Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Bridging the Gap between Oneness and Disintegration

Fri, 10/19/2012 - 16:04 -- publisher
Written By: 
Zacharys Anger Gundu, PhD

Nigeria: Bridging the Gap between Oneness and Disintegration
                                                            By                                
Zacharys Anger Gundu, PhD.
Department of Archaeology
Ahmadu Bello University,
Zaria.
e mail: takuruku@yahoo.com
zagundu@abu.edu.ng
 
 
 
 
Text of the  inaugural RURCON Lecture Delivered  on 17th October, 2012 at the Nigeria Bible Translation Hall, Jos.
 
 
 
All Protocols
I want to commend RURCON  for instituting an annual lecture series to critically interrogate the Nigerian Project for reflections and engagement  to enable the Nigerian Church propose the recapture of the Nation from collapse  and contribute to the building of a new Nigeria. I am particularly humbled by my choice to kick start the series. For me, it is an opportunity to share thoughts on my personal   interrogating of  the fundamental issues that are threatening our country today. We must step up the struggle to create the Nigeria of our dream.
The topic of our lecture, Nigeria: Bridging the Gap between Oneness and Disintegration could not have been at a more appropriate time in the life of our country. For many Nigerians and others, in the international community, our country is a failed state. The Failed State Index[1] (FSI) published by Foreign Policy indicates that Nigeria has been repeatedly ranked as a failed state since 2007.  The US National Intelligence Council had predicted the collapse of the country in 2015. By last year, this prediction was reviewed to 2030 by US Military experts affiliated with the Centre for Strategy and Technology (at Alabama’s Air University at the Maxwell Air Force Base). Their argument is predicated on a range of factors including,  endemic corruption, the absence of a unifying national identity, violent insurgencies, rampant criminality, shifting demographics as well as  religious and cultural schisms. Though the FSI has been criticized as belonging to the policy dustbin and a tool of imperialism (see Claire Leigh 2012-http://www.guardian.co.uk/global_development/poverty_matters/2012/jul/02 and Jideofor Adibe 2012-http://www.elombah.com/index.php/articles/jideofor-adibe/11828-)and the motives of the US intelligence and military community in predicting the collapse of Nigeria seem clear enough, indisputable secessionist battle cries have continued  to echo  across the country since February 1966, when Isaac Adaka Boro hoisted a red flag bearing a crocodile to declare an independent Niger Delta State. Religious and intergroup violence have  erupted incessantly across all parts of the country drawing blood and  creating threatening  fault lines. Virtually every geo political zone is aggrieved in the Nigerian Project. It is an open secret that the Federation of Oodua Peoples has perfected a blue print of an Oodua Peoples Federation and are literally waiting in the wings. The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra(MASSOB) had declared the State of Biafra in May, 2000. After a bitter civil war, Biafra has returned to haunt the country as a response to what  MASSOB calls ‘terrorism, cruelty, failure and utter lack of humanity represented by the Nigerian State’(see the Aba Declaration by MASSOB: http://www.kwenu.com/aba_declaration) . The Bakassi Self Determination Front(BSDF) has also declared  Bakassi independent of Nigeria. They have hoisted an official flag and launched a radio station to give teeth to their declaration. The Ogoni, after years of agonizing were able to declare their independence on 2nd August, 2012. The Middle Belt Congress from available information is also working towards a Middle Belt Federation. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)  in spite of a lull are still committed to an independent  Niger Delta Republic.    
For many, the country is an iniquitous construction designed for the benefit of a few. Others describe it as a chimera of sorts designed to primarily serve the interest of the British. Still others have described Nigeria as  a lie created  and leased to the northern Emirs to manage and share the profit with the British.  Support of this lie is a silenced admonition of Sir Ahmadu Bello first reported in the Parrot Newspaper of 12th October, 1960 and recently brought to light by the Tribune Newspaper of 13th November, 2002 that ‘The new nation called  Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We 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’. For others, the country is ‘ a nation of the walking wounded’ where there is lack of clarity about  the wounds even though the wounds seem to afflict ‘every section of our society’[2]  For the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the country is a mere geographical expression. Our lack of faith in the country is legendary and the apparent lack of state capacity to deal with violent insurgency, criminality, insecurity and impunity are core to our potential to implode.
Today, we agree with John Campbell[3] that our country is ‘dancing at the brink’.  The critical question is how we can recover ourselves from the brink and create the Nigeria of our dream. Unlike others who argue that the future and unity of this country is not negotiable, it is our argument that our future and corporate existence can only be assured if constituent parts are willing to sit and negotiate terms and conditions of co existence that will ensure no one or group is treated  in a way that will undermine faith and commitment to our collective destiny. Such conditions and terms must ensure a new foundation capable of freeing us from primordial affiliations into citizens of a country where each will stand on even ground. The current terms and conditions are  not sustainable precisely because they are not just. An appreciation of our history not only confirms this but lends credence to the imperative of negotiating our future. We argue that our dance from the brink will depend on how we collectively handle grievance related to exclusion and citizenship. It will also depend on bold engagement with the God Question, improved legitimacy of government and our handling of potential fault lines including the future of oil. The remaining part of the paper is dedicated to the interrogation of these issues.   
