Illusions of Fulani Suzerain Right and Power in Northern Nigeria: A Daydream That Is Devoid of All Reality.

by Basil Okoh

The Fulani are the only people on earth who claim to own a place without owning property or the land. The Fulani elite claim to own Nigeria, that Nigeria is a gift from God to Fulani, to own and to rule over. But the Fulani have no ancestral land anywhere in Nigeria and hardly any property.

In their never-ending pursuit of dominance and group entitlement, the Fulani, against all evidence and all proof, indoctrinate their largely illiterate folk that Nigeria is their God-ordained inheritance and they must strongly make their claim to the geopolitical space.

“South should forget 2023 presidency”, says Junaid Mohammed.

His words: “I don’t want to hear about this equity and justice, that is sheer nonsense. The people, who abused this equity and justice, are the people from the Southeast because whatever we are talking about, in a democracy, you cannot circumvent voting figures.”

Dr. Junaid Mohammed, a Soviet-trained doctor; Ango Abdullahi, former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University and Tanko Yakassai, former politician, are the mouthpiece of a vociferous North who boast that the scions of the Fulani-controlled Sokoto Caliphate own Nigeria and should, therefore, be entitled to rule it in perpetuity.

Leader of Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Prof Ango Abdallah, has declared that there was nothing wrong with the presidency remaining in the North beyond 2023. He noted that critical evaluation of positions of different ethnic groups in the country showed that the North had been shortchanged as key (government) positions were not with them.”

Fulani-owned Sokoto Caliphate

Uthman Dan Fodio was the founder of the Sokoto Islamic caliphate that has dominated Northern Nigeria in the past 200 years. On the left is Sanusi L. Sanusi, the reigning Emir of Kano

Again, against the evidence, the Muslim North claims it owns and controls the armed forces of Nigeria. Still, its soldiers have never proven their mettle in wars or in any military operation. In fact, it is said that the Fulani Caliphate cannot mobilize five battalions of its own men in any military campaign. In fact, we do know that the Fulani economy cannot support the purchase of a dozen tanks or provide for a military campaign for three continuous months. 

The Fulani unceasing claim to own the country and the label they give the Southerners as the so-called outsiders are part of their schemes to retain power. But as the Southerners themselves seem not to understand, it’s all a game of grandstanding for ethnic ascendancy in the absence of any other claim to Fulani relevance in Nigeria.

It rankles me to have to read or listen to all these exclusionary tales denying an entire people of the Southeast zone inclusion into elite leadership positions in Nigeria. But the laugh is on the Fulani, a people characterized as thus:

A UNICEF multi-indicator cluster sampling, which covered 2016 and 2017, showed that the rate of infant mortality in Kano is as high as 112 percent while the under-five mortality rate is 203 percent. The survey showed that while only 4.6 percent of the children in the state undergo full immunization coverage, 54 percent of the children are involved in child labor. Also, access to early childhood education and early marriage stands at just 18 and 70 percent (for women). respectively.

And yet, without shame, they keep flaunting the sheer size of their flotsam population as the claim to ethnic entitlement to the leadership of Nigeria. To the Junaid Mohammeds of the Fulani aristocracy, their diseased and beggarly population is something to flaunt and wear as a badge for entitlement to the leadership of Nigeria and for negotiating Fulani-overseen elite privileges.

The Southeasterners cannot wear such a badge of dishonor because their people are not diseased and poor, even though they are not entitled to elite privileges.

For all their gorging themselves with the power aphrodisiac, one single man, Bill Gates, had to give $1.4 billion of his wealth and sweat to help to eradicate the polio disease in Muslim Northern Nigeria, the last place on earth to harbor such a scourge.

There’s just no sense of shame among the elite of Northern Nigeria who do not, as a group, add value or compete in any relevant sector in the economy of their fatherland without serious leverage from the Federal Government.

The total internally generated revenue of the entire states in Northern Nigeria cannot pay the salaries of government workers in any one of the nineteen states. And yet, they keep boasting of “phawa”. Power for what? What kind of power can a diseased, hungry and illiterate population wield in the intense competition among nations of the 21st century?

