by John O. Kalu
The other time I wrote a speculative piece on the strategic importance of America designating Boko Haram and/or its members and sponsors as terrorists, a member of a closed group I belong to extracted and published it verbatim at Hope For Nigeria page. That was without regards to my caveat and/or plea that circulation of the post be restricted to Igboville. Membership rules also made it clear that materials cannot be lifted and published without the approval of the administrator and/or the author. How much “hope for Nigeria” will such behavior inspire when the convener of the group will not respect simple privacy rules in a closed group? . Be that as it may, am not deterred in publishing more notes knowing that it is only in facebook that everyone is good and want to move Nigeria forward, even if fraudulently. The truth is that I don’t say in private what I can’t own in public. But there are rules governing closed groups. Let us exercise WISDOM in our HEART.
Facebook has taught me a lot about the Nigerian character and why this country is backward. As expected, everyone has a view on most issues. But most time the underlying consideration behind those views are not immediately apparent to the unschooled eyes. Given that I have associated with all divides in facebook-pro northern facebookers aka friends of the North, pro-Jonathan facebookers aka fresh air and pro-ethnic group facebookers, I can easily claim to be an authority on the mind set of each group. I have friends and have participated in all these groups at one time or the other.
The group that interests me today are those I call “friends of the North”. They are mostly not from the North and cut across tribal divides. Umuigbo are well represented. To belong to this group, you must see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil of the North or her children. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, once a northerner is involved, they will jump first in defense. When Farouk Lawan bribery scam broke, they were in front defending him. When it emerged that Farouk is farouked, they changed the argument to conspiracy to cover up subsidy probe. Recently I pointed out to one of them that all the companies involved in the subsidy scandal are either owned directly by northerners or indirectly through their proxy. His argument quickly changed to a conspiracy between Jonathan and Farouk to humiliate the North. Abeg follow me laugh out loud, it is still free!
Recently, they’ve been on about how some are spreading hatred against the North. Their targets are usually fellow Christians or Igbos who are complaining about the continuing killings and bombings orchestrated by Northern elements. At some point I started wondering if it is really true that I personally hate the north. It only took my realization that I have no known enemy for me to convince myself that hatred for individuals, or tribes for that matter, is not part of my DNA. I’ve never killed anybody, North, South or Centre. I’ve voted and campaigned for Northern candidates more than I’ve done for southern or Igbo candidates. So, am the wrong person to attribute hatred of the North to. If for anything, I hate killers and murderers. Only those who want to play God kill others.
The stock in trade of these my beloved brethren is to dream up conspiracy theories. They will regal you with how the government of Jonathan is the one bombing the North using Igbos and Christians. Even a former Minister of this country believes that thrash and is happily propagating it on facebook and twitter. With that quality of a man in leadership position in Nigeria, do we need to look far to understand why this country never made progress since 1960? This morning, I found a piece posted by a core Northerner on the conspiracy theorists. He obviously targeted his more zealous brethren and their Igbo cheerleaders. Read for yourself:
“I totally disagree with the conspiracy theorist that believes government at the centre is behind BOKO HARAM.(if you want to hang a dog give it a bad name)BH has been existing long before this government came in to power,were I fault those in power is there inability to manage the situation right from the day this movement became violent.the are so many questions to be asked, but who will provide the answer?to ponder over few of them.why have the northern governors milk the region dry and no one is talking,why are they not tackling poverty,illiteracy,hunger,unemployment.desease,polio,youth restiveness and so many more.and of cos why is Ali sheriff still walking freely.are the governors sharing their loot with the northern elders,traditional rulers,and politicians? At the expense of all and sundry.we must stop beating around the bush, this movement exit and they have nothing to do with government sponsorship,they are smart and violent,they are always ahead of our security agencies, that lack modern training and epuipments. Nobody is spared from this onslaught,Muslim, Christian or the traditionalist,the earlier we as Nigerians understand this the better.we all have one common enemy.”
-Mohammed Ibrahim Saleh.
Ordinarily, if I had posted the above comments, the “friends of the north” would have accused me of “spreading hatred against the North” or at best being Jonathan’s apologist. (Not too bad given that I’ve previously “apologized” for IBB, Atiku and Yaradua). But I wonder if any of them will accuse Mohammed Saleh of hating the north. Moreover, when we had serious security challenge in Abia state, all of us honestly condemned the President and Governor for not doing enough. We also condemned our people who were involved in that malfeasance. There were no conspiracy theories. Could it be that we were enemies of Ndigbo and stoking hatred against Ndigbo? Sorom chia!
