Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo
My attention has been drawn to an article titled “Nwankwo’s Wrong Prescription” on the back page of The Nation Vol.11, No. 3582 of Wednesday May 18 2016 and authored by Mohammed Haruna. This article, which I ﬁnd most ridiculous, vain and pointless was in response to an article I Wrote captioned “The National Grazing Reserve Bill and Islamizalion of Nigeria: Matters Arising”. Stopping at nothing to trivialize the critical issues I raised in my article, Haruna dismissed them as a misdiagnosis of the Nigerian condition. According to him, the issues l raised were mere conjectures. But try as he did, Mr Haruna could not debunk any of the points l raised.
In the ﬁrst place, Haruna did not debunk my assertion of the presence in the 7th Senate of a proposed ‘National Grazing Reserve Establishment and Development Commission Bill (SB.60)’, which the 8th Senate has come out strongly to deny. A proposition is termed misdiagnosis if in its dialectics, content and logic it circumvents the fundamental causes of a problem to deal with the symptoms. What Haruna has achieved in his veiled article is the exposure of monumental ignorance of the forces at play in the Nigerian state. That he could treat so casually the issue of structural imbalance in Nigeria indicates an incorrect reading of Nigeria’s trajectory and a signiﬁcation of the preference of the north to hold on to a bestial structural system that permits it to reap where it has not sown. lt is actually Haruna that has misdiagnosed the Nigerian condition and stood logic on its head.
My assertion that Buhari had wanted to reintroduce the bill via the back door for no other reason than the primordial interest of his Fulani clan is based on hard fact. Haruna himself conﬁrmed this in the second paragraph of his article. For instance, he stated “True, there was a public hearing on the issue of herders/farmers violent clashes at the senate by a joint committee on security and agriculture. This was at the instance of the senate itself against the background of the most recent clashes”. Reading Haruna’s lips, it is obvious that the public hearing was a prelude to a plenary consideration of the bill, which had successfully scaled through second reading in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The facts of history are hard to debunk. Are the Fulani’s not Nigeria’s most itinerant cattle rearers in Nigeria? Was it not the grazing access accorded the Fulani by the Hausa that gave them the latitude to wage jihad against the original Hausa states? Did Sheik Othman Dan Fodio not direct the Moslems to dip the Quran into the Atlantic Ocean and decimate the people of the “Book” anywhere in Nigeria? Has Haruna laid his hands on a copy of Washington Times of March 23rd 2015, wherein Buhari was quoted as saying: “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria; (Allah) willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.” For Mohammed Haruna, please read. In this context, who is misdiagnosing the problem and standing logic on its head?
Another issue that tickled Mohammed Haruna’s fancy was my factual statement that under the Jonathan administration, Boko Haram nominated Muhammadu Buhari as its chief negotiator. Haruna’s defence is that Buhari “distanced himself from the sect” and that in fact he was the object of a suicide bombing in Kaduna on account of his rejection of his nomination. Recall that Muhammadu Buhari was not the only northerner nominated by Boko Haram. Others included Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Ambassador Gaji Galtimari, Mrs. Aisha Alkali Wakil and her husband Alkali Wakil. These people were nominated by the sect on account of their fiery and fundamentalist Islamic posturing but Buhari more for his grandstanding on Islamization of Nigeria.
I recall that in December I983, in his coup broadcast to the country, Buhari stated that “Nigeria is our home. Let us now turn it into the great nation we know it can and should be “. Given the despondency pervading the country then, many Nigerians saw a glimmer of hope in those words in the belief that Nigeria was not beyond redemption. However, since that time till date General Muhammadu Buhari has transmuted into something of a caricature image far less noble than what he said in 1983. In truth, these intervening years have been very revealing of the Buhari personae. So much water has passed under the bridge such that it would be wrong to condense and analyse Buhari on the basis of what he said in 1983 and attempt to foist him down our throat as a viable alternative. This is what Haruna has set out to do with his article. I find this woeful and unhealthy for a country yearning for direction.
The truth is that those intervening years have thrown up a deeply partisan, sectional and religious irredentist in the person of Buhari. Since forcing himself into the consciousness of Nigerians in I983 with the redeeming pontifications of the military then, Buhari has evolved into a convoluted and conﬂicted brand. He has withdrawn into the conclave of an ethno-religious champion and a fanatical extremist who has sought without apologies to anyone, to undermine everything the Nigeria nation stands for. Buhari is an ethno-religious fundamentalist and the weight of history is in favour of this assertion.
