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Taking us back to a brief history of the formation of Nigeria as she is today, historians agree that the Nigerian state as it exists today was historically a plethora of ethnic/cultural groups and/or nations, which existed independent of one another. These groups were selectively and differentially colonised by the British resulting in the creation of a Northern and a Southern Protectorate.
These Protectorates existed independently and were administered with different laws though under the British. Within these Protectorates, all the ethnic nations were subsumed under a dominant identity by the British using perceived cultural superiority as a basis. In the Northern Protectorate over a hundred ethnic nations were subsumed under the Caliphate and Emirate system of the Hausa-Fulani. The Southern Protectorate was divided into two regions; the Eastern Region and the Western Region. The Igbo were the dominant group in the Eastern Region while the Yoruba assumed the dominant stature in The Western Region.
These colonial protectorates existed independently until they were amalgamated in 1914 to form Nigeria. Nigeria thus became a country comprising many ethnic nations subsumed under three dominant identities of the Hausa-Fulani, in the Northern Region, the Igbo in the Eastern Region and the Yoruba in the Western Region. Although Nigeria is typically broken down into six regions,
it is more useful to think about Nigeria in terms of a north versus south division. The area known today as the Northern Region of Nigeria is three times the size of the other two regions and the dominant ethnolinguistic group in the north is the Hausa-Fulani in the northeast and north-west surrounded by smaller ethnolinguistic groups like the Kanuris, Tivs, Igalas, Junkuns, Nupes, Zango-Katafs, and Biroms in the north-central. The Yoruba in the south-west, the Igbo in the south East, and the Ijaw in the south south are the dominant ethnolinguistic groups in the south.
Following the 1914 amalgamation of northern and southern Nigeria, the British systematically began to centralise control under the Hausa-Fulani aristocracy. The centralised the administrative structure of the north encouraged the British to establish the system of indirect rule wherein the Sultan was made subservient to British authority but continued to exercise ethnoreligious control over northern populations. Moreover, the British were extremely resentful of the leadership of southern Nigeria because the British considered them to be very belligerent and aggressive in their clamour for independence. Sir James Robertson (the last colonial Governor-General of Nigeria) justified the British preference for northern leaders by referring to ‘differences in ordinary custom and behaviour between the dignified, polite and rather an aloof Northerner and the uninhibited, vociferous Southerner who noisily showed his disagreement in council and parliament without good manner and restraint’.
The centralised theocratic authority of the Sultan and the Caliphate made British imperial administration in the north cheap and less problematic. If that same rulership could be foisted on the rest of Nigeria, the British task of exploiting Nigeria’s natural resources would be less arduous. Thus, under the guise of systematising administrative control, the British balkanized southern Nigeria by creating two regions (eastern and western regions) out of the existing southern protectorate but left the northern protectorate intact. This redistricting eviscerated the bonds of unity that had existed between nationalities in the south and created a forced sense of ethnic rivalry between the east and west. It also set the stage for the eventual Hausa-Fulani ethno-political hegemony. To make matters worse, the British created contiguous zones within the east and west to accommodate a vast body of small ethnic nationalities such as the Ijaw, Urhobo, Efik, Edo, Esan, Itsekiri, Ibibio, Afemai, and so on, which were stripped of their ties to the east and west. These nationalities were maintained by the British in a manner geared specifically toward upsetting the politics of the south and providing southern allies for the north in the event of political stalemate. By doing this the British forged together ‘inconsistent cognitive elements without creating clear behavioural assertions’ that would have created lasting bonds
of unity among the collaborating units.
After reconstructing the geopolitical map of Nigeria, the British proceeded to conduct a series of censuses, which were deliberately rigged in favor of the north. For example, the first-ever National census, which was conducted in 1931, was rigged to give the north numerical advantage over the south. Out of a population of 19,930,000, the north was awarded 11,434,000, the west 3,855,000, and the east 4,641,000, with a plurality of 2,938,000 people in favour of the north. Thus, from the very beginning, a permanent majority in population, which was intended to translate into a permanent majority in the future federal legislature and consequently a permanent control of power, was programmed for the Fulani cabal. On the basis of this figure, the north during the 1950 National Conference demanded at least half the seats in the central legislature as a condition for remaining a part of Nigeria. Consequently, the colonial officials distributed seats in the central legislature thus: north, 68 seats; west, 34 seats;
and east, 34 seats.
