Open Letter to Nigerians Born on 1st October, 1960 and Thereafter Urging Them to Re-invent Nigeria

Columns
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Introduction


In a few days’ time Nigeria will be celebrating her 60 years of Independence. General Obasanjo has set the ball rolling and the NCEF is drawing the attention of Nigerians especially to the fact that we need to research more into our colonial past 1914 - 1960, thereafter, six years of our independence (1960 - 1966) and, finally, 1966 - 2020.

These can be classified as the period of colonialism especially the double mandate of Lugard and the statement by Kirk-Greene concerning North and South expatriates working in Nigeria “One is reminded of the quip about the mutual hostility and regional loyalty of the Administrative staff of the Northern and Southern Provinces up to 1939: if all Nigerians had withdrawn from the country, there would have been a civil war between the two groups of Europeans. In 1954 the Civil Services were formally reorganized and personnel were no longer recruited to the nominally “Nigerian’ Service. Previously, of course, there had been a growing tendency to contain postings, especially of the Administrative Service in a given ‘region’, for obvious reasons of administrative efficiency acquired through fluency in the local vernacular and the pull of continuity, though officers who had worked long in the emirates were generally given a subsequent posting to the very different administrative atmosphere of the ‘Middle Belt’ chiefdoms.” [Lugard and the Amalgamation of Nigeria A.H.M. Kirk-Greene, pg. 37] NCEF is convinced that we, Nigerians, are yet to shed the yoke laid on us by our colonial masters; initially, it was Muslim North and Christian South, today, it is Muslims and Christians thus blurring the geographical division of North and South. Nigerians need to investigate our past more critically than we have hitherto done.

 

At Independence


The period between 1960 - 1966 also needs to be investigated. Why was it, we ask, that the first Act passed by the Federal Parliament of Nigeria was the Emergency Act No. 1 of 1961? Before then, Dr. Ajayi, the Solicitor-General of Western Region then, had interpreted the purport and effect of Section 65 of the Independence Constitution. Instrument No. 1652 of 1960 was issued by Her Majesty the Queen in Council in England and published both in England and Nigeria in its sub-Section (1) - (4) comprising total of less than thirty lines. In its sub-Section (1) it states that the Federal Parliament may, at any time, make such laws for Nigeria or part thereof, with respect to matters not included in the Executive Legislative List or the Concurrent Legislative List as may appear to Parliament to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of maintaining or securing a period of emergency. Section 3 defined period of emergency and as Ajayi wrote “I was rather curious at the time as to what could have prompted the Government of Western Nigeria so soon after the attainment of national Independence in 1960, to require from me, a legal opinion on the extent and limits of the emergency powers provisions in the Independence Constitution. Upon further enquiry by me, the late Chief S. O. Ighodaro, then the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, informed me that they had heard rumors that the Federal Government, to which their party, the Action Group formed and constituted the official Opposition in the Federal Parliament, was planning to create a situation where they would be able to declare that a state of emergency existed in Western Nigeria and proceed to dismiss the Governor of the Region, dissolve its Government and Houses of Assembly and Chiefs then govern the Region directly through Federal-appointed functionaries. I then proceeded to examine the matter in depth.

 

Emergency Law through the Backdoor


Section 65 of the then Constitution of the Federation of Nigeria contained in the Second Schedule to the Nigeria (Constitution) Order in Council, 1960, Statutory Instrument No. 1652 of 1960, issued by Her Majesty, the Queen in Council in England and published both in that country and in Nigeria, dealt with the present matter in its Sub-Sections (1) to (4) comprising a total of less than thirty lines. In its Sub-Section (1) it stated that the Federal Parliament may, at any time, make such laws for Nigeria or any part thereof, with respect to matters not included in the Exclusive Legislative List or the Concurrent Legislative List as may appear to Parliament to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of maintaining or securing peace, order and good government during any period of emergency. In Sub-Section (3) “period of emergency" was defined as meaning any period during which -
(a) the Federation is at war;
(b) there is, in force, a resolution passed by each of the Houses of Parliament declaring that a state of public emergency exists; or
(c) there is, in force, a resolution of each House of Parliament supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the Houses declaring that democratic institutions in Nigeria are threatened by subversion.” [In Our Days, Dr F. A. Ajayi, SAN pgs. 464 - 465]

Dr. Ajayi continued “In any event, even where a period of emergency did exist, the only powers conferred upon Parliament are powers to make laws on Residual matters not appearing on the Exclusive Legislative List or the Concurrent Legislative List and so, ordinarily, within the sole legislative competence of Regional Houses of Assembly such laws must be for the “purpose of maintaining or securing peace, order and good government during any period of emergency”. A constitutional power to make laws on Residual matters in my view, would not include or import a power (without making any laws) to remove from office, the Governor of a Region or the Regional Premier and Ministers or dissolving the Regional Houses of Chiefs and Assembly.

