There Is A Darkness Over The North By Peregrino Brimah
In the news another young northern man is claiming to be the new boss of Boko Haram. Mohammed Marwana bragged that to prove he was the new don, he had promised ahead of time of the Kano bombings at Sabon Gari that claimed over a dozen innocent lives. Marwana’s claim to the title of leadership over this death seeking, senseless cult comes shortly after a group of four other youth in a video, claimed they had shot and deposed of Shekau–that other mad guy–and that they including one Abu Zamira, were the new dons of Boko Haram.
I guess to prove who is the new don, these two and the ‘shot’ Shekau are going to compete in who can prove his ownership of murder and mayhem. The reward for being the proprietor of the death cult is very promising from our government who love to reward terror, but hate and ignore good–like the Civilian JTF heroes, who are largely abandoned and offered no amnesty.
I saw a dark cloud hovering over the north of beautiful Nigeria. And as I ruminated on how to meaningfully convey this pressing rendition, I saw two articles from fellow northerners I strongly respect. Authors and speakers who are never shy to say it as it is, both describing the same predicament.
Sheikh Gumi, known for his fearlessness and clear condemnation of terror and evil, in a Ramadan sermon, monitored and published by SaharaReporters, said: “I am not surprised of how Nigerian Muslims are dominated and suffering; it is because of our iniquities… God has placed people who don’t like us because of our atrocities and complete drifting from teachings of God. It is not about population but serving God truthfully.”
Ibrahim Waziri’s whose recent article, “The Northern Knot,” which investigated and explained the Christian origin of the Northern Arewa insignia, was simply bewildering, in a rejoinder article published yesterday in his Kaduna Voice editorial, opposed Adamu Adamu’s classification of the “Hausa-Fulani” north. Waziri said of the so-called Hausa-Fulani group: “There is no group in the real sense, but a set of confused individuals. The Hausa Fulani are in truth helpless and wandering in the most uncooperative wilderness of history. They are an object of pity and in need of most help.”
It is the truth. There has been a lie. The Hausa-Fulani has lived and supported that lie and now as Gumi said, there is darkness overshadowing the land. Is the lie true? We will never know, because the silence out of the north has been taken to mean complacence. The lack of self definition from the north has made it accept the definitions from those who choose to define it. The north and Islam has allowed itself to be spectacle. While crimes in the south escape as being mere crimes, in the north, we accept them all to be labeled Hausa-Fulani and Muslim crimes.
The lie has come to life. Boko Haram terrorism is not the problem in the north; Boko Haram is a mere presentation of the underlying problem. In medical terms, we will call that a symptom of the disease. The disease is the lie that has been lived and the darkness that has engulfed the north of Nigeria. That deadly quiet ‘Muslim leader,’ the Sultan of Sokoto even voiced similar alarm, that there was some “plot to plunge the North.” Plot by whom, if I may humbly ask?
Waziri presented the fact that there exists no Hausa-Fulani body, yet people throw all forms of accusations at this so-called body, and in keeping with the lie, those within the so-called body, never seriously fend off the accusations or reference to such diverse peoples and many a times, to non Hausa-Fulani altogether, hence making the accusations stick. The elite have used this lie for their power and wealth purposes, and the poor have lived with it for far too long, simply selling their tomato and rearing their cattle till the desert encroached and tomato business went south, and till the farmers took the land from the cows and left hunger and poverty and frustration in the land, the raw materials for evil and more lies to grow.
Let’s look at the lie that has brought on the evil. They say Hausa’s ruled Nigeria longest and plundered the country. How true is this? Nobody’s fault, they allowed it to stick. Abacha with all his Kanuri marks, big and strong ethnic marks ripping across his entire face, a man clearly from Borno or perhaps Chad, came in, claimed Kano (a town like Lagos that accepts foreigners) and is branded as one of those Hausa-Fulani’s who ruled. The Hausa-Fulani either tolerated this lie or allowed it to pass, because they cared less and the elite used it for some business advantage. To me it does not really matter where who is from, but it does to those who claim power must go here or not go there. The Hausa-Fulani are clearly a welcoming people, not known for ethnocentrism, but sometimes, especially when some among you misuse your openness and others from without, destroy you by it, facts must be laid bare. One day Nigeria will mature passed the colonial implanted tribalism, but that day is not yet.
Another lie is in the 9 years tenure of that Muslim Hausa-Fulani Yakubu Gowon. Of course we know Yakubu Gowon actually hails from Jos and is a Christian. The history of how the Hausa-Fulani prompted him, a Middle belt Christian, purposefully as a consensus candidate is something some of us are familiar with. But to most, he is another pure Hausa-Fulani destroyer. The northern-ness of the Middle belt is another lie, but that’s for another day.
