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Posts tagged ‘Yoruba’

A Government From Boko Haram By Emeka Asinugo.

By Emeka Asinugo

When, some months back, President Jonathan of Nigeria said that Boko Haram had penetrated his government and federal government agencies, he knew exactly what he was saying. He was right. In a way, the prolonged and mindless Boko Haram killings in the eastern parts of Northern Nigeria seem to be playing out that time-tested song by Jimmy Cliff titled ‘the harder they come, the harder they fall.’ The harder Boko Haram attacks come on the villages of Northern Nigeria, the harder Nigerian citizens of northern extract fall. The destructive presence of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria can only be compared with the merciless mission of the Janjaweed militia of Darfur.

What Nigerians need to know, at this point in time, is whether these attacks still have religious or political undertones or whether they have turned out to become pure brigandage. For, in these Northern villages which Boko Haram attacks with measured frequency, the people’s cattle, their foodstuff and even their beautiful young daughters are catered away by force, by unknown gunmen, to unknown destinations where, no doubt, the young damsels are subjected to sexual abuse. If this is not brigandage, what could possibly be? Come to think of it! What have foodstuff, cattle and pretty girls got to do with people who claim they want to establish a pure Islamic state, even in a country that embraces a secular and not religious constitution?

Some scholars have, as it were, posited that Boko Haram sect believes some members of a contaminated school of Muslim thought, in tandem with a highly corrupt cabal of Northern politicians, have succeeded in high jacking political dispensation in the Northern part of Nigeria. That is why they are determined to wrestle power from them. They want to see the North return to fundamental Islamic teaching and tradition.

It all sounds good and well.

But if that is their desire, why then are they are killing their own people? Why are they are spilling the blood of their own young and innocent children? Why are they are destroying their own innocent women? Why are they mowing down their own innocent men? What have those being killed got to do with the aspirations of Boko Haram? People no longer have homes in the villages Boko Haram has sacked. They are refugees in their own country, driven away from their homesteads by a mindless sect that claims to be working for their interest.

Boko Haram is the vampire that has kept sucking the blood of Northern Nigeria’s future generations. The sect members have continued to cut down on their own Northern population. They have continued to limit their voting power by reducing their own number. So, someone should tell me: what sort of government can possibly emerge from the rubbles of such recklessness?

Just think about it. This is a wake-up call. How can Boko Haram, if ever they succeed in becoming a government of their own people, dry the tears from the eyes of thousands of women they prematurely turned into widows, and the many more children they turned into orphans? How can they say ‘sorry’ to all those families they threw into grief or left in agony after they mowed down their breadwinner? With what face will they meet their subjects after the battle is fought and won?

If all this is part of the alleged plan to make governance difficult for President Jonathan, then honestly, people from that part of the country should have their heads examined. I am sorry: I am not being rude, but I am almost convinced that this group of rascals cannot possibly stand the ground against a united Northern elders’ forum which endorses government as a democratic dispensation and not a cabal of the rich and mighty shoving it down the throats of the weak and vulnerable.

Boko Haram has caused so much pain to so many families across the nation. They have killed the Yoruba. They have killed the Hausa and the Fulani. They have killed Christians. They have killed Muslims. They have killed students. They have killed people in the marketplace. They have killed people during events. They just don’t care who they kill. They go for vulnerable people in strategic places.

Now, assuming that tomorrow a Muslim northerner becomes President of Nigeria, will these mindless killings stop?

Maybe it will be good for Nigerians to know. It is obvious that any government emanating straight from the ashes of Boko Haram’s killings will either be an autocracy or another Taliban type of government which will enforce strict Islamic Laws that tend to deny women of their human rights – a government that will dry the women’s tears with fire, and not with handkerchiefs. Will a Northern President be able to placate the Boko Haram sect and bring their nefarious activities under control? In other words, can a Northern President heal the wounds inflicted by Boko Haram on so many families in the North and in the South?

Nigerians should learn from the history of their country – both ancient and contemporary history. When two-time Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was in power, Niger Delta people were agitating so much about being marginalized in the scheme of things in the country. The bulk of the oil which sustained the economy of the nation was coming from their land. And they were being neglected. Basic infrastructure was obsolete and in some cases, non-existent. No good roads. No clean drinking water. No affordable medical care. No standard schools. Electricity supply was epileptic. There was general poverty in the land. The oil companies which were exploring oil from the Delta Region were said to have turned a blind eye to all the suffering the people of the region were passing through. They were not doing much to alleviate the level of poverty that was eating deep into the communities that made up the Delta Region. In the midst of the excruciating poverty that was ravaging the region, their top officers and chief executives preferred to live in palatial mansions in the big cities wining and dining with Governors, walking tall on the corridors of power.

Overwhelmed by their circumstances, the people of the Delta Region began to make trouble. They kidnapped oil workers. They kidnapped indigenes. They kidnapped foreigners. They kidnapped members of the families of public office holders. They vandalized oil pipelines and oil installations. They stole crude oil and refined them in makeshift refineries within the creeks, far away from government’s scrutiny.

It was all telling on Chief Obasanjo as Head of State because he is a man who loves his country but who, from experience, knew how difficult it was to please every Nigerian at the same time from the Presidential Villa. Obasanjo thought out a plan.

He was convinced that a President coming from the Delta Region would be in a better position to sort out Delta people and bring relief to the country. So, he sponsored the late Musa Yar ‘Adua as President and Jonathan as Vice President under the auspices of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, which at the time was largest and the ruling party.

Jonathan had become Governor of Bayelsa State after his predecessor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, had been indicted for money laundering by a London court and was impeached by Bayelsa House of Assembly on that account. The elder brother of Governor Musa Yar ‘Adua, Major General Shehu Yar’ Adua, had been a successful businessman, soldier, and politician. His father was a former Minister for Lagos during the First Republic. Shehu trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England and participated in the Nigerian Civil War. He was Vice President of Nigeria when Olusegun Obasanjo was military Head of State from 1976 until 1979.

In 1995, the older Yar ‘Adua was sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal after he called on the military government of General Sani Abacha and his Provisional Ruling Council to re-establish civilian rule. Obasanjo was also imprisoned at the same time. Unfortunately, Shehu Yar ‘Adua died in prison two years later, on 8 December 1997. When eventually Obasanjo was released from prison, he wanted to see justice done to the family of the Yar’Aduas. So, he sponsored Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua, the younger brother of his late prison mate, Shehu, to be elected as President of Nigeria in 2007 while Goodluck Jonathan was Vice President.

Everybody knew that Musa Yar ‘Adua was a sick man. Twice, during his tenure as governor, he had gone for medical treatment abroad, which kept him away from work for several months at a time. But because he was loved, not only by his people from Northern Nigeria, but by almost every other Nigerian both from the East and the West, he didn’t have any problem getting back into his office on return.

Whether by accident or by design, the pressure of work killed Musa Yar ‘Adua after three and half years as President. Jonathan succeeded him in office.

But since Jonathan, a son of Delta Region, became President, the troubles in Delta State have not ended. No. Rather, they have escalated. The level of impunity has gone up. Members of the families of government officials are no longer safe. Even members of the family of the President himself are not safe. Recently, the step-father of President Jonathan was kidnapped right from his village home, and the kidnappers are asking for a ransom amount of N500 million (£2 million).

That level of impunity!

So, assuming that by tomorrow, Boko Haram succeeds in “wrestling power from the democratically elected government that is in control in the North”, what sort of government will they be able to form? Will the fact that a Northerner has become President stop the agitation of Boko Haram? Just as having a Delta President could not stop the Delta rebellion, so a Northern President may not be able to twist the arms of Boko Haram insurgency.

In that case, will it not be an indication to Eastern and Western Nigerians that it is time for them to decide for themselves if they still want this do-or-die leadership style of their militant northern brothers or to go their separate ways because things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold? If that is what Nigerians need to know – and react to – this is the time to speak up, the National Conference, the opportunity.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Again, A Case of Uncounted Billions By Okey Ndibe.


Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe

To a first-time visitor, much of Nigeria is likely to appear like the wreckage of a long war, what with its gutted roads, rutted infrastructure, the near-absence of electric power, and the paucity of pipe-borne water. It’s a developmental nightmare, a relic of the misshapen monuments of small-minded men and women, a patchwork of ill-conceived, abandoned projects.

Given Nigeria’s shape—or, more appropriate, its lack of shape—you’d expect a certain sense of urgency about transforming the space. You’d expect politicians and experts to focus at every opportunity on ways of creating a healthcare system worthy of human beings, revitalizing the educational sector, creating jobs for milling youths, providing basic facilities, and changing the moral tone.

Instead, what you find is a deranged obsession with a rat race whose sole goal is the primitive accumulation of riches. The country’s political leaders, who incidentally lead the rat race, seem to miss the point that the winners of such a race remain rats! Yes, a lot of them amass obscene sums of illicit wealth, but lucre merely raises their rating as ridiculous figures. The more they steal, the more they consolidate their contemptible quotient.

But Nigeria’s political “leaders” are far from the only problems. If anything, they seem to reflect a broader cultural malaise. Many Nigerians, one suspects, are hostile to the deep thinking that is a precursor to remarkable transformation. We’d much rather muck around in sectarian, ethnic and partisan baiting. Confronted with evidence of systemic collapse, many of us are content to blame Christians or Muslims, Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, the North or South. We fail to realize that, where it counts, so-called Christian and so-called Muslim figures collaborate in schemes that impoverish the rest of us; that Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa politicians are not averse to acting together to corner looting opportunities; that men and women from the North and South work together daily to abort Nigeria’s promise.

The reportorial priorities of the Nigerian media mirror, I suggest, Nigerians’ little tolerance for substance. Despite Nigeria’s abysmal condition, it’s hard to see any serious debates in the media. It’s all about PDP this, APC that. Nobody, least of all the two parties’ top officials, can articulate what either party stands for. In lieu of any sustained presentation of ideas for making Nigeria a habitable address, both parties settle for parading personalities. What’s worse, the advertised political henchmen (and women) have pedigrees defined less by ideas than their possession of stupendous wealth.

You’d expect Nigerians to pay attention when somebody who ought to know talks about billions missing from the national treasury. But perish the thought!

Last week, Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank of Nigeria appeared again before the Finance Committee of the Nigerian Senate, and spoke about huge frauds in the oil sector. Mr. Sanusi’s presentation rang with grave claims. Speaking with a directness hardly ever used by any past occupant of his seat, he accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of failing to account for $20 billion from crude oil exports. According to him, the NNPC sold $67 billion worth of crude oil, but deposited only $47 billion.

