By Douglas Anele
For example, over seventy percent of his SMC and the General Officers Commanding (GOCs) were northerners. Buhari’s military dictatorship was so blatantly pro-caliphate that, shortly after the coup, it kept Alhaji Shagari under house arrest at a federal government facility in Ikoyi whereas his deputy, Dr. Ekwueme was thrown into Kirikiri prison.
After less than two years in office Buhari was overthrown and Maj. Gen Ibrahim Babangida (who, like Yakubu Gowon and Murtala Mohammed, promoted himself to General) assumed power. Babangida tried to create the image of a detribalised leader who came to heal the wounds inflicted on Nigerians by Buhari’s draconian rule.
Nevertheless, he was squarely in the gravitational field of caliphate colonialism. In addition to what had been achieved by his northern predecessors and Obasanjo (a southern agent of the caliphate) in that direction, Babangida took several steps that strengthened the stranglehold on political power by the northern ruling cabal or what Prof. Ben Nwabueze called “the invisible government within government.” In 1986, he aggravated religious tensions between christians and muslims by attempting to register Nigeria as a bona fide member of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).
Caliphate colonialists were jolted from their hubristic complacency in April 1990 when Major Gideon Orkar announced in a radio broadcast the end of caliphate domination of Nigeria by excising Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Katsina and Sokoto from the federation. Orkar’s coup was a misguided but understandable response to the lopsided federation which favoured the north to the detriment of the south, the economic oxygen of Nigeria.
Had the coup succeeded, it could have triggered another civil war whose outcome might be totally different from what happened in the Biafran war. Kingpins and theoreticians of caliphate colonialism learnt nothing from the Orkar coup, because they continued to insist on, and justify with specious arguments, the unjust system that has crippled Nigeria since 1966. One of them, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, in 1992 proclaimed, among other things, that “Northerners are endowed by God with leadership qualities.
The Yoruba man knows how to earn a living and has diplomatic qualities. The Igbo is gifted in commerce, trade and technological innovation. God so created us individually for a purpose and with different gifts.” Maitama Sule’s bizarre argument fits very well with the fatalistic interpretation of individual and communal destiny embodied in the Koran. Little wonder, then, that several members of the northern establishment oftentimes use koranic verses to justify domination of the highest political office by northern muslims and their agentsfrom the south who are willing to serve the interests of the caliphate.
Having survived the Orkar coup, the most far-reaching action by Gen. Babangida to demonstrate his allegiance to the northern military-civilian hegemonists while hiding under the smokescreen of a nationalist was the acrobatic transition programme that eventually ended in a very disappointing and distressing note. In his enthralling account of the annulment of the June 12 presidential election entitled The Tale of June 12, Prof. Omo Omoruyi, former director-general Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS), analysed in details measures taken by several prominent members of the domineering northern establishment to scuttle Babangida’s half-hearted attempt to transfer power to a civilian government. The two presidential candidates in the election, despite being muslims, were unacceptable to the caliphate for different reasons. Chief M.K.O Abiola, flagbearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), was too rich, too connected and very popular nationwide to be anybody’s stooge as President, whereas his opponent, Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC)was an obscure businessman from Kano who had no influence on the inner sanctum of caliphate power base. Before the election proper, it was obvious that Abiola would defeat Tofa unless something extraordinary happens (for instance, government- engineered massive electoral fraud). Despite Abiola’s contri butions to the growth of Islam in Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto at that time, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, and Gen. Sani Abacha did not want him to be President.
The anti-Abiola coalition also included non-muslims like Lt. Gen. Joshua NimyelDogonyaro and Brig-Gen. David Mark, an indication that agents of caliphate colonialism are not necessarily muslims.To be fair, at the initial stage Babangida was serious about the transition programme notwithstanding the false starts and unforced errors that hampered the process. When some highly-placed elements in the north realised this, they initiated the removal of Chief Olu Falae as Secretary to the Federal Military Government; a Fulani, Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, was appointed in his stead. From March 1993, Ibrahim Dasuki and Aliyu Mohammed mobilised anti-democratic forces to truncate Babangida’s transition programme without considering the efforts and financial resources expended on it already or the repercussions on the polity.
Gen. Babangida himself was afraid for his life:Abacha, Dogonyaro, Mark and other Babangida “boys” who seem implacably averse to Abiola becoming President might take extreme measures against him if he went ahead and allowed the results of the election to stand – that is, if the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced Abiola as the President-Elect. Moreover, Babangida did not want to offend his friend, Abacha who stood by him in trying times. According to Prof. Omoruyi, Babangida argued that “Sani, you know, risked his life to get me into office in 1983 and 1985; if he says that he does not want Chief Abiola, I will not force Chief Abiola on him.”
Babangida also quoted David Mark as saying “I’d shoot Chief Abiola the day NEC pronounces him the elected President.” From all this, one can infer that, for the dominant section of caliphate hegemonists, no independent so utherner (independent in the sense of unwillingness to be a puppet to the caliphate) should become President to avoid reversing the British design for continuous northern domination of political power in Nigeria.
Clearly, the sudden emergence close to the June 12 electionof pro-military groups lobbying for the continuation of the military in office, such as the Association for a Better Nigeria and the Third Eye, was a carefully planned strategy Babangida and his cohorts to impugn the integrity of the election as an excuse to annul it.
That was exactly what happened. Gen. Babangida and his officials tried to justify the annulment with spurious reasons, including the ludicrous judgement Arthur Nzeribe obtained from an Abuja high court cancelling the election and debts the federal government owed to Abiola. But the truth is that prominent members of the northern power block did not want a southerner they cannot manipulate to become President, and since they thought that Abiola might be “unmanageable” it was better for the election to be cancelled. Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki and some Islamic leaders in the north pleaded with Chief Abiola to allow Allah’s will to prevail; that if Allah wanted him to be the President of Nigeria, no mortal could stop him. Dasuki and “the persuaders” failed to realise that their argument can be used to justify anything, no matter how unjust, evil or atrocious it might be.
Gen. Babangida handed over to an Interim National Government (ING) headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, after retiring the entire military high command, but for strategic reasons retained Gen. Abacha as minister of defence and chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. With Abacha still around, Shonekan lacked real power to govern. On November 17, 1993, the caliphate struck: Abacha forced Shonekan out of office and became head of state. Interestingly, some human rights activists, including Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Ken Saro-Wiwa, welcomed the move, based on Abacha’s promise that he would rule for a short period before restoring Abiola’s inco nclusive mandate.
Of course, Abacha had other plans: it is really amusing that intelligent people like Fawehinmi and Saro-Wiwa – even Abiola himself – believed for one second that Abacha would keep his word, for there was no way the power-hungry bespectac led general who had earlier opposed Abiola’s emergence as President would execute a palace coup and hand over to Abiola. It is therefore not surprising that when Chief Abiola, goaded on by some of his Yoruba kinsmen and overzealous pro-democracy groups, declared himself President at Epetedo in 1994, Abacha jailed him. Gen. Abacha was paranoid about power. He imprisoned anyone he thought might be a threat to his authority: he even deposed and jailed the sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki. In spite of that, Abacha was a hard core caliphate colonialist: he strengthened the lopsided political structure in favour of the north by creating more states and local government areas in the north than in the south.
It is distressing that military dictators and unapologetic agents of caliphate colonialism use prominent southerners, more disappointingly the Igbo, to do their dirty work. We have already noted that Justice Akinola Aguda was used to move the capital away from Lagos to Abuja. Karl Maier, in This House has Fallen, wryly noted “the spectacle of two former Biafran wartime propagandists, ‘Comrade’ Uche Chukwumerije and Walter Ofonagoro, plying their trade on behalf of the Babangida and Abacha dictatorships…and the young pro-military campaigner, Daniel Kanu’s comical YEAA, for Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha… .” To be continued.