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Features

Nigeria: Finding answers beyond Kano bus bombing

Osita Ebiem

2013-05-01, Issue 628

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/87220

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Nigeria is unworkable as one nation-state because of intractable internal ethnic rivalries and the deeply rooted determination of the north to Islamise everyone.

KANO AS AN ANCIENT TRADING CITY

Kano as an important commercial city in Nigeria’s Islamic North also serves as gateway to some of Nigeria’s northern neighbours. Countries like Niger, Chad and beyond have for centuries shared with the city lucrative business relationships. In the course of this time the people have established many trade routes across this harsh environment of the Sahara. The routes run from Kano and extend all the way to the northernmost parts of North Africa to places like Sudan, Libya, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula. Some few hundred years back Arabian Islam penetrated the city and its surrounding areas through these trading routes and replaced the once glorious indigenous NOK Culture that flourished throughout most of what is today’s Northern Nigeria and further south to the valleys and highlands of the Benue-Plateau region. With the ease and continuous cultural infiltration of these parts by the Arabs (Fulani) the city and other parts of northern Nigeria have always been heavily influenced by events and some of the most violent doctrines coming out of the Islamic lands of the Middle East.

It is therefore not surprising that Kano, since the recent worldwide revival of violent expansionist Islam and its spread through the holy jihad, is at the forefront of the campaign. Kano boasts several wealthy, powerful and influential Muslim individuals and families in Northern Nigeria. Names like Dantata, Isiaku Rabiu, Chachangi, the ruling families such as Bayeros and Sanusis, a host of both serving and retired military generals and the nouveau riche Dangote, are good examples. These noted multi-millionaires are known to be very generous donors to Islamic causes. It is also interesting to note that accusing fingers have often been pointed in the direction of these powerful individuals, insisting that on many occasions their donations have been channelled, with the complicit knowledge of these donors, into footing the bills of the various jihads carried out by the Islamic fundamentalists to cleanse the North of Nigeria of what they term ‘infidel-pollutants of the religion’.

DEMYSTIFYING THE FEMME FATALE QUALITY OF ONE NIGERIA OVER IGBO PEOPLE

In the last six to seven decades Kano and its neighbouring areas have remained one of the most dangerous hotspots of Islamic jihadist fundamentalists the south of Saharan Africa. As far as anyone can remember, even predating the colonial time, Kano and the other parts of northern Nigeria have strived to maintain pure Islam through the cleansing of the land of persons that they consider polluting agents of the religion – non-believers in Islam. However, one important paradox that Kano and most of the other parts of Nigeria other than the Southeast hold on especially the people from Southeast is the quality of being fatally repulsive and irresistibly attractive at the same time; something akin to the femme fatale lore. On the surface when anyone tries rationalizing this seemingly simple logic they are tempted to posit that when a people have been rejected by others then they should be able to retreat to their own home place where they can live among themselves without the fear of being completely annihilated by their neighbours. But as we shall see in the course of this discussion this femme fatale appeal of Nigerian parts other than the Southeast region is not an accident but pure administrative/political design of the federal government of Nigeria and its allies.

Igbo people and other Southeastern peoples of Nigeria who are largely Christians, Animists or Traditional African Religionists, have always been attracted in large numbers to Kano and places outside their own because of the city’s and others’ substantially lucrative commercial activities. Because Igbo people are the dominant migrants and typically represent what the Northerners consider the infidels, Igbo people therefore are always the worst hit when such Islamic jihads get carried out. Usually very large numbers of Igbo population of children, their parents, uncles and aunts get killed by the jihadists whenever there are any terrorist explosions. Only recently, in 2012 it was reported that as many as three million Igbo people who were anxious to get out and return to their ancestral home in the Southeast were stranded in Kano in the heat of one of the several jihadists’ onslaughts against non-indigenes and non-believers in Islam.

