Liquid Minerals versus Solid Minerals: A Tale of Double Standard in the Regulation and Management of Mineral Resources in Nigeria

Liquid Minerals versus Solid Minerals: A Tale of Double Standard in the Regulation and Management of Mineral Resources in Nigeria

Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

 

It is often said that in every bad situation, there is a sliver of hope. Thus, the chaotic, murderous and despairing situation in Zamfara State led to the confirmation that Nigerian citizens can actually purchase licenses to mine solid minerals such as gold.  This means that Nigerians living in areas where solid minerals are found can actually engage in mining as a form of business to generate income to take care of their families and communities.  The revelation comes as a shock to indigenes of the oil and gas producing region of the country.  The reason is that in that region, the inhabitants are not allowed to engage in any exploration and selling of the products due to stringent federal regulation.  Only the well-connected individuals are allowed to operate oil companies.

For purpose of this write up, liquid minerals are limited to petroleum and liquidified natural gas products.  Of course, petroleum can be both liquid and solid also.  On the other hand, solid minerals here are limited to those minerals found in the non-oil producing regions which are naturally occurring inorganic solid substances.   They include barite, bentonite, bismuth, bitumen,  cassiterite, chromite, clay, coal, columbite, dantalite, diamond,  feldspars, fluorite, glass, gold, granite, gypsium,  Kaolin, kyanite, lead,  limestone, lithium, manganese, marble, mica,  phosphate, rutile, silica sand, silver, talc, tin ore, tourmaline, uranium, wolframite, zinc and so forth.

The Zamfara revelation shows that the Federal Government operates two standards in the management of mineral resources in Nigeria.  While the Federal Government has passed stringent acts, including the Oil in Navigable Water Act of 1968, the Petroleum Decree of 1969, the Oil Pipeline Act of 1069,  the Offshore Oil Revenue Decree of 1971, the Petroleum Production and Distribution Act of 1975, the Exclusive Economic Zone Act of 1978, the Land Use Decree of 1979 and the Gas Re-injection Decree of 1979 to gain total national control of the liquid minerals, Nigerians in regions with solid minerals can earn a living from mining with little or no federal inhibition.    For instance, the Federal Government that is so intolerant of private mining of oil and gas in the oil region, actually registered about 600 mining cooperatives to engage in mining of gold around Zamfara State and the surrounding environs ((http://venturesafrica.com/nigeria-federal-government-issue-licenses-to-seven-gold-mining-firms/) .  This means that Nigerian citizens who inhabit regions where solid minerals are found can actually form private mining cooperatives to carry out exploration of solid minerals.

The registering of 600 mining cooperatives seems contrary to the tenets of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007.  One of the conditions of this act is that “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or exploit or impound water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this act” (http://www.lawnigeria.com/LFN/N/Nigerian-Minerals-and-Mining-Act.php).

The first inkling that Nigeria has a double standard in dealing with minerals in the country came about during the Ife vs. Modakeke conflict in early 2000s.  During that conflict, the late Maj. Gen. David Ejoor revealed during an interview that the mining of gold was a contributing factor in the escalation of the conflict.  In other words, the two communities (Ife and Modakeke) were partially feuding over the right to mine as well as own the proceeds generated through gold mining.  The late general explained that the then head of state, Chief/Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo helped to resolve the conflict peacefully without deploying the military to stop them from mining gold in the area (Osinaike, G. & Oyegunle, J. [July 6, 2005]  Maj. Gen. David Ejoor’s eye-opening statements. Vanguard. Posted on Ijawnation@yahoogroups.com. 7/6/2005.).  On the other hand, the general noted that former President Obasanjo sent the Nigerian military to the Niger Delta to militarize the oil conflict.  Thus, Gen. Ejoor felt that there was a double standard in the management of minerals in Nigeria.  The second revelation of a double standard came about through a media report which described private mining of tin ore in Plateau State, especially near Jos and surrounding environs (https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/inside-the-bitter-sweet-lives-of-tin-miners.html).  This meant that individuals were allowed (and continued to be allowed) to mine tin without the Federal Government sending the military to stop them.  The third revelation about a national double standard in the regulation of mineral management in Nigeria took place when Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State made a press statement during the launching of the first Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit indicating that the state, especially in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area, has one of the largest deposits of gold in the country.  He went as far as to say that Kaduna State actually has more gold deposits than the Republic of South Africa.  Then, he announced that the state government was looking for private mining companies to mine the gold (https://punchng.com/kaduna-gold-deposit-bigger-than-safricas-reserves/) .

When Governor El Rufai indicated that he was searching for private mining companies to mine gold in his state, the citizens of the oil region were taken aback since they know that the governors of their own states cannot engage the services of private mining companies to explore oil and gas in their states. Moreover, any exploration activity must be approved by the NNPC.  Generally, it is well-connected Nigerians who are able to establish oil exploring companies.

Due to the fact that Nigeria has total control over the management of oil and gas, it is not surprising that oil stocks (blocks) are given to highly connected individuals who have no relationship to the oil region.  In fact, the citizens of the oil region are not even informed when Nigeria decides to distribute oil stocks.  Most of them do not even know the names of the individuals who own the oil blocks in their communities.  It is a very strange relationship between the indigenes of the oil region and those Nigerians who own the oil blocks in their communities.

The national double standard is so obvious that in the liquid mineral zone, to ensure total national control, the armed forces (Joint Task Force) are deployed to prevent any disruption of oil and gas operations.  Citizens who threaten the oil business in any form or manner are ruthlessly dealt with.  Hence, Nigerians in the oil region feel like third class citizens who have no right to exercise any authority over minerals that are found in their communities.  The Nigerian Navy and Army patrol the region to ferret out any illegal oil mining activity.  Those caught doing so are detained and their equipment confiscated. On the other hand, Nigerians in Osun, Plateau, Zamfara and other states where gold and other solid minerals are found can engage in private mining of the minerals without incurring the wrath of the Nigerian military. The Nigerian military is not deployed to ferret out illegal mining activities in regions that have solid minerals. In Zamfara State, if not for the fact that the killings and destruction had gotten out of control, the Federal Government would have not deployed the military.

Actually, the citizens of the oil region cannot even determine which oil company should come into their territory to explore oil and gas.  The oil companies only deal with the Federal Government and the citizens of the region have no input whatsoever in decisions that the government make concerning the exploration of oil and gas.  As a result, the oil companies treat the citizens as creatures that have no natural and economic rights.  They violate Nigeria’s environmental and gas flaring laws with impunity, knowing full well that Nigeria does not care much about what happens to the citizens of the oil region.  They rarely employ people from the oil region to work in the oil companies.  In fact, the youths of Ugborodo community in Delta State just completed an 11-day demonstrations and protests against Chevron for lack of employment and support for community development activities.  Almost every community in the oil region bemoan the lack of social responsibility on the part of the oil companies towards host communities.

Nigeria is not interested in enforcing the laws, hence, it keeps postponing the deadline for stopping gas flaring.  Thus, the entire region is polluted and Nigerian leaders have no interest in spending some of the wealth generated from oil exploration to clean the oil region.  In other words, it is alright to exploit the region but it is not alright to spend money generated from the region to clean the mess created by petroleum exploration.

Due to lack of concern, the Niger Delta is probably the most polluted oil region in the world.  Even the effort to clean Ogoniland came by way of the recommendations of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).  It is predictable that the Federal Government is not enthusiastic about spending some of the oil wealth to clean the  Ogoni pollution.  The lack of interest contributes to the delay tactics being used to execute the project.  The Premium Times published a story alleging that most of the sixteen firms awarded contracts to clean the environmental pollution in Ogoniland are unqualified to do so (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/328460-investigation-how-buhari-administration-awarded-ogoni-cleanup-contracts-to-unqualified-firms.html# ).  If the report is accurate, then it means that the Ogoni clean-up project is simply another avenue for those who are highly connected to make money through fake contracts.  It must be noted that the Federal Government, through the Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan Zarma and Mr. Marvin Dekil, the head of the HYPREP, responded quickly to say that the news story is inaccurate.

Apparently, while the Federal Government insists that it is solely responsible for managing all mineral resources in the country, the Solid Minerals Development Fund, which was inaugurated in 2013, after having been established through the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, has not taken off in a manner that creates any recognizable impact.  This means that the Federal Government is only paying lip service to the need to activate the full potential of the solid mineral sector in contributing to the economic development of the country.

Perhaps, due to political reasons, the Federal Government does not seem totally committed to the regulation of solid minerals in the county, despite the Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, as indicated above.  The Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police Force and the Airforce are not deployed in regions where solid minerals are found to stop illegal mining activities.  Therefore, for decades Nigerian citizens in those regions have been very active in mining those minerals.  They are not worried of being arrested or shot at for engaging in illegal mining activities.  Thus, they generate wealth that does not even go to the coffers of the Nigerian state.

The lack of national interest or political will in stringently regulating and managing the solid minerals sector so as to generate a robust national income is evidenced by the fact that solid minerals only account for less than half a percent of the Nigerian GDP.  To reverse the low trend, the Federal Government developed a plan in 2015 which envisaged increasing the percentage of the GDP in solid mineral production to 5% in 2015 and 10% in 2020.  Unfortunately, the projection did not materialize, hence, the national government now intends on generating about three percent of GDP from solid mineral production in 2025, as noted by George Lwand ((https://worldpolicy.org/2017/10/03/can-the-nigeria-solid-minerals-development-fund-deliver/).

If the Nigerian government is only interested in generating 3 percent of the GDP through solid mineral exploration in 2025, this means that the oil region would continue to bear the greatest burden in shouldering the responsibility for generating foreign exchange.  This further means that private citizens would be allowed to continue to mine solid minerals in the non-oil producing regions.

The nation’s lack of political will in generating wealth through solid minerals is further demonstrated by the fact that it was in November 27, 2018 that the Federal Government awarded sixteen contracts to mining companies to offer consulting services in preparation for the exploration of solid minerals (https://af.reuters.com/article/nigeriaNews/idAFL8N1Y25G5).  This implies that the national government is not really interested in fully exploring solid minerals while it concentrates its effort in maximizing the exploration and exploitation of the oil region. Perhaps, this is the reason why oil accounts for 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange, even though the service sector is the largest contributor to the country’s GDP (https://africacheck.org/reports/nigerias-economy-services-drive-gdp-but-oil-still-dominates-exports/).   No wonder, the oil region is devastated due to oil pollution.

The fact that the Federal Government continues to focus its attention in maximizing its foreign exchange earnings through oil and gas production, perhaps, contributes to the president’s unwillingness to sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).   Similarly, it could also be said that the lack of national will to treat the oil region equitably has been responsible for the long and torturous journey that the PIGB bill took before the National Assembly passed it.  It should be noted that the bill started as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)) in 1999 and kept being dangling in the air in the National Assembly by those legislators from the non-oil producing regions for almost twenty years now (https://www.legit.ng/1228366-10-reasons-president-buhari-sign-pib-may-29.html ). It is certain that if oil and gas were located in the regions of the power-wielding groups, the oil region would have been treated differently than what is happening to the oil region today.

 

The Reaction of the Oil Region towards the Double Standard

Nigerians from the oil region react in ways that baffle the mind concerning the double standard that exist in the enforcement of national laws dealing with mineral resources management in the country.

First, the senators and representatives of the oil region that are in the National Assembly (NA) have either spoken very little or nothing at all about the dichotomy in the management of mineral resources in the country.  These representatives, perhaps, have tactically decided not to say anything about the fact that Nigeria has a double standard which affects their constituents very negatively.  It seems that the elected legislators have internally accepted the view that the oil region must be sacrificed to sustain the country.  Otherwise, they would have spoken loudly to show their displeasure regarding the manner in which their region is being unduly exploited.

Second, the oil region, made up of ten states, has had cabinet ministers/commissioners in all the military regimes and civil administrations that have ruled Nigeria since petroleum became a major source of national income.  These personalities have known for decades that the oil and gas region is treated differently from regions with solid mineral deposits.  Yet, they did not (and have not) work frantically to change the policy which penalizes the inhabitants of the oil region while rewarding the inhabitants of the regions where gold, tin, coal, columbite and other solid minerals are found.  Even in President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration, there are highly placed government officials from the oil region, serving as ministers, directors and political advisers, yet, they do not seem interested in persuading the Federal Government to change policy and equalize the playing field for exploration of minerals in the country

Third, the governors of the oil producing region seemed not irked and cheated by the fact that while governors in solid mineral producing states can invite private mining companies to come to their states and carry out mining activities, they cannot do so in the oil region.  In other words, the governors of the states with solid minerals can actually create wealth and employment through mining the minerals in their own states to boost their economies while the governors of the oil region cannot do so. It is puzzling why the governors in the oil region have not filed a class action suit to force the Federal Government to apply the same standard across the board in the management of liquid and solid minerals in the country.

In fact, when Governor Nasir el-Rufai announced that he was working out a plan to invite mining companies to explore gold in his state, a governor in the oil-producing region would have tested the constitutionality of the draconian military-era decrees that nationalize oil and gas ownership by announcing that he too would invite an oil company to explore oil and gas in his own state to test federal response.  Unfortunately, none of the governors paid attention to the implication that a governor in the same country can invite foreign mining companies and governors in oil-producing states cannot do so.  The lack of response to Governor El-Rufai’s announcement means that the governors of the oil-producing states have accepted the status quo, hence, decided not to challenge the Federal Government constitutionally.

Fourth, it is also puzzling why the governors and the national legislators of the oil-producing states have not put political pressure on the National Assembly and the president to denationalize liquid mineral resources if solid minerals are not put under the same stringent national standard.

Fifth, another baffling thing about the lack of proactive response from the oil region is the almost absent-mindedness of the civil society organizations in the region to the double standard that exist between the manner in which the Federal Government treats the oil region and the total lack of national enforcement in the management of solid mineral resources in the country.  It seems that civil society organizations in the oil region are not bothered by the fact that the citizens of the region are not having a fair deal in the country.  Apart from the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) which made a press statement decrying the unfair treatment of the oil region and called for a constitutional amendment, following the revelation that individuals are allowed to explore gold in Zamfara State (https://nigeriaworld.com/news/source/2019/may/8/302.html), no other major regional organization has made a press statement about the dichotomy or the double standard.

Sixth, it is inferable that the indigenes of the oil region are overwhelmed and defeated to the point that they have given up any hope that Nigeria will reconsider its double standard and allow them to engage in private mining or gain at least 50% of the revenue accruing from oil and gas exploration and production.  It is assumable that after decades of protesting and decrying their unfair treatment without a positive response from the Federal Government, many of them have given up and simply decide to exist, knowing full well that there is not much they can do to change the minds of Nigerian rulers.

Seventh, the different national regulatory standards for solid and liquid minerals have existed since the enactment of the Petroleum act, yet, the sons and daughters of the oil region which had served as leaders of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and oil-related agencies kept quiet and allowed their people to be exploited.

Eighth, the most surprising fact about the anomalous situation is that a son of the oil region, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, actually served as the head of state of Nigeria for six years without crafting a bill to equalize the standard for regulating liquid and solid minerals or remove the ignominious acts that turn the citizens of the oil region into third class citizens in Nigeria.

 

Reaction of Nigerians from the Non-Oil Producing Regions concerning the Double Standard in the Management of Mineral Resources

First, a considerable number of Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions strongly believe that oil and gas are national resources that belong to all Nigerians, irrespective of the region in which the resources are being explored.  As a result, they insist that the wealth generated through oil and gas must be shared nationally.   In fact, in 2014, Usman Bugaje went as far as to say that the oil actually belongs to the North, even though it is found in the South-South, South-East, and Southwest zones of the country (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/nigerias-crude-oil-belongs-north/).

Second, strongly believing that oil and gas are national resources, many Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions always show their displeasure whenever youths in the oil region disrupt oil and gas exploration.  As a result, whenever oil production is disturbed or interfered with, some Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions would use all kinds of expletives and or derogatory statements, such as “lazy,” “oil thieves,” “criminals,” “stupid” and so on and so forth, against Nigerians from the oil region for disrupting their national resources.   Yet, they remain quiet over the fact that the Federal Government does not apply the same stringent standard in the management of solid minerals in other parts of the country.  These Nigerians are not irked by the fact that some Nigerians in the non-oil producing regions can literally mine solid minerals and enrich themselves and their families while citizens of the oil region cannot do so.

Third, the citizens of the non-oil producing regions are not angered by the fact that wealth generated from the mining of gold, tin and other solid minerals are not distributed nationally to the benefit of all citizens and states in the country as the wealth generated from oil and gas.  Thus, while these Nigerians claim that oil and gas are national resources, they do not seem to attach the same standard of national ownership to solid minerals.  As a result, they are not expressing their displeasure at the realization that some Nigerians can actually purchase licenses to explore solid minerals while citizens in the oil region cannot obtain licenses to explore oil and gas, unless they are part of the political clique that have national influence.

Fourth, those Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions that insist on total national control of oil and gas production have no problem with the fact that there is little or no national control of solid minerals.  Hence, they are not screaming and using expletives to describe those Nigerians who are buying licenses to explore and profit from solid minerals.

Fifth, the general lack of comment by Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions following the revelation that individuals have been mining gold and other solid mineral in Zamfara and other states, shows that Nigerians, like the Federal Government, apply a double standard in their view of mineral resources ownership in the country.  Since oil and gas are not found in their regions, they insist that the wealth generated from the liquid minerals must be shared across the nation.  However, they are not willing to insist that any wealth generated through exploration of solid minerals must also be shared across the nation. This means that it is alright to violate the economic rights of those Nigerians in the oil region but it is not appropriate to violate the rights of Nigerians in regions that have solid minerals.

It should be noted that before the discovery of oil, solid minerals contributed substantially to the national economy.  However, since the black gold became the mainstay of the economy, the Federal Government, whether by omission or tactical reasons, has basically allowed solid minerals to be exploited by individuals and cooperatives. This puts tremendous pressure on the oil region to bear the financial brunt for generating national income to run the country.

Sixth, while many Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions insist that the oil wealth belongs to the entire country, they are not insisting that the Federal Government should bear responsibility in cleaning the environmental pollution that has been visited upon the peoples’ of the oil region.  Thus, these Nigerians want the oil wealth but are not bothered by the fact that the oil region is dying due to massive pollution and gas flaring.

Seventh, high-level Federal Government officials always talk about increasing oil and gas production but they rarely say anything about the need to clean the oil region.  In particular, officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC) have a tendency to announce to the entire world the steps being taken to increase oil and gas production but they rarely say anything about the environmental cost to the indigenes of the oil region.    They assume that the citizens of the oil region are not politically relevant, therefore, there is no need to take measures that are necessary to improve the quality of life in the oil region.

 

The implications of the Double Standard in the Management of Liquid and Solid Minerals in Nigeria

The implications are far-reaching and reflect the self-induced crises that beset the country.

First, despite the fact that Nigeria has both liquid and solid minerals that are capable of generating enormous wealth to fuel the economy and run the government, the leaders of the country, for about five decades now, have relied almost exclusively on revenue generated from the oil region to maintain the entire country.  The 36 states and their local governments depend greatly on the oil wealth, allocated through the Federation Account, to take care of their financial needs.

On the other hand, even though solid minerals are as important as liquid minerals, Nigerian leaders do not really care much about generating national income through the effective management of such minerals.  It is amazing that Nigerian leaders are not conscious of the fact that solid minerals can generate tremendous wealth for Nigeria.  In fact, South Africa and many countries in the world actually rely on solid minerals to generate wealth and build their economies while Nigeria, for whatever reason, decides not to pay attention to the enormous wealth that can be generated through effective management of solid minerals in the country.  If Governor Nasir el-Rufai statement concerning the enormity of gold deposits in Kaduna state were to be taken seriously, why is the Federal Government not keen on maximizing the exploration of gold in the country?

It should be noted that Nigeria had relied upon the exploration of solid minerals during and immediately after independence to run the country. Unfortunately, as soon as oil became a major commodity, Nigeria abandoned the solid mineral sector. A country with about 200 million people needs to generate national income from both liquid and solid minerals in order to reduce poverty and unemployment.

Second, the fact that Nigeria is willing to allow individuals to explore solid minerals while not allowing individuals to explore oil and gas seems to indicate that Nigerian leaders regard the oil region as a captured foreign territory that is subject to exploitation. Again, only highly connected Nigerians that are allowed to operate oil companies, not the communities which own the resource.

Third, by enacting all kinds of laws to nationalize oil and gas to the extent that the indigenes of the oi region cannot benefit directly from minerals that are found in their territory while allowing Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions to mine gold, tin, coal, and other minerals, Nigerian leaders seem to be sending a message that Nigeria regards the citizens of the oil region as third class citizens.  It means that the citizens in the oil-region are not as important as citizens in the non-oil regions.  As a result, they are subject to exploitation.

Fourth, by policing the oil region with the armed forces to ensure undisturbed exploration of oil and gas by the oil companies, Nigerian leaders are telling the citizens of the oil region that their territory is a colony of Nigeria, hence, subject to exploitation. Perhaps, this explains why whenever an oil or gas pipeline is disturbed or tampered with, Nigerian security forces threatened to punish an entire community for the criminal activities of the few.  Many community leaders in the oil region have been beaten up, detained and even killed because some youths in the area were suspected to have been responsible for disrupting oil operations.  The Nigeria military even threatened to hold community leaders responsible for the actions of pipeline vandals (https://www.google.com/search?q=JTF+threatens+to+arrest+community+leaders+for+pipeline+vandalism&ei=0uPYXNiKEo-v5wKBl4PYBw&start=0&sa=N&ved=0ahUKEwjYu57Sx5fiAhWP11kKHYHLAHs4WhDy0wMIOw&biw=1251&bih=640). In fact, on numerous occasions, the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) has ordered community leaders in the oil region to report and possibly apprehend suspected militants and hand them over to the government for prosecution.

However, in solid mineral producing regions, the military does not threaten community leaders for illegal mining of minerals.  Even in Zamfara State, the Federal Government was only forced to act because the violence was getting out of control.  Apart from that, there is no special military unit designed to protect solid minerals in Nigeria while the JTF is all over the place in the oil region.

Fifth, by allowing Nigerians in the regions where solid minerals are found to engage in private exploration, Nigerian leaders are sending a message that they are purposely discriminating in favor of their own people while discriminating against the citizens of the oil region who have no political power to effect a change in national policy.

Sixth, by not being interested in nationalizing solid minerals which are mostly located in the regions where most of the power-wielding groups come from, Nigerian leaders are sending a message that they are willing to sacrifice the national interest to enable their own people to generate private wealth and create employment in their own communities.

Seventh, since it is estimated that Nigeria only desires to generate about 3 percent of the GDP through the exploration of solid minerals in 2025, this indirectly means that Nigerian’s political leaders do not want to deprive their own people the ability to earn income through exploration of solid minerals which are found in their territories. In other words, Nigerians whose territories have solid minerals have natural and economic rights to enjoy the wealth generated from their territories while Nigerians who are from the oil region have no such rights.

Eighth, the most alarming thing about the fact that the Federal Government has two polices concerning the management of the nation’s minerals is that the leaders of the oil producing region know that there is a different standard for liquid minerals and another for solid minerals, yet, fail to do something about it.  The leaders of the oil region failed in the following ways:

a.  They did not protest and take legal action to stop the undue nationalization of liquid minerals while solid minerals are only partially nationalized. Their failure to act proactively has resulted in the inability of their people to generate income from minerals that are found in their territory while other Nigerians are allowed to explore and generate income and employment from solid minerals.

b.  They know that oil blocks are given to individuals who are mostly from the non-oil producing regions, yet, did not scream loudly to stop the practice. In other words, the leaders of the oil region stood by while the Federal Government gave oil rights to selective few to amass tremendous private wealth from public resources.

c.  Despite the fact that the sons and daughters of the oil region have variously served as heads of the NNPC and Ministers of State for Petroleum, yet, they did not make any substantive effort to ensure that Nigeria apply the same standard for all minerals. They allowed oil and gas to be nationalized to the extent that the citizens of the oil region are rendered as mere onlookers while others feast on the resources from their territory.

d.  The senators, representative and governors of the oil-producing region allow the dichotomy to exist between the undue federal control of liquid minerals and federal lack of control of solid minerals.

e.  Even after the revelation that private citizens are allowed in Zamfara State to carry out exploration of gold, the leaders of the oil region still remain quiet as if they are not aware of the different standard that the leaders of Nigeria are using to exploit the oil region.

Indeed, the Federal Government registered about 600 private mining cooperatives. This means that private cooperatives operated by Nigerians are able to earn income officially from solid minerals (http://venturesafrica.com/nigeria-federal-government-issue-licenses-to-seven-gold-mining-firms/).    It should also be noted that 50 mining leases and 952 exploration licenses were awarded to foreign and local mining companies and individuals in 2007.  During the same time, the government encouraged private investment in solid minerals exploration by relaxing some of the regulatory rules (https://www.reuters.com/article/nigeria-minerals/nigeria-awards-1000-mining-licences-to-investors-idUSL1326101320070523).    On the other hand, there is no relaxation of the regulatory rules in the liquid mineral sector.

 

Conclusion

It is obvious that Nigeria has two polices or standards concerning the regulation, control and management of mineral resources.  As a result, the policy towards solid minerals is different from the policy on liquid minerals.  The double standard penalizes citizens in the oil region while rewarding citizens in the non-oil producing regions.  Thus, the double standard is a violation of the constitutional rights of the citizens of the oil region who have been compelled to sacrifice their existence in order to sustain Nigeria.

To ensure equity, it is time for Nigeria to eradicate the double standard and streamline the management of mineral resources in the country.  In this regard, if it continues to allow individuals in the solid mineral-rich regions to generate income through private mining, it must denationalize oil and gas and allow the indigenes of the oil region too to generate income through private exploration.  Otherwise, it must make sure that all minerals are nationalized stringently the way oil and gas are. Similarly, national income generated through the exploration of solid minerals must be distributed through the Federation Account to all the states and local governments.

 

The APC and Atiku Abubakar’s Citizenship:  A Legal Strategy with Very Explosive Political Implications for Nigeria

The APC and Atiku Abubakar’s Citizenship:  A Legal Strategy with Very Explosive Political Implications for Nigeria

By Priye S. Torulagha

Priyet@hotmail.com

 

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) is the ruling political party in Nigeria today.  It came into power after defeating the Peoples’ Democratic Party in 2015.  However, its hold on power was severely tested in the 2019 presidential and general elections.  Although, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the government’s commission responsible for conducting elections in Nigeria, declared incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP challenged the INEC result by going to the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal to do so.

Alhaji Abubakar insisted in his petition that he won the presidential election and not President Buhari whom the INEC declared as the winner.  In furtherance of his argument, he tendered statistical evidence which supposedly originated from an INEC server.  The data indicated that he won more votes (18,356,732) than President Buhari (16,741,430), hence, deserves to be the next president of Nigeria and not President Buhari whom the INEC announced on February 27, 2019 as having earned 15,191,847 votes compared to Abubakar’s 11, 262,978 votes (https://punchng.com/pdp-atiku-inecs-server-shows-we-beat-buhari-with-1-6-million-votes/).

As part of its effort to counter the claim by Alhaji Abubakar and the PDP that they won the presidential election, the APC insisted that the election tribunal should dismiss the case on the ground that Alhaji Abubakar is not a Nigerian by birth since he was born in Jeda, Northern Cameroon before the region was merged with Nigeria in 1961, following a United Nations plebiscite (http://saharareporters.com/2019/04/12/atiku-ineligible-contest-presidential-election-because-he-wasnt-born-nigerian-apc-tells).  Despite the fact that the region automatically became part of Nigeria, starting in 1961, the APC maintained that Abubakar was born prior to the incorporation, hence, he is not qualified to be a Nigerian presidential candidate.

The APC’s refutation of Alhaji Abubakar’s Nigerian citizenship has ignited a firestorm of political reactions.  The reason being that it is politically risky for a major national political party like APC which supposed to work for national integration to insist that a presidential candidate of the major opposition party is not a Nigerian but a foreigner since he was born in Cameroon and not in Nigeria.

The most puzzling aspect of the APC’s argument is that it was Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) who floated the idea before the presidential election of February 23, 2019 (https://dailypost.ng/2019/02/03/atiku-cameroon-nnamdi-kanu-tells-govt-way-stop-boycott-2019-election/).  When he made the statement that Alhaji Abubakar is not a Nigerian by birth, most Nigerians, including the political elite, ignored the matter, perhaps, presuming that Mr. Kanu was simply being mischievous and wanted to throw mud on Nigeria.  Then, suddenly, the APC adopted his idea and used it as a legal means to attempt to knock off the case about whether President Buhari actually won the election or not.

 

The APC declaration that Alhaji Abubakar is not a Nigerian by birth, has far reaching political implications which the leadership of the party might have not envisaged before publicly announcing its legal view on the matter.  Indeed, the implications of the APC position are explosive and could even threaten the legitimacy and existence of Nigeria. The argument has the following explosive political implications:

First, as a major political party, by arguing that Alhaji Abubakar is not a Nigerian, the APC seems to create the impression that Alhaji Abubakar might have a strong case against President Buhari, hence, the tactical effort to divert attention from the crux of the case and focus more on the citizenship of the petitioner.   It is a very smart legal maneuver since Nigerians are now discussing the nationality of Atiku and not whether he won the presidential election.  While it is a smart legal tactics to turn the case around, the strategy is filled with political danger that is capable of threatening the very existence of Nigeria.  Thus, instead of taking measures to unite Nigerians at a time in which the country is highly polarized, the APC is willing to add more dynamites to an increasingly explosive Nigerian polity.

Second, by declaring that Alhaji Abubakar is not a Nigerian by birth, even though he is a Nigerian and has spent most of his life in Nigeria, including serving as the Deputy Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs, a major member of the Action Congress and the PDP, the vice president of Nigeria, a major founder of the APC party and the presidential candidate of the PDP, the APC party is willing to say that he is not a Nigerian, in an attempt to knock off the case that he won the presidential election of February 23, 2019 and not President Buhari.

By so doing, the APC is indicating publicly that those Nigerians from the incorporated part of Adamawa, and other states who were born prior to the 1961 plebiscite are not full Nigerians.  This is a slap on the face of millions of people who have lived as Nigerians in Nigeria.

Although, the Constitutions of 1979, and 1999 did not make reference to the citizenship issue, the 1963 Constitution made reference to the matter.

Third, by taking such a risky legal position, the APC is indirectly encouraging the incorporated Adamawans to rejoin Cameroon or seek independence since their status in Nigeria is not legally clear. Therefore, will the ruling APC administration allow the incorporated region to seek independence if it so desired?

Fourth, since the APC agrees with Mazi Kanu that Allhaji Atiku Abubakar is not a Nigerian, this means that Mr. Kanu is a very credible source of information and not merely a propagandist for Biafran secession.  If this is the case, then, it is assumable that Mr. Kanu and IPOB’s assertions about Nigeria are generally correct.

Fifth, by agreeing with Mr. Kanu that Alhaji Abubakar is not a Nigerian, the APC also  agrees with the idea that, perhaps,  current President Muhammadu Buhari is an impostor from Sudan.  The reason is that Mr. Kanu had repeatedly stated that Maj. Gen. Buhari died in 2017 and was replaced by Jubril al Sudani from Sudan.  In fact, IPOB has already made a statement to the effect that in due course, Mr. Kanu’s assertion about an impostor serving as President Buhari will come to pass, just as the APC has accepted the view that Alhaji Atiku is not a Nigerian by birth (https://dailypost.ng/2019/04/14/ipob-reacts-apcs-claim-atiku-not-nigerian/).

Sixth, by agreeing with the idea that Alhaji Abubakar is not a Nigerian, the APC has tremendously contributed to the credibility of Mazi Kanu and the IPOB.  This means that an increasing number of Nigerians are now more likely to believe whatever Mr. Kanu and IPOB say about Nigeria than before.  This further means that many Nigerians are now going to believe the story that President Buhari is actually Jubril al Sudani and not Gen. Buhari. So, inadvertently, APC has created a political mine field that is going to create more problems about the legitimacy of President Buhari. Consequently, it is not surprising that Mazi Kanu has suggested to Alhaji Abubakar to ask President Buhari to do a DNA test in order to prove his true identity and nationality (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/04/nnamdi-kanu-to-atiku-ask-buhari-to-go-for-a-dna-test/).

The Federal Government and the detractors of Mazi Kanu are no longer going to find it easy to dismiss whatever the IPOB leader says about Nigeria since the ruling party agrees with him on Atiku Abubakar’s citizenship status. In other words, the investigative capability and credibility of IPOB researchers have been greatly enhanced.

Seventh, by agreeing with Mazi Kanu and the IPOB, the organization can make the argument that the Republic of Biafra is needed because Nigeria had deNigerianized a large segment of the Southeast population when it proscribed the organization and its members. Logically, proscription of IPOB is tantamount to deNigerianization just as the APC is attempting to deNigeria Atiku Abubakar.   Having denationalized IPOB, the members have no where else to go but seek separation from Nigeria where their natural rights can be protected.

Eighth, it is obvious that the APC is toying with the national security of Nigeria by making an assertion that could raise the political temperature beyond control.  It should be recalled that in late 1979, during the reign of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the issue of nationality was used as a political strategy against Shugaba Abdurrahman Darma, who was a major opposition political figure and the NPN was afraid of his popularity (https://allafrica.com/stories/201004230493.html).  He was deNigerianized and deported to Chad in 1980 by the NPN government of President Shehu Shagari.  Again, a similar situation took place in Ivory Coast (Cote Ivory) when the ruling party at the time, under the leadership of President Laurent Gbagbo, insisted that Alassane Outtara, a major opposition presidential candidate, could not participate in the presidential election of 2000 because his mother was not born in Ivory Coast (http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/12/ivory.coast.atrocities/index.html).  The refusal to allow him to participate led Ivorian troops from the northern part of the country to rebel.  This eventually resulted in a bloody civil war. Similarly, in Gabon, the issue of paternity became a hot political debate before Ali Bongo Ondimba, the adopted son of the late President Omar Bongo eventually succeeded in becoming the president of the country.

The fact that a Nigerian ruling political party is using the issue of citizenship in an attempt to deprive another Nigerian the opportunity to address his grievances by arguing that he is not a Nigerian, means that African politicians do not learn from history.  It also shows the degree to which African politicians are willing to go to remain in power, regardless of the danger to the national security of the country.

Ninth, by using the status of citizenship to question Atiku Abubakar’s nationality, the APC has opened a can of political and legal worms which necessitate the questioning of the citizenship of President Muhammadu Buhari too.  There are some Nigerians who believe that President Buhari was actually born in the city of Maradi, a Hausa-Fulani community which is affiliated with Katsina but is located in Niger Republic and not in Nigeria proper.  Those who espouse this view say that although Maradi is part of an emirate located in Nigeria, the town is actually in Niger.  Thus, if Atiku Abubakar is required to explain his citizenship status, then, President Buhari too might be compelled to explain whether he was actually born in Nigeria or Niger Republic.

Tenth, the APC has inadvertently unleashed an explosive dynamite on the legitimacy of Nigeria itself. Why?

a.  Nigeria was created by a foreign power through military aggression.  As a result, various ethnic groups were forced to embrace Nigeria without their consent.  This is why many indigenous groups, including elements in the Southeast, South-South and Southwest are demanding separation from the forced contraption known as Nigeria.  Even after more than a hundred years of the forced incorporation, various ethnic groups in the territory now known as Nigeria have not been allowed to freely express their political wish through a referendum or a national conference, regarding whether they want to remain in Nigeria or go their separate ways.

 

b.  The APC legal view that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is not a Nigerian by birth, has brought to the fore the question of who is actually a Nigerian. Just as the party indirectly insists that any Nigerian from Adamawa State who was born in Cameroon prior to the incorporation of Northern Cameroon cannot run for the presidency, for the sake of argument, Nigerians from the South-South can argue that they are the only authentic Nigerians because the Nigerian project started with the establishment of the Oil Rivers Protectorate in 1885 before it was renamed Niger Coast Protectorate in 1893 by the British colonial authorities (https://www.britannica.com/place/Oil-Rivers).

 

c.  Alternatively, Southern Nigerians (South-South, South-East and Southwest)) can argue legally that they are the original Nigerians because the Southern Protectorate had nothing to do with the Northern Protectorate, hence, the citizens of Northern Nigeria cannot serve as presidents of Nigeria.

 

d.  Similarly, Northern Nigerians can argue that they are not part of Nigeria because the Northern Protectorate had nothing in common with Southern Nigeria, hence, deserves to be a separate country.

 

 

f.  North Central Nigerians can argue that they have nothing in common with the Islamic North since they fought against the institutionalization of the Islamic Caliphate in the 19th century during the jihad of Othman Dan Fodio. As a result, they need their own territorial space to avoid being killed by Islamic militants who pretend to be herdsmen and bandits.

 

g.  Ancestralists and Christians can argue that since they did not sign a compact for the creation of Nigeria, they want to go their separate ways, as a result of being deNigerianized through the unrestrained killings of their members in a state that is not capable of ensuring their safety. It should be noted that thousands of citizens have been killed in the last four years without the government acting proactively to stop the killings

Eleventh, indigenous ethnic groups, picking up from the APC, could argue fervently that only Nigerians with indigenous ethnic origins should run for the presidency of the country because they are indigenous to the territorial area known as Nigeria. On the other hand, they can argue that Nigerians from settler backgrounds should not run for the presidency because they originated from ethnic groups that are not indigenous to the territorial area known as Nigeria.   This kind of argument can really tear the country apart, considering the tension that is already going on in the country.

Twelfth, Nigerians from indigenous ethnic groups can also make the argument that Nigerians from settler backgrounds who occupy national security and high level positions should vacate the positions since they are a threat to the national security of the country due to the doubt about their loyalty to Nigeria.  There is no doubt that there are some high level government officials whose citizenship is questionable due to their settler backgrounds.

Thirteenth, as part of the debate concerning the relationship between indigenous and settler groups,  indigenous Nigerians can further  make the argument that the Federal Government under APC leadership is not doing enough to curtail herdsmen and militia attacks because they are sympathetic to settler elements while being antagonistic to indigenous Nigerians.