In the 1952 census, the scenario of the 1931 census was repeated. This time, the increase in population in the 21 years between 1931 and 1952 was so carefully and masterfully doctored, that the birth and death rates in the three regions were virtually the same, and the difference in population between north and south remained very identical to the 1931 figure. Thus, out of a total population of 31,540,000, the north had 16,540,000, the west 6,369,000, and the east 7,971,000. Again, the north had an advantage of 2,500.000 people. With these results, seats were distributed that made it possible for the north to gain political control. Even
if the west and east (collectively known as the south) had polled resources together to challenge the north, they would have failed.
The story of the 1963 census (the first after independence) was not different. The north, imitating their British allies, expertly doctored the figures to achieve pre-determined results. The eastern region particularly challenged the result with such vehemence that the country dangled dangerously on the precipice of anarchy. The unjust manipulation of the census to facilitate permanent northern political control was part of the grievances of the east in their ill-fated attempt to pull out of Nigeria through the creation of the Republic of Biafra. As a result of their declaration (of cessation), a bloody civil war was fought from 1967 to 1970, which resulted in the death of over millions of easterners and the total destruction of all infrastructures in eastern Nigeria. At the end of the war in 1970, the east was brought back under direct political control and supervision of the north, and permanently shut out of the Nigerian presidency.
The 1991 provisional census was also condensed to maintain the carefully designed colonial program. Out of a total estimated population of 88,504,477, the north was awarded 47,261,962 and the south 41,242,512 thereby maintaining the colonial margin. The most absurd aspect of the announced figures was the attempt to equate Kano State (the most populous state in the north) with
Lagos State (the most populous state in the south). While Lagos was awarded a figure of 5,655,751, Kano, in order to match that, was awarded a figure of 5,632,040.
Any honest observer knows that the population of Lagos cannot be less than 15 million. Yet, based on the 1991 census results, Lagos was allocated only 20 local government councils while Kano and Jigawa states (Jigawa was carved out of Kano in 1991 and prior to the 1991 census the expanded Kano state had a much smaller population than Lagos) were allocated 71 local government councils. Again, while Lagos State has only 24 members in the Federal House of Representatives, Kano and Jigawa (with a smaller combined population), have a total of 35 seats. What this means, is that ‘no bill can pass through the house without the concurrence of the northern states’ thus guaranteeing ‘permanent power installed by a combination of the colonial master, the Arewa political oligarchy and the northern military organization.’
Thus, through the politics of population, the Hausa-Fulani political elite (Fulani Cabal) has had an effective hold of political power in Nigeria. Their dominance ensures that the bulk of the Country’s resources go into providing infrastructure in the north even though the north contributes least to the Country’s resource wealth and revenue. For example, out of 774 local councils, the north has 418 and the south 356. These numbers are important because each local government council irrespective of its revenue and expenditure (and resource profile) gets exactly the same amount from the federation account.
The federal revenue derives 85% from the sale of crude oil, which is obtained 100% from southern Nigeria, thus, the bulk of the 20% of the federation account reserved for local governments end up in the north. Similarly, out of 336 seats in the Federal House of Representatives, the north is allocated 182 seats and the south 154 seats, thereby re-enforcing the British colonial legacy of centralising control under the leadership of the caliphate.
Moreover, northern cities like Abuja were built exclusively from oil wealth. In comparison to oil powerhouse states like Bayelsa, Abuja boasts some of the most sophisticated infrastructures in Africa whereas cities like Yenagoa lack basic amenities like roads, pipe-borne water, electricity, and hospitals.
In analysing the Fulani cabal, it has been observed that their power derived from their occupation of command positions within the government bureaucracy. These positions are constitutional. It is the authority domiciled in the office of the president, for example, that gives the American presidency its power. In the Nigerian case, the power of the Fulani Cabal does not obtain from the constitution or for that matter from the authority encapsulated in executive positions of government. The power of these elite derives chiefly from their possession of religious and cultural capital. Through the spiritual headship of the Sultan, the Hausa-Fulani aristocracy is able to exercise near absolute control over northern populations and this control extends into the military, the top echelon of which is made up principally of Muslim officers from the north. The religious authority and power of the Sultan and members of the Sokoto Caliphate can be attributed to the powerlessness of the northern mass. The fact that politics in Nigeria is not functionally differentiated from the sociocultural considerations that govern everyday life enables the Fulani cabal to systematically manipulate the Muslim Ummah through a generalised system of patrimonialism transmitted in different ways but especially through a pedantic form of Islamic education that teaches quiescence and complete servitude.
In this way, the spiritual authority of the Sultan and the Caliphate is maintained. Historically, the Sultanate has instrumentalised its immense cultural capital through the Hausa-Fulani political elite, whose political dominance has been legitimated over the years (even in periods of military rule) by its hegemonic (which includes its born-to-rule mentality) control of the apparatus of state and by its rigid control of the politics of population.