He told the committee that two companies, Seven Energy and Atlantic Energy (which he said were owned by the same persons), were beneficiaries of a curious deal with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). The deal enabled the ostensible private investors to pocket billions of dollars that ought to belong to Nigeria, the CBN head asserted. He also spoke about “leakages from the system through opaque and complex Swap transactions between PPMC [Pipeline and Products Marketing Company] and some counter parties.” He added: “The Agreements signed by PPMC contained a troubling clause that permits the destruction of documents after one year.”

These are startling allegations, worthy of particular attention by Nigerians and their media. When I googled Mr. Sanusi’s presentation, I found that it received relatively tepid reportage in Nigerian newspapers. It was played up more by online media, especially those based outside of Nigeria.

Even if Mr. Sanusi were talking nonsense, the proper response would be for reporters versed in oil transactions to thoroughly dissect his presentation and expose his misrepresentations. Besides, President Goodluck Jonathan and his aides ought to debunk Mr. Sanusi’s allegations by providing proof that no money is missing. It’s far from an adequate response to point to the fact that the CBN governor’s figures have shifted since September, 2013. The discrepancies may point, in fact, to the complex, labyrinthine nature of the schemes used to defraud Nigerians.

The role of the media has been shameful—but let’s put it aside for now. How about labor unions, student organizations, and such professional bodies as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), and the Nigerian Guild of Editors? What explains their astonishing silence on the matter? Is Nigeria so affluent—so awash with cash—that $20 billion don’t count?

On the Internet, some anonymous commentators fixated on the fact that Mr. Sanusi, bearer of a disquieting message, is a Muslim and a Northerner. Some accused him of awarding billions of naira worth of contracts to his cronies. Others raised issues about his personal life. Mr. Sanusi’s faith and ethnicity have nothing to do with anything here. If he illegally awarded contracts, he deserves to be called on it—and prosecuted, if he broke the law. If there are lapses in his personal life, they should concern us only if he meddled with public funds. Otherwise, it is up to the stakeholders in his personal life to hold him to account, or choose not to.

If students, lawyers and editors didn’t find the case of the missing billions worthy of a single raised eyebrow, who would blame the rest of the populace for going on, unconcerned? It was as if most of us yawned and quickened our stride to that pepper soup joint! Few, if any, bothered to contemplate all the things that $20 billion could do for Nigeria.

I can’t help contrasting the collective indifference to Mr. Sanusi’s expose with the hysteria over former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s decision to leave the PDP and enlist in the APC. Nigerian newspapers not only rushed to cover this relative non-event, they have also offered their readers numerous follow-ups.

You’d think that the answer to Nigeria’s crises of underdevelopment lie in Mr. Atiku’s choice to register with a party that has yet to spell out how it differs from the PDP, much less what answers it has for Nigeria’s worsening state.

Please follow me on twitter @ okeyndibe



9 Easterners out of 35 APC’s interim national officers yet Gov.Okorocha insists APC is NOT an Hausa or Yoruba Party!


okorocha 3

Rochas Okorocha has debunked the insinuation that APC is a tribal Party. Governor Okorocha who made this assertion during a reception organized for Senator Osita Izunaso by the Orlu Zone at the Orlu Township Stadium, stated that the Action Peoples Congress (APC) is neither a Hausa nor Yoruba party but a party that sprang up to correct the anomalies of the past.
The governor who said that he joined APC to fight the cause of Ndi Igbo, regretted the level of marginalization and selfish representation the zone suffered under Abuja –PDP representation, disclosed that the first sixth top most leadership positions in the country eluded the zone pointing out that APC would ensure proper representation and repositioning of Ndi-Igbo in the scheme of things.
Owelle Okorocha challenged the people to say no to bad governance, banish money bag politics, deceit in polity and selfish representation by joining APC which will enthrone unity, equity, fairness positive transformation and unlimited growth.
The State Chief executive called on the people to “join APC for the generation unborn, the widows, and our jobless youths”. He pointed out that the party has the interest of the youths and women at hearts.

9 Easterners out of 35 APC’s interim national officers confirms that Rochas Okorocha lied

National Chairman – Bisi Akande – Osun
Dep. Nat. Chairman (North) – Aminu Bello Masari – Katsina
Dep. Nat. Chairman (South) – Annie Okonkwo – AnambraNational Secretary – Tijjani Musa Tumsah – Yobe
Dep. Nat. Secretary – Nasiru El-Rufai – Kaduna
National Vice Chairman N/W – Salisu Inuwa Fage – Kano
National Vice Chairman N/C – Ahmed Abdullahi Aboki – Nasarawa
National Vice Chairman N/E – Umaru Duhu – Adamawa
National Vice Chairman S/W – Niyi Adebayo – Ekiti
National Vice Chairman S/S – Tom Ikimi – Edo
National Vice Chairman SE – Anyim Nyerere – ImoNational Legal Adviser – Muiz Banire – Lagos
Dep. Nat. Legal Adviser – James Ocholi, SAN – Kogi
National Treasurer – Sadiya Umar Faruk – Zamfara
Deputy National Treasurer – Usman Suleiman Danmadami – Sokoto
National Financial Secretary – Shuaibu Musa – Zamfara
Dep. Nat. Financial Secretary – Sunday Chukwu – EbonyiNational Organizing Secretary – Osita Izunaso – Imo
Dep. Nat. Organizing Secretary – Lawal Shuaibu – Zamfara
National Publicity Secretary – Lai Mohammed – Kwara
Dep. Nat. Publicity Secretary – Isa Madu Chul – Borno
National Welfare Secretary – Emma Eneuku – Enugu
Dep. Nat. Welfare Secretary – Romanus Egbuladike – Imo National Auditor – Olisa-Emeka Akamukali – Delta
Dep. Nat. Auditor – Bala Jibrin – Bauchi
National Women Leader – Madam Sharon Ikeazor – Anambra
Dep. Nat. Women Leader – Amina Abdullahi – Gombe
National Youth Leader – Abubakar Lado – Niger
Dep. Nat. Youth Leader – Uzo Igbonwa – AnambraNational Ex-Officio – Yemi Sanusi – Ogun
National Ex-Officio – Miriki Ebikibina – Bayelsa
National Ex-Officio – Babachir D. Lawal – Adamawa
National Ex-Officio – Antibass El-Nathan – Taraba
National Ex-Officio – Nelson Alapa – Benue
National Ex-Officio – Jock Alamba – Plateau

by Biafragalaxy

Obas of Coward Yoruba says Confab must give Nigeria peace and stability.

Yoruba Image

YORUBA traditional rulers and leaders of thought, on Tuesday, in Ile-Ife, tasked President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the proposed national conference gives Nigeria and its people the much needed stability and peace.The Yoruba leaders, leaders of thought and other socio-cultural groups, including Afenifere, Afenifere Renewal Group, Yoruba World Assembly, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Yoruba Council of Elders, Yoruba Unity Forum, among others, who converged on the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, submitted that the forthcoming national conference must provide strong platform which could guarantee peace and stability of the nation.After a closed door meeting, which lasted for almost five hours, the Yoruba obas in a 4-point communique signed by Yinka Odumakin, also appointed former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae and General Alani Akinrinade respectively as the chairman and secretary of the Yoruba Obas and Leaders of Thought.According to the communique, “the meeting encouraged President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that he midwifes a proper conference that would give Nigeria a structure conducive to stability, peace, unity and progress of all sections of the country.”It reads in part: “We commend the President for initiating the process towards the convocation of a national conference to address various

challenges of nationhood facing Nigeria, which we have failed to fully address in the last 53 years of our existence as an independent country.“The meeting fully endorsed the proposed national conference and enjoins all Yoruba people in six South West states, parts of Kwara, Kogi, Edo, Delta and Niger states as well as Yoruba in the disapora to fully participate in all process leading to the conference and the conference itself in order to realise our aspiration for Yoruba autonomy within a truly Federal Republic of Nigeria.“We also express our profound gratitude to the Adimula Oodua, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Okunade Sijuwade for the initiative of calling the meeting and pleads with Kabiyesi not to relent in reaching out to all necessary constituencies to fully solidify the House of Oduduwa.”

Source: Radio Biafra.

Politics, Interfaith Pluralism, And Osun State Chapter Of CAN By Adebayo Aregbesola.

By Adebayo Aregbesola

Yoruba people of the South Western part of Nigeria are unique in many ways. They are considered to be very enterprising and accommodating people. In fact, many observers would not dispute Yoruba people’s claim to sophistication when it comes to religious tolerance and accommodation of other ethnic groups that live in their midst. Yoruba people are known to tolerate each other’s religious beliefs and views. In Yoruba land it would not be unusual to find Christians, Muslims and traditional Yoruba worshippers of Ogun, Obatala and Osun, etc, living in the same nuclear family. This, among other factors, attests to the civility and sophistication of Yoruba people. Further, as predominantly educated, and until lately, Yoruba people would ordinarily question the rationale of any politicians or religious leaders that try to incite or plant seeds of discord among them. The above background not only provides enough justification to condemn in strong terms the recent utterances of leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Osun state Chapter, but also calls for deeper reflections by every Yoruba stakeholder.

The ongoing school reclassifications in Osun state, which require merger of some schools, are certainly generating some heated debates in the state of Osun. Like every innovative policy that challenges the status quo, this policy surely jolted and unsettled many people, including me. Personally, I do not appreciate the decision to reclassify my alma mater St Charles Grammar School Osogbo from all-boys school to a mix gender school. This will certainly rob all OBA (as we call ourselves) of our “gender identify”. I am assuming that many of my friends who graduated from all-girls Baptist Girls High School Oshogbo would feel the same way, too. It would appear we are losing the identity we so much cherish. But unlike many people, knowing the governor closely gave me the opportunity to know he has good intentions in the implementation of this policy. In fact, I know the governor is passionate about the development and advancement of Yoruba as a whole. Additionally, I know he is not a religious fanatic as he is often unfairly labelled.  Of course governor Aregbesola is very passionate about his religion, Islam, as his younger sister is equally passionate about her religion, Christianity.

With reference to the reclassification of schools in the State of Osun, while I think that citizens of a democratic state should have the constitutional rights to question government policies and demand explanations and accountability at all times, I believe these rights should be exercised within the context of the law. Thus, what one finds curious and troubling is the ultimatum given to the governor of Osun state by the leadership of the Osun State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).  The CAN leader, Rev Elisha O. Ogundiya, in a manner reminiscent of the military era, demanded an immediate halt to the government policy.   He threatened to proceed on “other actions” if the governor fails to yield to his demands. Rev Ogundiya’s action and ultimatum remind me of the Tea party in the USA.  CAN, it appears, is doing to governor Aregbesola what the Tea Party is doing to Barack Obama in the USA: blackmail.  Putting religious coloration to public policy that affects Christians, Muslims and traditional religion worshippers is simply disingenuous and utterly reprehensible. CAN needs to be reminded that much as one may dislike the policy, schools that are being reclassified are all public schools, funded by the state government, and are not faith based private schools. While one may debate the rationale with the government, the state reserves the right to make changes as it deems fit. Ordinarily, I would have been constrained not to dabble into this issue for various reasons; chiefly being that my position might be misconstrued as bias in favour of the governor. Upon deeper reflections, I felt it would be unfair not to exercise my civic rights because of fears of criticisms from others. In fact, it would be immoral of me not to jump at the debate, not only because I know the governor very well, but because my late Dad was a former CAN leader in Osun state, when CAN leaders led exemplary examples in pursuit of public peace. Thus, I felt that perhaps sharing my personal experience would help others to reflect deeper about how we got to this sorry state in Yoruba land, so we may beat a quick retreat.