 

“Amendment” of a Regional Constitution through the Backdoor


In my view (Ajayi), any law for the purpose of doing any of those things in respect of the Western Region would amount to an amendment of the Constitution of the Western Region to which effect was given by Section 2 of and the Fourth Schedule to the Nigeria (Constitution) Order in Council, 1960 and which Constitution of Western Nigeria could be amended only by a law enacted by the legislature of that Region and passed in the manner provided for in Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federation of Nigeria set out in Second Schedule to the Nigeria (Constitution) Order in Council, 1960, which, among other things, required the support of at least two thirds of all members of the Regional Legislature in addition to the support by each of the Federal Houses of Parliament. Any resolution passed by the Federal Parliament would, of course, not be a law. In any event, even if an Emergency enactment by Parliament could properly amend a Regional Constitution, Parliament would have no authority to delegate such amending power to anyone else making Emergency Regulations because of the maxim Delegatus non potest delegare that is a delegated person or authority cannot sub-delegate his powers to another. [Emphasis supplied]

 

Wrong Turn taken by Nigeria


Over fifty-eight clear years “after the declaration of the state of emergency in Western Nigeria (29th of May 1962) not a few are still saying that that was the day when the wrong turning was taken in Nigeria’s political history leading later to the controversial Western Nigeria elections of 1965; the people’s bloody revolt against the rigged results; the first ever attempted military coup-d’état in the country on the 15th of January, 1966, the first Military Regime from the 17th of January, 1966, the counter coup -d’état of the 29th of July, 1966; the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970 the prolonged succession of military regimes and the consequential strangulating of the democratic culture and its practitioners; indeed all the current topical issues that are encapsulated in the expression the National question.” [In Our Days, Dr F. A. Ajayi, SAN pgs. 467 - 468] These are matters to be investigated.

 

Contrived Emergency in Western Nigeria


We also need to investigate why and how the 1963 Emergency situation of Western Region was contrived. It would appear that these events were not accidents of history but were well-planned ploys by a group of people who would benefit from the instability in Nigeria and who definitely are not the Fulani as the killing of fellow Nigerians is not beneficial to any Negroid Nigerian. The elections of 1959 Federal and the Western Region House of Assembly of 1965 were rigged. The British only taught us how to rig elections and the beneficiaries of these rigged elections definitely are not the people of Nigeria, but our colonial masters. This has to be investigated alongside the first coup of January 1966 in view of the fact that Military rule and Democracy constitute a contradiction in rulership. Was military rule the first step to Sharia? This is a question that is begging for an answer.

 

Military Rule in Colonized Countries of Africa


When Nigeria rulership is weighed alongside the influence of Sharia, the impression one gets is that Military rule and Sharia have a lot in common. Military rule in the 1960s did not begin with Nigeria, the Congo where Mobutu took over from Patrice Emery Lumumba ensured the supremacy of an individual (Mobutu) who ran his country aground. The same applied to Togo and Ghana before Nigeria. Sheikh Gumi in his autobiography wrote that he was invited by Nzeogwu in Kaduna and questioned about arms. Col. Nwobosi (now in his 80s) maintains that Nzeogwu got intelligence report that there was going to be a jihad, which it would appear, made the Christian soldiers to strike first. These facts need to be investigated to find out whether external influence had hands in the coup plots. The revenge coup of July 1966 also needs to be investigated. The events of January 1966 are contained in two volumes of Kirk-Greene’s Crisis and Conflicts in Nigeria and it is time for the Nigerian archive to be opened for scholars so that we know how and why Christian soldiers in the “North” who were in the majority were prepared to kill Christians from the South for the benefit of the “North”.

 

The Civil War


There are publications concerning the Civil War from the Biafran side but none from Federal side. The archive must now be open to provide answers to the question why the surrender document and presentation etc, suggest end of war between Christian South and Christian North not Muslim North. Our future generations are entitled to know the two sides of the Civil War.