The false calculation based on the premise that since the weapons of war are located in Caliphate-controlled territory that the North, by that fact alone, has a military advantage over and vice grip on Southern Nigeria remains what it is – an illusion. A ragtag group of bandits, Boko Haram, have proven the lie to that claim.

If it weren’t for Southern and Middle Belt officers and men, Boko Haram terrorists would have overrun the whole Sharia Territory (from Maiduguri to Sokoto) in six months. It is the men who fight wars, not just weapons. Superior knowledge and experience make for so much difference in the battlefield.

The war against Boko Haram should provide evidence of the utter weakness of present Nigeria’s Armed Forces. After over six years of fighting, the Nigerian soldiers are locked in, in fortified barracks, guarded by fellow soldiers in turns, instead of themselves defending the communities which they were called to protect from the terrorists.

Nigeria’s Air Force, after aimless bombing raids that are taking out IDP camps instead of the Boko Haram terrorist dens, have returned to 1967 default settings where Nigeria had to beg for and hire Egyptian pilots to conduct the bombing raids against Biafrans, for example.

These long stories of Nigeria’s military and war are to show the futility of any claim to military superiority in Nigeria so that those who insist that they are born to rule and that they own Nigeria should examine the facts.

See the facts below and determine for yourselves who truly own Nigeria. You do not own a country by just spoken words and grandstanding alone, but by having a quality population, investments and crucial asset possession:

  1. Southerners own 60% of the hotel and the entire hospitality industry in Abuja.

  2. 55% of total non-government investments in Abuja and the entire FTC belong to Southerners.

  3. Southerners own 45% of non-land investments in Northern Nigeria.

  4. Southerners own 90% of retail pharmacies in Abuja and FTC.

  5. Southerners own 40% of privately owned properties in Abuja and FTC.

  6. Southerners conduct 75% of trade in Boko Haram territory (onions, tomatoes, smoked fish and other vegetable and farm products), passing through the Cameroun corridor as end buyers. They move money to the primary buyers from the communities who buy and transport the products to them across the Cameroun border.

  7. Practically all the rice smuggled across the unguarded Northern borders were brought there from Yaounde and Douala ports by Southerners.

  8. The biggest buyers of farm produce in entire Northern Nigeria are Southeasterners who buy directly from the farming communities and move the product to the Southern markets. Without the buyers, Northern farmers may not sell nearly 70% of their perishable farm produce.

  9. The largest non-indigenous speakers of Hausa and Fulfide, the language of the Fulani, are Southeasterners.

  10. The Southerners own and control 40% of the non-foreign-owned or government-controlled economy of Nigeria.

As recently told, there are more industries in Ihiala, a small town in Anambra, on the border with Imo State than the entire 86 industries in Kano State of 18 million persons, the most populated and largest commercial center in Northern Nigeria. Ihiala is not even included in the indigenously owned industrial centers in Anambra which distinctly include Onitsha, Nnewi, Awka, Aguata axis etc.

“Kano alone accounts for one million out-of-school children in Nigeria, according to the UNICEF representative in the state. Apart from low literacy level among children, the state is also known for high infant mortality rate, child marriages as well as inadequate healthcare for children.” (UNICEF)

The Almajiri system is in practice in the Sharia Territory of the Islamic North. Young children are made to leave their maternal homes to enter the Madrassa where they learn the Quran and survive by begging in the streets. These children grow up without home upbringing, education and skills.

The Arewa ruling elite are consumed in the false and unfounded claim to superiority. Northern Nigeria, particularly the Muslim dominated part, remains the poorest place on planet earth and its flotsam population of the sorriest uneducated and backward Nigerians.

The people are enveloped in a cultural and civilizational miasma that offers them no route and perhaps, no hope to easy redemption.

