Very well said, Sanusi
Very well said Sanusi, all KCOBs are and remain proud of you and are not at all surprised that you can be as noble as a Prince and as high-minded as a Kingsman. However, to be able to reach and be comfortable with this conclusion, we need civility which is a fine combination of nobility and high-mindedness….gege bi omoluwabi!
History, good and bad, haunts all communities of living beings: imperialism/colonialism/racism haunt Europe. Slavery and racism haunt the Americas. Here in Nigeria, the most powerful historical bogey haunting us is the emergence and consequences in our midst of one great historic and historical person, your illustrious ancestor Uthman Dan Fodio…scholar, revolutionary, statesman and cause célèbre of the British creation, Nigeria.
In all civility and in the context of nobility and high-mindedness, you are correct that we must endeavour always not to continue dwelling and dueling on the past. That is what leadership, and good leadership in situ and all who aspire to lead in our community must hold dear and subscribe to, preach and practise. These are high demands on the human nature and character.
Given this reality and the added reality of those regions that the Fodio revolution did not quite overrun, his large presence constitutes a large frame in our lives and is what gave and still gives rise to the fear of the Sokoto Caliphate in modern post-colonial Nigeria, on which we are working as an experiment in state creation (note I didn’t say Nation Building)! The impression is that the Sokoto Caliphate is a hegemonic force real or imagined, used by the coloniser, British, and now using the Nigerian state to become a danger and serious threat to all the other constituting elements of the British creation and Nigerian State, which we inherited in 1960 and have been working on as The Nigerian Experiment, for a truly democratic, economically powerful multi-national community of federation states.
To make a success of this experiment, we require two very important ingredients. The first is Civility as defined above; the second is a Nigerian historic and historical persona…a Dan Fodio. Until and unless this persona emerges, we all as individuals and as groups are very likely to continue responding to the behemoth in this or any of its forms and presence, with fear, anger, counter aggression. The irrational responses of the perceived behemoth itself and its assumed victims have become the duty and responsibility of political leaders to manage. The extent to which these are managed effectively and efficiently will determine how easy it will be for a Dan Fodio or unifier to emerge or the Nigerian State as presently constituted to survive in the form we know it, inherited it and consider it perfect and desirable again, for us, for our region, continent, all our people strewn all over the world, to give the African competitive edge in the world of European modernity, created and still dominated by WENA.
To avoid crashing, crushing the Petri dish, or setting fire to the laboratory, all concerned must manage, not treat lightly, not ignore or pretend there is no ugly past ; but let our history guide the strong and the knowledge of this, comfort the weak. At this point in time, the experiment is in the hands of one: highly regarded Nigerian, a Fulani, of the Dan Fodio stock, enjoying a second chance to and for making history. Unfortunately, he has inherited not only mountains of corruption as affliction and infestation but also dangerous developments affecting the political and physical existence of the nation in the North East, in the Delta Region, in the Eastern region and who knows where next. Your light hearted allusions to claims of resources and resource control are very serious matters on which most sensible Nigerians are appealing to power holders for the consideration of a sovereign national conference (SNC) at which our cohabitation arrangements as 300 nationalities that came to be Nigeria under the Force Of British Arms….no less, can be rationally reviewed.
The logic of this demand and the whisperings for constitutional restructuring into a federal structure compelled the late Chief Anthony Enahoro, icon of our political independence, and his colleagues of the Movement for National Reformation (MNR), to organise and convene PRONACO whose report recommended a federal arrangement of 18 nationality-based regions – 12 mono-nationalities and six pluri-nationalities, as well as a right of inclusion and withdrawal for each component entity in a democratic manner. While the logic of violence remains most unattractive and must be discouraged, we all have a moral and political duty to take it more seriously and work harder to deny the ground to it.
Land is and remains the most coveted, emotionally charged of all resources in most communities, even animals covet, protect and ferociously defend their marked territories in the wild. The claims and sensitivities of peoples to land cannot be taken lightly or dismissed. The free ranging production of beef in Nigeria, indeed in the ECOWAS Region, dominated by the Fulani cattle herdsmen is at one and the same time a sensitive resource control issue and political volcano which must not be allowed to erupt. Happily, it is a regional problem amenable to and should be subject to regional solutions. This writer has had to rein in or curb local reactions to a number of nuisance and violence generated by Nigerian-Fulani herdsmen in farmer/grazer conflicts, as they plied their legitimate trade outside Nigeria in West Africa. ECOWAS can and should, with the help of appropriate international organisations, undertake a study of the problem, tap into available international expertise and experiences, for more palatable solutions than those being considered now.
Issues and problems like these defy civility and its components, nobility and high-mindedness in most ordinary minds. Your biological and sociological pedigrees have prepared you for civility, and we are not surprised that your public presence in the past decade has been exemplar turning you into a likely candidate, your current interruptus notwithstanding, for being a vibrant part of the crusade for civility.
All the same, Sanusi, very well spoken and may the Nigerian experiment succeed in spite of the history and past that haunt us and continuously deny ground to civility or its component, nobility and high-mindedness, essential elements to manure and comfort the growth and nurture of the common as opposed to the individual purpose in the Nigerian experiment.
Tao is a retired ambassador.