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EXPLOSIVE: Why Is President Buhari Afraid of Restructuring?

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Winston Churchill made one of his most famous pronouncements in November 1942 when he declared as follows to the House of Commons: “I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire”. Indeed, Churchill managed to avoid personal responsibility for the loss of any significant imperial possessions by losing the 1945 election to Clement Atlee” – Quote from ‘Liquidation of Empire’: The Decline of the British Empire. By Roy Douglas.

“It is now patiently clear that the political history of the Nigerian state since 1914 has been a continuing story of the struggle between the forces of the hegemony, inspired by the historical imbalance caused by the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates on the one hand, and the persistent contest to redress the imbalance and promote integration through decentralisation and competitive federalism on the other” – Professor  Richard Olaniyan, in the  Preface to: The Amalgamation And Its Enemies( An interpretive history of Modern Nigeria) with contributions by 10 University professors.

“We have said it over and over, that Nigeria is the only inhertrance we have in Africa and anywhere in the world. This land belongs to us, from Sokoto to the banks of the Atlantic Ocean. This was the destiny bestowed on Uthman Dan Fodio which would have been fulfilled since 1816 if not for the obstruction of this great assignment by the British. It is no longer time to play the ostrish. Our men are waiting. We are eager to fight. We are boiling with the zeal to actualize our dream; enough of double dealing and ambivalence by Fulani political leaders who, unfortunately, think the Fulani can only take back what belongs to us through appeasement and elections destined to reflect cultural values antithetical to the preachings of Uthman Dan Fodio.”- a persistent claim of the Fulani Nationality Movement.

First and foremost, let me make something clear. I am not out in this piece to criticise or stigmatise President Buhari about his now ambivalent position.on restructuring – ambivalent  because after roundly condemning those canvassing restructuring, calling  them dangerous and naive – he has since walked that back, somewhat, by saying he would append his signature to whatever decisions come to his table from the National Assembly from the ongoing constitition amendment exercise.

That, of course, was not the first time he would admonish those preaching restructuring to approach the National Assembly. My understanding of that, based not just on his well known  position on the subject – he would not even read the report of the 2014 national confab even though contesting to be president – but also on the views of  most Northern leaders who always  emphasised the saying that ‘politics is a game of numbers’, is that between the National Assembly, where  Northern legislators predominate, and the state Houses of Assembly  which are more in the North, and whose concurrence some of the decisions require, nothing substantial would come out of that exercise especially on power devolution,  despite Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila’s optimism.

That said, I urge the reader  to see this article as an exercise in logical reasoning. I shall state well known  positions from which I shall proceed to make inferences. You may, or may not, agree .with my conclusion but please be assured that these are my honest views.

The answer to the title of the article which I claim to know, inheres within the three epigraphs to the article.

The first, a quote by Sir Winston Churchill, unarguably, the greatest British politician todate, is self explanatory.

The second epigraph, a quote from my former University teacher who I greatly  admire, encapsulates what, in essense, has  been the Nigerian conundrum; a problem that hegemonists – who incidentally are not all Fulani politicians and  elite – but also others, especially those military top ranks from the Northern fringes, who were too timid,  or browbeaten, to rule the country with any modicum of justice. Largely because their own rise to power and authority had been facilitated by Fulanis, they went on a literal binge creating states, but especially Local Government Areas, to satisfy the whims and caprice of those who oiled their  way to high public office.

That is why today, you would hardly believe that Kano and Lagos states once had about the same number of Local Government Areas.

With a territorial land area of 351,861 hectares, Lagos State was made up of five administrative divisions, namely: Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos [Eko] and Epe. The divisions were created in May 1968 by virtue of Administrative Divisions [Establishment] Edict No. 3 of April 1968. The Divisions were further divided into 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas which the senate has since refused to enlist.

Kano state, on the other hand,  now has 44 Local Government Areas  even after Jigawa state , with 27 , was carved out of it.

You only have to imagine what amount of  resources now accrue monthly to Kano and Jigawa states from the federation account, vis a vis Lagos State with 20 LGA’s.

Of our three epigraphs, the one that most interrogates our question is the last one.

It is a quote that has suffused every harangue of the Fulani Nationality Movement whenever it wants to show Nigerians how very powerful, and above the law it is  even when the subject matter is to arrogantly  tell us that they instigated some horrendous killings as we saw in Benue and Plateau states.

Given how often they have said this, you would think that, like Dr Obadiah Mailafia, they would be in, and out, of the office of either the Inspector – General of Police, or that of the Director – General of the DSS but not once, can I remember,  that any official of FUNAM has been invited  for questioning  by any Nigerian law enforcement agency .