Like many Yoruba families, some of my family members are practising Muslims.  But I am a Christian. My late Dad was a Pastor and a missionary for over 50 years. My life and Christian upbringing exemplify religious tolerance.  With harrowing introspection, I recall celebrating Christmas holiday, Easter holiday, Eid El Fitri and Eid El-Kabir with equal enthusiasms while growing up in Oshogbo. Eid El-Kabir holiday and Christmas holiday were and are still my favourite festive periods. With nostalgia, I remember how as a kid, I often commenced my day on Id El-Kabir day by doing justice to the ram meat at the Adegoke’s house, the Olaiya’s house, the Yussuf’s house and the Igbalaye’s house, all in the Alekuwodo area of Oshogbo; always to end my feast at the Lawyer Ajibola’s house in Ogo-Oluwa area. I intentionally mentioned the names of my friends so no one thinks my claim is non-verifiable.  Interestingly, my late Dad was an active member of the Christian Association in Oshogbo in the 80’s. He not only preached the gospel of Christ about peace and tolerance as noted in the Holy Bible, but encouraged interfaith pluralism through his actions.    He often prayed for the Muslims during their festive periods. Our Muslim neighbours usually sent us well prepared meals during Muslim festive periods, gestures we always reciprocated at Christmas.

While my story or the dynamics of my family might not have direct correlation to the public school reclassification policy, it surely relates to religious tolerance and serves as a lesson on how to avoid religious discord that may precipitate bloodbath in Yoruba land.  I strongly believe that stories like mine need to be amplified to overpower voices of those who sow the wind of religious hatred and subsequently benefit from the whirlwind of ensuing chaos and confusion. These intolerant people must be told that human experience is largely a shared experience, and regardless of our differences, the bond that unites us is stronger than what divides us. Although I am not a fan of the public school reclassification policy, if reclassification of my alma mater, St Charles Grammar school, Oshogbo, from all boys school to a mix gender school will bring quality education closer to a female child that lives closer to St Charles but farther to other schools, I would embrace the policy; it would be selfish of me to do otherwise. I would rather be profoundly troubled about lack of access to quality education by any child, and least worried about losing the gender identity of my alma mater.

CAN’s leaders in Osun state should recognise that the common bond and decency that we share together as a Yoruba people are stronger than our religious differences, or any attributes that separate us. Most importantly, they must know that while fighting for your convictions is important, knowing when to fight and when to seek peace requires God’s wisdom.  Continuous engagement of the government based on superior argument strikes me as a wiser option for CAN to embrace than planting seed of discord and threatening a state government that is enforcing its educational policy.


Yoruba, Igbo mistrust cause of underdevelopment – Adebanjo.


ELDER STATESMAN and stalwart of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has urged the Igbo and Yoruba ethnic

nationalities to join forces and develop the country, arguing that recurring mistrust between them has stunted Nigeria‘s socio-economic development.

According to the octogenarian, if the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo had closed ranks, collaborated and ruled Nigeria, the country would have been an oasis of development.

He spoke yesterday in Lagos at the presentation of a 771-page book: “The Untold Story of the Nigeria-Biafra War,” written by Dr Luke Nnaemeka Aneke.

Adebanjo picked holes in age-long comments blaming Igbos for the 30-month civil war that claimed about three million lives, saying “When we chronicle the diary of what led to the Nigeria-Biafra war, a lot of people felt the Igbos must be blamed. There is no doubt that mistakes were made but the principle on which war was fought was on the ground of a person who does not want to be cheated.”

The major mistake

Said Adebanjo, who is in full support of ongoing efforts to hold a national conference: “The major blunder the Igbos and the Yorubas made was that they misinterpreted friendship. I, Azikiwe and Awolowo had come together, will we be where we are today? So, that was the major mistake that we made. If Azikiwe was Prime Minister of Nigeria then and Awolowo was Minister of Finance, where do you think Nigeria will be today? All the wonders of what happened in the West would have been replicated in the entire country, with such collaboration. But, it was never so.”

He continued: “The history of the war has to be told very honestly. There has been a lot of prejudices here and there. And a lot of friends have been made enemies all because of book presentations. The meticulous way, intelligent manner and chronological order that the author put the book is commendable. The author has been able to move from the trend whereby previous authors make unnecessary comments in their books at a time we ought to ensure that Nigeria is united and the various ethnic nationalities live in oneness. This is not a time when we should be emphasizing what separates us.

At this point, I want to direct your attention to what is captured in the book, how long the Yorubas and the Igbos have been coming together to ensure the unity and progress of Nigeria. When we discuss this, we have to talk about the crisis of 1963. When the crisis came, the President at that time, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe waded in to ensure there was peace in the West.

“I must also mention that we must not allow minor things to separate us because we committed a lot to keep this nation one, especially the Igbos and the Yoruba. Therefore, the Igbos and the Yorubas have no cause to quarrel. We have our differences, so, I’m also not oblivious of the fact that the tongue and the mouth at times do quarrel. In those days, in spite of the fact that Zik was a non-Yoruba, he was very popular in the West.

You hear Zik this, Zik that. In fact, when the Football Club of Azikiwe is going to play in Apapa, we all thronged to that place to watch the team play. But, we must remember where we are coming from and go back to the old times. In view of what is happening in the country today, let us learn our lessons.

“It was surprising to some people when President Jonathan recently sued for a national conference because of his earlier arguments that there was no need for it. According Chief Obafemi Awolowo, only an unreasonable man will see a superior argument and not change his mind. In case many of you don’t know, Azikiwe during his time sued for one Nigeria based on Unitary government, The likes of Awolowo preached Federalism, which Azikiwe later got convinced and in 1956 said that federalism was imperative.

“Federalism gives room for each region to develop at their own pace. After the 1956 conference, it was then Azikiwe and others were convinced that Federalism was imperative for there to be a healthy competitiveness among the regions. The West established its own university; the East did the same and likewise the North.

National conference is imperative

On ongoing debates trailing national conference moves, he said: “Our unity in this country should be that of unity of purpose. We should not allow minor things to disunite us. That’s why I’m grateful to the author in the way he has presented the book. It will make the young ones see the war from an unbiased perspective. Our unity should not be like that of a horse and its rider.

That’s why this national conference is imperative at this moment. And one thing previous governments had used to confuse Nigerians is that a national conference will disintegrate Nigeria and bring the sovereignty of the constitution to question. But come to think of it, is this present constitution ours? Even when Obasanjo was been sworn-in in 1999, he swore to uphold the tenets of the constitution.

Which constitution, is it the constitution, which he doesn’t know anything about the content? Even Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar himself said before the swearing-in that he doesn’t know the content of the constitution. So, why do you want to tie us down with a constitution that you don’t know the content? In fact let me say that the constitution that we had at independence was a better one because it preached that each region must be allowed to grow at their own pace. That was why the West had free education, the East had free education. Let us go back to that constitution. The sovereignty we all sue for should be that of the people.”

Jointly organised by Ndigbo Lagos, Aka-Ikenga and Lower Niger Congress, notable persons at the event included Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim (who was represented by his special adviser, Dr. Ferdinand Agu), Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), Chief Raymond Obieri, Professor Laz Ekwueme, Chief Fred Agbeyegbe, Igwe NP Iloeze, Engr Mike Uzoigwe, Mrs Nkechi, Chief Martins Agbaso, Professor Joe Ezeigbo and Kalu Onuma.

Although, the event was meant to be a book launch, it became an avenue to rally the South and the Middle-Belt for President Goodluck Jonathan‘s proposed national conference, for which a presidential advisory committee has been set up to tinker out modalities on how to proceed.

For instance, the Ijaw delegation was led by Chief TK Ogoriba, the Itsekiri delegation was anchored by Chief Fred Agbeyegbe and the Middle-Belt Forum was led by Abuga Onalo and the ceremony was chaired by Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who is from the South-West.

Speaking at the event, Dr Agu said Nigerians must do the needful to ensure that the country does not experience another civil war.

“Lamenting the massive destruction wrought on the polity by the war, he said:”It is our duty as a generation to ensure that, that history does not repeat itself… We need dialogue. Let’s prepare our minds for national conversation. Let’s hear one another out. We have many things to talk about. Without dialogue we are preparing for confrontation. We have a nation to build for ourselves and future generation.”

The Igbos have no problem with Yoruba — Anya

In a welcome speech, the President General of Ndigbo Lagos, Professor Anya O Anya, said The book is a must read, as we are all aware that we have a young generation who don’t know the history of this nation. Therefore, it’s important that we make them conscious of history has been. We the old ones must remind the younger ones that the rules have changed, through a book like this. Before the war, the Igbos had no problems with the North or the West. But the Igbos were only standing up against the injustice meted against them. But the fact remains that we wouldn’t have gone to the war.

The major problems we have encountered in this time past, is that Nigeria has been in disrepair in the midst of plenty and governance don’t face the welfare of the common people. It’s unfortunate that Nigeria has the highest level of poverty and youth unemployment in the world. It’s also sympathetic that I have never seen a nation like Nigeria where the people are dismissive and negative about their country.

“Our politics is so bad that most politicians are never concerned about building the nation but what they can take out of the nation, even if they can take it from the pockets of others. Imagine, the North that has been at the helms of affairs in this country for over 40 years is engulfed in poverty and insecurity even till date. Their contradictions caused it. We might as well say that it serves them right,but should we allow them to continue this way? The answer is no, because should this continue, it will soon engulf the entire nation. From now on, the Igbos and other Nigerians should come together to build a greater and indivisible Nigeria.

“Today, Jonathan out of pressure has bowed to National conference. Ironically, the earlier agitators for this conference are the ones saying no to it. This is why I say that our politics in this nation must change. It must no longer be the politics of nay saying.

Reviewing the book, Dr Douglas Anaele passionately recounted the genesis of the war, pogrom against Biafran children, sacrifices made by white nuns and others during the war, how the war could have been averted and the role of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and General Yakubu Gowon and described the book as a ‘window into the untold story of the Nigeria-Biafra war.”

He said if Awolowo had fulfilled his promise of having West Nigeria leave if East seceded, not joined Gowon to fight Biafra and used starvation as a weapon, the destruction would have been minimised.