An Appreciation of our History: Many of the contradictions, disconnects and distortions threatening the Nigerian Project are rooted in our recent history which unfortunately is poorly understood.  The birth of modern Nigeria is a checkered history going back to 1861. The history is characterized by dissonance and silences  allowing for injustice, fault lines and deeply entrenched grievances. Following the Berlin Conference, Africa was arrogantly shared between European commercial interests. In Nigeria, the British had annexed Lagos as early as 1861 for their commercial interests in the area. This made Lagos in the words of John Campbell[4]  ‘the first of the three building blocks of colonial Nigeria’. Before then, British traders had been active in the Gulf of Guinea where they bought slaves and palm oil after slavery was abolished. In 1878, the Oil Rivers became Nigeria’s second building block when it was recognized by the Berlin Congress as a British occupied territory. The third block –innocuously called Northern Nigeria was added after the British defeated the armies of the Sokoto Caliphate. Initially, identified as an ‘agglomeration of pagan and Mohamedan States’, the region was initially Royal Niger Company territory. Contrary to arguments that early British interests in Nigeria were for altruistic reasons, they were actually business interests which were prosecuted by force and stealth. Those parts that were not subdued by force were taken by dubious treaties all of which show the British as malicious, mean, exploitative and ruthless. These treaties also show how our forefathers obsessed with private gain collaborated with the British to sell their people and other resources for pittance.  The treaties were written in English(which few of the Nigerian leaders who ‘signed’ away  their land understood).  Because of these complications, many treaties merely had ‘x marks’  purported to have been made  by the leaders. One read: ‘With the consent of our people, and with the view of bettering their condition,(we) do this day cede to the company and to their assigns, forever, the whole of our territory[5]’. It is these types of treaties that the Royal Niger Company supported by the British Empire  held up as justification for taking physical possession of Nigeria and its resources by setting up monopolies even when under the terms of its charter, it was barred from running a monopoly. Local leaders like Jaja (of Opobo) and Nana (the Itsekiri Governor of the Benin River) who dared to resist British monopoly were ruthlessly crushed and deported. Chief  Nana to the then Gold Coast and King Jaja to the West Indies.     
By 1900, the British  Empire bought the territories of the Royal Niger Company in Southern Nigeria at a cost of £865,000.00[6]. Though this  sale enabled the formation of the Southern Protectorate, the British had to inherit a debt of £250,000.00 from the purchase for which it ‘paid  face value  and  5% interest’. Other payments accruing to the Royal Niger Company in respect of the purchase were in excess of half a million pounds  in lieu of  territorial rights, business disruption including ‘investments  in development and equipment’. The Company was also given ‘rights to half the royalties for mineral extraction from the Delta over the following 99 years’[7].
As economic ventures, the Southern Protectorate was more viable than the Northern Protectorate. First, Northern Nigeria was landlocked and could not earn direct revenues from duties on imports and exports. Much of the North especially the Middle Belt was still largely outside the administrative control of Lord Lugard requiring him to turn to London for support to prosecute the conquest of the Middle Belt. The amalgamation of 1914 was a strategic move to save the Northern Protectorate which at the point was running at a huge deficit. The move was also designed to enable the expansion of the railway into the hinterland for the transportation of raw materials and agricultural produce to the coast for onward shipment to Britain. In a sense, the amalgamation of the country represents true birth where the twin children (North and South) had literally no inputs into how they were conceived. Like pawns, the Protectorates and their peoples were merely cobbled together for the primary benefit of the Empire and local collaborators. In Northern Nigeria for example, the British had privileged the Hausa Fulani against what they identified as pagans in the region, encouraging and   emboldening them to overrun and choke the ‘pagans’ who have remained a footstool with insufficient political and economic space to contribute on equitable terms in the country.
Northern Nigeria is a contraption designed to ‘subjugate minority groups through the agency of the Caliphate’. The conspiracy that led to this contraption and the refusal of the Northern minorities to ‘pander to the religious orthodoxy of  the Caliphate’[8] is at the core of instability in many parts of the North. While this is extremely regrettable, it is however understandable. The Fulani who are the doyens of the Caliphate out of extreme chauvinism blew the first ever opportunity to truly unite a large chunk of  the country when they held up the Hausa States as an amalgam of bad Muslims and foisted a Fulani leadership on them. Their infamous insistence  on Fulani flag bearers and by implication Fulani leadership of all conquered areas institutionalized political religion, ethnicity and nepotism – which have incidentally remained the bane of our country  even today.  The Jihad of 1804 was more than religion. The opposition of the Bornu axis to the Jihad as well as that of Yandoto[9]  and Birni Kebbi whose leaders fled Fulani domination to Argungu[10]  means many had seen through the Fulani machinations for a Caliphate they could control using religion as a cover. In the Colonial period, the inferiority of the ‘pagans’ to the Hausa Fulani was taken for granted. Lord Lugard  had argued openly that the future of the North was in the hands of the Fulani whom he described as ‘a capable race………….worthy of the instruments of rule’[11] .
