Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
Tribalism And Nationalism
Fellow Nigerians, we have been looking at the many dimensions of the sad circumstances of our country. We have discovered that there are indeed more serious problems than most of us are prepared to acknowledge.
However, having come this far this writer shall be up-front with you. We shall leave no stone unturned and we shall be truthful to the best of our ability and convictions.
In this section, we shall start by looking at two words that have assumed veritable measuring standards for the testing and the identification of what or who is a true Nigerian. The two terms/concepts/ideology are Tribalism and Nationalism. While the first carries a negative capital mark, the second is rated at par with, if not more than, any of the local religions.
Every ambitious and clever politician knows that the quickest way to be accepted into the fold of patriots is to declare and to demonstrate, by all means available, a spotless credential of a staunch nationalist. Anything short of an open nationalist declaration is a sure bet that the person will not succeed in his or her career as a political gangster in Nigeria.
First of all, this writer wishes to declare that he is a tribalist since he is not interested in the art of elective politics or at least in the type being played in Nigeria. I am a tribalist because I know my father’s house or in order words I know my root. I know it is politically suicidal in Nigeria to be known or seen as a tribalist. It is not cool. It is non-progressive. It is backward. A tribalist is definitely, by the conventional wisdom of the day, an enemy of nationalism.
Following closely behind this belief is also the assumption that a tribalist will be a partisan of some narrow tribal causes. This could be true to some extent but it needs to be qualified. Am I a partisan to a narrow tribal interest? Yes of course but not in the sense you are thinking.
I am a partisan of truth. I think truth is the only virtue that cannot be bent to suit any colour or creed. A person can be either true or false to oneself, it is impossible to be both true and false at the same time.
Of course, it is quite possible to present a false front to the world but every person knows when he/she is true or false. The world can be deceived but the soul of every person will always be true regardless of the silly ambition of the body.
So, if being a partisan means choosing to be truthful to myself then I have no qualm about being so. I am therefore prepared to stand out, even if alone, and to declare that I am a partisan of truth. My tribalistic tendency is therefore solely based on some fundamental truth that we shall look at under this section.
As we said earlier nationalism has attained a halo glow of reverence and worship in Nigeria. Every Nigerian strives to be seen as a nationalist even if he thinks and acts tribally. It is acceptable, as long as he/she is not caught out using the T-word in public. This is falsehood and deceitful.
Every Nigerian knows that to qualify and to robe one persona in the nationalist garb is the first step to political common sense and wisdom; it does not necessarily make it morally right. As the only criterion by which the power-that-be can trust and do business with any upstart in politics is for the greenhorn to make an open declaration as a committed or thoroughbred nationalist.
Since no lover of power or politician wants to be confined to the bottom heap of the political ladder, it is therefore of great importance for every politician to dress himself or herself up in the nationalist robe as early as possible.
This is one of the myths that have assumed the status of reality in the up-side down world of Nigeria. The interrogation are:
• How does anyone become a nationalist without being a tribalist?
• How does one become a tribalist without being bred in a community?
• How does one become a member of a community without first being born into a family?
Now, the deceitful people in the political class of Nigeria have all chosen to jump the gun and to land from heaven or wherever they are coming from, to become nationalists. Or, does it mean being a true (or more like false) nationalist implies denying one’s root, one’s tribe, and one’s community?
This is the most serious perversion of reality in Nigeria today among the ambitious fools. Nigerians ought to and must have to realise that you cannot be a true nationalist without first being a true tribalist.
Similarly, you cannot be a true tribalist without first being a true member of a community – a true son or daughter of the soil. It also follows that you cannot be a true community son or daughter of the soil without first and foremost being a true family person.
Every Nigerian must/ought to realise or be told that the first social and political level of development as a living human being is the family. It is only when a person has built his/her family on a sound foundation, then and only then, if the person is being truthful to the divine purpose of life, can he/she moves up to participate in the affairs of the community.
Again it follows that it is after the community has been established on a sound structure and found fine for all its members, it is then and only then can a person moves to the tribal level to participate and help to build the larger tribal communities of towns and villages.
It is only after the tribal community is built and performing very well should any politician have the moral right to participate at the national assembly. This, in my view, would be the most appropriate path for the building of a democratic, peaceful and prosperous nation.
Unfortunately, what do we have in Nigeria?
Nigeria has a pathetic, irascible group of people that tagged themselves as nationalists. They emerged from dysfunctional households and families. They are never known in the community of their birth or so-called place of origin. And they have jumped all the levels of natural growth and development known to mankind, to suddenly become or claim to be nationalists in Nigeria.
Can the indigenous people of this geographical space not see where the problems of Nigeria are coming from?
