You will hear men pronounce the wicked innocent, and condemn the truth as lies. Subjectivized truths, have gained currency in our land, and men look to their fellow men, instead of to God, in telling the truth.
I started writing this book sometime back in 2011. Tinubu’s theft of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, was the trigger for the release of the pain that has been the main motivation for my literary exertions. I wrote to protest, I wrote to mobilize, and then I wrote in frustration, as I watched the truncation of conscious attempts by the citizens to protest the injustice.
As I watched the Fuel Subsidy uprisings of December 2011-January 2012, and saw the cooperation and coordination between the AC government of Lagos state and the PDP federal government, both in the timing of the commencement of tolling on the road, just days before the removal of subsidies were announced, and during the process leading up to the issuance of the sovereign guarantees the federal government had issued on behalf of Lagos State, one that discountenanced the obvious rape of the citizens. I became convinced that the dividing lines between the parties were illusory, and existed only in the well stocked imagination of the people.
I began to write down my thoughts on the Nigerian state, and to query some old lies and assumptions about the country of my birth, the structures, systems, events, and persons that had shaped her trajectories and decline, and by 2014, my editors, be they my friends and family members, or my long suffering editor, believed the book ready, but I demurred, and insisted that it was not ready. That was where I was, when I wrote the chapter titled “Do Not Die In Their War” which was given to the press for publication, but which only the Guardian found the courage to publish on the 7th day of February 2015.
With the unexpected refusal of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to develop a spine, Buhari and the APC came to power, and the full ramifications of the hubristic error of the Nigerian system were evident to me, and I began to reevaluate known facts, in the light of the newly emerging realities. The book became my refuge, and I began to examine the subjects of citizenship, and Nigerian nationality, and structures of political governance.
I have done enough to believe the book sufficiently ready to be inflicted on others, and for both the informed and the rabbles to dissect my thoughts. I enjoy debate, and it is my intention to provoke the same, but I would not consider my job done, if I fail to beam my light ahead. It has pleased the Almighty God, by whatever name you call Him, to grant me a prophetic insight into the land of my birth, and you may go and reread Do Not Die In Their War, or argue with yourself. It is time to arm you for what is coming, and the season we are about to enter, but will live through, survive, and thrive in.
Nigeria is heavily pregnant. She is not a she, and nobody’s mother, but Nigeria is pregnant, and birth she will. What Nigeria will birth is yet unknown, but when she will birth, is painfully imminent. She is already in the throes of her labor pains.
To be rid of Jonathan in 2015, the Nigerian system in a bid to survive, assembled a coalition of interests, and Obasanjo, IBB, Tinubu, Atiku, Saraki, et al found the grace to work together for the Buhari project. Tinubu required a national platform to divert attention away from the failings of his political franchises in the Southwest, and the noxious fumes of the Buhari illusion was euphoric enough to do the job. Winning the presidency was an unfactored boon, and the lack of influence on Buhari’s choice of ministers evidences this. Each went into the project for their own selfish reasons, and have stayed or moved on, based on the return on their investments.
As we have come back to where we started out, my counsel is that you just learn to laugh through the tears. There are reasons enough to weep for Nigeria, but the coming weeks and months will offer up some more. The true weight, quality, and very integrity of men shall be tested in the extreme, but I urge you to find and then retain the grace to smile through the tears.
You will hear men pronounce the wicked innocent, and condemn the truth as lies. Subjectivized truths, have gained currency in our land, and men look to their fellow men, instead of to God, in telling the truth. Poison have become the elixir for stomach aches, and decapitation, a cure for migraines. Buhari’s lawlessness and burgeoning fascism, the cure for the fake anti corruption wars. But in the midst of the tears, be hopeful, Buhari is the one that shall unwittingly slay the evil system that has held Nigeria bound, but he must not be allowed to erect his own evil system in its place.
Buhari’s power grab will fail. The lies, and contradictions that resulted in 2015 is not replicable in 2019. Buhari has repeated the error of his first coming, and has assured that the same implacable forces that forced him out in 1985, and brought him back in 2015, are irreconcilably opposed to his return in 2019.