He also wondered why Nigeria did not reap from the technological know-how of Biafran scientists after the war if the Nigerian government did not hate the Igbos.

Reacting to Anele’s review, Adebanjo, and Awoist said: “There has been a lot of misinterpretation on the part played by Awolowo before the war. Let’s not forget that during the war, Chief Awolowo went to see Ojukwu in Enugu, one of the things that is not on record is in fact, he went against the advice of Gowon and others. It was even said that he went to conspire with Ojukwu.

Those who have confidential access to the report at that time will see what was written about Chief Awolowo, when he came back from the East. What happened then was he went to convince Ojukwu not to go to war. Let us stay here and settle these things amicably. Ojukwu assured Awolowo that he was not going to go to war, but two weeks later Ojukwu insisted that there must be war.

That is the truth. Ladies and gentlemen, whether we like it or not, we are bound to live together, but I want you to imagine that until the starvation came, the war was on. Following the chronology of this book, Awolowo who was in Gowon’s cabinet, who never wanted the war said, the best way to end this fratricidal war is to stop the food allocation going to the Biafra region, because he said that anything that must allow the war end must be done.”


Source: Radio Biafra.

Boda Nigeria, Bros Naija, and Soul Tinz By Pius Adesanmi.


Pius Adesanmi

Nigeria, the country on whose account we are gathered here today for a feast of reflections, is older than me. This age gap imposes certain protocols of interaction in my culture. I cannot enter into any kind of engagement or social interaction with Nigeria without deploying modes of discourse and honorific markers that would immediately alert speakers of my language to issues of age seniority between me and my addressee. However, in this scenario of elderhood and seniority, Nigeria is not old enough to be my father. Hence, in saluting him within the context of my culture, I cannot call him Baba or Daddy like I would every adult male within my father’s generational bracket in Isanlu, my home town in Kogi state.

With Daddy or Baba Nigeria out of the question, what my culture expects of me, in saluting this elder of mine who recently turned 53, is to say, “Boda Nigeria, e ku ojo ibi o. Igba odun, odun kan ni o.” For those of you who don’t speak Yoruba, this translates roughly as “Brother Nigeria, happy birthday to you o. Many happy returns.” Unfortunately, the Yoruba greeting does not have hip hip hip hurray! If I was speaking in the presence of Nigeria’s teeming youth, those millions of restless energies under the age of thirty that one encounters on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media, I would not say “Boda Nigeria.” Nigerians, 30-years-old and below, would consider me an unsophisticated village old school if I said “Boda Nigeria”. For that generation, I would have to say, “Bros Naija, how is your buffday tinz?” We are still saying the same thing. It’s just a question of generations.

Let me stress the point again that “boda Nigeria” is obligatory in my case only because our subject is older than me. Looking across this room, I see many people who cannot possibly call Nigeria “boda”. I am not saying that they are old but there is a different cultural warrant for how they would felicitate with Nigeria in my language. Such people would tell Nigeria: “Aburo, ku ojo ibi o.” I’ll leave the translation of this one to your imagination. Let’s return to my own case. Having done the right thing, the omoluabi thing, by felicitating with an elder brother on the occasion of his 53rd birthday, having said, “Boda Nigeria, e ku ojo ibi o”, my culture does not expect me to stop there.

Let me remind you that this culture is notorious for having the widest range of salutations in the widest scenarios imaginable. This is a culture that has a formulaic “e ku” greeting for everything and every activity under the sun including doing nothing. This culture even has a greeting, “e ku idita”, for an elder who farts in the presence of children. It is imagined that in the process of responding to that urgent ritual of nature by expelling gas, the elder’s behind must have suffered some discomfort. Therefore, while avoiding the rudeness of openly covering their nostrils on perception of any untoward perfume (or on hearing a bad smell), children in the vicinity of the elder’s fart must offer greetings and rites of comfort: “Baba, e ku idita o”!

When a culture takes politeness to the extreme of sympathizing with the behind of an elder who farts, you can imagine that the said culture would not expect me to say happy birthday to a 53-year-old and leave it at that. There is a whole range of “e ku” rituals that are designed to reflect the totality of the condition and life experiences of the celebrant. My culture expects me to take a long, good, hard, and thorough look at “boda Nigeria” and tailor the next set of salutations to mirror his physical and developmental condition. So, looking at the shape and condition of Nigeria today, after 53 years of postcolonial existence, my culture makes it incumbent on me to greet and sympathize him thus, even as you supply the chorus, “ooo”, after each salutation:

Boda Nigeria, e ku ojo ibi o


E ku iroju o


E ku a mu mora o


E ku ofo o


Edumare a f’ofo r’emi o


It doesn’t end there. When all is said and done, when this culture looks at a birthday celebrant whose entire life is an encyclopedia of failed promises, stunted potentials, false starts, fake starts, non-starts, anomie, corruption, decay, and self-inflicted woes such as would make the situation of Sodom and Gomorrah look like paradise, when all there is to a life being celebrated at 53 is a syllabus of errors – Christopher Okigbo would say, “the errors of the rendering”-  when there is nothing left to celebrate but the precarious existence of life, a bare,  failed, naked, unfulfilled, and wasted life, just merely hanging on to the thread of its miserable survival, my culture even has one master stroke of a philosophical greeting for that situation for which you will supply one more ooo.

Boda Nigeria, a dupe pe emiremi o.


I will come back to this philosophical business of “emiremi” presently. I saluted Boda Nigeria first because even if, as I already stated, there are folks in this room who are much older than him, he is in a fundamental sense older than all of his citizens because he is the symbolic patch of earth, the cosmic immanence to which we collectively lay claims of origin. He is that patriarchal space on whose surface we stand and proclaim: I walked to this place on my head, not on my feet. She is that matriarchal space, our piece of mother earth, whose nurture over us ensures that like the children of snakes we are able to play unmolested in the forest at night. Let the children of rats try the same moonlight games in the forest! Don’t worry about the apparent clash of pronouns. Nigeria is both our fatherland and motherland: our supreme he and she! That’s why I saluted him first on this auspicious occasion of his birthday.

Having saluted motherland and fatherland because he is older than all of us, if I continue this lecture beyond this point without other salutations, I risk the fate of the goat which entered the homestead without saluting the assembly of elders; I risk the fate of the ram which entered the homestead and did not acknowledge the elders in council. A tight leash around their necks was the last thing the insolent goat and the rude ram saw before they joined their ancestors in the bellies of the elders. I must therefore crave your indulgence to perform a ritual of obeisance and salutation with which you are already familiar if you honored us with your presence during my last public lecture in this country on the platform of the Save Nigeria Group. Iba

To Pastor Tunde Bakare and Mr. Yinka Odumakin who invited me today – iba!
To Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman of this occasion – iba!

To the board of Trustees, Centre for Change – iba!

To the esteemed members of the high table – iba!

To you, the audience, whose ears are here in this hall to drink my words – iba!
I pray you all,
Unbind me!

Unleash me!
Let my mouth sway words in this lecture

Like efufulele, the furious wind which

Sways the forest’s crown of foliage

Wherever its heart desires.


I did say that we would come back to the business of emiremi: salutation to a life encountered at its most denuded, most abject, most prostrate. Salutation to a life deep in existential ennui. Acknowledgement that the said life is still somehow, strangely, oddly there. Just there as “gb’aiye lasan” – which is exactly what Nigeria is doing. But even as we acknowledge these sobering and dreary aspects of Nigeria’s “emi” on the occasion of her 53rd birthday, we are reminded by the language whose resources we have been mining for this lecture that “emi” connotes more than life and its materiality. We are reminded that a hint of the immaterial, of the transcendental, of that nebulous core beyond consciousness that we call “spirit” lurks within the semantic recesses of “emi”.

By throwing the emiremi salutation in the direction of Nigeria at 53, we thereby acknowledge that Nigeria has a spirit. This brings up very significant questions. We have already attributed a physical body and a material essence to Nigeria which, for our purposes here, shall be reduced to her fifteenth-century infrastructure and other symbologies of measurable but chronic underdevelopment. Now, we are also attributing a spirit to her. What then becomes of the third member of that triad: the soul? I am talking about the trinity of body, spirit, and soul. In essence, beyond our traffic in metaphors and personification thus far in this exercise, does a country really have a body, a spirit, and, most importantly for us here today, a soul? Does a country in good health and good shape have a soul, let alone a country in ruins? What could this soul possibly be like, feel like? How do we apprehend and engage it? If it exists, what role or roles does the soul of a country play in the life of such a country? Above all, where a country is physically and spiritually in ruins as is the case with Boda Nigeria, our celebrant today, is it even possible to recover and retool its soul?

As some of you already know, I prefer anecdotal ports of entry into these kinds of benumbing inquiries. My most remarkable encounter with the soul of a nation, the soul of a country, happened in faraway Ottawa where I live and work. Although Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, the soul I encountered on this particular day was not Canadian. Before moving to Ottawa in 2006, I had been an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University in the United States. I was there for five years during which that great American University kindly filed for my permanent residency in America. Within one year of my stay in America, I became a proud owner of something most Nigerians love more than Nigeria: an American green card.

Although I subsequently got the Canadian permanent residency card on moving to Ottawa in 2006 and was soon on the track to becoming a Canadian citizen, I was reluctant to part with my US green card. So I did wuruwuru to the answer and pretended not to know that you are not supposed to hold on to that card if you are not living in the US and paying American taxes. For two years, nothing happened; I went in and out of the US frequently, using that card, even though I was now resident in Canada. I persuaded myself that I was still technically employed in the US, after all Penn State had kept on to me as a non-salaried Adjunct Professor. However, after two years, my green card began to be flagged at US ports of entry. US Customs and Immigration officials would swipe the card and ask me why I was holding on to it when I was clearly no longer living in the US. I would mumble inaudible and incoherent replies. And they would let me in, advising me to make up my mind: come back to live and work in the US in order to keep this card.

Naturally, I would ignore their advice. Things got to a head when I was going to Johannesburg to accept the Penguin Prize for African Writing in 2010 and my flight from Ottawa was routed through New York. I nearly missed the flight to Johannesburg because of the wahala generated by that green card. Once again, I got away with a warning to make up my mind. I knew then that once I returned from Johannesburg, I had to go to the American embassy in Ottawa to give up the green card. I didn’t need it anymore anyway; I was going to become a Canadian citizen that same month. You’d think that giving up an American green card would be a simple process, just walk into an embassy and toss Uncle Sam’s property back at him, not so? Well, my friends, if that’s what you think, you have another think coming!