This valorization effectively placed the Hausa Fulani on higher ground in Northern Nigeria during the colonial administration- an advantage which run through independence and has continued to date, finding expressing in the most banal ways including a craving for leadership by all means and the extraction of unfair concessions from the Nigerian Project. Two of these  concessions stand out. The first is the establishment of the Nomadic Education Commission to cater for the education of Nomads while the second is the recent commitment to Almajiri education. Both  are obnoxious commitments that have continued to drain national resources because the country is holding up and tolerating the Hausa Fulani as a pampered people. A third concession is presently in the pipeline at the National Assembly where a bill is under consideration to establish a National Grazing Commission providing for  grazing reserves across the country for nomads.  Elsewhere we have criticized this move[12] citing the fact that nomadic living is not sustainable and pointing out the security and health implications of the move.
The history of the South right from the colonial period has also tended to privilege the Yoruba and the Ibo over and above other nationalities. The Minorities of the South-South are still largely in the shadow of the bigger groups. During the  Nigerian civil war, the Ibos indecently attempted to co-opt the Eastern Minorities(Ogonies, Andonis, Calabaris, Edos, Efiks, Ibibios, Ijaws, Isokos, Itsekiris, Opobos and Urhobos) into the Biafran dream  because of their extensive oil reserves, sea ports, agriculture and fishing resources. The recorded experiences of Isaac Adaka Boro while he was a student of Chemistry at the University of Nigeria Nsukka provide insight into the negative power of exclusion.  During a student union election, Isaac and another student lost the election to the Ibo who at that point could not fathom an Ijaw victory. Boro’s activism including his aborted attempts to secede and subsequent siding with the Federal Government against Biafra are directly related to the Ijaw perception of exclusion in the South East. The continued Ogoni struggles and other minorities in the South including the people of Bakasi and the Ijaws are a direct product of our recent history and its structural distortions.
Dancing from the Brink:  Our dance from the brink will depend on how we approach grievances related to  exclusion and citizenship. At the moment, Nigeria is largely defined  by the interests of the unholy trinity of Hausa-Fulani, Ibo and Yoruba.  Major economic and political positions are aligned to the exclusive  interests of the trinity. General Olusegun Obasanjo emerged President in 1999 because of the idea to pacify the Yoruba. His privatization programme was designed to ‘sell’ Nigeria to the trinity. In our recent history, whenever,  these exclusive interests are threatened,  the reaction is swift and scandalous. After General Yakubu Gowon successfully ensured the unity of the country through the defeat of Biafra,  the northern oligarchy conveniently forgot that he was  the good northerner from Barewa College, Zaria. He became  a mere missionary boy from Pankshin and they proceeded to isolate him, using the former Grand Khadi  of the Northern Region- Abubakar Gumi  and the media outlets of the Interim Common Services Agency(ICSA) to re package General Gowon and his government as anti Islamic. In the second republic when the PRP Governments of Balarabe Musa (Kaduna State) and Abubakar Rimi (Kano State) tilted towards supporting and working at the national level with the NPP Government of Plateau State, Radio Nigeria Kaduna branded them, mavericks and prodigal sons related to Satan!.[13] When General Sani Abacha appointed Lieutenant General Ishaya Bamaiyi a Christian from Zuru the Chief of Army Staff, a section of Muslim senior military officers launched a scurrilous campaign against him[14].  Hausa- Fulani opposition to President  Olusegun Obasanjo  was largely because some of the appointments he made in the North  in the words of Professor Ango Abdullahi were ‘along  religious lines which disproportionately targeted Muslims’.[15] The Ango Abdullahi pontification here was the Hausa –Fulani reaction to the appointment of General Victor Malu’s  as Chief of Army Staff. Attempts by the  Hausa-Fulani to deny  a Middle Belt identity are also a reaction to the threats a Middle Belt identity poses to the idea of a monolithic North which the Hausa-Fulani have fed fat on in the Nigerian Project. In the same Discussion Paper tabled before the Arewa Elders Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi  alludes to ‘mythical differences between the imaginary ‘Middle Belt’ and the rest of the North’, arguing that the Middle Belt which is 65% Muslim is a sponsored concept designed to undermine the North. This lack of knowledge about others and the penchant for misrepresenting others which runs through the trinity is frightening considering the fact that Nigeria is home to 250 nationalities and 510 living languages. Excluding others with disdain in national life can lead us no where if we are concerned with building a country in which all will have a sense of belonging.