The Buhari of 2015 was the creation of the cooperation between the military oligarchs that designed the criminal enterprise called the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and chief of them were Obasanjo, Danjuma, IBB and Abdusallam, the Jagaban political machinery, and the civilian partners of the military oligarchs in the PDP, represented by the Saraki N-PDP. This coalition assured that the Buhari brand narrative was sold virtually unchallenged by the lead footed and orphaned government of GEJ, mostly through the use of Tinubu’s immense powers in the Nigerian press. Tinubu’s corruptive reaches into the Nigerian judiciary were equally vital, and this was fully deployed in Buhari’s service. But this is 2019, and the objective realities have changed.
The generals have left as they had been compelled to do in 1985. Buhari has done his thing again. He does not know how to play the game, not for him the collegiate need for consensus to be built, Muhammadu must always have his way, and if you’re not Hausa-Fulani, you have to queue. Buhari ignores the foundational lies that has been perpetuated, maintained and serviced, in order to preserve the unjust state of Nigeria. For the suffocating illusion of a united and indivisible Nigerian state, the myth of a single monolithic northern Nigeria must be maintained. Buhari has destroyed this illusion irreparably.
Buhari is an ethnic irredentist, and a religious bigot. He does not consciously act out his prejudices, but his reflexes are undeniably jaundiced by his bigotry and ethnicity. These are the impulses that have always guided his choices, and they have also colored his perspectives and worldview. Buhari abhors corruption, and corrupt people, this has been the story since his emergence in national politics and governance in Nigeria, and he does have the protestations and record to back up the claims. At least until you looked just a little closer.
Buhari defines corruption much differently from the chorus of his hypnotized followers, and sees the fight against corruption through extremely subjective prisms. You cannot be corrupt when you are his own: and his own are identified through very narrow spectra. If you speak Fulfulde, you are blood, if you are Muslim, you are kith, if you are a native speaker of the Hausa or Kanuri languages, you are kin. Every other persons, queue behind. The order of these ones are also dependent on need and usefulness in a transactional way. And you cannot be corrupt, if you are his. “Join the APC and your sins would be forgiven” those are the undeniable words of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and that is what the reality advertises.
Buhari has lost the support and patronage of the power concentric that facilitated his return to power, and of his original sponsors, only the jagaban remains, and the stage is set for a battle royale, the lies of old have come home to roost, and the definitive battle for the soul of Nigeria is about to be joined. The war predicted in Do not die in their wars, has commenced in earnest, and it will get much worse, before it begins to get better.
The PDP is the APC, and the APC, is the PDP. The two are Siamese twin, joined at the hip, and inseparable. There is nothing to choose between them, and the true victims are the hapless citizens caught in their middle. They trade in hope, and offer nothing but despair, the citizens lots have become progressive, only in pain and hard toil, hope has become a scarce commodity in the promised land that has been turned into hell, and it will get worse, before it may be turned around.
With the loss of the middle belt and the northern minorities as a consequence of the revelation of Buhari as the ethnic irredentist, and religious bigot, that he is: and the loss of the support of the traditional power brokers of the military oligarchy, Buhari’s path to power does not lie with the people, because in the absence of an illusion to market, and the undeniably bad record of governance, Buhari has no choice but to resort to the reflexive position of his true nature, and the real Buhari is again emerging from behind the mask enforced by his earlier need for pretense.
Once upon a time, the Nigerian press was a critical force for good. It queried assumptions and demanded account. You could count on the courage and essential honesty of our pressmen and women. Our press was the envy of Africa, and a veritable bulwark against the forces of tyranny in our country. But today, as with every other sector of Nigeria, the press is irredeemably lost, in place of truth, our press have become purveyors of falsehood. Truth has become subjective, and colored, and you needn’t read, listen, or watch a news piece for long, it’s very easy to tell who has paid for what piece of news. The oppressed have lost the capacity to tell their stories, and when they would dare, the platforms are owned by beneficiaries of the oppressive system, or the oppressors, be that by proxy or in the full glare of the people.
