The North is on fire. It is ferociously burning. The blaze is uncontrollably raging; speedily growing into an inferno. The North is about to be consumed by its own creation: Boko Haram.
Boko Baram was founded and nurtured into maturity in the North, by the North and for the North. Now, it has grown into a Frankenstein’s monster. What do we do with it?
The demon was wickedly put together in 2002 in Maiduguri, Borno State. It was a child of circumstance. Its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was born on January 29, 1970, in Yobe State.
His life was cut short at age 39. Police did the summary execution on July 30, 2009. They claimed he was trying to escape their custody. Instantly, Abubakar Shekau took over. The rest is an ugly history still playing out.
So? The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar 111, could not hold his breathe. This oracle from the North was forced to voice out.
He ventured with all intensity to the future. And in wisdom, he clearly saw tomorrow. But what he saw was frightening. He dared not keep it to himself all alone. He struggled to pretend that all was well.
He feigned to be mute and mum. But the real patriot in him would not allow that to last longer than necessary. He could not suppress his fears and anxieties anymore. Promptly, he shouted loud and clear.
His distressed voice reverberated throughout the land. Even the deaf could hear the roaring and thunderous sound from the seat of caliphate.
The Sultan made an excellent calculation. The setting was perfect and the atmosphere conducive. It couldn’t have been anywhere else. And it was his turn to speak.
He firmly took control of the floor with all his majesty. There was dead silence. The auspicious venue was the meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC). Sultan Abubakar, a retired General, did what he knows how to do the best. He threw a bombshell:
“Security situation in Northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation.” He knew exactly what he was saying. He gave a horrible and horrific sampler. It was damning and frightening:
“Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there with the (state) governor (Aminu Tambuwal) to commiserate with the affected community.”
The Sultan is pained to the marrows: “Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the North. We have accepted the fact that the North does not have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.”
Then the inconceivable, implausible: “People think the North is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it is the worst place to be in this country.”
Why? He responded: “Because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK 47 and nobody is challenging them. They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed.”
He is never known for frivolities. He is not cut for mincing or mixing words. His fears were not misplaced. He was sure of his facts, data and figures. And he confirmed this as much in even clearer terms:
“These are facts I know because I am at the centre of it. I am not only a traditional ruler I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the North in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there.
“We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.” Sure! We do not have the effrontery to doubt you, no temerity either.
The Sultan spoke like an oracle that Thursday. It was like never before. He directly poured out to the throne of power right there in Abuja. He was fearless and right on point.
The following day, the Sultan carried his campaign down South. It was at the fifth coronation anniversary of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi. It took place in the heart of the old “Wild, Wild,West”, Ibadan, Oyo State. Very strategic!
The Sultan would not be one to miss this opportunity. He refused to relent in his forthrightness and steadfastness. He stuck to his gun and told his audience:
“If you check the newspapers today (Friday), almost all of them have this very bold headline on what I said on Thursday. It means some people are watching; they are listening, they are reading.”
Still, he would not refrain from telling the truth: “What we want is for them to implement, act. If you listen, you will hear what people have been saying and crying for. When you don’t act, then things will get worse. When things get worse, they will get worst. When they get worst, of course, it is only Almighty Allah who will come and help us.
“So, let’s not allow that; let’s rise up and make things change in this great country. Almighty couldn’t have made a mistake when He put this country together. And if He wants to do whatever He wants to do, He will just do it. He will separate this country, divide it into one million little pieces and you will need visa to go somewhere and you may not get the visa.”
Sultan won the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, over instantly. The Alaafin did not fail to showcase that:
“I want to commend the Sultan of Sokoto for speaking truth to power on Friday when he said the North is the worst place to live in Nigeria. I appreciate your boldness. Not quite long after you made your remark, a first class traditional ruler was shot dead by gunmen in Ondo State.”
And what followed? Sultan’s fears became a stark reality the following day. They were graphically confirmed on a rice farm in Zabarmari, a remote part of Borno State. At the marshy areas surrounding the Lake Chad.
Boko Haram came calling early that Saturday morning with their usual message of blood. At one fell swoop, the beasts slit the throats of more than 61 on their farms. We are still sadly counting.
Almost at the same time, this unverified post was picked up on the social media. Courtesy, Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmimini Kabir Usman. He trod the Sultan’s path. He did not care a hoot, the bitter truth must be told. And he did exactly just that:
“We can’t continue to live like animals. Everyday, I receive reports of kidnapping and killings from district and village heads. It’s very unfortunate. I have not seen this kind of country. Nobody is safe now wherever you are.”
We were taken aback by these profound pronouncements from our traditional rulers. They have made available valuable pieces of information. Security operatives should make good use of them. They should not be left unexplored and unexploited. You could not fault them. They spoke their minds out, fearless and exceptionally bold.
They are the rare seers of all times. They need to be listened to. This holocaust must be halted even now. The intense heat of the raging inferno is making mess of our armed forces. The more it is “technically degraded,” the more fierce and savage it becomes.
This ravaging firestorm from the North must not consume us. That ought to be a collective resolve.