As I found out, giving up an American green card can even be tougher than obtaining one! For starters, there are no consular appointments for those wishing to give up a green card so I had to apply for a US visa that I wouldn’t need as a Canadian citizen. A visa appointment was the only way to gain access to the reinforced bunker called the US embassy in Ottawa. On the appointed day, I was ushered into the visa area after clearing security. Everything was what you would expect. The regular throng of coloured humanity – Africans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians, Arabs, all the usual suspects with their cacophony of accents – were there, each waiting for his or her turn to be summoned to little window screens by imperious American visa officers scarcely out of college. Then came my turn. Everything went very smoothly and a ten-year multiple entry visa was promptly approved for me. “Oh, there is something else,” I told the friendly visa officer (friendly only because he had determined that I am a Professor. Being a University Professor still comes with enormous social privileges and respect over there), “I want to give up this green card, how do I go about it?” I concluded, tossing my green card at him.

His face and countenance changed. “Oh, you have a green card? Why did you come for a visa? And, wait a minute, you want to give up your green card?”, he asked, starring incredulously at me from behind his thick bulletproof cubicle. I answered in the affirmative. “Sir, you want to give up your American privileges?”, he asked again, his bewilderment making him forget to close his wide open jaws. “Yes”, I answered again, coolly. He examined the card for a long time, disbelief and consternation etching patches of sweat on his forehead. He looked at me again, mouth still wide open, shock foreclosing the possibility of speech. My mind began to do the talking for him, racing through a checklist of unsayables that were probably scalding his tongue, wishing they could defy political correctness and burst out of his mouth in gusts of immigrant profiling.

He is er…er… bl…bla…black (✓)

He is er…er…Af…Afri…African (✓)

He speaks English…er…er…with a thick accent (✓)

Yeah, there is a check mark in every identity box! Something ain’t adding up! People like me don’t give up American privileges. We are from the country of Africa. We are hungry. We are poor. We die of AIDS. We die of malaria if mosquito nets donated by Jeffrey Sachs, Madonna, Angelina Jolie, and Bono do not get to us in good time. We fight tribal and religious wars. Those of us who are lucky not to be killed by disease or wild animals forge travel documents to escape to America where we contract fraudulent marriages with innocent white girls just to keep our piece of the American dream. That is what the manual says. This African who wants to return Uncle Sam’s green card is not in the manual. That was obviously me trying to put into words what I imagined was going on in the mind of the visa officer.

I told him the full story of why I needed to give up the card. I was soon to become a Canadian citizen and would no longer need an entry visa or the green card to enter the United States. The card had become an embarrassment, causing me problems at airports bla bla bla. Nothing doing. He wasn’t listening to me.

“Are you sure about giving up your American privileges?”

“Yes, I am becoming a Ca-na-di-an citizen next month. Caa-naa-diaan.”

“You understand that if you change your mind, you will have to apply all over again if you ever want to return to the United States? You cannot restore this green card once you sign off on it.”

I nodded, hoping that the wahala over rendering unto Uncle Sam what is Uncle Sam’s was finally over. I was sorely mistaken for he soon summoned a colleague of his in a neighbouring cubicle. They whisper. The new man went through the same routine of asking me questions, trying to ascertain that I did not need a shrink; that I was not out of my mind to want to opt out of America the beautiful. I smiled and gave the same explanations all over again. At last, they began the paperwork. They handed over a form for my signature. The form bore a title: “US Department of Justice. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status”. In the form, the consular officer had scribbled:

“Mr. Adesanmi fully understands the consequences of abandoning his permanent resident card and the American privileges thereof.”

Privileges?  Privileges! Consequences? Ladies and gentlemen, that was my moment of epiphany. As they say in America, I got it. I understood what was going on. I am going to draw very heavy conclusions from this story which all have a direct bearing on the reason we are assembled here today: to determine whether Nigeria, a country that has ruined itself continuously and uninterruptedly for 53 years, has a soul and if there are any chances of recovering and reinventing that soul, no matter how battered, for the collective benefit of all in this wasteland of ours. But you will have to tarry a while and bear with me before we get on with that aspect of our reflections for there is one more anecdote from my pool of experiences that would serve as a useful contrast to what you just heard.

Fast forward to November 2012. I flew to Nigeria to deliver two major lectures: the keynote lecture at the annual convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors which held in Uyo and, two days later, the second state-of-the nation lecture of the Save Nigeria Group which held here in Lagos. Remember that at that point, I had become a dual citizen of Nigeria and Canada, carrying the passports of both countries and using them as appropriate in the destinations to which I travel. Needless to say, on arrival at Murtala Mohammed International airport, I presented my Nigerian passport at immigration.

Everything was going well. The usual tired, irritable, and dour immigration officers who gave you a feeling they’d rather be anywhere else but at work. As this particular officer flipped through the pages of my Nigerian passport, looking for where to place her stamp and append her signature, she asked me the regular questions. As I made to bend over a little bit to engage her, my Canadian passport, which was in the outer breast pocket of my long sleeve shirt, fell out onto her counter. As her eyes fell on that foreign passport, her countenance changed. The moodiness vanished, replaced by a glint of excitement in her face. She grabbed the Canadian passport, examined it preciously like she was handling pure diamond, and exclaimed:

“Ah, Oga, you get this one too?”, she asked, waving the Canadian passport.

“Yes o, Madam, na dual citizen I be”, I replied.

“Wetin you come still dey take dis one do?”, she asked, ignoring my remark about dual citizenship and waving my Nigerian passport in the air before tossing it at me like something that had suddenly acquired the capacity to contaminate her hands with leprosy. Needless to say, when handing over the Canadian passport to me, she treated it with elegance and delicacy. As she waved me on, I couldn’t help thinking that she considered me an idiot who had a cap but no head to deck it on, she being the sage who had a head but no cap to deck on it.

Mind you, we are talking about an experienced immigration officer who, apart from being obviously aware of the reality of dual citizenship for many Nigerians in the diaspora, must have stamped thousands of British, American, French, Irish, German, Australian, Japanese, South African, Ghanaian, Afghan, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Iraqi passports presented to her by Nigerians with dual citizenship of those countries. So, what happened to her when she beheld my Canadian passport? I’ll tell you. It was one unguarded, unselfconscious moment in which professional carapace collapses and a window is unintentionally opened into the soul of a uniformed Nigerian citizen. And when we look into the soul of this uniformed citizen, through the window afforded us by her outburst and facial expression as she queried the wisdom of hanging on to one of the most important symbols of Nigerian citizenship (of which, ironically, her department is custodian), what do we see mirrored in her soul about Nigeria?

Some of you may be inclined to conclude that the behavior of this immigration officer is just one hilarious example – among millions of daily examples – of the mutual contempt which defines the relationship between Nigeria and the Nigerian, at least most Nigerians for if you are not hissing in contempt, despair, and frustration every time you hear Nigeria, you are probably eating with the one percent. You’d only be partially right if you reached this conclusion. For me, the immigration officer’s diss of the Nigerian passport represents that solemn moment of psychic disconnection, that moment of dehiscence when the soul of the citizen opens up and reaches for a life-giving connection to the soul of the nation and is met with darkness, void, yawning emptiness. Where the soul of a nation ought to be, feeding a hundred and sixty million souls through arteries of patriotism and psychic connection, there is nothing but a gap. And a question mark.

To better understand the anchorage that this officer’s soul fails to find, that connecting point to the essence of her nation, to understand the void, the emptiness which greets her at the rendezvous between her soul and the absent soul of her own nation, we need to go back to our friend at the American embassy in Ottawa, Canada, and try to understand what exactly his own American soul plugged into, connected with, at that improbable moment of encounter with an accented African’s rejection of America. “You are giving up your American privileges!” he had screamed, unable to believe what was happening.

The keyword is “privileges”. That is the foundation of the American soul. The soul of a nation is an imaginary. It is an ideal. It is an idea. In the case of America, it is that which stitches together some three hundred million individual identities and differences, hundreds of ethnic differences, bitter racial polarities and prejudices, unbridgeable political differences between Left and Right, bitter schisms between various versions and factions of Christian evangelical fundamentalism, gender warfare, and the obligatory gulf between a perpetually capitalizing rich and a perpetually socializing poor. Stitching together these differences is only the beginning of the process. A national soul, the soul of a nation, does not emerge just because there is a rendezvous of individual and group differences within a given nation-space. Other things need to happen as I will show presently.

Among the many lessons we take away from Ernest Renan, the famous 19th century French philosopher who wrote one of the most significant treatises on the idea of the nation is that the soul of a nation emerges, takes shape, and comes to define that nation only to the extent that there has been a rendezvous of differences during which there is a voluntary process of relinquishing and remembering by all the constituent identities present at the rendezvous. Part Three of his great essay, What is a Nation?, is of particular relevance to us here. Says Renan:

“A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present- day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form. Man, Gentlemen, does not improvise. The nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long past of endeavours, sacrifice, and devotion. Of all cults, that of the ancestors is the most legitimate, for the ancestors have made us what we are. A heroic past, great men, glory (by which I understand genuine glory), this is the social capital upon which one bases a national idea. To have common glories in the past and to have a common will in the present; to have performed great deeds together, to wish to perform still more-these are the essential conditions for being a people. One loves in proportion to the sacrifices to which one has consented, and in proportion to the ills that one has suffered. One loves the house that one has built and that one has handed down. The Spartan song-“We are what you were; we will be what you are” — is, in its simplicity, the abridged hymn of every patrie.”

Notice the recurrence of the word, consent, in Renan’s definition of the soul or the spiritual principle that is a nation. Consent and will are what make it possible for the differences participating in the great historical rendezvous of nationhood to voluntarily determine that which they will forget for the greater good (forgetting, Renan reminds us, is a serious a business as remembering in project nationhood), that which must be remembered for the emotional and psychic anchorage of the constituent parts. That which will be forgotten and that which will be remembered are never fixed. They are to be constantly negotiated, renegotiated, and revisited. This is why Renan defines a nation and her soul as a “daily plebiscite”.

What emerges from this rendezvous of differences, this daily plebiscite on that which we choose to forget and remember for the sake of the nation, is the ideal or the idea which transcends all the differences and defines us all only for the simple reason that we collectively forged it together. For the American, that ideal is the unshakable belief that America is a privilege. A privilege gifted to the world. A privilege gifted to every American. Once every American subscribes to the notion that America is the one privilege you neither relinquish nor give up on, that singularity crystallizes into everything America and Americans are about.

It becomes the one essence that transcends every difference, the ideal which feeds and propels patriotism. The idea of America as privilege is where Donald Trump, capitalist royalty, Bill Clinton (political royalty), and Ms. Meshawnqua Shaniqua (poverty royalty) meet. Whether ancestors were English pilgrims who sailed to, New England, America aboard the Mayflower in the 17th century or they were Kunta Kinte’s kinsmen who made the journey to America chained to the belly of slave ships, today, your hands reach out across a gulf of differences and bitterness to seal the unquestioned and unquestionable idea of America as a privilege. No matter your station in life, you bask in the privilege that is American-ness, the exceptionality that is American citizenship.

