Exactly two years ago, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), formed by various professionals, women, youths, students and civil society groups, took a bold but necessary step to draw national attention to the emerging trends in the country that were pregnant with complications and unforeseen consequences.
Similar communication was also addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the major foreign diplomatic missions represented in Nigeria, in which we warned of the unfolding developments in Nigeria in the form of a violent secessionist movement by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Our truly patriotic representations aimed to forestall an imminent drift toward anarchy and bloodshed, and also to alert the nation and the international community as to where responsibility would ultimately lie if such momentous and terrible events ever came to pass.
We specifically pointed out that the resurgence of separatist agitations at that time, represented a much wider conspiracy to divide Nigeria and in the process bring the North down on its knees by incapacitation and balkanization.
We also expressed concern that other agitations for “restructuring”, “true federalism” and “resource control” aim to gradually pave the way for the ultimate separation of the Nigerian union with the North unprepared.
Expectedly, instead of treating our submission as a warning from history which repeats itself once as a farce, and twice as a tragedy, a bankrupt section of the northern elite comprising some unscrupulous traditional rulers, professional political lobbyists, indecent businessmen, senile retired security personnel and some accidental state governors deliberately misrepresented that noble mission of ours.
This uncultured section of northern elite went to great pains to downplay that decent expression of patriotism and love of our country and fellow citizens.
VINDICATED BY EVENTS
- Recall that two years ago, we categorically suggested that the only approach to forestalling this nasty eventuality was a referendum to determine those who genuinely and willingly wish to remain Nigerians in its present composition so as to allow for a peaceful dissolution if need be, or a candid review of the terms of the union.
We are vindicated on this to the extent that within the said period, events have unfolded that involve the public unveiling of currencies, flags and other national insignia for a proposed Independent Oduduwa Republic by the people of the South-West which gave weight to the unceasing agitations for a Republic of Biafra by the South-East. The South-South has for long been agitating for the Republic of Niger Delta which leaves the North as the only region that has not advocated for the breakup of the country at the slightest of pretences.
- Recall that we also decried the impractical and unacceptable trend of certain Nigerian tribes being accorded the opportunity to enjoy more basic rights while other tribes are denied same. And as we appropriately foretold, the Fulani are today singled out for profiling and denied access to ordinary grazing lands and the right to thoroughfare in the South and are being hunted, expelled or slaughtered while southerners are comfortably hosted in northern cities and towns.
- Recall again that in his reaction to the Kaduna Declaration upon return from treatment abroad, President Muhammadu Buhari proclaimed that every Nigerian has the right to live and flourish in any part of the country without hindrance. But President Buhari and the other compromised northern leaders who were vocal against the Kaduna Declaration could not find their voices when today the Fulani are being maltreated and vilified in the South.
- For Mr President and northern leaders who were critical of the Kaduna Declaration to remain silent when the entire Fulani race is endangered regardless of the distinction that most Fulani are not cattle herders or that although most cattle herders in Nigeria are Fulani, there are others that are not; or that just because some herdsmen commit crimes must not make all cattle herders criminals, further vindicates our position.
- That the President and northern leaders are not bothered that the current purge in the South does not take into account that the vast majority of the Fulani – including those who are cattle herders – are peaceful everyday people with the same needs, anxieties and hopes as the rest of Nigerians is pathetic and a further confirmation that the northerner is an unprotected orphan in Nigeria.
- And for them to look a different way in the face of the current murderous act against the Fulani is a sealed confirmation of our prediction on the manifestation of gross inequity in a system that tends to solely protect a certain category of citizens and endanger others.
Sadly, the consciousness is eroding that for decades, different southern Nigerian tribes have been accommodated and tolerated in northern parts without discrimination, intimidation, harassment or endangering them, their families, their properties or their trades.
Notwithstanding testimonies to the notoriety of these settlers in the perpetration, commission, spread and promotion of various crimes and antisocial behaviours that pollute their host communities, these people who refuse to allow northern herders a little grazing space in their bushes, enjoy a comfortable monopoly of the total available activity in our region including dominance in federal and state universities, business and trade environment, financial services and landed property
Today everyone can see a clear pattern drawn from the strategies employed to achieve the results that the Coupists of the First Republic failed to realize, namely, claiming ascendancy over the North by downsizing its population through direct annihilation, political manipulation and economic incapacitation.
For too long, enemies of the North both foreign and local have worked strenuously to ensure that the region remains backward, divided, weak, confused and bewildered by myriads of challenges and problems so it cannot survive long in the event of a breakup.