And then we have that Hausa-Fulani Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida man, who is Nupe actually from Niger state and not Hausa-Fulani, and his 7 years rule. Little wonder he did not maintain the railway system to rescue the landlocked north. Niger state and neighboring Abuja FCT were the limits to his sights.
Even quite interestingly, Murtala Ramat Mohammed is only as Hausa-Fulani as his mother, Ramat from Kano is. He is the son of Pam Azatus Iyok, who was a Christian from Dogon-Gaba, near Vom in Plateau state. But who is going to tell us this real history of Nigeria and of the northern rule? Not the Hausa-Fulani because as we have seen, some are busy selling tomato, some rear cows and the elite enjoy these things which help them manufacture and sell cement, while leaving the poor masses of the north and indeed the south, living lies and fighting over ownership of Boko Haram.
There is yet another great piece in line with this problem that I read recently, from another prolific, though controversial northern writer, who is on self-exile and now writes out of Dubai. Ahmad Saldika, the former Boko Haram mouth piece, wrote “In search of role models,” last week, in which he recognized the problems of the north and by extension Nigeria, in finding the right role models for the new generation of youth. Saldika acknowledged that there simply were none.
And with the lack of northern role models, the scarcity of northern activists and truthful historians, the famine of northern writers, the bankruptcy of true religious leaders and the predominance only of a wicked and selfish elite, the north is left with living a lie and having its history and future written of by fanatic southern authors who write war and publish holocausts. No, the media is not helping, far from it; they create all forms of calumnious stories to write away what is left of the north and further propagate the northern lie. Someone who taught me to write from my heart and only the truth as I saw it, a brother, in 2000 wrote about the assassination being done to the future of Nigerians by surprisingly not the military or other government bodies, but the media. Under his popular pen name, The African Slave, of blessed memory, he wrote:
“Some may blame the military for bringing Nigeria to its sorry state of affairs today. When the sad obituary for Nigeria gets written, if ever, I fail to see how the media would not be equally to blame for the past, present and future bloodshed of innocent Nigerians. On any given day, an examination of articles published by much of our media, shows how accurate news-reporting has long since been replaced by discord sowing, hatred spewing, malicious, fictitious junk journalism. Journalism that is totally irrelevant to, nor does it even come close to reflecting the plight and aspirations of the rural common man and woman in Nigeria. If positive change is ever to succeed in Nigeria, it would also have to happen in the media. Just as the ‘old brigade’ must be cleansed from the military and from Govt, our media is in dire need for a sanitary purge, if Nigeria is ever to meet the challenges of a new millennium and become a responsible, civilized organised nation/group of nations. On any given day here is what you get from our media: NigeriaWeb.Com is just one from many, casually chosen for today’s example: all extracts from write-ups posted Feb 29, 2000…”
He went on to post 5 stories all from that date’s report in which Hausa-Fulani were denuded and seeds of discord sewn. One author he quoted wrote of the Hausa-Fulani: “Spoilt child shouts “Araba” at one time and “unity, a task that must done” at another. Spoilt child does no like chickens although he must eat their eggs. He does not like alcohol, although he must share in alcohol sales revenue. Spoilt child sees no need to go to school, although he must manufacture his own “educational certificates.” The same we read today as journalists declare the entire north as pedophile by virtue of the fact that 80% of northern marriages are to women younger than 18. Other stories he quoted went on to describe the north as ‘incorrigible’s,’ others as ‘magical dreamers.’ One author that fateful day, went ahead to describe a northern plan in place to divide the nation in 1989. He published: “The letter further alleged that the Pretoria regime agreed to support the plan to use some of its military equipment to help, and Libya offered to assist if need be. It concluded that: “It is worthy of note to inform you that all highly placed Muslim members of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria are in support of these plans by Arab and OIC backed northern Muslims to destroy Christianity in Nigeria, as they wish to formally declare an Islamic Republic early next year  [a course to which they are irrevocably committed.” Today I still see these preposterous conspiracies and lies in our top dailies.