Fourteenth, indigenous Nigerians are also capable of arguing that it is illegal for political and military elites from settler groups to rule over indigenous Nigerians who are the actual owners of the territory which constitutes Nigeria.

Fifteenth, some Nigerians might even question the authenticity of the Nigerian state since the Islamic Caliphate of Sokoto operates like a state within a state.  In some circumstances, the caliphate seems to have a greater influence on Nigerian internal and international policies than the Nigerian state, thereby, violating the rights of Nigerians who are not part of the caliphate.

Sixteenth, Nigerians who hold allegiance to the Islamic Caliphate of Sokoto could be persuaded to argue that they are the true owners of the Nigerian state since the British Government handed over Nigeria to the leadership of the Sokoto Caliphate before granting independence in 1960.  In this case, the exponents of this view can argue that only Moslems should serve as the presidents of the country.

Seventeenth, the Hausas could be persuaded by circumstances to say that they have been deNigerianized to seek a separate state for themselves.  This is buttressed by the fact that they are not allowed to serve as emirs under the caliphate system in Nigeria, even though they are the true indigenous owners of some of the territories which constitute the Sokoto Caliphate.  Indeed, the Hausas seem to be the most colonized indigenous group in Nigeria. Unfortunately, Nigeria is not protecting their natural right to be leaders of their own territory.

Eighteenth, the Fulanis can argue that they are being deNigerianized by the fact that their primary means of economic sustenance is being destroyed by rustlers while they are being blamed for all the killings that are going on in the country.

Twentieth, the citizens of the oil region can easily argue legally that the various acts that were enacted by various military regimes to nationalize petroleum and gas resources are illegal because Nigerians were not allowed to debate in a constitutional manner before the acts were enacted arbitrarily in violations of their political and economic rights to the resources in their territory.

They could demonstrate the arbitrariness of the acts and the constitutional infringement upon their rights by showing that while Nigerians in other region where solid minerals are found are allowed to explore those minerals (as demonstrated in Zamfara State), the citizens of the oil region are not allowed to do so.  Thus, oil and gas are totally nationalized while solid minerals are not.  This means that citizens in regions where solid minerals are found can obtain mining licenses to explore and generate income to take care of their families while citizens of the oil region cannot obtain licenses to explore and feed their families.  This is a violation of their constitutional right because it encourages discrimination.

They could even argue that they are being deNigerianized and strangulated to death through biochemical poisoning as oil and gas exploration and gas flaring pollute the oil region beyond repair.

Twenty-first, Nigerians from the Southeast, Southwest, South-South and the Middle Belt can argue that they have been deNigerianized by security policies which enabled the Nigerian military to occupy their regions and violate their rights through unnecessary military exercises code-named as Crocodile Smile 1, II and III, Python Dance 1, II, and III while the military is not directed to occupy regions where people are actually being killed on daily basis.  Due to the military occupation and the threat to their lives, they can legally argue for separation if the military occupation continues.

Twenty-second, indigenous Nigerians whose territories are divided into different countries can argue fervently that their natural rights to have contiguous territories are violated due to the arbitrary nature of the boundaries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin.  As a result, the members of those ethnic groups are capable of arguing for separation so that they can form new countries that ensures their territorial integrity without being split into different countries.

Twenty-third, the APC which is trying to deNigerianize Alhaji Abubakar could spur other Nigerians to raise the argument that the 1999 Constitution is illegal because it was enacted by the military.  Since the military was responsible for its enactment, it was arbitrarily imposed on Nigerians.  Consequently, it should not be used as a basis for determining the constitutionality of Nigerians. A national conference or a referendum is needed to update the constitutionality and legitimacy of the country.

Indeed, for Nigeria to operate smoothly, the groups which constitute the country must be allowed to freely determine the nature of the country through a referendum or national conference.

Twenty-fourth, the APC legal argument has raised the consciousness of Nigerians on the issue of citizenship, nationality and the nature of the Nigerian state.  As a result, Nigerians are now more likely to pay attention to who is actually a Nigerian and who is not a Nigerian.  It is not surprising that the PDP responded to the APC ‘s questioning of Atiku Abubakar’s citizenship by doubting the patriotism or citizenship of some Nigerians who seem to have a greater affection for interests of other countries than Nigerians.  The PDP cited the fact that when Maj. Gen. Buhari was a military head of state, he actually recommended a citizen of Niger Republic (Idi Omaro) for consideration as the Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) instead of Nigeria’s Dr. Peter Onu in 1985.  Likewise, the PDP noted that President Buhari wants to build a railway line from Nigeria to Niger Republic instead of building and improving public transportation system in Nigeria. The party also noted that citizens of Niger Republic actually visited Nigeria to campaign for President Buhari’s reelection even though they are not Nigerians (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/04/apcs-claim-on-atikus-cameroonian-citizenship-diversionary-pdp/).  This raises the issue of who is actually a Nigerian.  Can foreign citizens campaign for a presidential candidate in Nigeria?  Should a Nigerian head of state be more loyal to a foreign country than to Nigeria?

 

Twenty-fifth, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must follow the rule of law by adhering to court decisions concerning evidentiary materials dealing with election cases.  The reason is that if INEC refuses to tender materials that have been requested by Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, it would create the impression that it actually rigged the presidential election in favor of President Buhari and the APC.  Such a view is capable of tarnishing the legitimacy of President Buhari’s second term in the eyes of Nigerians and members of the international community.

President Buhari cannot afford to be viewed by the international community as having stolen an electoral victory from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.  Such perception is capable of driving away potential foreign investors who might not want to be associated with an administration which remains in power through a stolen electoral mandate.  Thus, INEC is obligated to follow the rule of law and avoid acting suspiciously as if it actually rigged the presidential election for President Buhari.

Twenty-sixth, although they have a legal right to deploy any acceptable legal tactics to neutralize the argument made by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP that INEC rigged the election to favor President Buhari, both the APC and INEC need to stop using diversionary legal tactics and focus on the crux of the case which is that President Buhari did not win a majority of the votes during the presidential election of February 23, 2019.  The reason is that the more they deploy diversionary tactics to offset the case, the more they create the impression that they actually worked together to rig the election.  In other words, if they have nothing to hide, then, they should face the case squarely by arguing against the merit of the case, rather than use unrelated issues to becloud the trial process.  They need to do a better job in clearing the air about the matter, so that President Buhari can focus his energy in tackling the complex problems facing the country.

Twenty-seventh, this case shows that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar cannot be easily intimidated into submission.  Ordinarily, many Nigerian politicians would have given up in challenging the result of an election, considering the overwhelming capacity of this administration and the APC to use the resources of state to cower people to shut up or quit fighting.  In other words, this administration has finally met its match in the person of Atiku.  He was the chief Custom Officer at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport when the issue of the 53 boxes filled with American dollars took place during the military regime of Maj. Gen. Buhari.  He was a senior member of the PDP that ruled Nigeria for more than a decade.  He actually served as a vice president of Nigeria during the presidency of Chief//Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo.  He was one of the individuals who broke away from the PDP to establish the APC party.  He was a senior member of the APC and is alleged to have contributed greatly towards the electoral campaign of Maj. Gen. Buhari.  He left the APC to rejoin the PDP and eventually emerged as the presidential candidate of the party.  Thus, Alhaji Abubakar is very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of Nigeria and cannot be easily pushed around by the president, the APC and INEC.

 

Twenty-eighth, based on implication #27 above, the argument that Atiku Abubakar is not a Nigerian by birth is counteracted by the fact that no one or government agency brought the issue up for decades.  Even the APC allowed him to be a founding member of the party, as well as encouraged him to donate money to the organization until he left to rejoin the PDP before announcing to the entire world that he is not a Nigerian by birth.

Twenty-ninth, this case is going to beam a searchlight on the judicial and political systems in Nigeria.  Consequently, the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal must demonstrate clearly to the entire world that it is not a kangaroo court in any shape or form. The judges must make decisions based on the merit of the case, as stipulated by law and not be blindfolded by political pressure arising from any quarter.  The members of the tribunal must stand tall to defend the integrity of Nigeria’s judiciary. In other words, the tribunal has a responsibility to ensure that democracy thrives in Nigeria.

Thirtieth, this case has the potential of determining whether Nigerians have a right to elect their political leaders or have their leaders chosen for them by self-serving political cliques.  The outcome of the case could either strengthen the democratic system or lead to political chaos.

 

Conclusion

Although the aforementioned possibilities are mere projections of what could happen after the APC unleashed a political firestorm challenging the citizenship of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.  The APC argument makes sense legally but it could ignite all kinds of arguments challenging the legitimacy of Nigeria and the right of citizenship in the country. The reason is that it opens up a can of political worms that is capable of generating heated debates about who is truly a Nigerian and who is not, to the point of threatening the very existence of Nigeria.

Indeed, the issue of who is a Nigerian and who is not a Nigeria and who is an indigenous Nigerian and who is a settler Nigerian are a reflection of the bastardized colonial origin of the country. The issue is prevalent throughout the African continent due to the colonial origin of most African states.   As a result, restructuring is needed through a national referendum or a conference to resolve the colonial problem.

A restructuring of Nigeria is absolutely needed because Britain did not get any permission from the indigenous ethnic groups which own the territory that it arbitrarily seized through wars of aggression to create Nigeria.  Therefore, it amounts to self-mockery for Nigerians to question their nationality in a state that was created arbitrarily by a foreign power.

 

 

Justice Walter Onnoghen:  A Symbol for the Equal Treatment of all Nigerians under the Law

Justice Walter Onnoghen:  A Symbol for the Equal Treatment of all Nigerians under the Law

Priye S. Torulagha

Priyet@hotmail.com

 

The law is the law and whoever violates the law should be arrested, charged and tried in a competent court of law. Therefore, if Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), violated the law, he should be arrested, charged and tried in a court of law, in accordance with due process.  However, the issue in Justice Onnoghen’s case is not whether he violated the law by failing to declare his assets but rather the selectivity in the enforcement of the law, the rush to force him out without due process and the political manner in which the law is hurriedly being enforced against him by this administration.  The Federal Government’s desire to hurriedly arraign and force him out of the CJN position through the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), rather than allow the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) to probe the matter first, has unleashed a torrent of political debate in the country.  Many Nigerians wonder why the Buhari administration is so eager to hurriedly force Justice Onnoghen out of the CJN position for failing to declare his assets without following due process when the same administration has hesitated on numerous occasions to enforce the law on corruption against public officials who are associated with the president and the ruling APC party.

 

The debate regarding whether the process of attempting to arraign the Justice through the Code of Conduct Tribunal rather than refer the matter to the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) is appropriate and constitutional or not, has divided public opinion into three major camps.  One camp insists that it is appropriate and constitutional to try Justice Onnoghen through the CCT.  The second camp insists that it is inappropriate, and unconstitutional to rush him through the CCT without allowing the Nigerian Judicial Council to investigate the matter first.   The third camp agrees that Justice Onnoghen might have probably erred or violated the law concerning the declaration of assets but noted that he is selectively being prosecuted in order to pave the way for a more pliable justice to take over the CJN position, in lieu of the coming elections.

 

The purpose of this write-up is to accomplish two goals:  one, determine whether the Buhari administration engages in selective enforcement of the law against corruption and two, determine whether Justice Walter Onnoghen is a victim of a politically motivated effort to force him out of the CJN position through the selective enforcement of the law.  In order to determine whether the Buhari administration engages in selective enforcement of the law against corruption, it is necessary to examine various circumstances and cases involving some public officials that have been alleged to have engaged in corruptible practices in the Buhari administration

 

 

  1. Determine whether the Buhari administration engages in selective enforcement of the law against corruption

It is necessary to identity and describe some pertinent circumstances and cases that have taken place during this administration in order to determine whether there is selectivity in the manner corruptionrelated cases are prosecuted.

First, it is agreeable that this administration is very selective in the manner it enforces the law against those accused of corruption, as shown below:

  1. Since this administration took over the leadership of the country, it has focused its energy in probing the manner in which the People Democratic Party(PDP)  gathered funds to conduct its political campaigns prior to the 2015 elections.  As result, many PDP members have been dragged to court repeatedly.  Unfortunately, while the Buhari administration is working frantically to probe the PDP sources of funding, it does not seem to show any interest in probing the sources of funding for the APC which spent massively prior to the 2015 elections.  It is a known fact that Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari did not even have the funds to pay for the APC’s presidential registration form in 2014.  He had to take a loan of N27.5 million to pay for the form (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/10/jonathan-blasts-buhari-says-buhari-promising/).  Yet, the president and the APC were able to amaze huge sums of money to carry out a mammoth campaign, to the point of defeating an incumbent president.  So, where did the APC got the funds to sponsor the presidential campaign between 2014 and early 2015?  The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Department of State Service (DSS), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) generally do not go after those who sponsored the president to find out how they accumulated such a vast sum of money to sponsor his presidential candidacy.   As a result, it is apparent that his war on corruption does not target those in the ruling party who were responsible for sponsoring him.  Apparently, his financial sponsors are treated as sacred cows who are above the law.

 

  1. It is also an acknowledged fact that any politician on the opposition party can escape the probing eyes of the EFCC, NPF, DSS and ICPC by simply jumping ship and joining the All Progressive Congress (APC) party. This means that a corrupt individual can escape the war on corruption by simply crossing over to the APC.  Thus, as soon as he or she crosses over, the individual becomes a saint.  In fact, the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, unapologetically informed the entire world that “Once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.”  Therefore, he is openly encouraging members of the opposition to join the APC so that their sins would be forgiven (https://punchng.com/oshiomhole-once-you-join-the-apc-your-sins-are-forgiven/).  This reinforces the view that President Buhari only fights the war on corruption against members of the opposition based on the APC CREED which says “Join APC and your crimes are forgiven.”

 

 

  1. The EFCC, DSS and the NPF operate like the Gestapo in the sense that they go after the governors, senators and representatives of the opposition parties. This is why Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ekiti, Rivers  and other states have faced constant harassment on the pretext that the federal government is fighting corruption.  On the other hand, APC governors, senators and representatives have nothing to fear and can walk freely without being harassed.

 

Second, the administration fights corruption on one hand while encouraging corruption on the other hand.

  1. The NPF, EFCC, DSS and the ICPC under this administration did not rush in a gestapo-like manner to probe the allegation of corruption leveled against the top brass in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).  It should be recalled that Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had made allegation that contracts worth about $25 billion were illegally awarded by the managing director, Dr. Maikanti Baru without going through proper channels. The president and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) have never spoken about the need to probe the matter after the vice president stated that the allegation was not true. If this allegation was made against a Nigerian who is not a member of the APC party, there is no doubt that the person would have been hounded and dragged all over the place by the EFCC and the ICPC.  The Attorney General too would have made statements justifying the need for a thorough investigation of the allegation.

 

  1. The presidency recalled and reinstated the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was wanted by the EFCC and the Interpol for allegedly embezzling pension funds, even after the Head of Service had warned President Buhari about the political implications of recalling someone who is being sought by the EFCC, back into government service. (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/246882-reinstated-fugitive-ex-pension-chief-maina-nigerian-govt.html/). The AGF, EFCC, NPF, DSS and ICPC are not scouring every nook and corner to catch Mallam Maina.  In fact, Maina stated that he was actually invited by the presidency to come back and resume his position in government.  This means that he is a sacred cow and the law does not apply to him.

 

  1. Nigerians had to put pressure on the presidency before Babachir Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) was let go in October 2017, following allegation of financial corruption over the awarding of grass-cutting contracts to his own companies. The AGF, NPF, DSS, EFCC and ICPC have no desire to use gestapo-style tactics to arrest him.  He is a sacred cow and is above the law. In fact, President Buhari does not believe that he committed any offence, hence, he challenged Nigerians to submit evidence that Mr. Lawal actually embezzled money (https://www.vanguardngr.com2019/01/bring-evidence-of-babachir-lawals-corruption-buhari-chalenge -critics/.   Thus, any Nigerian who petitions or makes allegation against a member of the APC or a friend of the president is expected to investigate and gather evidence before the federal government acts upon the matter.

 

  1. On the other hand, any Nigerian who is not a member of the APC or a friend of the president could be immediately arrested and charged for corruption without the slightest hesitation. Moreover, as soon as the individual is arrested, he or she is presumed to be guilty even without trial.  This is why Justice Onnoghen is being forced to vacate the CJN position, without any court trial.  The presidency wants to use the Code of Conduct Tribunal to force him out of the CJN position so that Justice Ibrahim Muhammad can take over.   Thus, Justice Onneghen is already guilty while Babachir Lawal is not even accosted by the crime-fighting agencies.

 

  1. Gen. Abdulrahman B. Dambazau, the Minister of Defence and Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) were major players in the procurement of arms for the Nigerian Army during the Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s administrations. Yet, they are not targeted for investigation while other senior military officers, including Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, Col. Sambo Dasuki and 52 others are being prosecuted or tried for financial corruption (https://punchng.com/arms-scam-probe-dambazau-buratai-ex-military-officers-tell-buhari/).  Even the effort by retired military officers to persuade President Buhari to extend the probe to the two senior administration officials is ignored.  Col. Dasuki has been detained since 2015.  President Buhari also ordered the EFCC to probe the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshall  Alex Badeh and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu (https://vanguardngr.com/2016/01/arms-scandal-buhari-orders-efcc-to-probe-ex-military-chiefs-badeh-amosu-15-others/).  Yet, President Buhari is not interested in probing any allegation of corruption against the military, following the repeated Boko Haram attacks against military posts  and the repeated lamentation  by soldiers that they are being underequipped to fight the Islamist group.

 

  1. When Senator Hamman Isah Misau, who represents Bauchi Central Senatorial District, blew the whistle and made allegations of corruption against the immediate past Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, instead of the EFCC, NPF, ICPC and DSS investigating the matter, the Federal Government protected the IGP by dragging Senator Misau to court to stop him from continuing to make allegations against the IGP.

 

  1. Even though the DSS issued a report about alleged corruptible practices of Mallam Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC and the fact that the Senate refused to confirm him as the substantive Chair of the commission, on two ocassions, the president continues to retain him. As a result, for three years now, an individual who could not pass the Senate’s confirmatory hearing process continues to serve as the head of a government agency, contrary to the procedure for hiring agency heads in Nigeria.

 

  1. Even though the former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Ibrahim Lamorde, was removed from the position due to allegations of corruption, the president brought him back to serve as the Commissioner of Police, in-charge of Special Fraud Unit in Ikoyi, Lagos.  It is inferable that he is exempted from the letters of the law dealing with corruption because he is a sacred cow that is above the law.

 

  1. Even though Prof Usman Yusuf, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), was suspended by the Governing Council of the NHIS over allegations of corruption and administrative infractions and was told not to comeback until the matter is completely investigation, nevertheless, he came back and resumed his position with the assistance of about 50 police officers who escorted to his office, despite protests by workers in the agency (https://). Although, he vehemently denied the allegations leveled against him, he did not wait until the investigation was completed before getting back his job.  He made the Minister of Health looked powerless and helpless since he had been suspended twice.  The Buhari administration looked the other way and acted as if the allegations were not important enough to warrant legal action by the EFCC or ICPC.

 

  1. The EFCC, ICPC, NPF, and the DSS did not raise a voice about enforcing the law when Ahmed Gambo Saleh, the former Supreme Court registrar was brought back to serve in government as the Secretary of the National Judicial Council and the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.  Again, the law is not the law here because he is above the law.

 

  1. Sambo Dasuki continues to be detained for alleged embezzlement of funds allocated for the procurement of arms to fight the war against Boko Haram. In fact, other top military officers too have  faced charges in the court of law over their alleged involvement in the arms procurement scams.  Surprisingly, Nigerian soldiers who are fighting Boko Haram today continue to complain that they are underequipped, underpaid and underfed to effectively confront the Boko Haram.  As a result, Boko Haram has successfully overran a number of military posts.  Thus, if Dasuki is being detained for the misappropriation of military funds, then, why are investigations not being conducted to find out whether funds allocated to fight Boko haram are still being embezzled today.  There seems to be no interest in probing funds allocated to the military to prosecute the war against Boko Haram today.  Why?

 

  1. Third, it is obvious that the president is very selective about fighting corruption. The reason is that he was the one who said that Gen. Sani Abacha was not corrupt.  Even today, he still does not believe that the general stole tons of money, despite the fact that Abacha’s loot continued to be recovered from various countries in the world.  After three years, it is confirmable that even the APC is not interested in fighting corruption.  The party cares more about being in power than making a change.  The party is interested only in destroying the opposition by any means necessary, so that it can rule endlessly.

Third, it is hypocritical to say that the law must be enforced when it is an open secret that this administration chooses when to obey the law.

  1. It ignores court decisions whenever it chooses to do so. This is why Col. Dasuki is still in detention despite numerous court rulings that granted him bail.

 

  1. When Kemi Adeosun was removed due to political pressure from Nigerians as the Federal Minister of Finance, for allegedly forging a certificate of exemption from National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) service, no legal action was taken against her. She was allowed to leave Nigeria without any legal impediment.  This meant that she was a sacred cow.

 

  1. Federal Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu skipped the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service, yet, he is still a federal minister without any legal consequence (https://www.premiumetimesng.com/news/headlines/284754-exclusivee-another-buhari-minister-busted-for-skipping-nysc-risks-jail-term.html/). This means that he is a sacred cow and is above the law.  As a result, the Code of Conduct Bureau, DSS, and NPF do not go after him.   Some Nigerians believe that his case is more serious than that of Kemi Adeosun, yet, he has not been compelled to leave the ministerial position.

 

  1. There are allegations that Buhari’s family bought large shares in Keystone Bank and Pakistani Islamic bank, yet, the EFCC and the AGF have no desire to investigate the allegations because the president’s family is a sacred cow. Although, the president’s family and Keystone Bank have denied the allegations, nevertheless, it is a legal duty of the appropriate corruption-fighting agencies to look into the matter.  Of course, there is no doubt that the agencies would not investigate the allegations.

 

  1. When a video, in which Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, was seen allegedly receiving bribes burst into the public limelight, President Buhari and his corruption fighting agents did not jump into action and investigate the matter. Instead, the president wondered as to why the governor received the bribes personally instead of allowing someone else to receive the bribe for him (https://www.vanguardmgr.com/2019/01/abuja-town-hall-exposes-buharis-corruption-tendencies-pdp/).  The president has not ordered the EFCC, ICPC, NPF, and DSS to investigate the matter.  Here again, Governor Ganduje is a sacred cow and is above the law.
  2. In fact, the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, released a list containing 30  of President Buhari’s officials and associates who are alleged to be corrupt (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/306916-atiku-releases-list-of-corrupt-buhari-associates.html/).  Since Atiku is the opposition’s presidential candidate, it is the responsibility of the presidency to respond by discounting the veracity of the list.  Otherwise, the 30 individuals in the list are a further demonstration of the fact that this administration is very selective in fighting corruption by prosecuting some individual while ignoring the transgressions of the law by those who are associates of the president.

 

  1. Determine whether Justice Walter Onnoghen is a victim of a politically motivated effort to force him out of the CJN position through the selective enforcement of the law.

First, as indicated by the circumstances and cases identified above, there is no doubt that this administration engages in the selective enforcement of the laws pertaining to corruption.  In adhering strictly to the APC CREED, as clearly spelt out by Adams Oshiomhole that “Once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven “, the members of the APC and friends of the president are not liable for prosecution despite engaging in corruptible practices as public officials.   On the other hand, the members of the opposition and other Nigerians are automatically liable for prosecution for allegedly engaging in corruptible practices.

Second, due to the selective manner in which cases of corruption are prosecuted, this administration tends to incline towards the view that it is acceptable to violate due process and the constitutional rights of those Nigerians who are not affiliated with the president and the APC party.

Third, the administration seems to adopt a view that none members of the APC and those who oppose or criticize the president can be subjected to immediate arrest, arraignment and trial without according them due process and giving them time to prepare their legal defences.  There are many cases to cite from but a few will do here:

  1. Dasuki and many former public officials in Jonathan’s administration were hurriedly arrested and detained before their cases commenced. Of course, Col Dasuki is still in detention.

 

  1. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was hurriedly proscribed and treated as a terrorist organization. On the other hand, herdsmen are merely referred to as “bandits” even though internationally, they are regarded as “ terrorists.”  Thus, IPOB was rushed by the Federal Government to face the anti-terrorist law while herdsmen are left to continue their destructive path.

 

 

  1. While some high-level public officials in this administration have been alleged to have engaged in corruptible practices, the law is purposely made to walk slower than the speed of a snail in catching with them. On the other hand, the law is fastened to run like a cheetah against Justice Onnoghen and other Nigerians.  This clearly shows that the Onnoghen issue is much more than the mere violation of the law.  It seems to be a calculated political strategy to achieve a pre-determined goal.

 

  1. The fact that most members of the APC publicly support the desire to probe Justice Onnoghen through the CCT and most member of the PDP frown at the speed in which he is being arraigned and the effort to try him through the CCT rather than through the NJC is a testament to the political nature of the issue.

Fourth, this administration tends to take the view that none members of the APC and those who oppose or criticize the president are automatically presumed to be guilty of any corruption-related crime until they prove otherwise in the court of law.   On the other hand, the administration tends to create the impression that members of the APC and friends of the president are not presumed guilty of any corruption-related crime until they are found guilty in the competent court of law.  Moreover, for this government to arraign any APC-affiliated person, the petitioner of an alleged crime must investigate, gather appropriate evidence and submit the evident to the EFCC or ICPC before the government agency would act.   Thus, a double standard has been established for determining who is to be prosecuted and who is not to be prosecuted.  The president set the standard when he explained about why the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, has not been arraigned by the EFCC.  He said “If there are strong allegations, people should come out with strong evidence like names of companies looted, contracts awarded, then, we take them before the court and ICPC and we have to trust the system and allow them to complete their investigation” (dailypost.ng/2019/01/17/cant-prosecute-ex-sgf-bbachir-lawal-fraud-buhari/).

Fifth, based on the above observation of the tendencies and actions of this administration, it is inferable that Justice Walter Onnoghen is a victim of the APC CREED.  There are stories floating around that Justice Onnoghen refused to cooperate in ensuring that election tribunals are filled with individuals who are sympathetic or supportive of the ruling party, in lieu of the coming elections in February 2019.

Sixth, due to the APC CREED, there is a strong desire to force him out of the CJN position since his presence could negatively impact the ability of the APC to win the coming elections in February 2019.

The mind-boggling thing is that federal authorities and the corruption-fighting agencies dragged their feet on the cases of alleged corruption mentioned above, yet, they rushed as if they are running a 100-yards race as soon as a petition was received from the Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative (ACRBDI) to charge, arraign and force Justice Onnoghen to vacate the CJN position within three working days.  For instance, the Federal Government filed charges against Justice Onnoghen probably on Friday, January 11, 2019 and he was immediately arraigned on Monday, January 14, 2019 with the hope of pushing him out. They avoided the NJC process in an effort to quickly get rid of him as if he is not a Nigerian.  Why is the president and the APC in such a rush to get rid of Justice Onnoghen when they have no interest in probing other violators whose cases are even more serious than that of Justice Onnoghen?

The rush to get rid of the CJN without following due process creates the impression that some Nigerians are more important than other Nigerians.  Some Nigerians wonder whether the law is being enforced against Justice Onnoghen in a rushed manner because he is not a member of the president’s family and the ruling party.  In fact, news reports indicate that Justice Onneghen is being forced out of the position because he refused to compromise with the APC desire to fill the pre and post-election tribunals with members favorable to the party, in lieu of the coming elections.  In particular, it is alleged that they wanted Justice Onnoghen to load the Presidential Election Appeal Tribunal with individuals who support President Buhari (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/01/govt-directs-seizure-ofonnofhn-family’s-financial-assets-cupp-alleges/). In other words, the president, his handlers, and the ruling party allegedly want Justice Onneghen out so that they can put someone as CJN who would be favorably inclined towards loading the election tribunals with individuals who are supportive of the ruling party.

 

Conclusion

It is obvious that the action being taken against Justice Onnoghen is motivated more by political calculations rather than by the need to enforce the law.  The reason is that some Nigerians who have been alleged to have embezzled public funds have never been arrested, charged and tried in a court of law, as indicated above.  Their sins are easily forgiven because they belong to a certain political affiliation that makes them sacred cows while Justice Onnoghen and some other Nigerians are easily arrested, arraigned, and tried in a humiliating manner because they do not belong to the “ ALLIANCE”.  Therefore, in this case, it is more appropriate to examine the political reasons that lead to the sudden arraignment of Justice Onneghen rather than dwell unduly upon the technicality and constitutionality of the process of the law, as many lawyers seem to do.  It is obvious that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is being intentionally chosen to try the judge, instead of allowing the NJC to investigate the manner first.  The unwillingness to allow the NJC to investigate the matter is attributable to the fear that such a route will take too long to get rid of him before the coming elections.  Those who want Justice Onnoghen out of the CJN position do so for political reasons since he is not willing to play ball with them to pre-determine the outcome of the coming presidential election even before the election takes place. Likewise, it appears that there are also those who have motives which are contrary to the strategic interest of Nigeria that want him to vacate the position so that they can put in place someone who identifies with their ideological motives.

Thus, due to the political nature of the issue, it is indeed a waste of time to even debate whether Justice Onnoghen should be investigated by the NJC first or be tried by the Code of Court Tribunal.  The reason being that those who want him out have already decided that the Code of Conduct Tribunal is the preferable way to get rid of him as soon as possible since the elections are less than a month from today.   Nigerians who care about the separation of powers must work together to put pressure on the administration to stop the political effort to remove the judge before the elections.  They should allow the legal process to take its appropriate course and not rush the issue as if the world is coming to an end.

Due to the persistent tendency by this administration to selectively enforce the law, Nigeria is sliding into a lawless entity.  The reason is that a law is only good when it is applied equally across the board on everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, region, religion and political affiliation, in any given society.  On the other hand, the law becomes meaningless when it is used arbitrarily to violate the constitutional rights of some citizens while protecting others.   Consequently, the merit of the law is destroyed when some individuals are treated as sacred cows and are allowed to behave as if they are above the law while others are subjected to the tenets of the law in an arbitrary manner.  When a law is applied tactically in an arbitrary political manner, it is no longer a law but a political tool to score political points.  When that happens, the citizens have a right to react legally and politically against the system, regardless of the merit of the law.

The most suitable political system for Nigeria is democracy due to the diversity and complexity of the country.  Therefore, as far as Nigeria operates a presidential form of government, power must be separated so that the legislative, executive and judiciary branches play their check and balance roles effectively and efficiently.  The executive branch cannot be allowed to control the legislature and judiciary branches.  Apparently, it is obvious that the executive branch is trying to dominate the judiciary branch of government by trying to impose its will through determining who should be a judge or not.  If Nigerians allow the executive branch to tactically control the judiciary branch, the country would end up as a dictatorship.

Indeed, Justice Walter Onneghen has become a symbol for the struggle to standardize and apply the law equally across the board and strengthen government institutions.  No political leader should be greater than the institutions that enable a society to work effectively.   Consequently, Nigerians should be very careful in choosing their leaders, otherwise, the institutions of democratic governance could easily be sacrificed for the glorification of an individual who believes that he or she is above the law.

The war on corruption must be comprehensive and not partial. In other words, no one should be above the law.  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

 

 

Are Nigeria’s security forces colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram?

Are Nigeria’s security forces colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram?

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

 

Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), the former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence raised a firestorm against the armed forces, particularly the Nigerian Army, when he alleged that they are colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians.  Based on the view that the armed forces are colluding to kill Nigerians, he advised Nigerians to arm and defend themselves to avoid being killed (Afolabi, Ahovi and Akpeji, 2018, March 25).

As soon as he made the statement during a convocation ceremony at Taraba State University in Jalingo, Nigerians reacted swiftly in a predictable manner.  Some former military officers were in utter disbelief concerning the proposition that the armed forces are colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians.  Some felt disappointed that Gen. Danjuma, quite contrary to the principle of espirit de corps, decided to go public with his suspicion, instead of quietly contacting and speaking with President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also a former military general.  Some supporters of the Buhari administration criticized him for attempting to cause anarchy in the country by suggesting that Nigerians should arm and defend themselves, instead of relying on the government to protect them.  The Nigeria Army reacted by discounting the view that it is colluding with herdsmen.  In fact, the Nigerian Army instituted a 10-member Special Military Probe Panel that conducted an investigation and determined that there was no evidence of collusion with herdsmen to kill Nigerians (Erunke, 2018, May 19).  On the other hand, Nigerians who are alarmed by the unnecessary killings of innocent people by herdsmen and those who support restructuring of the country supported Gen. Danjuma for making such a bold declarative statement about the collusion of the security forces with herdsmen.  Similarly, the victims of the killings and destroyed communities, especially those in Benue and Taraba States, also supported him.

Gen. Danjuma, it should be noted, is one of the most influential military personalities that have shaped and influenced the direction of the country, starting from the second military coup of July 1966, through the Nigerian civil war and continuing with various changes of military regimes in the country.  Thus, the view by the retired general that the Nigerian military, intelligence and police forces are no longer capable of providing security to Nigerians continues to reverberate throughout the country.  Hence, after suspected herdsmen attacked and killed two Catholic priests and 17 others in a Catholic church in Benue State (Daka et all, 2018, April 25), the political leadership of various indigenous ethnic groups in Benue and Taraba States started calling upon their members to arm and defend themselves. The urgent need for self-defense increased significantly when suspected herdsmen killed 120 people in Plateau State in late June 2018 (Ajijah, 2019, June 24).

 

Purpose of the Write-up

The purpose of this article is to explore the issue of whether Nigeria’s security forces, particularly the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Department of State Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) are colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians, in an attempt to implement a political agenda with a strong ethno-religious undertone.  The task requires identifying and explaining various actions, inactions and circumstances which tend to create the impression, whether truly or falsely, that the security forces or some elements within the security forces, are tactically colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram to kill people and destroy indigenous communities in Nigeria.

For purpose of this write-up, Nigeria’s security forces include the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Navy, Police, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defence, DSS, Immigration, Customs, Nigeria Security aand Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA).  All of these national organizations contribute to the national security of the country.  Some individuals might not view Immigration and Customs as national security outfits but they are.  If the borders are not secured, then, mischievous outsiders might pour into the country to commit crimes and engage in violent acts.  Similarly, if the borders and entry points are not secured, large quantities of illegal arms could flow into the country to threaten the national security.

Thus, to determine whether Nigeria’s security forces or some elements within them are colluding with herdsmen and possibly Boko Haram to inflict death and destruction on Nigerians, the following 41 specific actions, inactions and circumstances are identified and examined:

First, without going too far into history, the actions and circumstances concerning the situation in Bama in Bornu State in 2014 might be an excellent starting point.  As the Boko Haram grew in strength and started to carry out massive bombing campaigns, it decided to confront the Nigeria Army directly in combat in Bama.  As a result, after a particular clash between the two forces, a Nigerian soldier informed the world through a media report that some of the Boko Haram fighters he fought against were Nigerian soldiers who had trained with him in Kontagora.  He was shocked to realize that some of his former military training colleagues were fighting on the other side against the Nigerian Army.  The soldier’s statement was corroborated by the fact that the Nigeria Army  “arrested several soldiers fighting in the north-eastern part of the country for alleging giving vital security information to members of the terrorists group, Boko Haram” (AllAfrica, 2014, October 14).  This meant that some Nigerian soldiers actually transferred their loyalty to the Boko Haram and crossed over to join the group to fight against Nigerian troops in 2014.

Second, in another military confrontation between a contingent of the Nigerian Army and the Boko Haram in Bama, a Nigerian soldier, during an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service, stated that some Nigerian Army commanders were working for Boko Haram.  He narrated a story in which a Nigerian military officer whose unit was stationed in Bama tricked his own unit into an ambush in which many of his comrades were killed.   According to him, “the commander of a nearby military unit, based in the town of Bama, recently sought assistance from his unit in carrying out a raid.  When the two military units joined up, they were given different uniforms.  The Bama unit commander gave his own troops green uniforms. The soldier said that his unit received tan “desert camouflage” uniforms.  When the troops reached the battle area, the soldier said the commander of the better-equipped Bama unit suddenly withdrew his troops, leaving the remaining soldiers to fend for themselves against Boko Harm fighters.  Speaking in Hausa, he said “we had only light arms and our men were being picked up one after the other.” (Dockins, 2014, April 5). It should be noted that during this time in the Islamic North, Boko Haram was viewed by many Moslems as a freedom fighting organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the interest of Moslems in Nigeria.  With such a positive characterization of the Islamist group, some soldiers crossed over and fight for Boko Haram.

During the same period, some Nigerian soldiers mutinied because they feared being slaughtered since they were not sufficiently equipped to fight Boko Haram. The soldiers felt that Boko Haram fighters were better equipped than Nigerian troops, so, it was suicidal to engage the Islamists.  The BBC reported:

A group of soldiers in northeastern Nigeria is refusing to fight Islamist Boko Haram militants until they received better equipment, one of the mutineers has told the BBC.The soldier who requested anonymity, said at least 40 of his colleagues would refuse orders to deploy (2014, August 19).

 

During this time of the war, Boko Haram attacked Nigeria military formations repeatedly and drove many army units out of the region.  This enabled the militants to capture a large chunk of territory. In fact, at one time, 54 Nigerian soldiers were sentenced to death for “for mutiny, assault, cowardice, and refusing to combat Boko Haram” (The Telegraph, 2014, December 18).

Third, around the same time in 2014, Boko Haram appeared to have penetrated deeply into the Nigerian security network, so much so that it was able to obtain first-hand intelligence that enabled it to capture many parts of the Northeast.  Boko Haram was able to attack and capture many military and police posts, thereby, boosting its arms supply from captured Nigerian weapons.  Feeling hopeless and betrayed, more Nigerian soldiers continued to desert their posts to escape death. It is inferable that during this time, some Nigerian military, police and intelligence officers actively supported Boko Haram in order to embarrass President Goodluck Jonathan. In other words, it appeared that some security personnel on the Nigerian side worked cooperatively with Boko Haram in order to ensure that President Jonathan did not succeed.  In fact, Al Jazeera reported “Ten generals and five other senior military officials have been found guilty in a court-martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram, several Nigerian newspapers reported” (2014, June 4).

