Wednesday, July 15, 2015

NA ONLY FULANI WAKA COME? (1&2) written by, Yinka Odumakin

DEAR Hillary,

The headline above is a line you sent to me on WhatsApp in what has become our ritual of daily dialogues about our country over the years. This has been a carryover of our passion from our days at the "Ife fortress "(apology to Prof. Jubril Aminu) where we learned when there was still a learning culture in Nigeria. I can say without any fear of contradiction that we were the last but one generation that went to proper school in real school that this country offered before it "died".We had the great ambience to learn. We did not have to look for fees to be in school. The highest we paid for a bed space was N90 a session. Our Library was stuffed with latest books and journals.We had teachers who taught us both what they were paid to teach and went on to infuse in us what they were "not paid to teach". We tasked our teachers as there was intellectual ferment. We were not the "handout" generation.Handout generationJust as we glowed in the true academic tradition, our cultural outlook was essentially cosmopolitan. People like you and I took a quality decision that we were not going to join any association where our membership qualification would solely be where we were born, how much money we had and our mode of worshipping God.You relocated to America after we left Ife and we did not meet for over two decades when I came to your corner of the globe a few years back. During our contact, subsequent phone calls and exchange of mails; the impression you made on me is that you remain the quintessential Larrry. Like I do with a large section of Yoruba politicians , you are very critical of many members of Igbo political elite and you take no prisoners with them.This is why when I got the line "Na only Fulani waka come?" from you, I knew it was not a line too short to ignore.You were prodded to ask the question over the compilation by unauthorised statisticians of the appointments our new President has made in one month in the saddle. Out of the nine appointees, eight were from the Northern part of the country and only one from the South:INEC Ag.Chairman, Amina Zakari (North); Head of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mordecai Ladan (North); Accountant-General of Federation, Ahmed Idris (North); Chief Security Officer, Abduraham Mani (North); ADC, Mohammed Abubakar (North); DG SSS, Lawal Daura (North), SSA Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu (North) and SA,Media and Publicity, Femi Adenisina, (South).Back to who “waka come” and their identity. There is no scintilla of doubt that it would not have mattered much if Nigeria were properly constituted in the manner the greatest thinker among the founding fathers of Nigeria, Oloye Obafemi Awolowo, posited.The sage on June 12, 1967 from CELL DUP2, CALABAR PRISON signed off his book: “Thoughts On The Nigerian Constitution”, where he warned us about the juncture where we are presently stranded in our non-journey to nationhood. Awo wrote on page 56 of the book:“Besides, it is not difficult to forecast that the work of government in Nigeria under a unitary constitution is bound to become unduly complex, inextricably tangled, extremely unwieldy and wasteful, and productive of disunity and discontent amongst the people. Unless we have veritable supermen at the helm of affairs, the administrative machinery would eventually disintegrate and break down under the crushing weight of ‘bureaucratic centralism ‘”.The last Governor-General of Nigeria, Sir James Wilson Robertson also wrote about the clash of civilizations in Nigeria in his book “Transition In Africa” on page 223:“The general outlook of the people(North) is so different from those in Southern Nigeria as to give them practically nothing in common. There is less difference between an Englishman and Italian, both of whom have a common civilization based on Greek and Roman foundations and on Christianity, than between a Muslim village in Sokoto, Kano or Katsina, and an Ibo, Ijaw or a Kalabari. How can any feeling of common purpose of nationality be built up between people whose culture, religion and mode of living is so completely different? When the British go, what will keep these diverse peoples together within the artificial boundaries drawn on the maps in 1880s and 1890s?”Robertson’s comments still ring true with the utterances of former Kano State Governor and now Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso in an interview he granted Vanguard Newspaper on April 26, 2015. He lambasted the wife of former President of Nigeria for “insulting” the north over the menace of Almajiri children which he considered a thing of pride:“Look at what the wife of the President said about us-northerners. She was just castigating the North almost at every opportunity. You cannot insult us and think that you can get away with it. This democracy is a game of numbers, and that is why we went back and put almajiris together to get about two million votes.“The issue of almajiris has been open to abuse in this country and turned into insults for us. Almajiri here is a positive word but the way they see it is that we are beggars, that we produce so many children that we cannot take care of, and that is what the First Lady was saying and we kept quiet because we had our own way of answering her and we did exactly that on the 28th of March”.The day is not coming when commonality will be forged between these extreme views except on the template of pretense and denial. And social scientists have argued correctly that a problem is not resolved either by pretending it does not exist or ascribing it to the wrong source.Global experiences in the last two decades has shown clearly that we in the age of self-determination where politics of identity predominates. Most of the conflicts around the world have been about people defining themselves through their language, culture and religion. This has dampened the enthusiasm of the triumphalists of the new world order like Fukuyana who had predicted a global village of peace and harmony at the end of the Cold War.Nigeria can no longer run away from the imperatives of cultural democracy otherwise known as Federalism especially in an era when the unitary arrangement has exhausted its possibilities. The shrinking opportunities can only continue to be productive of conflicts, suspicions and internecine battle for control. Fault lines are bound to widen in such a situation.It is time to disperse from Abuja and let everybody go home and dig under their soil and bring out wealth so we can stop “bail outs”(I thought it is criminals who deserve bail) for states who are sitting on untapped wealth. The corridors of wealth that would be created when all the constituent units make all of us “waka come” is unimaginable.
written by, Yinka Odumakin 

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