Why will anyone want to be an unpaid defender of everything North?
The answer is easy. Out of 51 years of Nigeria’s existence, the North has ruled for 38 years and installed the remaining rulers who were their proxy. It therefore goes that the North has more capacity to dispense favors than any other bloc in Nigeria. While the Bible was clear that we should “fear not” for some of our brethren it translates to “fear north if you want favors”. Given the historical culture of servitude for favor prevalent within the northern establishment, the easiest route for favor seekers will be to stoop (bow) to conquer. In the process, Nigeria has been robbed of quality leaders and advisers. Boot lickers held sway. Those who dared to voice an opinion are promptly demonized and booted out. The survivors are whipped into line and given enough “bread” to satisfy them and then recycled over and over. “Friendship” with the North is good o!!
It is this culture of “friend of the north” for favor that have dragged the North down. Non of the northern “friends” advised the extant rulers to develop the north educationally. Even with all the great brains available in the north, they are still at least 30 years behind the south educationally. It has taken a southerner to establish the first Almajirin schools for northern children. Even then, a group that feel that western education is evil are busy bombing the few existing schools and keeping the children away from school. The future is predictable as we now have an army of bomb carriers and rioters that can be used to unleash mayhem tomorrow. And the “friends of the north” are still willing to defend even Boko Haram and make sophisticated arguments on how the government of the day is responsible for the upsurge in terrorism. In their mind, Boko Haram was formed in 2010 when Jonathan became President. In their mind, the North was always peaceful and practiced a perfect “religion of peace”. Non of them will remember Gideon Akaluka, Sharia riots, Maitatsine riots, Danish cartoon riots, Miss world peagent killings and many more. Even the post election killings can be excused because elections were rigged by youth corpers and Igbos. Non of them will read Buhari’s recent assertion on why his party lost the election. Neither will it matter to them that this is the 3rd time Buhari is losing (including to his kinsman Yaradua) and yet nobody was killed, until he lost to a southern christian from a minority tribe that should be serving the North.
Who are the real friends of the North?
They are those who are willing to tell the north the simple truth that they are mostly responsible for the sorry state of Nigeria, having produced all but 2 of the past rulers of Nigeria. If corruption is an institution in Nigeria, the right people to blame are those who have managed Nigeria since independence. If there is no steady power supply, no security infrastructure and educational backwardness in the North, past leaders of Nigeria who are mostly from the North should answer some questions.
There is just no way of excusing past northern leaders from the activities of Boko Haram. For one, it is a known fact that terrorists do not operate successfully from areas where they lack local support. Secondly, terror infrastructure is developed over time, just like anti-terror systems. Boko didn’t start overnight. That a man is ready to blow up himself for N7k says a lot about the extent of poverty and hopelessness in that part of Nigeria. Someone should be held responsible for that state of desperation and not excused or defended. It is almost satanic to use our intellectual endowments to defend those who have turned Nigerians into suicide bombers. At best, as real friends of the North, we should offer them sound advice to invest in education and forget Presidency for as long as necessary. Their occupancy of that institution has been a curse to them and Nigeria.
Let us help by calling a spade a spade. If the North is up and running well, the rest of Nigeria will be the better for it, as long as we remain glued together by the wickedness of Lord Lugard. But if BH forces us apart through their campaign of “araba”, the north will still have to deal with the evils of their leaders past and present. Islamic republic of Northern Nigeria will not guarantee an end to terrorism but will surely end the near total dominance of the oil business by Nigerians of Northern origin. Without oil, they will have to steal groundnut money and Boko will surely get them. May be then their friends will abandon them and look for another group to defend to death.