Like we have explained, Kano is not the only part of Nigeria other than their native homeland that has held this massive migratory attraction to Igbo people and their fellow Southeasterners in spite of the atrocious and unjustifiable hatred, persecution and death they receive from their host communities. And the simple argument has always been, why anyone would continue to embrace and go back again and again to those that hate and harm them? The question does sound quite logical at a superficial level. But when this fatalistic behaviour is considered in the light of what Karl Marx, the 19th century German philosopher, calls ‘economic determinism’ then it becomes easier to at least rationalize it with some sort of ‘excusable understanding’. In practical terms it is believed, based on Marx’s logic, that the state of one’s economic situation will decide to a very large extent the decisions and actions the people will take. And this seems to be the case with Igbo people and others who are inexcusably paying with their lives for the sustenance of a hopeless one-Nigeria.

DEFEAT IN WAR AND PUNISHMENT OF THE LOSER BY THE WINNER

Since the end of the war, Biafra-Nigeria war, it has not been hidden to impartial observers that there are deliberate official policies to marginalize and under-develop the Southeast by the federal government of Nigeria. Ironically and it might sound absurd, but the marginalization policy can be said to be quite ‘understandable’ anyway. After all, Biafra was defeated and the natural tendency is usually for the victor to punish the loser for their assumed ‘crime’ and in the case of Biafrans, their ‘crime’ is the effort at self-determination and fight for survival in the face of real and imminent threat to their very existence as a people. So, given this truth about what obtains in real life situations the reader may not blame the oppressor (Nigeria) as much as they should blame the victim (Biafra). The truth is that even though the Biafrans had been defeated and ‘reabsorbed’ into the Nigerian country, Biafrans should have immediately after the war embarked on the Plan B of still working to extricate themselves and the future of their children from the hopelessness of the one-Nigerian cage without waiting as long as they have waited - if they had genuinely believed in (from all indications they did and still do) what they fought for: Freedom, self-determination and survival. (The reader needs also be reminded that Biafrans lost 3.1 million or a third of their total population in the process of that war). History is replete with many wars and defeats for any Biafran to have been so naively complacent after the war. Once the war for self-determination has begun it does not stop until the people are free. South Sudan is a recent example.

Usually after a war, it does not matter how anyone looks at it but it is never left entirely to individuals of such victimized people through uncoordinated actions to device a comprehensive line of action on defeating the aggressor and eventually freeing themselves and the destiny of their children. It is always the responsibility of the leaders of the people who must on the behalf of the people make all embracive, future-oriented and binding decisions in a situation like this. In the case of Biafrans their political, intellectual and business leaders must device very practical means through which they can secure and better themselves and the future of their children, in a future that does not involve their continued membership of the Nigerian union.

STILL ON THE DEATHLY ATTRACTION OF NIGERIA TO IGBO PEOPLE

Nigeria’s economy entirely depends on federal government spending and investments. The federal government spends little or nothing in the Southeast of the country consequently rendering the economy of the place impoverished and near impossible to eke out any appreciable living there. Hence the people are forced go to where the money is spent even when they know that it would eventually lead to their death as a result of the fundamental and irreconcilable religious, ethnic and cultural differences that exist between them and their host communities. And one major factor that exacerbates the situation is the fact that Southeastern leaders have continued to remind and even encourage their people to assert themselves as citizens wherever they find themselves in Nigeria and that the country belongs equally to all of them (a position that is in real terms false and a dishonest misleading of their people, anyway). As plausible and macho as this argument may sound, looking at it more closely reveals some kind of naivety, negligence, recklessness, even irresponsibility in a leadership that should be in charge of a people’s destiny.