The results of the coming elections have been predetermined, and for the pedantic, I point to Ekiti, and I say look to Osun. The Yoruba people were once the bellwethers of progressive politics in Nigeria, and thanks to Awolowo and his crew, the people were armed against the identified threats of feudalism, and religious fundamentalism. The Yoruba political, sociocultural, and economic leadership, pursued education and knowledge as an article of faith. They knew that a people intellectually liberated, are impossible to enslave, and the remotest hamlets were furnished with schools. Knowledge was the building block against feudalistic designs, and the foothold gained by the forces of feudalism and religious fundamentalism, is a function of the loss of the knowledge industries built by the visions of our fathers. The Yoruba of old, would not have fallen preys to the twin evils identifiable in the two charades that I have mentioned above.
The average Yoruba person have become intellectually disengaged from the process of leadership emergence, over the years of relying on first Awolowo, and then the Awoists, to point where to go. The NADECO struggles led to the emergence of a younger crop of Yoruba men and women who were never members of the Awolowo political family, and amongst these were the like of Wahab Dosumu, who was an NPN man in the 2nd republic, Ademola Adeniji-Adele, Bola Tinubu, and a host of others. These men fused to varying degrees with the Awoists in the Afenifere and the AD. And the inherent contradictions of the uneasy marriage is one of the identifiable reasons for the death of the AD, and the intractably irreconcilable crises that have rendered Afenifere irrelevant.
Bola Tinubu is the inheritor of the powers once wielded by first Awolowo, then the ones branded as Awoists after the sage’s demise, and then Afenifere before the death of Chief. Adesanya and Uncle. Bola Ige’s gruesome murder by the Nigerian state. The Jagaban of Borgu is the de facto leader of the Yoruba race, and he has been so since he somehow survived the Obasanjo tsunami of 2003. The jagaban has not only survived the Ebora of Owu, he has built a political juggernaut that is bred on the steroids of extreme corruption, and an iron grip on the levers of coercive violence and state backed intimidation of political opponents and dissenting opinions. The corruption of the Nigerian press has been ably exploited by the Jagaban, and the closest leader in our history, in his corruptive effect is Babangida.
The core Awoists disliked Bola Tinubu with a passion. I began to notice this intense dislike for Tinubu in the days before the death of Uncle Bola, and during the crisis that rocked Afenifere and the AD. And I watched as the dislike morphed into an implacable hatred of the man, as he went about methodically dismantling the powers and influence of the Awoists upon the demise of Adesanya and Ige. I was initially baffled by their hatred of the man, but I have come to understand why. The jagaban exercises the same unrestrained powers once held by the sage, and later by them, but nobody could be more unlike Awolowo.
Awolowo was a man far ahead of his time, and most definitely ahead of the current crop of afflictions, disguised as leaders. He had an impenetrable moral anchor, and was spartan in his consumptions. Not for Awolowo, the sybaritic lifestyle of our new age sage, Awolowo never owned a private jet, and if he had one, he was sensitive and sensible enough not to advertise it. Awolowo was not famed for his wealth, and nobody ever defined him in terms of his material wealth. Awolowo lived a disciplined and ordered life. He was cerebral and given to studying and meditation, even his enemies would not be heard denying his sagacity, and prodigious capacities.
Awolowo’s disciples were easy to identify in Nigerian politics. They were the men of ideas, and were distinguished by their temperance and sobriety. The story was once told to me of Chief. Ganiyu Dawodu, the late warhorse of Awoist politics on the island of Lagos. A neighborhood wag had made a mental note of the old man’s penchant for wearing what appeared to be the same clothes throughout the week in which they had been together at one political event after another. Rascally wag came up with mischief on the campaign trail and burnt a hole in the old man’s buba. Lo and behold, the very same buba and sokoto the very next day: only thing is, the buba appeared miraculously shorn of the previous day’s hole. Disciplined Awoist that he was, the old man simply wore clothes made of the same material as did his entire cadre and their legendary leader, Egba n’to line, it was called. Not for them the luxuries of these age.
