By Femi Fani-Kayode
The Sultan of Sokoto is the father of the Fulani people, the foremost traditional ruler in northern Nigeria and the spiritual leader of all northern Muslims.
He is not just a traditional ruler but an all-powerful potentate who represents a strange and mystical power and who heads an ancient and dark empire.
Not only is he reverred by his subjects but he is also regarded and treated by some as something akin to a deity and by others as nothing less than the reincarnation of Sheik Usman Dan Fodio, the Sufi Muslim, who founded the Caliphate empire by conquering and utterly crushing the Hausa kingdoms in a brutal and bloody jihad in northern Nigeria in 1804.
Whichever way his subjects choose to view him, whether as a deity or an all-conquering and all powerful jihadi war-lord, to the Muslims of the core north his word is law and absolutely everything revolves around him.
He is the living symbol of Fulani power, strength and glory and the physical manifestation of the quest for Islamist domination.
Yet despite these lofty heights and undoubtedly rich and impressive heritage his people have slaughtered, subjugated and terrorised more Nigerians in the last 212 years since Usman Dan Fodio’s 1804 Jihad than ANY other ethnic group in our nation.
They have butchered more of their fellow Nigerians in that space of time than the white Boer settlers and farmers of apartheid South Africa butchered the black African population in Southern Africa in 363 years of white rule and domination since the time that the Dutch coloniser and admnistrator, Jan Van Riebeek, first put his foot on the South African Cape in 1653.
No African ethnic group has killed as many of their fellow Africans as the Fulani of northern Nigeria. Not even the Hutus of Rwanda, who did a whole lot of killing in the genocide of the early 1990’s, could match them.
From the first Mahdi, Usman Dan Fodio, to the second, Sir Ahmadu Bello and to the third, General Muhammadu Buhari, the trail of blood, carnage, terror and religious compulsion and the inexplicable quest and insatiable desire to dominate, conquer, subjugate and control others trails them.
This is as unacceptable as it is provocative. The truth is that there is no place in any civilised society for any form of compulsion or ethnic and religious domination and bigotry
I say this because I believe that the mark of civilisation is the ability to tolerate dissenting views and to accommodate those that do not share your faith or come from your tribe, ethnic stock or nationality.
If you are incapable of being tolerant of others simply because they are different or they come from a different place and if you cannot indulge in any form of accommodation of those that do not share your views, your faith or your bloodlines then you are nothing more than an uncivilised field hand and an intellectual barbarian.
If you are capable of both tolerance and accommodation of others, no matter how strange or absurd their views, their faith or their circumstances may be, then you are the epitomy of civilisation, decency, good breeding and good old fashioned class.
The morale of the tale is as follows: to be tolerant and kind to ALL those that see things differently from you, to stand up against the intolerant and to resist the ignorant, the bigoted, the racist, the ethnic supremacist and the religious extremist.
It is in an attempt to keep faith with this sacred resolution and honor this fundamental principle that I wish to bare my mind and share my views about the way forward for the Fulani Republic of Nigeria in this contribution. Those views are as follows.
I am a nationalist. I believe in the rise and power of the nation state. I believe in the sovereignty of the will of the people. I believe in the right of independence and self-determination for all and sundry. This is especially so for the numerous ethnic nationalities that make up the space called Nigeria.
I believe in the right of the Igbo to have Biafra and the right of the Yoruba to have Oduduwa if that is their wish.
I believe that the right ought to be extended to the Ijaws and indeed to every other ethnic nationality in the country if that is what they want.
I believe that to compel a man or a people, by the force of arms and with the raw power of the state, to stay in a house or a space that they do not wish to stay is evil.
Such a state of affairs and situation is an eloquent testimony, graphic example and accurate illustration of subjugation and bondage.
It is a testimony of the most barbaric form of wickedness and a total denial of the most basic civil liberties, fundamental human rights and expression of free will of the victims.
I believe that there are many countries in the belly of Nigeria but sadly they have all been choked, suffocated, swallowed up and killed at birth.
I believe that Chief Obafemo Awolowo was right when he said that Nigeria was “not a nation but a mere geographical expression”.
I believe that Sir Ahmadu Bello was right when he described the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates as a “great mistake”.
I believe that he was also right when he told the ever-accommodating and over-compensating Owelle Nnamdi Azikiwe that we needed to “understand our differences” rather than to just “forget them”.
