Demystifying Fulani’s Claims of Ownership of Nigeria.
by – Ajasegun Abraham
(Dr. Olugbenga Hassan, Ph.D. and a member of Egbe Omo Yoruba in USA and Canada, examined the essential facts on the history of Nigeria that are never taught in class to generations of Nigerians.)
The recent events in our country have forced me to dive deep into the past history of this great country called Nigeria.
The Fulani’s insurgency, the so-called Fulanization agenda for Nigeria to take complete ownership of this nation and many threats other tribes have received in recent time, including the rising terrorism, banditry and kidnapping obviously being perpetrated by Fulani tribes under a seating political Fulani administration, with the military, intelligence, security, law enforcement and judiciary under their controls, triggered my desire to know more about the evolution of the Fulani, the history of their exploit in Nigeria, and to unravel the root of their claims of ownership of Nigeria.
I must say sincerely that the banning of Nigerian history education in our schools has fueled my suspicion on a great hidden attempt to shield Nigerian children from knowing the history of the evolution of their fatherland. Why should there be such a draconian policy against education in Nigeria? It’s an assault against our collective historical heritage.
There is this latest Nigeria History book entitled “A Short History of Conquest and Rule” – What Britain Did to Nigeria written by Max Siollun. The book was first published in 2021 (yes, this year) in the UK by C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) LTD. Please, get a copy of this book to help you unravel many mysteries about Nigerian history shrouded in secrecy and untaught in our schools, even during my own time in the 80s.
I will be sharing many of my findings in relation to the topic of this post.
Who Are the Fulani?
They are a group of immigrants that came to Hausaland from Mauritania and Senegal, with a different culture and language.
They were cattle-rearing nomadic people who had spread across West Africa. French called them “Peul”, the Kanuri called them “Fulata”, but the Hausa called them “Fulani”. Traditionally, they referred to themselves as “Fulbe”.
Who’s Usman Dan Fodio and What Are His Antecedent?
This man was an Islamic cleric from the clan of Torobe Fulani. His ancestors migrated to the Hausa town of Gobir (today’s Sokoto) from FUTA Toro in Senegal. His father’s name was Mohammad Fodio also an Islamic cleric.
Now, the meaning of “Dan Fodio” is “son of the learned”.
The history has it that Bawa, the Sarki of the Hausaland of Gobir, hired Dan Fodio as an Islamic teacher for his royal house and Hausa prince named Yunfa.
The Rise of Usman Dan Fodio and Sokoto Caliphate
Then what suddenly happened?
Dan Fodio accused the Hausas of practicing idolatry and contaminating Islam with their animist rituals.
In 1804, Usman Dan Fodio declared a Jihad and invited his followers to establish Islam throughout Hausaland.
The man issued jihad directives with flags as symbols of authority from him to wage holy war.
Most unfortunately, the jihad war set Usman Dan Fodio against his own former student, who’s now a King Yunfa in Hausaland.
And so, the entire Hausaland was defeated and converted into a huge confederation of the Islamic Emirates popularly known as the Sokoto Caliphate and became Africa’s largest pre-colonial State stretching far to western Mali and eastern Cameroon.
Usman Dan Fodio gave himself the title of Amirul Mu’minin, meaning Commander of the Believers and appointed his loyal flag bearers as Amirs or Emirs, meaning Commanders or Rulers of the conquered territories.
By the 1830s, the Caliphate had grown to almost 10-million population and extended its conquered cities to non-Hausaland, including part of Kanem-Borno Empire, Jukun, Nupe, and Ilorin, a province of then Oyo Empire.
The Usman Dan Fodio advances into the South of then-unknown Nigeria was halted by the impenetrable dense forests of the South and the dangerous insects, most especially tsetse fly that menaced their horses. (If not, they would have conquered the entire South and West by their aggression and imposed Emirs as usual )
Now, note carefully the rapid success of Usman Dan Fodio inspired jihads in other parts of Africa. Ironically, many other revolutions took place almost about the same time, including the French Revolution in 1799, the Haitian revolution in 1804.
The Fall and End of Usman Dan Fodio Sokoto Empire & Usman Dan Fodio’s Prophecy
Usman Dan Fodio’s legacy and proclamations were an inspiration to the Fulani Empire and Fulani since the pre-colonial era till today in Nigeria.
It was alleged that Usman Dan Fodio made a prophecy that the Caliphate would last for a century, i.e., 100 years. Whether that prophecy is true or not, in exactly 100 years after Usman Dan Fodio declared Jihad in Northern Nigeria in 1804, the British Northern invasion that was led by Lord Lugard and conquest of the Sokoto Caliphate and its Emirates effectively put an end to the Usman Dan Fodio’s old and original Sokoto Empire and the regime conquest agenda.
The British conquest of Northern Nigeria was not due to any overriding commercial interest in the North but rather a pre-emptive move to block their European rivals from gaining control of their Northern protectorates. According to history, France and Germany have shown interest in the area and would have conquered if Britain had not made that move.
However, it turned out to be an act of providence to restrict the occupational agenda of Usman Dan Fodio. The occupational agenda from Fulani stock against Nigeria was real from their ancestors.
That agenda has been re-birthed severally since the demise of the original Caliphate; it has continued to shape their political agenda and aspiration before and after Nigeria’s Independence of October 1, 1960.
But now, is there any historical validity that the whole of Nigeria belongs to Fulani? Capital NO!
The last Amirul Mu’minin of the old Sokoto Caliphate, Sarkin Mohammadu Attahiru, initially survived the war against the British and fled.