If the North needs to hear the truth, here is it. Igbos have never led any Nigerian government, save for General Aguiyi Ironsi’s ill fated six months. They were also massacred, bombed out and deprived by the North led Nigeria. In contrast, the North have led Nigerian Federal Government for 38 years of Nigeria’s 50, as at October 2010. They have successfully installed the other non Northern President in the Person of Gen Olusegun Obasanjo. The North is also controlling the economy of Nigeria with many of her sons owning oil blocks and rights. Others are effectively in charge of critical agencies involved in Nigerian oil and gas business including the longest serving oil minister of Nigeria. Even when non Northerners are appointed oil ministers, their positions are largely symbolic as the real control remains with the Northern leaders. Ordinarily, this near monopoly of power and Nigerian economic structure should have translated to better life for Northern children. Unfortunately, it is not so. As at today, all parameters of measuring human development favours the “defeated and marginalized” Igbos against the North. Who among the friends of the North will dare tell them this truth and honestly recommend solutions to at least put them on course for redemption?
The average northerner is by far worse off compared to his Igbo or Yoruba contemporary. Obviously, prolonged hanging around power has not helped the real North. It has only purchased them high priced sycophants called “friends of the North”. As long as the culture of servitude is maintained in the North, the average northerner will still not match his brothers. Not more than 2,000 northerners are controlling the wealth of Nigeria and enslaving the people of the North. They will never allow the children of the poor to get education that will enable them challenge the wickedness of the northern ruling and leadership class. Every day, this population of northerners appear before the successful thieves with plates for alms. They are given food in exchange for shouts of “ranka dede”. The more brilliant ones among them are allowed to have non functional islamic education that will further enslave their mind and make them permanently available for use as tools in the hands of the rulers. Whenever the interest of the rulers are threatened, they are deployed to cause riots and even accept to kill themselves for N7k. Imagine dying for N7k that the average not-too-educated Igbo trader will spend at a beer joint within 2 hours and still have more to take care of his family?
Unfortunately, the killing and suicide mobs of the North do not know that they are as much a victim of the northern leader as the Christian/Igbo they have been sent to kill. Even the friends of the north will not tell them this because in reality, the so called friends of the north are the friends of the ruling class in the North and care little about the real northerner. The friend of the North is working very hard to also join the slaves of the ruling northern cabal in the hope of eating from political crumbs.
As a friend of the real northern man and woman, I wish to boldly state that what the north needs is education and empowerment of the poor. He must be able to acquire the capacity to ask his leaders “why”. Therein lies the difference with his Igbo brother. The average Igbo man will ask Ekwueme why without blinking. He already knows that the muslims at Ama Awusa in Aba are not his enemies so you cannot convince him to kill them in retaliation. He knows that the real enemy might be hiding in Abuja, Minna, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri or Sokoto. If he must retaliate to maintain a balance of terror, it makes sense for him to do so in those places and not kill a fellow victim who is earning a living at Aba. The North must educate her people and build more schools and less mosques.
There is no basis for any sensible northerner to demand for Presidency. 38 years of being in power in Nigeria made the North worse than those who never had power. The killer Almajirin might kill his Igbo neighbor in envy of his little progress, but he should be told that his real enemy is the big man who refuses to teach him how to fish but is ever willing to dash him fishes.
Another strange part is that when the North wants to talk to other ethnic groups they look for the real leaders. The so called “tribalists”. They understand the power game and know that their so called friends are nothing more than leeches. While Ikemba was with us in the flesh, it is a known fact that whenever the North have anything to say to Igbos they look for him. Of course they don’t summon him to Minna, Sokoto or Kano. They go to Enugu to meet him. They knew he loved his people and didn’t hate the north either. He only wanted the best for Ndigbo and Nigerians. Make no mistakes about this, you cannot hate Igbos and say you love Nigerians. Igbos are Nigerians. Love for Nigeria is NOT mutually exclusive to love for Igbos, Yorubas or Hausas. Rather most people who love their tribes translate that love to the larger Nigeria. That was the case with Zik of Africa, Awo and Bello. They all loved their people and also Nigeria. They developed their areas and by extension Nigeria. It is not possible to love Nigeria while hating your people. It amounts to self deceit and fraud. Your only entitlement to a Nigerian passport is your being from one of the federating units in Nigeria. Even naturalized citizens must choose a federating unit to belong to.
Let us befriend the truth at all times. At least you are guaranteed heaven if Boko mistakenly attack and kill a “friend of the North” like you. Unless you have a mark on your forehead saying “am a friend of the North”, when the next bomb explodes you might meet your maker. Those guys don’t ask questions before exploding their crude weapons of mass destructions.
Fear Boko, not North.