If there is anyone who understands how the Nigerian state works and sincerely believes in citizens laying claim to belonging anywhere in the country they find themselves in, then one can only marvel at how such a person can be so ignorant still. And for any Igbo or Southeasterners who simply repeat such nonsense, aping certain people they consider as examples or knowledgeable who are dishonestly mouthing the toxin, one can only but sympathize with them. They can only be described as a bunch of blindfolded lot who are being led as sheep to the slaughterhouse of one-Nigeria. The bottom line is that after these many years and numerous unjustifiable genocides against them by the same people, any Southeasterner who still believes in the viability of one-Nigeria and with him as part of it is either a mere wishful thinker or just a madman. However in a matter like this, as we have already said, it should be recognized that it is the leaders who should give the people they lead the sense of direction even if not a directive. But at this stage in Igbo people’s ordeal in their continued existence within Nigeria they even need to be given directives by their leaders on how and when (of course now) they should leave Nigeria and become free. Igbo leaders must make statements that will give the people a sense of what to do. By their words and deeds the leaders need to assure their people that their interests are considered and efforts are being made by their leaders to meet the people’s expectations.

A CONTINUING TRADITION: BOKO HARAM AS OLD WINE WITH A NEW NAME

Readers need to be reminded here that the current Islamic terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Ansaru are merely current manifestations by different names of the same fundamental jihadists that have pervaded the different epochs of Nigeria’s North and have remained active since the pre-, during and post-colonial eras. And with this being the case it remains the wildest and most demented dream of any Southeasterner to continue to hold on to a belief in any one-Nigeria. Dreaming under this sort of circumstance can only reveal a few unpleasant things about the dreamer: Stupidity, foolhardiness, mental laziness or mental retardation. As terrible as such dreaming is, yet honest commentators have always agreed that the most incredible and worst injustice and disservice to and indeed a crime against the Igbo ethnic people and others in the Southeast are those people who preach and dishonestly tell the people that incremental change over hundreds of years and evolution of good leadership will eventually fix one-Nigeria. Such people preach patience even in the face of certain death for them and their children. (Fair enough, most of those advocating for waiting for one-Nigeria are mostly those who consider themselves to have become immune to the destructive effects of the hopeless contraption either through wealth acquisition, attainment of certain power and position or emigration to safer shores). But the truth, as credible thinkers on the matter will tell you, is that the fundamental structure of one-Nigeria makes it impossible for any positive and progressive change to ever happen in it, not in the next one thousand years. People with this view insist that not even the most moderate leadership or anything that looks like it will ever emerge in Nigeria as it is presently constituted. In the opinion of those with this position, anyone who advocates for the Igbo and other Southeasterners to anticipate and hang their hope and destiny and those of their children in the emergence of good leadership that will end the hatred and genocides against them in one Nigeria is extremely selfish, dishonest and morally bankrupt.

THE EXPANSIONIST CAMPAIGNS OF SOKOTO CALIPHATE

‘The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman 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 future’ – Ahmadu Bello was the Sultan of Sokoto and the first Premier of Northern Region. (Reported by Parrot Newspaper, 12th October, 1960, recalled by Nigerian Tribune, 13th November, 2002)

'’We do not want, sir, our Southern neighbours to interfere in our development. I should like to make it clear to you that if the British quitted Nigeria now at this stage, the Northern people would continue their interrupted conquest to the sea'. This was said in 1947 by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on the floor of Northern Nigeria House of Assembly. Balewa would later become the first Prime Minister of Nigeria on independence in 1960.

The statements above have remained the guiding script from which the ruling oligarchy of the Islamic North of Nigeria has read to make decisions and determine their dealings with the peoples of the South. The thoughts and actions of the two men are to the Islamic North of Nigeria politicians what Nicolo Machiavelli’s writing is to the Western politicians. The two men are regarded as the unquestionable founders of the modern politics of Northern Nigeria.

Although Kano had always been an influential Islamic centre with old and reputed Koranic schools and mosques, the city and much of what is today known as the Islamic North of Nigeria came under the conquest of Uthman dan Fodio of the so-called Sokoto Caliphate. In the dying days of the 19th century just before the arrival on the scene of the British colonialists, Fodio had embarked on an elaborate and ambitious expansionist Islamic campaigns or jihads with the aim of conquering and unifying the entire Islamic North of Nigeria under the sultan in Sokoto. It has often been said in certain quarters (with some kind of gratitude in their voice) that but for the interruption of the British, Uthman dan Fodio had intended to extend his jihadist campaigns (forceful conversion of non-believers to Islam) southwards to the Atlantic. Some others have argued that the born-to-rule stance of the Islamic North stems from some hardliners who still believe in the supremacy of the caliphate and still nurse the ambition to resume the conquest southwards and dip both the jihad sword and Koran in the Atlantic.

