I am an optimist but I believe more on truth and reality. When confronted with any challenge, as a normal human being I initially try all sorts of devices to escape the challenge but I quickly caution myself before it is too late and I speak honestly with myself so as to get the most appropriate measure to overcome that challenge no matter how unpalatable it may be to me. This has been my underpinning strength. Please read to the last few paragraphs to get the substance of this article since I have to recount a bit of history just to shake up our self induced amnesia.
I will try to the best of my understanding to speak truth to my country people and remind them of that which they seem to want to wish away. Many Nigerians are full of passing the buck and always shying away from confronting a challenge headlong until it becomes too late at which time their efforts rather than solve the challenge creates another challenge. The initial challenge now becomes hydraheaded.
No Nigerian should deceive him/herslf that the Niger Delta/South South region of Nigeria got power handed over to them no, that is not true. They fought for and took over power by force and by themselves. I will come over to this but please, allow me to put my premise and submissions in perspective.
At Nigeria’s independence, during the civil war, after and until 1999 only one region of Nigeria the North West region and only one ethnic group, the (Hausa?) Fulani was at the helms of affairs of the country. Within this period at one time or the other this ethnic group had a political necessity to rule for a short while by proxy in 1978 to 1979 within which they sort to put their house in order as it was fast coming to disrepute. The pack of cards called the Hausa/Fulani oligachy came under another threat of crumbling in 1992 caused by events that started in 1983. So again the oligachy tried to repeat the events of 1978 by foisting the regime of Ernest Shoneka, which quickly crumbled as the people had seen through such device and resisted it. This lead the oligachy to come out fully by foisting a clear military dictatorshp without any pretenses as was previously done. The history of the Abacha years attests to this but the Fulani Fulfude Emirate lead Islamic Jihadist oligachy made a fatal error in the person they were left with no option than to foist as a symbol of this rule by proxy in the person of General Sani Abacha who happens to be a Kanuri. There is a legendary historical rivalry between the Caliphate and the Kanem Bornu, the Kanuri and the Fulfude have always been at each others throat and this played out during the Abacha era (the deposed Sultan can give you an insider account if you doubt me. Also the one that got dropped from the skies will tell you more when you see him).
The Caliphate did not get discouraged by Abachas attempt at a revolution against the caliphate instead they went back to the drawing board and came out with a plan (please note that I am talking strickly on Nigeria and Nigerians. I do not want to go into the roles played by the international community as that will creat longer epistles). The only problem the caliphate had were that while Abacha was revolting against them he also inadvertently woke up a sleeping power, a potent force, a political upsetting and powerful region though minority but with everything in their favour to cause the real revolt against the caliphate, that is the Ijaw or South South or Niger Delta people. Another problem facing the caliphate was that they did not as at then (as has always been their challenge) have any true son capable of wide acceptance to be foisted on the nation so when they invented their solution of deux ex machina (the sudden death mechanism) they had no other closely acceptable person considering the then circumstances than to fall back on their once tested and trusted stooge in the person of OLUSEGUN OBASANJO. He never failed them. Yes Obasanjo never failed the Oligachy Northern Feudal overlords. Circumstance failed them.
The Niger Delta woke up from their deep slumber after the Abacha 2 Million Man March which for the first time brought almost all the grassroots and majorly abject poverty replete Ijaws to Abuja, exposing them to a life they had only heard of in fairytales and had been made to believe could only be closely found in the West. It was at Abuja that the entire Delta region was given a reason to die fighting. It was a light and a realisation that was awoken in their spirit which none of thier otherwise saboteur pretensious leaders could wish away. The smart ones amongst these otherwise self centred, saboteur leaders quickly read the tide and aligned fast with the people bringing out enormous financial resources to back up that which was already cooking (the initial squabbles within the Niger delta militants were merely a squabble between the saboteur leaders who had realised a change in tide and those who still felt they could continue to place a wool over the eyes of thier people, but this is a story for another day)
The Ijaw, albeit Niger Deltans went to work fighting for what they believed was theirs but had been denied them for so long. Justice, Equity and Good Conscience were fully behind them. Within a short while they were able to grind the entire nation to a halt. There was a stalemate which the Northern overlords never contemplated (all that fight to destroy Alameisieghe were the initial response of the Northern Oligachy). In their desperation to keep the pack of cards that was fast crumbling they quickly assembled a sick man in the person of Umaru Musa Ya’adua to hold forth. Many Nigerians fail to realise why the choice for Umaru had to be made. The Oligachy for long had lacked a true son at the helm of affairs, they had desired this for too long and could no longer take the kind of risk they took with Abacha so they had no choice than to implement the well repeated cliche “half bread is better than none” (this is also what is propelling them in proping up Buhari but age and other factors is against him though the Oligachy cares little, their options are seriously restricted. El Rufai and Ribadu cannot be fully trusted and are not widely accepted yet). It is for this reason that they preferred a sick Yar’adua to a Kanuri Atiku. Their albatros and desperation was made even more apparent and necessary considering some of the not so clear but understandable manuovres made by Obasanjo while in power. This had to do with the empowering of the otherwise former siefs of the Oligachy, the North Central people (Obasanjo confused them with this manuovre but it is clearly understable what Obasanjo did. He was after two results first, to cover his flanks and second to remain relevant after leaving office while at the same time satiating his evil but closely hidden streek for mischief).