As it is now, it seems we have a group of foreigners, in every respect of the word, without a stable family or root or identity whatsoever in any community or tribe in the country. Yet these are the people who are fully in charge and in control of the national affairs. These dysfunctional foreigners, without knowledge of who the mother of this country is, are determining the political, economic, social and cultural directions that the Nigeria State should or should not follow.
This is falsehood and it is wrong. It is against all the moral and ethical principles and laws that should govern a civilised society. Hence, the lack of loyalty, compassion and seriousness to the cause of peace, progress and prosperity that we observed among the foreign rulers of Nigeria.
The Foreign Rulers of Nigeria
Wait a minute. Are we talking tales or gibberish here? No.
This writer has promised to be up-front and will leave no stone unturned as we search for answers to the problems of Nigeria.
If you recollect, earlier under the ‘Untraditional Rulers’ in To Your Tents O! Nigerians, we mentioned that two foreign supremacists entered Nigeria before the turn of the twentieth century. These were the Fulani Ethnic Militia Group and the British Expeditionary Colonialists. These two different mini/super powers had one thing and one thing only in their minds when they came to the geographical space. This was to capture/conquer/colonise a land and turn the indigenous peoples of the land into servile subjects to serve the material pleasure of the mini/superior powers. We noticed that while Fulani used religion as its entry point, the British used trade.
However, the value on which these two colonialists based their actions was the belief that they were superior to any of the people they met in the geographical space of Nigeria. They both used various tactics and strategies to warm up to the natives. As soon as the natives lost concentration or became too trusting without first establishing the longer-term aim of these two foreign powers, the agents of the super powers swung into military and militia action.
The foreigners overthrew all the established traditional institutions and captured the political powers for themselves. While the Fulani blended into the occupied communities through marriage and language acquisition, the British was too standoffish to its final undoing.
The Fulani that blended became what is known today as the Hausa-Fulani. The British which, could have been Yoruba-English or Igbo-English or Ijaw-English or even Hausa-English but because of its over-rated supremacist belief and attitude which, forbade it from blending completely, was eventually kicked out by the nationalist movement of the 1940s and 1950s.
This short story is not a fiction. It is a condensed version of the history of Nigeria. The Fulanis who were quasi-agents of the Ottoman Empire were the first to arrive on the scene at least in the northern part of Nigeria around the Kingdom of Gobir. They had established a thriving extensive feudal administrative empire over the so-called pagan and idol worshippers or infidels before Lord Lugard military expedition over-ran this part of the country for the English Crown or the British imperial power.
The Fulani Kingdom/Sultanate stretched from Sokoto in the Northwest to Ilorin in the Southwest to the boundary of the Bornu Empire in the Northeast and covered much of the savannah regions of the north-central part of the present Nigeria.
From the political administrative arrangements set up by the Fulanis, it was quite obvious that they were never saints, as they wanted the indigenous people to believe. They are indeed great lovers of power and of all the privileges that political power can bring. Any group of people that establishes a religious cum ethnic dynasty on planet earth do not seem to be in a hurry to go to al-Jannah or paradise – that is for sure.
The establishment of a dynastic empire is the purpose for the adventure of the Fulani ethnic group into Nigeria and this is what informed every political moves they make today and they have made since 1960.
Enemies Within the Border
What we are trying to draw out is to establish in all truthfulness the great local enemies of the people of Nigeria. It is convenient for most analysts to refer to the North as a block while identifying who dominates and bestrides the political edifice of Nigeria. There is nothing like the anonymous North to which people refer while discussing political hegemony in Nigeria.
The people manipulating power in Nigeria are not the Zurus or the Gwaris or the Biroms or the Idomas or the Jukuns or the Kanuris or the Katafs; they are the Fulanis. There is nothing like the Hausa-Fulani. It is another superb camouflage to hide the fact of the matter from the prying eyes of outsiders. There is no Hausa as a tribe of people.
There are Hausa-speaking people. All Hausa speakers know the tribe to which they belong. Hausa means the people of the east. It is a Shongai word used as a descriptive term for their neighbours who reside at the eastern part of the Shongai Empire.2 Hausa finally evolved as a name for the common language of trade among the eastern people. The evolution of the Hausa language is similar to the English language that evolved from several European languages. Hausa language was perfected for trade among the various tribes and other foreign traders before the Fulanis came on the scene and captured power through a supremacist religious crusade. This is the truth of the matter and it has to be told if Nigeria is really serious about total deliverance and liberation from the enemy within the fold.
The Failed First Nationalist Struggle
We have come this far in order to establish that the nationalist struggle of the 1940s and 1950s was an incomplete project. The facts of the matter are these, two foreign supremacist powers entered the geographical land space now called Nigeria before 1914; one which was more visible, more powerful and more dominant before 1960 was driven out during the nationalist struggle; and the second power which was more cunning and more pragmatic but less visible has remained intact and has refused to allow this beautiful land to prosper, progress and develop. This simple insight has remained hidden from the people of this country.