This takes us to the issue of citizenship. Though Chapter 3 of the 1999 Constitution defines citizenship, it is very clear that NOT ALL Nigerians are at home where they choose to stay and work in the country. As one moves across the States of the country, you have an ‘indigene’ and ‘settler’ divide that complicates the citizenship concept and is at the root of incessant crises in many parts of the country including Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba. In many parts of Northern Nigeria, the urban centres are segregated along ethnic lines expressed in the ‘sabon gari’ concept. Now, the segregation has sadly moved along religious lines. Kaduna and Jos are typical examples.  In parts of the North, it is easier for a non Nigerian to walk into an urban area and settle for a few years to be accepted as more Nigerian than those from other parts who might have been around for years.  To complicate matters, institutions (including universities) and state structures are being manipulated to undermine citizenship and a sense of belonging.
Engaging with the God Question: Though religion is a major fault line in the country, because of the emotions it invokes, many  people would rather not discuss it choosing to deny its place in the many contradictions in the Nigerian Project. Bishop  Mathew Hassan Kukah is one of these. In his Message of Pentecost titled, ‘Come Holy Spirit, Come’ , the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese argues that he is ‘convinced  that what we have is a state whose structural defects have been compounded by corruption and made ineffective and that what we are dealing with is not religion but the failure of law enforcement and of appointed leadership’. This position conveniently ignores fundamental facts that foreground religion in the country. One, Nigerians are killing each other (rightly or wrongly) in the name of religion. This is clear from Maitatsine through Gideon Akaluka to the current banditry of the Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnati Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad better known as Boko Haram. Two, Islamic sects like the Shi’ites (also known as the Muslim Brothers) led by Mallam Ibrahim El-Zak-Zaky do not recognize the Nigerian Constitution nor the secular state of the nation. In 1991, one of their leaders in Katsina, Mallam Yakubu Yahaya was quoted as saying: ‘I am a Muslim under Muslim rule and I do not recognize any authority over me but that of the Holy Quran. I do not recognize the Federal Government. I do not recognize the State Government and their laws[16]---‘. There seems to be a clear misunderstanding over the secular status of the country and what religious freedom means in a plural society. Three, our portrait of God is potentially disruptive including the vocabulary of faith. This is critical in the sense that the dominant religions in the country are proselytizing faiths diametrically opposed to each other, they also see each other as poaching adherents from their pool of faithfuls.  The fourth fact which the position of Bishop Kukah ignores is the intolerance of many Nigerians and their  willingness to physically fight for God targeting others not even remotely connected with the source of their grievances. It is extremely unsettling that a people whose leaders are literally armed bandits stealing tons of money cannot react to call them to account but are ready and willing to kill each other over cartoons and amateur films in far away countries. ‘There seems to be no amount of corruption and ineptitude and abuse of public office that will raise our ire enough for us to take action. But any rumor about religion anywhere and we are ready to kill our neighbor who may not even have heard the rumors’[17].   Recognizing that we are a plural society, we must seek to clarify what religious freedom means and what portrait of God is acceptable and healthy for a multi religious society. Father Kukah’s position also ignores the yearnings of a section of Muslims in the country to foist Islam as a State religion. Though mainstream Islam continues to deny this,  fundamental Muslims (glued to political religion) and their faith vocabulary betrays a powerful intention of foisting  an Islamic State  on Nigeria or parts of the country. We must also not forget the fact that a section of Muslims in Nigeria has taken arms against the State, fighting to dismember the country and institute an Islamic styled government.
Nigerians must engage the God question frontally.   As a plural society, our future lies in how we handle the question and the lines we draw  around our portrait of God. Our portrait of God must not be allowed to hold others  captive  nor threaten their wellbeing, safety and  freedom to associate and worship whom they choose and how and where  they choose  to worship. We must reexamine the things we are willing to do on behalf of God including the symbols we employ and how we display them in public spaces.
Improved Legitimacy of Government:  There is an ominous apathy in the country leading to the perception of government as an inept rogue arrangement that cannot be trusted. We never learn the truth about anything in the country. Whether we are interrogating Boko Haram or fuel subsidy, whether it is  ethno religious crises or insurgency in the Niger Delta, we can always discern spirited official attempts to hide and confuse the ordinary person. Though apathy and distrust of government at all levels is founded on a multitude of reasons, one basic reason is located in the failure of the country to conduct  free and fair  elections  since the beginning of the Fourth Republic. Though the 1999 elections that threw up General Olusegun Obasanjo as President  effectively ended years of military rule,  ‘the elections were so blatantly rigged by the military and its allies that former president Jimmy Carter left the country rather than endorse them in his capacity as the leader of the National Democratic Institute  election observation team’[18]. The rigging of the elections and the legitimacy crisis which followed was complicated by the fact that  both the constitution of the Fourth Republic  and the institutions that fore ground it are literal impositions on the country. The situation was further worsened by President Obasanjo’s penchant for arbitrariness, impunity and style of governance.  