Ultimately, the goal of Northern Islamists is to finally conquer for Islam what is today known as Nigeria and establish an influence that covers 80 to 90 percent of the regions south of the Sahara. This aim is in keeping with the so-called global Islam goal, which is to conquer the entire world and subject all people on Earth to the Islamic sharia (and the long dark night will finally fall, as one analyst once responded during a discussion along that line). Boko Haram is said to be a local part of the extensive global network of swordsmen (more appropriately in today’s parlance, gunmen and bomb squads) of this international caliphate’s or sultanate’s mandate – to conquer and subdue the entire Nigeria for Islam. Those who have followed closely the activities and utterances of the Emir of Sokoto who is also the caliph or sultan, will find it hard to dispute this line of argument.

Muslims of Northern Nigeria have always had a clear picture of this grand design and have been careful and uncompromising in this pursuit to maintain religious, ethnic and cultural supremacy over the rest of the peoples in Nigeria. For example, though a large percentage of the Yoruba people in the South are Muslims, the Northern Muslims have not accepted them as pure enough to be trusted to carry out the global Islam mandate. Yoruba Muslims still appear to be tolerant of their kith and kin who believe in other religions and this does not sit well with their Northern counterparts. Hence the average Hausa/Fulani Northern Muslim would not let any Yoruba Muslim lead the prayer in a mosque where they are present, even if Yoruba Muslims are in a majority. Sometimes the loathing and disdain is so severe that they (Northern Muslims) would not attend the same mosque with Yoruba Muslims. This ethnical discrimination, disdain and distrust could not have been better demonstrated than in June 1993 when Moshood Abiola’s presidential election was annulled by the incumbent President Ibrahim Babangida, a Hausa Muslim. Abiola was a Yoruba Muslim who even though he had a Northern Muslim as his running mate, the North would not trust him enough to let him win the election. The Northern doctrine is all or everything and cannot bear to see others ahead of them in Nigeria. The incumbent President Jonathan’s administration is under heavy and unwarranted attack from the North through its Boko Haram machinery as a result. It is clear from this and several other incidents that the fundamental problem of one-Nigeria is religious and ethnic intolerance and bigotry and the continued existence of one-Nigeria remains a mirage and a complete waste of time.

Sa'adu Abubakar, the Sokoto emir or sultan, has variously been reported to be the spiritual head of the group Jamā'a Ahl al-sunnah li-da'wa wa al-jihād which is said to be the parent body of Boko Haram (boko is Hausa word for book and haram is Arabic for unclean or forbidden. In this case Western books, education or way of life is haram, unclean or forbidden). The emir has remained a fierce defender of all the actions and confessed positions of the group Boko Haram. He has gone around the world, including to some prestigious academic institutions like Harvard University in the United States, Oxford University in Britain and other places, to present papers in defense of Boko Haram. In each of his papers he insists that poverty and poor political leadership of Nigeria’s federal government is responsible for the emergence of Boko Haram. After many years so much destruction and killings of whole families and sacking of whole villages by Boko Haram Northern elders as a body is calling for the federal government to extend amnesty to the group. Sa’adu Abubakar, the emir, is at the forefront of those calling on the federal government to grant amnesty to the group. These calls are actually working; even the embassy of the United States in Nigeria seems to have become converted to this position of a blanket amnesty for Boko Haram.

Interestingly, perhaps in mockery of this absurd move since the federal government has formed a committee to initiate discussions and explore means to reach agreement with the group on the terms of the amnesty, it is reported that a group of 5,000 criminals in the South are also demanding for amnesty from the government. Of course all these are coming on the heels of the recent controversial pardon of some convicted political and economic criminals by the Nigerian President.