Fourth, the kidnapping of the Chibok secondary school girls in April 2014 provided circumstance leading to doubt about the war against Boko Haram. It also increased the feeling that some sections of the security forces were colluding actively with the Boko Haram.  The reason is that in terms of military logistics, it was impossible for Boko Haram to have successfully carried out the abduction of over 270 students in an area that was under military emergency without the ACTIVE assistance or involvement of some security personnel in the area.  Even a regular military unit would find it exceedingly difficult to move around 270 human beings and keep them without creating logistical problems for itself.  It is inconceivable that Boko Haram was able to abduct the students, load them up in vehicles and drive away without detection by any of the military, police, and DSS units posted to various locations in the region.

Apart from that, the idea that Boko Haram was able to abduct and keep over 270 human captives, feed them regularly and provide healthcare to the sick without being detected is too unconvincing. To keep in custody over 270 human beings by an unconventional force that must move from place to place in order to avoid detection, makes it implausible that Boko Haram actually carried out that operation without the active participation of very important political and security personalities in the area.  The report by Al Jazeera that “ten generals and five other senior military officials have been found guilty in a court-martial “(2014, December 18), buttresses the argument that it was impossible for Boko Haram to abduct the Chibok school girls without active support from some political tycoons and security personnel. In other words, it was a staged operation to score political points against the Federal Government.

Fifth, after the abduction, the fact that the Nigerian Army, Police, NIA and the DSS were not able to locate the whereabouts of the girls also created the impression that some elements of the political and security forces were involved. The other explanation would be that the abduction was staged to score political points, so, there was no need for the security forces to look for the girls.   In a normal military operation, the intelligence units of the security forces would have done everything possible to locate the whereabouts of the girls.  After doing so, a special forces’ unit would have been deployed to rescue the girls or keep watch over the area.

The doubt about the credibility of the Chibok abduction is enhanced by the fact that Nigerian, Nigerien, Chadian and Cameroonian forces under the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) too were not able to locate the Chibok girls.   The failure to rescue the girls portrayed the security forces of these countries as being incompetent. This kind of failure would have resulted in a court-martial in some countries.

Sixth, due to the publicity that the Chibok abduction generated throughout the world, the United States, Britain and France volunteered to join the effort to locate and possibly rescue the girls.  These countries deployed various high-tech equipment, including drones to search for the girls.  Then, without informing the world about the result of their search effort, they withdrew from the operation without saying a word.  They left hurriedly and the world still does not know why they left suddenly.  The sudden departure created a feeling that perhaps they might have found out that the abduction was more than what they thought.

It is inconceivable that Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad and assisted by the United States, Britain and France were not able to locate and rescue the Chibok girls.   The incredulity of the abduction, perhaps, prompted the Labor Party in Nigeria to reject “the believe that some girls of Government Secondary School, in Chibok town, Borno State, were kidnapped after all.  Rather, the party said that it was a ploy to oust former President Goodluck Jonathan from office.  The Chairman of the Labor Party, Abdulkadir Abdulsalami, said the APC should expect the wrath of God for deceiving Nigerians and manipulating the parents of the Chibok girls” (Odili.net, 2017, May 24).

Perhaps, the mystery surrounding the Chibok abduction might be unraveled following the report that “22 suspected Boko Haram members including those who allegedly participated in

the abduction of the Chibok school girls” ( Haruna, 2018, July 18) have been arrested by the Nigerian Police Force in Borno and Yobe states.  However, there is a tinkling feeling that the sudden police announcement of the arrests of eight suspected participants in the Chibok abduction sounds too convenient, like a staged event, considering the ease with which the suspects confessed their roles in the Chibok affair.

Seventh, in 2017, the Nigeria Army and the Police provided an armed escort to a convoy of Nigerian oil workers, university researchers and those supplying food materials to IDP camps in the Northeast.  As the convoy was heading to its destination, Boko Haram launched an attack which killed more than 50 people.  After the attack, the speculation was that someone who was probably involved with the security arrangement worked with the militants to set up the convoy in such a manner that enabled Boko Haram to know the movement of the convoy. In fact, due to a feeling that someone in the army was spying for the militants led the military authorities to suspect “that moles were feeding terrorists with movement of its personnel, government workers and vulnerable villages” (Odunsi, 2017, July 31). Apart from this ambush, Boko Haram has been able to successfully attack other convoys and important facilities in the Northeast region of the country.

Eighth, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State made a very interesting statement when he noted that the war against Boko Haram always seems to progress much better when a Southern military officer takes over the command of the war effort.  By implication, he was saying that something fishy was going on in the sense that whenever a Northern military officer leads the war effort, progress against Boko Haram always seems to slowdown. The Daily Nigerian reported: “Mr. Shettima said he was disappointed to observe that the previous commanders, who are from the Southern states of Nigeria, did much better than the last occupants of the office who are from the North” (2018, June 28).

It is possible to interpret the governor’s observation by saying that there might be some sort of collusion between some senior Northern military commanders and Boko Haram due to religious affinity.  Another way to explain the observation is that Southern military officers feel discriminated and marginalized so much so that they always have to prove that they are as capable, if not much better than their Northern counterparts who seemed to enjoy a favored status in the Nigerian armed and police forces today.

Ninth, when the Nigerian Army declared operation Cat Dance exercise in the Middle Belt, particularly in Benue and Taraba States, the indigenes thought that the military would help to prevent herdsmen from further attacking them.  However, instead of feeling protected by the presence of the security forces, the indigenes actually felt more threatened.  They reacted negatively against the military exercise due to a feeling that some military units were actually assisting the herdsmen to carry out attacks.

Likewise, some citizens of Adamawa State alleged that the Nigerian Air Force used helicopter gunships and jet fighters to bomb their villages and towns, thereby, killing at least 35 people (Carsten, 2018, January 29).    The air force action took place exactly at the same time that the cattle herders were also attacking them.   The fact that the Nigeria Air Force dropped bombs at the same time that herdsmen were attacking the villagers created the impression that some elements in the air force were colluding with the herdsmen to attack the communities.  The Nigerian Air Force denied the allegation but Amnesty International agreed with the residents of the villages and towns by accusing the military of violating human rights.

Tenth, while Nigerians continued to be killed, almost on daily basis, by herdsmen, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) ordered Nigerian citizens to give-up certain categories of weapons.  PM News listed the prohibited arms as:

 

Artillery, apparatus for the discharge of any explosives of gas diffusing projectile,       Rocket weapons, Bombs and Grenades.

Others are:  Machine-Guns and Machine Pistols, Military rifles, those of caliber 7.62mm. 9mm, 300 inches, revolvers and pistols, whether rifled or unrifled (including Flint-lock pistols and cap pistols), Pump action gun of all categories and any other firearms/lethal weapons fabricated to kill (PM News, 2018, February 22).

The spokesperson for the Nigerian Police Force, CSP Jimoh Moshood explained further by saying:

No license will be given or recognized in respect of prohibited firearms and ammunition except granted by the President and  Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria upon the recommendation of the Inspector General of Police.

The police will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law on any individual or group under any guise whose conduct runs contrary to the law of the land

 

The IGP order was seconded by the Minister of Interior, retired Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, who insisted upon the “strict enforcement of the law against the possession of illegal firearms in the country” (Ibid).

Ordinarily, it made a lot of sense for the IGP to launch a program to reduce the availability of illegal firearms in the country.  It also made sense for the interior minister to support the reduction of illegal firearms in the country.  Indeed, no country would tolerate the uncontrollable flow of illegal arms into its territory since such could threaten the peace and national security. However, the timing of the order at a time many Nigerians are facing insecurity and violent death due to unprovoked attacks by herdsmen, kidnappers, and armed men tended to create the impression that the IGP took the action so that indigenous Nigerians might not be able to fight back against the herdsmen.  Those Nigerians who doubted the sincerity of the IGP went further by alleging that the IGP is following a well-executed plan that would make the country conquerable by those who want to Fulanize and Islamize it.   Thus, the timing of the IGP order further created the impression that collusion is taking place between herdsmen and some elements of the security forces, otherwise, the chief of police would not have given an order that tended to make Nigerians defenceless in the face of continuing unprovoked aggression by herdsmen and other armed killers.

While the possibility of an arrest for the possession of illegal firearms is much higher against members of host communities, such is not the case against herdsmen.  It seems that the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police Force and the DSS have no desire to stop the marauding herdsmen with their arms.  On the other hand, these security organizations are more likely to focus their attention in making sure that indigenous Nigerians do not possess illegal firearms by arresting and detaining them.  This is why herdsmen continue to wield their A K 47 assault rifles openly without being arrested by the police.

Eleventh, when the Niger Delta Avengers and other armed elements in the oil belt decided to blow up oil and gas facilities, the Nigerian Army and Navy did not waste a minute in mobilizing their forces to counter the threat.  As a result, many youths were arrested and detained by the security forces.  Some of them are still in detention today.  Thus, in the South-South, the slightest threat to security is countered by the full deployment of military units.  However, the armed forces have been lukewarm toward fully deploying military units to counter the rampaging herdsmen that are inflicting unbelievable carnage on the country.  If the rampaging herdsmen were from the Southwest or South-South or Southeast or Central Nigeria, the armed forces would have been fully mobilized to deal with them.  By now, a Joint Task Force (JTF) would have probably been established to deal specifically with the threat.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, President Buhari and the heads of the armed forces, police and the DSS are not eager to mobilize security forces against herdsmen. They also do not want to create a large scale special security task force to deal with the situation.

Twelfth, when Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) attempted to organize a referendum in Southeastern Nigeria, the Nigerian Army, Police and DSS immediately deployed their forces to stop them.  Some people were killed and many more were detained.  Apart from that, the Nigerian Army branded IPOB members as terrorists and proscribed the organization.  The Attorney General of the country put meat into the Army’s effort to destroy IPOB legally and have all members of the organization detained. Even today, the Federal Government does not want to hear anything about IPOB.  The government reacts as soon as IPOB is mentioned.  On the other hand, the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Police, and DSS have no desire to clamp down hard on herdsmen and other unidentified armed gangs because the president’s body language does not support a security crackdown.

Thirteenth, instead of clamping down on herdsmen, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Internal Affairs insinuated that the herdsmen are on a warpath because of anti-open grazing laws.  Basically, these security chiefs believe that the rights of the cattle herders to roam from place to place in order to feed their cows have been violated, hence, their attacks against farming communities.  It is on this basis that they suggest the revocation of the anti-open grazing laws.  These security chiefs made the remark without taking into consideration the fact that herdsmen and farmers have being clashing for decades, even before the anti-open grazing laws were passed in Benue, Ekiti and Taraba states.  They also ignored the fact that herdsmen have killed people in states that have no anti-open grazing laws.  Thus, the statements uttered by the three security chiefs create the impression that there is some understanding between herdsmen and sections of the security apparatus in Nigeria.

Fourteenth, it is a sad commentary that very important high government officials insist on supporting nomadic cattle herding system in a country that is highly populated.  The nomadic system is associated with the past, yet, these officials argued in its favor, instead of encouraging cattle owners to adopt ranching, which is the most prevalent method of herding cows in the world today.  Thus, instead of looking forward, these officials are looking backward, thereby, indirectly encouraging herdsmen to continue their attacks.

Perhaps, the three high government officials are influenced by or share the views of Professor Angho Abdullahi who believes that herdsmen have a right to move their cattle around any part of the country.  According to the professor, the British established cattle corridors throughout Nigeria to allow cattle herders to move about with their cattle. However, they can no longer exercise the right to engage in their cattle business by moving freely from place to place, hence, the anger and the resultant killings of members of host communities (Nwachukwu, 2018, February 18). Thus, the professor believes that herdsmen have a right to kill in order to claim a right of free passage to do their cattle business.  Likewise, it could be said that the three high federal officials are probably also influenced by Prof. Umar Labdo Muhammad, who believes that Benue State belongs to the Fulani by right of conquest since half of the state is part of the Bauchi Emirate and the other half is part of Adamawa Emirate. By implication, according to the professor, Benue State is part of the Sokoto Caliphate, so, the indigenous ethnic groups have no right to stop herdsmen from using land in the state to feed their cows. (Opejobi, 2018, January 18).

Fifteenth, the unwillingness to deploy security forces in large scale could be influenced by the views of Professors Agho Abdullahi and Labdo Mohammad, as indicated above.  These two intellectuals have a great impact on the thinking of Fulanis in Nigeria.  Their views on the right of herdsmen seemed to be shared by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, which believe that herdsmen are fighting back by killing members of host communities in retaliation for the rustling of their cattle and killing of their own members.  It could also be inferred that President Buhari, like the Inspector General of Police and the ministers of Defence and Internal Affairs, seems to share the same thoughts as those of the two professors.  Hence, he does not see the reason to use security forces to crackdown on herdsmen.  The unwillingness to deploy security forces in full scale leads to half-hearted measures that fail to guarantee security, hence, Nigerians are paying an intolerable price. For instance, in Zamfara State, Amnesty International noted that over 371 people have been killed since January 2018 and thousands of people now live in fear daily.  Villagers in the state complained that whenever they received threatening letters from the armed gangs, they take the time to inform and plead with the security authorities to intervene to no avail (Amnesty International, 2018, July 31).

The president seems to dance around the fact that thousands of Nigerians have been killed and numerous communities destroyed. Perhaps, he regards the herdsmen as victims, rather than aggressors, hence, he even pleaded with the leaders of the Middle Belt when they visited him by saying “ I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen.  You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation (Usigbe, (2017, January 16).

Sixteenth, the perception that the Buhari administration is not keen about taking proactive measures to clamp down on violent herdsmen that have killed thousands of people is evidenced by the fact that the administration has given different explanations for the ongoing attacks.  First, President Buhari blamed the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya for training and arming the herdsmen (Sahara Reporters, 2018, April).  Second, the administration’s spokesperson, Mallam Garba Shehu, blamed politicians for sponsoring and encouraging violent attacks (Aziken, & Oyadongha, 2018, April 23).  Third, the administration indicated that the attackers are foreigners who sneaked into the country to carry out the attacks.  Fourth, the administration blamed ISIS for spearheading the violence.  Fifth, the Minister of Defence, Col. Mohammed Dan-Alli (rtd.), blamed the anti-open grazing laws that some states have enacted for causing herdsmen’s attacks (Ogunmade, Obi and Okoh, 2018, January 26). The different explanations given for the attacks simply show that the administration has not committed to finding a solution to the problem.  It is impossible to take a proactive measure when government officials give different explanations for the cause of a problem. The other explanation could be that by giving conflicting explanations, the administration is buying time for the completion of a targeted plan.

Seventeenth, the fact that President Buhari appointed mostly members of his ethnic group and Moslems into very critical national security positions in a country that has about three hundred ethnic groups automatically creates the impression that the president has a hidden agenda, even though he might not have such a sinister plan.  Even if there is no sinister plan, the fact that the president has made statements in the past that tended to support Islamization adds to the doubt about his sincerity.  After all, the president had previously acted and made statements that created the impression that he is committed to Fulanizationn and Islamization.   For example, he went to Oyo State on October 13, 2000 to express his anger concerning the alleged killing of 68 Fulani herdsmen in Saki, Oke Ogun Area of the state.  He took the trip to confront the governor of the state at the time, Alhaji Lam Onalolapo Adesina, in the company of Gen. Buba Marwa, former governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Aliko Muhammed, Alhaji Abdulrazak and Alhaji Hassan and truck-loads of his ethnic members to the governor’s office.  President Buhari allegedly accused the state governor of complicity in the killings and perversion of justice in the sense that the culprits were alleged to have been released without court trial.  The president insisted upon the stoppage of the killings and demanded compensation for the Fulanis (Olaosebikan, 2017, November 18).   After making the charges, the Commissioner of Police and the Director of SSS in Oyo state countered by saying that the indigenes were actually the victims of Fulani provocations and killings (Ibid).     In another ocassion, President Buhari, in 2001, promised to spread the Sharia throughout Nigeria when he declared:

I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria.  God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of Sharia in the country.” (Omokri, 2018, January 17).

 

Perhaps, the desire to Sharianize the country prompted him to strategically hire mostly Moslems to occupy critical national security positions.  It also probably contributed to his efforts to nationalize the cattle business and water resources in the country.  Otherwise, he would not have been so emphatic in trying to establish cattle colonies and ranches throughout Nigeria at a time Southern and Central Nigerians are demanding a restructuring of the country.  It is obvious that restructuring does not fit into his plan for Sharianization and national colonization of cow ranches.

Eighteenth, when some Yorubas and Hausas clashed, resulting in the deaths of 46 and wounding of 96 people in Ife in Southwestern Nigeria, the Nigerian Police Force did not waste time in sweeping in to arrest the culprits.  Surprisingly, the suspects were taken to Abuja, instead of being kept and tried in the area in which the conflict had taken place.  Even though the violent confrontation involved some Yorubas and Hausas, only the Yorubas were paraded by the police on television as the suspects in the case.

Nineteenth, increasingly, the impression is being created that all Nigerians are equal, however, some Nigerians are more superior, hence, are ‘sacred cows.’  Otherwise, what is going on in Nigeria is unacceptable.   When herdsmen kill Ancestralists and Christians, the police do not rush in to arrest and try them for murder or any other serious crime.  On the other hand, whenever a cattle herder is killed, the police immediately swings into action to arrest and try the culprits.  For instance, in Yola State, five Nigerian Christians were sentenced to death for killing a cattle herdsman. The judge rendered judgment based on “criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide which contravened Section 96 (1) (a) and Sections 79 and 221 (b) of the Penal Code of Laws of Adamawa State, 1997” (Yusuf, 2018, June 13). It should be noted that in Abia State, some Igbos were arrested for allegedly killing herdsmen.  While, other Nigerians are easily arrested by the police and army for threatening, attacking and or killing of herdsmen, it is rare to hear of herdsmen being sentenced to death.  Of course, hundreds of herdsmen have been arrested.  Of all the Nigerians that have been killed in Abia, Adamawa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, and Zamfara states, how many herdsmen have been sentenced to death?  The unwillingness of the NPF and other security organizations in dealing with organized killers in a decisive manner, perhaps, prompted the governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari to give up his position as the Chief Security Officer of the state (Sahara Reporters, 2018, June 16).  He realized that he does not have the political and legal authority to compel the chiefs of the security agencies to act decisively and apprehend rampaging killers in his state.

Twentieth, while there is hesitancy on the part of Nigeria’s security forces to deal decisively with marauding herdsmen, it is not the case with groups in other parts of the country.  For instance, as soon as some criminal elements (Oyawerikumo , alas “Kareowi” and his dreaded gang) who were engaged in piracy in Bayelsa and Delta  states were finally caught by a unit of the Nigerian Army attached to the Joint Task Force (Amaize, et al, 2018, January 13), they were summarily executed and their bodies thrown into the river.  In Rivers State, when a notorious criminal gang leader (Don Wani) who was alleged to have masterminded the killing of 22 people in Omoku was caught, he was executed on the spot and his house was destroyed. Thus, in both Bayelsa and Rivers States, criminal elements who are caught are summarily executed by the army units sent to apprehend them.  However, the security forces are very cautious in dealing with herdsmen who are rampaging throughout the country. This statement is not intended to support criminality but to show how the security forces act differently, depending on the group or element they are dealing with at any particular time.

Twenty-first, when leaders of sixteen northern youth groups met in Kaduna and issued an evacuation notice to the Igbos to vacate the North, the NPF, DSS, and the Nigerian Army did not threaten to arrest them on the basis of national security (The Guardian, 2017, June 7).  The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) justified police inaction on the ground of “security implications” of doing so (Nnochiri & Mic-Braimoh, 2017, August 29).  Thus, the northern youth leaders were not even invited for questioning by the police or DSS while IPOB leaders had to run for their lives.  If youth leaders in the Middle Belt, Southeast, Southwest and South-South had given any eviction notice, the Nigerian Police, Army, Navy and the DSS would have gone after them.  The Airforce too would have deployed its helicopters to hunt them down.

Twenty-second, many Nigerians might not pay attention to the fact that it was the leadership of the sixteen northern youth groups, which originally demanded that members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) should be declared as terrorists by the United Nations and Nigeria. In justifying the need to declare IPOB as a terrorist organization, the spokesperson of the coalition of northern youth groups, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman stated: “We became concerned that Kanu has finally crossed the boundaries of Nigerian laws and has blatantly breached international laws that specifically frown at the use of terror to achieve a goal” (Ibrahim, 2017, July 13).

It did not take long after the coalition made the demand on Nigeria and the United Nations before the Federal Government decided to act proactively to stop IPOB demonstrations.   The Nigerian Army poured into the Southeast zone and arrested IPOB members.  Then, it branded IPOB as a terrorist organization and proscribed it.  The army action was immediately followed by that of the Attorney General, who legalized the proscription and branded IPOB as a terrorist organization.  The action by the army and the Attorney General tended to create the impression that the northern youth leaders were working closely with high-level federal government officials, hence, the government decision to take action based on the recommendation of the northern youth coalition.

On the other hand, the Nigerian Army, Police, DSS, the Attorney General and President Buhari have not been willing to declare the marauding herdsmen as terrorists despite the effort made by prominent Nigerians to persuade the Federal Government to do so.  The governments of Taraba and Benue States have pleaded repeatedly for a proactive federal intervention to stop the killings of citizens to no avail.  The lack of political will to deal with the matter compelled Taraba State Government to raise an “alarm that more people may be killed in the state by herdsmen in the coming days unless the Federal Government and the military changed their tactics (Daniel, 2018, March 29).  Likewise, leaders of the Middle Belt, Southeast, Southwest and the South-South have repeatedly called upon President Buhari to declare the herdsmen as terrorists and take proactive measures to prevent the killings but the president is not willing to regard herdsmen as terrorists.  Prof. Wole Soyinka “urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop Nigeria from sinking by putting a stop to the recurring killings in many parts of the country, which he described as ethnic cleansing” (Ndujihe, 2018, Apriil 29). Sensing no positive response from the Federal Government on the need to stop the senseless killings, the European Union (EU) too called upon the Federal Government to take action to prevent the killings.  The EU stated:

While we welcome the visit of President Buhari to affected states, we encourage the government and all stakeholders to engage decisively in order to promote a constructive dialogue with the aim of finding viable solutions and sustainable policies that would permit all to live in peace, whatever their ethnicity or religion” (Adeyemo, 2018, March 13).

Increasingly disturbed by the killings, the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar, “queried the competence of the security agencies and their inability to stop the attacks and killings by herdsmen in Benue State (Adeseun, 2018, Apriil 26).  Based on the legal standard used by the northern youth coalition to characterize IPOB as a terrorist organization, it is puzzling why the same standard is not being applied to characterize herdsmen who have done far worse than IPOB, as terrorists by the Nigerian Army and the Attorney General of the Federation?

Twenty-third, the Nigerian Army, DSS and the Police do not seem to have tolerance for any group that does not tow the line of President Buhari and the All Progressive Congress Party (APC).  As a result, when elders of the South-South decided to meet and strategize under the auspices of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in Port Harcourt, the Nigerian Police stormed the venue of the meeting and prevented the elders of the region from holding a peaceful meeting (Akasike, 2017, October 17).  The NPF took this action, disregarding the fact that the elders of the South-south have been primarily responsible for pleading with the youths not to attack oil facilities.  Thus, the Federal Government even considered a peaceful meeting held by regional leaders in the South as a threat to the national security. Yet, it finds it very difficult to use proactive measures to deal with herdsmen.

Similarly, it was alleged that the leaders and elders of Southern and Middle Belt groups were technically prevented from flying into Makurdi Airport from Abuja to attend a summit on restructuring of the country.  This happened when a plane that was supposed to fly the regional leaders to the capital of Benue State was denied landing by the Nigerian Airforce.  However, the Nigerian Airforce responded to the allegation by explaining that the official procedure required for allowing a civilian plane to land in a military field was not followed, hence, the denial of permission to land in Makurdi military airport (Fabiyi, 2018, July 18).  Despite the prompt response by the Nigerian Airforce to clear the air about the allegation, the reason given does not douse the feeling that the current administration and its supporters are not supportive of the need to restructure the country.  Therefore, whether knowingly or not, an impression is being created that any activity, regardless of its harmlessness, that is viewed as a threat to the strategic interests of the president and the APC is treated as a threat to the national security.

In this regard, when rumors spread that some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party were about to defect to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP and other political parties, the police mobilized to stop the Senate from meeting by blocking the residences of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Senate Deputy President Ike Ekweremadu (Ayitogo, Ogundipe & Busari, 2018, July 24).  This action was immediately followed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) charging of the Deputy Senate President for corruption.  At the same time, probably to punish Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for attempting to defect to the PDP, the police sprung to action to arrest some members of the Benue House of Representative.  Similarly, the EFCC decided to charge the governor for corruption involving the use of the state’s security vote.  Many Nigerians viewed the police actions in Abuja and Benue State as efforts to clamp down on those who do not support the president and the APC.  The actions portrayed the NPF as a partisan organization intended merely to protect the interests of President Buhari and the APC party.

Thus, while the police are very proactive in clamping down on groups that oppose the president and the ruling party, the NPF does not take threats issued by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as threatening to the national security of the country.  Hence, the leadership of the associations are not afraid to justify why herdsmen carry out violence against host communities.  If any Southern business group were to justify the use of violence to achieve its goal, the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Army and the DSS would most likely invite the group leaders for questioning.  Here again, the standard used by the northern youth coalition to characterize IPOB as “having crossed the line” is not considered for application against the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association and the Myyetti Cattle Kautal Hore by the Federal Government.

Twenty-Fourth, while Nigerians and members of the international community were still scratching their heads in bewilderment over the abduction of the Chibok girls, suddenly, the news struck the airwaves that 110 students of the Government Girls Science and Technical College had been abducted in Dapchi on February 19, 2018 (Sahara Reporters, 2018, March 7).  As the media probed the circumstances surrounding the abduction, they discovered that an army unit that was posted to the area to provide security was removed days before Boko Haram invaded the school and abducted the students.  In reaction, people wondered why the Nigeria Army removed the unit from the area knowing that a girls’ school is located in the area and Boko Haram could attack.  Nigerians wanted to know who gave the order to remove the army unit from the area.  In response, the Nigerian Army stated that the army unit was removed from Dapchi and redeployed in Kanama to provide security since the Dapchi area was considered safe and secured at the time.  The army further added that the police unit in the area was formally given the responsibility to provide security for Dapchi.   The Police countered the army story by saying that it did not receive any official handing over notice to bear responsibility for providing security to the community (Onani, 2018, February 27). The sudden removal of the army unit and the sudden abduction of the school girls tended to create the impression that the Dapchi affair was an inside job.  This meant that there was some kind of collusion between Boko Haram and some elements of the security forces.

Just like in the Chibok affair, questions started popping up about the capability of Boko Haram to move so swiftly in a security zone and abduct more than one hundred students without any inhibition.  Thus, how was it possible for Boko Haram insurgents to get to the school with two or three vehicles without being seen by any unit of the Nigerian Army or Police or DSS?  How was it possible for Boko Haram insurgents to drive away from the scene and disappear into the unknown with over 100 students without any unit of the security forces stopping them along the way?  The ease with which Boko Haram carried out the operation led some Nigerians to speculate that the organization worked directly with the army, hence, the army unit in Dapchi was removed to make it easy for Boko Haram to carry out the mission.  Some Nigerians went further in speculating that, perhaps, a unit of the Nigerian Army was directly responsible for staging the event in order to boost the sagging image of President Buhari.

As wonders never end in Nigeria, about three weeks after the abduction, the insurgents surprisingly returned 105 of the kidnapped girls back to Dapchi.  In doing so, they received a hero’s welcome from some members of the community.  After dropping the girls off, the abductors drove off again without being stopped by the Army or Police or DSS. Under normal circumstances, police and other members of the security forces would have tracked or trailed the abductors to find out their hideout and then plan an operation to round them up later.  This did not happen, meaning that there was a sort of agreement between the security forces and the Boko Haram, which guaranteed the insurgents a free and safe passage.  Consequently, the insurgents drove into Dapchi with their flags openly displayed to return the girls and then drove into the sunset without being accosted.  It is generally believed that the insurgents returned the 105 girls because they are Moslems (Maclean & Abrak, 2018, March 21).  However, Leah Sharibu, one of the kidnapped victims, being a Christian, was left behind because she refused to convert to Islam and still remains in captivity today.

Twenty-fifth, one of the most disturbing aspects of the actions, inactions and circumstances that compel some Nigerians like Gen. Danjuma to say that Nigeria’s security forces are colluding with herdsmen and Boko Harm to kill Nigerians is the issue of HERSDMEN ATTACKS.  It is a fact that herdsmen and farmers have through the years clashed violently about the right to own or use land for farming or grazing.  However, the attacks increased threefold since President Buhari became the political head of an elected government in Nigeria in May 2015.  Some Nigerians inferred that the herdsmen are embolden to launch attacks all over the country because President Buhari intentionally hired mostly Nigerian Moslems to occupy important national security positions.  Some Nigerians further add that among the Moslems hired from the multitudes of ethnic groups, the Fulanis seemed to occupy the most critical positions, thereby, reinforcing the view that this is the Fulani time to fully control Nigeria.  Due to the overwhelming representation of the Fulanis in Buhari’s administration, many Nigerians are increasingly using “sacred cows” to refer to them.  By implication, since they are treated as sacred cows, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police and the DSS cannot and do not go after them.  Perhaps, this is why herdsmen openly carry guns without being arrested by the police for carrying illegal firearms.

A worrisome aspect of the actions and inactions of the security forces is that even when they know that herdsmen are about to attack a particular community, they do not take proactive measures to prevent the attack.  Hence, time after time, community leaders and state officials alert the public and inform the security forces about impending attacks, yet, the security forces rarely act on the information until after the attacks have taken place.  This contributes to the reason why many Nigerians are convinced that the Nigerian Army and the Police are colluding with herdsmen and other violent gangs.  In places like Benue, Enugu, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, and Zamfara states, security officials are most often informed about impending attacks.    For instance, in the Plateau State killings, which took 120 lives, a witness stated: “We informed members of the Special Task Force (STF) on Jos crisis.  They went to one of the villages but the attackers had committed the havoc and left” (Ajijah, 2018, June 24).  Thus, the security forces generally do not act decisively to prevent the attacks until after the attacks have taken place.  For instance, Da Sambo Chollom (Mai Angwa), a Ward Head in Dorowa Babuje narrated the ordeal of his community by saying:

The herders have plucked virtually everything from our farms; we don’t know what to do.  To enable us to scavenge the few crops they left, we had to seek the assistance of the Mobile Police Force to go to the farms as we were tired of going to the Operation Safe Haven who would not respond to us when we sought their assistance (Polycarp, 2018, July 21).

 

The unwillingness to respond in a timely fashion when informed about an impending attack probably contributed to the death of 120 people in Plateau State in June 2018.  To be able to kill 120 people, the attackers took the time to plan and reinforce before carrying out the operation, yet, not the army or police or DSS heard about the intended operation until after the mass killings had taken place. The same could be said of the January 2018 killings which took 73 lives in Benue State. The lack of response by the security forces led to the attacks in Nimbo in Enugu State and Agatu in Benue State.

Twenty-sixth, the Nigerian military tend to apply different standards even when carrying out military exercises in the country.  In Southeast, Southwest and the South-South, it seems that military exercises are designed to intimidate and arrest or kill potential troublemakers.  Thus, during such exercises, like during Crocodile Smiles 1 and 2 and Python Dance 1 and 2, the military adopt aggressive posture by arresting and detaining alleged troublemakers.  This means that military operations in these zones are intended as sweeping operations to clear or weed out alleged trouble-makers and would-be-trouble-makers.  However, in the Cat Dance military exercise in the Middle Belt, it appeared that instead of carrying out sweeping operations to stop or deter or prevent militants and herdsmen attacks, the indigenous communities seemed to feel the pressure of the military presence more than the killers.  This accounted for why despite the presence of the military, herdsmen continued to launch attacks and kill people without the military reacting forcefully to stop them. Yinka Odumakin of Vanguard noticed the different standard when he wrote:

Given the recent Operation Python Dance which allegedly inflicted horrors in the South east and “Operation Crocodile Smile” in South West and South-South, which has reportedly claimed some casualties in South West, the rumours became some referendum on the loss of faith in the Nigerian state (2017, October 24).

 

Twenty-seventh, it could be said that members of the Nigerian armed forces have established a reputation for dealing with civilians who provoke them.  Thus, going back to the pre-civil war years, Nigeria’s military men have never hesitated in ganging-up and beating up civilians who allegedly provoked them in one way or another.    Even police officers have been beaten up for having an altercation with a member of the armed forces.  In some cases, entire communities have been raided and destroyed to “pay back in kind” for assaulting members of the armed forces. Some of the most notorious cases of military overkill included Odi, Zaki Biam, Odiama, Gbaramatu, Oyakoromo and a host of other communities. In Benue State recently, soldiers stormed Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area and burnt houses in response to the killing of a solder by some members of the community.  Even though the suspects who killed the soldier were arrested, soldiers still decided to pay back in kind by burning down an entire section of the community. A resident, Francis Ayagah narrated what happened:

A soldier was killed by hoodlums yesterday, but I met the brigade commander around 4:30am today.”  …  He gave me a list of suspects and we arrested five of them overnight.  It was while we trying to take them to the brigade that soldiers stormed the town and started burning houses.  A whole part of the town has been completely burnt down and we’re appealing for help and understanding from the soldiers. (Ogunipe, 2018, April 19)

 

Due to their reputation, Nigerians expect Nigerian soldiers and police officers to react towards the killings of their members by paying back in kind to herdsmen who did so.   Surprisingly, the members of the armed and police forces have not shown any inclination to “pay back in kin”’ when marauding herdsmen kill their members.  However, it is quite noticeable that solders have not been eager to carry out reprisal attacks against herdsmen or their communities for killing any member of the armed forces.  Why are soldiers not eager to “pay back in kind” when herdsmen kill their members? Could it be that herdsmen are treated as “sacred cows” by the current administration, hence, soldiers do not want to risk their careers by paying back against herdsmen for the killing of their members?  It is amazing how soldiers swiftly reacted when members of an indigenous community in Benue State killed their member compared to the general lack of interest in taking on herdsmen for killing members of the armed and police forces.  Even though the residents of Naka demonstrated good faith by arresting the individual who killed a soldier, soldiers still poured into the community to avenge the death.

Twenty-eighth, even though the actions and inactions of the security forces tend to create the impression that there is collusion going on, none of them have made serious attempt to probe the conduct of its members who have been involved in suspicious circumstances since the Buhari administration came into power.  Not until Lt. Gen. Danjuma (rtd) accused the Nigerian armed forces of colluding with herdsmen to kill Nigerians before the Nigerian Army decided to establish a committee to probe whether some of its officers are colluding with herdsmen or not.  Vanguard reported: “The Nigerian Army has set up a panel of inquiry to probe allegations by some Nigerians that its personnel were colluding with Fulani herdsmen in the killing of people in Taraba and Benue States” (Erunke, 2018, April 9).  The internal investigation committee eventually cleared the army of any collusion.  Some Nigerians criticized the army report and insisted upon an independent investigation of the matter, due to the seriousness of the allegation.

It is assumable that if Gen. Danjuma had not spoken publicly, the Nigerian Army would not have conducted an internal probe of the allegation that its personnel were colluding with Boko Haram and herdsmen to kill Nigerians and destroy communities that oppose cow grazing in their lands.  This view is necessitated by the fact that before Gen. Danjuma made his thought-provoking declaration, other Nigerians, including Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and Dr. Paul Unongo had made similar allegations against the security forces but none of the branches of the security forces took the allegations seriously.  It might be interesting to know whether the Nigeria Airforce too would develop a plan to probe the allegation that some of its planes were used to attack some villages and towns at the same time that herdsmen were attacking the same communities in Taraba State.

Twenty-ninth, the actions and inactions of Buhari administration create the impression that it is doggedly committed to nationalizing the cattle industry and spreading the Fulani people all over Nigeria.  Hence, the administration wants to use taxpayers’ money to subsidize the establishment of ranches in Nigeria even though cattle owners are some of the richest Nigerians.  In other countries, cattle owners do not want to invest their own funds to buy land and establish private cattle ranches.  In Nigeria, the Federal Government of President Buhari wants to spend about N179bn to establish ranches for the rich owners of cows, even though they are engaged in a private business.

Thirtieth, apart from trying to establish cattle ranches, the Buhari administration also wants to nationalize water resources in Nigeria by proposing a bill which is intended to take away the right of indigenous communities to make decision about the rivers, creeks and lakes in their territories (Adesomoju, A., Baiyewu, L., and Aluko, O. (2018, May 25).  Some Nigerians regard the water bill as another effort to reward cattle owners while depriving indigenous groups the right to make decisions about resources in their territories. If such a bill passes the National Assembly, Nigerians would no longer be able to use the waters in their communities freely without first getting approval from some government agencies.  On the other hand, it would allow the Federal Government the right to remove, relocate, settle and resettle people whenever it wants.  In such a scenario, Nigeria would end up looking like a communist country where the national government has total control over the management of the state.

While the Buhari administration is committed to rewarding cattle owners and herders generally, he has not spoken fervently about rehabilitating farmers whose farms have been destroyed by cattle herders.  There is also no plan so far to rehabilitate Nigerians whose communities have been destroyed in Benue, Bornu, Enugu, Plateau, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara States.  Of course, the presidency has not made a statement about compensating the families of those killed by cattle herders and other unknown gangs that are terrorizing the country.  The Buhari administration has also not made any statement concerning the rehabilitation of those whose farms and fishing waters have been devastated in the Niger Delta/South-South zone through oil pollution and gas flaring.