Chief Executives of Nigeria since 1960

 

 Muslims  Christians
 Tafawa Balewa (October 1, 1960 – January 15, 1966)  Maj-Gen J. Aguiyi-Ironsi (January 16, 1966 - July 29, 1966
 General Murtala Mohammed (July 29, 1975 - February 13, 1976)  General Yakubu Gowon (August 1, 1966 - July 29, 1975)
 Shehu Shagari (October 1, 1979 - December 31, 1983)  Maj-Gen Olusegun Obasanjo (February 13, 1976 - October 1, 1979)
 General Muhammadu Buhari (December 31, 1983 - August 27, 1985)  Ernest Shonekan (August 26 1993 - November 17, 1993)
 General Ibrahim Babangida (August 27, 1985 - August 26, 1993)  Olusegun Obasanjo (May 29, 1999 - May 29, 2007)
 General Sani Abacha (November 17, 1993 - June 8, 1998)  Goodluck Jonathan (May 5, 2010 - May 29, 2015)
 General Abdulsalami Abubakar (June 8, 1998 - May 29, 1999)   
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (May 29, 2007 - May 5, 2010)  
Muhammadu Buhari (May 29, 2015 - till date  

 

The above shows clearly that the military, a very young institution, dominated by young and inexperienced officers in terms of age and educational qualifications held offices as Heads of State or Presidents. Today, like old wine, they have matured with age and some went further to obtain doctorate degrees. There is the need to question why some of the military men had their training in England while some went to Pakistan and India immediately after independence. The impression is that Pakistan was chosen to strengthen Islamization and weaken Democracy.


Pakistan not a Role Model


Pakistan’s endemic poverty, widespread corruption, and often ineffective government created opportunities for Islamist recruitment. Poor education is of particular concern as millions of families, especially those with little money, sent their children to religious schools, or madrassahs. Many of these schools provided the only opportunity available for an education, but some have been used as incubators for violent extremism. According to Karachi’s police commander, there are 859 madrassahs teaching more than 200,000 youngsters in his city alone. It is hard to overstate the importance of Pakistan in the struggle against Islamist terrorism. Within Pakistan’s borders are 150 million Muslims, scores of al Qaeda terrorists, many Taliban fighters, and-perhaps-Usama Bin Ladin, Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons and has come frighteningly close to war with nuclear-armed India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. A political battle among anti-American Islamic fundamentalists, the Pakistani military, and more moderate mainstream political forces have already spilled over into violence, and there have been repeated recent attempts to kill Pakistan’s President, Pervez Musharraf. --- Finally, Pakistan has made little progress toward the return of democratic rule at the national level, although that turbulent process does continue to function at the provincial level and the Pakistani Press remain relatively free. [The 9/11 Commission Report pgs. 367- 368] We must not forget what Lugard wrote concerning the North: “Government did not interfere in the indigenous Koranic schools, in which reading and writing in the Arabic and Ajemi character, and memorizing passages from the Koran formed the curriculum. They were estimated at some 25, 000 with over a quarter of a million pupils. These Koranic schools had produced a literary class known as ‘Mallamai’, learned in Arabic and the teachings of the Koran and commentaries, from whose ranks the officers of the Native Administration, the judges of the Native Courts, and the exponents of the creed of Islam were drawn. They are a very influential class, some of them very well read in Arabic literature and law, and deeply imbued with the love of learning.” [Lugard and the Amalgamation of Nigeria Kirk-Greene pg. 149] Lugard was thus the architect of two conflicting ideologies for Nigeria - Democracy and Sharia, all designed to weaken the influence of educated Southern Nigerians. The two ideologies, in justice, should have been allowed to compete without the assistance of the British Empire in promoting Sharia.

We have a situation in Nigeria similar to Healers in South Africa viz-a-viz, conventional doctors. While we can quantify the qualifications of conventional doctors, the healers’ qualification is subjective. Traditional healers of Southern Africa are practitioners of traditional African medicine. They fulfill different social and political roles in the community, including divination, healing physical, emotional and spiritual illnesses, directing birth or death rituals, finding lost cattle, protecting warriors, counteracting witchcraft, and narrating the history, cosmology, and myths of their tradition. Sharia, on the other hand, is very much like the traditional healer - unwritten and uncertain as only the healer knows what constitute qualification.