GLOBAL ISLAM MANDATE IN THE WEST AFRICAN SUB-REGION

In an attempt to connect some recent major events in the West African sub-region it may be necessary to mention that apart from Nigeria’s Boko Haram’s proven link with the global al Qaeda network, those in North Africa, AQIM (al Qaeda in the Maghreb), the dreadful Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Taliban groups of Pakistan and Afghanistan it may interest the reader to note that the group’s confessed program of forcefully Islamizing Nigeria is far from spontaneous or a disconnected isolated event. Watching events closely as they unfold across the West African sub-region some observers have often pointed at many successes of political Islam in the recent time in the region. Some skeptics have dismissed the claim that the various events are part of the grand design and campaign of the international political Islam. They believe such claims are mere speculation over which no one should lose any sleep. Yet, as evidence of their claims the supporters of the grand design view would sometimes ask their critics to take a look at the persons filling up strategic positions in the various countries in the region.

They cite the apex banks in some of these countries as a good example. They claim that the people heading such places are usually radicalized Muslims. Another event that this group claims illustrates their view of the global political Islam game plan in the region is the 2011 election dispute in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). It is believed that the Muslim world subtly rallied United Nation’s troop and France equally went along with the scheme to use military force and oust Laurent Gbagbo, a Christian, in favor of Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim, even after the Supreme Court of that country had declared Gbagbo as the winner. For nearly ten years Ivory Coast was a de facto divided country, between South (Christian) and North (Muslim). These, after all, are two distinctly different peoples only forced into an imaginary one-country by France, the former colonial rulers. With all the unnecessary ethnic/religious tensions and killings going on there it will make a lot more sense to return the country to the split status and let it evolve into two separate independent countries so that the friction will cease and the place can experience some progress. With the present heightened activities of political Islam in the region as explained, progress will be hard pressed to come by in the present forced ‘unity’ of Ivory Coast.

It also needs to be pointed out that at a point in the recent past under the leadership of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Ivory Coast was the most progressive and best run country in West Africa. What changed everything? Some, in trying to answer that question, believe that the downward trend set in when the political class began to balance and distribute positions of government and administration along ethnic/religious lines rather than through qualification and ability. They cite as evidence Nigeria’s ‘federal character’ practice where competence, skill and merit are sacrificed in order to represent all the rival ethnic groups in all official positions. The emphasis here is on the word rivalry rather than competition.

Mali was recently overrun by militant Islamists, who subsequently carved out the northern part as an independent sharia state. After almost a year the area remains under the siege by radical Islam while the combined military forces of France and a coalition of those of some countries in the sub-region are battling to dislodge them.

ACCEPTING ONE-NIGERIA IS COLLECTIVE SUICIDE FOR IGBO

In the opinion of many serious observers of these obvious impudent and bigoted political/religious moves of the Islamic North of Nigeria, Igbo people and other Southeasterners are actually being suicidal when any of them still maintain any faith in one-Nigeria. People in this school of thought have often doubted the sanity of any Igbo person or Southeasterner who believes that they can belong in one-Nigeria and still preserve their own unique culture, ethnic dignity and identity. (Some people even say that Igbo people and others are risking their very human dignity by continuing any one minute more in one-Nigeria. They think that Islam is notorious in abusing many basic rights of modern humanity especially those of women).

Since record keeping of such events began, evidence abounds that tends to suggest that whenever there is any political misunderstanding in Nigeria which may not have any direct link with the Igbo, like in 1953 during the British colonial rule, Igbo people are always made the escape goat. In that year the Islamic fundamentalists in Kano mobilized the local population and effectively carried out the ethnic/religious cleansing of many thousands of Igbo people and other Southeasterners and no one has ever been punished for that crime and others like it. The 1953 ethnic/religious cleansing of Igbo and others in Kano had been preceded by the 1945 genocide, ethnic/religious cleansing of Igbo people too, in Jos (another Northern city). In post-colonial Nigeria, just six years into independence, these atrocious incidents of Islamic terrorism of the colonial time would eventually culminate in the worst heinous pogroms/genocides that Africa has ever witnessed. Of more than a hundred thousand of Igbo and other Southeastern civilians who were murdered all over Nigeria, tens of thousands of them who would later be known as Biafrans were murdered in Kano and across the entire landscape of Nigeria by the same jihadists and Muslim puritans during the 1966 pogrom/genocide. It was these massacres that would lead to the Biafra-Nigeria war of 1967 to 1970.