Thirty-first, it is most likely that the war against Boko Haram would not end soon.  The reason is that the war has political, military, religious and financial dimensions.  It seems that whenever Boko Haram is militarily degraded by the Nigerian Army and Airforce, something always happens either by design or unintentionally to rejuvenate it.  Quite, often, the actions and inactions of the government greatly contribute to the rejuvenation of the organization when it runs into trouble.   This observation is supported by the fact that the Federal Government has announced many times that Boko Haram has been defeated.  Yet, Boko Haram always come back to counteract the government statement.  Similarly, the Federal Government has announced at least twice that the Sambisa Forest has been retaken from Boko Haram.  Yet, Boko Haram always get back into the forest to destabilize Northeastern Nigeria.

The failure of intelligence in locating the whereabouts of the remaining Chibok girls has forced the Nigerian Government to negotiate and pay ransom to Boko Haram.  Quite often, part of the negotiated agreement includes financial payments and releasing of important Boko Haram’s field commanders and fighters in exchange for the release of some of the school girls and other captives.  The problem is that whenever the national government pays money to have some abductees released, Boko Haram uses the money to buy more sophisticated weapons and recruit more people into its ranks to fight the Nigerian military.  Apparently, the government approach in dealing with Boko Haram leads to a catch 22 situation whereby the government either intentionally or unintentionally rejuvenates the organization through its own actions.

In addition, perhaps, due to religious affinity, the Federal Government occasionally releases hundreds of Boko Haram fighters that were captured as prisoners by Nigerian security forces.  The government always justify the release on the ground that the ex-fighters have reformed.  Allegations have been made by some Nigerians that some of the released fighters eventually go back to rejoin and fight for Boko Haram again.  Obviously, it is like a revolving door thing in the sense that the security forces fight so hard to capture Boko Haram fighters and the Nigerian government then releases some of them to go back and rejoin their comrades to continue the war against Nigeria. It is, therefore, not surprising that Boko Haram attacked a Nigerian military base in Jilli in Yobe State recently (Moritz-Rabson, 2018, July 17). This is in addition to the recent Boko Haram ambush of Nigerian troops in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State (Haruna, 2018, July16). In fact, Boko Haram is becoming very adept at attacking military and police bases now.  In other words, it is repeating in 2018 what it did in 2014 when it overran military posts and carted away weapons to enrich its arsenal. Boko Haram is tactically becoming very efficient in targeting soldiers, police officers and civilian members of the security forces. The fact that Boko Haram, especially the Abu-Mus’ab Al-Barnawi faction, is attacking military and police bases, indicates that the organization is gaining strength.

Thirty-second, concerning the marauding herdsmen and unknown armed gangs, the Federal Government of Nigeria does not want to concede the fact that they operate as terrorists by terrorizing Nigerians.  As a result, the president avoids speaking about the issue and taking actions that might put a dent on the senseless killings.  The killers are keenly aware that the Federal Government is not committed to dealing with them.  This is why they are able to invade, kill and destroy communities even when soldiers and police officers are around in the neighborhood.  In other words, the herdsmen and armed killers are not afraid of the security forces, perhaps, convinced that they have a political godfather to protect them.  Since there is no political will to take proactive action, the security forces maintain the view that they cannot do much to prevent attacks since they have not been given the “MARCHING ORDER TO ACT DECISIVELY.”  Evidently, the army folds its arms, the police looks the other way and the DSS feigns ignorance of the gruesome killings. It is ironic that the Nigerian Army that went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Balkans to stop bloody conflicts heroically cannot quench bloody fires in its own territory.  It is sad that the NA is now a mere shadow of its former self.  The Nigerian Police Force look increasingly like a security outfit for the president and the APC party and not as a professional national law enforcement organization.  Law enforcement decisions are made through political calculations of the ruling political party and the president.

Thirty-third, in an attempt to explain the cause of herdsmen attacks, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State explained that illiteracy is responsible for the violent attacks against farming communities.  He states that “the average Fulani herdsman is not literate and because of the nature of their activities they were prone to violence” (Ogbolu, 2018, March 5).  Well, if illiteracy is a contributing factor, then the leaders of the ethnic group and northern political and military leaders should be held accountable for not making the effort to send their youths to school in sufficient numbers for decades.  It is a fact that the Islamic North has produced most Nigerian leaders since October 1, 1960.  Yet, it never occurred to them to institute a vigorous regional educational program to educate the youths of the region.  Now, the entire country is bleeding for the lack of foresight in the educational sector.  However, the reason advanced is not very satisfactory considering the fact that youths in the Middle Belt are sufficiently educated compared those in the Upper Islamic North. How was it possible for Middle Belt leaders to send their youths to school in large numbers and those in the Islamic North failed to do so for decades?

Thirty-fourth, since the coming of this administration, Nigeria’s security forces have never hesitated to mobilize fully to squash activities or demonstrations that are targeted at the administration or the APC political party.  Hence, the Inspector General of Police did not hesitate to mobilize 30,000 police officers in Ekiti State during the recent gubernatorial election.  The army and DSS also mobilized their forces in the state.  Some Nigerians felt that the heavy-handed security presence was intended to intimidate voters who wished to vote for the opposition and ensure the victory of the APC candidate.  If the IGP can mobilize 30,000 police officers to a single state during an election, why is it so difficult for the IGP to mobilize 30,000 officers to prevent killings in Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba Yobe and Zamfara states?

Thirty-fifth, obviously, the actions, inactions and circumstances surrounding the manner in which the Federal Government of Nigeria responds to the killings is compelling the Amnesty International to say that the government is encouraging the killings.  Premium Times reports: “Rights group, Amnesty International, says the failure of Nigerian government to hold murderers to account is encouraging them and fueling rising insecurity” (2018, June 28).

Thirty-sixth, the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina is credited to have made a statement indicating that Nigerian communities should give up land for cattle colonies and or ranches in order to save themselves from being killed (Akinrefon, 2018, July 5).  The notion of giving up land for life creates the impression that the Federal Government does not want to act proactively to stop the killings, hoping in the process that after thousands of Nigerians might have been killed, those who resist giving up their lands would finally agree to allow cattle colonies or ranches to be established.  This further creates the impression that the president’s inaction and the unwillingness of the security forces to act decisively are part of a calculated strategy designed to achieve a particular goal.

Thirty-seventh, the view that Nigeria is gradually disintegrating due to a feeling that President Buhari is Fulanizing, regionalizing and Islamizing the country is leading to a distrust of the Federal Government among Southern and Central Nigerians.  Even ethnic groups in Upper Northern Nigeria too are increasingly concerned about the direction of the country since the uncontrollable killings are also taking place in Adamawa, Bornu, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states.  The concern translates into a distrust of the government and the national security organizations.  The increasing distrust of the Federal Government was ably demonstrated when the Nigerian Army launched a vaccination program for school children in the country. When parents heard about the program, they rushed to the schools and hurriedly picked up their children to avoid the army vaccinating them.   Yinka Odumakin of Vanguard described the panic that ensued:

From the entire South East through Rivers, en route Ondo and down to Borno states we have seen worrying images of school children “pick am for race” at the rumours that soldiers were approaching their schools to vaccinate them.  Parents are not left out as they rush to schools to take their children home.  I saw a woman scaling a fence that even men will have difficulty climbing in order to get hold of her child (2017, October 24).

 

The Nigerian Army eventually stopped the program on realizing that Nigerians were distrustful of the effort (Adebowale, 2017, October 14).

Thirty-eighth, while the Buhari administration and some northern Islamic and political leaders attribute the violent attacks on the struggle for land space between farmers and cattle herders, it seems that the herdsmen are not hiding their actual intention.  A group known as the Fulani Nationality Movement, according to Rev. David Oyedepo, the founder of the Living Faith Church, Worldwide, sent him a letter saying that “there will be no peace until cattle colonies are established in all states in Nigeria (Daily Post, 2018 .”  According to him, the group added “We have asked all Fulani herdsmen all over West Africa to move to Nigeria and penetrate every corner for the upcoming jihad” (Ibid.).  However, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), through its National Secretary, Baba Othman Ngelzarma, recently made a statement disassociating itself from any kind of violence in the country (Opejobi, 2018, July 18).

Thirty-ninth, the fact that all critical positions relating to the national security of Nigeria are held by mostly Moslems of Hausa-Fulani ethnicity, adds to the suspicion that something strange is going on in Nigeria.  Indeed, the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Airforce, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, National Security Agency, Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), Chief Security Officer, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Prison, Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Special Protection Unit, Nigeria Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority, etc., are led by Moslems from the Islamic North (Ogbeche, 2016, August 11).   The only exceptions are the Nigeria Navy and Defence Staff, which are led by Southerners.  This is taking place in a country, which is multiethnic and multi-religious with about 200 million people. Likewise, the director general of the DSS has just been replaced by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo after the agency blockaded the National Assembly to prevent the members from holding a meeting.

Fortieth, Apart from the fact that all national security-related positions are held by Moslems, President Buhari compulsorily retired many senior army officers.  Most of the retired officers came from the South (Southwest, Southeast and the South-south).  This means that a large proportion of senior Christian and Ancestralist army officers have been pushed out of the army.  Due to the forced retirement, the Nigerian Army is no longer a national army but a regionalized force with all critical positions held by Islamic officers.  This is why military officers from the Southern and Central Nigeria (Middle Belt) are no longer visible.  They perform their duties behind the limelight and remain quiet.

Forty-first, it is inferable that a certain degree of conspiracy intended to achieve a particular goal, which is contrary to the national security of Nigeria is going on among some of the security chiefs in the country.  This inference can be attested to by pinpointing certain circumstances.  (1) The NPF deployed 30, 000 officers during the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State.  Other security agencies, including the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Service also mobilized their forces.  (2) As soon as it was made known that Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State might defect from the APC, trouble started brewing up in Benue State House of Assembly.  A group of eight legislators, which are loyal to a former governor of the state and backed by the NPF and DSS, decided to impeach Governor Ortom and the Speaker of the State House, Mr. Terkimbir Iyange.  (3) Then, the DSS and the NPF mobilized their forces to blockade the State House of Assembly so that the eight legislators could carry out their impeachment exercise while preventing other 22 state legislators from entering the State House of Assembly. (4) This action was followed by EFCC’s announcement to file charges of corruption against Governor Ortom over alleged misuse of the state’s security vote.  (5) When the story of the likely defections of some APC legislators in the National Assembly spread, the NPF sent officers to blockade the residences of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President.  (6) The EFCC decided after the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State to charge Governor Peter Fayose of Ekiti State and his wife for corruption. (7) Some APC legislators decided to impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki.  (8) Then, on August 7, 2018, the DSS blockaded the National Assembly to prevent the leaders of both houses to meet and discuss pertinent national issues. (9)  The EFCC freezes the accounts of Benue and Akwa Ibom States.  Even though the Inspector General of Police stated that the police were not involved in the blockading of the National House of Assembly, the actions of the NPF, DSS and EFCC indicate a coordinated effort to achieve a certain political goal.

It looks like the Ekiti show of force by the NPF and the DSS was reenacted in Benue State. Benue State eventually became the laboratory from which the blockade of the National Assembly took place. These actions indicate that the NPF, DSS, and EFCC coordinate their actions.  If that is the case, then it means that the security chiefs work from the same template in dealing with security in the country.  This further means that probably the security chiefs strategically decided to go soft on cattle herdsmen who go on violent rampage in the country in order to achieve a particular goal.  The reason is that these security organizations have no hesitation to mobilize their forces and act decisively when certain political interests are threaten, yet, decline to act decisively against herdsmen and other organized armed militias that are killing Nigerians aimlessly.

Consequently, whether there is collusion or not, the distrust of the Federal Government and its security institutions are very high in the the country since President Buhari ascended the national political throne.    Similarly, there is a feeling among indigenous ethnic groups throughout the country that a jihad has been launched through violence that is similar to what happened in Darfur, Sudan, to eliminate them and take over their lands.  Therefore, it is not by accident that Nigerians are being killed in Benue, Bornu, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamafara states and there is not much response from the appropriate authorities.

The saddest part of the Nigerian story is that while the Islamic countries of the Arab world are steadily developing, modernizing, and innovating their scientific and technological capabilities, Nigerians are busy debating whether cows should still be allowed to roam all over the country.  While the Arabs are turning their countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain  etc.) into centers of science and technology, Nigerians are being killed for not allowing cows to roam all over the place and destroy farms.  Instead of turning Nigeria into a 21st century country, there is a debate about turning the country back to the 18th or 19th century so that cows can roam free.  It is not an overstatement to say that Nigeria is going backward, instead of forward.  This is why citizens who have gun-shot injuries are expected to have police reports before they are treated by the hospitals. Many Nigerians have died because the hospitals refused to treat them without police report.  This is taking place in the 21st century.  Who in this world does not know that any gun-shot injury requires immediate medical attention to avoid death?

 

Implications

Based on the identified actions, inactions and questionable circumstances generated by this administration and the security forces in dealing with Boko Haram and marauding killers, the following implications are drawn:

  1. There is no doubt that there is a farmers–herdsmen conflict over the right to use land, resulting in violence and the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, including members of host communities and the Fulanis.

 

  1. There is also no doubt that cattle are being rustled in large scale by criminals who prey on pastoral cattle herdsmen and their communities. This forces cattle herders to become proactive in protecting their cattle and defending themselves, resulting in undue use of violence by the herders.
  2. However, the spate of killings, starting from 2016, cannot be attributed to farmers vs. cattle herdsmen conflict alone. The reason is that the killings and destruction of host communities by either herdsmen or unknown militias showed an organized framework intended to achieve a strategic political goal of reordering or rearranging the right of land ownership in the country.

The tactics deployed to kill people and destroy communities are eerily similar to the tactics that the Janjaweed militia used in Darfur, Sudan.

 

  1. The Federal Government’s lethargic approach in dealing with the gruesome killings of people and the destruction of host communities eerily resembles the response of the Sudanese Government to the Janjaweed killings in Darfur, Sudan. In fact, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan for war crimes and crimes against humanity over Darfur killings (Rice, 2009, March 4).

 

  1. Thus, the actions, inactions and tendencies of the Federal Government under President Buhari, create a feeling that the administration has an agenda quite contrary to the national security of Nigeria.

 

  1. The excessive recruitment of Moslems into high-level national security positions in a country that is multi-religious creates the impression that there is an agenda towards Islamization of Nigeria.

 

  1. The excessive recruitment of Fulanis into high-level national security positions by a president who is a Fulani in a country that is multiethnic, creates the impression that there is a Fulani agenda to dominate Nigeria in totality.

 

  1. The repeated efforts of President Buhari to establish cattle colonies and ranches throughout Nigeria in a country that is multiethnic with diverse business interests, creates the feeling that there is a plan to Fulanize and Islamize Nigeria.

 

  1. The fact that thousands of people have been killed and scores of communities destroyed by herdsmen and unknown armed gangs or militias without the security forces taking proactive measures to stop them creates the impression that there is a secret code of conduct for treating cattle herders. In other words, cattle herders are “sacred cows” and cannot be touched by the security forces.

 

  1. The fact that Nigerians have been killed in Abia, Benue, Bornu, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara states by unknown herdsmen and or assailants/militias while the security forces look on, creates a feeling that host communities are tactically being eliminated to make way for settlers to take over.

 

  1. The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Minister of Defence, Minister of Internal Affairs and the Director General of DSS blamed anti-open grazing laws for the killings despite the fact that people are also being killed in Nasarawa, Kaduna, Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states that do not have anti-open grazing laws, creates the impression that herdsmen are being encouraged and protected.

 

  1. The fact that the EFFCC only fights its war on corruption against members of the opposition and those who do not agree with the president and the All Progressives Congress (APC) indicates that there is an agenda to control the country.

 

  1. An implication could be drawn to say that the coordinated efforts of the NPF, DSS and the EFCC to achieve a certain political goal in the country could be interpreted as the reason why these security organizations, including the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Airforce have not been proactive in curtailing violence perpetrated by herdsmen and other armed militias. It is also responsible for the lack of decisive action in defeating Boko Haram.

 

Recommendations

Based on the aforementioned actions, inactions and circumstances, the following recommendations are made to ameliorate the perception that Nigeria’s security forces are colluding with herdsmen and Boko Haram to kill Nigerians

 

  1. President Buhari urgently needs to Nigerianize the chiefs of security in the country. This means that he must choose the heads of the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Airforce, Nigerian Navy, the Minister of Defence, Minister of Internal Affairs, Director of Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), Director of State Service (DSS), Director of Immigration, Director of Customs, and … from different zones of the country.  Currently, the heads of these organizations are mostly Moslems and mostly Hausa-Fulani in a country of about 300 ethnic groups.  The only exception right now is that the head of the Navy and the Chief of Defense Staff are from the South. There is not a single individual from the Southeast zone serving as a security chief.

 

  1. The National Assembly needs to pass a law banning undue recruitment of people into high-level national government positions from members of the president’s family, ethnic group and region. Currently, President Buhari is surrounded by his family and tribal members, thereby, inhibiting his ability to function effectively as a president of a multiethnic and a multi-religious nation.  Thus, it is a threat to the national security of Nigeria to have a president who surround himself/herself with only members of his family, ethnic group and region in a multiethnic and multi-religious society.

 

  1. The Federal Government must apply the same standard in treating all Nigerians. There can be no sacred cows.  If IPOB is treated as a terrorist organization, even though it is not, then, herdsmen and the unknown armed gangs must also be treated as terrorists.  This also means that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore too should be proscribed.

 

  1. The head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) must not come from the same ethnic group and religion as that of the president. If the president is from the North, then the EFCC chair must come from the South or Middle Belt. If the president is from the South or Middle Belt, then the chair of the EFCC must come from the Upper North.

 

  1. Similarly, if the president comes from the North and is a Muslim, then, the head of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) must come from either the South or the Middle Belt and must be an Ancestralist or a Christian and vice versa. If a Christian becomes a president, the head of the INEC must be a Moslem or an Ancestralist.

 

  1. The president should stop trying to nationalize the cattle business and water resources in the country because Nigeria is not a Communist country and neither is it a dictatorship. The states and local governments must be allowed to generate economic activities and ensure the safety and security of their citizens. Nigeria is an African country with a communal culture.

 

  1. The actions and inactions of the president and the heads of the security chiefs are creating the impression that herdsmen are killing other Nigerians so that they can take over the country and dominate West Africa. This is why there is apprehension in the region about what is going on in Nigeria.  The situation is so tense that in Mali, members of the Dogo group attacked a Fulani village in Mali and killed 31 people. Thus, the Nigerian situation could actually expose Fulanis throughout West Africa to a greater danger.  President Buhari must act fast to stop the killings and destruction of communities.

 

  1. It is inappropriate to compare Nigeria and Ghana, as Ishaq Akintola, the director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) did when he said:

But Ghanaians did not crucify their president because of the clashes but solve the problem by establishing their first cattle ranch last week at Afram Plains in the eastern region.  It is time to face realities.  We must borrow a leaf from Ghana (Premium Times, 2018, July 16).

 

The reason is that Ghana is not as tribalized, regionalized and religionized as Nigeria.  Ghanaians worked very hard, right from the beginning to build a united country while Nigerians were tribalized, regionalized and regilionized even before Nigeria gained independence.  Nigeria had a bloody civil war due to the distrust emanating from the injustice of the Nigerian system.  Ghana had never had a bloody civil war.   In Nigeria, whenever the federal and state governments take land from the people under public domain, they rarely make effort to properly relocate and appropriately compensate them.  The people of Maroko and Abuja can testify to this fact. Since Nigeria nationalized oil and gas resources, the Federal Government has never made a serious effort to clean the environment.  Due to the failure, the Niger Delta/South-South people are suffering all kinds of medical maladies due to pollution, gas flaying and acid rain.

In the current administration, despite the fact that Nigeria has about 300 ethnic groups, only members of the president’s ethnic group dominate the national security machinery.  In addition, it is mostly members of a particular religion that control the entire security system.  Due to the tribalistic, regionalistic and religionistic nature of the current administration, if cattle ranches are established by the Nigerian Government, there is no guarantee that those who wield national power would not use the Nigerian Police Force, Department of State Service and the Nigerian Army to intimidate communities which do not agree with the cattle herders.    National cattle ranches would contribute to more conflict between cattle herdsmen and farming communities.

As pointed out above, there are sufficient circumstantial evidence to say that the actions and inactions of the Federal Government and the security forces, point to a certain degree of collaboration among certain elements in government with the marauding killers.  This is why the security forces are not acting decisively to degrade the attacks on Nigerians.  However, in the final analysis, the question of whether the security forces are colluding with cattle herders to intimidate and terrorize Nigerians can best be answered or determined by the reader.

 

  1. Times have changed due to urbanization and an increase in population. This means that it is time for cattle breeders to change from the pastoral way of breeding and managing cattle to ranching.  This further means that they should invest some of their wealth in buying or renting land to establish ranches.

 

  1. To save Nigeria from a political disaster, the National Assembly should set in motion a plan to restructure the country if the president and the APC are not willing to do so.

 

References

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Cameroon and Nigeria: Tethering on the edge of the political cliff due to internal colonialism

Cameroon and Nigeria:  Tethering on the edge of the political cliff due to Internal Colonialism

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

 

 

It is inferable that the colonial era in Africa is gradually coming to an end in the twenty—first century, following the demand by many African ethnic groups and regions for a change or a restructuring of their colonially-induced countries.  The reason is that a considerable number of ethnic and regional groups have never been happy or satisfied with the territorial, political, governmental and administrative arrangements, structures, institutions and processes of governance that the European colonial powers foisted upon them.  Thus, after four or five decades of experimenting with the European created states, they now feel that it is time to change or restructure or rearrange the countries to ensure equal rights, democratic representation .and equity in the distribution of political power and national resources.

It should be noted that almost all modern African states, with the exception of a few, came into being through forceful incorporation by European military powers.  The European powers did not care about the needs, desires and aspirations of the African people while they hurriedly created the colonies as agricultural and political plantations to boost their geopolitical and economic interests as they competed among themselves to dominate the world.  The arbitrariness of the colonies which subsequently became states on supposed independence, adversely affected a majority of the ethnic groups and regions while rewarding a tiny minority of individuals, ethnic groups and regions in the African continent.

As a result, many ethnic groups and regions feel unhappy, restricted, discriminated and marginalized as external (European) colonialism was transformed into internal (African) colonialism, whereby, a tiny minority of ethnic groups and regions ended up dominating and playing the role of colonial masters to other African ethnic groups and regions.  Thus, every modern African state today is characterized by internal colonialism with one or two ethnic group(s) or region(s) lording over other ethnic groups and regions to the point of violating their natural right to exist in a given territorial space and enjoy the resources/fruits of their territory without pleading to someone else for crumbs. 

Purpose of this write up:

The purpose of this write up is to accomplish the following: (1) explore the issue of internal colonialism in Africa with a particular focus on Cameroon and Nigeria; (2) briefly examine the historical and political factors that contribute to dissatisfaction among citizens of these two countries; (3) find out whether it is appropriate to use the term “post-colonial” in referring to the current status of African states that were created by European powers.

Argument

Due to the nature of the topic, the following arguments are made here:  First, although, all modern African states claim to be sovereign nations after supposedly gaining political independence from their European colonial masters and are recognized as such under international law, they are not.  Secondly, African states are not sovereign nations because European colonialism was replaced by internal (African) colonialism on independence.  Third, in this regard, Cameroon and Nigeria, like other modern African states, are facing crises of internal colonialism where one or two ethnic groups and or regions, supported by their former European colonial powers, dominate and impose their will on other ethnic groups and regions.  Fourth, due to the continuation of the colonial system, it is fallacious to refer to African countries as “post-colonial” states.   The “Post-colonial” era will come into being when current African states are restructured or reorganized to reflect their African character, as well as ensure equal representation and fair distribution of political power and national resources to their constituents, regardless of race, ethnicity, region, religion and political affiliation.

First, although, all modern African states claim to be sovereign nations after supposedly gaining political independence from their European colonial masters and are recognized as such under international law, it is argued here that they are not.

By and large, African states continue to operate under the philosophical, territorial, political, governmental, judicial, security and economic foundations laid down by the European colonial powers.  As a result, the states continue to infringe upon the rights of many ethnic groups and regions which feel trapped by the colonially-induced state system.   In almost all African countries, there are issues concerning constitutionality, territorial rights, governance and the distribution of political and national resources.  This creates anger and the demand for a rearrangement or a restructuring of the states. Thus, modern African states are not independent for the following reasons:

On independence, no referendum or a constitutional conference was held in a majority of the countries to allow the ethnic groups and regions to determine freely whether they wanted to remain in the states they found themselves or go their separate ways or rearrange the political frameworks.  Thus, the very first political action that the indigenous African political leaders would have taken as soon as they became the presidents and prime ministers, would have been to call a constitutional conference and invite the ethnic, regional and religious groups to decide whether changes should be made or not to make the states inclusive of all groups and regions. The exception was Southern and Northwestern Cameroon, in which a referendum was held, thereby, allowing Northwestern Cameroon to join Nigeria and Southwestern Cameroon to join the Republic of Cameroon. 

Following the supposed independence, no major territorial adjustments were made by the indigenous African political leaders to adjust or ensure that territorial boundaries were compatible with the geographical distributions of the ethnic groups.  Due to the failure, a vast majority of African states today have conflicted territorial boundaries with many ethnic groups scattered into multiple states.  The Tutsis, for example, are found in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Hausas are found in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Benin and possibly Ghana.  The Ewe are located in Benin, Togo and Ghana.  The Fulanis are located in about ten states, starting from the Sene-Gambian/Guinean region and extending to Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan and etc.  The Tuaregs are located in Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauretania and etc.  The Mande people are found in Guinea, Liberia and possibly Sierra Leone. The Berbers can be found in multiple Arab countries. The arbitrariness of the boundaries create political tension among states that share common borders since a political or military conflict in one state can spread quite easily into other states due to the interconnectedness of the ethnic groups. This is what happened during the Ugandan, Liberian, Sierra Leonean, Congolese (DRC), Somalian, and Ivorian civil wars.  The conflicts spread to embrace ethnic groups in other countries.

After the supposed independence, African states continued to practice and perpetuate the same political, governmental and judicial systems that the European colonial powers instituted in the colonies. Of course, some countries decided to forsake the parliamentary system and adopt the American-styled presidential system.  Some countries too made efforts to reform their educational systems.  However, generally, most African countries continue to mimic European political, governmental and judicial systems.  This accounts for why in many African countries, lawyers and judges continue to wear professional garbs that looked exactly like their European counterparts.  In some African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda, the members of the law profession even put on wigs.  The implication is that they are applying Western law in an African setting, thereby, denigrating African judicial traditions. Quite often, they enjoy quoting judicial terminologies in Latin to demonstrate their legal prowess in European law, even though they know that such terminologies have no place in traditional African cultures. Thus, African judges and lawyers continue to perpetuate legal colonialism for practicing legal systems that have nothing to do with the cultures of the African people.  This is why the legal systems are very corrupt and alienating.

Some African political and military leaders even adopted draconian colonial security laws to deal with their internal political opponents.  This is why even in the twenty-first century, it is not a comfortable idea to be in the political opposition in any African country.  The reason is that those who exercise political power and the ethnic groups and regions which support them tend to view any constructive criticism as a threat to their hold on corporate power of the state, hence, react aggressively to stop the opposition.  This was vividly demonstrated in Kenya recently when the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta shut down some television stations for reporting the symbolic swearing-in of the main opposition party candidate, Raila Amolo Odinga, as the president (Iredia. 2018, February 11).  Therefore, as part of the effort to contain political opposition, some African countries have enacted terrorism laws that are designed to stifle and discourage political opposition. Cameroon and Nigeria, for example, regard themselves as democracies, yet, react to the opposition as if they are authoritarian regimes.  The security presence is constant and many citizens are detained for long periods without trial under the pretext of national security. For instance, Charles Okah was detained for about eight years before he was finally tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for the alleged bombing on Independence Day celebration in Abuja, Nigeria.  There are many Nigerians who have been detained for years without trial. 

Secondly, African states are not sovereign nations because European colonialism has been replaced by internal (African) colonialism after independence

It is not an exaggeration to say that European colonialism has been replaced by internal African colonialism, whereby, one or two ethnic groups and or regions dominate each African country by rendering other ethnic groups and regions powerless, marginalized, discriminated, frustrated and angry.  This is why it is maintained here that it is inappropriate to refer to current African states as “post-colonial” entities since they are still operating under a colonial framework.

The frustration and anger emanating from the perception of being dominated and marginalized contributes to the igniting of military coups, the establishment of irredentist and separatist movements, and the eruption of civil wars by those groups and regions which feel oppressed, marginalized and discriminated to fight for their rights.  Apparently, a considerable number of violent political and military conflicts that have taken place in Africa after the European handover of power, have been generated by issues emanating from internal colonialism.  African states that have experienced incidents relating to internal colonialism include, Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and so on and so forth.

It might be educative to examine the issue of internal colonialism by focusing on two closely related neighbors with convoluted colonial history, namely, Cameroon and Nigeria.  Cameroon has a population of 23.3 million people while Nigeria has about 180 million people.  Thus, Nigeria is much larger and probably much more complex than Cameroon, nevertheless, these two countries are like wolves in sheep clothing in the sense that they claim to be democracies, yet, operate as authoritarian unitary systems because the internal colonizers want them to remain the way they are so that they are able to continue to impose their will over other ethnic groups and regions.

The Republic of Cameroon

In particular, one country that is severely bedecked by internal colonialism but has not experienced a very bloody civil war is Cameroon.  People have been wondering why a country such has Cameroon with a convoluted colonial history has been relatively calm while countries that are not as convoluted and complicated as Cameroon have experienced bloody and destructive conflicts following rebellions emanating from issues of internal colonialism.  The best way to explain the Cameroonian situation is that the country has been in a climatic political circumstance comparable to the “calm before the storm” weather phenomenon. The “calm before the storm” expression refers to a weather situation, whereby, there is relative calm and peacefulness while a very powerful storm is about to strike. Thus, as the storm approaches, whether it is a thunderstorm or a tornado or a hurricane/cyclone, the vicinity in which it is about to strike becomes very quiet and peaceful, then, gradually, the storm roars in to inflict destruction and death.  It could therefore, be said that Cameroon has been in such a climatic condition while the political storm of rebellion gradually builds up.  Now, the political storm has finally arrived and is unleashing violent and thunderous hails and destruction.  To understand the Cameroonian political situation, it might be necessary to briefly describe and explain the history of the country.

Cameroon’s Colonial History

The Republic of Cameroon could be said to have a complicated and an unfortunate history, perhaps, more than a vast majority of the other African states.  The Portuguese were the first Europeans to get to the area now known as the Republic of Cameroon in the 15th century.  They established a sugar cane plantation in the 16th and subsequent centuries, up to the early 19th century.   Portuguese and Dutch slave traders dominated the slave trade in the area until slavery was abolished.   Sometime in the 19th century, nomadic Fulanis arrived in Northern Cameroon and settled.

Germany eventually gained possession of the area and established Cameroon as a Protectorate in 1884, thereby, making the country a colony.  German colonial authorities ruled the colony until 1916 when a combined French, British and Belgian military force drove out the Germans during the First World War.  After the First World War, Cameroon was taken away from Germany as part of the armistice that ended “the war to end all wars” in 1919.  It was divided into two and shared by two of the victorious allied powers (Britain and France).   As a result, Britain administered Northwestern and Southwestern Cameroon under the Mandate of the League of Nations while France administered four-fifth of the total territory. (The Commonwealth, 2017, October 5;Caxton, 2017, July 21).  Obviously, France had a much bigger territorial area under its control than Britain. After the Second War, both countries continued to administer the territory under the Trusteeship of the United Nations.

While still under the trusteeship of the UN and administered by France and Britain, indigenous African political parties emerged and began to agitate for Cameroonian independence.  For instance, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC), led by Ruben Um Nyobe demanded that the two parts (English-speaking and French-speaking) should be amalgamated to form an independent country.  Due to its proactive role in agitating for independence, the UPC was banned in the 1950s by the colonial powers. The ban resulted in a massive rebellion in which a considerable number of people were killed, including the leader of the party, Mr. Nyobe (Ibid).

In any case, partial self-rule was granted to the colony.  Eventually, Cameroon gained full independence in January 1, 1960.  A UN plebiscite was held in 1961 in which Northwestern Cameroon decided to join Nigeria while Southwestern Cameroon joined French Cameroon, following the feeling that it was ignored, discriminated and marginalized while being in Nigeria.  Due to the nature of the country, a federal system of government was established with both language zones (English-speaking and French-speaking) having their own parliaments. The prime minister of the English-speaking Cameroon became the deputy president of the country while the leader of the French-speaking regions served as the president (Morse, 2017, June 2).

However, the federal system was dissolved in 1972 by President Ahmadou Ahidjo and replaced with a unitary system of government, resulting in the concentration of power at the national level.  As a result, the name changed to the United Republic of Cameroon.  In 1984, the name was changed again and the country became the Republic of Cameroon (Republique du Cameroun).

Obviously, Cameroon started as a German colony, then was taken over by the British and French following the end of the First World War, under mandate of the League of Nations and United Nations trusteeship. The French (Francophone) and British (Anglophone) regions were amalgamated.   The majority (four-fifth or about 80%) of the regions of the country is French-speaking while a smaller portion (about 20%) of the regions is English-speaking.  (International Crisis Group, 2017, August 2). Perhaps, due to this factor, the French regions have dominated the country, so much so that the English-speaking region feel marginalized and discriminated in almost every aspect of the country.

Cameroon, unlike its Nigerian neighbor, which has had fifteen heads of state since independence in October 1, 1960, has had only two since independence in January 1960.  Ahmadou Ahidjo first ruled as the president from 1960 to 1982, then President Paul Biya took over in the same year and has continued to rule the country to the present.  Both political leaders originate from the French-speaking regions.  This means that no English-speaking Cameroonian has had the opportunity to serve as a head of state of the country.  All policies and decisions seem to originate from the strategic interests and calculations of the French-speaking regions.  Even Cameroon’s foreign policy is greatly aligned with that of France.  This accounts for why President Paul Biya visits France regularly and is strongly aligned with France.  On the other hand, Britain has had little or no influence on the English-speaking regions, thereby, leaving those regions to feign for themselves.

An interesting aspect of Cameroon’s politics is that the military attempted four unsuccessful military coups in 1979, 1983, and February and April 1984.  The last two attempted coups were alleged to have been staged by military officers who were loyal or sympathetic to former President Ahidjo. As a result, the former head of state was tried for instigating the coups in absentia and found guilty.     This means that unlike many other African countries, Cameroon has never had a military regime in power.  Nonetheless, the country tilted towards a unitary system of government because the power-wielding elite opted to centralize political authority at the center to reduce divisiveness.  They did so by merging two governing political parties and some opposition groups in 1966.  Similarly, the ruling party was reconstituted as the Cameroon National Union (Union of National Cameroinaise), otherwise known as the UNC.  Then, it was renamed as the Reassemblement Democratique de people Camerounais (Cameroon’s Peoples Democratic Movement (CPDM) or RDPC).

The Demand for Political Decentralization, Equity and Fairness in Governance

During the 1990s, there were a series of protests and demonstrations against one-party rule since it tended to concentrate political power at the center.  This led to the multiplication of political parties.  Despite the multiplication of political parties, the incumbent president, Mr. Paul Biya, was able to win various presidential elections handily, including those of 1992, 1997, 2004 and 2011(The Commonwealth, 2017, October 5). It should be noted that in 2008, President Biya abolished term limits, thereby, enabling him to run for office as the president without any constitutional restriction (Morse, 2017, June 2).

Even though Cameroon joined the British Commonwealth in 1995 as a result of the fact that it has an English-speaking population, nevertheless, Cameroon has operated as if it is a wholly French-speaking country, to the detriment of the Anglophone region.  Feeling neglected, marginalized and deprived, English-speaking Cameroonians started clamoring for a change or a restructuring of the country.   In particular, they insisted upon the equitable sharing of the oil wealth, which presently is lopsidedly in favor of the country’s majority French-speaking regions.  They also insisted upon changing the judicial system which is currently based on French language and legal traditions while ignoring English language and legal traditions (Vanguard, 2017, October 1).  They are particularly irked by the fact that Anglophone Cameroon courts are sometimes operated by French trained judges who have no understanding of British common law.  In addition, English-speaking students decry the fact that they are not given opportunity to take examinations in English (Morse, 2017, June 2).  They also decry the fact that there are too many French-speaking teachers in the Anglophone region that are not proficient in English.  The employment environment is very stifling to English-speaking Cameroonians who find it difficult to gain employment and join professional associations (Caxton, 2017, July 21).This makes English-speaking citizens feel like foreigners in their own country.  To solve some of the problems, the English-speaking citizens called upon the government to redeploy the French-speaking teachers and encourage more English-speaking teachers to be deployed in English-language schools.   In particular, the Anglophone Cameroonians want the reintroduction of a federation rather than a unitary system (Ibid.).

Like in many other African countries, Anglophone Cameroonian demand for restructuring of the country has been ignored or rejected by the political leadership and the French-speaking majority which assume that they have the political and military wherewithal to stop or prevent any major rebellion on the part of the English-speaking people from taking place.    Hence, protests have been met with harsh security measures.  The harsh security measures simply added fuel to the anger and the desire to restructure the country or separate the two parts. Hence, starting in late 2016, the crisis in the English-speaking regions escalated as the people demanded a restructuring or a rearrangement of the country.  Consequently, thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians, including students, teachers, lawyers and civil society organizations mounted demonstrations and strikes against discrimination (Morse, 2017, June2).  Due to the confrontations, the casualty rate is increasing. For instance, four protesters were killed in December 2016.  In another protest, 100 people were arrested and detained.   On October 1, 2017, a mass protest in the English-speaking North-West and South-West regions resulted in the death of 17 protesters as security forces used live bullets to disperse the protesters (Unh & Ojeme, 2018, February 2). In the effort to curtail rebellion in the English-speaking regions, the government went as far as banning internet communication for three months and proscribing two organizations.  It even arrested and charged the leaders of the two banned organizations with crimes bordering on terrorism.  It also instituted a temporary restriction on travel in both the Northwest and Southwest regions of the English-speaking zone (Nigerian Tribune, 2017, October 12).

