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Hausa/Fulani is not a tribe: it is an ideology

June 18, 2009

I have read with interest the contributions to my press interview titled “Nigeria is ripe for revolution”. Unfortunately, there is no audio version of the interview. This notwithstanding, I thank all those who have contributed to the discussion. I intend to answer their queries later.

The main reasons why I gave the interview are that “you cannot fight what you do not understand”. It is true that over the years Gani Fawehnmi, Femi Falana, Wole Soyinka and others have fought the Nigerian establishment and have been constants and I thank them for their individual and collective efforts. What I have tried to do is not to incite anybody but to pass on a message to those concerned that is, those ruling us that there is no need to prolong the suffering of Nigerians any further as the people now understand the main problem of their country and those responsible which in my view makes the struggle by the genuine civil society easier.

 It will also, I believe, discourage the authorities from continuing the way they have done over the years and at the same time ask Gani and the others to re-view their appreciation of the Nigerian problem in order to re consider their strategy.

The second reason is that at the moment Nigeria does not have one national interest. Rather, national interest means different things to different Nigerians – Northern interest, southern interest, middle belt interest, Niger Delta interest, Yoruba, Fulani, Igbo, Edo etc. These interests need to be harmonised so that we can have one Nigerian interest as other countries have one British interest, one American interest, one Saudi interest, Iranian interest etc. As one of the contributors said, a lot of blood has been spilled in our country and this has continued. Although this fact will make reconciliation difficult, it is feasible and possible at this stage in the spirit of truth, reconciliation and forgiveness notwithstanding what had happened in the past.

The third and final reason is that I am a stakeholder in the Nigerian project, so are other Nigerians, lawyers and professionals. We owe the duty to use our knowledge and opportunity to promote nationhood and not dictatorship. Over the years professionals have tended to serve the personal interests of the Head of State or President to the detriment of the Nigerian state. No doubt Nigeria would have been better if professionals especially lawyers when briefed had impressed on the government that the Nigerian corporate interests and existence must be maintained and protected. We must not forget that in a democracy such as the one we now have, all offices, President, Governors etc, are creations of the constitution and as such they are subject to the constitution having been so created. The President, the Inspector General of Police must perform their functions as provided by the constitution. The fact that the President will approve payment of legal fees or other fees does not make him the client if the money is to come from the treasury.  In which case all briefs paid for by the State are state briefs and state interest must be protected. The same applies to all government ministries and departments.

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Now permit me to answer some of the issues raised in these replies. As one of the contributors wrote, Hausa / Fulani is an ideology it is not a tribe. There is no tribe known as Hausa/Fulani or Fulani/ Hausa in Nigeria and further permit me to quote from the Willink’s report page 66 ---‘Many witnesses have referred to their fear of Fulani/Hausa, and though the meaning of this phrase are not always expressed in terms or even analysed by those who use it, it clearly implies a system of rule of society of which an important ingredient is the operation of Muslim law’ Willink went to add ‘Some witnesses have specifically referred to this system of law as an object of fear’

. - Anybody who accepts this ideology is a Hausa/Fulani even when such a person is a Yoruba from Ogbomosho or Abeokuta or an Igbo from Onitsha or even an Edo from Etsako.  Willink specifically concluded that democracy will replace this ideology and that Nigerians should not be afraid as it is a matter of time.  This may explain why we have been having difficulty in our democracy because some Nigerians do not want to replace this ideology with democracy.  This interpretation in the circumstance does not include the ordinary men and women of either the Hausa or Fulani ethnic nationalities who like the rest of Nigerians is suffering under the yoke of this ideology.

On corruption, it is very clear that it is a tool in the hands of those who profess the Hausa/Fulani ideology. Nuhu Ribadu is being hounded for 2 reasons: (a) he was expected as a Fulani to be part of the ideology and (b) he tried to destroy one of the instruments of this ideologue – corruption.  A national conference on corruption as suggested by one the contributors will not solve the problem. The problem will be solved only when we can stop those who use corruption to promote an ideology as it is the case with Nigeria. They are the people to be stopped. John Githongo who fought corruption in Kenya and Nuhu Ribadu who also fought corruption in Nigeria are both on exile at the Oxford University here in the UK. Githongo’s ‘crime’ is that he tried like Rebadu to stop corruption the instrument with which his tribe rose and held on to power. In the case of Ribadu however. it is particularly sad because he was performing his duties of prevention and detection of crime when his colleagues who were supposed to protect his interest in the process protect the interest of all police officers, were the ones who ganged up against him because in his line of duty he had to expose a former Inspector-General who had in his account 17 billion Naira proceeds of corruption. It is obvious that it is now very difficult for an honest Nigerian to work in present day Nigeria police force.

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Ethnicity and religion per se are not the problem in Nigeria. But ethnicity and religion was the rallying points and yet another instrument in the hands of the Hausa / Fulani ideologues which they had used over the years to promote their ideology only to exclude their use in the 1999 constitution. The exclusion of ethnicity and religion after they had been used was hypocritical. This explains the reasons for the establishment the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) and the Ethic Nationalities Movement (ENM) as rallying points with democracy as their ideology to counter Hausa/Fulani as an ideology.

On revolution, I made it very clear the type of revolution required. The type promoted by Martin Luther King not the Rawlings revolution. In Nigeria we do have one national interest as Ghana had. I doubt whether there is any Nigerian officer that can be trusted to promote a national interest.  The Rawlings revolution was accepted at the time it happened; it is not suitable or acceptable in the 21st century world. As a matter of fact, it is the call for the Rawlings type revolution in Nigeria that encouraged the recommendation of Martin Luther King type revolution which is more appropriate and acceptable.

Nigerians at home and in Diaspora must come together as Christians, Muslims, atheist and members of the over 389 tribes and review the past amongst ourselves and demand and influence a change. The problem with Nigeria is the competing interest of democracy and ‘a system of rule of society of which an important ingredient is the operation of Muslim Law’ which has adversely affected our unity, growth development and our legal system. Please join us to promote Nationhood for Nigeria through Peace Reconciliation and Forgiveness.

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