High points of this arbitrariness and impunity  include the military invasion and demolition of Odi in 1999 and the Zaki Biam-Gbeji massacre  of 2001. The inability of President Obasanjo to secure lives and property also eroded the legitimacy of government . High profile assassinations of Messrs Bola Ige, Harry Marshall, Funsho Williams, A.A. Dikibo, Alhaji Ahmed Pategi  and others  during his tenure have remained unresolved to date  lending credence to the idea that the assassinations might have been sanctioned by his government. President Obasanjo’s second term in 2003 was also the product of massive rigging worse in magnitude than the 1999 elections. This massive rigging was curiously upheld by the Supreme Court ‘ in a decision that was inconsistent  with findings of lower courts’ when General Mohammadu Buhari contested the election results. This curious judgment arose following pressure on individual Supreme Court Justices’ involving threats to make  public instances of their personal corruption’[19] . The 2007 elections were also programmed to fail. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chief, Professor Maurice Iwu was the  nominee of the Uba brothers- Chris and Andy who welded incredible powers in the General  Obasanjo presidency.  Though observers of the election estimated a turnout of about 14 million voters, Professor Iwu announced a voter turnout of 33 million giving victory to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was said to have garnered 24 million votes!!. In a show of humility not known with Nigerian leaders, President Yar’Adua acknowledged the flaws in the process that led to his emergence and promised to take measures to reform the electoral process.[20]   The 2011 elections were also a fraud  leading to widespread post election violence following the declaration of Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan as President. The results were widely disputed in many states and contestants who went to court were disappointed by a corrupt judiciary that held on to technicalities and refused to even hear some of the complaints. Akwa Ibom, Benue and Bornu are unfortunate examples where the tribunals and the Supreme Court were desecrated as temples of justice by their refusal to even hear the petitions of contestants against those declared winners in the gubernatorial elections. Rigged elections, impunity and failure to secure lives and property do not only undermine the legitimacy of governments, they have the potential to fuel the disintegration of the entire country.
Potential Fault lines and the Future of Oil:   At the moment, oil and gas account for 99% of the country’s export earnings and 85% of government revenues. Though these earnings are sustaining all tiers of government and are holding the country together, they are badly managed. In the absence of a credible tax regime  in the country and viable federating units, waiting for oil revenues is a potential time bomb especially when Nigeria  and the Gulf of Guinea are turning into a  conflict theatre over oil.
Another potential fault line in the country is around  population and food security. Though previous head counts in the country have been dubious, current estimates of Nigerian population are  at 167 million. This translates to 0.3 hectares of arable land  per citizen. At an annual growth rate of 2.5%, the country’s population will exceed 300 million  by 2037 at which time, the size of arable land per citizen will shrink to 0.161 hectares. Considering  current  incessant clashes over land, our inability to feed ourselves and our archaic farming systems, the prospects of  shrinking arable land per citizen are frightening to say the least.[21]
The demographics of the population projects are a further complication for a country like Nigeria. Muslim communities world over are growing faster than other communities. In 1980, Muslims constituted 18% of the total population of the world. In 2000, they climbed to over 20% and are estimated to constitute 30% of world population in 2025.[22] In Nigeria, much of the population is amongst the Muslim communities of the North and by 2030 when Nigeria will be the 6th most populous country in the world, Nigerian Muslims will be accounting for more than 65% of the total population. Majority of these will be youths and with Northern Nigeria estimated by the World Bank as having the largest number of children not going to school, the chaos will be real. Considering the tendency of youth manipulation by political Islam, protests, instability and revolution will surely be the order of the day. The population increase will also force migrations from the core  North to  areas in the Middle Belt and beyond leading to increased clashes that will make Jos and other flash points instigated by Fulani herdsmen mere tea parties. The increase will also strain the system with its weak and ineffective institutions.
