Buratai, Biafra and the guardians of empire Nigeria (part 1) by Fani-Kayode
10th March 2017
In the last two years the quest for self-determination amongst the numerous ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria has reached a crescendo. This is especially so with many from the younger generation.
Millions of young people are infuriated, disgusted and fed up with the injustice and evil that they have been subjected to by the Nigerian state for virtually all of their lives.
They are energised and propelled by their passion and desire for a fairer deal and a better future.
Consequently they have keyed into that quest and are agitating for, at the very least, a total constitutional overhaul and restructuring of the federation and, at the very best, outright and complete secession and the establishment of a new country.
The agitation is particularly strong in the areas that are known as the Middle Belt, the Niger Delta, the south-east and the south-west and, in all cases, such calls have been backed by the elders of those zones.
Members of the detained and deeply courageous Nnamdi Kanu’s Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) together with the Movement For The Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and other Igbo nationalist and self-determination groups have been the trail blaizers in this respect and have taken the lead.
Such has been the potency of their agitation and campaign that they are getting solid and increasing backing from the new and exceptionally dynamic Chief John Nnia Nwodo-led Ohanaeze, the leading Igbo socio-cultural organisation which represents and speaks for the elders and leaders of the Igbo nation.
Self-determination groups in the Middle Belt such as the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) are also on the rise and they are demanding for the emanciptation of the people of Southern Kaduna and the northern minorities generally from the clutches of the hegemonists and internal colonial masters.
Similar groups are dotted all over the Middle Belt and the north central zone and they have the full backing and endorsement of the Northern Christians Elders Forum, the Middle Belt Forum, the Core Middle Belt Forum and the Middle Belt Dialogue Forum.
In the south-west Afenifere has recently offered similar support for the traditional Yoruba nationalist groups like the Dr. Frederick Fasheun-led and Gani Adams-led Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the Oodua Liberation Movement (OLM).
As a glaring testimony to this just a few days ago, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the number two man in Afenifere and one of the most reverred and respected voices in the country, said that if Nigeria was not restructured soon the Yoruba people would have no choice but to go their own way and establish Oduduwa Republic.
The Niger Deltans and the people of the south-south zone have refused to be left out. They have consistenly voiced their desire for a better deal for their people and their insistence on resource control and self-determination through groups like the Ijaw Youth Congress, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and relatively new and even more militant groups like the hard-hitting and elusive Avengers.
Finally one cannot but mention the Shiite Muslims of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria who have suffered relentless persecution at the hands of the Nigerian state, who have been slaughtered in their thousands by officers of the Sunni Muslim-controlled Nigerian Army and whose leader Sheik El Zakzaky remains in unlawful detention up until today.
For many years the Shiites have been treated with brutality, disdain and contempt by the traditional institutions in the north and the Sunni-Muslim ruling elite and they are yearning for their freedom from bondage and religious persecution and agitating for a safer space under the sun.
From the foregoing it is clear that all is not well in the artificial mega-nation and super-state that was christened “Nigeria” (meaning “area of darkness” in latin) by the British just over one hundred years ago.
As each day passes more and more people from all over the country are doubting the continued viability of our forced union.
They are also questioning the wisdom and expediency of the 1914 amalglamation and “arranged marriage” of what were originally the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria by Lord Frederick Lugard and our erstwhile British colonial masters.
Unfortunately the response of the traditional defenders and apologists of the Nigerian state, rather than calm frayed nerves, has only compounded the problems and hardened hearts.
Instead of coming to terms with this new thinking and attempting to appeal to those that feel aggrieved they have opted to be confrontational, uncompromising, unreasonable, unrepentant and aggressive.
Instead of attempting to convince others that things can still get better and that there is still some hope for a united, indivisible and unrestructured Nigeria, the powers that be, our internal colonial masters and those that believe that the status quo must be maintained and that say that any talk of restructuring or a break up is not only criminal but also blasphemous and heretic, have continued to threaten, insult and attempt to intimidate those that do not share their narrow and retrogressive views.
It is in this context and from this prism that I view the intervention of Lt. General Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, to the debate. On the 6th March 2017 he said as follows:
“I want to call on all the agitators for separation that they better forget it: not in this era, not in this millennium. Agitators for Nigeria’s separation will wait for another four millenia”.
Buratai’s counsel and intent are as bellicose and menacing as they are arrogant and self-serving.
One wonders whether those that espouse such views and voice such sentiments actually believe that they have the power to control our destiny and determine our future.
Does General Buratai believe that he isGod? Is he aware of the fact that no country in the history of the world has ever survived two civil wars?
His are the words and thoughts of the self-proclaimed guardians and enforcers of the Nigerian state and the defenders of the Nigerian empire.
They are an eloquent reflection of the sheer determination of those that are hell-bent on preserving the nebulous and iniquitous status quo and on preserving and protecting what the French call the “ancien regime” in our country.