Tinubu is to the Awoists, Akintola reborn, and to a very large extent, they are very correct in my humble opinion. Even as I had hoped, and prayed that the old men and I, are completely wrong and mistaken in our conclusions, events leading up to Tinubu’s collaborations and leadership of critical aspects of the Buhari project, has shown that Tinubu is the true inheritor of Akintola’s mantle in Yorubaland.
The Nigerian state is built on a basic lie, that has birthed a fundamental assumption that has no correlation with either the truth, and or reality: that the Northern part of Nigeria is one monolithic, homogeneous, and single entity. Nigeria was designed from inception with a “veto” vested in the hands of this North. Lugard and his successors built a country that was easiest to rule in the northern part because of the colonial powers that had preceded them in the territory; the twin Islamic empires of Kanem Bornu, and the Sokoto Caliphate. I have dealt at length with the origins and consequences of this lie, and I shall now show the relevance within the context of the objective realities confronting Nigeria at this time.
The Buhari project was an attempt by the owners of the Nigerian state that emerged out of the civil war of 1967-1970, to wrest back control of the criminal empire that was lost in the flames of Obasanjo’s 3rd term hubris. Nigeria had been ruled since the death of the first republic, and particularly since the installation of the Gowon regime after the murder of Ironsi by an unspoken agreement. This agreement has the acquiescence of the political “North”. This north had nothing to do with geography, it is a north of political interests. This north comprised of the entirety of Nigeria, north of the River Niger This north includes the totality of what used to be known as the Northern Region of Nigeria, it had room for the Jukuns of T.Y. Danjuma, and the Angas were equally welcomed in this north.
The Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, was aware of the delicate construct that the British had bequeathed to their favored consort’s children, and he painstakingly worked to integrate the entire northern Nigeria, and whilst the pecking orders in the northern part was firmly established, the least in the north’s feudalistic pecking order, was superior to the best of the south, particularly the hated Igbo, who was feared as much as he was hated. The Nigerian constitution of 1946 established the veto and the myth with the allocation of legislative seats to the regions, and subsequent constitutions of Nigeria have followed this trend. This is the reason aside from the criminal revenue allocation formula, that has rendered a credible population census impossible to achieve in Nigeria till date.
The awakening of the middle belt and the northern minorities in the 1960s, fruits of the political bravery of southern Nigerian politicians working in concert with the new leaders of the long oppressed peoples of northern Nigerian minority groups, led to a situation where the NPC under the Sardauna, had to find political alliances outside of the region, in order to retain power at the federal level. The guarantee of a monopoly of power within the northern region had been seriously damaged by the several uprising amongst the restive ethnic and religious minorities in the region. The Tiv uprisings were in full swing, as were several other historical grievances against the feudalistic chokehold of the Hausa-Fulani ruling class.
The strategic realignment that saw the NPC government drove a schism between Obafemi Awolowo and his erstwhile deputy, Ladoke Akintola, was precipitated by the twin need to cripple the AG and it’s leader, Awolowo. The uprising in the north was being fanned and encouraged by the ideological and material assistance that the AG and Awolowo were providing to the leaders and people of the peoples in revolt. The like of Chief. Ige were deployed to provide legal services to the beleaguered peoples fighting the northern hegemonies, and the different political platforms that were poised to benefit from the political awakening were aligned with the AG ideologically, and politically.
With the alliance found with Akintola, the NPC at the federal level granted Akintola and his unpopular government the leeway to crack down on voices of dissent, and Awolowo and his lieutenants were herded into prison on treason charges. The West boilt, and Nigeria fumbled its way into the civil war. Let me be clear; the Nigerian civil war has its roots in the inability to manage the illusions of a monolithic north, and the discovery of an amoral alliance with the forces of reaction in Yorubaland. Without Akintola, the NPC would have lost its veto in the federal parliament, and Obafemi Awolowo looked poised to wrest the Prime Ministership from Tafawa Balewa.