As the conflict escalated, certain elements decided to opt for secession and are now demanding the separation of the English-speaking region from the French-speaking regions.  They call their region Ambazonia.  The demand for independence has increased confrontations between security forces and the separatists, thereby, resulting in armed resistance. The violent clashes have forced more than 40,000 English-speaking Cameroonians to flee their country and seek refuge in Nigeria.  Apparently, there are thousands of Cameroonians who are now in refugee camps in Nigeria.  In early January 2018, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the leader of the separatists and other important members of the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) were arrested in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, by Nigeria’s Department of State Service (DSS) while they were organizing a meeting to find ways of taking care of the thousands of English-speaking Cameroonians who left Cameroon to seek refuge in Nigeria (BBC, 2018, January 8). The arrests prompted human rights lawyers and advocates in Nigeria to demand the release of the individuals since they have a right to express their political opinions.  Similarly, the Amnesty International warned against repatriating the separatist leaders back to Cameroon by reminding Nigeria of its obligation to adhere to international law regarding human rights (Premium Times, 2018, January 12).  Sadly, Nigeria secretly repatriated the separatist leaders back to Cameroon, thereby, putting their lives in great danger.

Thus, the country is incrementally edging towards an uncontrollable civil war as an increasing number of English-speaking Cameroonians have joined the call for total separation from French- Cameroon.  As a result, the major cities in the English zone are now occupied by military and police forces.  Buea, the major city in Southwest Cameroon became a ghost town when separatists decided to symbolically declare independence on October 1, 2017.  This date was chosen for the symbolic declaration since it was the day that both the French-speaking and English-speaking regions amalgamated in 1961 (Vanguard, 2017, October 1).  It should be noted that Nigeria got its independence on October 1, 1960.  As the conflict spreads, even rural areas in the English-speaking zone are feeling the impact of the escalating conflict.  In many rural communities, people are running into the bushes to hide from Cameroon’s security forces that are desperately trying to stop the rebellion.

President Paul Biya, despite is old age, seems to have a total grip on power like a dictator, so much so that he rules Cameroon as a personal estate.  Strongly backed by the French-speaking Cameroonians, he holds cabinet meetings infrequently.  As a result, cabinet meetings are held two or three years apart.  The most recent cabinet meeting took place in March 2018 and the previous one was held in October 2015.  The cabinet meetings generally last for very short durations and the minutes of the meetings are rarely published (Premium Times, 2018, March 15).  Indeed, Cameroon operates like a personal colony of Mr. Biya and his ardent supporters.  He is free to do whatever he wants whenever he wants without much political consequence.  He takes vacations regularly in Switzerland.  In an attempt to appease the English-speaking region, he appointed two individuals from the region into top government positions and hopes that the effort would dampen the agitation for separation (Ibid.).

The Republic of Nigeria

Nigeria’s history is as convoluted as that of Cameroon, hence, it is not something to be admired.  Before 1914, the British had two major colonial possessions in the area. These two areas were known as the Southern Protectorate and the Northern Protectorate.  Even though the two protectorates were not compatible since one was increasingly Christian and traditional and the other was Islamic and traditional with pockets of Christianity, the colonial governor, Lord Frederick Lugard, amalgamated them in 1914 to establish Nigeria.  Due to the incompatibility of the two parts, Nigeria is like a snake with two-heads.  The Southern head looks towards Israel and the West and the northern head looks towards the East, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.  The Southern part is progressive and secularized while the northern part is theocratized and conservative with a proclivity towards doctrinaire Islamic orientation.  Southern Nigeria wants to be part of the twenty-first century while the Islamic North inclines towards the 13th and 19th centuries.  This accounts for why Nigeria dances in circles instead of dancing forward to embrace science and technology and become a major contributor to the world economy.

Apart from that, Nigeria also has a very dangerous internal colonial system in which one ethnic group waged a religious jihad over a century ago and conquered many indigenous ethnic groups in Northern and Southwest Nigeria to establish an Islamic Caliphate, thereby, making Nigeria a country within a country.  The caliphate operates almost like an independent state, resulting in perpetual domination of many indigenous ethnic groups which have been compelled to embrace the Sokoto Caliphate. Thus, all Nigerian Moslems, particularly the Sunnis, regard the Sokoto Caliphate as their politico-religious state. It is the leaders of the Sokoto Caliphate that are the principal wielders of power in Nigeria.

In addition, the 1946 constitution of Nigeria instituted by Sir Arthur Richards, the British colonial governor, tribalized and regionalized the country.  Dr/Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe prophetically stated:

Sir Arthur Richards deliberate demarcation of Nigeria into regions has paralysed our political hopes, anyway the fight is on.

As far as the three regions coincide with the three tribes, this Englishman has sown the seeds of tribalism and I am afraid whether our children or children’s children will be able to solve this problem.

As far as the sizes are unequal the largest one will take the smaller ones to ransom sooner or later (Benaebi Benatari, 2004 October 20).

 

Due to the convoluted nature of its creation and the regionalized constitution of 1946, Nigeria really never had the opportunity to congeal and develop a proper and effective sense of nationhood among the 200 to 300 ethnic groups.  Thus, as soon as the country supposedly gained independence, it divided into three major constituent parts, based upon the regional configuration of the three largest ethnic groups.  Hence, the Action Group (AG) dominated the Western Region, the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) dominated the Northern Region and the National Convention of Nigerians and the Cameroons, later changed to the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) dominated the Eastern Region. Each major political party was closely aligned with the largest ethnic group in the region.  The minority ethnic groups were rendered politically faceless and powerless since they had to toe the lines of the major ethnic groups. Nevertheless, they established their own political parties to mobilize themselves to fight for political and economic rights.

The lack of a unified nationhood pitched the three major ethnic groups against each other with one or two aligning to weaken the other.  The structural imbalance and the political problems resulted in the attempted military coup of January 15, 1966, led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu.  The coup did not succeed but very important senior military officers and politicians from the North and the West were killed. In other words, the attempted coup led to the deaths of Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region, Chief Samuel Akintola, the Premier of the Western Region, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Hafusat Ahmadu Bello, Mrs. Lateefat Ademulegun, Ahmed Ben Musa, and Ahmed Pategi. The attempted coup also resulted in the deaths of the most senior Nigerian Army officers from the Northern and Western regions, including Brig. Gen. Zakariya Maimalari, Brig. Gen. Samuel Ademulegun, Col. Kur Mohammed, Col. Ralph Shodiende, Lt. Co. James Pam,  and Lt. Col. Abogo Largema. Surprisingly, not a single politician from the Eastern Region died as a result of the abortive coup.  The only Eastern military officer who died was Lt. Col. Arthur Unegbu.  The aftermath of the coup led to the view that the coup was staged mostly by military officers from the Eastern Region, particularly Igboland.  Of course, it is now proven that the coup was a national effort involving military officers from various parts of the country and not only from Igboland.  Nevertheless, the perception that it was an Igbo attempt to dominate the country fanned the need to retaliate militarily against the East.  With tension very high in the country, Maj. Gen. Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, the most senior military officer took over the leadership of the country as the first military head of state.  When he attempted to calm the situation by centralizing political authority through the enactment of Unification Decree #34, the North reacted, fearful of Igbo domination of Nigeria.  Hence, a bloody counter-coup was staged by officers mostly from the North in July 25, 1966.   The coup resulted in the deaths of many Southern military officers and soldiers, particularly from Igboland.  This was immediately followed by a violent northern mob which killed thousands of Southerners, mostly Igbos in the North.  Due to the depth of distrust, following the bloodbath in the Northern Region, the Federal Government and the Eastern Region’s leadership could not uphold agreements reached at the Aburi Conferences in Ghana.  The failure eventually resulted in the bloody Nigerian Civil War which started in July 1967 and ended in January 1970, in which more than a million people died.

The Emergence of the Islamic North as the Wielder of National Power

Following the success of the 2nd counter-coup of July 1966, the Islamic North, particularly the Hausa-Fulanis, emerged supreme as the wielders of power in Nigeria.  As a result, the North produced successive Nigerian military and political heads of state, including Gen. Yakubu Gowon (1966 -1975), Gen. Murtala Mohammed (1975-1976), Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1979 – 1983) Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (1983 -1985), Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (1985- 1993), Gen. Sani Abacha (1994 – 1998), Lt. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998 – 1999), the late President Umaru Yar”Adua (2007-2009) and the current president, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (2015 – present). The only exception to northern rule during this time was when Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (a Southerner) took over following the death of Gen. Murtala Mohammed in 1976, Chief Ernest Shonekan took over after the sudden departure of Gen. Babangida, following the June 12, 1993 presidential election fiasco, and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan took over after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua. Evidently, the Northern region, particularly the Islamic North, consolidated its power and ended up creating the impression that it has the mandate from Britain to rule Nigeria. So, for all intent and purposes, a vast majority of Nigeria’s national policies are dictated and implemented based on the approval of the Islamic Northern Nigeria.

The northernization and Islamization of Nigeria took on an added significance when Maj. Gen. (rtd) Muhammadu Buhari became president in May 2015.  Since his ascension of the throne, Nigeria has increasingly looked like a country made up of only one or two ethnic groups as the Moslems from the North occupy all critical national government positions, in a country made up of 200 to 300 ethnic groups.  The other ethnic groups are being treated as vassals of the Hausa-Fulani ethnic groups.  For instance, under President Buhari, the  Minister of Defence, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Air Staff, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Minister of Internal Affairs, the Director of the Department of State Service, (DSS), Director of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Controller of Customs, Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Director of National Security Agency (NSA), Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Attorney General of Nigeria (AGN) and the Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are all Moslems from the North. In the national security area, only the Chief of Defense Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff are from the South and are non-Moslems.

Nigeria’s Rulers

The northern and Islamic presence, particularly by the Hausa-Fulanis, as the wielders of national power in Nigeria is so obvious to the extent that it is almost impossible for any Southern or Central Nigerian (Middle Belt) to stand on his or her own and contest for the presidency without a nod of approval from the Upper Islamic North.  Hence, when the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme wanted to contest as the flag bearer of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), he was not allowed, even after the NPN had agreed to rotate the presidency among the political zones.  During the June 12, 1993 presidential election, as soon as the late Chief Moshood Abiola, a southerner, appeared to be winning the majority of the votes, Gen. Babangida abrogated the election, thereby, preventing Chief Abiola from achieving an electoral victory to become the president of Nigeria.  Following the sudden departure of Gen Babangida as the military head of state due to the June 12, 1993 disaster, Chief Ernest Shonekan , a southerner, was made the head of a caretaker government.  It did not take up to a year before Gen. Abacha (a northerner) tactically kicked him out of the position and took over as the military head of state until his sudden death in 1998.  He was immediately replaced by another northern Moslem military general, Lt. Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

When the military decided to hand over power to a democratically elected civilian government in early 1999, the Southwest preferred the candidacy of Chief Olu Falae but the Upper North preferred the candidacy of Gen/Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.  Thus, it was Gen/Chief Obasanjo, a former military head of state who emerged as the first elected civilian head of state after the departure of the military in May 1999.  Similarly, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, became president of Nigeria only because President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner, died while serving as the president.  While he was the president, many individuals from the Upper North openly declared that they would make the country ungovernable if President Jonathan contested for reelection in 2011 and in 2015.  He lost the presidential election of March 2015, to Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state from the Islamic North.

In fact, the Southwest, South-South, South-East and the Middle Belt want the country to be restructured in order to establish equity in the appointment of high-public officials, create accessibility to national political leadership positions and ensure a fair distribution of national resources. Currently, all major military and police facilities are located in the North.

Oil Wealth in Nigeria

The clearest example of the fact that Nigeria suffers from internal colonialism is that Nigeria depends greatly on wealth generated through petroleum and gas exploration.  In fact, since the early 1970s, Nigeria has largely depended upon the oil wealth.  The oil wealth is produced from the South-South and the South-East zones of the country.  However, since those who wield national power originate from the Non-Oil Producing zones, national policy and decision-making concerning oil and gas exploration and marketing are made by individuals who do not come from the Oil Producing Zones.  Consequently, of all the natural resources in the country, petroleum and gas are the most nationalized.  Individuals from the oil producing zones cannot engage in any form of oil exploration since it is the prerogative of the national government to do so.  On the other hand, minerals such as gold, gypsium, iron ore, lead/zinc, bentonite. Bitumen, coal, lignite, kyanite, columbite wolframite, bentonite, Baryte, magnesium, rutile, marble, tantalite and others are found in other zones of the country; as such, they are not as nationalized as oil and gas.  Apparently, individuals from those zone do engage in private exploration of these minerals.  The feeling in the oil region is that since the zone is marginalized, the citizens are powerless to effect a change in national policy concerning oil exploration

Another good example of the fact that Nigeria suffers from internal colonialism is that since the host communities in the oil producing zones insisted upon being compensated, the Petroleum Industry Bill PIB) which includes a provision for compensating oil-bearing communities,  languished in the National Assembly for 17 years before it was passed (Payne & Eboh, 2018, January 18).  A major reason for the delay was probably influenced by the fact that many legislators from the non-oil producing regions were not enthusiastic about compensating host communities while they needed the oil wealth to run their governments and develop their own states.  The fact remains that any legislation intended for the Northern sections of the country passes very quickly in the National Assembly. The saddest part of the internal colonial situation, as far as oil and gas is concerned, is that while the two resources are treated as national resources, oil stocks (blocks) are given to individuals.  So, in Nigeria, certain individuals are given oil blocks and they make tremendous amount of wealth for doing nothing.  Unfortunately, about 80% of the oil stocks are owned by Northern Nigerians while those from the oil region simply exist.  If the oil blocks were largely owned by individuals from the oil region, the privatization of the stocks would have been stopped by the national government. .

The unfairness in the management of oil and gas resources resulted in an armed opposition in the Niger Delta, starting in the late 1990s and ending in 2009.  Militant opposition to oil exploration stopped only after late President Yar’Adua initiated an Amnesty Program.  The Amnesty Program did not solve the fairness issue, hence, another group of armed youths, led by the Niger Delta Avengers, emerged in 2016 to destroy oil facilities, thereby, contributing to bringing down the economy before regional leaders negotiated with the Nigerian Government to pay attention to the oil region.  The Niger Delta/South-South is one of the most polluted oil regions in the world and the Federal Government of Nigeria does not seem to care about cleaning the mess.  The people are being exposed to biochemical pollutants daily and their health is being impacted negatively.

Violence and Terrorism 

Nigeria has experienced numerous incidents of kidnapping, armed robbery, violent outburst and terrorism.  However, it is detectable that even the Nigerian effort to tame these violent uprisings/incidents are also tactically determined by the political power structure in the country.  In particular, when former President Jonathan wanted to launch an effective military campaign to reduce Boko Haram’s violent attacks, he was accused of trying to kill Moslems and impose the South on the North.  At the time, many top politicians in the North felt that Boko Haram was fighting for Islamic interest in the country, hence, viewed the organization as a freedom fighting movement. As a major leader of a political party, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) insinuated that a war against the Boko Haram was a war against the North (Shiklam, 2013, June 4).  He defended the Boko Haram by asking “the Federal Government to stop clamp down of Boko Haram insurgents, saying Niger Delta militants were never killed or properties belonging to them destroyed” (PointBlank, 2013, June 2).  This allowed Boko Haram to strengthen its ability to inflict serious destruction in the Northeast region of the country.  Not until the organization started killing Moslems and destroying mosques in the North did many powerful individuals turned around to support a war against the organization.  Thus, the same individuals who accused the Jonathan’s administration of waging a war against the North, then, turned around to accuse the same administration of not doing enough to decimate the Boko Haram.

However, the most disturbing part of the Nigerian situation is the unwillingness of the Buhari administration in declaring violent cattle herders as terrorists even though the Global Terrorism Index had characterized the Fulani herdsmen as the fourth deadliest terrorist organization in the world in 2015.  The Federal Government is not eager in curbing the violence perpetrated by the marauding herdsmen who have killed thousands of Nigerians.  All regions of the country have been affected by the violence perpetrated by the herdsmen.   However, the Middle Belt (Central Nigeria) and the southern part of Kaduna State seem to bear the brunt of the killings and destruction of communities. Some Nigerians hypothesized that the Federal Government does not want to take decisive action against the herdsmen because they are Fulanis.  The Fulanis are the foremost power-wielders in Nigeria, hence, there is hesitancy in doing anything about them.

On the other hand, the Federal Government under President Buhari did not waste time in proscribing the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-East zone after the group threatened to conduct a referendum to determine whether the zone should secede as the Republic of Biafra.  Thus, IPOB that has never gone on a killing spree was immediately declared by the Federal Government of Nigeria as a terrorist organization while the deadly herdsmen that have killed thousands of Nigerians in a Janjaweed-style operations, are viewed by the same government as a bunch of mere criminals, even though the entire nation is horrified by the wanton killings of innocent people by the herdsmen. In fact, on January 1st, 2018, the herdsmen launched a violent attack in Benue state resulting in the killing of 73 people.  Even then, the Federal Government remained nonchalant.  This forced Southern Nigerian leaders who were meeting in Enugu to call upon the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare the herdsmen as terrorists. Instead of doing so, both the Minister of Defense and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), maintained that the passing of laws banning open grazing for cows is responsible for the rampage perpetuated by the herdsmen even though it is an historical fact that herdsmen have been attacking farmers and various communities over grazing rights even before the passing of grazing laws.  Moreover, it is a fact that herdsmen have invaded, attacked, killed and destroyed communities in states that have no open grazing laws.  In other words, both the Minister of Defense and the Inspector of General Police are not bothered by the Janjaweed-style of attacks perpetrated by the herdsmen in the country.   This probably contributes to the reason why the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force are rarely deployed before herdsmen launch their attacks.  These security forces are mostly deployed after the herdsmen have carried out deadly attacks against farming communities, perhaps, to prevent the indigenes from carrying out retaliatory attacks against the herdsmen.  So, Nigeria is like Darfur in Sudan, as the herdsmen run amok. Since the January 1, 2018 attack in Benue State, no week has gone by without some Nigerians being killed by herdsmen.  The refusal of the Federal Government to act decisively has led some Nigerians to speculate that the herdsmen are the foot soldiers of a well-articulated plan to Islamize Nigeria.

Due to the perception that the Hausa-Fulanis are the wielders of national power, the Federal Government has hesitated to deploy military forces against Fulani herdsmen, despite their bloody escapades.  Even when it is known that they are mobilizing to launch attacks, the military and the police forces are not ordered to stop them.  Hence, in Agatu in Benue State and Nimbo in Enugu State, both the police and the army did not act until after the herdsmen had carried out their deadly attacks.  On the other hand, the Federal Government did not waste a minute in deploying the military to stop IPOB in the Southeast zone, as indicated above.  Similarly, the Federal Government did not hesitate to launch military exercises in the South-South and Southwest regions.  In March 2017, when some Yorubas and Hausas clashed in the ancient city of Ife in the Southwest zone, resulting in the death of 46 and wounding of 96 people,  the Nigerian Police Force only arrested and paraded the Yoruba suspects and not the Hausas who participated in the violent clash (Omonobi, 2017, march 21).  Similarly, when leaders of northern youth groups ordered the Igbos to evacuate the North, the Nigerian Government did not threaten to arrest them.  Instead, the Attorney General of the country informed the Nigerian public that the police decided not to arrest the youth leaders, fearful that such arrest could have triggered violence in the North (The Guardian, 2017, june 7).  Yet, the Federal Government does not hesitate to arrest IPOB members in the Southeast and youths from the South-south.  If youth leaders from the South had issued an evacuation notice, the Federal Government would have mobilized the Army and the Police to have them arrested and detained.  Meanwhile, Boko Haram members who have been captured by the security forces are routinely released on the ground that they have been rehabilitated.

Third, Cameroon and Nigeria are facing crises of internal colonialism where one or two ethnic groups and regions, supported by former European colonial powers, dominate and impose their will on other ethnic groups and regions

Based on the brief discussion of Cameroonian and Nigerian political issues, it is inferable that the two countries are dancing to the same political tune.  Just as the English-speaking Cameroonians have for decades demanded a restructuring of the country, Southern and Central Nigerians too have been demanding a restructuring of Nigeria.  The reason is that the issues affecting the closely related neighbors are very similar in nature and scope.  In Cameroon, English speakers decry the fact that they are discriminated and shut out of the government and in the distribution of national resources, especially the oil wealth.  In Nigeria, Southern Nigerians maintain that since the second military coup of July 1966, the Islamic North has dominated the country.  As a result, Southern Nigerians are only able to rule the country through accidental circumstances.

In Nigeria, the oil wealth is located in regions that do not wield political power.  However, just as the oil wealth is not distributed fairly in Cameroon, so, it is in Nigeria.  In Nigeria, oil and gas are regarded as national resources but the oil stocks (blocs/shares) are given to individuals.  The regions that produce the oil wealth in Nigeria gets very little.  In Cameroon too, it is those from the French-speaking regions that benefit most from the oil wealth.  Just as there is poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria’s oil region, there is poverty and underdevelopment in Cameroon’s English-speaking oil region.

As English-speaking Cameroonians demand restructuring, Southern and Central (Middle Belt) Nigerians too are demanding restructuring. In fact, Nigerians, especially the minority ethnic groups started demanding the restructuring of the country even before independence when they requested the creation of states during the Willink’s Commission Hearings in 1957 and 1958. In February, 1966, Isaac Boro and his colleagues took up arms and declared the Niger Delta Republic to inform the country about the unhappy state of affairs in the region.  Following the bloodbath after the second military coup of July 1966, the country spiraled downwards, culminating in the bloody civil war as the Eastern Region attempted to secede as the Republic of Biafra.  Again, like in Cameroon in which the political leadership and those who wield power refuse to listen to the call for changes or a rearrangement, Nigeria’s leadership and those who wield power too have been unwilling to listen. Hence, since 2016, the call for Biafran secession has been reenergized, just as some English-speaking Cameroonians now call for the establishment of the Republic of Ambazonia.

The government of Cameroon declared two organizations that demanded restructuring as terrorist movements and had their leaders detained, Nigeria too declared the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, an organization dedicated to the secession of the Southeast region of the country as Biafra as a terrorist organization and had its leader, Nnamdi Kanu detained.  Just as Cameroon flooded the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of the country with security forces (military and police), Nigeria too flooded the Southeast and South-South zones of the country with security forces (military and police).  It launched Operation Python Dance and Operation Crocodile Smile 1 and II in an attempt to stop the secessionists and those who oppose oil exploration in the oil region.  In response to the violent clashes between herdsmen and farming communities, Nigeria launched a military exercise code-named  “Ayem A’Kpatuma (Cat race) “ in Central Nigeria.  However, the indigenous Nigerian ethnic groups, especially the Tivs, accused the Nigerian Army of colluding with the herdsmen to kill members of indigenous communities (Jannah, 2018, February 22). The governor and community leaders in Taraba State too have made the same allegation against the Nigerian military.  The allegations have been corroborated by Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd), the former Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff of Nigeria, who called upon Nigerians to arm and defend themselves (Mamah, E. & et al, 2018, March 26).

Just as the judicial system is tilted in favor of the French-speaking zones of Cameroon, in Nigeria too, the judicial system is tilted in favor of the Islamic North.  In fact, throughout Nigeria’s history, the Islamic North has dominated the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Court.   In Cameroon, English-speaking Cameroonians are subjected to the French legal tradition, hence, depriving them of the ability to get a fair trial.

As Cameroon increasingly move towards a violent confrontation, Nigeria too is increasingly heading towards an armed confrontation.  Almost every ethnic group in Nigeria today has an armed wing ready to defend the interests of the ethnic group.  As the separatists in Cameroon insist on the Republic of Ambazonia, Nigerian groups too are gradually inching towards a point of no-return if the Federal Government keeps insisting that there would be no restructuring.  Thus, as Cameroonian security forces pour into English-speaking regions to stop the separatist movement. Nigerian security forces too are constantly mobilized to patrol the Southern regions of the country.  As a result, many Southern Nigerians increasingly view Nigeria’s security forces as occupation forces since the military institution has been extensively northernized and Islamized.

It is noteworthy that in both countries, those who wield power insist on maintaining the status quo even though there is extensive dissatisfaction with the current situation.  In Cameroon, French-speaking citizens insist on maintaining the status because they currently wield power.  In Nigeria, it is the Islamic North, particularly the Hausa-Fulanis, who oppose restructuring and insist on maintaining the status quo.  In both Cameroon and Nigeria, the power-wielding groups strongly believe that they are capable of using the security forces to clamp down on those who seek restructuring. It is not surprising that the Federal Government of Nigeria decided to hand over Cameroon’s separatist leaders who took refuge in the country back to Cameroon.  This means that the power-wielding group in Nigeria is working closely with the power-wielding group in Cameroon to ensure that their hold on power is not threatened.

Fourth, due to the continuation of the colonial system, it is fallacious to refer to modern African states as “post-colonial” nations at the present time.

African states, including Cameroon and Nigeria are not “post-colonial” states because they have not moved away from the colonial era.   Indeed, they continue to operate and perpetuate the colonial system in the following ways:

  1. Before the supposed granting of independence, the European powers ruled over their colonial possessions directly by superimposing their will upon the traditional African states and governments.  During this time, the African people were answerable to the external colonial authorities.  This period is known as “external colonialism” because foreign powers ruled over their African colonial creations directly.

 

  1. Having supposedly granted independence to the African states, the European powers continued to pull the political strings according to their strategic interests. As a result, in most African countries, political and military powers were handed over to certain individuals, ethnic groups and regions which were most likely to maintain and perpetuate the colonial system.  This is why even in the twenty-first century, no effort has been made by African leaders to readjust territorial boundaries that were arbitrarily established by European powers.  Moreover, African political leaders who took over power on supposed independence, continued to maintain the same political, governmental, judicial, educational, economic and security (military, police and intelligence) systems that the European colonial masters left behind.  The colonial powers also made sure that the so called independent states continue to maintain and perpetuate the same foreign policies that they bequeathed to their former colonies.

 

  1. Likewise, the colonial powers compelled the so-called independent African states to join political, economic and military associations or alliances that reinforce the strategic interests of the former colonial masters. This is why almost all the English-speaking countries that the British created as colonies in Africa continue to be members of the British Commonwealth.  Similarly, all the French-speaking countries that were created by the French and Belgians continue to be members of the French Community.  When Guinea, under Sekou Toure, refused to join the French Community, France punished the country severely.

 

  1. Due to the colonial umbrella in the form of the British Commonwealth and the French Community, the former colonial powers continue to intervene politically, economically and militarily in the affairs of the former colonies by rewarding and punishing those entities that are perceived as either friends or enemies to the colonial system. Hence, even a large country like Nigeria experiences all forms of British intervention. The most recent being the 2015 presidential election in which Britain and United States greatly influenced the outcome because they wanted the incumbent president to vacate the position.  Cameroon does not even pretend to hide its pro-France political orientation.

 

  1. To ensure that their influence remain in their former colonies, before they handed over power to the indigenous political leaders of the colonies, the European powers made sure that certain individuals from certain ethnic groups and regions maintain power. This is why on independence, those ethnic groups and regions that received favorable status emerged as the power-wielding groups in the African states.  The members of these ethnic groups and regions continue to dominate the politics, government, economy, and the security forces, so much so that they end up marginalizing, depriving and under-developing other ethnic groups and regions. Thus, throughout black Africa today, the territories of the favored ethnic groups and regions seem to have the highest level of infrastructural development.  Similarly, the members of those ethnic groups and regions seem to enjoy the resources of the state much more than members of other ethnic groups and regions.  This form of control is known as internal colonialism.

 

However, it must be stated that in Nigeria, the Islamic North has the lowest literacy rate even though its military and political leaders dominate Nigeria. On the other hand, Southern and Central Nigeria have the highest educational rate in the country.  Similarly, poverty seems to be much higher in the North than in the South. This is why some Northern political elites have argued that even though northern military and political leaders ruled the country for decades, it is southern Nigeria that has actually benefited the most and not the North. In Cameroon, the Francophone zone dominates every aspect of the country. However, like in Nigeria, Northern Cameroon has higher rate of illiteracy and poverty than Southern Cameroon.

As can be seen, “external colonialism” was immediately replaced by “internal colonialism.”  This means that European colonialism was replaced by internal African colonialism, in which one or two ethnic groups and or regions dominate each modern African country and render the other ethnic groups and regions powerless, frustrated and angry.  This is why it is maintained here that it is inappropriate to refer to the current status of African states as “post-colonial “era since they are still experiencing colonialism. Cameroonians and Nigerians suffer from internal colonialism in so many ways. This contributes immeasurably to the inability of Nigeria to grow and become a prosperous industrial nation like South Korea, China, Singapore, and so on and so forth.  It takes one step forward and two steps backward due to distrust, frustration, and mismanagement of state resources.  Cameroon, like other African countries, also suffer from the same situation, like Nigeria. Added to that is that Cameroon is more like a one-man political plantation.

In examining the Nigerian and Cameroonian political situations, one is struck by the difference in behavior between Nigerian and Cameroonian citizens.  While Nigeria has encountered numerous successful military coups, innumerable abortive military coups, bloody riots, violent uprisings and a very bloody civil war, Cameroon seems to have escaped such volcanic eruptions of political emotions until recently.

While no English-speaking Cameroonian has ruled the country, the three Southerners who have ruled Nigeria did so through circumstantial accidents of fate.  Maj. Gen. Johnson Aquiyi Ironsi (a southerner) became the first military head of state as a result of an abortive military coup in January 1966.  Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, (a southerner) became a military head of state only after Gen. Murtala Mohammed had been killed in an abortive military coup in 1976. Chief Earnest Shonekan of the Southwest became president of Nigeria momentarily only after Gen. Ibrahim Babangida had been forced out of power following the June 12 1993 presidential election fiasco.  Dr. Goodluck Jonathan became president because President Musa Yar’Adua died while in office.

It is clear that Africa is still under colonialism, hence, it is inappropriate to refer to the present political period of the continent as the post-colonial era.  The colonial era still remains because external colonialism was immediately replaced by internal colonialism as soon as the European powers left the continent.  Internal colonialism is as vicious as external colonialism.  In some cases, ii is even more harmful than external colonialism.   The Rwandan massacre was a product of the struggle generated by internal colonialism.  The same could be said of the Nigerian, Liberian, Ivorian, Sudanese, Ugandan, Congolese (both Congos), Libyan, Algerian, Malian and Central African civil wars.  Thus, many bloody conflicts in Africa are caused by indigenous African political leaders and their ethnic and regional backers who cling to power as if they are mandated by God to rule for ever.

Another way to indicate that Africa, particularly black Africa, has not moved away from the colonial period is that internal colonialists work in tandem with the former external colonialists.  In fact, indigenous African political and military leaders, ethnic groups and regions which claim that they have a mandate to rule often justify their positions by maintaining that the former European colonial powers handed over the mantle of leadership of the African countries to them on independence, hence, they have a right to rule and dominate their states.  There is no doubt that French-speaking Cameroonians believe that they have a right to rule because France handed over power to them. Similarly, Northern Nigerian Islamic leaders, particularly the Hausas and Fulanis, tend to believe that they have a mandate to rule Nigeria because Britain handed over Nigeria to them.  This is why the Islamic North has produced most Nigerian leaders.  This also accounts for why Southern Nigerians can only become leaders of Nigeria through the sanction of Northern political and religious leadership.

Thus, in almost every modern African state, the political and military leaders are tactically supported by the former external colonial masters.  Political and military leaders who do not dance to the musical tunes of the former external colonialists are easily butted out of office and replaced with chosen individuals who are favorably disposed to the strategic interests of the former external colonial masters.  Consequently, colonialism continues to exist in Africa.  It is internal colonialism that is responsible for the perpetuation of the “rule for life syndrome” in the continent.  It also contributes to the zero-sum manner in which politics is played.  Hence, when Southern and Middle Belt Nigerians insist on restructuring, Islamic Northern Nigerians tend to disagree and insist on maintaining the status quo.  This is why President Buhari continues to insist on the slogan “Nigeria is indivisible.”  Similarly, when English-speaking Cameroonians insist on restructuring of the country, French-speaking Cameroonians disagree and insist on maintaining the status quo.

 

Conclusion

For Cameroon, the onus of sustaining a united, progressive and viable democratic country lies with the French-speaking citizens.  Similarly, the onus of sustaining a united, progressive and viable Nigeria lies with the political and military leaders of Islamic Northern Nigeria.  Those who wield power in these two countries must act fast to address the multitude of issues that are causing resentment and restlessness among those groups which feel marginalized and discriminated.  Otherwise, Cameroon and Nigeria could disintegrate.  Already, in Cameroon, tension is very high as English-speaking citizens insist on restructuring or go their separate ways.  In fact, thousands of Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria to escape a potential civil war as some English-speaking Cameroonians resist the status quo militantly.  Similarly, Southern and Central Nigerians are no longer believing and trusting the leadership of the country.  The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria, under President Buhari, has been unwilling to take proactive security measures to contain the rampaging cattle herders who have inflicted destruction and death on thousands of innocent Nigerians.

The notion that one or two groups have a birthright to lord over other ethnic groups and or regions is unacceptable, considering the fact that the Europeans left Africa after colonizing the continent.  If the Europeans were able to let go, there is no reason why any African ethnic group or region can justify the view that it has a perpetual right to dominate other ethnic groups and regions.  Similarly, it is unacceptable when some African leaders and the ethnic groups and regions which back them to say that their countries are “indivisible” despite glaring iniquities in the distribution of political power and national resources.  Moreover, the issue of indivisibility is negated, considering the fact that these African states were established through wars of aggression by foreign powers. Thus, there is no justification whatsoever for any political leader or ethnic group or region to insist on maintaining the status quo in Nigeria or Cameroon or elsewhere in the African continent when these countries have many structural and institutional problems necessitated by their forceful incorporation. It is indeed hypocritical for some Africans to criticize Europeans for colonizing them and then turn around to say it is perfectly alright for one or two African ethnic groups or regions to colonize other African ethnic groups and regions.

If change or restructuring does not take place, then, there is no reason why other arrangements cannot be initiated.  After all, Russia became part of the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union disintegrated and all the former members of the union are now separate countries.  So, Russia has been rejuvenated as the Russian Federation.  Britain decided to leave the European Union.  Scotland and Wales are considering whether to leave the United Kingdom or not.  If Europeans can recreate themselves, why can’t Cameroonians and Nigerians recreate themselves if the existing arrangements continue to fail in meeting the aspirations of all the groups that constitute Cameroon and Nigeria?

To manage the unfolding crises, Cameroon can carefully look at the Canadian and Swiss political systems to fine-tune its political system and make it more representative, democratic and fair.  Nigeria too can do the same by looking at political arrangements that accommodate diversity and ensure equal representation.  Alternatively, Nigeria can adopt the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference.  If these two suggestions are not satisfactory enough, then, the two countries should hold a national referendum or a National Convention to reshape themselves and become more viable.

Indeed, “Post-colonialism” will take place when the colonially-induced African countries are restructured or reformed or rearranged to reflect their unique African character.

 

 

References

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You can’t Islamize Nigeria, Apostle Suleman warns Buhari.  (2017, June 18). Vanguard. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/you-cant-islamise-nigeria-apostle-suleman-warns-buhari/

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Cattle Colonies in Nigeria:  The economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications

Cattle Colonies in Nigeria:  The economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications

By Priye S. Torulagha

 

The Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, puts on a very calm face while trying to convince Nigerians about the necessity of establishing cattle colonies.  He strongly believes that cattle colonies is the way to go in order to drastically reduce incessant violent confrontations between cattle herders and farmers. To further calm the nerves of Nigerians who believe that the cattle colony idea is simply a strategic tactic to Fulanize and Islamize Nigeria, the honorable minister added “Cattle colony is not using herdsmen to colonise any state.  It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that will like to volunteer land for it.  The federal government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees.”

He further justifies the need for the establishment of cattle colonies by implying that such exclusive settlements would result in increasing the agricultural yield of meat and milk production.  Ordinarily, his reasons for justifying the nationalization of the cattle business seems harmless, however, the consequences of the proposition are far-reaching.  It is argued here that “cattle colony” is a euphemism for the Islamization of Nigeria.

Thus, the purpose of this write-up is to identify the potential economic, cultural, religious, political and military implications of establishing cattle colonies in Nigeria.

Economic Implications

First, the cattle business is a private enterprise carried out by individuals and groups of individuals to enhance their economic wherewithal.  They are in the cattle business to make profit and prosper.

Second, the profit they make in selling and buying cattle is not passed unto the general public as a form of public good to enhance the general welfare of the citizens.  The reason is that it is purely a private enterprise.

Third, the cattle business is primarily dominated by members of a particular ethnic group, the Fulanis.  Thus, the cattle business to the Fulanis is like the retail trade business to the Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas and Urhobos, fishing business to the Ijaws, Ibibios, Itsekiris, and Ilajes, cocoa business to the Yorubas and farming business to the entire Nigerian farming population.

Fourth, the cattle are actually owned by very rich and powerful individuals in Nigerian society.  They exploit the nomadic Fulanis to take care of the cows.  It does not make sense for the Federal Government of Nigeria to subsidize an industry dominated by very rich and powerful individuals who have the financial wherewithal to buy or rent land to establish ranches, as in other parts of the world.

Fifth, if the Federal Government subsidizes the establishment of cattle colonies throughout the country by taking land from their rightful owners, will meat consumption be subsidized to the Nigerian public since the government will be using public funds to subsidize a particular private business that benefits one ethnic group the most?

Sixth, why is the Federal Government so interested in subsiding and promoting a business that is primarily dominated by a particular ethnic group?

Seventh, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every Nigerian equal rights, justice and fairness.  Therefore, if the Federal Government subsidizes the cattle business, will it also subsidize other businesses owned by Nigerians.  In other words, if the Federal Government subsidies the establishment of cattle colonies, will it also subsidize pig colonies, chicken colonies, retail trade colonies, fishing colonies and farming colonies in order to ensure equal treatment for all Nigerian businesses?