After the conquest of the Northern Region and the Seat of the Old Caliphate, on 21 March 1903, Lugard assembled Sokoto’s leading officials and released aloud a proclamation, which was interpreted in Hausa, verified word for word. He made it unmistakably clear that independent Fulani rule had ended. The excerpt below:
“The old treaties are dead; you have killed them. Now, these are the words which I, High Commissioner, have to say for the future. The Fulani in old times under Dan Fodio conquered this country. They took the right to rule over it, to levy taxes, to depose kings and to create kings. They, in turn, have by defeat lost their rule which has come into the hands of the British. All these things which I have said the Fulani by conquest took the right to do now pass to the British. Every Sultan and Emir and the principal officers of State will be appointed by the High Commissioner throughout all this country”.
The next day in a public ceremony, Lugard appointed another Attahiru II, son of a former Sarkin Musulmi, Aliyu Babba, who reigned from 1842 to 1859, as the new Sarkin to replace his fugitive namesake, Mahammadu Attahiru I, who fled away.
Lugard gave Attahiru II a letter of appointment that outlined his powers and made him swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. After that, the British started referring to the new Sarkin Musulmi in English as the “Sultan of Sokoto”.
Every Sultan since then knows very well their allegiance to Britain till today.
All the Sultans since then are fully aware of this Lugard proclamation and effective end to Usman Dan Fodio’s directive on conquest and occupational agenda.
What then happened to the runaway Attahiru I and other leading members from the old Sokoto Caliphate, including Magaji of Keffi?
They were exterminated at the second battle of Burmi. The British forces had subdued and overthrown a century-old Caliphate and the independence and the powers of the Sokoto Caliphate ended within a few days of fighting at Burmi.
However, the Attahiru I, son of Mohammed Bello, with over 25,000 survivors, fled to Sudan and established a Fulani settlement on the Blue Nile called Mai Wurno. Their descendants still reside there in Sudan till today.
The British installed generations of Sultans are the ones ruling and their political elites in present-day Nigeria. Perhaps, the generations of the deposed leading members of the old Sokoto Caliphate are busy planning, over several decades, on waging wars from outside against Nigeria to take back what they claimed “belong to them” and to continue and complete the Usman Dan Fodio occupational vision of the territories in Nigeria.
You now know, as the British invaded and conquered Southern territories, so also they invaded and conquered the Fulani Sokoto Caliphate and the Emirates.
Who then are the real founding fathers of Nigeria?
How did Nigeria come into existence? You will be surprised that they are not those figures we’re taught in the schools.
We are told Nigeria’s formation started in 1914. But when digging deep, the foundational framework and principles of our existence as a country started in 1898 when the British Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, established a Niger Committee to advise him on the future administration of the conquered territories. Guess who were the members of that Niger Committee? (It’s not Sultan Sokoto or Oyo Empire king and co oooo…! Awolowo, Sardauna, Tafawa Balewa, or Oga Zik were not born then ooo…!!).
It is very unfortunate that this Niger Committee is not taught in the schools and even during my time, as I said earlier in the 80s.
Who then are the members of this Niger Committee? They included the following:
Sir Henry McCallum – Commissioner for then Niger Coast Protectorate.
Sir Ralph Moor
Three senior officials from the Colonial and Foreign offices
Sir Clement Hill, head of the African Department of the Foreign Offices
Reginald Antrobus – Permanent Undersecretary for the Colonies, who served as the committee chairman
Mr. George Goldie – the real big man and founder/owner of Royal Niger Company.
(Please, read about Goldie’s leading role and real influence in the conquest and formation of the territories known as Nigeria today. There’s no nation called Nigeria without him.)
Please, do your own research to find out about the recommendation of the Niger Committee. It’s mind-blowing!
The committee did not care about the who-is-who’s opinions in our ethnolinguistic territories.
We are taught mostly that Lugard’s wife, Madam Flora Shaw, invented the name Nigeria. This is not true!!
The madam only suggested Nigeria’s name in a newspaper article published anonymously in the “The Times” on 8 January 1897. She only echoed the name which had been informally used for decades for territories and people in the River Niger area managed by Royal Niger Company. And guess what? That territory included the Northwest, Northcentral and Northeast of present-day Nigeria. No Fulani man, Sultan, or emir had any contribution to the naming of that territory. Mrs. Lugard was not the inventor of the name.
However, Sir. Goldie also used that name in a paper delivered at the London Chamber of Commerce also entitled “The Future of Nigeria” and spoke of two Southern and Northern sections. He rejected the idea of naming territories after his name Goldesia due to his vast knowledge and influence on the territories.
Amazingly, the country was named Nigeria by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain. Why? Because the name simply sounded better to him than other funny funny names suggested. Chamberlain’s handwritten note gave birth to the name of a new nation. No Fulani leader or other tribes contributed to the naming.
By implication, the territories being contemplated by Usman Dan Fodio and his Empire to be conquered have gone forever and disappeared into a new country called Nigeria.
The foundation of Nigeria has been entirely laid by a British man. And that man who died in 1925 at the age of 79 and father at least three children from a Nigeria woman and many other women as well in Nigeria, and on whose gravestone reads:
“Sir George Taubman Goldie: Founder of Nigeria”
Usman Dan Fodio did NOT found Nigeria. Nigeria as a nation did not exist during the time of Usman Dan Fodio.
His Empire and Occupational agenda were effectively destroyed, and the old Sokoto Caliphate was replaced and renamed Sultanate by the British.
(Please, note that a huge credit must be given to the Author of the book earlier referenced in the opening section of this post. While many of the historical references used in this post are drawn from the book, the context based on the topic of this post is entirely Olugbenga Hassan’s, not that of the Author.)