By Opeyemi Oniya. Sr.
Adherents of Fulani hegemony, and the Aso-Rock Fulani cabal are back to the drawing board. It is a new day in Nigeria. The Fulani doctrine that contemporary “Nigeria is too weak to break-up” is in retreat. This philosophy of total power – as in the conqueror – in their progenitors’ belief – that Nigeria is, has become, their conquered territory is predicated on their late son’s proclamation of the National Developmental State (NDS). *[A subject I have written on elsewhere. See footnote].
As with their late son, Abacha, the NDS was predicated on the absence of internal strife in the adoption of Carl von Clausewitz’s doctrine of war in dealing with the opposition and in other policy centers. Clausewitz’s conception of grand strategy focuses on his theory of the center of gravity. That point in the enemy’s organism – military, political, social, and so on, at which should he be defeated or lose it, the whole structure of power or base will collapse. The supreme act of strategic judgment is to distinguish the centra gravitatis of the opposition, discern their spheres of action and strike forcefully against them. The center generally, in an organized movement lies in the person of the Chief Leader, and in public opinion in the media, the intelligentsia, leaders of thought and all visible commentators. It is against all these that the blow must be directed.
The Nigerian scene is pluralistic and somehow complex since no single individual or institution has the kind of central pulling power as centra gravitatis. Hence the various centrifugal forces are eliminated or arrested and taken care of as they tend to arise, or as they are imagined to arise. Remember Kanu, Sowore, the use of EFCC, the recent emasculation of both the trade and student unions, and until the #EndSars, #EndSwat saga – the chronic combative reaction of the Nigerian government to peaceful protests and protesters.
But the modern Fulani oligarchy and Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, aka – Aso Rock cabal is snowballing into an amalgam of the power philosophy of their truculent son, Sanni Abacha and that of the maradona of Nigerian politics, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. The modern Fulani oligarchy – in the years of Buhari – has adopted Abacha’s bestial deployment of total power and Ibrahim Babangida’s seemingly uncanny knowledge of the Nigerian socio-political terrain – in tactical destabilization; of Fabian strategy (akin to the old Fulani tactic of treachery and deceit – remember Afonja, remember Abiola) – in the cajoling and emasculation of the civilian political class (shameless individuals, rent collectors, whose honors and principles are for sale Jankara style – why the National Assembly cannot be a player, in any new dispensation to moving Nigeria forward).
The modern Fulani oligarchy, as masters of this power amalgam, and in its doctrine that “Nigeria is too weak to break up”, has gone all-in, openly and with some measure of subterfuge, re-creating Nigeria as a caliphate. It has gone rogue in its open border – in your face – Fulani migration policy from West African countries into Nigeria; in its reckless foreign borrowing to fund developments in Northern Nigeria, in its total control of the state’s monopoly of the instruments of violence – in its total control of national resources, in its total control of all parastatals – leveraging national resources for Northerners and in the furtherance of Fulani interests, viz, Hausa Radio, Rail line into Niger Republic; leveraging for Ruga, Cattle colonies; CAMA, TIN (tax identity dem say – aimed at the Diaspora – they now want your social security and your national insurance numbers) and now Water resources, etc.
Buhari’s modern day Fulani oligarchy, in its Fabian strategy – in its hubris – in its doctrine of Nigeria is too weak to break forgot the Machiavellian tenet of keeping faith with the governed. And more importantly, in a heterogeneous and multi-racial nation, took Nigeria to the apogee of ethnic tribalism, nepotism, Fulani filial and pan-Fulani usurpation of the Nigerian national space and terrain. The Fulani power elites tell us that the Fulani has an African, nay world, citizenship and, therefore, must have open borders movement into Nigeria, without a Nigerian citizenship or passport. And this delusional idea is put forward – in their “Alice in Wonderland” Nigeria. And in this fantasy land, the rest of Nigerian ethnic nationalities are on Prozac or valium. Imagine a call for the free global movement of the Yoruba from Brazil, Cuba, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, and other parts of Latin America into Nigeria, imagine! No? The Fulani is the only ethnic nationality allowed to smoke this power weed. Yeah, in that far away land of Peter Pan! Such arrogance and delusion of grandeur!!