Against the clear agreement and expectations of the collegiate that brought him to power in 2015, Buhari, true to character, abandoned his pretense of having learnt from the errors of 1985, and reverted back to the ethnic irredentism of his earlier tenure, and his religious bigotry became more and more evident. The people that brought him to power, were alienated one after the other, and Buhari began to undermine the very foundations of the Nigerian enterprise. He has not hide his preference for his Fulani blood, and he, more than any other contemporary driver of the Nigerian contraption, has shown a complete lack of sensitivity to the diversity of Nigeria, and the complexities of the lies that have bound it together.
The first of the power brokers that was to be rudely awakened to the readiness of Buhari to be unfettered by democratic rules, was Bukola Saraki. In an audacious power grab that his late father would have applauded, Bukola plotted a coup against the party, and schemed himself into the senate presidency. Buhari’s response was swift, amoral, and a foretaste of what were to come as his presidency unfolded. Saraki was dragged through the Code Of Conduct Tribunal, which is ran from the presidency, he gamely fought back using his knowledge of the irredeemably corrupt judiciary. Onnoghen’s sins are considered unforgivable because of his perceived role in the judicial reprieve granted Saraki.
As Buhari has became hostage to the ones with whom he had corralled himself, the people that brought him to power were firmly pushed away and alienated. Aisha’s public denunciations of the Aso Rock cabal, and several facts in the public domain supports this position. Senator Remi Tinubu wasn’t shy about speaking to the issue when she publicly complained of the abandonment of her husband and the other persons who had worked to bring the Buhari government into power. Tinubu was made an orphan of power, and persons considered to be of political value in his spheres of influence, were encouraged to rebel against his authority.
Persons were promoted in spite of him, and his influence was brutally whittled down in the southwest. His preferred candidate for the Ondo gubernatorial election, which was held in the immediate aftermath of Buhari’s assumption of office, was sidelined with the active connivance of the party chairman, Oyegun, whom he had installed in the assumption that he’d be pliable, and the brutality of the Kogi coup against his man, Abiodun Faleke was the ultimate slap in the face. Tinubu was orphaned, and began to stay more in London than his homes in Lagos.
The Buhari project is the only time, where to the knowledge of the public, Obasanjo and Tinubu have ever been known to agree on any issue. I have dealt with the issue of how alike the two men are, and I will not bother to rehash the point. But the truth is that their political fates are linked, and since 2003, the fate of the one, have been intricately linked to the other. When Obasanjo failed to complete the tsunami of 2003, he allowed a wily customer to survive, and where Obasanjo failed to be effective in his succession planning, Tinubu was a resounding success with his. With Obasanjo leaving the Buhari project, and the realization that the 2019 elections were around the corner, Tinubu was restored to influence, and the Jagaban of Borgu was reborn.
Bola Tinubu have for long craved the influence, fanatical following, and acceptance of the sort enjoyed by the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, so much so, that he once had billboards erected around Lagos, bearing images and representations of himself, Ghandi, and Awolowo. And he has built up a carefully cultivated image of a progressive populist leader, when the reality shows that he is the exact opposite. Tinubu is unmoored to any moral anchor, he has a rabidly acquisitive spirit, is sybaritic in the extreme, and lacks both the intellectual and spiritual discipline of Awolowo, the man that he wants to be seen as.
With the foundational lies of a monolithic north exposed by Buhari’s careless ethnic irredentism, which ignores the need to be circumspect in dealing with the middle belt and other ethnic minorities in the northern part of Nigeria, the Fulani herdsmen menace, which had always been there before his coming, became a national embarrassment, and multiplied exponentially, even as the security architecture of the country became suspected accomplices in some of the worst atrocities in the Benue trough. T. Y. Danjuma, the golden boy of northern hegemony, began to speak of a “northern Nigerian Army”. He characterized the skirmishes in the Mambilla as genocidal, and urged his kinsmen to arm themselves.
