More bloodshed in northern Nigeria as Jonathan stands pat

President Jonathan in pensive mood
By the Editor-in-Chief

It has become an all too common occurrence, more-so since Nigeria's current leader, Goodluck Jonathan assumed power in May of 2010.

Just to establish the facts as they are, the last time there was another "upheaval" along ethnic or religious lines, was when another Southerner, Olusegun Obasanjo, also a former military ruler, was in office. It was then the Northern states decided to adopt the Islamic code of Sharia, again in defiance of the central government.

While many are quick to refer to the recent wave of attacks as strictly a religious affair, under the auspices of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, this writer begs to differ, as any right thinking observer with deep knowledge of the inner-workings of Nigeria's political power-play, will understand exactly where I am coming from.

To get a clear understanding of the reasons behind Nigeria's political malaise, one has to go back to the origins of the "marriage of convenience" called Nigeria. The truth is that while the latter "has not worked" to date, it has not been for a lack of the requisite ingredients for success, but more as a result of the machinations of a powerful few within the Northern political establishment and their backers in the South.

Since Nigeria's independence from the United Kingdom on October 1, 1960, the country has been plunged into untenable political tension, mostly as a result of the legacy of feudalism and political entitlement practiced and felt by the Northerner ruling class, respectively.

The legacy of the British Empire as it relates to the contraption and division of several African States (including Nigeria) that were under their rule at the time, is unquestionably what has led to majority of the wars you see across both North Africa and much of Africa to the South (this writer detests the term sub-Sahara and as such will not use it).

Nigeria is a prime example of the preceding point as the 1961 plebiscite, which showed the rather sharp differences between the Hausa dominated North, the Igbo dominated East and the Yoruba dominated West, led to the fracturing of the country as the power imbalance continued to shift more in favor of the core North.

This disequilibrium and perceived (but real) corruption of the electoral and political process led to several back-to-back military coups in 1966. The first was led by a collection of largely Igbo military officers who went on to assassinate then Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (a Northerner), the Northern Premier Ahmadu Bello and Premier Ladoke Akintola of the Western Region.

The instability from this coup then led to a counter-coup orchestrated largely by Northern military officers and it led essentially to a blood-bath of immense proportions, with military and civilian figures, mostly of Igbo extraction, bearing the brunt of it.

With a young "Northern" officer, Yakubu Gowon (his background itself lending credence to the complicated nature of Nigeria's body polity) now at the helm of the central government, the ethnic and religious undertones of the successive coups, would only serve to fan the embers of division in the country.

Nigeria was soon plunged into a civil war as increasing violence against the Igbo across much of the North, only increased their desire for autonomy, as the military and other security apparatus in the country (largely dominated by the North at the time) offered the Igbo little or no protection.

By May 1967, the Igbo dominated Eastern Region had declared itself an independent state called the Republic of Biafra under the leadership of Lt Colonel Emeka Ojukwu in line with what he said were the "wishes of his people". The Nigerian Civil War began as the Nigerian (the North with the acquiescence of the West) side attacked Biafra (South-eastern) on July 6, 1967 at Garkem signaling the beginning of the 30 month war that ended in January 1970. Over a million people died as a result of the three year war for the soul and destiny of what is today still Nigeria.

Then leader, Yakubu Gowon, in the spirit of brotherhood declared "no victor, no vanquished" as the Biafra rebels surrendered and Nigeria "remained in tact".

Events since the end of that Civil War would seem to however buttress the notion of many watchers of the Nigerian political climate, who claim the country remains a "power keg" waiting to explode.

Since 1970, Nigeria, after the first two military coups, has had six military coups, with two being unsuccessful - the one in 1976 which killed the Head-of-State but did not remove the government and the unsuccessful Gideon Orkar-led coup of 1990 against then military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida.

This is hardly a recipe for success and the fact that Nigeria seemed to have turn the corner in 1999 with the advent of the still fragile Second Republic, does not change the fact that the ethnic and religious undercurrent, a tool used by the Northern elite in particular to advance their selfish interests, remains a headache and one for which the cure is no where in sight.

The biggest obstacle to Nigeria's progress remains the greed and avarice commonplace with the ruling class, in the North and the South as well. The Northern ruling class however have a voracious appetite for power and have shown over the years that they are willing to do anything to not only get it, but also hold on to it.

Their cohorts in the Southwest and the Southeast are always there to strengthen them from behind, as long as the stakes are not so high that the over-arching interests of either of them (North and Southern ruling class) is threatened.

Consequently, the general population, who really could care less about the ethnic or religious "differences" being used by a few sectional interests to divide them, remain the proverbial pawns in this dangerous game.

The Northern power structure is intent on destroying the political and social fabric of the nation, unless their wishes are granted. Their born-to-rule disposition which was hatched in the incubators of power in the North and perpetuated in the corridors of power across much of the nation, has become a self-fulfilling prophesy, but with unintended consequences.

Boko Haram was not supposed to go on a killing spree and murder innocent Northern and other civilians, as well as their political leaders (Boko Haram's benefactors). The Northern power brokers, with the usual suspects leading the charge, can only watch as the fire they had hoped would "burn gently" has slowly engulfed their domain, while threatening the corporate existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It has not helped matters either that Nigeria has a "smiling president" that thinks he needs not do anything, but hope for "Divine Intervention". One can't however blame a man who has never really worked for anything he has become, but had it all given to him, literally.

President Jonathan needs to however realize that the blood of the innocent citizens who have been murdered in cold blood by these band of marauders and terrorists, must be avenged. While I know the concept of revenge, more-so when it is justified, has become untenable to the sycophants in the halls of the UN and the liberal Human Rights Watch (both organizations that have outlived their usefulness), Nigeria's government must NOT negotiate with Boko Haram, but ensure that the group and its benefactors, who are well known to those in power, are brought to task for their acts of treason and sedition against the Nigerian State.

The Nigerian people and much of the civilized world needs to see this president finally live up to his responsibilities and duties as the leader of one of the most important democracies in the world.