With the unprecedented and unrestricted combined support of Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Britain, the then Soviet Union, Egypt, the Arab League of Nations, U Thant’s United Nations Organization (now United Nations) and Nigeria, the right and just effort of Biafrans at self-determination in the 1960s was defeated. From 1970 till date, 43 years after, the same jihadist’s pattern of killing Igbo people remains. It only appears with different names. Unremittingly, Kano has served as the graveyard of Igbo people and other Southeasterners and that has included a maternal cousin of mine, Akubilo, who was beheaded by the Islamists in that city during one of the Islamic riots. My aunt, his mother, collapsed in shock on hearing the news and died of heart failure.

BOMBING OF IGBO PEOPLE’S BUSES IN KANO

The recent multiple suicide bombing of Igbo people’s transport buses in Kano by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram and the reactions of various representative groups and individuals to the inhuman destruction of lives and property are very instructive. By the end of the day the entire incident, as dastardly as it was, became intentionally muddled and muffled in a muggy and mucky dust of confusion. Though it had been a severe, big event which happened in the open, through political doublespeak and with concerted effort by the northern politicians, it got so downplayed with controversy deliberately thrown in. The scheme worked: the victims finally started doubting if the event actually occurred. Achieving that state of self-doubt in the victim has always been the hallmark and political gerrymandering technique of Nigerian political class, the Northern politicians that is. It has always worked for them. The simple but effective method is to sufficiently cow the victim so that they can only think and believe in what they are told to think and believe in. This method is said to have also worked successfully on Nigeria’s current president, Goodluck Jonathan. It is said that the President has also been cowed and now he is in the process of giving amnesty to Boko Haram and all other terror groups between. The method works, politics of lies and intimidation. The other method that works quite as well which Nigerian authorities have always employed is to come out with ridiculous and brazen lies for explanations of incidents and repeat them again and again. The people first start by laughing at the ridiculous childish or stupid explanation that the government could come up with. But after several emphatic repetitions the people begin to doubt their own ability to tell between what is true and what a lie is. Then with more repetitions the people begin to believe the lies. And the government wins.

On March 18, 2013 it was reported that five commercial buses belonging to Igbo businessmen were destroyed by Islamic terrorist bombing in a Kano motor park. Boko Haram has since claimed responsibility for the bombs. Eye witnesses counted about three explosions. The cost of each bus is put at a hundred thousand dollars. The bombing took place at the peak period in the day when the transporters handled the most passengers. It is said that at the time of the explosions most of the buses destroyed were already full. Each bus had the capacity of seating 52 adults not counting children and standing passengers and crews; those usually referred to as ‘attachments’. Drivers of the buses are notorious for overloading the buses with more people standing or sitting on improvised and uncomfortable attached seats than those sitting on the manufacturer’s fitted seats. Social and political critic and musician, Fela Kuti of the Afrobeat fame, put it in a more picturesque language in one of his songs where he said that in typical Nigerian transport buses, 49 would sit while 99 stood. The passengers in the destroyed buses were bound for southern destinations like Onitsha and Lagos.