The entire North Central, and middle belt zones have become quagmires for Buhari in his re-election calculus, and nothing of beneficial consequence may be expected from the south-south, or southeast. The electoral map does not look good for Buhari, and just as with the NPC and Ahmadu Bello in 1962, the Buhari cabal is in need of Akintola to deliver the southwest, however the task may be achieved. In Tinubu they have found the true inheritor of the Akintola mantle, and with the current state of Yorubaland, Tinubu could not have asked for a more vulnerable people.
Awolowo built his political empire on the foundation of knowledge. He weaponized knowledge amongst the Yoruba people. The Yoruba pursued knowledge wherever it was to be found. Schools were built on the cooperative efforts of villages, and primary school education was made universally free, and compulsory in the entirety of the western region. He built the very first TV station in Africa, he owned a newspaper, and he wrote copiously. The Yoruba, more than any other Nigerian tribe or ethnicity, looked to eradicate illiteracy in all of its form.
A person free of ignorance is rarely found in penury, and it is not a matter of accident, that the Ekiti Province of the old western region, was the richest of all of the provinces, even as it is today, the poorest of all of the states carved out of the old west. Awolowo’s government assured fair prices for the produce farmers, gave them agricultural credits and provided supports and offered targeted subsidies in needed areas. Built roads into the hinterland and opened up the region for agricultural production and trade.
Awolowo encouraged industrialization in a reasoned manner, emphasis was placed on the localization of industries, and the goals were to ensure that their was a value chain created to ensure that the raw materials that were being exported without more, were used by the locals, to produce replacements for the imported goods the people were consuming. His government built industrial parks, and invested in strategic industries and initiatives. Obafemi Awolowo was a man unlike any that has lived in this clime before or after. He was a man ruled by his fecund visions, and he grasped at a future which we in the future have failed to see. To compare Tinubu to Awolowo, is to compare day and night, darkness and light, and you should not require me to say who is which. The testaments remain for all to behold. Tinubu is Akintola reborn. He has taken on the same role as the Akintola of old.
The election in Ekiti pointed out Buhari’s intended path to a second term. The people are ripe for the harvest to be reaped from the weaponized poverty of the last decades, and the gubernatorial election went the way of the highest bidder. Votes were openly bought and sold, and an impoverished electorate, who are wiser than their abusers, and knew from bitter experience, that they were caught between the rock and a hard place, simply grabbed the opportunity to get some of the bread for themselves. “Alaaru to n’je buredi”
The Osun format shows Tinubu in full flow. It was in Osun that he boasted in the palace of a traditional ruler, how he is much richer than the impoverished state, and how the gubernatorial candidate was in the race as a favor to the people. He was clearly power drunk, and the reason for his swagger was soon made evident. Tinubu is a good student of power, he is in a class all by himself, when it comes to the subject of the usage of power. That he is unmoored to morals, makes him even more corruptive in his use of power, and I recommend a study of the Osun election to anyone in need of further evidence.
The powers deployed in pursuit of the Kogi Agenda of 2016, that led to the emergence of Bello as governor, is what Buhari and his possessing spirits seeks to control, and that is the battle that has birthed the Onnoghen debacle. Buhari has no interest in fighting corruption, were that his purpose, Onnoghen should never have been confirmed, and practically the entire judiciary should be in jail. Buhari is only seeking to ensure that the fascist regime he is about to unleash would be above the law.
In 2019, do not die in their wars. Choose your own battles, and fight in them. If it pleases God, you may die in them, but fight for the truth, and you toy with fame, bleed for the truth, and become a hero. Nigeria hasn’t been blessed with too many recognized martyrs, and few names have risen to the level of nationalist heroes. Die for a new Nigeria and become the heroes whose bloods became as the ones that attends the birth of every child. Nigeria must be reborn, or it will surely die.
First Chapter – “Do Not Die In Their War”