Because it is an omnipresent ideal, whatever a nation stabilizes as her soul comes to brand everything she is or she produces. Whatever America is, does, or produces is marked irrevocably by the ideal of privilege. She may give this privilege other names – American exceptionalism, the American dream – but we know it when we see it in her science and technology, her music, fashion, food, sports, infrastructure, everything. We see it in the totality of the American aesthetic. This is the same thing you see and feel when the German soul is expressed in the expression we all commonly throw around as German efficiency or the German machine.

American privilege, German efficiency. These spiritualities derive their performative power and appeal precisely because of their ability to mobilize the citizenry. Patriotism is not what mobilizes the citizen. Patriotism is merely the outward, gestural expression of a collectively imagined ideal, the higher essence we have agreed to graft onto our perspectivizations of the nation with a view to letting it define us collectively. Patriotism is the outward cloth worn by the real thing: the soul of the nation. And when the soul of the nation summons, it summons collectively, beyond the actuations of individual and collective differences. It doesn’t matter whether it is Ernest Renan describing the soul of nations or it is W.E.B du Bois mapping the souls of black folk in his great book of the same title, what is constant is that the soul of nations speaks only one language: the language of the collective good. The soul of a nation is therefore Pentecost and not Babel. Where a nation has forged a credible soul, no matter the language of enunciation, every citizen hears only one message: the collective good.

As souls of the nations which articulate them as collective identities, American privilege, German efficiency, and indeed every other emanation of the soul of a nation in the Western tradition devolve from this language of the collective good. The 20th century French philosopher, Michel Foucault, has given us a good account of how the notion of the collective good became coterminous with the souls of nations in the Western tradition. Foucault’s essay, appropriately entitled “The Technologies of the Self”, is a magisterial account of the various traditions of self-portraiture from the Greeks and the Romans down to the modern claimants of their heritage in Euro-America. Foucault delineates two tradition of the self in in the Greco-Roman world. The first tradition“epimelesthai sautou” captures the domain of “taking care of oneself” or being “concerned with yourself”. The second tradition, “gnothi sauton”, captures the domain of “knowing oneself”.

The first practice of the self in Greco-Roman, “take care of yourself” or be “concerned with yourself” is of immediate relevance to our discussions. I am persuaded by Foucault’s reading of this tradition while being mindful of other contending readings in Western philosophical tradition. Here is how Foucault defines it: “the precept “to be concerned with oneself” was, for the Greeks, one of the main principles of cities, one of the main rules for social and personal conduct and for the art of life.” In other words, you are concerned with yourself; you are taking care of yourself in order to be able to take care of the city. Concern with yourself is the foundation of being able to participate in the collective good. This is the foundation of the soul of nations going back to the Greeks and the Romans. This is what is at play when you hear the leaders of America talk about the American dream and the necessity of guaranteeing a fair shot for every citizen. This is the content of the privilege that is the soul of that nation.

It should be clear from the foregoing that I have adopted the strategy of illustrating what happens when the life-world of a country, of a nation, is powered by a higher, spiritual ideal, forged in the cauldron of collective struggles and memory in order to make very clear what happens when a country empties itself of a soul and presents only a wobbling and fumbling, underdeveloped carcass to the world. A country fashions her soul around the privilege of belonging and ingrains this in the individual souls of her citizens. When a citizen of such a country encounters the surreal scene in which the passport or the permanent residency card of such a country is being relinquished, such a citizen is plunged into the anguish of disbelief: no, this cannot happen! No one gives up American privileges. That was not an American citizen talking to me in Ottawa. That was the soul of America gyrating (apologies to our kegite friends) very loudly in that Embassy. On the contrary, the Nigerian immigration officer who thought I was crazy to hold on to my Nigerian passport is a uniform, just a uniform in search of that central, unifying ideal that would have been the soul of the Nigerian nation.

If you look closely at things, it wasn’t always this way with us. It shouldn’t ever have had to be this way. Really, Nigeria has no business being an atrophied, decaying giant, groping blindly in the dark in search of a soul at 53. No, we have no business being where we find ourselves today. If you look at the broad outlines of the soul of nations that I have sketched out above, from the Greco-Roman tradition, down to the submissions of Ernest Renan, Michel Foucault and other 19th and 20th century Western philosophers, you will admit that there is nothing that these guys are saying that are not junior to the antecedence of our own traditions and epistemologies of the self and society.

In fact, at the time Ernest Renan first delivered his famous lecture – What is a Nation? – in 1882; at the time Renan was pontificating on the definition and content of the soul of a nation, his own nation was preparing to go to Berlin, two years later, to set in motion, along with other European powers, a chain of events that would radically undermine the fledgling souls of Africa’s ethnic nationalities by yoking an alien political concept onto arbitrary geographies decided behind the backs of those who, as from the 1960s, would be saddled with the task of injecting life, meaning, and soul into formations imposed on them.

Furthermore, if you look at Foucault’s account of the concept of taking care of the self as a precondition for taking care of the city in the interest of the collective good in classical antiquity, you will see that the cultures of Africa boast philosophical antecedence in that department. For instance, in my own culture, the philosophy of ‘omoluabi’ is nothing more than a syllabus of individual comportment fashioned for the enhancement of the collective good. Among its many philosophical postulations, ‘omoluabi’ posits that “itelorun ni baba iwa” (contentment is the father of good behavior). This is the foundation of the self, the basis on which the self submits to the supremacy of the collective good. For where you have contentment, you will not steal 100% of the budget meant to provide roads and hospitals for the people 100% of the time. Omoluabi is therefore to the Yoruba nation what ‘privilege’ is to the American nation. Omoluabi is the soul of this particular ethnic nationality. Think of your own respective nations within the Nigerian project and you’ll find ancestral organizing ideals of the collective good which translate to the soul of your ethnic nationality.

So, our ethnic nations had souls from which a distinct Nigerian soul could have been forged. After 53 years, our report card of national soul-making still boasts a very loud F9. What happened? How and why did we fail? Why is it so difficult to think of one central ideal around which the Nigerian nation is organized? Before we answer these questions, let us quickly get something out of the way. Nigeria is what she is today – the open sore of the Black race – because of the absence of a transcendental national ideal which at once collectively defines us, is deemed sacrosanct, and bigger than any and all of us. In the part of the world where I earn my daily bread, it is common for public officials to sacrifice personal ambition, renounce the claim to public office or even resign whenever personal ambition and gain are deemed to be in the way of the collective ideal which defines the nation.

Because Nigeria lacks this ideal, it is easy for her politicians and civil servants to loot her blind without betraying anything. Where a nation has no soul, you are not really betraying anything by hurting her. You could wreck her infrastructure through corruption, destroy her refineries, wreck her national airlines, destroy her national shipping lines, restore her railway to Second World War Locomotive standards in the 21st century, destroy her Universities, spend $16 billion dollars to import darkness, and all you’ll get are people complaining that they have been marginalized from the theatre of wrecking and destruction. No damage is unimaginable or too crude to be inflicted on a nation which has no soul. Take for instance what Nigeria does to that fragment of her population thirty years and below. Historically, that demographic has been the power house of the soul of all nations.

We do not need to go into any philosophical disquisition on the role of the youth in inventing the present and the future of nations. Yet, this is the specific demographic that Nigeria has been so relentless in decimating, generation after generation. Let’s be clear: obtaining a University degree in ten years because of strikes and spending another ten years crawling the streets for non-existent jobs after graduation are the most merciful and the most humane part of the treatment which Nigeria reserves for her youth. Whenever we feel that we are suffering from youth congestion, truncated education and unemployment become luxuries we cannot afford to provide for the youth of Nigeria and so we simply allow the grim reaper to solve the problem for us. We don’t even bother to count the bodies anymore. Sometimes, when they are famous, we remember them for a week before moving on: MC Loph, CD John, Dagrin, Goldie, Bisi Komolafe. We may also remember them for a week if they are consumed as a group by our national madnesses: Apo six, Aluu four. Beyond these modes of ephemeral remembrance, thousands perish weekly and do not even make a blip on the national radar. Indeed, in a country without a soul, the fate of the youth is even inferior to that of the baby bird in this dirge:

Oro nla le da (eee)

Oro nla le da (2X)

Eyin te gb’omo eiye t’ee je o d’agba

Oro nla le da

Back to our question: why did we not forge a national soul and how can we begin to address this problem? Our first error was to go for the material where other countries forge transcendental ideals in the quest for national self-inscription. Perhaps because modern statehood was foisted on us, we did not appreciate the fact that the new political structure, like our pre-existing ethnic nationalities, is “a soul and a spiritual principle”, to repeat the words of Ernest Renan. We did not understand this aspect of statehood and blindly began to replicate what Britain did with the colonial state. Because the colonial state was an instrument of economic exploitation for the colonizer, it was not in his place to invest it with a soul like he did for his own state back home in Europe. After the revolution of 1789, the French may have spent the next 200 years working to make the ideal of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity the soul of the French nation; it was not in the nature of things to take those ideals to colonial Mali or Cote d’Ivoire. What the coloniser therefore bequeathed to us on October 1, 1960 was a predatory instrument of greed and exploitation masquerading as a state. We took this soul-less, predatory structure and organized it around the materiality of the national cake. From the Civil War to Coups to Boko Haram via kidnapping, armed robbery, and militancy, we have been paying the price of this foundational error of the rendering in body counts.

Whereas other countries define themselves nationally around a set of transcendental ideas and ideals, we insist on coming together only to carve out our respective portions of the national cake. Well, as far as nations go, you cannot eat your cake and have a soul o. And we don’t even have table manners when gorging on this national cake. Just take a look at these irritating guys in Abuja, from Aso Rock to the National Assembly, and you are reminded of the unruliness of a pride of lions gorging on a wildebeest in the Serengeti. My apologies to the Serengeti lions for this demeaning comparison of their table manners with those of Nigeria’s leaders.

The second impediment to the emergence of a national soul in Nigeria is much more serious than the first. We have a stubborn, foolish, and fundamental misunderstanding of the role of difference in the forging of a national soul. We have spent the better part of our postcolonial existence struggling to suppress difference, especially when it is expressed as ethnic nationalism and religious affirmation. So great is our fear of difference that we have transformed its most sophisticated political expression – genuine federalism – into a bogeyman to be avoided at all costs! It is as if we are even afraid to remember how much better we all fared during our brief experience of true federalism under the regional structure of the 1960s.

Ever since we dismantled an arrangement that would have facilitated the creative and useable conjugation of our differences for the collective national good, our nation-space has become a watering hole Pharisees hawking “no-go areas” in national discourse and Sadducees selling ill-conceived notions of national unity. Arrogantly, they strut their stuff, telling us that so-and-so is not negotiable; the corporate existence of Nigeria is not a matter up for discussion. We must ask them: where in the history books did they encounter the idea of the finished nation? No matter their ideological differences, all the philosophers of the Western nations who brought the nation-state to Africa agree that the said political structure is by its very nature an unfinished business, to be permanently discussed and re-discussed, negotiated and renegotiated by citizens.