As a result we have been fighting an imaginary battle with an imaginary enemy leaving the real enemy within the border intact to operate unchecked and to cause more harm and ruin to our lands and to our persons.
The Fulanis have remained a colossus at the centre of the political underdevelopment of Nigeria. They are ruthless and unforgiving and that is why the indigenous people of the North who had historical vivid experience of their cruelty have kept their mouth shut for so long. The history of their religious conquest of the north is marred in bloodshed and brutal high-handedness.
In my search for true knowledge, this writer has come to realise that God or Allah, The Creator of heaven and earth, does not support bloodletting wars on peaceful, loving and innocent people as the divine method of establishing God’s will on earth. If indeed God is love, God is merciful, God is faithful, God is great, God is beneficent, then God will never command the killing of anyone to demand for their love and worship.
It is my considered opinion that the true God of the universe will forever continue to admonish and to show mercy to all the erring people on earth until they change their ways. The God of the universe can never and could never have supported warfare and the pillaging of the wealth of others as a strategy for the proselytising of the message of peace to the world.
This is the Middle-Eastern version of the concept and meaning of God. And this is the perverse interpretation of God given by all those who use religion as a means to an end. This bloody and puerile meaning of God cannot be of the true God of the universe.
This type of concept and understanding of the divine can only be of the God of the religionists. This man-made God has often leads men to battles over and over and wins battles for an exclusive selected or chosen people. This interpretation of the Will and Power of God is satanic. It is a wicked, ungodly and unforgivable misconception. It is profanity similar to calling the name of God in vain. This man-made concept and interpretation of the divine is a cruel ploy used by ambitious earthly men who associate God with empire building, and with the acquisition of economic and political power, and with the hoarding of material prosperity.
The God of this writer is The Creator of heaven and earth and of every mankind on this planet. This Creator has no favourites among the Homo sapiens. The God loves everybody on earth equally. And since The Creator is Omniscience, Omnipotent and Omnipresence, every condition of mankind is known by/to The God. Also every true knowledge on earth has come to man intuitively because it emanates from The God.
Therefore, the idea of belittling and of calling other forms of worship that is different from what one knows a derogatory name like paganism can only come from an ignorant mind and a conceited heart.
Revealing Truth for Healing is not Hate
It is important at this stage to clear the air of any misinformation. In writing all the foregoing statements, we are not trying to cast any unfounded aspersion on the Fulani ethnic nations of Nigeria. Although, most people outside the tribe cannot even identify them but the Fulanis know themselves. No matter how many marriages the Fulani have concocted for political purposes with the Hausa-speaking pagans or infidels of the north, the Fulani never forget his roots. And the caste system of segregation among the Fulani Ethnic group is exceptionally rigid and it is meticulously protected from generation to generation.
This truth exercise is aimed at taking the veils off the faces of the true suffering people of Nigeria in order to help them to understand what the real problems are and the people behind the political and socioeconomic problems. In knowing the truth, it is my fervent belief that the first psychological battle has been won.
True Knowledge has the divine essence to imbue a person with courage, power and freedom in that order. With knowledge you are empowered to stand tall, eyeball-to-eyeball with your age-long enemy and slave master to demand for your inalienable rights to freedom, equality and justice.
I sincerely believe that every Nigerian should be free to determine how he or she would want to live his/her life. God, the Creator of heaven and earth does not give power to any man or woman to rule over another human being. God created all persons equal and our relationship on planet earth is designed, as every other divine creation is, to be of a partnership of cooperating equals. No king and no subject, we are supposed to be allies and friends in the mystery journey of life.
Any system on planet earth that smells of rulership, of empire, of kingdom, and of emirate with emperors or kings or sultans are of man and is not of God. I am yet to see an empire or kingdom on this earth that was built without the spillage of innocent bloods or the raping and pillaging of the properties and wealth of others. Empires are the creation that flow from the spring of evil in the nature of some psychopaths who are the sad and stupid power-grabbing and power-loving earthlings that are called rulers.
The Second Nationalist Struggle for Independence
This short treatise is intended as the announcement to every Nigerian that the second nationalist struggle against the enemies within our fold is about to begin. Nigerians must be ready to set themselves free from the internal colonisation and the Fulani Ethnic domination.
The domination of the last one hundred years, yes a century — (if we add up the period of the Anglo-Saxon racial supremacist colonialism) — must be brought to an end. It should be remembered that the colonialist period was merely a front for this same group under the Indirect Rule system. If Nigerians are willing to look critically at the unwritten script of the last 60 years, they will definitely see the hands of the Anglo-Saxons in it.