The Nigerian Dance on the Brink and the Foreign Connection: The Nigerian predicament must be understood in the context of the country’s resources and its strategic position in the  eyes of more advanced countries. Nigeria is for example, America’s biggest trading partner in Africa. As the 10th most populous country on earth, it is a market dump for the industrialized countries of the world. It is one of the top five suppliers of oil to the US with proven oil reserves that are bait to the US and other countries especially, China, Russia, Japan and India. Under President George W Bush, Nigeria was America’s most strategic African partner considering its position in the Gulf of Guinea and its role in international peace keeping in Africa. China’s entry into Africa (and Nigeria) has heightened the stakes . China is gradually increasing its visibility in Nigeria , providing economic, military and political support. It is China that sponsored Nigeria’s bid  for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. It also built and launched  Nigeria’s geostationary commercial satellite  and has a multibillion dollar deal to construct three refineries in Nigeria in addition to many other ongoing ventures. This has significantly increased international rivalry in the Gulf of Guinea the ‘result of which will help define the future of big oil and the world it drives’[23]. Nigeria is at the centre of this rivalry because of the quantity of its, proven oil reserves, its size and population. Each economic power in the rivalry is trying just like the Royal Niger Company and other European trading interests tried many years ago to grab  using any means, what they consider as their share of the cake. Historically such grabs are more successful when the target country or sub region is unstable.
Though we suspect the motives of all countries in this rivalry,  today,  we want to focus more on the US initiative and maneuvers in Nigeria to show how they are ultimately capable of destabilizing Nigeria, leading to its gradual disintegration by exploiting grievances and religion to sprout insurgencies. A disintegrated Nigeria will serve US interests in the Gulf of Guinea because each country emerging out of the disintegration will be too small to face even a medium size multinational in America. For those who know the unrestrained influence Shell and Julius Berger have on this country, it will be easy to picture what we are saying here. Zbigniew Brzezniski a leading US foreign policy expert and adviser to President Obama has openly argued for the disintegration of other countries along cultural, ethnic and religious lines. Brzezniski’s recommendation for Africa is a break up into micro nationalities ‘which means that national boundaries established in the 19th century should be swept aside in favour of a crazy quilt of petty tribal entities , each one so small that it could not hope to resist even a medium sized oil multinational’[24]. This explains why the promoters of the Republic of Biafra and other fringe secessionist organizations are working tirelessly to get US recognition. When the US intelligence and military community predicts Nigeria’s disintegration they are in effect acting a script based on a tested template  best understood if one is familiar with US meddlesomeness in different parts of the world.
Following the  failure of US war strategy in Vietnam which was invaded in 1964 as a result of fabrications against North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin[25], the US decided on the use of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and local collaborators to wage a war by proxy in Laos. This template has since  been used by the US with varying degrees of success in different countries  like  the Congo, Angola, Somali, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Afghanistan where the interests of the US have been threatened. Through the use of mercenaries and discreet support (sometimes through rogue third parties) for counter revolutionary forces, the US has grown and nurtured UNITA (in Angola), CONTRAS (in Nicaragua), RENAMO (in Mozambique) and the Mujahidin (in Afghanistan) thus becoming one of  the first countries in modern history to use terror as a foreign policy weapon. Proxy wars are financed by illicit proceeds from the sale of drugs, minerals and oil as the case maybe. The standard template is to involve unsuspecting locals, dictators and religious fundamentalists of both Christian and Muslim persuasion whose taste for political religion is enough to make them undermine the national interest. These wars are also a preferred template because they escape congressional oversight and public scrutiny.   
The ingredients of a US proxy war in Nigeria can be seen at two levels. The roles played by US African Command (AFRICOM), the African Partnership Station and the United States European Command (EUCOM) in Nigeria so far fit into a typical proxy war template. AFRICOM was established in 2007 because of the strategic importance of Nigerian oil and hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Guinea. Its strategic objectives include protecting access to hydro carbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task ------which includes ensuring that no other interested parties such as China, India, Japan or Russia obtain monopolies or other preferential treatment[26] . African Partnership Station on the other hand is an American led initiative under the direct command of the Sixth Fleet of the US navy based in Naples, Italy. It is designed to ‘police’ the Gulf of Guinea  to check oil theft, human trafficking and illegal fishing. Its maneuvers fit the typical proxy war template in the sense that the presence of the Dallas- the US warship- used  to patrol the gulf of Guinea has no effect on oil bunkering in Nigeria which at current levels is estimated at billions of dollars. Could the Partnership Station be giving cover to insurgents in the Niger Delta to steal Nigerian oil and finance their activities in the region?. We know that in Laos, the CIA and USAID were in the forefront of providing logistics for General Vang Pao’s opium trade, the proceeds of which were used to fund his Hmong mercenaries. It is instructive that John Campbell’s Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink has no single word on the African Partnership Station nor the corrupting and destabilizing  influence of US oil companies on Nigeria. The most spectacular incident illustrating this influence is the eight year bribery scheme overseen by Jack Stanley  ‘involving tens of millions of dollars and officials at senior levels of three successive Nigerian administrations, including--------- President Olusegun Obasanjo’[27]. The EUCOM, was the first to ‘discover’ the magnitude of Nigerian oil reserves and their strategic importance to American interests. Since then the Command has been in the forefront of discreet attempts to ‘pocket’ Nigerian senior military officers.