Indeed, they did far worse and, absolutely,   in your face.. For instance, below was how they crafted their battle order during the Covid-19 lockdown when interstate travels were specifically banned by the Federal Government  but law enforcement agencies simply closed their eyes as all manner of Northerners, in waves after waves, were being ferried in  trucks into Southern forests: “We have asked all Fulani across West Africa to raise money and arms to prosecute the oncoming war. We call on all Fulanis to prepare for this Holy War. There is no going back. All over the world, Nigeria is the only country given to Fulani by Allah” ”We urge the Northern youths to resist, by all means necessary, any attempt to send them back by Southern Governors. We see the actions of these Governors and their agents as provocative and a devious assault on free movement of persons contained in the Nigerian Constitution and the

ECOWAS Protocol on movement of goods and persons. We declare any State that refuses to allow Northern youths to Southern States as an enemy that we promise will be fought vigorously. We urge you, faithful men, not to cringe, not to fear, not to look back. The battle is better fought on their homeland. We inform you that we your leaders held meetings across the key Northern States of Sokoto, Bornu, Katsina, Kano, Yobe, Kebbi, Bauchi and Kaduna. Our resolve is that Northern youths should move enmasse to Southern States. Relaunch the mass movement in ways they have never seen. Go in long convoys. If you are stopped, use all means, the bush path, the railways and all. If the towns and cities are hostile, hang out on the street corners, in uncompleted buildings, occupy the forests, pitch tents, make any where available as your abode, your rest places, your home. WE URGE YOU TO BE ARMED. The infidels may want to attack you. It will be disastrous to ever assume there will be no battle at all, before we regain the lost caliphae”.

Now I ask, if you are President Muhammadu Buhari, a highly regarded Fulani leader, wont you like to play a ‘Moses’ for your people? Wont you like them to luxuriate more in such freedom  or  would you do anything to negatively impact that unrestrained freedom to say or do whatever it is they like?

Knowing what  effect restructuring  would have on these freedoms, seemingly guaranteed in today’s status quo in Nigeria, inclusive of Fulani herdsmen’s  presumed freedom  to carry  AK 47  anywhere in the country, one should see very clearly why the president is not enamoured with  restructuring.

What then is restructuring?

According to Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Director of Publicity, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) who has been quoted severally on the subject, restructuring means nothing more than  “a  concerted effort at fixing what is not working in Nigeria”. Said Baba – Ahmed: “We believe it has to be fixed by all Nigerians on the basis of respect, and understanding of what (would) work for all. We are willing to engage anybody, anywhere and at anytime, to discuss the issue, stressing that the situation should be well analysed and approached with the best interest of all Nigerians. “Let us put Nigeria on the table and find out what is not working for all Nigerians, I think that is the way to go,” he concluded.

One of those things not working in Nigeria today is the existential problem Fulani herdsmen , both native and foreign, have become in all parts of Nigeria but to stop that is also to put a final full stop to all attempts at land grabbing which  we all know is intended  to achieve the long promised “deeping of  the Quran in the Atlantic ocean”.

Obviously not many Fulani leaders, least of them President Muhammadu Buhari, the highly respected, much storied, even deified, Fulani leader, would like to go down in history as the man who did that.

I appreciate president Buhari taking his Fulani roots so much to heart. After all, I think I read, or heard of  the Avatar, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, saying  somewhere that he was first, and  foremost,  a Yoruba before becoming a Nigerian but even Nigerians not born when he was on this side of the divide, but only read about him, know only too well that he could only have ruled Nigeria with justice and equity to all.

I therefore conclude this piece with the immortal words of one of Nigerians most elegant and interesting politicians, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, when  in May, 2015 he  led a delegation of the Northern Leaders Forum to congratulate President Buhari on his election.

Said he:” It can never be too late to start to rule with fairness and justice”: ”It is the same Buhari that gave this country a sense of direction when he was a military leader. This time, I’m sure, Allah has brought him to correct the ills of the past, to reform. But sir, it is easy – and you know it was easy while you were there as a military leader – and with justice, you can rule Nigeria well. Justice, is the key. If you do justice to all and sundry –  and I say all and sundry – because Allah says if you are going to judge between people, do justice, irrespective of their tribe, religion or even political inclination; justice must be done to whosoever deserves it. Power can remain in the hands of an infidel if he is just and fair. But power will not remain in the hands of a believer if he is unfair and unjust. Behind EVERY CRISIS anywhere in the world is INJUSTICE and the solution to that crisis is JUSTICE.’

(Source- The Nation)

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