Urhobo Historical Society

The Northernisation of Nigeria

By Sunny Awhefeada

Delta State University, Abraka


June 28, 2009


ALHAJI Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, Nigeria's President and commander-in- chief may have succeeded in fooling Nigerians and the world with his much-vaunted seven point-agenda. A critical or even cursory look at the two-year old administration would reveal that Yar'adua has only a one point agendum, which is the northernisation of Nigeria. Yar' Adua's neo-jihadist agendum which is aimed at turning other Nigerians into second class citizens began quite insidiously, but now it is full blown.


The appointment of Lamido Sanusi as the Governor of Nigeria's Central Bank this June, in violation of federal character principle, can be considered as a significant stride in Yar'Adua's agendum. At the moment the most important offices in Nigeria are occupied by Northerners whose actions and inactions have kept the nation in doldrums. The President, Chief Justice, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and the Chief of Army Staff are all from the North. The roll call spans the following: the Ministers of Defence, Petroleum, Federal Capital Territory, Agriculture, Finance, National Planning, Works and Housing, The Chairmen of the following important commissions, the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission, National Boundary Commission, Federal Character Commission, the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Development Trust Fund as well as the Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation are of Northern extraction.


Nigeria is an amalgam of many nation-states with over three hundred and fifty languages. Nigeria is a diverse nation stretching across deserts, savannahs, forests, rivers, plateaux, with over one hundred and forty million people. That Nigeria is complex is no news. However, an accident of history, Europe's colonial misadventure violently unified the complexities. Why then should a section of the country hold down the others? Why should the same section act as an overlord inspite of its obvious parasitism? Why?


The hegemonic lust of the North can be viewed from a historical angle. Having been bitten by the jihadist bug of 1804, the far North saw it as its bounden duty to overrun and rule its near and distant neighbours. The quest was on when the British Colonizers arrived. The coming of the British put a stop to the conquering quest. Colonialism came with western education and Christianity which the southern entity embraced. The North did not quite fancy the idea of western education which was to open the door of advancement in all ramifications.


The benefit of Western education did not take time to manifest in the south. Thus quite early in the last century many southerners obtained degrees and diplomas from citadels of learning in the Western world. They returned home to begin both cultural and political nationalism aimed at emancipating Nigeria from the vice grip of British colonialism. A roll call of those in the vanguard of the nationalist struggle would reveal that ninety-five percent were southerners! Even when the south wanted Nigeria to be independent in 1956, the North developed cold feet and said that, that date was too early and not practicable!


The year 1959 was the eve of Nigeria's freedom when self-rule would be guaranteed. For some dubious and diabolic intents, the departing British Colonizers skewed the Nigerian configuration to favour the north politically. Nigeria ran a parliamentary government at independence. The British ensured that the north had the number of parliamentarians that was more than that of the entire south. This arrangement which marked the beginning of political Wuruwuru and magogo (rigging) in Nigeria enabled the north to produce Nigeria's first Prime Minister as well as other political henchmen. Thus the north inveigled itself on the South.


Another symbolic act that bolstered the North's political psychology was the British handing over to it of the flag that had been captured from the caliphate after it fell to British forces in 1903. The northern Oligarchs quickly assumed the returned flag to be a symbol of neo-political authority which guarantees its superiority over southern Nigeria. Thus as soon as independence was attained the North went after the Middle Belt, and walloped the West. It manipulated political alliances to enhance a conquer and rule agenda.


It was at that stage that the five army majors struck on January 15 1966. For six months, between January and July 1966, the north was shut out of power. But it returned via a bloody mutiny on July 29. Soon, northern soldiers decimated Easterners, an act which resulted in a tragic 30-month civil war. After the war in 1970, except for the less than three years lame duck regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo, the North ruled Nigeria till 1999. Though Ernest Shonekan was hostage in Aso Rock for three months. Almost all the military coups that held Nigeria aground since independence were carried out by northern soldiers.


The June 12 election of 1993 remains a sore point in Nigeria's history. A Southerner Chief M.K.O. Abiola won, most convincingly, the presidential election held on that day. However, Northern soldiers annulled the election and threw Abiola into jail where he eventually died. The North in its wisdom compensated the South in 1999 by imposing General Olusegun Obasanjo, on Nigeria. His first term of four years saw him acting the Northern puppet. However, the man refused to play ball after securing a second term.


Nigerian rulers are enemies of history. If this were not so, the present deliberate alienation of the South would not be. Again, the South is probably getting its just deserts. Southerners are too docile in the same way their leaders make themselves willing tools in the hands of northerners. For over a year, Henry Odein Ajumogobia (SAN) was considered only fit to be a junior minister of petroleum, a portfolio then overseen by the President. Then, last year, a septuagenarian Rilwanu Lukman from a resource famished northern state was appointed substantive minister of petroleum over gentle Ajumogobia whose father's farmland and homestead host the crude oil which nourishes the nation! Did Ajumogobia resign? No, he stayed on! Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, former Minister of Science and Technology was also tucked under another Northern Minister in the Works ministry.


There are ministries that are considered the exclusive preserves of the North. The FCT, Defence, Agriculture, and Water Resources number among them. The North has for too long abused the South. It even proposed a Niger Delta Summit to be headed by a Northerner last year. Even now the JTF Commander mauling Niger Deltans in the South is a Northerner. When on April 22, 1990 Southern revolutionary soldiers set out to demolish the hegemonic structure, not many understood them. Even though the gallant soldiers peppered and smoked out the then dictator, they failed in the end. Now we have seen what those brave and clairvoyant souls saw: the nothernisation of Nigeria. It must stop!