But I am in no way blaming these journalists and non northern editors. They say it is his-story (history). If the north wished its own story be told, we should write it ourselves. We have no one to blame for the blood on our hands, but ourselves. We held the dagger and we poked it. They only narrated that we killed twenty, when we killed one. And we did not deny it. For too long, we have been silent as our so-called leaders, traditional and religious and our so-called elite, claimed us and our commitment to them in quests they pursued for the benefit of their pockets and pockets alone. How did Kanuri Abacha reward us for giving him indigenship of Kano and accepting insults to his regime, thrown against all of us Hausa-Fulani’s? Other than the PTF roads and the strategic oil refinery, what does the north have? Do we have some ultra modern stadia? Do we have super-standard international airports in all northern states? Were even our indigenous industries, textile and farming, supported to thrive while we were ruled by Yakubu Gowon, the so-claimed consensus candidate or by Obasanjo, who we aided the selection of? Only Dangote got rich under Obasanjo. The north east and north west are some of the poorest
places in the entire planet, comparing to Eritrea and Chad, as former CBN governor Soludo said. Poverty levels in Jigawa (95.0%), Kebbi (89.7%) and Kogi (88.6%) and an average for the north of 70% puts us in the north worse off than neighboring Mali and other arid Muslim predominant nations around us. Thanks to the leaders and the lies. While in the South you have states as rich as South Korea and China as he said, with poverty levels of just 20% in Bayelsa, Anambra (20.1%) and Abia (22.3%).
So what reward have we masses gotten from our silence and living the lies? Suffering and terror. But I will not stop at blaming the elite for the woes and the darkness that has eloped the north. I blame our parents who have failed beyond limit. I recently wrote an article, ‘the nuclear alms race,’ in which I relayed the almajiri problem of northern Nigeria and how the level of male child abandonment was a platform for terror. Many of these kids we see claiming to be the don of Boko Haram. They have no parents. Literally, they do not. In Kano, there are documented to be 1 million almajiri children. That is one tenth of the population of Kano is abandoned male children. That right there is a curse. Terror is the wrath of God for our sins. The prophet of Islam said, “Whoso opened unto himself the door of begging, God will open unto him the door of poverty.” Islam is 100% against abandoning children, so where did our parents get such an insane culture from? 5, 6 year old boys are heaped on a malam’s head and sent forth into a life of begging, to never know their parents again. What insanity? If we estimate for the north, perhaps 20-30% of the population are almajiri’s, 60% of whom according to statistics no longer know their parents. Who will pay their dowry? Who will marry them off and who will marry them? Then you see youth falling over each other to claim leadership of Boko Haram, selling drugs, criminal gangs, and you wonder what brought on this plague? Only in Nigeria!
That brings us to the female child abandonment, not much different from the almajiri situation. Now, I am pro-choice, that is the choice of any mature young man or women to choose if they wish to marry. That is clear. No #ChildNoBride for me. But I and certainly Islam is totally against forced marriages and selling children out of poverty. I recently read a press release by a Muslim against terror organisation in which they called such forced marriages and selling daughters, ‘terror.’ I agree. The prophet has been quoted in an instance when a maiden who was set up for a forced- arrangement wedding, was brought to him, to have sent for her husband-to-be and then told him to be on his way, “wedding is over!” He then told the maiden to go on her way and choose who ever she wished. The narration goes that she actually agreed to the marriage but as she said, she simply sought his reaction because she wanted us (today) to know that forced marriages are not allowed. When boys are discarded and girls sold, you have successfully planted seeds that will reap only poverty and terror. Children are our future.
Almajiri boys have always been easy recruits for northern riots. These parent-less boys are let out in packs after their Mualim is given a few coins, and it is they who riot and burn sanctuaries, etc. Boys without families, home training in the sense of the term and with no ties to anything physical or blood related on the entire planet.
Now, do not get me wrong, darkness is not only limited to the north. There is much and perhaps more darkness in the south, but the job of every activist, public educator and/or editor is to choose his battles in succession and deal with them as he decides. The north has been at times selected to be the best states to do business in Nigeria. The north and so-called Hausa-Fulani Muslim northern parts of Nigeria have great prospects and great resources; however a radical change is necessary to reconstruct it with consideration of its cultural peculiarities.
Divide Nigeria, I care not; all I write for is to save any and every life, today and tomorrow. Who to rule Nigeria next? I do not care, be he from the north, south, east or west, or even imported; and it is time the tomato selling and cattle rearing masses seek their own future and are quick to denounce their elite who have sold them for personal oil wells, manufacturing companies and positions of power. It is not just about not being involved; it is about speaking up to denounce lies and manipulations from so-called elite and leaders who have betrayed us masses. It is time a new youth elite emerges in the north, who will sit down and chart a new destiny. It is time Friday Khutbah’s deliver firm messages that elevate the community.
The Greeks invented the word, ‘idiot.’ Idiot, which comes from the word, ‘idiotes,’ actually means, someone who does not involve himself in governing decisions and the politics and even economic decisions that define and determine his life. According to the Greeks, an idiot is a private citizen, one who does not involve himself in things of government and public affairs, a citizen who neglected his civic duties in the ‘polis’ by not attending assemblies, not voting, not serving in juries or the military and not a historian or journalist forging his own story and history. Shall we northerners not stop being idiots?
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