Again I believe that Awolowo was right when he said “there are no ‘Nigerians’ in the sense as there are English, Welsh or French. The word ‘Nigerian’ is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not”.
I believe that Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa accurately reflected the mind of his core northern people when he said, “the Southern people who are swamping into this region daily in such large numbers are really intruders. We don’t want them and they are not welcome here in the North. Since 1914, the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country but the people are different in every way, including religion, custom, language and aspirations. We in the north take it that Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country they created. IT IS NOT FOR US.”
I believe that Lord Frederick Lugard, the architect of the 1914 amalgamation, was right when he said “the North and the South are like oil and water. They will never mix”.
Again I believe that Awolowo was right when he said “Nigeria is only a geographical expression to which life was given by the diabolical amalgamation of 1914. That amalgamation will EVER remain the most painful injury a British government inflicted on Southern Nigeria”.
I believe that the hero of Biafra, Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (the one and only Eze Igbo Gburugburu), was right when he said “it is better we move slightly apart and survive than move together and perish in our collision”.
I believe that Sir Ahmadu Bello spoke the minds of his northern people when he said, “the new nation called Nigeria should be an estate from 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 conquered territories and never allow them to have control of their future.”
I believe that General Yakubu Gowon was right when he said, “suffice it to say that putting all considerations to the test, political, economic as well as social, the basis of unity is not there.”
I believe that Dr. Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe was right when he said, “if this embryo republic of ours must disintegrate, then in the name of God, let the operation be a short and painless one.”
Finally I believe that Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was right when he said, “Nigeria is a stooge of Europe. Her independence was and is a lie. Nigeria committed many crimes against her nationals which in the end made complete nonsense of her claim to unity. Nigeria persecuted and slaughtered her minorities; Nigerian justice was a farce; her elections, her census, her politics – her everything – was corrupt. Qualification, merit and experience were discounted in public service. In one area of Nigeria, for instance, they preferred to turn a nurse who had worked for five years into a doctor rather than employ a qualified doctor from another part of Nigeria; barely literate clerks were made Permanent Secretaries; a university Vice-Chancellor was sacked because he belonged to the wrong tribe.”
These words are as truthful, accurate and appropriate today as they were when Ojukwu spoke them many years ago.
If there is still anyone left that believes that all is well in our forced union I urge them to consider the words of Chief John Nwodo, who is a former Minister of Information and the newly-elected President-General of Ohaneze, the leading Igbo political and socio-cultural group which comprises of all the elders and traditional rulers of Ndi Igbo. He said, “Our young men and women can no longer tolerate a second class status in their own country. They can no longer forgive the President for arguing before he came into office that Niger Delta militants were meekly treated and tolerated by President Yar Adua while Boko Haram was harshly treated by President Jonathan when his law enforcement agents literally opened fire and maimed and killed unarmed MASSOB and IPOB members. They see how returnee Boko Haram members are absolved and rehabilitated while leaders of MASSOB and IPOB are incarcerated or mercilessly murdered. In their rage, they are becoming uncontrollable as they pass a vote of no confidence on us, their parents, describing us as cowards and compromised”.
Could anyone have put it any better than this? Has Nwodo not hit the nail on the head? Has he not spoken the bitter truth? Is this not an aberrant and unacceptable state of affairs?
Has our so-called country not been turned into the theater of the absurd where anything can happen in the last two years? Did some of us not warn that this would happen if a Fulani supremacist and Muslim fundamentalist with delusions of grandeur like Buhari was elected President? Are the Nigerian people not reaping what they sowed in 2015?
Have the southerners and Middle Belters in Nigeria not all been turned into slaves today? Have their leaders and elders not all been turned into quislings and cowards who shiver under their beds at night and who dare not speak truth to power?
Christians are slaughtered, nobody talks. Southern youths are butchered, nobody talks. Shiite Muslims are massacred, nobody talks. Christian refugees are bombed at IDP camps, nobody cares. Fulani militants murder hundreds in cold blood on a weekly basis all over the country and nobody is arrested or apprehended.
Was this not Awolowo and Ojukwu’s greatest fear? Are we not living that nightmare today?
Whether they wish to admit it openly or not EVERY southerner and Middle Belter in this country feels like a second class citizen today. (TO BE CONTINUED).