The irridentist Fulani can continue to delude themselves that they own Nigeria and should, therefore, determine who get what in the country. But it’s evident that, without the Southerners, their farmers cannot sell much of their farm produce in exchange for the products of the modern world which are brought to them as well by Southern traders living and thriving in their communities.

The Hausa/Fulani ruling elite continue to push their people to take all openings in the Federal bureaucracy, believing that they are doing their region a world of good by stamping their dominance on Federal Government bureaucracy. In Nigeria, control of the bureaucracy means the control of the wealth of Government and the domestic official economy.

Control of the wealth of Government also translates to self-enrichment and the location of Government projects in the North. But take a look at all the white elephant projects littering the Nigeria space and tell which one is serving the purpose for which it was built.

So, if the Southerners resolve eventually to remain part of Nigeria beyond 2023, in spite of the arrogance of the Fulani, it will be because (as intelligence has revealed of secret meetings among them) they have resolved to make Nigeria a captive market for their businesses.

They are determined now to build up as much capital as they can and then make a dive for the exits with the strength to take on any bully at the door.

The second resolution, we hear, is to diffuse their holdings by denominating their wealth in foreign currencies and increasing investments in freer economies while reducing investments in hostile areas in Nigeria.

Now, tell me, between the Hausa-Fulani who refuse to work or invest for their upkeep and the Southerners, who own Nigeria? Who has a higher capacity for survival in the event of a broken polity?

The real problem of the North is the dearth of activism and ideas as well as the surrender to idle conservatism and religious bigotry that has no economic or progressive use in the 21st Century world.

This has exacerbated sociopolitical dissonance and made the North economically dependent on Southern Nigeria. Without a competing alternative ideology, the North has surrendered to the persuasions of Islamism and idle romanticism.

Judicial activism is also dead. Chief Justice Mohammed, it appears, has been appointed to promote idolatry of the worst kind – the worship of a living fallible human –  in this instance, Muhammadu Buhari.

The tying of the justice system in a secular Nigeria to the political goals of an irredentist, conservative North coupled with the idea of a greater Islamic Fulani empire and worldview portend a burial of the Nigeria nationhood in the graveyard.

Political activism in the North is also dead. Kano used to be the hotbed of political activism in entire Nigeria. This writer remembers Abubakar Rimi at the Kano Township stadium in 1983, holding the rapt attention of a crowd of 50,000 spectators for two and a half hours as he spoke in Hausa, Fulfide and English, all flawless. Where are the men like him to bring alternative worldviews to the North now? Where are the disciples of Aminu Kano? Sociopolitical balance in the North has been upended. Ah, the land of my youth.

Kano has now become the bastion of social and political conservatism. That Kano can choose to elect a Muhammadu BUHARI means much more than a moral death for progressivism in Northern Nigeria. Any sociopolitical system that can throw up a Muhammadu BUHARI and the worldview he represents must suffer from atrophy and the eventual demise of its redeeming values.

The Northern elite has acquired tastes, culture and expectations far above the capacity of their region to provide. The elite of the North have learned and acculturated a dependence on other regions to provide for them the creature comforts to live the exhibitionist life that is alien to their home culture and the beliefs that they espouse.

Fulani pomp and pageantry

Ceremonial pageant featuring the mounted horsemen deployed in waging Islamist jihad in Northern Nigeria by the ruling Fulani aristocracy before colonization.

The North has stopped working and like the old Roman plebeians, stands in wait for the pillage and grains of Egypt that Caesars Army will bring. The entire region is living far above its means. It is mindlessly ignoring its economic regenerative roots such that any shock to its system will have the whole socioeconomic edifice crashing down.

The North is in dissonance, not just because of the lack of social infrastructure. These can always be provided. The North is dying because it is losing its greatest gift – the empathy for its struggling humanity. The North dies for a lack of the constant renewal of spirit necessary for group redemption.

The North is dying from the falsity of its claims to power, social regression, complacency and disembowelment that these false claims engender. The backwardness of its people and the regressing indices of development in the region proves the lie to any fatuous claims to “divine” power by the Sokoto Caliphate-spun aristocracy.