The name Hausa-Fulani is definitely a mediocre copy of the Anglo-Saxon version. The Fulani hates the religion of the Anglo-Saxon but they love their monarchical system. The Sokoto caliphate had tried and successfully too, until now anyway, to adopt wholesale the complete philosophy of the British Monarchy. Their stranglehold on the people of this land was total and has been deadly. Thank God, the cry and the wailing of the long-suffering indigenous people of this land have reached the The Almighty Creator.
The political and psychological domination has not done the indigenous people any good. The seeds of divide and rule sown among us and the political manipulations of one ethnic group against another have killed the sense of proportion, of virtues and of every norm and value in our culture that set us apart from the beasts.
Many of us became so susceptible to the evil programming designed for our enslavement and we have since been turned into barbaric vampires hunting down fellow citizens who are labelled political opponents. The various evil deeds carried out by the agents of government were perpetrated against fellow compatriots in the name of national unity in order to keep all the disparate and incompatible ethnic groups together in an indivisible country.
A good number of the opportunist class among us became irredeemably gluttonous, rampaging and pillaging the national treasury to cart away millions and millions of scarce fund that they can never use in 100 lifetimes.
The cases of Sani Abacha and his family as well as Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Adviser are some of the examples from the 1985-1999 military occupation. The amount recovered from the Abacha’s family was quoted as 64.6billion Naira and from Gwarzo’s residence, not in the bank, was put at about 200 million dollars or 8.6billion Naira. What are they going to do with that kind of huge amount of money?
These are the types of the sick souls who ran the affairs of the blessed country to the ground. This is a typical behaviour found among all the enemies within the border of this land. This is the price of ignorance, which we are forced to pay this last 60 years and more painfully this last 6 years for the ungodly presence of the power-loving and manipulating Fulani ethnic group in our midst. The acts of the Fulani are of those who have come to pillage and to steal and who believe that when the party is over they will depart into the desert where they came from.
Shall the descendants of this marauding group be allowed to continue with this brazen insults and atrocities?
The indigenous people have become bedraggled. The country made billions and billions of dollars from oil sales this last 60 years but we have nothing to show for it. The debt burden is mounting every year and there is no solace or respite to be seen in sight.
How long shall this rape of the innocent continue?
What has the indigenous people of this land done wrong to warrant this inhuman punishment?
I am very certain that this is not a punishment from God. This is the wickedness and the inhumanity of man to man. This is the unjust act of a cruel and a godless people who use religion to disguise and to cover up their innate wicked and their savage predatory acts.
The indigenous people of this land, from the North to the South, from the East to the West have a long established culture of love, freedom, fair play, respect for tradition and peoples, honesty and sincerity of purpose and actions.
The indigenous people of this land were civilised in every respect of the word. There were governments that ran perfectly well. These governments were unique to each nation but they were all built on fairness, equality and liberty for all. All these traditional institutions were destroyed, first by the Fulani Jihadist and later by the British. And since then, the people of this land have never been the same again.
We wish to make it clear that when we say the British or the Fulani we are not referring to the common people of these empires or kingdoms but to the establishment, the Power-That-Be (PTB) in the empire/kingdom. The common man of every nation is a mere fodder that serves the base needs of the powers that be. It is therefore important to make this distinction.
The mass of the people of this world are the footstools of the rich and the powerful. They are sent to die in wars that they know not the covert reason why the war is being fought. They are brainwashed to donate their children for military service on the whims of the Powers-That-Be without any knowledge or understanding that these wars have nothing to do with their welfare or security. The children and the loved ones of the common man die in their thousands and millions while the PTB hide their own children from the military or militant services.
I will like to appeal to every indigenous people to devote some time to the history of his/her community and nation. In the cases where no books have been written on the history of your community, please talk to your elders and ask pertinent question on how and what informed the establishment of the various traditions, customs and institutions found in your local area.
This educational exercise will serve as a tool for self discovery. It is unfortunate that some of us are kept-slaves on our ancestral lands. We are yet to be redeemed from the local colonialist because we don’t even know that we are a product of intergenerational slavery. Because of lack of knowledge about the history of our forefathers, we have carried on thinking and behaving as free men and women.
Unless each of us know who we are in the socio-political and economic scheme of Nigeria, the overwhelming desire to fight for liberty, to demand for justice and to assert one’s equal right status would not occur to us. And until each of us possesses a deep insight about one’s status in Nigeria as a chattel slave, the desire to seek for true freedom will never become the dominant issue of one’s life.
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
27 JULY 1999.
(Revised edition 25.2.2021)
2. Elizabeth Isichei, A History of Nigeria. London: Longman. 1983.