 

Sudan not also a Role Model


Sudan, at that time, the model for British administration in Africa, has failed and today it is two countries and recently, it announced that it has jettisoned Islamic State for a secular state. The former President of Sudan, Omar al Bashir is now languishing in jail. Part of the report reads “Sudan is emerging from international isolation that began soon after Bashir seized power in 1989 and implemented a hard-line interpretation of Islamic law that sought to make the country the “vanguard of the Islamic world.” Al-Qaeda and Carlos the Jackal settled there; the U.S. designated Sudan a terror sponsor in 1993, later imposing sanctions until 2017.” [Sudan Ends 30 Years of Islamic Law by Separating Religion, State, Sep 04 2020] This is not to say that America or any European country is a model. All we are saying is that the Nigerian youth should appreciate that Democracy is still the best form of governance invented by the human mind while we rate Sharia as inferior to Democracy in which case, Nigeria has no business in the duplicity of Common Law and Sharia jurisdictions. It should have Common Law jurisdiction only.

 

Traditional Healers and Sharia Judges


The Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) has suggest that the Governor of Kaduna State should executes those pardoned in 1992 today 2020, after fully serving their sentences. We are referring to General Lekwot and six others. Lekwot joined the Army at the same time with President Buhari and both of them, among others were appointed Governors on the same day, Buhari to North/East, Lekwot to Rivers. Buhari has remained quiet on this issue. We know that President Buhari is unhappy at the way Babangida treated him though both of them had the same ambition by staging the 1975 coup, but Lekwot, as a Christian was not competing with him for leadership. It is pertinent at this juncture to state that the overthrow of Buhari by Babangida is permitted under Sharia law so also was the execution of Vatsa for contemplating the overthrow of Babangida. These were permitted under Sharia (jihad). The treatment of former Heads of State who were Muslims against former Heads of State who were Christians such as Gowon’s implication in the Dimka coup without proof and the recent “liquidation” of his Yakubu Gowon Centre by the Buhari administration, the trial of Obasanjo on trumped up charges for which he was convicted for treason, following a kangaroo tribunal were all jihads under Sharia. The same act in different circumstances can either constitute treason and execution or a place in the presidential mansion. This duplicity needs to be stopped.

Nigerians need to understand how and why this country got to the edge of the precipice and no better explanation can be found there in the book Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria published in 1993 by Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah as he then was, who wrote: “We conclude therefore that the debate over the secular status of the state is, in the main, the debate over the size of crumbs from the master's table. Furthermore, it is not an accident that the issues of religious violence have become so decisive in Babangida era. In fact, protest has permeated every segment of the society as everyone is compelled to join the struggle for survival. The administration has combined the politics of divide and rule such as was devised by the colonial administration with the politics of what has turned the state into a fiefdom. Babangida’s regime has made sure that through keeping the civilian population engaged in a relay race of turmoil, he and his administration can achieve two things. First of all, the government has broken all organized opposition by sponsoring rival factions in all elections. This started with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), then the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Student Union, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) etc. In all these cases, against the tide of popular opinion, the government-sponsored candidates, backed by federal might, have always won the elections. From there the organizations either became pro-government or they remain locked in internal feuds.” [pg. 243] This was Stealth Jihad per Excellence. It is very clear that the politics of divide and rule culminated in politics of Democracy and Sharia. The relay race of turmoil continues and having mastered the art of sponsoring rival factions, it has reached the level of establishing Christian denominations with Sharia components. Moral is now being replaced with cash as Christianity and Democracy have been monetized. The foundation was Act No. 1 of 1961 referred to earlier.

 

Truth and Reconciliation Commission


President Obasanjo set up the Human Rights Violation Commission or Oputa Commission that is being remembered more for what it did not do than what it did, particularly in the use of technicality for the protection of three former Heads of State at that time - Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar by the Supreme Court to that shielded them from appearing before the Commission. What is striking however was the fact that the Christian Heads of State and Generals were willing to testify: General Obasanjo who was also President at the time testified so did General Theophilus Danjuma who in the spirit of reconciliation, had the opportunity to embrace Umaru Dikko the victim of the failed plans to crate him back to Nigeria. Ernest Shonekan, on the other hand, testified in private and showed bitterness towards Sani Abacha who overthrew him.
Will it be necessary to create another Truth and Reconciliation Commission to do a thorough job? The answer is yes but in another guise to look at the past thoroughly without being judgmental, judge the present and question the future of Nigeria based on the recommendation of the youths, including those like Omoyele Sowore, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, Dr. Tony Nwankwo Nwaezeigwe, Gabriel Idibia, Jacob Dickson, Agba Jalingo, Luka Binniyat, Midat Joseph, Audu Maikori, Dr John Danfulani, Nasiru Jagaba, Sunny Yayock, HRH Dr Ishaku Damina, Dr Inuwa Abdulkadir, Senator Shehu Sani, Senator Danjuma Laah, Gloria Mabeiam Ballason, Jeremiah Sunday, Adamu Abdullahi, Barack Zebedee, Eng. Bawa Magaji, CP Sani Magaji, Awemi Dio Maisamari, Joseph Abdalla, Tanko Maisamari, Hosea Danladi, Joseph Ayuba, Tanko Wada, Samuel Ogundipe, Abubakar Idris, Sen Suleiman Hunkuyi, Stephen Kefason, Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Segun Onibiyo, Jacob Onjewu Dickson, Dr. Zuwaqhu Bonat and others who are presently being persecuted for demanding revolution of the mind.

