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The old man & Northernization: Democracy or politics of Religion and Ethnicity?

By Martin-Hassan EZE

The new nation called Nigeria shall be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We will use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the south as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule us, and never allow them to have control over their future’- Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sarduana Sokoto and Premier of the Northern region

It will not be out of place to say that democracy is a child of the 21st century. It is a popular opinion that this form of governance that emanated from ancient Greece must replace other forms of government. ‘Government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ as Abraham Lincoln opinionated have become the yard stick of measuring legitimacy of government all over the world.

And, so, the powers-that-be decided that democracy is a car every nation state must ride. Though Nigerian was under civilian rule at independence in 1960, the Cabinet political system copied from Westminster did not last long as barrack boys came dismantling it on January 15 1963 in what is now known today as the Nzeogwu coup. Civilian rule resurrected in the second republic under President Shehu Shagari but the Juntas struck once more in 1984 and she went into a long coma. After nearly two decades of Military jackboots presiding over the affairs of Nigeria, the Minna born general Abdulsalam Abubakar, who took over the helms of affairs after the death of the dark goggle wearing tyrant late generalSaniAbacha (the coup Announcer), read the hand writing on the wall and forced the Khaki boys back to barrack. By May 28th 1999 a new page was opened in the history of Nigeria with Olusegun Obasanjo as a tenant inAso Rock.

Regrettably, after more than a decade of democratic experience, things are no longer at ease (apologies to Chinua Achebe).Nigeria seems to be boiling today because some folks think that the presidency is their droit le plus absolu. There is a claim by some ethnic supremacists and Religious fanatics that the lofty office or any other juicy positions in Abuja must be occupied by those who face Mecca on Friday-Mai Sallah Syndrome.The gains of our tortuous journey are fast eroding under the leadership of ( arepentant Dictator?) the old man. Constitutionalism, rule of law, Free and fair elections, popular participation and inclusive politics which are fundamental columns on which democracy is built on have been thrown to the wolves. Today, the nation is divided between Jews and Gentiles. We are witnesses to the fact thatcross sections of citizens are treated as outcasts because of their ethnic identity and religious inclination. One is however at loss to why, even though we claim to be a democracy, the old man on whose desk the buck stops have not hidden his mundane desire to preside over a government of Northerners, for Northerners and by Northerners-Northerncracy; an open exploitation of religion for political gain. To say that we are in an era of Neo-northernization is to put the feelings of Non Hausa-Fulani and Non-Muslims countrymen rather mildly. The situation is so bad that many suspect that someone is brewing the beer of Islamization of political powers in Nigeria.

To drive home my point, as a Catholic who may lay claim to some Northern………… it will not be out of place to ask the old man and his conclave of praise singers a soul searching question that a Daily Trust Newspaper columnist Malam Sanusi Abubakar asked the GEJ’s PDP government in November 2014. ‘………..why have the government not collectively resigned after all the funny lies, massive corruption and endless scandals?’ Pitiably,this same ‘patriotic’ Malam Sanusi Abubakar who loved Nigeria more than the rest of us in 2014 is now proverbially deaf and dump. As an insider, I hate to say this, but say it must I. Even if Malam Sanusi gets the old man with his wife on their matrimonial bed, he will not raise a voice. Such is the degree of Islamic conspiratorial silence and alliance. As far as politics is concerned, an evil becomes a virtue when a Muslim is involved. It is a pity!

It is going to be difficult to convince a lot of folks that Northern Muslim opposition to GEJ’s government was not because he was a Christian president-apologies to Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah. We witnessed a high level of inflammable and destructive criticism of GEJ by citizens of Northern extraction. There was an open sabotage of government’s efforts to reposition the country even when such action was against the economic and infrastructural development of the North in particular and the nation in general. The politics of 2015 was a wicked gang up against a Kafiri or Arne; an infidel who stole their birth right after the death of President UmaruYar’adua. An open declaration was even made to make GEJ’s government ungovernable. Now that Nigeria is in a political cul-de-sac under the old man, all ethnic potentates and bigoted Islamic mullahs active like volcanoes in 2012-2015 arenow mute. Some of us embraced the Changi Tsunami with a bigger picture in mind. No mundane or parochial lenses. I, for one, it was not all about religion or ethnicity. It was more about a leader who will be capable to reposition Nigeria. However, one may be tempted to ask MalamSanusiAbubakar where he left the bubanrigahe was wearing in GEJ’s regime? Why did the fire of nationalism, which he claimed was the propelling force behind his pen Jihad in 2014 quench? It beggars imagination that some educated folks cannot grow above primordial sentiments like religion, ethnicity and party affiliation.