That is why Renan calls a nation “daily plebiscite”; that is why Homi Bhabha calls a nation a narration which is subject to perpetual retellings (you cannot therefore claim that a final version of the story of a nation has been told permanently); that is why Benedict Anderson calls a nation an “imagined political community” subject to perpetual re-imaginings. In short, nobody in the Western tradition from which we got modern statehood, has ever been as audacious as the Nigerian elite in proclaiming the non-negotiability of the structure of greed and corruption rigged and handed over to them by the corrupt British colonizers. This is why the recent embrace of the idea of a national dialogue by President Patience Jonathan must be cautiously encouraged. I say cautiously for all the reasons you know – we’ve been taking down this road before.

When we allow a thousand flowers to bloom, when we embrace the idea of a nation as a perpetual plebiscite, we open up a critical space of negotiation in which our differences would gain a space in the sun and stop being a source of repressed frustration. Just imagine for a second an America in which to articulate your tribal identity as Irish-American, Jewish American, Italian-American, African American, etc, became a valid ground for your exclusion from the purview of American privileges! That is unthinkable, isn’t it? It is unthinkable because Western nations have come to understand that it is the state that must constantly accommodate and work with differences, not criminalize them. The Canadian state is in a permanent state of negotiation with native Indians (First Nations in Canadian-speak) and the very culturally-conscious and permanently agitating French Canadians of Quebec.

If the state constantly negotiates with and makes space for difference in the West, she must do so even more urgently in Africa and in Nigeria in particular. After all, “Oba no dey go transfer” as we say. Igbirra, Ogoni, Tiv, Idoma, Jukun, Nupe, Birom, Edo, Ijaw, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa-Fulani and some 200 other ethnicities were here jeje before Nigeria came and rammed national borders and a collective national identity down their throats. They were here before she came. They are not going anywhere and Nigeria had better wake up and smell the coffee. A national soul can only be forged by creatively harnessing and engaging these differences, not by intimidating, denying, suppressing or preventing them from achieving self-determination within a genuine federal structure.

Respecting these differences and facilitating their right to a space under a true federal sun actually liberates their energies and potentials and puts them in a position to voluntarily determine what to shed and what to keep in the process of forging the transcendental ideal that would become the soul of a given nation. And we are very lucky indeed in Nigeria. Despite all the gloom, despite all our fault lines, despite corruption, despite decay, despite so much death in the land, despite despondency, despite the “emiremi” material condition of Boda Nigeria at 53, the same youth, those kids 30 years-old and below, who have been so badly betrayed by a country that has denied them everything – jobs, security, education, credible role models, even life – these are the same people, the same demographic who are all over social media, all over the spaces of popular culture, unknowingly articulating something that could become the transcendental ideal, the soul of Nigeria.

Listen to these young citizens in situations of banter and socializing. Whenever a Nigerian excels in something negative or mischievous, whether it’s yahoo-yahoo or a 20 year-old boy marrying a sixty-year-old white grandma for “pali” purposes, you are likely to hear young Nigerians exclaim amidst laughter: “chei, Naija no dey carry last!” Let me hear you repeat that: “Naija no dey carry last”. That, right there, ladies and gentlemen, is the seed of an idea that could become an ideal, our defining national soul. All we need do is relocate it from the sites of mischief and self-deprecating humour and turn it to something as serious as America and her privileges for the American or something as serious, as solemn as Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity for the French.

Retrieving an existing slogan from popular culture and sending it on more serious errands of national identity-making is of course not enough to event a soul for a country in ruins. If we limited ourselves to just that, we would merely be reinventing Dora Akunyili’s wobbling wheels of rebranding, a top-down money-grubbing fancy of the elite, which, like Ibrahim Babangida’s MAMSER before it, stood no chance of even remotely being able to mobilize the people. MAMSER and rebranding did not work because the youth did not really sign on to them. What makes young people sign on to an ideal? Take a look at Barack Obama in 2008. He had two things which made millions of youths sign on to what he was selling in 2008. He had a simple and sexy message: change. Secondly, he had the symbolic personal capital to power the message.

Message and personal capital must work together. MAMSER and rebranding failed because they were messages being sold in the absence of personal capital. In the case of Dora Akunyili, she was not really the one lacking personal capital; it was the political class to which she belonged. Collectively, that class cannot mobilize Nigerians to hire ideals. They lack credibility. In essence, the process of national rebirth that would hopefully begin with the emergence of a national soul would have to happen beyond the agency of Nigeria’s discredited political class. Either for selfish or altruistic reasons, members of this class may stumble on a reason to provide us with structure as is the case with the President who is now providing a framework for national discussions. Such opportunities could be cautiously embraced while being mindful of the fact that a pardoner of corruption cannot provide the inspiration for the emergence of the Nigerian soul.

We must credit the youth with the creativity and resourcefulness to recalibrate the message of Naija no dey carry last. All we need is for that message to suffuse our national space and create a new zeal for excellence in our national life. We could redefine and re-inscribe ourselves as those who no dey carry last in the sphere of excellence. That message should define our style, our arts, our science, our technology, our approach to maintaining our infrastructure, even our bureaucracy. If the Nigerian civil servant becomes imbued with that new mentality, almost half our problems would be solved for the civil service is one of the most corrupt institutions of our national life. If you don’t want us to carry last, you’d shine the light in your own little corner in the Ministry where you work.

Only the youth could find it within themselves to recalibrate that message. Don’t underestimate them. They built Nollywood out of nothing and in Nigeria’s harsh climate; they reinvented music and made American gangsta rap and R & B totally irrelevant in our party halls; they won the nations cup despite the oasis of disorganization and inefficiency that is the Nigerian football Federation; everywhere you turn, the youth of Nigeria are excelling despite Nigeria, despite all the odds stacked against them. All they really need to become the catalysts for the invention of a Nigerian soul are a few good role models who don’t have to come from government but who understand the need to inject their enormous personal and symbolic capital into our public life by being there in the public eye as role models for our youths. Such personalities could be socially conscious and socially responsive activist Pastors who are completely tired of and disillusioned with politics and politicians but whose personal capital and credibility are public property because they could mobilize our youth and inspire them to hire ideals the way nobody in public office could; or they could be female human rights and civil rights activists who have been photographed in Washington in the company of John Kerry and Michelle Obama.

They don’t even have to be famous. They could be you, you, you, and you, out there, encouraging and mobilizing our youth in your respective stations in life. You could take that message away from this lecture hall and let our youth understand that the one of the really urgent  tasks of the moment is a recalibration of the message contained in something they utter in jest everyday: Naija no dey carry last! It is only when this message I allowed to transcend our differences in a rejuvenated and redesigned Federal structure – itself another level of struggle – that we shall all be able to rise, united by the immense power of our differences and diversity, and sing that song of ours in its real and true dimension:

Winner ooo winner

Winner ooo winner

Nigeria you don win o winner

Patapata you go win forever winner!

I thank you for your time.

Nigeria @ 53 Lecture Convened by Centre for Change, Lagos, October 15, 2013

Pius Adesanmi is a Professor of English and African Studies

Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada  &

Carnegie Diaspora Visiting Professor (2013-2014)

Institute of African Studies

University of Ghana, Legon, Accra


Femi Fani-Kayode victory or death my stand on Nigeria.


Jonathan has not offered Sovereign National Conference and that is the problem. Make it “sovereign” and I am on board. I will not replace Hausa Fulani domination, which we have suffered for over 40 years in this country, with ijaw or igbo domination.

As each day passes it dawns on me more and more that the only way to secure and protect the interests of my people, the 50 million Yoruba people of south western Nigeria, is for us to leave Nigeria and establish our own nation.

For us Nigeria has done nothing. She has only held us back. I am not ashamed to say that this is how I feel and I am under no illusion that it may not be the most popular position today even amongst the yoruba themselves.

Yet the truth is that eventually our people will see that I am right and when the time for that idea comes no force or power in heaven or on earth can stop it.

I have been in politics for 23 years and I make bold to say that I have little doubt that ultimately, if our people really want true liberation, we must break off the shackles of a united Nigeria and establish our own sovereign state.

Now go ahead and call me a tribalist or whatever you like. It matters not to me. I have the same feeling for and pride in my people as the Scots in the United Kingdom have in theirs. The only difference is that they are in a civilised clime where they have been given the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination by the conduct of a free and fair people’s referendum to determine whether they wish to remain in their country or not, whilst we have not been given that opportunity.

As a matter of fact the very suggestion or thought of secession and the exercise of our right of self-determination to leave Nigeria is not only frowned upon and met with utter disdain and contempt by those who would wish to hold us captive forever but it is also despised by their collaborators within our own ranks who have cultivated a slave mentality that is borne out of what is known as the “Stockholm Syndrome“.

Yet regardless of that our time will come because our aspirations are perfectly legitimate and lawful. There is no shame in wanting to be on your own and wanting the very best for your people. I am not a tribalist because I look down on no other but I am a Yoruba nationalist because I believe that the Yoruba are very different to most. We have a date with destiny and if we wish to keep that date I am convinced that we must remove the weights, break the chains, strengthen our resolve and get out of Nigeria.

I do not believe that we should dominate anyone or rule over anyone else. I do however believe, and strongly too, that no-one has the right to rule over us or dominate us any longer and I intend to dedicate the rest of my life to resisting such an agenda either within or without a united Nigeria. I am bound by the hopes and aspirations of the yoruba people and whatever they wish to do or opt to do is the cause that I, together with many other loyal and courageous leaders and men of integrity from the west in the new generation, shall do. For us it is either victory or death.

Source: Radio Biafra.

The Benefits Of Ethnic Integration To Nigeria: A Case Study Of The Tiv Nation By Leonard Karshima Shilgba.

By Leonard Karshima Shilgba, PhD

This day, to me, marks the beginning of a pursuit of a new agenda for my Tiv nation and the Nigerian federation. It is now 53 years since Nigeria got political independence from Britain, the founder of Nigeria. And in those 53 years, we Nigerians have generally found it difficult to say openly, responsibly, and in faith those truths that we must speak up for national healing, national re-birth, and national integration. Considering the topic I have been sentenced to address this day—on the first Tiv Day in Adamawa State, there are 10 questions I consider necessary for common consideration:

Who is a Nigerian? How do we easily identify ourselves in Nigeria? Are our religious affiliations more consequential to us than our ethnic identification? Can we ever achieve religious integration? What is ethnic integration, and what benefits does this confer on Nigeria? What are the obstacles of ethnic integration in Nigeria? How are Tiv people viewed by other ethnic groups in Nigeria? How do Tiv people view themselves? What is the position of the Tiv people in the social evolution of Nigeria? What is the strategic interest of the Tiv nation within the larger Nigerian federation?

