In the past two weeks the focus has been on the ethnic groups in the country’s union and the review has been on which of them came into the union clutching to an ideal or still ideology. We began with the core North, because as it would seem, they appear to be the one that came into this forced union backed by clear knowledge of what they want from it. Their success of it and lack of same positioning from the other groups is at the root of what some chroniclers now term borders of blood dotting the country’s landscape. Social tension, tearing away at each other and bloodletting have been with us from independence, 60 years ago. It only grew in intensity in recent times, to the point it has trappings of genocide.
The seed of genocide was embedded in the ideology, “we have a way of life, add to that knowledge of what we want and what must be, if we must survive and even take over.” Call it expansionism and you won’t be wrong. The other ethnic groups agreed to early nationhood in 1952, but the core North was the only one that said no; they preferred more years of colonialism to self rule. The reason they gave was that they were not ready. Very early in our national life the desire of a sectarian group became in the main the country’s goal, for which reason the journey to statehood was stalled for just one group to “prepare”.
When our country got independence eight years years later what came from the art of “preparation” had inside it seeds of genocide. It was there but only few not blinded by ambition could see it. By the way acts of genocide are difficult to decipher, those who instigate them most times occupy exalted positions of power and authority and do their their thing hiding under the much abused talk of “society’s best interest better known these days as “National Interest”. A nebulous concept till tomorrow. Nigeria after independence was supposed to be one, though tribe and tongue may be different, in brotherhood they were meant to flow. But it didn›t go that way. The North running on its ideology declared its territory only for people of the area.
Other races in the union could come and domicile there but jobs in public sectors were not for them. Even when there were clear vacancies, northern leaders preferred Pakistanese, Indians and Arabs to fellow countrymen and women. English was declared official national language but they gave the entire area irrespective of its plurality the Hausa language, you spoke it to belong or fail to speak and live with the discrimination that follows.
These acts were genocidal. Acts of genocide involve deliberate and systematic killing of a people or ethnic group, but it is not limited to this, it also includes intentional actions and policies, rules calculated to gradually destroy a people in whole or in part, actions, ways of life that can harm the mental state of a people or ethnic group. It also includes targeted efforts to decimate the youthful population of a people. It is genocidal when a group works hard, in very deliberate manner to change demographics of an entity by way of sponsored alien residences.
I have a friend who recently completed his one year national service in my area, he hails from Benue State, a devoted Christian. He has his language but most times he is hooked to Hausa language. At the approach of a core northerner, he switches over to the Hausa mode. When he wants to travel or visit establishments for things, he puts on the core north traditional attires of long kaftan or full babariga outfits. He becomes who he is not because the structure of the state and pattern of patronage is clear on who you must be before you can gain patronage of state. In private he confessed to me he doesn’t like what he was born to meet but maintains he can’t help the situation. He and others are caged, their mentality twisted. This is genocide.
Today, Benue and Plateau states are borders of blood and the underlying cause is that some “aliens “ left their areas, came over to another in a deliberate format to establish a distinct community within another community without regard to the distinctiveness of their host communities. This kind of attitude is a precursor to genocidal killings, over time tussle over who has right to what becomes inevitable, especially in our chaotic kind of arrangement where no emphasis is given to citizenship. Many don’t agree we have genocide here but it should not take very strenuous effort to find out; just to sit down and do a review of such occurrences in America, Turkey, Rwanda and Sudan before the split and the magnitude of the evil some perpetuate against fellow citizens would be very clear and shocking if our consciences have not been seared with hot iron.
When Europeans left Europe for America, they met a native population known as the Red Indians. The first genocidal action came in the effort to disorient them and turn them from who they were, to what they weren’t; the Europeans wanted the locals to speak English, Spanish or French as well as dress and behave like them. I just gave the Benue example earlier. Next stage was to carve out territories and invite populations in Europe to come and occupy. They imported arms alongside. Wherever they encountered resistance they fought, strengthened by knowledge of being better armed. Look at Bornu, Benue, Plateau, Kwara, and Southern Kaduna. Do you see any similarities? When the Europeans formed government, they added the use of state policies and deployment of state apparatus of coersion. See use of Nigeria Army, Customs and State Security Service.
In Turkey, the state organized systematic elimination of Armenians. That ethnic group is near gone with Christianity that had root in the country before the advent of Islam. I listened to a native of Algeria poke at Libya people, “they tried it with us, but we resisted, they wanted us to fight so they came from behind to take over our land.” Instructive, not so? Fight and occupy. Buhari told us, “learn to share with your your brothers.” He didn’t say stop the killings. Governor El-Rufai in Kaduna State is not emphasizing arrest of barbarians, his concern is territorial rearrangement. In Sudan, the government floated a group under the guise of religion and let them loose on native people of Southern Sudan. The barbarians operated in the manner of what we see in the north which is spreading gradually across the country. The state gave it different names and made excuses, what was baffling was helplessness of security forces to stem the tide. What was at stake oil and reckless expansionism of ethnic,religious and then economic hegemony.
In Nigeria today, children of other ethnic groups other than the core North are being hunted, dealt with ruthlessly and their mentality disfigured. Igbo are worse hit. Find out how Argentina became an all white country while others around are of mixed races, you will understand Boko Haram and its dire consequences. I wanted to celebrate the commissioning of Enugu Airport last weekend but the news of non-completion amid commissioning held me back. The big question in all of it is, why would I and other Igbo celebrate the building of an airport or bridge when many have been built at far higher cost elsewhere and made very functional without celebrations? Genocidal war! Deliberate denials have twisted mentalities and turned an ethnic gropu to people of low expectations. Genocidal war!
My joy is that there are answers to genocidal forays. Exploiters never stop on their accord. No one gives up advantage out of his accord. They are forced to do. It is bravery that ends slavery. I will put out some solutions soon. For now we have a responsibility to open the fountain of justice and make it flow….. In it resides the most effective solution, nothing else.