This conspiracy has been perpetrated with the active connivance of some leaders from the North, accommodated by the cowardice of those that present themselves as northern political leaders today and feeds on the negligence and insincerely of the federal authorities.
Throughout the last four years, the administration of President Buhari had twisted and wobbled deceitfully around the visibly stewing security situation in northern Nigeria especially the herders and farmers conflict.
The administration had proposed several conflicting and ill-designed approaches to the issue which were apparently only meant to buy time and never to be implemented. As evidence of an agenda that has its root and pattern in history, the latest approach similar to the ones operated by the Taraba and Benue state governments that aim to curb the movement of the herders and forestall further clashes with farmers was inadvertently interpreted in ethnic terms by southern Nigerian jingoists in high places.
Instructively, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, the current Vice President, apparently obsessed by curious ethnic tendencies, and in a haste to reassure his tribal lords, quickly retracted by dissociating himself from the Ruga resettlement initiative announced by a government he is part of.
Thus the proposal, whether by error or by design, provided the Southern leaders the excuse to set their dogs of war against the Fulani communities domiciled in, or simply passing through, or grazing in the Southern bushes.
The stage for this scenario was systematically set by one-time President Olusegun Obasanjo who, weeks previously, flew the false kite of the existence of an agenda for the “Fulanization and Islamisation” of the country which was immediately orchestrated by the cultural and political leaderships of the three zones that constitute the defunct southern region.
Trouble-shooters like Femi Fani Kayode and his ilk typically saw it as an opportunity for the venting of their accumulated frustration and pent-up tribal and religious jealousies by inciting the southern people to arms for the ongoing carnage and mayhem against the Fulani.
This was encouraged by the persistent hate-filled utterances by various shades of southern leaders and fuelled by the equally venomous sermons by their priests.
The cleansing operation also derives inspiration and support from the damning remarks of their state governors who also emphatically denounce and reject every effort to share space with fellow Nigerian citizens of northern extraction.
Yet neither Buhari’s presidency nor our northern leaders could have the courage to see any element of hate in the war tunes constantly sounded and danced to by these warmongering southern elites the way they were quick to coin the phrase “hate speech” against us barely two years ago.
Having come this far, we restate our emphatic repudiation of the vilification of one ethnic and religious group or the other for whatever reason or justification and deem the targeting of the entire Fulani race for vilification, systematic dehumanization, profiling, alienation or any action that will render them object of attack and persecution, not only immoral and illegal, but also abhorrent to our sensibilities and ordinary decency.
Accordingly, we remind the nation that so long as the Fulani would not be allowed to enjoy their citizens’ right of living and flourishing in any part of this country including the South, no one should also expect us to allow any southerner to enjoy the same in northern Nigeria.
We find it odd that some northern political merchants who could not rise to condemn what is happening to their kith and kins and does not deserve to be taken seriously, were busy going round in a bid to sell the conscience of the northerner to Bola Tinubu by shamelessly waging a campaign for a fraudulent shift of power to the South-West in 2019.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Coalition of Northern Groups is hereby restating its resolve never to remain silent or passive and allow things that affect the North and potentially cause harm to any northerner to continue unchecked. We hereby find it necessary to declare the following stand on these issues of vital concern to the country and to the North in particular:
- While we warn all state governors that stand against the implementation of the Ruga initiative to desist and give peace a chance, we place President Buhari and the federal government on notice that they must act to halt and completely stop this raging madness within 30 days beginning from today, Wednesday July 3, 2019.
- The Nigerian security agencies are also placed on notice to check and bring under control the current unbridled inflammatory remarks by the southern leaders in the same manner they swiftly coined a tag of ‘hate speech’ around the Kaduna Declaration.
- We warn the elders, political and religious leaders of southern Nigeria to urgently halt the inciting remarks that provoke hate against the North, keeping in mind that no single person or group has the sole monopoly of unguarded remarks that instigate hatred.
- For the avoidance of doubt, we advise the federal authorities and the southern leaders to heed the 30-day notice failing which we would most definitely be left with no option than to consider resorting to our decisive line of action.
In conclusion, we urge all chapters of CNG, our affiliates and ordinary peace loving northerners to remain calm and resolute as we gauge the level of government’s readiness to act within the 30-day ultimatum.
We assure the northern population the CNG is committed to proving that the North’s reticence in speaking out or taking action is not born of fear or ignorance of how to respond in kind, but for our respect for humanity and deep commitment to peaceful coexistence.
We call on the northern youth and elders to uphold their heritage of respect by resisting the temptation to be provoked into engaging in unnecessary altercations with any individual or group as we expect a civilized ending to the current situation.
THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE