this country from their shackles as the light and the vessels and the tools of God to fight that darkness. That’s my position.
So, if you asked me that do I believe that we have a democracy? My answer is, no. They have corrupted it, they have abused it and I knew this was going to happen. And let me tell you that it is going to get worse.
QUESTION: What has APC done to our democracy since they took power in 2015 that made you to arrive at this conclusion?
Since 2015, what have they done? First, they introduced religion and ethnicity into government. Every security agency in this country – whether the military, the one that have to do with external or internal security – 17 agencies in all – they are all in the hands of Northern Muslims, except for one, which is the Navy.
And that’s unacceptable in a multi-religious, multi-cultural society. A situation where the whole of the judiciary from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court has just changed now – but the three tiers of the judiciary were being headed by Northern Muslims.
It is just now that we have only one being headed by Northern Christian, that’s the Federal High Court. A situation whereby in the National Assembly, the Senate is headed by a Northern Muslim, House of Representatives headed by a Southern Muslim – Femi Gbajabiamila, he is a good friend of mine, I have known him for over 40 years – but he is a Muslim as well. So, you have Muslims heading both wings of the National Assembly.
And you know what they have done with Femi Gbajabiamila? They have surrounded him with Muslims – his deputy is also a Muslim and the four principal officers around him are also Muslims. So, what is there for us in that place?
In the executive, apart from the security agencies, look at all the key appointments – nine times out of 10, they go Northern Muslims. Go to the Villa today – the official language is Hausa, 90 per cent of the people that are working in the Villa are Northern Muslims.
Look at the appointment of chief executives for the key agencies – they were Northern Muslims, look at the ministerial appointments in terms of substance – the North-west where the President comes from, the Hausa-Fulani catchment area, you have 10 substantive ministries, those are full ministries, not Ministers of state, 10 in the North-west.
Next is the South-west where I come from, we have five substantive Ministers and everywhere else – the South-east, the North-central and North-east have three substantive ministers each.
That means the North-west where Buhari comes from, which is the Fulani heartland has over three times the number of substantive ministers that all the other zones have, except for the South-west. And south-west has only half the number the North-west have. Is that fair? (Nigeria Express)
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Shortly after news broke that men of the Nigerian Police Force have sealed the Corporate headquarters of Oando Plc on Ozumba Mbadiwe street in Victoria Island, ex presidential aide, Reno Omokri took to Twitter to react.
According to the reports, the police sealed off the building following the directives of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the constitution of an Interim Management Team, headed by Mr. Mutiu Olaniyi Adio Sunmonu
Omokri said Bola Tinubu, a National Leader of the All Progressives Congress(APC) was going through this because he had insulted former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
He urged the former Lagos state governor to go and apologise to the ex-president — As that marked the beginning of his crisis.
What he wrote via Twitter thus:
When you opened that your smelly yellow teeth mouth to openly insult Olusegun Obasanjo, a man old enough to be your father, a man who fought for Nigeria in war and led her in peace, I told you God will reward you. Tinubu, go and apologise to Obasanjo.
See how they are disgracing him anyhow with Oando. When you sold your people so cheaply, how will they respect you? In their eyes, a used sanitary pad has more value than you. When will you learn? Jagaban? By the time they finish with you, you will turn to jagajaga!
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Former national vice-president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and military governor of Ondo State, Olabode George, has slammed a former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, for referring to former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a religious and ethnic bigot.
Speaking at his Ikoyi office in Lagos, George accused Lamido of disrespecting the former president, whom he described as a concerned nationalist over the latter’s allegation of plans by some elements to ‘fulanise and Islamise’ Nigeria and other West African countries.
Obasanjo had recently alleged that there was a grand plot by some elements to foist a Fulani and Islamic agenda on Nigeria and other West African countries. While speaking at the second session of the Synod of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, held at the Cathedral of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church, Oleh, Delta State, he said:
“It is no longer an issue of lack of education and lack of employment for youths in Nigeria which Boko Haram began as. It is now West African fulanisation, African Islamisation and global organised crimes of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, gun trafficking, illegal mining and regime change.”
But Lamido responded to Obasanjo’s statement, saying he should not allow his displeasure with the current administration make him a religious and ethnic bigot. He said: “Please sir, don’t let your disappointment with the sitting president turn you into a bigot. You must not abandon the national stage. The cracks along the various divides in our national cohesion are already turning into huge gorges.”
However, George backed Obasanjo, saying he has the right to express his observation over the incursion and increased activities of herdsmen in the South West.
He said: “Things have never been this bad in this country and the way that we are going about it is creating unnecessary division. What is our problem as Nigerians? When Obasanjo left office as military head of state in 1979, a lot of Yoruba people blacklisted him saying he should have handed over to Pa Awolowo instead of a Fulani man. There was no name that he was not called, but Obasanjo is a straightforward person.
“Recently, he made a comment as an observation that things are not going right in this country. The incursion of herdsmen is disturbing. He is also a farmer and a lot of farmers are complaining bitterly that their farms are being ravaged. My friend, the former governor of Jigawa, Sule Lamido accused Obasanjo who has always been a nationalist of being a bigot. What Lamido said were absolute nonsense and an insult. Does he know what Obasanjo suffered? Was it not the same man who made Lamido whom he is by giving him the opportunity to become a minister? But he is now turning round to call him a bigot. Why did Lamido not find out from Obasanjo why he made that statement? Wole Soyinka made the same observation that Obasanjo made and you know that both men are not usually on the same page.
“Maybe we should reverse roles and get some Agbekoya farmers from the South West to go to Lamido’s village and start ravaging farmlands, and then we would know what he would say. What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. I invite Lamido to come to the South West and I will take him around the villages so that he can see what these farmers who are losing their livelihoods are feeling. Our people are complaining about the sudden incursion and increased activities of herdsmen in the South West; why can’t Lamido see through that prism? We should be careful about some of the reckless comments that we make. Does it mean if tomorrow an Igbo man becomes the president, Igbo traders will now carry cutlasses and chase everyone away from their villages? Buhari should use his position as the President of the Fulani herdsmen in West Africa to calm these people down. It is a challenge to him.” (The Sun)
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