The Niger Delta insurgency and Boko Haram are also ingredients of a US proxy war in Nigeria. In the past few years, the US has steadily infiltrated Northern Nigeria targeting intellectuals and  traditional rulers in a bid to connect with radical and political Islam. In 2007, the present Sultan toured and gave select lectures in the US at which he denied the presence of Al Qaeda in Nigeria and claimed that the insecurity in Northern Nigeria was the brain child of disgruntled elements without a proper understanding of Arabic. According to him, he has the allegiance of those who matter in the North and he would have been able to know if Al Qaeda and the Taliban were present[28] . The US in the words of Campbell knows that the ‘North has the potential to  provide a major impetus towards state failure, particularly if religious, tribal, ethnic , political and economic tensions continue to escalate’.[29] . Only last week, an organization going by the innocuous name of  North East Forum for Unity and Development gave notice through its convener, Alhaji Mohammadu Bello Kirfi, the Wazirin Bauchi of the intension to pull out of Nigeria if need be. Though General TY Danjuma forced the organizers of the Forum to withdraw the ‘offensive’ paragraph, the point has been made.
Confirmed reports accuse the US of arming and training Islamic terrorists in Africa especially Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) who have in turn been known to give material and other support to Boko Haram.[30] The Al Muntada Trust Fund in the United Kingdom and the Islamic World Society in Saudi Arabia  are also major supporters of Boko Haram. The terror signature of Boko Haram including suicide bombings require training, skills and indoctrination over a long period of time. The Sultan’s attempt to reduce the crisis to the doorsteps of a few disgruntled extremists is a short hand explanation that speaks volumes. Also intriguing is the US involvement in the investigation of some of the Boko Haram bombings starting with the Abacha Barracks bombing, the result of which is still not known. As far as Nigerians show more concern for political religion, attempts to manipulate us from outside to undermine our unity will persist. The maverick historian, Bala Usman had detailed the particulars of this manipulation and its pattern, accusing both Muslims and Christians, the Saudis and the Israelis of attempts to prey on the country’s religious fault lines[31].
Surmounting the Nigerian Challenge: The Bridge to Oneness: Our position in this paper is that Nigeria –our country, its people, cultures and religions –is still something we must thank God for. We can say and have said very sad things about the country and against each other, yet there are many things about Nigeria, about us, individually and collectively that are divine sparks worthy of gratitude. We have remained too long in the place of ingratitude. It is time to stand in the place of gratitude for having a country like Nigeria we can call our own. We must be grateful for having each other as neighbours and we must begin to demonstrate our faith in the rebirth of the Nigerian Project. This will enable us take the steps to empower ourselves to work for the unity and progress of the country.
The first step must involve the acceptance of partial blame for our plight whether big or small , military and civilian, rich or poor, woman or man, young and old, North or South. We must share blame and begin to stand up for our faith in the country. While accepting that leadership is crucial to national rebirth, it must be underscored that the ability of ordinary Nigerians- You and I- to stand up for this country has sufficient power to cleanse  leadership, ensure electoral integrity and accountability. We must also seek knowledge and wisdom to interface with development in such a way that it will be impossible to manipulate our faith to undermine our collective existence. It is our considered opinion that the power of our national rebirth is within and not without. We must seek to draw from it on the basis of our historical and cultural resources. We must create the Nigeria of our dream and avoid the temptation of retreating into the narrow enclaves of ethnicity, religion and regionalism. We accept that these enclaves can be used to clarify  and express our grievances  in the Nigerian Project, unfortunately they cannot be used to construct a sustainable country for all of us.
If a break up is not our goal, we must show by our actions and our words including the portrait of the God we choose to throw up. The challenges of our country cannot be solved by fiat. They cannot be wished away nor can we hope to get the support of everyone if the need to fight for the unity of this country arises, unless we are willing to sit down and negotiate. We must however, do this outside the current structures and institutions since they are largely illegitimate. If we are to bridge the gap between disintegration and oneness, we must commit to a national sovereign conference at which representations of the different divides in the country can re negotiate the terms of our continued co existence. The conference will also work the modalities for our rebirth and should any one divide feel very strong in pulling out from the country, we must be calm enough to use the Southern Sudan template to allow such a pull out.
 