By some standards this attack is considered to be different: A direct attack of Igbo business people’s business as a collective. The five buses did not belong to only one person. Igbo people have been killed and their businesses destroyed by the Islamists before but not in this manner. It is therefore expected that the owners of these transportation businesses should come together, pull resources and ideas together and respond collectively. In a different society, a civil society, the right place for them to turn to for protection, redress and even restitution would be the government. But one-Nigeria is the philosopher’s society: Brutish. One-Nigeria is a society in perfect disorder. In it, it is illegal to be law-abiding. The transporters cannot expect the government to help them; they should find ways to help themselves. They cannot justifiably complain of lack of funds to acquire equipment and recruit men and women for their self and property defense. Every one of their people, with the transporters on the lead, should be tasked to raise enough money to mobilize against their attackers. While they do this their eyes should be on finding a permanent solution to the problem. That permanent solution is in Igbo business people mobilizing along with their politicians and intellectuals to establish a homeland: An independent and sovereign state of their own, separate from Nigeria. That is the only option that makes any sense.

An Igbo adage says that it is only trees that would not try to escape by running away after they had been warned that they would be killed. Based on this some have argued that if the Igbo and other Southeasterners have always been so killed by the Islamists then why do they have to remain in the dangerous places or even return after an intermission in the unending ethnic/religious cleansings in the Islamic North of Nigeria? The answer is found in the fact that Nigerian government has always maintained the culture of deceit and lies. Biafra-Nigeria war was fought under the slogan of ‘to keep Nigeria one’ yet nearly 50 years after, Nigeria has become more divided than ever. Igbo people and other Southeasterners go back to these certain death spots because different incongruent peoples who are intolerant of one another as fellow citizens are still being forced to remain in one impossible country. We will still get back to this point.

WHO IS THE TARGET OF BOKO HARAM ATTACKS?

Some days after the bombing, Kano state’s government version of the story had it that Igbo people were not the target in the bombing. In furtherance of the argument the state governor also said that more Hausa or Muslims died in the explosion than Igbo (Christians). The answer to one question that easily comes to mind in consideration of the state government’s explanations is quite revealing: If the incident had happened in a civil society, if the government of Kano State is so sure that Igbo (Christian) people were not the intended target, how could they have been so sure? Let us, at the pain of descending so low to ‘Nigeria’s gutter level’ of dishonesty and lies, pretend to be dumb for one brief second and accept that Igbo (Christians) were not the target in this motor park bombs. Having accepted such a lie then we must accept that Igbo (Christians) were also not the targets in the various church and other Christian worship centers that had been bombed in the past across Nigeria’s Islamic North. Still going along with this line of warped reasoning we can also accept that Biafrans, Igbo babies and women (Christians) were not the targets between 1967 and 1970 when Egyptian-Nigerian pilots flying so low in British and Russian war planes bombed civilian targets during the Biafra-Nigeria war. You see, that is how a web of lies works, you must tell more to cover up ones already told.

BE THE JUDGE

At this point we will try to paint a picture of what happened in Kano and leave the reader to draw their own conclusions. The bombing took place in the bus station usually patronized almost exclusively by the Igbo (Christians) people and in the part of Kano, as in other Northern Nigerian cities, usually reserved for strangers, visitors, non-Muslims, infidels or foreigners (Sabon Gari), and Igbo people are usually the dominant residents of such neighbourhoods. The buses usually travel from Kano (and other parts of the North of Nigeria) to the South – transporting the traders who go down to buy their business wares. In Nigeria among all the ethnic groups, the one that dominates the petty trading business are the Igbo (Christians) and logically they should be the ones who would make up the bulk of the bus patrons at such bus parks at any given time. There are usually hawkers of various wares such as water, soda, peanuts, food of all kinds and because of the type of the bus patrons it is also logical that those that sell these items would be the people who understand the needs of the people they serve. And those who would best understand their customers would be those who come from the same ethnic group as the usual majority of the bus passengers. From all the reports it is these hawkers, the usual bus passengers and crews that perished in the blasts. All the drivers and crews are also usually, without exception Igbo people or other people from the Southeast. Another thing that is not in contest is that the entire buses destroyed belonged to Igbo people.