Apart from the foisting of a sick Yar’ Adua another reason why the North was desperate was the failure of their bid to prop on Obasanjo for a third term while they planned and reorganised their fast crumbling pack of cards structure. When this failed they were faced with imminent revolution from a Kanuri Atiku and in order to curtail the mess they had no choice but to reach out to the Niger Delta for a truce by bringing onboard one their own but they had to look for a Niger Delta personality they viewed as likely to be another Obasanjo (they wanted someone who could trace and owe his rise entirely to the oligarchy and so remain ever grateful and pay allegiance to them). They settled for GOODLUCK JONATHAN against an Odili or a Donald Duke (Odili seemed too self liberated for their liking and too closely related to their life dread, the Igbos while Duke could not be clearly read or understood, he looked too much egalitarian and posh to be a stooge).
Meanwhile, while all these were going on within the caliphate the Niger Delta people were realising the fact that they actually are the real power brokers and that they hold all the aces. It was for this reason that Yar’adua had no choice than to negotiate a truce and a ceasation of fire with them. Then God in His usual way of making men realise that they are mere mortals and can never be God decided to play his own deux ex machina on the North (remember that this has been the exclusive device of the North since Aguyi Ironsi, Murtala Mohammed [by the way some day soon I will write on the reason why Murtala was killed, the fight between the Kanuri and the Fulfude, the fact that there are also minority core Northerns and the great divide which the Fulani have suppressed for so long] and Abacha) when Yar’adua had to go the way of the other in a “sudden death”. The North saw it coming hence they put Jonathan there but they were not ready at that time for the manuovre that will ensure that they held fast to the reings of power simply because Jonathan was still untested and they really could not analyse his person. Jonathan himself played them based on the experience of several years of agitation, sell out and saboteur the Delta region had experienced at the hands of the oligachy. The Oligachy fell into the pit with all their body, mind and soul. They had no choice but they did not give up so they continued to plot but another problem presented itself, the Constitution of Nigeria (this explains the attempts twice since 2003 to amend the constitution).
ANALYSIS OF THE POWER
Since the discovery of oil and its commercial expoitation and exploration in Nigeria the source of power changed. Oil became the power source and whoever controlled the oil controlled or had the power. The North was made to realise this by the West and installed as the controllers of the oil through a series of manouvre and for good strategic reasons by the West who saw in the Northern system and people an easier control mechanism compared to the South West and then the South East in that order.
The means of control of the oil and the exercise of power was and is still by miltary force through access and control of the means of violence. Herein lies the equating factor but not the tilting or swinging or decisive factor. The Niger Delta people due to a lot of international events which exposed the true nature of military force (that it does not have to reside with a government alone, al quaeda proved that clearly) realised that they could actually make a concerted effort to assert themselves in the political affairs of the nation. They also realised that with the equating factor put in place the decisve or tilting or swinging factor was in their favour by virtue of location. Oil is the tilting or swinging factor and oil is located right in the middle of Niger Delta territory. So the Niger Delta people set about asserting these two factors and have simply succeeded but the North is trying to pull a wool over the eyes of the rest of Nigeria as to this fact but it is too late.
The position of oil as the decisive factor in the power equation in Nigeria was inadvertently advertised by the North themselves with their ill advised deployment of the military force factor through the BOKO HARAM. Since the full deployemnt of Boko Haram it has become quite glaring that their activities cannot grind the country to a halt unlike what the Niger Delta Militants demonstarted between 2003 to 2007 but then the Northern Fulfude Islamic Jihadist Oligachy did not entirely loose out in what they set out to achieve by deploying Boko Haram. They at least succeeded in infiltaring, disorgainsing and disrupting the ability of the Kanuri North from posing a challenge to them (this will be a story for another day). This is the reason why there seems to be a lot of confusion over the Boko Haram and what they actually stand for
Based on the brief recount of the situation above one will then wonder what is in store for Nigeria in 2014 and 2015 if the country does get there.
The Northern Oligachy are in their finaly throes of death as a regional power in Nigeria and Africa. As such they will trash around violently for survival. They will continue to make an attempt on the life of Jonathan and his deputy, Sambo. They will become more desperate to spread the activities of Boko Haram. They will continue to try to infiltrate the Niger Delta Militants (but let me quickly advise them not to bother. The Niger Delta Militancy is backed by an ideology that is rooted in the spirits of the region and inspite of the fighting militants. They simply do not have the capacity to be infiltrated). The Caliphate will inadvertently nail their own coffin if they continue in this line of desperation.
Nature has made life in such a way that the victim always has more empathy towards the aggressor hence it is always easier for the victim to forgive than for the agressor to show mercy. Jonathan has offered the Northern Oligachy calipahate a soft landing and an opportunity to stand tall with dignity within an equitable and just comity of nationalities called Nigeria. This informed the reason why he offered the National Conference discussions. It is left for them to accept it or continue in their ways. Whether Jonathan declares interest to run for the 2015 elections or not the position is that the cat has been let out of the bag. The Northern Oligachy cliphate has been demystied. Their source of control and power has long changed hands and it can never be reverted to them no, not after all what they have done across every strata of Nigeria.
Please take time out to see a few images of the Niger Delta Region from where the wealth that has fed the nation comes from and then realise the reason behind the change that has come to stay.
AGUKU, a political analyst writes from Cardiff, UK.