They are also a manifestation of contempt, over-confidence and hubristic pride: a rare display of what I have decribed elsewhere as the biblical “I am and there is no-one besides me” Isaiah 47 complex.
Such boastful assertions have been made by others before and they are nothing new.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Yugoslavia said before their country broke into six pieces and established Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Soviet Union said before their country broke into fifteen pieces and Russia, Turkestan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Sudan said before their country broke into two and Southern Sudan was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Indonesia said before their country broke into two and East Timor was established.
They are the sort of things that the white Boer leaders of South Africa said before the fall of apartheid, before the establishment of black majority rule and before their country was broken into two and Namibia was established.
They are the sort of things that the white leaders of Rhodesia said before losing the war, before the coming to power of the blacks, before the establishment of Zimbabwe and before Rhodesia ceased to exist.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of India said before their country broke into two and Pakistan was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Pakistan said before their country broke into two and Bangladesh was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Malaya said before their country broke into two and Malaysia and Singapore were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Czechoslovakia said before their country broke into two and the Czech Republic and Slovakia were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Ethiopia said before their country broke into two and Eritrea was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the United Arab Republic said before their country broke into two and Egypt and Syria were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the United Kingdom said before their country broke into two and the Republic of Ireland was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Austro-Hungarian empire said before their country broke into two and Austria and Hungary were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of the Ottomon Empire said before their empire broke into numerous pieces and Hungary, Albania, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, southern and Caucasian Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and others were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Sweden said before their country was broken into four and Denmark, Norway and Finland were established.
They are sort of things that the leaders of Denmark said before their country was split into two and Iceland was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Korea said before their country was split into two and North and South Korea were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Vietnam said before their country broke into two and North and South Vietnam were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Peru said before their country broke into two and Bolivia was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Gran Colombia said before their country was split into three and Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador were established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Haiti said before their country split into two and the Dominican Republic was established.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Great Britain said before their empire slowly crumbled and broke into thirty new and independent sovereign nations who all became members of the British Commonwealth.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of Spain, France and Portugal said before their respective empires crumbled and collectively gave birth to over one hundred new countries.
They are the sort of things that the leaders of China said before their country broke into two and Taiwan was established. I could go on and on.
12th March 2017
The truth is that the unconscionable oppressors that constitute the Nigerian ruling elite and political class and those at the top never see things clearly until the explosion comes.
More often or not they are intoxicated by the opium of power, they become deluded, they lose touch with reality and they are blinded by the awesome power that they wield.
And when there is a reaction to their tyranny, arrogance and oppression and the call for resistance and self-determination begins to gather momentum, history proves that instead of reaching out with compassion, love and understanding, they treat their vassals and victims with insensitivity, brutality, savagery and contempt.
Yet despite all one thing is clear: regardless of their relentless opppsition and repression, when the time comes, when the song of liberation beckons and when the freedom bell tolls not even one million misguided and bellicose Nigerian army commanders can resist the restructuring or break up of our country once it is clearly established that that is what our people want.
The truth is simple and clear: you cannot force people to remain together forever!
And if you really want them to stay together you cannot treat them like animals. You cannot break their hearts, wound their souls, bind their spirits, shatter their dreams, abort their vision and constantly make them shed tears.
You cannot abuse, threaten, kill, maim, incarcerate, intimidate, insult, rob, humiliate, demean or cheat them but instead you must show them love, compassion and kindness and treat them well.
The Nigerian state has been callous, insensitive, cruel, brutal, unjust and unfair to most of its ethnic nationalities.
Throughout our beleagured history and over the last 56 years of our existence as an independent sovereign state, genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and indeed all manner of injustice have been gladly adopted and employed by the state as a lawful, legitimate and, I dare say, acceptable means to keep our people in check and hold them down.
Millions have been killed in the name of “keeping Nigeria one” and many more have suffered.
This is especially so in the case of the Igbo, the Niger Deltans, the Middle Belters, the northern Christians, the Shiite Muslims and, to a lesser degree, the Yoruba.
As long as this remains the case, if the country is not restructured and if equity, justice and fair play is not properly and adequately enthroned, eventually the roof will cave in and Nigeria will crumble into a number of pieces like a pack of cards.
And when that occures no man born of woman will be able to stop it and neither will an army of one billion hard-line and hard core ultra- conservative dinosaurs who erroneously believe that it is their God-given right and duty to keep Nigeria together by hook or by crook regardless of the heartfelt desires and freely-expressed will of the people.
It is a new dawn and today we are witnessing the last kick of a dying Nigerian horse. Soon we will be free and the tyranny, madnesss, sadness, tears and shattered dreams that are the hallmarks of Empire Nigeria will be gone forever. God wills it and so it shall be.