Control of northern populations gives the Sultanate tremendous political capital. If the multiethnic Nigerian population could be conceptualised simply as a northern and southern division, with the north dominant by reason of numerical majority, then, whoever controls the north virtually controls the south and by extension the Nigerian federation.
The Fulani cabal through the symbolism of the Sultan and the Sokoto Caliphate wields political power in Nigeria. While it is the Sultan and his council that pulls the puppet strings, it is the individuals who occupy key executive offices that are the puppets on strings. Although the suggestion that the Hausa-Fulani elite symbolised by the Sultanate is the dominant political force in Nigeria may appear counterintuitive, the annulment of the presidential election of June 12, 1993, presumably won by Moshood Abiola, a Yoruba, supports this thesis. It also supports the fact that the Hausa-Fulani aristocracy has also sought to perpetuate
its hegemony through control of the military. The Nigerian military unlike the American military is a very partisan force. Power is appropriated forcefully through coup d’états, which is a profound subversion of the Nigerian constitution. It is not coincidental,
therefore, that since independence in 1960, there have been seven successful military coups and the military have ruled
Nigeria for 38 of its 52 years.
Coups and counter-coups (apart from the politics of population) have been a primary means by which the northern aristocracy has maintained their hold on power. Each military coup typically begins with the suspension of the Nigerian constitution and its replacement with military decrees and edicts. Even in instances of civilian rule, the latent but potent threat of military intervention has been a control tool in the hands of the Fulani cabal.
This is not surprising, considering that the aristocracy has no faith in the democratic system of elections. Having manipulated census figures to give the facade of northern population superiority, the Fulani cabal could not assure itself of popular rule through
the ballot. In the one instance in which they put their presumed population advantage to the test (the June 12, 1993,
presidential elections), they failed woefully. Thus, with the exception of the 1965 unsuccessful military coup, every successful military porch has been carried out by young Muslim officers from the north with the direct backing of the Sultanate. It is also instructive that with the exception of the bloody coup that toppled General Aguiyi-Ironsi in 1966, every military coup in Nigeria has been a palace coup, in which case, bloodless. This signals a type of power-sharing arrangement where the Fulani cabal determines regime change (outside of elections) to ensure the continuous circulation of power among its military elite while ensuring some level of the geographic spread of power among northern territories.
Also, the recent extremist violence in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram is partly an attempt to reverse the north’s loss of political power in 1999 and the series of minor social and political revolutions that have taken place since then, which threatens the political and cultural hegemony of the Fulani Cabal. Specifically, the death of President Yar’Adua (a Hausa-Fulani) in office on 6 May 2010, was a ‘game change’ as it enabled his vice-president from the south to assume the presidency and to extend southern rule until 2015.
The mobilisation of the north through Sharia beginning in 1999 and subsequently the Boko Haram insurgency that challenged the legitimacy of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, which it called ‘infidel,’ are specific strategies the Fulani Cbal had
adopted to deal with their loss of power and possibly to regain power.
To Boko Haram and its leaders, Nigeria’s political structure must be transformed in ways that eliminates the potential for political upset such as witnessed in the 2011 presidential elections where President Jonathan, leveraging the power of incumbency (which in Nigeria usually means electoral fraud), crushed his Hausa-Fulani opposition.
In order to avoid this situation and to guarantee the political and cultural dominance of the Hausa-Fulani elite, Nigeria must become a theocratic state under the control of the Sultan who will wield political and cultural (religious) authority.
The June 12, 1993, presidential election fiasco testifies to the alliance between the military and the Fulani Cabal. The election was between the Social Democratic Party’s Moshood Abiola, a Yoruba Muslim from South West Nigeria, and the National Republican Convention’s Bashir Othman Tofa, a Hausa-Fulani Muslim from North West Nigeria. The election shaped up to be a contestation between the north and the south, and in the calculation of the caliphate, Alhaji Tofa would win handily on the strength of the northern population advantage. Moreover, the Sultanate also expected that minority southern nationalities that were historically coerced to voting with the north would deliver for the north in case there was a deadlock. As a result, the Sultanate actively supported the option A4 open ballot electoral system in which voters queue up behind preferred candidates. This transparent system would not only ensure that the elections were free and fair, it would also legitimate the political hegemony of the Fulani Cabal. This plan boomeranged. Because of Abiola’s personality (and religious affiliation) and the quality of campaign he ran, he won all of the states in the south as well as minority nationalities in the north-central region. When it became clear that if the results of the election were announced power would shift to the south, the Hausa-Fulani aristocracy through Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki urged General Babangida to cancel the election. Again, when it became obvious that Bashorun Abiola had won, the Sultan again brought pressure to bear on General Babangida to annul the election. This event demonstrates the power of the Sultanate especially its ability to compel a military despot to cancel an election that had already been conducted and for which billions of Naira had been expended.