Who is a Nigerian?

The extant Nigerian Constitution, Decree 24 of 1998, provides a faulty foundation of the Nigerian citizenship by birth. Section 25 (1) states as follows:

The following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth, namely—

  1. Every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria:

Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria;

  1. Every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and
  2. Every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria.

Subsection (2) states that: In this section, “the date of independence” means the 1st day of October, 1960.

This section has made the matter of Nigerian citizenship by birth nebulous, and what date does the constitution consider to be the birth day of Nigeria; 1900, 1914, or 1960? Certainly, from the tenor of this section, 1960 date is not the contemplated date:

  1. What qualifies a people as a community indigenous to Nigeria?
  2. Provided the question of indigenous communities is answered, then how does one belong to an indigenous community—by ability to speak their common language or by living in the community for a specified minimum number of years (the constitution does not provide answers)?
  3.  Suppose neither my parents’ grandparents nor parents were born in Nigeria, but by some definition of inclusivity within some community indigenous to Nigeria, they belong (or belonged) to such community, then my parents by virtue of section 25 (1) (a) are NOT citizens of Nigeria. And I, according to section 25 (1) (b), am NOT a citizen of Nigeria.

The current constitution of Nigeria has shut the door of citizenship by birth firmly against many people who assume they are Nigeria’s citizens by birth. And the question of citizenship is the beginning of the journey toward national patriotism.

I make a firm conclusion therefore that persons who are not citizens of Nigeria by either registration or naturalisation, but who may assume citizenship by birth, may be making a costly assumption. By a chain of inquiry, they may not be Nigerians after all. Accordingly, the definition of citizenship by birth is tendentious. There is an urgent need to define:

  1. Communities indigenous to Nigeria;
  2. Processes of gaining inclusivity in those communities; and
  3. Citizenship by birth in a manner that is more inclusive.

How do we easily identify ourselves in Nigeria?

In the wild assumption of citizenship by birth, it is very common in Nigeria for people to identify themselves by their ethnic tribes, groups, or religions. Phrases such as “I am Hausa, Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Tiv, Ijaw,…” or “I am a Niger Deltan, South-southerner, Northerner, Middle Beltan, South Westerner, etc.,” or “I am a Muslim, Christian” are most common with us than those like “ I am from Benue State or I am from Adamawa State.” While those identifications are in themselves not wrong,   it is disturbing how we rely so strongly on them to “fight” for political power, economic advantage or social justice at either national or local levels.  And when we are constrained to choose between ethnic identity or religious affiliation, we most often choose the latter. This, in most cases is the cause of many a crises we have had in our country. Most disgusting is when we view any criticisms against our men and women in public offices through the dual lenses of ethnicity and religion.  We tend to assume that if someone who professes the same religion or ethnic identification with us occupies some political or public position, then our interest is protected or we at least can gain some vanity of pride, just mere sense of pride even if there is no tangible gain that comes to us thereby. In the midst of fuel subsidy protests last year, a lady from the president’s ethnic group said, “If Nigerians don’t want President Jonathan, then they don’t need our oil.” This vanity is behind the principle of zoning in the so-called “biggest party in Africa”, and it is gradually being destroyed by the same vanity.

Can we ever achieve religious integration?

Can we ever achieve religious integration? We don’t need religious integration in Nigeria, and it is never ever possible anywhere on earth to achieve harmonization of religions; rather we can achieve and must attain religious tolerance in Nigeria. While we can never choose our ethnic groups, being a natural gift, we can and in fact do choose our religions. Religion is a personal adventure.  It is a vain effort to attempt to either “Islamize” or “Christianize” someone. We humans can neither change nor monitor the motions of the heart of another. Many who claim to be “Christians” or “Muslims” live in complete opposite to the tenets of those faiths. Did not Mahatma Ghandi say in response to a question by a Christian missionary on why he had rejected Christ and yet quoted Christ’s words often, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It is just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ”?

And has not the courageous Sheik Ahmad Abubakar Gumi made it plain even as he said, “If you attack Church, where people are worshipping, what is the profit and for what purpose? Is it Allah or Prophet that sent you? Is there any Muslim that said you should attack a church? Talk of mosque, they are being used in destroying Islam and may Allah help them to know. Our strength is our unity and the practice of real Islam. And anybody who thinks he will be using force like this, Islam and Ummah have no greater enemy than him.

Religion is a heart issue and should be left to individuals. If I truly loved someone, I should respect them enough to allow them to make their choices. I may advise and inform; but never must I compel them or threaten them.

Inter-religious dialogue is a phrase that doesn’t make any sense to me. Rather, we should have meaningful inter-personal dialogue. But Nigerian politicians make this most difficult to achieve for their lack of vision and power of communication of same. In this their poverty, they assault our ears with either religious appeals or ethnic campaigns.

What is ethnic integration, and what benefits does this confer on Nigeria?

Ethnic integration is not the absence of recognition that ethnic groups exist. It is not a denial that a people have come from different ethnic groups with distinctive cultures. Rather, it is a conscious effort to not exploit those differences. It is a refusal by national opinion leaders and the political class to keep projecting ethnic differences on the screen of national consciousness.  It is this diagnosis that has revealed to the pondering mind the existence of a severe social gangrene in Nigeria called zoning. The zoning principle that has been accepted by the Nigerian political class is a major cause of tension and violence in the land. It is more exclusive than it is inclusive; it tears apart more than it brings together.  All ethnic discriminatory considerations that relate to employment, admission to national or state institutions of learning, and political contests must be not only discouraged but criminalized if we will achieve ethnic integration.

The benefits of ethnic integration are legion, but the most recognized is that it reduces national tension. And that is what Nigeria needs at this time. It is the best service our politicians can provide us at this defining moment of our national history. Furthermore, ethnic integration enhances mutual economic benefits and a sharing of economic prosperity among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. We cannot achieve common prosperity so long as we place economic barriers before our brethren from other parts of Nigeria. We need to preach boldly against the evils of economic exclusion as well even as we have not been oblivious of political exclusion for the most part. There are certain businesses in Nigeria that are difficult to engage in if one belongs to certain ethnic groups. The Nollywood industry, for instance, is dominated by a certain ethnic group in Nigeria. I understand that this situation is not for want of effort or interest by our brothers and sisters from other ethnic groups in Nigeria, especially given the wild unemployment scourge in the land. Such perceptions do not encourage ethnic integration. The Tiv people are the dominant producers of oranges in Nigeria. But while they allow Nigerians from other ethnic groups to gain access to their orange orchards even in the countryside, they are not allowed to derive the optimal benefits because they don’t control prices. They have therefore become slaves for the rest of Nigeria in this regard. The Tiv people are known for the production of yams and other crops such as soya beans, melon, tomatoes, etc.,  from which they derive only marginal benefits because they do not control the prices. I think the time has come for us the Tiv people to ponder this and demand of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria a just bargain.

On Tiv People

The Tiv people, by population, are the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria, with a population of about 7 million. We are most known for our music and dancing, bravery, courage, and farming ingenuity. Some Nigerians “fear” us. But we view ourselves beyond those considerations. We believe in our intricate abilities to create wealth, our strong independence of mind. The “ka hen awe m ye m tse ga” (You are not the one that feeds me) common expression of a Tiv man was to express this independence disposition.

We were the last ethnic group to migrate to the area now called Nigeria, but  our forefathers were able to obtain for us a foothold in Nigeria. That was an agenda that they accomplished successfully. By the time we first came into contact with the British colonial lords in about 1907, we were firmly planted.  But what should be our strategic interest today? Our unapologetic opposition to oppression pitched us against the Sir Ahmadu Bello-led government of Northern Nigeria. Our decision to form an alliance with the Awolowo Obafemi-led political group eventually led to the Tiv riots of the early 60s. Our involvement in the civil war understandably to save Nigeria earned the Tiv people the hatred of the Igbos. At this time, we the Tiv people of our generation refuse to play the second fiddle to any ethnic group. We shall join no ethnic group in Nigeria to pursue a narrow interest that is not even ours. However, we accept any economic  or political partnership on the basis of equality and mutual interest. We cannot love others more than we love ourselves.

The Fulani herdsman that used to be a friend of the Tiv has lately turned the dagger on his friend. So, like the Jews, we appear to stand alone in our island within the ocean of Nigeria. Don’t Tiv people deserve the right to farm and not have their crops destroyed by the cattle of their erstwhile Fulani friends? And must nomadic cattle-rearing still be allowed in this age of cattle ranching? The Tiv blood has been shed enough on our land, and we cannot afford it any longer.  The bill on forced acquisition of grazing land across Nigeria for the Fulani cattle men, which was proposed by Hon. Tsokwa does not meet the interest of the Tiv people, and we reject it.

The Tiv of our generation have taken sad notice of developments around our people—their growing artificial impoverishment, lack of appropriate voice on their behalf, and the quiet acceptance by the majority of the Tivs that their ancestors brought them into Nigeria, and now they have become slaves on their land, gradually being turned into beggars.

Above is the speech delivered by Leonard Shilgba at the Tiv Day Adamawa State event held at the Ribadu Square, Yola on October 5, 2013.

Leonard Shilgba is a Mathematics professor and social commentator.

Email:; TEL: 08055024356.


Breaking News: 24-Hour Curfew Declared In Southern Kaduna As Scores Killed In Indigenes-Settlers Clash.

By SaharaReporters, New York

The Kaduna State Government has declared a 24-hour curfew in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, following bloody fighting between ethnic indigene groups in Southern Kaduna and settler elements of Hausa-Fulani dwelling in the area. In a telephone interview with our New York office, a security source told SaharaReporters that at least five persons were killed in the fighting.

The bloody clash was also confirmed by an elderly Yoruba resident of Kafanchan, an otherwise quiescent town that used to be known as a railway hub. The man said the assaults flared up again yesterday, after armed soldiers had earlier quelled a skirmish last Sunday.

The security operative disclosed that indigenes of Southern Kaduna and Hausa-Fulani youths engaged in a free-for-all fight using machetes, spears and a few guns. Apart from the dead, many people also sustained varying degrees of injury.

The source said, “I can confirm to you that attacks started yesterday between the indigenes and settlers. And several people were killed before [the] government declared 24 hours curfew today. As we speak, we are in the streets patrolling and all residents are now indoors.”
The security agent said yesterday’s attack appeared to be reprisals for the death of a young man who was killed last Sunday.

SaharaReporters could not reach the Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike. However, a police officer in Kaduna said the commissioner and military authorities in Kaduna had deployed troops to the trouble spots to strengthen security and contain any threats that might escalate attacks.


The picture is a previous picture of 2011 post election violence in Kafanchan.

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