Eight, if the federal government does not intend to establish colonies for other businesses, it might create the impression that the cattle business is being subsidized because it is operated by Fulanis and the president is a Fulani.  In the event of such a perception, Nigerians are likely to imply that the Minister of Agriculture is bent on establishing cattle colonies because the president is a Fulani and the Fulanis are the power-wielders in Nigeria, hence, they can do whatever they want through the exploitation of the national government. It could also lead to the feeling that the Nigerian government is being exploited by rich and powerful individuals who actually own most of the cattle that the Fulani nomads manage daily. In this case, Nigerians could hypothesized that the president is assisting powerful cattle owners to exploit the Nigerian people.

If such a perception were to take place, hostility towards the Fulanis and rich cattle owners might increase, leading to resistance against the Federal Government.

Ninth, which group will have the right to own the lands in which the colonies would be located?  Will the host communities continue to be the rightful owners of the lands or the cattle operators or the Federal Government?  There is a great possibility that the settlers might argue in the future that the lands (catle colonies) were awarded to them by the Federal Government, hence, the lands are legally theirs.

Tenth, a cattle colony, as Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development envisaged, will take a lot of land because he is proposing cattle colonies that might include five to ten ranches in each colony.  This means that as soon as a land has been allocated for a cattle colony, the original owners of the land might forfeit their right to use the land for farming.

Cultural Implications

First, culturally, the proposed cattle colony concept in Nigeria is un-African.  Traditionally, in Sub-Saharan Africa, every piece of territorial space is associated with a particular ethnic group or tribe.   This means that every ethnic group has a right to make decisions about its territory, regardless of the government in power.  Thus, in Nigeria, there is a Yoruba territory, Igbo territory, Hausa territory, Tiv territory, Junkun territory, Igala territory, Ijaw territory, Ibibio territory, Itsekiri territory, Edo/Bini territory, Nupe territory, Kanuri territory, Ikwerre territory, Ogoni territory, Isoko Territory, Bachama territory, and so on and so forth.  In Africa, there is a Masai territory, Akan territory, Ewe territory, Mande territory, Zulu territory, Shona territory, Somali territory, Acholi territory, Kongo territory, Tuareg territory, Berber territory, Fulani territory and so on and so forth.  Here again, every group makes decisions about its territory without interference by another ethnic group.

Second, under African tradition, when an individual from a particular ethnic group visits and or lives in the territory of another ethnic group, the individual must and is expected to respect the customs and traditions of the host group.  Thus, an Ijaw person cannot go to Hausaland to dictate to the Hausas what they should do and not do about their territory and vice versa.  Continentally, it is considered offensive, provocative and insulting for one ethnic group to want to dominate other ethnic groups by attempting to take over land surreptitiously for its own private economic interest. Of course, it is understandable that occasionally, territorial neighbors do fight over a piece of land. However, it is entirely a different story when the national government tries to impose a particular ethnic group on other ethnic groups through land colonization.

Third, in Africa, the land is associated with the ancestors, therefore, it is treated as a sacred gift from them to the living.   Governments have to be sensitive to this cultural reality.  If the culture is violated, then, soon or later, governments would begin to seize or force people to give up their ancestral lands for political reasons.  It is culturally unacceptable for Nigerian government to attempt to persuade Nigerian ethnic groups to give up large parcels of their lands for the private business interest of a particular ethnic group.

Fourth, even though the Land Use Decree vested the governors of the states with the authority to supervise the management of state lands, the decree is unlawful and un-African in the sense that it was passed by a dictatorial military regime.  The military regime did not allow Nigerians to determine whether they want to cede the authority of their lands to the governors.  The governors, whether they are military or civilian, cannot be trusted since they are political animals that could easily be forced through political circumstances to compromise against the interest of the people, as the governor of Plateau State tried to do by supporting cattle colonies in his state without consulting the people first.  Again, in African culture, the land belongs to the ancestors and the living must preserve the land for future generations. It is a sacred duty for almost every ethnic in the continent to treat the land as a sacred gift.

Fifth, this being the case, the “ cattle colony” idea is a proposition by the Federal Government of Nigeria, requesting the 200 to 299 ethnic groups in the country to provide land space for members of a particular ethnic group and cattle business owners to settle and colonize.  If cattle colonies are allowed, this means that out of the multitudes of ethnic groups in Nigeria, one particular ethnic group, the Fulani, will have settlements in the territories of almost every ethnic group in the country.  On the other hand, the other ethnic groups would not be able to spread their business practices with support of the Federal Government to the Hausa-Fulani region of the country.

Such a development could lead to Fulani colonization of entire Nigeria. If that were to take place, it means that other ethnic groups would eventually have to forgo their own cultures, beliefs, traditions and adopt Fulani ways since the Fulanis currently are the premier power-wielding group in Nigeria. They are the only people in the country that continue to perpetuate a politico-religious state that was created through aggressive military conquest and domination of other Nigerian ethnic groups.  Thus, the Hausas and the Yorubas of Kwara State are still under Fulani colonialism, even in the twenty-first century.

There Is no doubt that due to the tremendous political power that the Fulanis wield in Nigeria, especially under the present administration, they would use coercive instruments of the national government to impress upon other ethnic groups to adopt Islamic ways and forgo their traditional cultures.

Sixth, generally, it is culturally unacceptable in traditional African culture for members of one ethnic group to attack and humiliate the traditional leaders of other ethnic groups, especially when there is no war officially declared war between them.  Already, some traditional rulers have paid with their lives for opposing cattle grazing in their lands in Delta, Benue, Plateau and Taraba States and possibly Southern Kaduna.   Such unprovoked attacks in the past would have led to major intertribal wars. It is also a known fact that a major Yoruba leader and the former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falea, has been attacked two or three times by herdsmen.  In one occasion, he was actually kidnapped by cattle herders.  In the most recent attack, they burnt his farm and destroyed many crops.  This means that the herders have no respect for other ethnic groups.

Despite the seriousness of the unprovoked attacks on farming communities, the Federal Government has been unwilling to take proactive measures to clamp down on the herders.  Many Nigerians hypothesized that the cattle herders are able to act with impunity because their man is the leader of the country.  Moreover, since almost all the security chiefs are members of their ethnic group, they are able to get away with launching violent acts against other Nigerians.  In fact, the Federal Minister of Defense, Mansur Dan-Ali blames anti-open grazing laws that some states have instituted for forcing the herdsmen to launch violent attacks (Sani Tukur, Premium Times, January 25, 2018).  The minister ignores the fact that herdsmen’s attacks preceded the enactment of the anti-open grazing laws.  If members of other ethnic groups were openly threatening, killing and destroying members of other communities the way the herders have been doing, the Nigerian Army would have been deployed to stop them.

Religious Implications

The religious implications of granting cattle colonies throughout Nigeria to cattle business operators is far reaching. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, cleverly avoids discussing the potential religious conflicts that cattle colonies might generate throughout the country and focus only on the agricultural impact of managing cattle herding.  The potential religious conflicts are enormous.

First, Nigeria is a multi-religious country characterized by African Ancestralism, Christianity and Islam.  To ensure that Nigerians worship their chosen religions freely, the country adopts a secular-humanistic approach, so, there is no governmental imposition of religion.  This means that a traditionalist is free to worship Ancestralism just as a Moslem is free to worship Islam and a Christian is free to worship Christianity.  The arrangement could be jeopardized if cattle colonies are created nationally.

Second, if cattle colonies are created in the 36 states, this means that the Fulanis will have territorial space in every state of Nigeria.  As their numbers in the colonies multiply, they would expand to make way for other Fulanis, particularly nomads from other parts of Africa to come in.  As their population expands, they would build mosques in the cattle colonies and bring in religious priests (Imams and mullahs) to preach and mobilize them to expand even further.  Thus, in the midst of Ancestral and Christian territories will be Islamic enclaves.

Third, with a sizable population in the cattle colonies, the cattle herders would insist that since they are Moslems, they are not subjected or obligated to the territorial, cultural and religious beliefs and practices of the ethnic groups which own the territories in which their cattle colonies are located.  Instead, they are likely to insist that since they are predominantly Moslems, they are citizens of the Sokoto Caliphate and are obligated to it and not to the ethnic groups whose lands they occupy.  This argument has already been propounded by Prof. Umar Labdo Muhammad when he said:

Benue State belongs to the Fulani by right of conquest.  This isbecause half of the state is part of the Bauchi Emirate and the other half is part of the Adamawa Emirate.  Benue is therefore, part and parcel of the Sokoto Caliphate.” (Daily Post, 2018, January).

Fourth, as their population increases in the cattle colonies, they are likely to turn their goal from that of cattle raising to attempt to spread and convert the indigenes to embrace their religion and forsake  Ancestralism and Christianity. To facilitate the process, they are likely to seek assistance from other Moslem groups to advance their cause.  This eventually will lead to very violent religious conflicts.  This prediction is quite possible because the Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, had given the command to spread Islam throughout Nigeria when he said:

The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of 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 rule over us or have control over their future.” (Sir Ahmadu Bello October 12, 1960)

Moreover, President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2001, committed himself to spreading the Sharia throughout Nigeria when he said:

I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to

the  Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria.  God willing, we

we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of Sharia in

the (Omokri, 2018, January 17).

Fifth, since the Fulanis are not shy about announcing to the world that they conquered the indigenous Nigerian ethnic groups to establish the Sokoto Caliphate, they would not hesitate to declare a jihad and force all the groups in Nigeria to embrace their religion by force.  The reason is that they are not afraid of provoking other ethnic groups with their conquering mentality, as shown by the cattle herders who now roam the country to destroy farm lands and kill farmers who oppose them.  Already, the herdsmen are operating like the Janjaweed of Sudan by ruthlessly attacking and killing Nigerians in their communities.

Sixth, the possibility of the above prediction taking place is not far-fetched since the Federal government appears to have been Islamized by President Buhari.  It is a fact that the entire Nigerian national security system today is led by Moslems.  It is also a fact that all important federal government positions are held by Moslems.  This means that if the Fulanis in the cattle colonies feel threatened in any form or manner, the machinery of the national government would be utilized to protect the cattle colonies and their human inhabitants by punishing those who threaten them.  This has already happened since the Nigerian Army today is no longer the Nigeria Army that Nigerians are used to.   It is increasingly looking and operating like a foreign military force in the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria.  The reason is that all critical positions in the armed forces are held by Moslems.  Today, it is not an exaggeration to refer to the Nigerian Army as the Army of the Islamic Northern Nigeria. Its interests are increasingly pro-Islamic Northern Nigeria. Thus, Middle Belt and Southern Nigerian soldiers serve at the mercy of Islamic soldiers who make substantive policy decisions about the organization. This is why Southern and Middle Belt military officers rarely speak publicly anymore.  They simply perform their assignments and remain quite.

Seventh, it is quite possible that as soon as the colonies are established, the Federal Government might create special military units to guide and protect them.  With such tactical military support, the cattle herders would be emboldened to increase their population and expand their colonizing tendencies.

Eighth, it is amazing that the Federal government rarely deploys the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force to prevent herdsmen’s attacks against farming communities.  The security forces are only deployed after the attacks have taken place.  On the other hand, whenever cattle herders are threatened with counterattack or are attacked, the federal Government responds very quickly by sending the Nigerian Army, Airforce and the police.  So, the political situation in Nigeria today is akin to the situation in “Animal Farm” where all Nigerians are equal but some Nigerians are more superior to other Nigerians.  For instance, before the Agatu and Nimmo attacks, it was widely published that herdsmen were mobilizing to attack these communities, yet, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police did not mobilize to prevent the herdsmen from mobilizing and launching their violent attacks.  Even before recent attacks in Dangaji, Unguwar Gajere, Birningwari in Southern Kaduna State, Gazabu, Kungana, Tukun Ruwa, Utsua Daa and Kpenkpen villages in Taraba State and Tomatar, Uemnge, Akor village, Ayilama. Turan, Ngambe-Yiev in Benue States, it was widely known that the attackers were mobilizing to launch attacks, yet, the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force were not sent to prevent the attacks.  Again, only after the attacks had taken place before the security forces were sent. It was reported in the news that even after three weeks following the massacre of 72 people in Benue State, the police units sent to the area are not sufficiently reinforced to prevent further attacks on Benue communities.  Ass a result, many displaced individuals have opted not to return to their communities because it is not safe.  Even the police units posted to the area are afraid of being attacked by the herdsmen.

The above characterization of Nigeria’s response to herdsmen’s attacks is further buttressed by the manner in which the Federal Government responded to the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).  The Federal Government did not hesitate to mobilize the Nigerian Army and the Police to stop IPOB demonstrations in the Southeast zone of the country.  Apart from that, the Federal Government immediately proscribed the organization by calling it a terrorist organization.  On the other hand, the Federal Government is not eager to proscribe the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association for provoking attacks.  Similarly, the Federal Government regards the violent cattle herders as criminals and not terrorists, even though the entire world view them as terrorists, as indicated by the Global Terrorist Index in 2014 and 2015.

Political Implications 

When the potential cultural, economic and religious implications are examined to show the potential conflicts that cattle colonies might generate in Nigeria, the political implications become very alarming.

First, the establishment of cattle colonies would enthrone the Fulanis as the supreme overlords of Nigeria.  They would be the only ethnic group in a country of 180 million people that have the widest territorial presence in the country.  Soon or later, using the machinery of the national government, they would begin to dominate the political leadership of every state in Nigeria, as they have done in most northern states.

Second, the cattle colonies might transform to become an extension of the Sokoto Caliphate, thereby, further expanding the authority of the Fulani ethnic group.  Such a development could lead to the depowering of the Southern ethnic groups the way the indigenous northern ethnic groups have been rendered powerless and voiceless.

Third, using the national security infrastructure and the National Assembly, the Fulanis would be able to influence the passing of legislation that can turn Nigeria into a Sharia-embracing state.

Fourth, since they control the national security system, the National Assembly and the federal bureaucracy, they are likely to pass a legislation that will allow the National Grazing Reserve bill to pass with ease.  The passage of such a law would provide the legal basis for the confiscation of lands owned by indigenous ethnic groups through the proposed National Grazing Reserve Commission, if the cattle colony plan does not materialize due to refusal by various ethnic groups.

Fifth, it is interesting to note that while Nigeria is supposedly operating as a democracy, President Buhari has been able to tribalize, regionalize and Islamize the governance infrastructure with ease.  Increasingly, the South, the Middle Belt and Southern Kaduna State are like colonial appendages to the Islamic Republic of Northern Nigeria, hence, are powerless to stop the president from regionalizing the national government.

Sixth, the proposed cattle colonies could turn the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria into Darfur, Sudan, where the Janjaweed inflicted so much carnage in an attempt to drive away the indigenes and replace the population. Indeed, the cattle herdsmen in Nigeria operates like the Janjaweed in Sudan.  Just as the Sudanese government hesitated to clamp down on the violent group, the Nigerian government too is not eager to clamp down on the herdsmen.  If any Southern or Middle Belt ethnic group operates like the cattle herders, the military would have been fully deployed to stop them.

Seventh, by strategically encouraging the nationalization of the Fulani through cattle colonies, those who wield power in Nigeria seem to be creating the impression that Nigeria is an extension of the Sokoto Caliphate, hence, those who own the caliphate should have the right to own Nigeria.  Otherwise, it is inconceivable why the Federal Government is trying to convince Nigerians to accept the idea that it is appropriate to allow one ethnic group to spread all over the country, at the disadvantage of other ethnic groups through active national governmental support for cattle colonies .

Eighth, by attempting to establish cattle colonies, the president and his inner circle advisers seem to create the impression that they do not believe in democracy and are only using the opportunity to spread a narrow-minded politic-religious agenda.  The reason is that in Africa, every ethnic group is responsible for the management of its territorial space.  Despite this cultural reality, the president and his advisers are trying to impose a particular ethnic group on other ethnic groups through the national government.

Ninth, due to regionalization and Islamization of governmental leadership, Nigeria has materialized into a political animal farm in which all citizens are equal but some citizens are superior to others.  This development is accentuated by the actions of the Federal Government since the APC and President Buhari came into power.  The Federal Government increasingly treats the Islamic North quite differently from the non-Islamic Middle Belt (Central) and Southern Nigeria in the following ways:

 

  1. All critical national government positions have been regionalized and

Islamized.

  1. The national security has been regionalized and Islamized. So, every decision about national policy is made by officials who come from the same region and share the same religion.
  2. Any action that threatens the Islamic North is squashed unhesitatingly.
  3. There is opposition to restructuring.
  4. Northern youth leaders gave an ultimatum to Igbos to evacuate the North. Yet, the Nigerian Government did not arrest them for doing so.
  5. Captured Boko Haram fighters are routinely released from detention to rejoin society without consequence. Many South-South and South-East youths are still in detention for various activities.
  6. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB was proscribed and regarded as a terrorist organization, yet, Fulani herdsmen who repeatedly murder innocent Nigerians are viewed as criminals but not terrorists.
  7. The victims of herdsmen attacks are blamed for provoking the herdsmen.
  8. Following the clash between some Hausa and Yoruba people in Ife, the Nigerian Police Force only arrested the Yorubas and not the Hausas. The police even arrested a traditional Yoruba leader due to the altercation.  Islamic leaders in the North are untouchables, regardless of what they do.
  9. When South-South leaders under the auspices of the Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) wanted to hold a peaceful meeting to strategize around October 31, 2017 in Port Harcourt, the Police and the DSS stopped them.
  10. All proposed major railway lines are directed toward enhancing public transportation in the northern part of the country. The president even wants to build a railway line from Kano to his home town (Daura) as well as to the Niger Republic.  Meanwhile, the South-South is still struggling with the Lagos-Benin Road and the East-West Road.  The roads in the Southeast zone too are in a poor state..
  11. All of a sudden, the national discussion now is to empower the Fulani by making sure that cattle colonies are established throughout Nigeria.

Tenth, any ethnic group which accepts the cattle colonies and allow such colonies to be established in its territory would be laying the foundation for its own eventual destruction.  The violence in Southern Kaduna State and the Middle Belt clearly shows what will happen if cattle colonies are allowed nationally.  The settlers would end up acting as if they are the original owners of the land and threaten the indigenes in an attempt to drive them away and create more living space for their own members.

Military Implications

There is no concerted effort by the Federal Government to explain the potential implications of allowing one ethnic group to have settlements in every part of the country, contrary to African tradition.  Similarly, the impression is created that the settlements are only for cows and their owners without mentioning the fact that each colony might attract as much as 2000 to 3000 cow hands (herders).  The sum of 2000 to 3000 herders are mentioned here because the minister is proposing cattle colonies that are super ranches.  This means that each colony will have up to ten ranches.   Since most cattle herders are of Fulani ethnicity, it means that thousands of Fulani herders will be tactically located throughout Nigeria.  This translates into military formations. Why?

First, any general who wants to fight a major war would be so happy to have his men and women strategically positioned throughout the theater of potential war.  This is exactly what the Federal Government wants to do.

Second, the cattle colony idea seems to be the final battle plan for spreading Islam throughout Nigeria, as envisaged by Othman Dan Fodio and Ahmadu Bello.

Third, if the colonies are created, the cattle herders would automatically become the most strategically placed would-be-fighters in Africa.  The colonies would serve as military garrisons to prepare and mobilize fighters as well as equipment for the future conquest of the non-Islamic regions of Nigeria.

Fourth, there is no doubt that the leadership of the herders would use the colonies to store arms.  Already, cattle herders are allowed to carry guns.  In fact, cattle herders are the only Nigerians who can openly carry guns around without being stopped or arrested by the Nigerian Police or the Army.  There is no other private business in Nigeria where people are allowed to carry guns.  Since, Nigeria allows Fulani cattle herders to carry guns, it would only be a matter of time before the cattle colonies begin to serve as armories for dangerous weapons.  This means that the Fulanis would be able to reinforce themselves and store equipment that could easily be used to fight and intimidate host communities.  Already, host communities in Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Enugu, Delta, Ondo, Ekiti, Abia, and Ogun States are regularly threatened with violence by the herders.  This possibility of turning the cattle colonies into armories should not be discounted because in Delta State, it was widely reported that some indigenes reported that helicopters were landing and taking off in some of the herders camps in the state to reinforce their activities.  The Vanguard on March 8, 2017, published a news story titled “Helicopter delivers supplies to herdsmen in Delta community.”  Again, on March 28, 2017, Vanguard published a news report titled “Storm over alleged helicopter supplies to herdsmen in Delta.”

Fifth, as soon as the cattle colonies are established and consolidated, thousands of herders might likely pour in to settle.  This would turn the colonies into military training grounds for fighters who might pretend to be cattle-herders.  This possibility should not be discounted since it appears that the herders are already in possession of training grounds in some parts of Taraba, Benue and possibly Nasarawa States.  Hence, their ability to mobilize to launch attacks against farming communities in those states.

Sixth, the cattle colonies would attract elements from Chad, Niger, Mali and other West African countries.  It is not surprising that Nigeria is not making any serious effort to stop illegal migration of potential trouble-makers/jihadists from coming into Nigeria as cattle herders.  This is attested to by the fact that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, had made a statement indicating that he paid some Fulani men from causing trouble in Southern Kaduna.  The story was reported in Vanguard of December 3, 2016, titled “We’ve paid some Fulani to stop killings in Southern Kaduna.”.

Seventh, the “cattle colony” for all intent and purposes, seems to be a tactical way of establishing military garrisons for the final Islamization of Nigeria.  This means that the colonies are simply military depots and the herders would eventually metamorphosed into warriors. As quoted above, President Buhari is a strong believer in the Sharianization of Nigeria.

It should be noted that the Roman Empire used similar tactics to conquer Europe.  Sometimes, instead of launching military frontal attacks, the Romans created business centers.  These centers eventually became major Roman settlements.  From the settlements, the Romans expanded militarily to conquer and colonize.  This accounted for why a considerable number of the major European cities, including London, Paris, Cologne, Barcelona, Florence, Cordoba, Basel, Nijmegen, Mainz, Canterbury, Worms, Zagreb, Montenegro, Zurich, Sisak, Leiden, and so on and so forth, were established by the Romans.  Thus, there is a great possibility that the cattle colonies might eventually become the military bases for attacking, conquering and converting non-Moslem Nigerians by force.

Eight, cattle colonies could create sociopolitical environments that lead to perpetual warfare between the indigenous ethnic groups and the settlers like in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen due to religious extremism. The reason is that if the cattle colonies materialize, Islamic jihadists might infiltrate them and use them to stage constant attacks against host communities.   The jihadists are likely to receive assistance from their ideological bedfellows in various parts of Africa and the Middle East to destabilize Southern and Central Nigeria.  A major motivating factor is the need to turn the most populated country in Africa into an Islamic powerhouse for the spreading of the religion.

Ninth, the battle line was drawn long ago.  It was recently reinforced when Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo of Kano electrified the agenda for Islamization by saying:

It was either the Koran or the sword and most of them chose the Koran. In return for the good works of our forefathers, Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria to rule and to do as we please. Since 1960 we have been doing that and we intend to continue (Pointblanknews Magazine, October 2, 2014).

He further declared:

The Christians in the north such as the Berom, the Tiv, the Kataf, the Jaba, the Zuru, the Sayyawa, the Jukun, the Idoma and all others are nothing and the Muslim minorities in the north, including the Kanuri, the Nupe, the Igbira, the Babur, the Shuwa Arabs, the Marghur and all the others know that when we are talking about leadership in the north and in Nigeria, Allah has given it to us, the Hausa-Fulani (Ibid.).

Historical Parallels

It is quite possible for some readers to easily refer to this writer as an alarmist bent on causing ethnic disunity in the country.  However, the aforementioned projections are supportable by historical facts and circumstances.

First, it should be noted that Ireland was a wholly Roman Catholic country.  As part of the effort to dominate the country, starting from King Henry the 2nd and following in succession with King Henry VIII, King Charles 1 and King James I of England, masterminded the gradual  take-over of the country by intentionally creating polices that adversely affected the Irish Catholics.  The policies led to starvation and death, thereby, forcing thousands of Irish people to flee.  As the Irish Catholics flee or are impoverished, Protestants were encouraged to settle in Ireland in large numbers.  When Ireland was split into the North and South with the South becoming the Republic of Ireland, the Protestants ended up becoming the majority in Northern Ireland (History of England, n.d.).  So, even in the twenty-first century, the Protestants are the majority in Northern Ireland and the indigenous Irish Catholics are the minority.  Apparently, the politics of Northern Ireland is dominated by the Protestants who left Scotland, England and Wales to settle in the country through the encouragement of the English Kings.  The Protestant majority is not in favor of uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland because such reunification might render them as a minority group.  This accounted for why Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom and not part of the Republic of Ireland.

Second, in the United States, President Andrew Jackson, under the “Indian Removal Act” initiated a forceful population eviction of Native Americans who inhabited the Southeast region of the country in early part of the nineteen century.  The tragic evacuation/eviction, known as the Trail of Tears, forced  thousands of Native Americans from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina to trek thousands of miles from their homelands to settle in Oklahoma, which was set aside for them.  Then, settlers were allowed to take over Native American ancestral lands in the Southeast region of the USA (History.com, Trail of Tears, n.d.).  In the process, thousands of Native American men, women and children died as they were forced to trek in the middle of the winter months.

Third, Nigeria has a very poor record in terms of managing public lands.  For instance, Nigeria is totally responsible for the exploration and management of oil and gas in Nigeria.  It has a very poor record in managing the oil region.  The citizens in the region are treated as third class citizens and have no voice concerning the exploitation of their territory.  Sadly, Nigeria does not care about its citizens who live in the oil belt, hence, ignores the environmental degradation, economic hardship and the health issues associated with gas flaring and oil pollution.  Thus, the region is one of the most polluted oil regions in the world.  The country’s leaders rarely speak about the need to clean the environmental pollution necessitated by oil and gas exploration.  Even the attempt to clean up Ogoniland, which was recommended by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) is not encouraging since there is no national motivation to do so.   The only thing the country seems to care about is increasing the quantity of oil production to enhance its financial coffers.

Fourth, when Abuja was selected as the new capital of Nigeria, the indigenous people of Abuja sacrificed their homeland to allow Nigeria to build the new capital.  After promising to pay them generously for the sacrifices made, they waited for so long to be appropriately compensated.  Today, rich Nigerians have taken over the place, hence, the original owners can no longer go back to their ancestral homeland because it is very expensive.

Fifth, the people of Maroko in Lagos had gone through a similar bad experience in the 1990s when they were forced to evacuate.  Before the forceful evacuation, about 300,000 people from all corners of Nigeria lived in the area.  Then, during the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Governor Raji Rasaki of Lagos State ordered the residents to leave the area within eight days. Even before the deadline, bulldozers were sent to demolish houses and force the people to leave hurriedly.  All the promises made by to compensate them did not come to fruition.  This is why the victims of that sad and ugly act continue to remember the day every year (Sahara Reporters).  Today, Maroko is now part of Victoria Island, Oniru Royal Estate and Lekki Phase 1.   Therefore, any ethnic group that surrenders its land for the establishment of a cattle colony would eventually live to regret the decision because Nigeria always fail to keep up with promises made when land is involved.

Fifth, Southern Kaduna, some parts of the Middle Belt and the non-Islamic territories of the Upper North are paying dearly for being technically colonized.  If Southern Nigerians allow cattle colonies in their territories, they would begin to experience the pain that Nigerians in those places are experiencing from cattle herders who are trying to take over their farmlands for cattle grazing.

Thus, as innocent sounding as a “cattle colony” might seem, it could end up devouring the ethnic groups that make up the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria when the colonies are tactically expanded to increase the population of the settlers.  Like Ireland, the colonies could end up being the sources for the final conquest of the entirety of the Nigerian land mass, as was instructed by Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello.

Conclusion 

The cattle business in Nigeria is a private enterprise.  The owners of the cattle are in it to buy, sell and make profit for themselves.  Therefore, the Federal Government has no business whatsoever in wanting to subsidize the industry by establishing cattle colonies throughout the country while discriminating against other private business ventures.    Instead of establishing grazing lands or cattle colonies, the Federal Government should tell the Miyetti Allah Cattle Association and other cattle owners to adopt the globalized practice of ranching,  it is no longer acceptable to allow cows to roam all over the place.  The owners should buy or rent land to create ranches, period.

Nigerians should ask the honorable minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to explain the cultural, economic, religious, political and military implications of enabling one ethnic group to have a foothold in all parts of Nigeria through cattle colonies.  He should also be asked to answer the question of why the Federal Government is so eager to subsidize a particular private business while not making any pronouncement about creating colonies for other businesses.

 

Is it Compatible for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijawland?

Is it Compatible for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijawland?

 

By Priye S. Torulagha

priyet@hotmail.com

 

Before answering the question with a Yes or a No answer, it is necessary to explore the question critically.  Similarly, before condemning the writer for being anti-Christian, it is necessary to read and digest the story in order to have a full understanding of the compelling reason for writing this article.

Although very controversial, nevertheless, it is necessary to ask whether it is compatible for  Ijaw Christians to become traditional rulers in Ijawland at this juncture of the Ijaw struggle for self-determination. The reason is that many Ijaw beliefs, values, norms and practices are disappearing at a frenetic speed due to the unrelenting ideological crusades mounted by Christian evangelists, pastors and adherents to destroy Ijaw culture and traditions in an attempt to replace it with a Christian culture.  Mr. I. E. Prezi published an article titled “Christian Religion and Loss of Ijaw Traditions and Cultures”, in which he identified some of the rare Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices that are disappearing, following Christianization.  Earlier, Dr. E. J. Alagoa had made reference to the fact that many Ijaw traditions have been abandoned as people convert to Christianity (1999).  Indeed, the destruction of Ijaw culture is proceeding at a pace in which by fifty years from now, the Ijaw cultural world could be reduced to nothingness and replaced with Christian and secular-humanistic ideas.     This means that some of the unique beliefs, traditions, rituals, festivals, songs, masquerades and dances might disappear.  This further means that Ijaw traditional music would be replaced by CHRISTIAN GOSPEL MUSIC.  Already, an increasing number of Ijaw musicians are now singing and producing Christian gospel music.  It is evident that in the future, instead of having the Rex Lawsons, I. K. Belemos, the Sea Gulfs, Robert Ebizimors, Barrister Smooths, Timayas, Pereamas, Dennis Abassas, Allen Alabors, Alfred Izon-Ebis, Fere bon Epebifes, Sistr Ayagbene, and so on and so forth, most musicians would be singing gospel music to demonstrate their Christianity.

The increasing disappearance of Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices is easily detectable by asking young men and women questions about their cultural traditions.  Most of them would not be able to explain why certain things are done in a certain way.  Similarly, most of them would not be able to explain why certain festivals take place.  Most Christianized Ijaws have no qualms about condemning their traditional religion as IDOL WORSHIPPING without even paying attention to the meaning of the word “IDOL”.   The word “IDOL” has been reinforced through classical and operant conditioning methods in the churches and Sunday school to the extent that many Ijaw Christians reflexively respond to the Ijaw religion without thinking about the implications.  A considerable number of the educated Ijaws are not interested even in making an attempt to study and understand the traditional system.  The reason is that since the days of their primary school education, they have been schooled, socialized and educated to believe that the traditional system is ungodly, satanic and devilish, therefore, it is something to be avoided.   Hence, the chorus: IDOL WORSHIP, IDOL WORSHIP, and IDOL WORSHIP in referring to Orukarism.

With this psychological orientation, many, if not most educated Ijaws, do not mind consuming any idea that is associated with Christianity and European cultures and rejecting anything that is associated with Ijaw culture.  The most disturbing part of the continuing decimation of Ijaw culture is that even some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders are beginning to reject their own traditional beliefs and practices by describing Ijaw religious culture as “IDOL WORSHIPING.”  It is understandable when a young Ijaw man or woman makes derogatory statements but when traditional Ijaw rulers and elders say that before Christianity, the Ijaws used to worship idols and not God, it really tells a lot about the intellectual state of Ijaw reasoning concerning religion.

Perhaps, due to the influence of Christianity, some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders no longer seem to subscribe to the notion that the traditional leader is the GUARDIAN, PROTECTOR, ENHANCER, PROMOTER and CUSTODIAN of traditional culture and religion.  This is worrisome because all over the world, whether in China, Japan, India, , Tibet, Iraq, Morocco, Mexico, Vietnam, Yorubaland, Peru, Kikuyuland, Maya, Pacific Islands, Cherokee, Thailand,  Maoriland and so on and so forth, traditional rulers/leaders  and elders are generally regarded as the guardians and custodians of their traditional beliefs, cultures, traditions, religions and ancient wisdom.  As a result, they serve as the protectors, promoters, perpetuators and preservers of their cultures, religions and ancient knowledge of their cultures.  In Ijawland, the role of the traditional ruler and elder is systematically being eroded by some very important personages who subscribe to a religion that has nothing to do with Ijaw culture while serving as traditional rulers and elders.

Based on the utterances of some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders, it is inferable that they really do not care about being the guardians, protectors, enhancers, promoters and custodians of Ijaw culture, beliefs, traditions and religion. Hence, the ease with which they describe Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING while ignoring the fact that all religions, including Christianity and Islam, engage in deification of certain beings, individuals, entities, artifacts, symbols, effigies, and totems. Moreover, Christianity and Islam came to the Nigerian region through military conquest, colonization and imposition.

 

The Declining State of Ijaw Culture and Traditions

It might be necessary to cite some specific circumstances to show the retrogressive state of Ijaw culture as some Ijaws, including traditional leaders and elders, uncritically embrace Christianity, which came to Ijawland through British conquest, colonization and imposition.

1. In 2010, due to the uncontrollable crime rate in Benin/Edoland, the Oba of Benin and the traditional political leadership decided to do something about the situation.  They resorted to the traditional Bini system by invoking their ancestors to punish those who commit crimes.  The Iyase of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe stated:

We are fed up.  This is the way we reacted against this type of things in the past                    and we have just gone back to the ancestors to help us clear them.  So, we                              believe that in order to put a stop to the insecurity, we just have to put a curse,                    call on our gods to put a curse and stop all the activities that threaten lives and                    property (Mmuta, 2010, June 11).

In Ijawland, His Highness, King Francis Ododo of Ikebiri Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State decided to get tough with criminals in his kingdom.  Instead of taking the traditional Ijaw path, since he is a traditional leader, as the Bini leaders did, he declared:  “Henceforth, any person linked to criminal activities in the area will be handed over to the security agencies for prosecution’” (African Examiner, 2010 ).

The fact that the Bini traditional political leadership took the traditional African path and the Ijaw traditional leader took the secular-humanistic path does not say much.  However, the boldness by which the Bini leadership decided to adopt the traditional path is what makes the difference.  The Bini leadership did not doubt the efficacy of Bini traditional religious culture.  This means that the leaders strongly believed in their religion.  Hence, the Iyase of Benin further boldly reinforced the Bini religion by saying:

We felt as Edo people we are not Christians, we are traditionalists, we believe                       in God through our ancestors.” (Mmuta, 2010).

The question is, how many traditional Ijaw leaders and elders today would be able to boldly defend the integrity of Ijaw Orukari religion?

2. Around 2015, a Bini son won a local government council election in South Florida.  To celebrate the electoral victory, he decided to hold the event in a university campus.  A traditional Bini religious priest was invited from Nigeria to come and offer prayers for the event.  When the traditional religious priest walked to the stage in traditional Bini attire and explained the intricacies of African Ancestralism to the audience, everyone was awe-struck.  The Americans wanted to know everything about Benin religion.

On the other hand, how many educated Ijaw men and women would be bold enough to invite an Ijaw traditional religious priest to come and offer prayers?   If this son of Biniland was an Ijaw person, it is probable that a Christian pastor might have been invited just to tell the world that the Ijaw son is a Christian and does not believe in “Idol Worshipping.”

3. While perusing through Youtube to find information about Ijaw culture, a very interesting video about Ijaw culture, history and tradition, titled “Art and Culture Ijaw Episode” showed up.  In the video, the traditional leaders and elders of Kabowei (Kabo) Kingdom narrated the history, beliefs and traditions of Ijawland.  The chiefs spoke glowingly and explained the intricacies of Ijaw culture and traditions, including various festivals.  It was very joyous and enlightening to hear very important elders speak about Ijaw traditions and culture.

However, the chiefs also noted that some Ijaw traditions are disappearing following Christianization.  One of the chiefs also repeatedly referred to Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING, thereby, reinforcing the Christian view.  One other noticeable thing about the video is that a Christian gospel song is used as a theme song even though the story of the video is about Ijaw culture and tradition.  It would have been preferable to use a song associated with Ijaw culture to back up a story about Ijaw heritage.  Again, the gospel song simply reinforces the view that Christianity is literally eating away Ijaw culture and people do not seem to pay much attention to it.  In other words, a sizable number of Ijaws are not worried that they are literally destroying their own existence while other ethnic groups in the world are working hard to protect, revive and reinforce their cultures.

4. On June 13, 2017, Emem Ido, a journalist with the Vanguard (Nigeria) newspaper published a report titled “Sabagreia: Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread.” In the report, the paramount ruler (Amananaowei), His Highness, Dr. Bokumo Orukari explained the story of Lake Efi Festival.  The story is very captivating and should be told and written about in order to preserve Ijaw cultural heritage.  However, the worrisome part of the explanation is that His Highness said, as reported by the Vanguard reporter:

Life at the time was centered on the idol Efi.

Owing to this constraint, when the fullness of time came, the people and owners of            Lake Efi, renounced idolatry and handed the lake over to the Almighty God.

The last festival in 2013 was the first time it was conducted with new modifications            and alterations to reflect the rededication of the festival to Almighty God.

It is obvious from reading the story that Christianity had much to do with various decisions concerning the lake. Most importantly, the view that Orukarism is based on IDOL WORSHIPPING had a great impact too. This line of thinking is greatly influenced by Christian preaching which continues to maintain the view that Ijaw people in particular and African people in general, did not know God until Christianity arrived at the shores of the African continent.  Thus, the quoted statement seems to create the impression that the people of Sabagreia did not know God, hence, paid homage to an IDOL in the past.  The statement is perfectly acceptable for a Christian audience within Ijawland but does not sound well for the global audience.  The reason is that it creates the impression that the Ijaws did not know God, hence, worshipped IDOLS until the Christians came to civilize them to embrace God.

