By Jamil Afegbua
Speculations about whether or not there is an orchestrated agenda being pursued by Northern Nigerian leaders have been rife for a long time in the country. Many in the country especially those from the Western, Southern and Eastern regions of Nigeria had for long spread a suspicious feeling about indeed the North having a political agenda, that feeling, may just be founded on real direct evidence.
The country stands strong with 36 states and the federal capital territory, of this number; there are 19 states in the North subdivided into North East, North West and North Central. The Hausas of Northern Nigeria in order to add to the number embraced the Fulanis and now when you call major tribes of the country, there are the Yoruba, Ibo and the Hausa/Fulani. This latter group banded together to actualize a dream of having a larger population and this is supposedly to have more people filling high positions of authority in governance and corporate organizations.
The very idea of powering is something the North may not have wanted but was forced to accept otherwise the region would have loved to hold the reins of power in Nigeria permanently. The Ibos, a people well versed in business, manufacturing, fabricating and generally very industrious. Like the Jews, they are scattered all over Nigeria and again like the Jews, they become very prosperous. This obviously is not something the North likes because they seem to dominate everywhere they go.
This may seem to be the ramblings of a disgruntled Southerner, but in a transcript of an interview conducted by British Broadcasting Commission (BBC) in 1964 just before his assassination by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, Northern Premier Ahmadu Bello was quick to advance reasons why the North hates the East and must be wary of the Ibos and even then Nigeria was already heading towards a major tribal tension.
BBC Reporter: “One thing I noticed Premier while I have been here is that Northerners seem to have a sought of obsession about the Ibos, can you perhaps explain why to me’.
Ahmadu Bello: “The Ibos are more or less the type of people whose desire is to dominate everywhere they go. If they go to a village or a town, they want to monopolize everything in that area, if you put them in a labour camp as labourers, they will within a year try to emerge as leaders of that camp and so on. In the past, our people were not alive to their responsibilities because you can see from our NORTHERNISATION POLICY that in 1952 when I came into office, there were ten Northerner in our civil service here and I try to have it Northernised and now all important posts are held by Northerners.
BBC Reporter: Is this policy affecting all key posts in the North and solely without other Nigerians a temporary or a permanent one?
Ahmadu Bello: As a matter of fact it is a Northerner first and if we cannot get a Northerner then we get an expatriate like yourself (referring to the reporter) and where we cannot we will employ other Nigerians but only on contract basis. This is going to be permanent as far as I can foresee because it will be rather dangerous to see the number of boys coming out of our learning institutions and having no work to do, I am sure any government of the day might feel rather embarrassed and might even lead to bloodshed.
BBC Reporter: Doesn’t this damage the idea of all people from all regions in Nigeria being citizens of one country?
Ahmadu Bello: Well it might but are the Northerners been employed in the East or the West, the answer is no and if there are there might be ten labourers only….
From the above excerpts, one can deduce that the Northernisation policy of the North has now culminated into a full blown Nigerianisation policy by the North. During the above interview, Nigeria was divided into regions under a parliamentary system of government. Under the presidential system dispensation, there is some evidence of Northernising Nigeria. It is quite easy to recognize this, appointments into key positions starting with the President’s henchmen, most of the top positions in ministries. Departments and Agencies are occupied by Nigerians of Northern extraction and clearly it is to pursue a key point of the Northern agenda.
Although unofficial, Nigeria is gradually gravitating towards regionalization. Starting with governance at state levels, regional governors now have forums. South west governors’ forum, South South governors’ forum northern governors’ forum and the like. The idea is supposed to use the forums to tinker development options for the regions but in reality, they are avenues to prepare for eventualities such as mentioned by the Premier Ahmadu Bello. The under current tension in Nigeria right now is like a bomb set to explode with a finger on the detonation button. The regions are putting plans in to gear in readiness for what will eventually be the collapse of Nigerian state. Many hailed the creation of Amotekun, the Western Nigerian security outfit formed to protect citizens of the region from the Northern Fulani invaders killing and maiming people all over the country. The South East governors have concluded plans to put theirs in place. This is a very clear cut indication that the security of Nigerians is in their hands.
The weak stance taken by the Buhari administration against the devastation perpetrated by the so called Fulani herdsmen has given rise to several security outfits been set up not just by regional governments but by communities across Nigeria. Benue, Enugu, Edo, Nassrawa to name just a few has felt the wrath of the power of the Fulanis. Despite Nigeria’s military might, the Islamic militant group Boko Haram is still enjoying free access to ravaging communities in the North East particularly Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
If Government can no longer protect the people of Nigeria who can? The amount of arms and ammunition traversing Nigeria has become unprecedented. Some in the North had mentioned the need for the North to go on its own as a separate and actually claiming that the country to come out of that separation will survive even without Petroleum in the region. Where the north cannot access direct appointment, they demand compensations. Petro dollars are derived from the south-south region of the country however; much of the money is spent in Northern region.
Are Nigerians really been caught up in an agenda by the North? This is a question that we need to answer and make a decision as to whether to split amicably into separate regions. Buhari has become, judge, jury and executioner in a country where the rule of law has become mere words never respected. Arrests of opposition leaders and media practitioners have taken turns to be detained without charges and for many, this is leading to a draconian leadership.
The Ibos have cried out against being marginalized in a country where they are an integral part and rightly so too. Northern youths in 2017 called on all Ibos to leave the North and go back to their region and shamelessly, some elders of the North joined in the call. Buhari has referred to Nigerian youths as lazy, but the Northern youths are handed jobs on platters of gold. The military, the Police and other services have reserved quotas for Northern youths while others sometimes have to pay huge amounts of money to get employed into these services. This has continued to create an imbalance in promotion. In most cases the Northerners are ahead in promotion. The advantage they have over the others because the plan is to build them up for a take over the reins of power in years to come and that time may just have come.
In every sphere of public affairs and with every little opportunity, a Northerner gets slotted into a position of authority. In terms of productivity, the North is behind as they have very little to offer the coffers of the government where the oil rich South has been and is still the cash cow of the nation turning in more than 60 percent of the nation’s revenue yet environmental and other avoidable factors have devastated the Southern region with a greater population than the North, however a need to fix these ills are often misplaced because money meant for some of these are diverted unfortunately by leaders of the South.
If truly and indeed the North has an agenda, then Southern Nigerians must have started feeling it and believe it or not are doing something about it. Hopes are that it will not lead to another civil war.
Jamil Afegbua contributed this piece from USA