Saturday, 1 November 2014


Ever since the return of democracy to Nigeria in May 1999, Northern Nigeria has become a somewhat suicidal lot. When certain Northern power brokers anointed Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as President in 1999, they envisaged a docile administration where a submissive Southern Christian President protected and preserved the interests of the North. The North here does not include the middle-belt; neither did it include the enlightened Talakawas. No, this so-called North was made up of few individuals, largely Hausa/Fulani Muslims who believed that Nigeria's leadership was their divine right passed on by the legendary Othman Dan Fodio. Thus, as soon as Chief Obasanjo declared his independence from this ‘old North’ by sacking all military officers that had once held political office, the old North knew that they were in trouble.

Image grab of Boko Haram's latest video. Source AP

This old North had for decades considered the Nigerian military as a Northern constituency. They sat back for thirty eight years, watched and relished a status-quo where military rulers from their region rotated power amongst each other with reckless abandon, in the name of 'bloodless' coup. Back then, coups only became 'bloody' when the perpetrators/culprits where non-Muslim Northerners i.e. Christian middle-beltans. Certain individuals from this old North enjoyed plum ministerial appointments, contracts and oil blocks for decades, leaving only residual, harmless or intellectually tasking  positions (like minister of information) to ‘southern infidels’. So, when they saw their military politicians being retired from the army by Obasanjo, they knew there was trouble.

By early 2000s, Northern Nigeria fought back by committing its first suicidal act; its group of dethroned power brokers launched the imposition of Sharia in many Northern states. These set of northerners refused to A. recognize Nigeria's secularity and B. remember that apart from maybe Kano and two or three others, every other Northern state in Nigeria has strong indigenous Christian populations. Northern states like Plateau, Nassarawa, Benue, Taraba and Adamawa have near or total Christian majority. In fault-line states like Kaduna, Niger, Bauchi and Gombe, it looks more like a fifty fifty distribution. Recent activities by Boko Haram in Chibok and Gworza areas of Borno state made most Nigerians realize that even in a core Northern state like Borno, its southern fringes are dominated by indigenous Christians. Yet they pressed on with the introduction of Sharia in the entire North; a former military ruler openly supported this move, same leader is now still struggling to win Christian votes in several failed presidential election attempts.

This 'Sharia' move single-handedly sowed suicidal seeds in Northern Nigeria’s social, political and economic structures. These evil seeds were further nurtured in later years to become the cancer we now know as Boko Haram. The introduction of Sharia was meant to unsettle Obasanjo’s administration, but Baba being the strategist that he is looked the other way and allowed those that started the fire to worry about it. Unfortunately, this fire was never quenched, it only mellowed underground for a while waiting to evolve into a volcano eruption-the one we are currently experiencing in form of Islamic insurgency.

During late President Yaradua's final moments, this same Northern cabal made a mockery out of our political institutions, going as far as forging the ailing Presidents’ signature on many occasions. The thought of another ‘Southern infidel’ emerging as President in less than four years was a major nightmare to them. Sadly for this North, their worst nightmare came to pass-Yaradua died, with the help of civil society and a doctrine of necessity another ‘Southern infidel’ emerged as president. Simultaneously, or perhaps in response to this new political order, Boko Haram,a rag-tag organisation known for fighting with machetes, knifes, bows and arrows suddenly began to acquire sophisticated arms, tanks and Hilux jeeps.

Five years and counting, President Goodluck Jonathan has been in the mantle of leadership, even if one does not like this President, the level of negative opposition and venomous attacks he has witnessed and endured will force many objective minds to stand in his defence. It's like witnessing a mob action where former confirmed criminals are the ones unleashing jungle justice on a lesser criminal.

Today, whether we agree or not, President Goodluck Jonathan's most vociferous critics are core Northerners most of whom had tasted power and benefited immensely from past government patronage. This is a fact and unfortunately, this fact alone makes most of their tangible criticisms against the president to appear intangible. Take for example accusations that Jonathan is using Boko Haram to destabilize the North; they could be right, but who started the fire? They've also alleged that former Chief of army staff General Ihejirika is a major sponsor of Boko Haram (thanks to revelations by a hungry white man), again they could be right. However, if the entire social structure and moral values of core Northern Nigeria has depreciated to a level where two Southern Christians can now supply them arms and suicide vests to be used to destroy each other- who then is to be blame?

Who, where are the real Northern leaders? Who is truly responsible for the so-called ‘abject poverty’ that has led many Northern youths into joining Boko Haram, wielding tanks, arms and ammunitions worth millions of Naira? How did a group of Northern illiterates kidnap over two hundred girls in Chibok and for months they've held on to these girls-who’s feeding these girls?

We can keep blaming the federal government and urging them to take more decisive action against the insurgents, but accusing same government of complicity is just plain ridiculous. Whenever Boko Haram strikes, bombs, kidnaps etc, the shame and pressure falls on President Goodluck Jonathan's government. The shame of the missing Chibok girls is still on the Nigerian governments’ head; how then can an incumbent government use its own resources to sponsor activities that bring embarrassment and disrepute to its own administration?

The old North needs to wake up and join the new North in partnership with the rest of the country to fight our common enemy. Yes, there is a New North, many are in the PDP, a few are in the APC and most are not even involved in politics yet. These New Northerners see themselves as Nigerians; they regard their compatriots in the middle-belt and the south as equals. This new North has embraced Agriculture, Tourism and manufacturing as viable ventures that can transform the North and Nigeria in general. Whenever individuals from this new North decide to present themselves for higher national service be rest assured that ALL Nigerians regardless of tribe and religion will rally behind them.

A sad reality is that the set of Northerners currently vying for Nigeria’s top political position against 2015 largely belong to the old suicidal North and therefore can never be fully accepted by ‘the rest of us infidels’. These unpalatable set of old Northerners in normal circumstances should have embarked on self-imposed penance where they concentrate on putting out the fire in their region while grooming fresh Northern young leaders that can engage with their Southern counterparts as equals, working together to build a greater Nigeria.


  1. Too much emphasis on the things that divide us Stanley,a few crazy people do things that want to keep us apart for their selfish interest. Poverty and hopelessness has no tribe and religion it is a disease that affects majority of Nigerians. we must not let these greedy politicians divide us . Gbenga Aborowa

    1. I totally agree with you; but how do we tackle this same group of people whom I tagged as the "old North" who are fond of organizing countless meetings and announcing communiques or resolutions to the media claiming they are speaking on behalf of the entire NORTH?

      Again, I totally agree with your comment.


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