 

Conclusion


The question of secession in whatever guise should be discarded. It is not a solution. Secession was used as a ploy by the British to give the North advantages over the South. Then came the East with legitimate reason for secession but was prevented. Since then, secession has been the signature tune of dissent. We of the NCEF are vehemently opposed to breakaway as it is cowardly. In any case, Christian and Ethnic Nationalities built Nigeria. A number of Nigerian professionals have moved abroad and are doing very well in their new abode. They cannot, legitimately, be replaced by Negroids from African countries.

Sheikh Gumi in his autobiography wrote “Certainly the orientation in Southern Nigeria in general was to copy the white man. Sophistication was measured in terms of how this was achieved, which was why individuals went to great lengths to appear ‘European, often for want of affirmative cultural support to do otherwise”. He continues “Until 1946, not a single person represented the Northern Region in the national government in Lagos. Part of the problem had to do with the shortage of manpower, since there were hardly any other recognized secondary schools in the North at the time, apart from the Katsina Training College. Indeed, the Northern Region administration was made up almost entirely of British officials and staff from other parts of Nigeria and the West African sub-region. I recall clearly when we had only Igbos and Ghanaians as shopkeepers in Sokoto; they also bought produce from the farmers and sold them to the European companies”. [Where I Stand Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, pg. 119] These honest assertions do not support President Buhari’s interpretation of Federal character. The echelons of the three arms of government, the Legislature, and the Executive in 2020 are occupied by a single tribe (Fulani) from the North that constitute less than five percent of the population from the Northern Nigeria. This, we submit, helped to reduce Nigeria to a state tipping towards a failed state.

NCEF is taking this opportunity to thank and appreciate General Obasanjo for inviting Afenifere, Northern Elders, Ohaneze, Middle Belt Forum, PANDEF and others to collectively warn everyone, including Mr. President, that Nigeria is drifting fast into a failed state. In this letter, we are saying that our British colonial masters had two policies concerning colonial Nigeria. One, developed by Whitehall through conferences etc which translated into the Nigerian Constitution of 1960 and the other, by the man on the spot, Lugard and subsequent Governor-Generals after him constructed by the intelligence services and designed to create contradictions in governance to hold back the black man and the black race.

The other mistake Nigeria has made over the years is the use of old tested and failed methods to attempt to solve modern problems. An apt example is a situation whereby a healer/traditional medicine man is appointed to the position of Chief Medical officer. This is what is happening to present day Nigeria. The solution in Nigeria’s problem of governance is that this administration is trying to use colonial solutions as the British did in the 19th century. There is no need for Nigeria to have two competing systems of governance Democracy and Sharia under the guise of Western and traditional administration. In any case the two systems have to be exposed to public debate and scrutiny. Nigeria cannot succeed by admitting Democracy through the front door and Sharia through the back. The NCEF, however, agree with former President Olusegun Obasanjo that we need to re-structure to re-invent Nigeria. This can easily be done by all Nigerians of this age. Nigeria was a creation of Britain through Lugard. To re-invent Nigeria, we must agree on one mandate and how to achieve this mandate, not two, a Nigeria that is one Nation, one ideology and one future, that accepts Boko (Western education) and not regard it as haram (sacrilege).

Nigerians must not allow anybody, ethnic group or religion to intimidate them to the extent that they abandon the country for Europe or America. They have the duty to make Nigeria a better country and the only thing to do is to re-invent Nigeria and this cannot happen if we run away. Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and coalition of Oodua self-determination should take note.

Nigeria has enough experience and virile youth to provide solution for her problems. Compatriots this is your chance to make all Nigerians of this age, inventors of modern Nigeria.

God bless Nigeria

 

Yours sincerely in God, and country,

 

Solomon Asemota, SAN
For and on behalf of
National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF)


September 15, 2020