Little wonder, then, that of the nine military men that have ruled Nigeria, seven were of northern extraction. The exception,
Generals Aguiyi Ironsi (in 1966) and Olusegun Obasanjo (in 1976) became heads by default, being beneficiaries of circumstances they did not author. General Aguiyi- Ironsi (from the east) became ‘Head of State’ because he was the most senior officer in the army following the failed 1965 coup attempt by young eastern officers led by Major Kaduna Nzeogu that killed Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, the Premier of the Western Region, and Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the federal finance minister.
A reprisal coup was staged in 1966 by young northern officers led by Colonel Yakubu Gowon to avenge the killing of the Sultan and to return power to the north, which resulted in the killing of General Aguiyi-Ironsi and several southern politicians.
Also, General Olusegun Obasanjo became “Head of State” in 1976 after his boss General Murtala Mohammed was killed in a failed coup attempt by young Christian officers from the north central region led by Colonel Buka Suka Dimka. Obasanjo, mindful of the fate that befell General Aguiyi-Ironsi and scared of the Fulani Cbal that controlled the military, accepted to lead only after strong assurances from the north and his would-be second-in command General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Obasanjo hastily conducted a sham election in 1978, which returned power to the north even though Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a Hausa-Fulani, did not get the
In 1999, following the death of General Sani Abacha in office, General Obasanjo (retired) who had been imprisoned by General Abacha for his role in a phantom coup plot was released from prison and made president. Obasanjo remained in the saddle for 8 years and is referenced as evidence that power had devolved from the Fulani cabal.
Yet, Obasanjo, a Yoruba, was the preferred candidate of the Fulani cabal in association with the military top brass. His People’s Democratic Party (PDP) lost at every level (ward, local council, state and federal congresses, and governorships) in his home (south west) region to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) but won overwhelmingly in the north. Interestingly, there were only two presidential candidates and both were from the South West. The South West was rewarded with the presidency to pacify international petrol-capital, which had threatened severe sanction following the June 12 fiasco.
Thus, to maintain the tripartite power configuration, the Fulani cabal grudgingly agreed to zone the presidency to the south but deftly reserved the right to pick the candidate most agreeable to it. It is not coincidental that they picked a former soldier with strong ties to the north.
The implication of this is that the Nigerian military is a powerful institution that historically has been influential in the political development of Nigeria. Apart from direct involvement in politics through the violent usurpation of power, it has also continued to play influential roles in post-military transitions through the manipulation of the electoral process.
Today, some of the most influential politicians are former military top brass including David Mark, the present President of the Nigerian Senate. Through their alliance with the Fulani Cabal and the salient threat to usurp political power forcefully, the military has become a political institution in the mould of a political party, able and willing to control electoral events and to occupy seats in government that unlocks legitimate and illegitimate economic opportunities.
However, as past events have shown, the influence of the Nigerian military is subject to the more powerful influence of the Sokoto Caliphate that it continues to look up to for religious and political signification.
Fast forward to the present day Nigeria, the Fulani cabal is still running things in the country using stooges from other regions (Igbos and Yorubas) to balance their hold in those areas. These stooges include prominent politicians and statesmen such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Bola Tinubu, Oshiomole, Audu Ogbe, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Governor Hope Uzodinma, Rotimi Amechi and Femi Fani Kayode who recently was given the Sadaukin Shinkafi title by theShinkafi Emirate Council in Zamfara. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who is a well-known stooge of the Fulani Cabal has sworn complete allegiance to them after he was promised a shot at the Presidential slot after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
The British laid the strong foundation for the Hausa-Fulani hegemony in Nigeria. The principle guiding the Cabal was clearly set forth by the cabal’s patron saint, Sir Ahmadu Bello who said to the media: ‘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 use the minorities in the north as willing tools and the south as a conquered territory and NEVER ALLOW THEM TO RULE OVER US and NEVER ALLOW THEM TO HAVE CONTROL OVER THEIR OWN FUTURE.’
In terms of political power, Nigeria revolves power organised around the religious fiefdom of the Fulani Cabal. Thus, political power does not proceed finitely from government executives; instead, it flows in reverse from the religious and cultural leadership of the Sultanate.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK