The Poor Husband, the Rich Wife and Boko Haram
by Femi Fani-Kayode
I have nothing against Muslims or against the Islamic faith. As a matter of fact some of my closest, most honest, most God-fearing and most loyal friends are practising and devout Muslims. I do however have to say that I completely disagree with my respected younger brother, Mujahid Asari Dokubo, when he recently suggested (in what was in every respect, other than in it's conclusions and recommendations, a well-written, well-researched and well-thought out article titled ''How To Address The Boko Haram Problem In Nigeria'', 25th June, 2011, FB) that President Goodluck Jonathan should seek dialogue and enter into negotiations with Boko Haram, the ruthless Muslim fundamentalist sect and anarchist terrorist group that has killed thousands of innocent and defenceless Nigerian men, women and children in the last two years.
In my view Boko Haram must be utterly crushed by the government and not ''entered into negotiations'' or any other form of dialogue with. This is because in my view there can never be dialogue with those that seek to establish a 17th century Islamic fundamentalist caliphate all over the civilised world and those that seek to impose their strange values on the rest of humanity. There is no doubt in my mind that Boko Haram is part of the world-wide Al Qaeda-sponsored ''global jihad'' and if we give them one inch they will definitely take a mile. We cannot afford to have ''peace'' with them on their terms alone or ''peace'' peace with them at the cost of our hard-earned civil liberties, cherished values and modern way of life. There must come a time when we can boldly say ''enough is enough'' and when we draw the line in the sand. And if Boko Haram cross that line they must be cut to pieces by the Nigerian Armed Forces and the security agencies. That is what a strong, focused, resolute and purposeful government is meant to do. Mujahid Asari Dokubo has also said that Islam is playing a ''second fiddle'' role in Nigeria and that Judaeo-Christian beliefs ''dominate the country''. This is not true. It is a fallacy and it is intellectually dishonest. Nigeria is a secular state and, if anything, since independence it is the Muslims more than anyone else that have dominated the Nigerian state and it's institutions. The records are clear and are there for all to see.
We must understand that Boko Haram, what they stand for and what they seek to establish is patently evil and that what they are doing represents the greatest threat to Nigerian unity since our civil war. They are not just a danger to Christians and other non-Muslims alike but they also present a very real threat to the lives, security and property of moderate, non-''islamist'' and non-jihadist Muslims as well. Moderate Muslims like Mujahid Asari Dokubo would do better by trying to educate and enlighten his more extremist Boko Haram islamist brothers to behave themselves, to stop killing innocent people, to stop slaughtering Christians and moderate Muslims, to stop destabilising the Nigerian state, to stop trying to Islamise northern Nigeria and return her to the dark ages of the 16th century and to stop trying to wage a global war of terror against the rest of humanity rather than encourage them. We as a people must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by their evil agenda and we must wipe them out, no matter what or how long it takes. No responsible and strong government in it's right mind would compromise or enter into negotiations and dialogue with such godless, barbarous and evil men and with such violent and bloodthirsty anarchists. Their agenda is not only absolutely evil but it is also anti-Christ.
To throw down the gauntlet and vigorously confront such evil is one of the major challenges of our time and it is a challenge that our government must not fail to rise up to in a fearless, vigorous and responsible manner. Sadly in his response to me my younger brother Asari Dokubo appeared a little offended at what he described as my ''derogatory language'' towards Muslims and reminded me that he himself was a practising and devout Muslim and he advised me to ''desist''. My response to him was that my so-called ''derogatory language'' was not directed against the ''Muslims’' but rather against the ''islamists'' and I was sure that he must know the difference between the two. I went further by advising him to please understand that just as he said that he is ''a Muslim'', I am also ''a Christian''. And just as he takes exception to what I have said here about the islamists that seek to spread global jihad, I also take equally strong exception to the fact that literally hundreds of thousands of my fellow southern, middle-belt and northern Christian brothers and sisters have been killed by Muslim fundamentalists and islamists in northern Nigeria over the last 50 years for no just cause. The innocent blood of those people cries to God in heaven for vengeance up until today and it gets louder and louder by the day. I am the last person that anyone should attempt to play this ''Muslim versus Christian'' card with because I have been there many times before. Boko Haram have said publically that they want sharia criminal law and an Islamic fundamentalist state, where no western education is to be permitted, to be established in all the northern states of Nigeria before they stop killing and bombing innocent people and spreading terror. Well I have got news for them- that will never happen as long as Nigeria is a secular state. And if Nigeria ever stops being a secular state then we will simply break it up and go our separate ways. It is as simple as that.