The fact is that Sabagreia people knew even before the arrival of Christianity that there is a difference between being good and being bad, hence, they named their community Bolouseibokorogha, which translates into “where no evil/wicked person would settle.”  It is ironic that people who supposedly did not know God but worshipped idols, as the Christians claimed, banned evil people from their community even before the arrival of Christianity.  So, if Orukarism is devilish, why would the Sabagreians banned evil people from their community?  Likewise, since Bolouseibokorogha people revered Efi, does it mean that they did not worship God?  If that is the Christian assumption, then, how did they know that there is Woyengi, Aziba, Azibarau, Ayiba, Ayibarau, Oginaere, Tamarau, Tamuno, Temeowei, Temuno and so on and so forth, in the past? Is it not true that the Ijaws know that God exist for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity? If that is the case, then, where is the justification for spreading the view that the Ijaws only worshipped idols in the past until Christianity came?

5. The fact that some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders are feverishly working to destroy Ijaw beliefs, culture and practices is undeniable. In Aleibiri community, for instance, an active member of the community who is associated with the St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Mr. Golden Garuwa, is allegedly credited for  initiating an action which resulted in the stoppage of the masquerade festival in 2007 (Prezi, 2015, Ocotber 25).  Again, the wonderment is that the traditional leaders, elders and members of Aleibiri community allowed such a rare cultural festival to be disregarded without thinking about the consequences to their sub-culture.  Perhaps, it should be noted that the Anglican Church was established by King Henry VIII in an attempt to seek a divorce from his wife who could not bear him a male heir.  The Catholic Church had repeatedly refused to grant King Henry permission to divorce his wife, hence, he created the Church of England (Anglican Church) to accomplish the goal.  This is why the Anglican Church is regarded as a state church.

6. As part of the ongoing campaign to systematically wipe out Ijaw religious culture, which is the bedrock of the moral foundation of Ijaw existence, a forumite on Ijaw Nation Forum (INF) went as far as to indicate that the word ORU means devil in Ijawland. Of course, the fact is that ORU does not mean devil at all.  ORU is the name of the founding deity, as well as the name of an ancient African ethnic group that is associated with the deity.  Many ethnic groups in Africa today, including the Ijaw, Urhobo, Dogon, Nupe and others claimed to have originated from the ORU nation.  The Ijaws are directly associated with the ancient ORU nation that is why sometimes the Ijaws are referred to as Oru people.

It is not unusual for people to equate their ethnicity directly with the creation deity. This accounted for why the Jews claim to be the children of their God.  Logically, the Ijaws too claim to be the children of their God.  This accounted for why the Ijaws refer to their religion as ORUKARI, which means the worshipping of a deity. In Orukari, there is GOD, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings. The Orukari religion fits very well with the universal theory of the nine gods/goddesses.  According to this theory, human affairs in the world are regulated by nine gods/goddesses.  Thus, each god/goddess deals with a particular aspect of human affairs.  The Bible also recognizes the multiplicity of gods and goddesses, as indicated below.  Hence, St. Michael is regarded as an angel which protects and fight for justice.  The Christian concept of St. Michael matches the Orukari concept of Egbesu which performs the same role.

 

ORUKARISM

The Orukari religion has stringent rules.  These rules could be regarded as sacred COMMANDMENTS or LAWS.  This is why an Ijaw person can only kill under the principle of self defense.  Anyone who kills must perform a soul cleansing ritual to clean away the sin of taking the life of another.

 

Orukari religion seriously frowns at evil deeds.  Thus, in some parts of Ijawland, any person who has engaged in sorcery cannot be buried in the same cemetery as those with clean hearts.  In some parts of Ijawland, when a person dies, before burial takes place, the OBOBA Bi ritual must be conducted to find out whether the person was a good or a bad person.

 

Thus, every Ijaw person supposed not to violate the sacred rules or laws.  As a result, in Ijawland, there are ABOMINATIONS or SINS.  An abomination is a violation of the sacred commandments or laws.  Evidently, any Ijaw person that commits an ABOMINATION must confess the deed.  It is the only way to wash away the sin.  There is a strong belief that if confession is not rendered, the sin could affect the members of the sinner’s family also.

 

ORUKARISM is based on absolute truth due to the belief that truthfulness is tantamount to godliness. He or she who cannot tell the truth cannot be godly.  This accounted for why no one can lie while entering the shrine. There is a belief in Ijawland that there are no secrets because anything done secretly or clandestinely can be verified through divination.

 

Indeed, ORUKARISM is based on the Worshipping of God.  Consequently, the Ijaws have always worshipped God (WOYENGI, AYIBA, AZIBA, AZIBARA, OGINAERE, TAMUNO, TEMEOWEI, TEMUNO) FROM TIME IMMEMEORIAL.  The Cosmology of ORUKARI Religion, as indicated above, includes God, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings.  It is from this perspective that the idea of Ancestralism takes place.  This arrangement is not markedly different from Christianity which has God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints. The Christian saints are ancestral beings because they are the deceased members of the Christian religion who have been deified after death.  Therefore, the Christians honor God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints the way Orukarists honor God, gods, goddesses and ancestral beings.  When Christians honor the angels and saints by naming their schools, churches and other important structures after them, they do not say they are paying homage to IDOLS.  For instance, the St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Aleibiri is intended to honor St. Luke, who is a deceased member of the Christian Church.   However when the Ijaws honor gods and goddesses and ancestral beings (dead ancestors), they are referred to by the Christians as IDOL WORSHIPPERS.  Sadly,  many Ijaws meekly buy into this propaganda without thinking about it critically.

 

 

Christianity and Idolism

 

By the way, when Christians claim that they do not honor gods and goddesses, they are either being very forgetful or mischievous since the Old Testament also acknowledges the notion of gods and goddesses.  For instance in Genesis 1:26, it is stated “LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS.”  The “our image, after our likeness” shows a plurality of deities.

Likewise, In Psalm 82:1, it is stated “GOD HAS TAKEN HIS PLACE IN THE DIVINE COUNCIL, IN THE MIDST OF THE GODS HE HOLDS JUDGMENT.”  Another way to put it is “GOD STANDETH IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE MIGHTY; HE JUDGETH AMONG THE GODS”.  Here again, there is an acknowledgment of the plurality of deities (gods and goddesses). Of course, most Christians prefer to pay little attention to the fact that there is an acknowledgement of the concept of polytheism (many gods) in the Bible.  So, what is the difference between the acknowledgment of gods in the Bible and in Orukarism?  There is no difference between the two ways, however, the Christians are very good in ignoring facts about their own religion while point fingers at other religions.

 

Christianity, like every other religion in the world, has numerous IDOLS made up of various symbols, effigies, images, and totems.  The following provides a short list of items and activities which constitute reverence for IDOLS in Christianity:

1. The Bible: The Bible is a collection of written materials that span about two thousand years.  Even though it is a book written by human beings to describe and predict their perceptions of God and the state of being godly, today, it is accepted as the WORD of God. This is why it is considered a sacred book.  Thus, to know God through Christianity, it is necessary to read the Bible.  Then, what happens to those who cannot read and write?  Does it mean that those who cannot read the Bible cannot know and understand God? Is it necessary to read a book to know God? The truth is that it is not necessary to read the Bible or any book in order to know God.  Human beings have been worshipping God for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity ands Islam. This is why the Christian religion borrows extensively from other religions.

 

Moreover, the New Testament of the Bible is not necessarily accepted by the Jews. This accounted for why the Christians have persistently persecuted the Jews for refusing to convert to Christianity.   Additionally, the information in the New Testament only reinforces the orthodox view of the Christian story. On the other hand, it does not reflect the Agnostic view of Christianity.  It is necessary to have both views in order to draw a more objective picture of what actually happened in the days of Jesus Christ.

There are many problems with the Bible

There are many versions of the Bible, including the Hebrew, Greek, Ethiopian and the St. James.  The Ethiopian version is probably the largest or longest because it contains additional materials.

The Old Testament and the New Testament are not compatible. The Old Testament deals basically with Jewish religious beliefs, traditions and culture while the New Testament deals with Jesus Christ and the emergence of Christianity.  The Old Testament God is discriminative, revengeful, punitive, tribalistic and reactive.  The New Testament God is very forgiving and tolerant.  The Old Testament God sounds more like a tribal God while the New Testament God is globalized to embrace all.  The view that the Bible contains two distinct Gods is not new.  Around 142 CE, a man named Marcion, a rich ship magnate, the son of Bishop of Sinope of Pontus, a Pauline Christian who later adopted the Gnostic teachings of Cerdon, argued that the Supreme God is different from the creator God (Cosmocrater or Lord of Creation).  In this regard, the God of the Jews (Cosmocrater) was lesser than the Supreme God.  Cerdon had argued that the God of the Jews was not the father of Jesus Christ. (The Atheist Conservative, 2010, January 2).

Some of the stories in the Bible are contradictory. For instance, the Creation Story in Genesis dealing with Adam and Eve is confusing.  First, it states that God created man and woman equally, then, in the explanation section, it states that God took a rib from Adam to create Eve.  For instance, in Genesis 1: 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”.  Then in Genesis 22 “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

Some of the stories are incomplete. For instance, Cain is banished from the Garden of Eden to roam the earth.  Then suddenly, the Bible states that he impregnated a woman without mentioning where the woman came from since the Bible had stated that only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel existed at the time.  Genesis 4:16 states “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” Then in Genesis 4:17, it is stated “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch”.  Where did the wife come from?  Were there other people?  If Nod was already occupied by human beings, then the story of Adam and Eve being the first human beings is nullified.

Despite these limitations and contradictions, the Bible is viewed as the WORD OF

God.

2. Jesus Christ: Today, there is an unquestionable belief among Christians that Jesus Christ is not only the son of God but a manifestation of God.  In the past, that was not necessarily the case.  There are a few examples to cite from to show that in the past the status of Jesus Christ was highly debated by the early Christians.

For instance, Montanus and his two associates, prophetesses Prisca and Maximilla appeared on the Christian scene between 156 and 172 CE to spread a version of Christianity which devalued the importance of Christ and emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit (Davis, 1983). This movement shifted the focus of Christianity away from Christ to the Holy Spirit before the Church banned the idea later.

The Council of Nicaea took place in 325 CE. Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire organized the council to develop an official doctrine for the Christian religion. Before this time, the Christians had no official doctrine and preached different things about the religion.  Emperor Constantine invited 1800 bishops to attend the Christian gathering but about 318 of them turned up.

One of the major issues the council tackled was determining the relationship between the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Father (God).  This issue divided the council into two factions.  One faction was led by St. Alexander of Alexandria and the other faction was led by presbyter Arius.  St. Alexander, his assistant Athanasius and their supporters argued that the Son (Jesus Christ) was as divine and coeternal as the Father (God).  Hence, there was no difference between Jesus and God.

On the other hand, Arius and his 22 supporters in the council maintained that the Father (God) was supreme and unique, hence, greater than the son (Jesus Christ).  Arius further argued that the Son (Jesus) had a beginning and did not possess the eternity and divinity of the Father (God).  Accordingly, the Son (Jesus) was made God by the permission of the father (God). This view of Jesus Christ and God is known as Arianism.   The debate about the status of Jesus Christ went on from May 20, 325 to June 19, 325.  This means that it took a month to discuss and resolve the issue of Jesus Christ and God.

St. Alexander and his supporters won the debate.  As a result, the Bible only contains the Alexanderian view of Jesus Christ.  The Church leaders banned the Arian view (Davis, 1983).  As can be seen, the belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God and possesses godly essence as God is a product of human intellectual and emotional debate.  Of course, many Christian pastors in Ijawland, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the black world rarely read the story of how Jesus came to be referred to as a God.

A careful reading of the Bible clearly shows that Jesus Christ did not write any of the books of the New Testament, yet, Christian leaders and pastors quote him as if he actually wrote those things in person. It is theorized here that St. Mark wrote the earliest gospel based on information provided by St. Peter since he was a discipline of both Peter and Paul.  Thereafter, St. Mathew and St. Luke wrote their versions based on information partially gathered from St. Mark’s writings.

Moreover, it should be noted that there are four versions on the story of Jesus Christ. They are: (1) the Horus version, (2) the Zeus version, (3) the Simon of Perea version and (4) Jesus Christ version. This means that the story of Jesus Christ is not as simple as many Christians tend to believe.

Likewise, Jesus Christ had a human father, mother and siblings. This is often ignored with the argument that he was born by a virgin who was married or betrothed to Joseph. Perhaps, the twisting of the story contributes to why the Jews do not accept the story.

The Bible does not provide much information about the most important person in the New Testament. This is why some people believe that Jesus Christ was actually married to Mary Magdalene. The Islamic Koran refers to him as a prophet, not as a God manifested.

3. The Cross:  The cross is a pre-Christian religious symbol that the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, Irish, and Native Americans used in their religions.  The Roman Empire used the cross to crucify individuals that had been condemned to death.  Thus, Jesus Christ was executed on the Cross, hence, the Christians adopted it.  Now, it is treated as an exclusive Christian symbol and deified.  As a result, the Christian warriors who waged the Crusades against the Moslems carried the Cross as a symbol of protection.

4. Statues:  Statues have become part of the mainstay of the Christian religion.  In many parts of the world, especially in Europe and the Americas, important Christian figures are deified through statues that are honored as if they are gods.

5. Church Buildings: Christians tend to build very large worshipping houses.  There seems to be a believe that the bigger the church, the godlier the structure.   This is why even in Nigeria today, there are huge church buildings sometimes referred to as mega-churches.  Churches are now referred to as God’s houses.

6. Christian Relics: In many Christian churches in Europe and Latin America, the body parts of former church members that have been deified as saints are kept and worshipped.  It is very common for churchgoers to kiss and touch the body parts in the hope of being blessed and protected by the saints.  Similarly, artifacts that are associated with Jesus Christ and other important members of Christianity are treated as sacred objects and revered.

7. Tithe: Tithe has increasingly become a financial mainstay of the Christian church.  Churchgoers are compelled to give one or 10% of their wages to the Church.  Christians are psychologically made to feel guilty and ungodly if they do not give tithe.  Thus, the giving of tithe is now regarded as part of the Christian process for worshipping God. Some pastors exploit the tithe to become very wealthy.  Some of the funds generated through tithe are used for building mega-churches.

It is arguable that Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic traditional religions due to the belief that the early Jews were actually black Africans.  A Ghanaian scholar, Nana Banchie Darkwah, in his “The Africans who wrote the Bible” demonstrated the fact that black Africans wrote the Bible.  Darkwah’s position is corroborated by Dr. Ndagi Abdullahi (2017, June 30) who wrote :

 

But the truth of the matter is that the Jewish culture seen among the Ibos is                          seen also  among almost all other ancient Nigerian peoples including the Ibibio,                  the Kalabari, the Ijaw, the itsekiri, Jukun, the Igala, the Nupe, and so on and on.                 All these ancient Nigerian people have been practicing Jewish cultures for                             thousands of years even long before the time of Our Lord Jesus Christ some two                  thousand years ago.

In other words, West Africa was the original homeland of the Jewish people.  Even              Western scholarship is gradually coming to admit that the original Jews were                      Black African Negroes and that Black Negro Africa was the setting of thestories of              the Scriptures – not the Middle East.

Professor Ze’ev Herzog, the Head of the Archeology Department of the University                of Tel Aviv in Israel, wrote a book and purposely convened an international press              conference telling the world that today’s Israel, or Palestine (whatever you call                    it), was not the place where the stories of the Bible took place.

Yes, the original Jews were Black African Negroes and they were resident here in                Middle Africa – that is West Africa, Central and East Africa combined.

 

Therefore, it is inferable that Christianity is a corrupted form of Orukarism and other African religions.  Moreover, the Ten Commandments in the Bible seem to be a shortened version of the 42 Declarations that were the mainstay of ancient African religions, which the ijaws continue to practice under Orukarism.  This is why in Orukarism, there are many abominations or sins, as indicated earlier.  As a result, the Ijaws cannot engage in certain behaviors.  The Roman Empire and the Christian Church Europeanized some of the Afro-Asiatic beliefs to create the current brand of Christianity, which, sometimes, is referred to as “Constantinian” Christianity.

Obviously, these are only a few of the cases where even Ijaw traditional leaders, either knowingly or unknowingly denigrate their ancestral religion in order to justify their Christianity.  If they continue this way, the future generation of Ijaw children will know nothing about their past, apart from being fed stories in the Bible.

 

European Christians and Reverence for their Gods and Goddesses.

Why Are the Ijaws so eager to destroy their religious culture in the name of Christianity when others do not do so? Why is it that even Ijaw leaders and elders are willing at a moment’s notice to give up their beliefs, culture, values and practices when others do everything possible to perpetuate their cultures?

Perhaps, it might be necessary to show that European Christians who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to pay homage to their pre-Christian religious deities.  They have no problem calling their deities gods and goddesses, just as the Ijaws do under Orukarism.  There are many examples to cite from:

  1. As stated in previous writings, the month of JANUARY IS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD JANUS.  European Christians have no desire to change the name.  This means that they are happy with honoring their god.
  2. The month of MARCH is named after Roman god MARS. The Europeans do not refer to Mars as an IDOL.
  3. The month of MAY is named after Roman goddess of honor and reverence (MAIESTA).
  4. The month of JULY is named after JULIUS CAESAR (Here, a human being is deified).
  5. The month of AUGUST is named after AUGUSTUS CAESAR (The same thing happens here).
  6. The U.S. spaceship that went to the moon is named after Roman god APOLLO. American Christians have no problem with the name. They do not call Apollo an IDOL.
  7. The U.S. submarine TRIDENT is named after the three-pronged spear that is associated with the god POSEIDON.
  8. The U.S. submarine POSEIDON is named after POSEIDON, the Greek god of the sea.
  9. The PLANETS are named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. They are MERCURY, VENUS, JUPITER, SATURN and NEPUNE.  For instance, the Roman god (JUPITER) is regarded as the god of light and sky and protector of the state.  Even Pluto is a name of a European god.
  10. The Saturn spaceship is named after Greek god (SATURN), god of death.
  11. ZEUS is the Greek god of the sky.
  12. The English people, although Christian today, still pay homage to the Stonehenge.
  13. In England, the town of Glastonbury continues to be revered as a sacred site.   As indicated above, European Christians actually glorify their ancestral past by continuing to honor their gods and goddesses while Ijaw Christians refer to their gods and goddesses as IDOLs.  The Europeans who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to honor their pre-Christian deities while Ijaw Christians are trying very hard to destroy their heritage in the name of Christianity?

The Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese. Tibetans, Native Americans and South Pacific Islanders have God, gods and goddesses in their religions, just like the Ijaws.  They do not refer to their deities as IDOLS.

 

Is it appropriate and Proper for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijaw society?

The simplest answer to the above question is that it is not appropriate because Ijaw Orukari culture and Constantinian Christianity are incompatible.  Why?

  1. Religion is a product of the culture and the environment.  This means that religion and culture have symbiotic relationships.  The culture molds the religion and the religion molds the culture.  Thus, Ijaw culture is molded by the Orukari religion and the environment.  Likewise, Ijaw culture molds the Orukari religion.  Therefore, to establish morality in Ijawland, the belief and value system must come from the religious culture.
  2. The traditional Ijaw political system is a product of Ijaw culture, religion, environment, and Ijaw ancestors. Therefore, to become a traditional ruler in Ijawland, the individual must be conversant with the traditional religious culture since respect for the ancestor is the core of the system. There is nothing wrong in Ijaw people honoring their ancestors just like the Christians honor their ancestors (saints).
  3. Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic Jewish culture and religion, interwoven with European culture and religion through the influence of the Roman Empire.
  4. To subscribe to Christianity is to subscribe to Judeo/European cultures. This is why many Ijaw Christians, like their Nigerian and other Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Jewish and English names to signify their Christianity. It should be noted that those who are referred to Jews today are different from the ancient Jews.
  5. The Islamic religion is also an Afro-Asiatic product of Arabic culture and religion. Wesley Muhammed, an Islamic scholar, believed that Black Africans were greatly responsible for establishing and spreading Islam in his “Were the blacks who founded Islam really Africans? In Black Arabia).  Therefore, to become a Moslem is to subscribe to Arabic culture. This is why a vast proportion of Nigerian Moslems and their Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Arabic names, instead of their indigenous African names.
  6. Since both Christianity and Islam have greatly been influenced by Arabic and Judeo/European cultures today, Ijaw Christians must look to Israel for their religious pilgrimage while Nigerian Moslems must look toward Saudi Arabia for their pilgrimage. The fact remains that there are sacred places in every society. There are sacred places in Ijawland.  For instance, during the Isaac Boro rebellion, Nigerian mobile policemen were advised not to step into an area that was regarded as a sacred place but they refused to heed the advice and all the policemen that defiled the place were reported to have perished. Unfortunately, many, if not most Ijaw Christians might not appreciate the fact that Ijawland has sacred places.
  7. The Jewish, Arabic and most European cultures tend to regard God as a masculine entity. Ijaw culture tends to view God as a feminine entity.  Thus, Ijaw culture is more tolerant towards women than Jewish and Arabic cultures.  Apparently, if an Ijaw person inclines towards the Jewish or Arabic culture, he or she is going to view things more from the masculine perspective rather than from a dualistic perspective if the person subscribes to Ijaw religious culture.
  8. If too many individuals with Christian orientation become traditional rulers in Ijawland, they would denigrate the traditional religious culture and transpose Judeo/European religious culture on Ijaw culture. Soon or later, they might end up creating an environment in which a traditionalist would not be able to ascend the political throne.  They would do so by Christianizing the conditions to qualify for the position.  This has already happened in Hausaland where Islam has been transposed upon the Hausa culture so much so that Hausa traditionalists rarely have the opportunity to become leaders in their own land.  The reason is that the culture is so Islamized that the only way to move forward socially, politically and religiously is to become a Moslem. Hence, Hausaland is now dominated by emirs, rather than by Sarkins (the Hausa word for a king).  In Ijawland, the Christians could end up giving Christian names to Ijaw traditional titles.
  9. Therefore, if an Ijaw Christian becomes a traditional ruler in Ijawland, he or she is most likely to view the traditional religious culture as IDOL WORSHIPPING and avoid the rituals that are associated with being a traditional Ijaw leader. By so doing, the individual might tactically begin to kill Ijaw culture by avoiding those beliefs, practices and rituals that are essential for reinforcing tradition.  In fact, in almost every society, leaders are expected to embrace the religion that most people identify with the culture. It might be necessary to cite some facts to explain the point.

In Britain, it is an unspoken fact that the queen or king must embrace Anglicanism.  A British member of the royal family who becomes a Catholic would be encouraged to leave the religion and convert to Anglicanism.

In Italy, the rulers are expected to embrace Roman Catholicism.

In the United States, a would-be-president is expected to identify with the Baptist faith. This is why it is very difficult for a Mormon or a Jew or a Catholic to become a president.  The late President John Kennedy was able to climb the presidential throne due to his family background.

For the Edo nation, to become an Oba, the individual must forego any foreign religious tradition and embrace Bini tradition totally.  The person would be initiated into the mysteries of the traditional religious culture before being crowned.  The same goes for Yoruba Obas. They are initiated into the traditional system before coronation.

Among the Efiks, every male (and some females) must be initiated into the Ekpe (leopard/lion) society. Any Efik male that is not part of the Ekpe Society has less social value.  Thus, the Obong (king) as well as the chiefs are all members of Ekpe Society, regardless of religion.  The head of the Ekpe Society is one of the most powerful individuals in Efikland. The Ibibios expect their traditional leaders and most men to be initiated into the Ekpo Society.  The Abiriba Igbo people expect most of their men to be initiated to the Abiriba Warrior Society, as well as Ekpe Society.  By so doing, the Edos,  Efiks, Ibibios and the Abiriba Igbos are able to institutionalize their beliefs, traditions and practices.

Among the Ijaws, the Kalabari, Ibani, Opobo, Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are noted for institutionalizing their traditions. This is why the Kalabaris celebrate the Owu Aru Sun Festival and actively join the Ekine Society.  They openly celebrate Akaso without apology to anyone.   The Ibani and the Opobo people celebrate the Otam Ebukuma (Nwaotam) Festival with vigour and devotion.  The Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are steadfast in upholding the Agadagba or Egbesu as the core of the traditional religio-political system.  This accounted for why the Agadagba (King) of Gbaramatu insisted that the Nigerian soldiers who stole the Egbesu golden sword must return it or face the spiritual consequences that might follow. Okrika people celebrate the Odum and the Ogwein masquerades with boldness and joy.  The Nembes continue to perform the Ofuruma  (ofirima) masquerade.

Thus, due to the contradiction between Christianity and Orukari religious culture, the only way a strong advocate of Christianity can become a traditional ruler is that he or she must forego Christianity and embrace Okurarism as the religion of Ijaw people.  The Binis, Yorubas, EFiks, Ashantis, and many other ethnic groups put restrictions or conditions that must be met before an individual becomes a traditional ruler.  In fact, the Bini and Yoruba Obas go through extensive retraditionalization before their coronation.  By so doing, they are able to ensure that the traditional religious culture is not corrupted by foreign religious cultures.

If the Ijaws do not put conditions based on the traditional religious culture, soon or later, the Christians might end up taking over all the traditional leadership positions in Ijawland.  If that happens, Ijawland might end up like Hausaland.  In Nigeria, it is inferable that the Hausas are the most colonized people in the sense that Islam has been imposed to the extent that Hausa beliefs and traditions are highly diminished.

The concern about the possibility of Ijaw culture dying out should be taken seriously.  The Urhobos and other ethnic groups face the same danger.  Hence, in Delta State, Prof. Christopher Orubiu and Dr. Emmanuel Biri of Delta State University “condemned the demonization of Urhobo culture under the façade of Christianity” (Egufe Yafugborhi, 2016, January 7).  Likewise, Prof. Olukayode Oyediran , the president of Egbe Atunbi Yoruba believed that the neglect of cultural and traditional values of Yoruba  race” is responsible for the high crime rate in Yorubaland in the current generation (Ogunnesan, 2017, November 8).

Similarly, Governor Rochas OKorocha of Imo State, not too long ago, argued that public officials in Nigeria should swear their oath of office in the name of their ancestors.  He noted “People no longer fear Bible and Quran that are currently being used, because they knew that God is merciful and did not kill instantly.”  Again, he recently stated that traditional rulers in Imo State should not speak English while addressing their people during public functions (Okeoma, 2017, July 12).  Apparently, there is much concern that African cultural beliefs and traditions are increasingly being threatened due to undue conversion to Christianity and Islam and the embracing of secular humanism.

It seems that many Ijaws do not realize that Orukarism is responsible for the Ijaws being fiercely independent and fearless in expressing themselves.  The traditional religion is responsible for enabling the Ijaws to predict or forecast past and future events through Ye bi or Obuba bi (divination) ritual.  In fact, if not for Christian and secular-humanistic influences, the Ijaws would have used Ye bi or Obuba bi to find out who killed Chief Marshall Harry, Chief A. K. Dikibo and Admiral Daniel Ikoli.  Similarly, the religion is responsible for setting the norms and mores that inhibit sinful acts like killing people to sell body parts and producing baby factories.  The necessity to tell the absolute truth is a direct product of Orukarism.  It is the Ijaw religious culture that encourages people to confess and make amends if they violate certain situations.  Lastly, it is Orukarism that is responsible for making the Ijaws to be great fighters.

If the Ijaws destroy their religious culture, they would emasculate themselves and become a mass of helpless human beings who must depend on greedy, cunning, cheating, corrupting and conniving individuals  to lead them. The signs of greediness, cunningness, cheating, corruption and lying are everywhere as some public officials embezzled public funds with total disregard for social and political consequences.  Some Ijaws now hire thugs to intimidate and kill their opponents.   Some youths are no longer afraid of even embezzling community funds that would have been used to develop their own communities.  Self-centeredness is increasingly becoming the norm, thereby, destroying the communal culture that is the hallmark of Ijaw religious world.  Stealing is becoming very rampant because the traditional taboos are being ignored as people claim to be Christians.

No society has operated successfully through Christianity because the Bible is read, analyzed, explained and interpreted differently by different people.  This is why there are so many Christian denominations.  Each denomination seems to think that its brand of Christianity is superior to other Christian branches.  The pastors like to throw mud at each other as they compete to establish the largest and most populated churches in the world.  In Nigeria, for instance, Prophet I. B. Joshua and Prophet Johnson Suleman re not in good terms even though both supposed to lead their Christian flocks to God (Opejobi, 2017, April 3).  An increasing number of Christian pastors in Nigeria engaged in ungodly acts daily as they scramble to accumulate wealth while pretending to be servants of God.

Thus, it is difficult to establish morality and ethics in society when different pastors interpret the Bible differently based on their ideological orientations and self-interest.  The same problem seems to exist in Islam where the Sunnis and the Shiites do not see eye to eye.   Like Christian pastors, Islamic imams and clerics too read, explain and interpret the Koran based on their ideological perceptions and self-interest.  In Nigeria, Islamic leaders and preachers tend to preach a version of the religion that is more applicable to the 13th century, as Emir Lamido Sanusi of Kano noted while the Arab nations are developing their societies with science and technology.

Throughout the world, Christianity is responsible for destroying many indigenous cultures.  In After experiencing heart-wrenching situations in the hands of the Christians,  the Native Americas in North, Central, and South America are now working hard to revive their cultures that Spanish Christians almost wiped out from the face of the earth while searching for gold and silver.  It should be noted that the Spanish Christians almost wiped out all the writings of the Mayan people.  Fortunately for the world, the Christians missed four of the writings.   The four writings were taken to Germany and kept in the City of Dresden.  Today, the Mayan writings are known as the Dresden Codex.  The four writings have shown that the Mayans were very advanced, both scientifically and spiritually and built some of the largest pyramids in the world (World Digital Library, 2017, May 24).  The Ijaws cannot and should not assist, in any shape or form, the destruction of their own culture in the pretense of avoiding the WORSHIPPING of IDOLS.

To safeguard Ijaw culture from total decimation by the Christians, it is necessary for all Ijaw traditional rulers to subscribe to Ijaw culture by serving as the guardians, protectors, promoters and preservers of the culture. In this regard, the Ijaw Traditional Rulers Council or Forum should hold regular meetings and discuss ways of ensuring the preservation of Ijaw beliefs, values, traditions and language.

Finally, in Ijawland, the traditional moral order should be the guiding light to shape peoples’ behavior.  This means that if anyone steals public money, the person should be compel to tell the absolute truth by swearing in the name of his or her ancestors.  It is a fact that neither Christianity nor secular humanism is working effectively in Ijawland, Nigeria and Black Africa.  This is why things are falling apart, as Chinua Achebe predicted in his novel “Things Fall Apart.”

 

References

Alagoa, E. J. (1999)  The land and people of Bayelsa State:  Central Niger Delta. Chioba, Port Harcourt:  Onyoma Research Publications.

Darkwah, B. N. (2002).  The Africans who wrote the Bible.  Roussellville, Arkansas: Aduana

Davis, L. D. (1983).  The first seven ecumenical councils (325 – 787): Their history and theology. Wilmington, Delaware: A Michael Glazer, Inc.

How rich ship owner affected Christianity.  (2010, January 2).  The Atheist Conservative.  Retrieved July 11, 2017, from theatheistconservative.com/20010/01/02/how-a-rich-ship=owner=affected-christianity

Ido, E. (2017, July 6).  Sabagreia:  Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread. Vanguard. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/sabagreai-bayelsa-community-evil-wicked-men-dread.

Ijaw monarch declares war on violent crime in Bayelsa.  (2010, July 8).  African Examiner.  African Examiner. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from  http://www.africanexaminer,com/ijaw_mona.

Mmuta, C. (2010, June 11). Oba of Benin Leads spiritual warfare against robbers, kidnappers. Compass.  Retrieved July 12, 2017, from www.compassnewspaper.com/NG/index.php?view=article&catid=672%3Atop-store,

Okeoma, C. (2017, July 12). Imo: Gov Okorocha stops Imo monarchs from speaking English at functions. Odili.net. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from http://odili.net/news/source/2017/jul/12/818.html.

Opejobi, S. (2017, April 3). You are too small – Apostle Suleman attacks Prophet T. B. Joshua. Daily Post. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://dailypost.ng/2017/04/03/small-apostle-suleman-attacks-prophet-t-b-joshua-vidoe/

Prezi, I. E. ( 2015, Ocotber 25). Christian religionand loss of Ijaw traditions and cultures.  Koris Samuel.  Retrieved November 5, 2017, from https://ikorisamuel.wordpress.com/215/10/25/christian-religion-and-loss-of-ijaw-traditions-andcultures.

Seed, H. (2012). The Bible questions.  IVP Books.  Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://books.google.com/books?id=raCEI_V56UbUC&pg

The Dresden Codex. (2017, May 24).  World Digital Library.  Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://www.wdI.org/en/item/11621/

Is it Compatible for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijawland?

 

By Priye S. Torulagha

 

Before answering the question with a Yes or a No answer, it is necessary to explore the question critically.  Similarly, before condemning the writer for being anti-Christian, it is necessary to read and digest the story in order to have a full understanding of the compelling reason for writing this article.

Although very controversial, nevertheless, it is necessary to ask whether it is compatible for  Ijaw Christians to become traditional rulers in Ijawland at this juncture of the Ijaw struggle for self-determination. The reason is that many Ijaw beliefs, values, norms and practices are disappearing at a frenetic speed due to the unrelenting ideological crusades mounted by Christian evangelists, pastors and adherents to destroy Ijaw culture and traditions in an attempt to replace it with a Christian culture.  Mr. I. E. Prezi published an article titled “Christian Religion and Loss of Ijaw Traditions and Cultures”, in which he identified some of the rare Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices that are disappearing, following Christianization.  Earlier, Dr. E. J. Alagoa had made reference to the fact that many Ijaw traditions have been abandoned as people convert to Christianity (1999).  Indeed, the destruction of Ijaw culture is proceeding at a pace in which by fifty years from now, the Ijaw cultural world could be reduced to nothingness and replaced with Christian and secular-humanistic ideas.     This means that some of the unique beliefs, traditions, rituals, festivals, songs, masquerades and dances might disappear.  This further means that Ijaw traditional music would be replaced by CHRISTIAN GOSPEL MUSIC.  Already, an increasing number of Ijaw musicians are now singing and producing Christian gospel music.  It is evident that in the future, instead of having the Rex Lawsons, I. K. Belemos, the Sea Gulfs, Robert Ebizimors, Barrister Smooths, Timayas, Pereamas, Dennis Abassas, Allen Alabors, Alfred Izon-Ebis, Fere bon Epebifes, Sistr Ayagbene, and so on and so forth, most musicians would be singing gospel music to demonstrate their Christianity.

The increasing disappearance of Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices is easily detectable by asking young men and women questions about their cultural traditions.  Most of them would not be able to explain why certain things are done in a certain way.  Similarly, most of them would not be able to explain why certain festivals take place.  Most Christianized Ijaws have no qualms about condemning their traditional religion as IDOL WORSHIPPING without even paying attention to the meaning of the word “IDOL”.   The word “IDOL” has been reinforced through classical and operant conditioning methods in the churches and Sunday school to the extent that many Ijaw Christians reflexively respond to the Ijaw religion without thinking about the implications.  A considerable number of the educated Ijaws are not interested even in making an attempt to study and understand the traditional system.  The reason is that since the days of their primary school education, they have been schooled, socialized and educated to believe that the traditional system is ungodly, satanic and devilish, therefore, it is something to be avoided.   Hence, the chorus: IDOL WORSHIP, IDOL WORSHIP, and IDOL WORSHIP in referring to Orukarism.

With this psychological orientation, many, if not most educated Ijaws, do not mind consuming any idea that is associated with Christianity and European cultures and rejecting anything that is associated with Ijaw culture.  The most disturbing part of the continuing decimation of Ijaw culture is that even some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders are beginning to reject their own traditional beliefs and practices by describing Ijaw religious culture as “IDOL WORSHIPING.”  It is understandable when a young Ijaw man or woman makes derogatory statements but when traditional Ijaw rulers and elders say that before Christianity, the Ijaws used to worship idols and not God, it really tells a lot about the intellectual state of Ijaw reasoning concerning religion.

Perhaps, due to the influence of Christianity, some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders no longer seem to subscribe to the notion that the traditional leader is the GUARDIAN, PROTECTOR, ENHANCER, PROMOTER and CUSTODIAN of traditional culture and religion.  This is worrisome because all over the world, whether in China, Japan, India, , Tibet, Iraq, Morocco, Mexico, Vietnam, Yorubaland, Peru, Kikuyuland, Maya, Pacific Islands, Cherokee, Thailand,  Maoriland and so on and so forth, traditional rulers/leaders  and elders are generally regarded as the guardians and custodians of their traditional beliefs, cultures, traditions, religions and ancient wisdom.  As a result, they serve as the protectors, promoters, perpetuators and preservers of their cultures, religions and ancient knowledge of their cultures.  In Ijawland, the role of the traditional ruler and elder is systematically being eroded by some very important personages who subscribe to a religion that has nothing to do with Ijaw culture while serving as traditional rulers and elders.

Based on the utterances of some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders, it is inferable that they really do not care about being the guardians, protectors, enhancers, promoters and custodians of Ijaw culture, beliefs, traditions and religion. Hence, the ease with which they describe Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING while ignoring the fact that all religions, including Christianity and Islam, engage in deification of certain beings, individuals, entities, artifacts, symbols, effigies, and totems. Moreover, Christianity and Islam came to the Nigerian region through military conquest, colonization and imposition.

 

The Declining State of Ijaw Culture and Traditions

It might be necessary to cite some specific circumstances to show the retrogressive state of Ijaw culture as some Ijaws, including traditional leaders and elders, uncritically embrace Christianity, which came to Ijawland through British conquest, colonization and imposition.