This rain did not start drenching us today. Sai Mai Sallah or Northernization syndrome is a deadly virus threatening the unity of Nigeria today. I have great respect for late Sir Ahmadu Bello. He was a great leader but the policy of SaimaiSallah was his biggest faux pas. This discriminatory policy champion by Sarduana as the Premier of Northern region was designed to make the North a caliphate; a bloody quest that Haramists have revived and made the kpim –( apologies to late Rev. Fr. Prof. Panteleon Iroegbu)of their Islamist manifesto. While I am at home with empowering locals totake their destiny into their hands, Sarduana’s version of indigenization was nothing but a political policy driven by hatred for non-Hausa-Fulani and non-Muslim citizens. Though hidden under the banner of indigenization, it was a deliberate plan to send infidels out of the North and prepare a ground for forceful conversion of non-Muslim tribes in the North into Islam. This evil project backfired. But today, it seems there is a backyard policy by some jihadist elements who don’t appreciate the beauty of democracy and a pluralistic society to make sure that certain citizens are made second class citizens or slaves. The death and destruction championed by Islamists when late Sir Patrick Yakowa became the first Christian governor of Kaduna state and the joy and jubilation by Muslims over his tragic death speaks volume. Saddening!

Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto has been a vocal voice in his protest against the politicization of religion by Islamist Fulani feudal oligarchy. In his punchy and thought provoking homily at the burial of Bishop Joseph DanlamiBagobiri of Kafanchan on the 17th of March 2018, His lordship pointed out that ‘ in the eye of the mafia, merit, excellence, competence, were tied to religion and region and that in our case, being a Christian excludes you from certain position’. I can’t agree less with him. Non-Hausa- Fulani and Non-Muslims in the North are experiencing political, economic and social oppression worse than apartheid. Yet despite these large scale and jaw breaking pogrom and genocide against Christians, sons of Allah will neither speak out nor protest because le petit diable in Aso Rock is a Muslim. I don’t mean to be immodest but the lives of non-Muslims in Benue, Adamawa, Taraba and Southern Kaduna are cheaper than poultry bird. There is a calculated attempt to fence Christians and non- Hausa- Fulani out of the political life of the nation by Islamists still holding unto primitive feudal tradition, politics of intolerance, exclusionism and destructive wahhabilism like life jacket.

I am putting pen on paper as a concern citizen because the old man is not only doing a great disservice to Nigeria but to Islam also. The old man is wearing the borrowed garb of an Islamic Califh in order to wipe up sentiments and deceive moderate Muslims into believing that a punch at levieuxis a blow to Islam. Big fraud! We must be wary of religious bigots who use the name of Allah for political gains. The old man is the biggest threat to Nigeria with his 95% and %5 dichotomies. He has divided the country along religious lines, polluted the public space with nepotism and religious bigotry, damaged relationship built over a long period of time and he is busy sowing the seed of hatred and suspicion between the North and South, Christians and Muslims. His presidency has totally destroyed whatever sense of co-existence and brotherhood that was built by the inclusive politics and policies of PDP in the past sixteen years. The old man’s administration is wallowing in self-deception. The government is sick and the nation is haemorrhaging. Yet for the old man and his co-travellers it is Eldorado for countrymen. With a handicapped and brainwashed followership, blinded by religious bigotry and jawbreaking poverty, pauperised by ignorance and lack of education, philosopher kings have become nincompoops and scallywags and licensed bootlickers are philosopher kings under the Caliph. All jackals, monkey and baboons thatwanted to drink the blood of countrymen had GEJ not conceded defeat in 2015 presidential poll now worship at the altar of the caliph from Daura;the new Islamic deity, eating our tomorrow today.

Come 2019, as citizens, we must reclaim our country from mediocre who use religion and ethnicity to cajole, maim, cheat, kill in other to gain political power. We must reject ethnic entrepreneurs and religious bigots who use the Mosque and the pulpit to promote and sustain a leadership recruiting process that have stagnated the political, economic, social, scientific and technological growth of Nigeria. For Nigeria to achieve sustainable and human capital development, we should be talkingof characters, capacities, ideas and competence of political office holders and not their religious inclination or ethnic identity. Leadership is not meant for Mallams, Imams, Sheiks and clowns who claim to be more Catholic than the Pope.

For me, it is nothing but chronic hallucination for both the Islamic deity, his prophets and the old man to think that Nigeria will one day become an Allahdom. Northerncracy in a nation begging for progress, peace and prosperity is a perfect formula for catastrophe. In a multi-ethnic and religious state like Nigeria, religious and ethnic politics is not only an open invitation to doom but the quickest way of composing the funeral dirge of Nigeria.

It is a categorical imperative that,I ,state that if we agree that Nigeria is a democratic state, then, there should be no Jew or Gentile in the political arena. A nation can only achieve peace, progress and prosperity when there is popular participation, constitutionalism, rule of law, separation of power, free and fair election, independence of judiciary, free press and sense of belonging by all citizens irrespective of their religious inclinations and ethnic identities. But alas, these are scarce commodities under the rule of the old man!

Martin-Hassan EZE writes from Department of Philosophy, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt-River State. (07051587155 sms only) twitter handle @martinhassan

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Martin-Hassan EZE and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."