And, not to be done, dem dey now talk of institutionalization. That the problem wey we get no bi with Fulani hegemony, or its subjugation of true Federalism, and of democracy and the democratic processes, but that we need to make our institutions stronger and efficient. Yeah, another abracadabra. Talk of the National Assembly, or the police force, or the EFCC, etc! Such meaningless political contraption designed in the interest of maintaining the status quo. Motion without any movement! Such odious flatulence!
The old Fulani tactic worked because Nigerians seemed to believe that Fulanis lordship over Nigeria had a sell-buy date. There was still some measure of equity in the management and control of resources and, more importantly, political plurality, and access to power, were still measureable as a matter of time for the other ethnic nationalities.
But Buhari’s modern Fulani oligarchy is certainly oblivious to the integral processes of democratization in a heterogeneous nation; and of the percolation of ethnicity and of ethnic nationalities tendencies into the body polity. The modern Fulani oligarchy is blind to the organic concept of ethnic nationalities, in a multi-racial and heterogeneous nation, as the centripetal forces of unity and national development. That is, as we saw in Nigeria – in the 1963 constitution; in contemporary world – in Singapore, in Switzerland, in the balance in Ghana, and elsewhere. Nigeria has seen national stability before – in power hold and power devolution to ethnic nationalities. That is, before today’s Fulani takeover of Nigeria.
The propensity for power, and of Fulani hegemony, without regard to, or a stubborn refusal to understand the relevance of historical dynamics and considerations of our anthropocentric peculiarities – of Nigeria’s cultural diversity will only come to a dead end. The Fulani may be a muslim first, but the Yoruba is a Yoruba first before being a muslim, Ifa worshiper or Christian.
The Fulani oligarchy’s fetish for power and its caliphate tendencies have no future. What ordains in contemporary times, and of the historical dialectics of the state’s monopoly of the instruments of violence, contemporary world geo-politics in which change is a political and economic currency are not in its favor. In 2020 Jews and Arabs are high fiving each other. As in Akure, as in Lagos, one day soon, the Igbo will come home and realize commonness with the Yoruba, and that both can do political business. Onitsha will stretch her hands across the Niger to Ile Ife, and one of the political stands of the Fulani power fulcrum will be broken.
The political economy of Nigeria is in the South West. In its Afonja deceit, and with the emasculation of its Yoruba apologists, the Fulani oligarchy continues to stride all over as if Yoruba do not matter. One Yoruba Fulani apologist would let us know that rather than use Yoruba Lagos money to develop Yoruba Ekiti land, he has no qualms in such money being used in Fulani Sokoto. Imagine when the valium wears off!
Furthermore, the contours of Fulani power can be emblazoned by forces outside its control. The internal dynamics of cattle rearing and beef production are dependent on the consumption – largely dependent on the Southwest. And in forex earnings, outside of oil revenues, the second largest contribution to the CBN’s foreign reserve comes from the Diaspora – largely of Southwestern and Southeastern origins.
The Fulani hegemony and the Nigerian state enterprise is now on full worldwide display. In Nigeria of yesteryears, it was common currency to talk of economic growth, sustainable development, education, liberty and good government. Today, Nigerians talk about deprivations and of SARS – and of dehumanization at the hands of the police. Today, the Nigerian army – under Fulani control – is talking of “operation crocodile smile”, whatever maybe the unintended outcome! Suffice it to say that the cabal did not see #SARS coming!! So, one may reasonably ask, after “operation crocodile smile” then what next?