IDENTIFYING NIGERIA’S PROBLEM

Reprisals have always been argued against and rightly so as the solution to the killings of Igbo (Christian) people who live in the other parts of Nigeria other than their original home places. One reason some people give for opposing reprisals is that the federal government of Nigeria should deal responsibly and decisively with Islamic terrorism within its boundary. In the context of the modern world this is the practical rather than idealistic approach to the problem of Islamic terrorism. But for this solution to work in this context it can only be executed through existing or the creation of new and effective institutions while being enforced by men and women of character and integrity. In Nigeria, as many watchers already know, such institutions have always been there and a large amount of money is always voted for their operations. Nigeria’s security vote is put at about one trillion naira. This is a chunk percentage (nearly a quarter) of the annual federal budget of the country. Yet the problem of insecurity and terrorism persists. Consequently, this has led serious political analysts of Nigeria’s problem to fault several other ‘findings and solutions’ advanced so far in solving Nigeria’s problem.

Alternatively the analysts have advanced what they consider to be a better option and a permanent solution to Nigeria’s problem. One point they emphasize that must be taken seriously is the fact that poor political leadership, corruption and poverty as bad as they actually are, are not anywhere near the problem of the Nigerian country. If that is true, and there is every evidence that it is, then to honestly solve Nigeria’s problem, the fundamental problem should be identified first then the people (leaders and everyone) must exhibit the will and boldness to tackle the identified problem without compromise or half measures. A permanent solution that is void of any emotional and infantile middle ground is the only sensible solution for one-Nigeria.

It is the general consensus among all honest thinkers on the Nigerian problem that it is not the absence of constitutions, laws and statutes but lack of effective institutions that is wrong with Nigeria. Nigeria has its police force, army, Economic and Finance Crime Commission, EFCC, Joint Task Forces specially organized to counter insurgencies and terrorism, etc. But the general rule is that these institutions have always failed. Every institution that can ever be conceived in Nigeria is bound to become ineffective and ultimately fail because of the underlining realities of diverse ethnic allegiances. The question that should concern all sincere and honest thinkers on the problem is what weakens the institutions? The conclusion of all competent and bold analysts of the situation is that the reason for the failure of all institutions in Nigeria, which ultimately has earned the country its failed state status, is because the country is structurally faulty.

The merging into one of all the incongruent and irreconcilable ethnicities in one-Nigeria is the problem of Nigeria. The recommended solution by all honest and sincere pundits is: Re-separate these different and diverse ethnic nations as they were before the advent of the British colonialists and the problems of poverty, political corruption, bad leadership, insurgency, Islamic intolerance and terrorism will disappear from Nigeria. There is deep-rooted hatred, bigotry, rivalry, distrust and intolerance among all the ethnic peoples being forced to exist in one Nigeria. The presence of these negative traits in a supposedly one society creates an intolerable level of friction that can never allow such society to function and succeed.

For Igbo people and the other Southeasterners who are the usual victims of one-Nigeria it should not be difficult to know that this Nigeria is a very long dark night that no sane person should ever consider waiting out for another five hundred years. The long, ominous and darkening shadow of global sultanate with powerful talons in its many tentacles is cast from beyond the borders of Nigeria. This is the mighty force or beast contending for the soul of one-Nigeria and all the resources (human and material) of the country even if miraculously managed well cannot defeat this monster. A wise move by a sane people will only be to remove themselves from the way of this monstrous train that packs the terrible and destructive wind of a hurricane with it. Igbo people and everyone else that cares should just go away from this death path and erect for their protection an impregnable barrier with a barring curtain of national independent sovereignty against this menacing train. This move is urgent and it is for the sake of their children. Any contrary admonition from anyone no matter how well-intentioned is dishonest and wrong and should be discarded.

The haunting simple questions that should be answered by anyone who still supports the continued existence of one-Nigeria are: How many more genocides of babies and their mothers will it take for Nigeria to be divided? How many more genocides and ethnic/religious cleansing does Boko Haram need to commit before their rightly deserved Islamic state is granted to them and others in the checkered Nigerian country are set free to start living a dignified human existence in their own respective ancestral native countries?

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