Permit me to conclude this contribution by offering a small explanation for my earlier assertion that the Yoruba suffered in the hands of Nigeria to a lesser degree than others.
I do not wish to in any way offend anyone or play down the pure hell that the Yoruba have been through in Nigeria for the last 56 years.
There are indeed many instances and examples of injustice, indignity, shame, pain, suffering and wickedness that we the Yoruba people have been subjected to by those that believe that they own and will always control Nigeria over the years.
However, as bad is it may have been, I believe that there is a big difference between what we have been through and what others have seen.
We suffered immeasurably as well but we had the strength and wherewithal to fight back and survive it rather well. We also flourished over the years compared to others because we didn’t need the Federal Government or the Nigerian state for anything in order to excel and to survive.
They murdered our leader Chief MKO Abiola, his wife, the beautiful Kudirat and many others. They killed Chief SL Akintola in the sanctity of his home and in front of his family. They killed Brigadier Ademulegun and his eight month pregnant wife. They killed Colonel Francis Fajuyi because he opted to stand by his leader and friend, the Head of State, General Aguiyi-Ironsi. They jailed Chief Obafemi Awolowo whose oldest son Segun was killed in a car accident whilst he was in jail. They jailed President Olusegun Obasanjo and quite a few others. They detained and tormented Senator Abraham Adesanya, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and hundreds of others. They drove Professor Wole Soyinka, Professor Adebayo Williams and many others into exile. They destroyed the lives and persecuted many but they never slaughtered us in millions as they did to the Igbo.
They never killed over 100,000 of our people in three months with cudgels and cutlasses as they did to the Igbo all over the north during the pogroms of 1966.
They never killed over 300 of our army officers as they did to the Igbo on the night of the “northern officers revenge coup” ofJuly 29th 1966.
They never denied us our right to life and to self-determination and slaughter over 2 million of our people during the civil war as they did to the Igbo.
They never starved one million of our young children to death or confiscated our properties and left us with only twenty pounds each after the civil war as they did to the Igbo.
They never subjected us to ethnic and religious cleansing or enslaved us and took our history, culture, language, dignity and faith away from us as they did to the Middle Belters and to the northern Christians and minorities.
They never burnt down our homes, desecrated our burial grounds, blew up our places of worship, wiped out our communities and buried our dead in mass graves as they did the Shiite Muslims.
They never took our mineral resources, plundered our land, destroyed our environment, polluted our rivers, stole our money, humiliated our leaders, dehumanised our men, raped our women, bombed our towns and committed genocide against our people as they did to the Niger Deltans.
Yes we the Yoruba suffered too: we lost Ilorin, we suffered remote-controlled carnage and fratricidal butchery in the politics of the early ’60’s and the early ’80’s, we lost many good men and women during the June 12th struggle, we were relegated to the status of second-class citizens over the years and so much more but we managed to weather our travails with dignity and even a shrug and a smile.
We were big, strong, resilient and poweful enough to take whatever evil that was meted out to us and, more often than not, we fought back and survived it with our heads held up high.
In any case our collective oppressors were always a little more careful with us when compared to others because they were wary of the very real danger of arousing the lion within us and kindling a raging and uncontrollable fire in the Yoruba nation that could well have burnt down the entire country.
Others ethnic nationalities were not so lucky: they had their souls and the very essence of their being sucked out of them. They suffered beyond measure and some have been so scarred and broken over the last 56 years that they may never recover.
These groups must NEVER forget what Nigeria has done to them and neither must we.
The suffering of the Middle Belters, the Niger Delta people and the Igbo particularly should be the fuel for our collective quest for liberation.
The suffering of my Yoruba people through the ages, though less when compared to that of the Niger Deltans, the Igbo and the Middle Belters, acts as a source of strength for me to stand up, to fight on and to fight back.
I chose my words carefully and I meant them. The suffering was relative and those of us that suffered less than others ought to be able to acknowledge the trauma, pain and wickedness that others were put through by our internal colonial masters and their allies.
We acknowledge this not to mock them or subject them to ridicule but to honor them and to learn from their horrific experiences. None of us must ever forget and all of us must ask God for forgiveness for the role we played in assisting and supporting the butchers in the past.
Where we find blood on our hands we must acknowledge that we did wrong and ensure that it will never happen again.
The recollection of history is important. That is why we must always set the record straight and make all the fine points and distinctions.
We must never forget and, like the sons and daughters of the proud Jewish State of Israel said after the horrific genocide of the Nazi holocaust, we must always say, “NEVER AGAIN”.
May the Lord of Hosts forgive Nigeria for what she has done to so many of her ethnic nationalities and her own sons and daughters.
May the Ancient of Days deliver us all from the self-appointed guardians and enforcers of Empire Nigeria and may He effect His purpose and will in our nation. Shalom. (CONCLUDED).
Credit: Femi Fani-Kayode