Nigeria, oh Nigeria
‘The  country of my birth, rich complex and full of talent.  A giant of sorts yet so poor and empty of wisdom. Nigeria that continues to oil other parts of the world but cannot oil its land, train her children and prepare for the rainy day . Nigeria, oh Nigeria. A land of  rogue leaders including an evil genius and  the butcher of Zaki- Biam.  A land eluded by accountability and visibility, a land peopled by resilient people, blind and speechless, unable  to tap their intellect preferring to depend on non renewable resources that tomorrow maybe no more.  A land that is  raping and killing the cow from whose milk it  is feeding fat. A land that has produced Boko Haram and is dancing on the brink. Oh Nigeria, you must dance from the brink,  your rebirth is at hand even as we mobilize to stand and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’.
Thank You and God Bless.
 
 
  
 
.                                           

[1] The Index is produced by the Fund for Peace and has been published since 2005. In 2007 when the country entered the league of failed states, it was ranked number 17. In 2008, it improved to 19, degenerated to 15 in 2009 and has steadily remained on 14 since 2010.

[2] See Mathew Hassan  Kukah (2011: 3) Witness to Justice: An Insider Account of Nigeria’s Truth Commission.

[3] John Campbell was US Ambassador to Nigeria between 2004-2007.He has written a book on the country titled Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink.

[4] John Campbell(2010:2)Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink. Bookcraft. Ibadan.

[5] See Peel 2010: 37. A Swamp full of dollars: Pipelines and Paramilitaries at Nigeria’s oil frontier. A   full listing of these treaties and how skewed they were, see ‘The Royal Niger Company Treaties: Part One 1891-98’. According to Peel  (2010) between 340-500 of these treaties were signed to take control of the Oil Rivers alone.

[6] Professor Leonard Karshima Shilgba of the American University Yola  has calculated and put the current pound value of this figure in excess of£83 billion.

[7] Peel 2010:40.

[8]  See text of a Release by the Middle Belt Professionals on 15th March, 2012.

[9] Yandoto was an established Islamic University whose scholars opposed Uthman Danfodio and paid dearly for it when  Mohamed Bello on the instructions of the Shehu burnt down the University with its books and dispersed the malama in  1806.

[10] The Hausa rulers of Kebbi who fled to Argungu were descended from Kanta Bello who founded the ancient city of Surami.

[11] See Margery Perham 1960:  Lugard : The Years of Authority 1895-1945. London Collins.

[12] See our article:

[13] See English Translation of text of Federal Radio Nigeria, Kaduna  Hausa Programme which was aired  from August 7th to 10th 1981.

[14] See Mathew Hassan Kukah 2011 for details.

[15] See Professor Ango Abdullahi’s discussion paper: The North Today- Which Way Out. March 2012 tabled before the Arewa Elders Forum.

[16] See African Concord of April 22, 1991 page 26.

[17] Professor Aondover Tarhule of the University of Oklahoma commenting on the recent Nigerian Muslim protests against the film purportedly denigrating the Prophet Muhammed on the Tivnet. 24th September, 2012.

[18] See Campbell 2010:9.

[19]  See Campbell 2010: 86.

[20] See Olusegun Adeniyi 2011: Power, Politics and Death: A Front View Account of  Nigeria Under the late President Yar’Adua.

[21] We owe this argument and the figures here to Professor Aondover Tarhule of the University of Oklahoma.

[22] See Huntington 1996 The Clash of Civilizations and the Making of World Order  and United Nations  Population Division( 1993) World Population Prospects: The 1992 Revision. New York. United Nations.

[23] See Peel 2010:130.

[24] See Webster Griffin Tarpley (2008) Obama: The Post Modern Coup: Making of  a Manchurian Candidate. Progressive Press.

[25][25] For details of this unfortunate incident, see Mahmood Mamdani (2006) Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. Malt House Press Limited. Lagos.

[26] See China and the Congo Wars: AFRICOM : America’s New Military Command. Centre for Research on Globalization, Nov 2nd, 2008

[27] Peel (2010:143-144)

[28] See Campbell 2010.

[29] See Campbell 2010:61.

[30] See Bowie Nile 2012 for details.

[31] See Bala Usman 1987. The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria 1977-1987.

 

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