The die is cast and no one, least of all me, is scared of fighting for (or in defence of) their faith. As a matter of fact it would be an honour to do so. Those that know me well will tell you that on such matters I do not joke, I do not cringe, I do not budge and I cannot be intimidated or threatened by anyone or any group of persons. I really don't care what the politics and history of core northern Nigeria is but what I do know is that these evil and ungodly killings and bombings of innocent men, women and children by the Boko Haram islamists have to stop. I also know that they have killed as many Muslims as they have Christians and that no sensible or strong government EVER negotiates with terrorists. Rather than negotiate with them they crush them, wipe them out and send them to their maker. That is what Kamal Attaturk did in Turkey and that is what Bouteflika did in Algeria. And that is precisely what I expect President Goodluck Jonathan to do here. The truth is that if there were to be a free and fair referendum today amongst the core northerners on whether or not there should be ''boko'' (western education) in northern Nigeria, those that believe in it and that want it would win hands down. This unrest and mindless sectarian bloodletting is being fuelled by poverty, unemployment, ignorance, frustration, the brutality and incompetence of the Nigerian state and security agencies and NOT any nostalgia or yearning for a return to the pre-colonial empires that existed in core northern Nigeria before the advent of British colonial rule or the desire to establish a 17th century Islamic fundamentalist state.
However I do wholeheartedly agree with Asari Dokubo that ultimately a Sovereign National Conference is the only answer and is the only vessel that can provide a lasting solution to these monumental challenges that we are facing in our country. I say this because whether we like to admit it or not, Nigeria is more divided today on ethnic, regional and religious lines than it has ever been since our independence in 1960. We should iron out all those issues at such a conference once and for all and if we cannot do so we should quietly and peacefully all go our separate ways. These religious clashes and killings feature in the northern part of Nigeria alone and hardly in the south. In the south-west where I come from the Christians, the Muslims and the traditional worshippers are one and we treat each other with love, respect, understanding and sensitivity. We do not kill ourselves on account of our religious differences and we will not allow anyone to separate us or come between us. That is simply our way and clearly many from other parts of Nigeria and indeed the rest of the world have a lot to learn from us. I have been actively involved in the struggle against internal colonialism since 1989. My position then is as it is today and it is as follows- if Nigeria cannot be built on a foundation of equality and fairness for ALL it's people, whether they be christian, Muslim, northern or southern, then we should reject the concept of a united Nigeria and we should just break her up. And we can do this either peacefully or by the force of arms.
There is absolutely nothing that is sacrosanct about the unity of the Nigerian state. As a matter of fact there has been an intellectual and respectable school of thought since 1914 when Nigeria was created that it is an ''unworkable union'' and a ''cruel joke''. Lord Frederick Lugard’s vision and indeed his intention when he recommended the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914 was ably described and enunciated by his own very words when he said ''the northern protectorate of Nigeria can be described as the poor husband whilst the southern protectorate of Nigeria can be described as the rich wife. Today we marry the two and our prayer is that this union lasts forever''. That is how the north and the south got ''married'' and that is how the famous amalgamation of 1914 came about. This this was a monuemental event that the Saurdana of Sokoto, the Late Sir Ahmadu Bello, was to describe as ''a great mistake'' 40 years later and it was a catalysmic event that caused the Leader of the Yoruba, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to say in 1948 that ''Nigeria is not a nation but a mere geographical expression''. The problem was that the two young spouses were never asked by their British parents whether they actually wanted to stay together let alone get married and the ''poor husband'' never courted or proposed to the ''rich wife''. Worse still the two of them came from different worlds, had different backgrounds, had a different religion, had a different history and had a different world-view . Today the ''rich wife'' together with the christian and ethnic minority groups of the middle belt and core north have been robbed, raped, battered, massacred, bruised, cheated, treated with contempt, taken for a fool, taken for granted, insulted, subjugated, broken and severely abused. Since 1960 the story has been more or less the same and the tales of tragedy and woe just continue.
Since 1960, if it is not genocide in the north-west, or mass killings in the Middle Belt and the Plateau, or sectarian butchery by groups like Boko Haram in the north-east then it is always something else. The question is how much longer can the ''rich wife'' and the ''northern minorities'' take this sort of thing from a ''poor husband'' who, in the main, has a different world view? I believe passionately in a united Nigeria but the bitter truth is that, with the way in which things are now unfolding, we will have to work very hard to preserve such ''unity'' and we must stop taking it for granted. Many have argued that if General Muhammadu Buhari and not Jonathan had been elected as President just a few weeks back he would have known what to do to save the situation. His courage, they say, is second to none. This may well be true. But whether it is true or not there is one thing that I do know- If President Goodluck Jonathan does not find or cultivate the guts and the political will to utterly crush Boko Haram he may well end up being the last President of a united Nigeria. May God deliver us all..