  1. In 2010, due to the uncontrollable crime rate in Benin/Edoland, the Oba of Benin and the traditional political leadership decided to do something about the situation.  They resorted to the traditional Bini system by invoking their ancestors to punish those who commit crimes.  The Iyase of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe stated:

We are fed up.  This is the way we reacted against this type of things in the

past and we have just gone back to the ancestors to help us clear them.

So, we believe that in order to put a stop to the insecurity, we just have to

put a curse, call on our gods to put a curse and stop all the activities that

threaten lives and property (Mmuta, 2010, June 11).

In Ijawland, His Highness, King Francis Ododo of Ikebiri Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State decided to get tough with criminals in his kingdom.  Instead of taking the traditional Ijaw path, since he is a traditional leader, as the Bini leaders did, he declared:  “Henceforth, any person linked to criminal activities in the area will be handed over to the security agencies for prosecution’” (African Examiner, 2010 ).

The fact that the Bini traditional political leadership took the traditional African path and the Ijaw traditional leader took the secular-humanistic path does not say much.  However, the boldness by which the Bini leadership decided to adopt the traditional path is what makes the difference.  The Bini leadership did not doubt the efficacy of Bini traditional religious culture.  This means that the leaders strongly believed in their religion.  Hence, the Iyase of Benin further boldly reinforced the Bini religion by saying:

We felt as Edo people we are not Christians, we are traditionalists, we believe in

God through our ancestors.” (Mmuta, 2010).

 

The question is, how many traditional Ijaw leaders and elders today would be able to boldly defend the integrity of Ijaw Orukari religion?

 

  1. Around 2015, a Bini son won a local government council election in South Florida.  To celebrate the electoral victory, he decided to hold the event in a university campus.  A traditional Bini religious priest was invited from Nigeria to come and offer prayers for the event.  When the traditional religious priest walked to the stage in traditional Bini attire and explained the intricacies of African Ancestralism to the audience, everyone was awe-struck.  The Americans wanted to know everything about Benin religion.

 

On the other hand, how many educated Ijaw men and women would be bold enough to invite an Ijaw traditional religious priest to come and offer prayers?   If this son of Biniland was an Ijaw person, it is probable that a Christian pastor would have been invited just to tell the world that the Ijaw son is a Christian and does not believe in “Idol Worshipping.”

 

  1. While perusing through Youtube to find information about Ijaw culture, a very interesting video about Ijaw culture, history and tradition, titled “Art and Culture Ijaw Episode” showed up.  In the video, the traditional leaders and elders of Kabowei (Kabo) Kingdom narrated the history, beliefs and traditions of Ijawland.  The chiefs spoke glowingly and explained the intricacies of Ijaw culture and traditions, including various festivals.  It was very joyous and enlightening to hear very important elders speak about Ijaw traditions and culture.

 

However, the chiefs also noted that some Ijaw traditions are disappearing following Christianization.  One of the chiefs also repeatedly referred to Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING, thereby, reinforcing the Christian view.  One other noticeable thing about the video is that a Christian gospel song is used as a theme song even though the story of the video is about Ijaw culture and tradition.  It would have been preferable to use a song associated with Ijaw culture to back up a story about Ijaw heritage.  Again, the gospel song simply reinforces the view that Christianity is literally eating away Ijaw culture and people do not seem to pay much attention to it.  In other words, a sizable number of Ijaws are not worried that they are literally destroying their own existence while other ethnic groups in the world are working hard to protect, revive and reinforce their cultures.

 

  1. On June 13, 2017, Emem Ido, a journalist with the Vanguard (Nigeria) newspaper, published a report titled “Sabagreia: Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread.”  In the report, the paramount ruler (Amananaowei), His Highness, Dr. Bokumo Orukari explained the story of Lake Efi Festival.  The story is very captivating and should be told and written about in order to preserve Ijaw cultural heritage.  However, the worrisome part of the explanation is that His Highness said, as reported by the Vanguard reporter:

 

Life at the time was centered on the idol Efi……

 

Owing to this constraint, when the fullness of time came, the people and owners of Lake Efi, renounced idolatry and handed the lake over to the Almighty God.

 

The last festival in 2013 was the first time it was conducted with new modifications and alterations to reflect the rededication of the festival to Almighty God.

 

It is obvious from reading the story that Christianity had much to do with various decisions concerning the lake. Most importantly, the view that Orukarism is based on IDOL WORSHIPPING had a great impact too. This line of thinking is greatly influenced by Christian preaching which continues to maintain the view that Ijaw people in particular and African people in general, did not know God until Christianity arrived at the shores of the African continent.  Thus, the quoted statement seems to create the impression that the people of Sabagreia did not know God, hence, paid homage to an IDOL in the past.  The statement is perfectly acceptable for a Christian audience within Ijawland but does not sound well for the global audience.  The reason is that it creates the impression that the Ijaws did not know God, hence, worshipped IDOLS until the Christians came to civilize them to embrace God.

 

The fact is that Sabagreia people knew even before the arrival of Christianity that there is a difference between being good and being bad, hence, they named their community Bolouseibokorogha, which translates into “where no evil/wicked person would settle.”  It is ironic that people who supposedly did not know God but worshipped idols, as the Christians claimed, banned evil people from their community even before the arrival of Christianity.  So, if Orukarism is devilish, why would the Sabagreians banned evil people from their community?  Likewise, since Bolouseibokorogha people revered Efi, does it mean that they did not worship God?  If that is the Christian assumption, then, how did they know that there is Woyengi, Aziba, Azibarau, Ayiba, Ayibarau, Oginaere, Tamarau, Tamuno, Temeowei, Temuno and so on and so forth, in the past? Is it not true that the Ijaws know that God exist for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity? If that is the case, then, where is the justification for spreading the view that the Ijaws only worshipped idols in the past until Christianity came?

 

  1. The fact that some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders are feverishly working to destroy Ijaw beliefs, culture and practices is undeniable. In Aleibiri community, for instance, an active member of the community who is associated with the St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Mr. Golden Garuwa, is allegedly credited for  initiating an action which resulted in the stoppage of the masquerade festival in 2007 (Prezi, 2015, Ocotber 25).  Again, the wonderment is that the traditional leaders, elders and members of Aleibiri community allowed such a rare cultural festival to be disregarded without thinking about the consequences to their sub-culture.  Perhaps, it should be noted that the Anglican Church was established by King Henry VIII in an attempt to seek a divorce from his wife who could not bear him a male heir.  The Catholic Church had repeatedly refused to grant King Henry permission to divorce the wife, hence, he created the Church of England (Anglican Church) to accomplish the goal.  This is why the Anglican Church is regarded as a state church.

 

  1. As part of the ongoing campaign to systematically wipe out Ijaw religious culture, which is the bedrock of the moral foundation of Ijaw existence, a forumite on Ijaw Nation Forum (INF) went as far as to indicate that the word ORU means devil in Ijawland. Of course, the fact is that ORU does not mean devil at all.  ORU is the name of the founding deity, as well as the name of an ancient African ethnic group that is associated with the deity.  Many ethnic groups in Africa today, including the Ijaw, Urhobo, Dogon, Nupe and others claimed to have originated from the ORU nation.  The Ijaws are directly associated with the ancient ORU nation that is why sometimes the Ijaws are referred to as Oru people.

 

It is not unusual for people to equate their ethnicity directly with the creation deity. This accounted for why the Jews claim to be the children of their God.  Logically, the Ijaws too claim to be the children of their God.  This accounted for why the Ijaws refer to their religion as ORUKARI, which means the worshipping of a deity. In Orukari, there is GOD, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings. The Orukari religion fits very well with the universal theory of the nine gods/goddesses.  According to this theory, human affairs in the world are regulated by nine gods/goddesses.  Thus, each god/goddess deals with a particular aspect of human affairs.  The Bible also recognizes the multiplicity of gods and goddesses, as indicated below.  Hence, St. Michael is regarded as an angel which protects and fight for justice.  The Christian concept of St. Michael matches the Orukari concept of Egbesu which performs the same role.

 

ORUKARISM

The Orukari religion has stringent rules.  These rules could be regarded as sacred COMMANDMENTS or LAWS.  This is why an Ijaw person can only kill under the principle of self defense.  Anyone who kills must perform a soul cleansing ritual to clean away the sin of taking the life of another.

 

Orukari religion seriously frowns at evil deeds.  Thus, in some parts of Ijawland, any person who has engaged in sorcery cannot be buried in the same cemetery as those with clean hearts.  In some parts of Ijawland, when a person dies, before burial takes place, the OBOBA Bi ritual must be conducted to find out whether the person was a good or a bad person.

 

Thus, every Ijaw person supposed not to violate the sacred rules or laws.  As a result, in Ijawland, there are ABOMINATIONS or SINS.  An abomination is a violation of the sacred commandments or laws.  Evidently, any Ijaw person that commits an ABOMINATION must confess the deed.  It is the only way to wash away the sin.  There is a strong belief that if confession is not rendered, the sin could affect the members of the sinner’s family also.

 

ORUKARISM is based on absolute truth due to the belief that truthfulness is tantamount to godliness. He or she who cannot tell the truth cannot be godly.  This accounted for why no one can lie while entering the shrine. There is a belief in Ijawland that there are no secrets because anything done secretly or clandestinely can be verified through divination.

 

Indeed, ORUKARISM is based on the Worshipping of God.  Consequently, the Ijaws have always worshipped God (WOYENGI, AYIBA, AZIBA, AZIBARA, OGINAERE, TAMUNO, TEMEOWEI, TEMUNO) FROM TIME IMMEMEORIAL.  The Cosmology of ORUKARI Religion, as indicated above, includes God, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings.  It is from this perspective that the idea of Ancestralism takes place.  This arrangement is not markedly different from Christianity which has God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints. The Christian saints are ancestral beings because they are the deceased members of the Christian religion who have been deified after death.  Therefore, the Christians honor God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints the way Orukarists honor God, gods, goddesses and ancestral beings.  When Christians honor the angels and saints by naming their schools, churches and other important structures after them, they do not say they are paying homage to IDOLS.  For instance, the St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Aleibiri is intended to honor St. Luke, who is a deceased member of the Christian Church.   However when the Ijaws honor gods and goddesses and ancestral beings (dead ancestors), they are referred to by the Christians as IDOL WORSHIPPERS.  Sadly, the Ijaws meekly buy into this propaganda without thinking about it critically.

 

 

Christianity and Idolism

 

By the way, when Christians claim that they do not honor gods and goddesses, they are either being very forgetful or mischievous since the Old Testament also acknowledges the notion of gods and goddesses.  For instance in Genesis 1:26, it is stated “LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS.”  The “our image, after our likeness” shows a plurality of deities.

Likewise, In Psalm 82:1, it is stated “GOD HAS TAKEN HIS PLACE IN THE DIVINE COUNCIL, IN THE MIDST OF THE GODS HE HOLDS JUDGMENT.”  Another way to put it is “GOD STANDETH IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE MIGHTY; HE JUDGETH AMONG THE GODS”.  Here again, there is an acknowledgment of the plurality of deities (gods and goddesses). Of course, most Christians prefer to pay little attention to the fact that there is an acknowledgement of the concept of polytheism (many gods) in the Bible.  So, what is the difference between the acknowledgment of gods in the Bible and in Orukarism?  There is no difference between the two ways, however, the Christians are very good in ignoring facts about their own religion while point fingers at other religions.

 

Christianity, like every other religion in the world, is filled with IDOLS made up of various symbols, effigies, images, and totems.  The following provides a short list of activities which constitute reverence for IDOLS in Christianity:

 

  1. The Bible: The Bible is a collection of written materials that span about two thousand years.  The materials were written by about 66 writers.  Even though it is a book written by human beings to describe and prophesied their perceptions of God and the state of being godly, today, it is accepted as the WORD of God. This is why it is considered a sacred book.  Thus, to know God through Christianity, it is necessary to read the Bible.  Then, what happens to those who cannot read and write?  Does it mean that those who cannot read the Bible cannot know and understand God? Is it necessary to read a book to know God? The truth is that it is not necessary to read the Bible or any book in order to know God.  Human beings have been worshipping God for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity. This is why the Christian religion borrows extensively from other religions.

 

Moreover, the New Testament of the Bible is not necessarily accepted by the Jews. This accounted for why the Christians have persistently persecuted the Jews for refusing to convert to Christianity.   Additionally, the information in the New Testament only reinforces the orthodox view of the Christian story. On the other hand, it does not reflect the Agnostic view of Christianity.  It is necessary to have both views in order to draw a more objective picture of what actually happened in the days of Jesus Christ.

 

Problems with the Bible

 

  1. There are many versions of the Bible, including the Hebrew, Greek, Ethiopian and the St. James.  The Ethiopian version is probably the largest or longest because it contains additional materials.

 

  1. The Old Testament and the New Testament are not compatible. The Old Testament deals basically with Jewish beliefs, traditions and culture while the New Testament deals with Jesus Christ and the emergence of Christianity.  The Old Testament God is discriminative, revengeful, punitive, tribalistic and reactive.  The New Testament God is very forgiving and tolerant.  The Old Testament God sounds more like a tribal God while the New Testament God is globalized to embrace all.  The view that the Bible contains two distinct Gods is not new.  Around 142 CE, a man named Marcion, a rich ship magnate, the son of Bishop of Sinope of Pontus, a Pauline Christian who later adopted the Gnostic teachings of Cerdon, argued that the Supreme God is different from the creator God (Cosmocrater or Lord of Creation).  In this regard, the God of the Jews (Cosmocrater) was lesser than the Supreme God.  Cerdon had argued that the God of the Jews was not the father of Jesus Christ. (The Atheist Conservative, 2010, January 2).

 

  1. Some of the stories in the Bible are contradictory. For instance, the Creation Story in Genesis dealing with Adam and Eve is confusing.  First, it is stated that God created man and woman equally, then, in the explanation section, it is stated that God took a rib from Adam to create Eve.  For instance, in Genesis 1: 27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”.  Then in Genesis 22 “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

 

  1. Some of the stories are incomplete. For instance, Cain is banished from the Garden of Eden to roam the earth.  Then suddenly, it is stated that he impregnated a woman without mentioning where the woman came from since the Bible had stated that only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel existed at the time.  Genesis 4:16 states “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” Then in Genesis 4:17, it is stated “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch”.  Where did the wife come from?  Were there other people?  If Nod was already occupied by human beings, then the story of Adam and Eve being the first human beings is nullified.

 

Despite these limitations and contradictions, the Bible is viewed as the WORD OF

God.

 

  1. Jesus Christ: Today, there is an unquestionable belief among Christians that Jesus Christ is not only the son of God but a manifestation of God.  In the past, that was not necessarily the case.  There are a few examples to cite from to show that in the past the status of Jesus Christ was highly debated by the early Christians.

 

  1. For instance, Montanus and his two associates, prophetesses Prisca and Maximilla appeared on the Christian scene between 156 and 172 CE to spread a version of Christianity which devalued the importance of Christ and emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit (Davis, 1983). This movement shifted the focus of Christianity away from Christ to the Holy Spirit before the Church banned the idea later.

 

  1. The Council of Nicaea took place in 325 CE. Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire organized the council to develop an official doctrine for the Christian religion. Before this time, the Christians had no official doctrine and preached different things about the religion.  Emperor Constantine invited 1800 bishops to attend the Christian gathering but about 318 of them turned up.

 

One of the major issues the council tackled was determining the relationship between the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Father (God).  This issue divided the council into two factions.  One faction was led by St. Alexander of Alexandria and the other faction was led by presbyter Arius.  St. Alexander, his assistant Athanasius and their supporters argued that the Son (Jesus Christ) was as divine and coeternal as the Father (God).  Hence, there was no difference between Jesus and God.

 

On the other hand, Arius and his 22 supporters in the council maintained that the Father (God) was supreme and unique, hence, greater than the son (Jesus Christ).  Arius further argued that the Son (Jesus) had a beginning and did not possess the eternity and divinity of the Father (God).  Accordingly, the Son (Jesus) was made God by the permission of the father (God). This view of Jesus Christ and God is known as Arianism.   The debate about the status of Jesus Christ went on from May 20, 325 to June 19, 325.  This means that it took a month to discuss and resolve the issue of Jesus Christ and God.

 

St. Alexander and his supporters won the debate.  As a result, the Bible only contains the Alexanderian view of Jesus Christ.  The Church leaders banned the Arian view (Davis, 1983).  As can be seen, the belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God and possesses godly essence as God is a product of human intellectual and emotional debate.  Of course, many Christian pastors in Ijawland, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the black world rarely read the story of how Jesus came to be referred to as a God.

 

  1. A careful reading of the Bible clearly shows that Jesus Christ did not write any of the books of the New Testament, yet, Christian leaders and pastors quote him as if he actually said those things in person. It is theorized that St. Mark wrote the earliest gospel based on information provided by St. Peter since he was a discipline of both Peter and Paul.  Thereafter, St. Mathew and St. Luke wrote their versions based on information partially gathered from St. Mark’s writings.

 

  1. Moreover, it should be noted that there are four versions on the story of Jesus Christ. They are: (1) the Horus version, (2) the Zeus version, (3) the Simon of Perea version and (4) Jesus Christ version. This means that the story of Jesus Christ is not as simple as many Christians tend to believe.

 

  1. Likewise, Jesus Christ had a human father, mother and siblings. This is often ignored with the argument that he was born by a virgin who was married or betrothed to Joseph. Perhaps, the twisting of the story contributes to why the Jews do not accept the story.

 

  1. The Bible does not provide much information about the most important person in the New Testament. Why? This is why some people believe that Jesus Christ was actually married to Mary Magdalene.  The Islamic Koran refers to him as a prophet.

 

  1. The Cross:  The cross is a pre-Christian religious symbol that the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, Irish, and Native Americans used in their religions.  The Roman Empire used the cross to crucify individuals that had been condemned to death.  Thus, Jesus Christ was executed on the Cross, hence, the Christians adopted it.  Now, it is treated as an exclusive Christian symbol and deified.  As a result, the Christian warriors who waged the Crusades against the Moslems carried the Cross as a symbol of protection.

 

  1. Statues:  Statues have become part of the mainstay of the Christian religion.  In many parts of the world, especially in Europe and the Americas, important Christian figures are deified through statues that are honored as if they are gods.

 

  1. Church Buildings: Christians tend to build very large worshipping houses.  There seems to be a believe that the bigger the church, the godlier the structure.   This is why even in Nigeria today, there are huge church buildings sometimes referred to as mega-churches.  Churches are now referred to as God’s houses.

 

  1. Christian Relics: In many Christian churches in Europe and Latin America, the body parts of former church members who have been deified as saints are kept and worshipped.  It is very common for churchgoers to kiss and touch the body parts in the hope of being blessed and protected by the saints.  Similarly, artifacts that are associated with Jesus Christ and other important members of Christianity are treated as sacred objects and revered.

 

  1. Tithe: Tithe has increasingly become a financial mainstay of the Christian church.  Churchgoers are compelled to give one or 10% of their wages to the Church.  Christians are psychologically made to feel guilty and ungodly if they do not give tithe.  Thus, the giving of tithe is now regarded as part of the Christian process for worshipping God. Some pastors exploit the tithe to become very wealthy.  Some of the funds generated through tithe are used for building mega-churches.

 

It is arguable that Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic traditional religions due to the belief that the early Jews were actually black Africans.  A Ghanaian scholar, Nana Banchie Darkwah, in his “The Africans who wrote the Bible” demonstrated the fact that black Africans wrote the Bible.  Darkwah’s position is corroborated by Dr. Ndagi Abdullahi (2017, June 30) who  wrote :

 

But the truth of the matter is that the Jewish culture seen among the Ibos is also seen

among almost all other ancient Nigerian peoples including the Ibibbio, the Kalabari, the

Ijaw, the itsekiri, Jukun, the Igala, the Nupe, and so on and on.  All these ancient

Nigerian people have been practicing Jewish cultures for thousands of years even long

before the time of Our Lord Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago.

 

In other words, West Africa was the original homeland of the Jewish people.

Even Western scholarship is gradually coming to admit that the original Jews

were Black African Negroes and that Black Negro Africa was the setting of the

stories of the Scriptures – not the Middle East.

 

Professor Ze’ev Herzog, the Head of the Archeology Department of the University

of Tel Aviv in Israel, wrote a book and purposely convened an international press

conference telling the world that today’s Israel, or Palestine (whatever you call it),

was not the place where the stories of the Bible took place.

 

Yes, the original Jews were Black African Negroes and they were resident here in

Middle Africa – that is West Africa, Central and East Africa combined.

 

Therefore, it is inferable that Christianity is a corrupted form of Orukarism and other African religions.  Moreover, the Ten Commandments in the Bible seem to be a shortened version of the 42 Declarations that were the mainstay of ancient African religions, which the ijaws continue to practice under Orukarism.  This is why in Orukarism, there are many abominations or sins, as indicated earlier.  As a result, the Ijaws cannot engage in certain behaviors.  The Roman Empire and the Christian Church Europeanized some of the Afro-Asiatic beliefs to create the current brand of Christianity, which, sometimes, is referred to as “Constantinian” Christianity.

 

Obviously, these are only a few of the cases where even Ijaw traditional leaders, either knowingly or unknowingly denigrate their ancestral religion in order to justify their Christianity.  If they continue this way, the future generation of Ijaw children will know nothing about their past, apart from being fed stories in the Bible.

 

European Christians and Reverence for their Gods and Goddesses.

 

Why Are the Ijaws so eager to destroy their religious culture in the name of Christianity when others do not do so? Why is it that even Ijaw leaders and elders are willing at a moment’s notice to give up their beliefs, culture, values and practices when others do everything possible to perpetuate their cultures?

 

Perhaps, it might be necessary to show that European Christians who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to pay homage to their pre-Christian religious deities.  They have no problem calling their deities gods and goddesses, just as the Ijaws do under Orukarism.  There are many examples to cite from:

  1. As stated in previous writings, the month of JANUARY IS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD JANUS.  European Christians have no desire to change the name.  This means that they are happy with honoring their god.
  2. The month of MARCH is named after Roman god MARS. The Europeans do not refer to Mars as an IDOL.
  3. The month of MAY is named after Roman goddess of honor and reverence (MAIESTA).
  4. The month of JULY is named after JULIUS CAESAR (Here, a human being is deified).
  5. The month of AUGUST is named after AUGUSTUS CAESAR (The same thing happens here).
  6. The U.S. spaceship that went to the moon is named after Roman god APOLLO. American Christians have no problem with the name. They do not call Apollo an IDOL.
  7. The U.S. submarine TRIDENT is named after the three-pronged spear that is associated with the god POSEIDON.
  8. The U.S. submarine POSEIDON is named after POSEIDON, the Greek god of the sea.
  9. The PLANETS are named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. They are MERCURY, VENUS, JUPITER, SATURN and NEPUNE.  For instance, the Roman god (JUPITER) is regarded as the god of light and sky and protector of the state.  Even Pluto is a name of a European god.
  10. The Saturn spaceship is named after Greek god (SATURN), god of death.
  11. ZEUS is the Greek god of the sky.
  12. The English people, although Christian today, still pay homage to the Stonehenge.
  13. In England, the town of Glastonbury continues to be revered as a sacred site.

 

As indicated above, European Christians actually glorify their ancestral past by continuing to honor their gods and goddesses while Ijaw Christians refer to their gods and goddesses as IDOLs.  The Europeans who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to honor their pre-Christian deities while Ijaw Christians are trying very hard to destroy their heritage in the name of Christianity?

 

The Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese. Tibetans, Native Americans and South Pacific Islanders have God, gods and goddesses in their religions, just like the Ijaws.  They do not refer to their deities as IDOLS.

 

Is it appropriate and Proper for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijaw society?

The simplest answer to the above question is that it is not appropriate because Ijaw Orukari culture and Constantinian Christianity are incompatible.  Why?

  1. Religion is a product of the culture and the environment.  This means that religion and culture have symbiotic relationships.  The culture molds the religion and the religion molds the culture.  Thus, Ijaw culture is molded by the Orukari religion and the environment.  Likewise, Ijaw culture molds the Orukari religion.  Therefore, to establish morality in Ijawland, the belief and value system must come from the religious culture.

 

  1. The traditional Ijaw political system is a product of Ijaw culture, religion, environment, and Ijaw ancestors. Therefore, to become a traditional ruler in Ijawland, the individual must be conversant with the traditional religious culture since respect for the ancestor is the core of the system. There is nothing wrong in Ijaw people honoring their ancestors just like the Christians honor their ancestors (saints).

 

  1. Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic Jewish culture and religion, interwoven with European culture and religion through the influence of the Roman Empire.

 

  1. To subscribe to Christianity is to subscribe to Judeo/European cultures. This is why many Ijaw Christians, like their Nigerian and other Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Jewish and English names to signify their Christianity. It should be noted that those who are referred to Jews today are different from the ancient Jews.

 

  1. The Islamic religion is also an Afro-Asiatic product of Arabic culture and religion. Wesley Muhammed, an Islamic scholar, believed that Black Africans were greatly responsible for establishing and spreading Islam in his “Were the blacks who founded Islam really Africans? In Black Arabia).  Therefore, to become a Moslem is to subscribe to Arabic culture. This is why a vast proportion of Nigerian Moslems and their Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Arabic names, instead of their indigenous African names.

 

  1. Since both Christianity and Islam have greatly been influenced by Arabic and Judeo/European cultures today, Ijaw Christians must look to Israel for their religious pilgrimage while Nigerian Moslems must look toward Saudi Arabia for their pilgrimage. The fact remains that there are sacred places in every society. There are sacred places in Ijawland.  For instance, during the Isaac Boro rebellion, Nigerian mobile policemen were advised not to step into an area that was regarded as a sacred place but they refused to heed the advice and all the policemen that defiled the place were reported to have perished. Unfortunately, many, if not most Ijaw Christians might not appreciate the fact that Ijawland has sacred places.

 

  1. The Jewish, Arabic and most European cultures tend to regard God as a masculine entity. Ijaw culture tends to view God as a feminine entity.  Thus, Ijaw culture is more tolerant towards women than Jewish and Arabic cultures.  Apparently, if an Ijaw person inclines towards the Jewish or Arabic culture, he or she is going to view things more from the masculine perspective rather than from a dualistic perspective if the person subscribes to Ijaw religious culture.

 

  1. If too many individuals with Christian orientation become traditional rulers in Ijawland, they would denigrate the traditional religious culture and transpose Judeo/European religious culture on Ijaw culture. Soon or later, they might end up creating an environment in which a traditionalist would not be able to ascend the political throne.  They would do so by Christianizing the conditions to qualify for the position.  This has already happened in Hausaland where Islam has been transposed upon the Hausa culture so much so that Hausa traditionalists rarely have the opportunity to become leaders in their own land.  The reason is that the culture is so Islamized that the only way to move forward socially, politically and religiously is to become a Moslem. Hence, Hausaland is now dominated by emirs, rather than by Sarkins (the Hausa word for a king).  In Ijawland, the Christians could end up giving Christian names to Ijaw traditional titles.
  2. Therefore, if an Ijaw Christian becomes a traditional ruler in Ijawland, he or she is most likely to view the traditional religious culture as IDOL WORSHIPPING and avoid the rituals that are associated with being a traditional Ijaw leader. By so doing, the individual might tactically begin to kill  Ijaw culture by avoiding those beliefs, practices and rituals that are essential for reinforcing tradition.  In fact, in almost every society, leaders are expected to embrace the religion that most people identify with the culture. It might be necessary to cite some facts to explain the point.

 

  1. In Britain, it is an unspoken fact that the queen or king must embrace Anglicanism.  A British member of the royal family who becomes a Catholic would be encouraged to leave the religion and convert to Anglicanism.

 

  1. In Italy, the rulers are expected to embrace Roman Catholicism.

 

  1. In the United States, a would-be-president is expected to identify with the Baptist faith. This is why it is very difficult for a Mormon or a Jew or a Catholic to become a president.  The late President John Kennedy was able to climb the presidential throne due to his family background.

 

  1. For the Edo nation, to become an Oba, the individual must forego any foreign religious tradition and embrace Bini tradition totally.  The person would be initiated into the mysteries of the traditional religious culture before being crowned.  The same goes for Yoruba Obas. They are initiated into the traditional system before coronation.

 

  1. Among the Efiks, every male (and some females) must be initiated into the Ekpe (leopard/lion) society. Any Efik male that is not part of the Ekpe Society has less social value.  Thus, the Obong (king) as well as the chiefs are all members of Ekpe Society, regardless of religion.  The head of the Ekpe Society is one of the most powerful individuals in Efikland. The Ibibios expect their traditional leaders and most men to be initiated into the Ekpo Society.  The Abiriba Igbo people expect most of their men to be initiated to the Abiriba Warrior Society, as well as Ekpe Society.  By so doing, the Edos,  Efiks, Ibibios and the Abiriba Igbos are able to institutionalize their beliefs, traditions and practices.
  2. Among the Ijaws, the Kalabari, Ibani, Opobo, Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are noted for institutionalizing their traditions. This is why the Kalabaris celebrate the Owu Aru Sun Festival and actively join the Ekine Society.  They openly celebrate Akaso without apology to anyone.   The Ibani and the Opobo people celebrate the Otam Ebukuma (Nwaotam) Festival with vigour and devotion.  The Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are steadfast in upholding the Agadagba or Egbesu as the core of the traditional religio-political system.  This accounted for why the Agadagba (King) of Gbaramatu insisted that the Nigerian soldiers who stole the Egbesu golden sword must return it or face the spiritual consequences that might follow. Okrika people celebrate the Odum and the Ogwein masquerades with boldness and joy.  The Nembes continue to perform the Ofuruma  (ofirima) masquerade.

 

Thus, due to the contradiction between Christianity and Orukari religious culture, the only way a strong advocate of Christianity can become a traditional ruler is that he or she must forego Christianity and embrace Okurarism as the religion of Ijaw people.  The Binis, Yorubas, EFiks, Ashantis, and many other ethnic groups put restrictions or conditions that must be met before an individual becomes a traditional ruler.  In fact, the Bini and Yoruba Obas go through extensive retraditionalization before their coronation.  By so doing, they are able to ensure that the traditional religious culture is not corrupted by foreign religious cultures.

If the Ijaws do not put conditions based on the traditional religious culture, soon or later, the Christians might end up taking over all the traditional leadership positions in Ijawland.  If that happens, Ijawland might end up like Hausaland.  In Nigeria, it is inferable that the Hausas are the most colonized people in the sense that Islam has been imposed to the extent that Hausa beliefs and traditions are highly diminished.

The concern about the possibility of Ijaw culture dying out should be taken seriously.  The Urhobos and other ethnic groups face the same danger.  Hence, in Delta State, Prof. Christopher Orubiu and Dr. Emmanuel Biri of Delta State University “condemned the demonization of Urhobo culture under the façade of Christianity” (Egufe Yafugborhi, 2016, January 7)

Similarly, Governor Rochas OKorocha of Imo State, not too long ago, argued that public officials in Nigeria should swear their oath of office in the name of their ancestors.  He noted “People no longer fear Bible and Quran that are currently being used, because they knew that God is merciful and did not kill instantly.”  Again, he recently stated that traditional rulers in Imo State should not speak English while addressing their people during public functions (Okeoma, 2017, July 12).  Apparently, there is much concern that African cultural beliefs and traditions are increasingly being threatened due to undue conversion to Christianity and Islam and the embracing of secular humanism.

It seems that many Ijaws do not realize that Orukarism is responsible for the Ijaws being fiercely independent and fearless in expressing themselves.  The traditional religion is responsible for enabling the Ijaws to predict or forecast past and future events through Ye bi or Obuba bi (divination) ritual.  In fact, if not for Christian and secular-humanistic influences, the Ijaws would have used Ye bi or Obuba bi to find out who killed Chief Marshall Harry, Chief A. K. Dikibo and Admiral Daniel Ikoli.  Similarly, the religion is responsible for setting the norms and mores that inhibit sinful acts like killing people to sell body parts and producing baby factories.  The necessity to tell the absolute truth is a direct product of Orukarism.  It is the Ijaw religious culture that encourages people to confess and make amends if they violate certain situations.  Lastly, it is Orukarism that is responsible for making the Ijaws to be great fighters.

If the Ijaws destroy their religious culture, they would emasculate themselves and become a mass of helpless human beings who must depend on greedy, cunning, cheating, corrupting and conniving individuals  to lead them. The signs of greediness, cunningness, cheating, corruption and lying are everywhere as some public officials embezzled public funds with total disregard for social and political consequences.  Some Ijaws now hire thugs to intimidate and kill their opponents.   Some youths are no longer afraid of even embezzling community funds that would have been used to develop their own communities.  Self-centeredness is increasingly becoming the norm, thereby, destroying the communal culture that is the hallmark of Ijaw religious world.  Stealing is becoming very rampant because the traditional taboos are being ignored as people claim to be Christians.

No society has operated successfully through Christianity because the Bible is read, analyzed, explained and interpreted differently by different people.  This is why there are so many Christian denominations.  Each denomination seems to think that its brand of Christianity is superior to other Christian branches.  The pastors like to throw mud at each other as they compete to establish the largest and most populated churches in the world.  In Nigeria, for instance, Prophet I. B. Joshua and Prophet Johnson Suleman re not in good terms even though both supposed to lead their Christian flocks to God (Opejobi, 2017, April 3).  An increasing number of Christian pastors in Nigeria engaged in ungodly acts daily as they scramble to accumulate wealth while pretending to be servants of God.

Thus, it is difficult to establish morality and ethics in society when different pastors interpret the Bible differently based on their ideological orientations and self-interest.  The same problem seems to exist in Islam where the Sunnis and the Shiites do not see eye to eye.   Like Christian pastors, Islamic imams and clerics too read, explain and interpret the Koran based on their ideological perceptions and self-interest.  In Nigeria, Islamic leaders and preachers tend to preach a version of the religion that is more applicable to the 13th century, as Emir Lamido Sanusi of Kano noted while the Arab nations are developing their societies with science and technology.

Throughout the world, Christianity is responsible for destroying many indigenous cultures.  In After experiencing heart-wrenching situations in the hands of the Christians,  the Native Americas in North, Central, and South America are now working hard to revive their cultures that Spanish Christians almost wiped out from the face of the earth while searching for gold and silver.  It should be noted that the Spanish Christians almost wiped out all the writings of the Mayan people.  Fortunately for the world, the Christians missed four of the writings.   The four writings were taken to Germany and kept in the City of Dresden.  Today, the Mayan writings are known as the Dresden Codex.  The four writings have shown that the Mayans were very advanced, both scientifically and spiritually and built some of the largest pyramids in the world (World Digital Library, 2017, May 24).  The Ijaws cannot and should not assist, in any shape or form, the destruction of their own culture in the pretense of avoiding the WORSHIPPING of IDOLS.

To safeguard Ijaw culture from total decimation by the Christians, it is necessary for all Ijaw traditional rulers to subscribe to Ijaw culture by serving as the guardians, protectors, promoters and preservers of the culture. In this regard, the Ijaw Traditional Rulers Council or Forum should hold regular meetings and discuss ways of ensuring the preservation of Ijaw beliefs, values, traditions and language.

Finally, in Ijawland, the traditional moral order should be the guiding light to shape peoples’ behavior.  This means that if anyone steals public money, the person should be compel to tell the absolute truth by swearing in the name of his or her ancestors.  It is a fact that neither Christianity nor secular humanism is working effectively in Ijawland, Nigeria and Black Africa.  This is why things are falling apart, as Chinua Achebe predicted in his novel “Things Fall Apart.”

 

References

Alagoa, E. J. (1999)  The land and people of Bayelsa State:  Central Niger Delta. Chioba, Port Harcourt:  Onyoma Research Publications.

Darkwah, B. N. (2002).  The Africans who wrote the Bible.  Roussellville, Arkansas: Aduana

Davis, L. D. (1983).  The first seven ecumenical councils (325 – 787): Their history and theology. Wilmington, Delaware: A Michael Glazer, Inc.

How rich ship owner affected Christianity.  (2010, January 2).  The Atheist Conservative.  Retrieved July 11, 2017, from theatheistconservative.com/20010/01/02/how-a-rich-ship=owner=affected-christianity

Ido, E. (2017, July 6).  Sabagreia:  Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread. Vanguard. Retrieved July 6, 2017, from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/sabagreai-bayelsa-community-evil-wicked-men-dread.

Ijaw monarch declares war on violent crime in Bayelsa.  (2010, July 8).  African Examiner.  African Examiner. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from  http://www.africanexaminer,com/ijaw_mona.

Mmuta, C. (2010, June 11). Oba of Benin Leads spiritual warfare against robbers, kidnappers. Compass.  Retrieved July 12, 2017, from www.compassnewspaper.com/NG/index.php?view=article&catid=672%3Atop-store,

Ogunesan, T. (2017, November 8). Neglect of Yoruba culture, reason for high crime rate – Prof.  Vanguard. Retrieved November 9, 2017, from http://odili.net/news/source/2017/nov/8/604.html.

Okeoma, C. (2017, July 12). Imo: Gov Okorocha stops Imo monarchs from speaking English at functions. Odili.net. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from http://odili.net/news/source/2017/jul/12/818.html.

Opejobi, S. (2017, April 3). You are too small – Apostle Suleman attacks Prophet T. B. Joshua. Daily Post. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://dailypost.ng/2017/04/03/small-apostle-suleman-attacks-prophet-t-b-joshua-vidoe/

Prezi, I. E. ( 2015, Ocotber 25). Christian religionand loss of Ijaw traditions and cultures.  Koris Samuel.  Retrieved November 5, 2017, from https://ikorisamuel.wordpress.com/215/10/25/christian-religion-and-loss-of-ijaw-traditions-andcultures.

Seed, H. (2012). The Bible questions.  IVP Books.  Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://books.google.com/books?id=raCEI_V56UbUC&pg

The Dresden Codex. (2017, May 24).  World Digital Library.  Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://www.wdI.org/en/item/11621/