Buhari’s Fulani cabal is slowly sleep walking lethargic Nigerians into organizing. And post SARS, it is hemorrhaging credibility. They banned SARS, only to replace it with SWAT. And the presidency, and the cabal, like the proverbial ostrich – burying its head in the sand – streamed role on. The tone deaf government came forward. The army chief vowing loyalty to the president, not the constitution, asserted the army’s readiness to take on the “trouble makers”. And, removing the – con – from the constitution, the army is on to “operation crocodile smile”. The army that is yet to take on terrorists conclusively, is, indeed, Insha’Allah, ready to train its guns on peaceful and innocent Nigerians. In the defense of democracy, abi?
The president and the cabal, and their apologists pleas for order are inconsistent with the hostile environment created by the same government. Having, many times now, breached the scared and unwritten threshold of violence between the state and the people – the Fulani cabal must change its calculus.
The Fulani doctrine of a conqueror state – that Nigeria is too weak to break – is in need of jettisoning. In 60 years, the Fulani hegemony has wielded power and failed to deliver in the finer aspects of productive power politics. The privileged Fulani intelligentsia has failed to elevate the greater number of men and women around them. The privileged Fulani military and civil service class have woefully failed their own people, and the Nigerian state, in the necessary evolution of consciousness very vital for elevating the affairs of state, and of the people.
The question to ask is that, in all its hold on power, in all its edification and pampered glory – Federal character, quota system – what exactly has the Fulani oligarchy, the Fulani intelligentsia, its rent collectors , etc, done for the Hausa/ Fulani people? What exactly? One can ask this in contrast, and in reference, to what the Igbo and Yoruba elites have done for their own people. In particular, what the Yoruba intelligentsia – in the time of Awolowo – in seven years in a corner of Nigeria, and without the abundance of resources and power that have been, and is, available to the Fulani.
This is 2020, the Fulanis patent belief in the exclusive acquisition of state power must give way to the comprehension and the use of the finer aspects of productive power politics. The Fulani hegemony must, of necessity, give way to the deeper yearnings of ethnic nationalities – in a greater measure of self governance, self development and self determination – in a truly Federal and democratic system of government. The Fulani hegemony must give way to a just nation in the recognition of the fundamental principles of society.
I submit that the Fulani concept and idea of power – in government and national development – stand like a ruin in the Nigerian political economy and developmental space. It purports democracy and Federalism, but dispenses – in the age of Buhari – unitarism on steroids. The Fulani doctrine of power is not working, and cannot work in a multi-racial and heterogeneous nation like Nigeria.
The Fulani oligarchy must change its calculus and go back to a meeting of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities to agree a new constitution for the Nigerian state. When overtake don overtake overtake, sidon there no dey work again. The signs are on the wall! And to continue to pretend otherwise, or – in the classic Fulani concept of power utility: to re-imagine how to put old wine in new bottles will not work. And as reminded by a prominent Nigerian, in the first coming of Buhari, “those who refuse to learn from history are eventually taught by the stone”.
The Yoruba are being pushed to the idea and ideal of Oduduwa nation. And the Nigerian youths have called the bluff of the Fulani cabal. And in today’s world, no matter the subterfuge, the force is with the youths, and other centrifugal forces. The historical dialectics of states political evolution in heterogeneous nations, the structural relations of globalization – in finance and technology; that is, the dimensions of the international political economy are not in favor of the Fulani oligarchy and of the continued domination of the Nigerian political space by one ethnic group. The world has changed, and with it the Nigerian political space will become increasingly toxic to forces of ethnic hegemony and unitarism!
See *THE NIGERIAN DEVELOPMENTAL STATE, By Opeyemi Oniya Sr. The paper was an original contribution to the Commonwealth project on Sanctions on Nigeria, organized by the Africa Research & Information Bureau, London. It was published in “The City Sun”, New York, March 19, 1996. Vol. 12, No. 9, p. 13-15.
-Ọpẹyẹmi Oniya Snr, a lecturer and social commentator, writes from The US.