The fact that Buhari is being rebranded by people like Haruna Mohammed in a bid to tone down his extremist views about North/ South and Muslims/Christians divides of the country, for political correctness does not make him any less a religious extremist. It is in this wise that I find Haruna’s article pretentious, deceitful, and unﬂattering to the iron-cast inscrutable image of Muhammadu Buhari. The proof of Buhari’s ethno-religious bias is stated here in his own words and recorded position on issues pertaining to Sharia and the interest of the North as against the overriding interest of Nigeria. The statement credited to him in the March 23rd 2015 edition of Washington Times, which I quoted above bears testimony to this fact. Buhari even further urged “Muslims to vote for fellow Muslims who can defend their faith”.
Recall also that during Governor Lam Adesina’s time as governor of Oyo state, Buhari travelled all the way from Daura in Katsina to visit Governor Adesina in lbadan. lt was no ordinary visit, but a protest visit that Adesina’s people were killing his (Buhari’s) people. lt was all about the clashes between Hausa-Fulani herdsmen grazing with their cattle in indigenes’ farmland and destroying their crops. Buhari’s exact words Were: “Your people are killing my people.” lf this is not a sufficient proof of this man’s sectional-ethnic affinity and inclination then, someone will have to tell me what is. lf l remarked that Boko Haram nominated Buhari as a negotiator it is because they see in him a genuine ethnic and religious champion. His reluctant declining of the offer was based on behind the scenes counsels that it will be politically suicidal to go public with Boko Haram.
Regarding the issue of leadership and structural imbalance in Nigeria, Haruna Mohammed again displayed a flimsy and pitiable understanding of social dialectics. He sees Nigeria’s problems purely as function of leadership. This is the same tepid argument apologists of the Nigerian state bandy about. Haruna does not see a nexus between leadership and institutional evolution; nor does he realize that the type of institutions you have determines the type of leaders you have. Does this sound confusing? For the avoidance of doubt, let me restate the thesis of my argument: “Good leadership is a function of inclusive economic and political institutions and history is coterminous with the fact that structural dysfunction in any society does not support the establishment of inclusive institutions. Nigeria’s institutions are fundamentally extractive and this is not surprising given the mode of creating the Nigerian state through colonial ﬁat. The seeds of catastrophe were sown into the foundation of Nigeria….Genuine and good leadership cannot exist in the absence of inclusive economic and political institutions; institutions that are anchored on a properly restructured polity”. This is a simple analysis and I do not why it is difficult for Mohammed Haruna to understand. His comparison of feudalism in the North with some centralized monarchies in the South is intellectually puerile and hollow because it lacks deep logic.
My prescription for the safety of Nigeria remains as faultless as ever. Restructuring of the polity is the ﬁrst step towards salvaging Nigeria. In case Haruna does not understand what I mean by restructuring and renegotiation of this country, I will explain. First we were forcefully brought into this union called Nigeria. At least you agree with that fact. This forceful union is parasitic and detrimental to the entire southern Nigeria. The south was amalgamated to the north and not with the north basically because Britain wanted to use the resources of the south to compensate the development of the north, which weighing heavily on the British treasury.
Hence when we talk about restructuring and renegotiation, we are saying we should come together on a round table.
On that roundtable each ethnic group has a bargaining power in relation to the resources it brings to the commonwealth. Ethnic groups will have the constitutional right to control their resources and contribute proportionately to the national government. Resources from other ethnic groups will not be repatriated for the development of other less endowed areas whereas the owner of the resources will be crushed and ravaged by a monster called Nigeria. This renegotiation will lead to a new constitution and a new pattern of relationship. History is copious with examples of such restructuring and renegotiation of states both in Africa and beyond. This should not be difficult to understand. Buhari cannot run away from this reality. This is not a matter of misdiagnosis and standing logic on its head. The greatest problem we have in Nigeria is the tendency for ethnic pariahs to rise in defence of their own even when the odds are weighing heavily against them. By now Mohammed Haruna would have realized that ethnic jingoists do more disservice to this country than those who are daily accused of “misdiagnosing” our problems and “standing logic on its head”.
- Arthur Nwankwo is Chancellor, Eastern Mandate Union (EMU).