After Sharia Madness: What an Artificial Marriage
Everyone would have thought that Nigeria is a secular state within the preamble of Section 10 of the constitution. Where no state has the power to use religion as a state policy to correct immorality as propagated by those who used the caprice of power to unilaterally impose Sharia: a conservative Islamic legal order in northern Nigeria since 2000 to break down what was left of our national unity. Yet, nobody seems to ask the northern political elite why they divided Nigeria, which they stop others from doing to create an Islamic republic of northern Nigeria without taking up arms. That they deceived the rest of us into creating their own territory, which is governed by religious code to relegate the rights of women, is not only shameful but a return to a dark age for our northern women. It is a subjugation of women to the status of children who are not allowed to exercise their rights without a legal custodian because they cannot make decisions for themselves. The power zealous of men has ended the world of modernity for our northern women who have to contend to a new apartheid policy in the north where women are now segregated from men and no longer free to have their own mind and self. Only northern politicians can overtly take on issues that they themselves believe are taboo without fear of blackmail from their southern counterpart who are more contented as long as they can serve their personal interest at the backdrop of an ideology to protect the interest of its community.
What else can explain the odd and the artificiality of our so-called national unity in which the northerners have created a country with two systems: sharia, a conservative legal order in the north and a liberal western value system in the south? Meanwhile, their politicians think we are all stupid not to understand their agenda. Since their people cannot distinguish between the state and religion; even though, its politicians have used the hypocrisy in religion to corner us to submission. After the division of Nigeria by northern governors through Sharia madness, no one expected them to remain in the house that they have broken down and waiting to push the blame on others. I cannot understand the rationale behind the inaction of Southern governors to form a common front against the arrogance of their counterpart in the north who continues to hold a separatist agenda in creating a league under the aegis of northern governors for the development of northern Nigeria. Do President Umaru Yar’Adua and his chief law officer need someone to remind them of the unconstitutionality of the forum created by northern governors to pursue the interests of northern states? No part of Nigeria can work against the other. Rather, they are required to uphold the tenets of Section 15 of the constitution of Nigeria 1999 as stated below:
(1) The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.
(2) Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.
(3) For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to:
(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughtout [sic] the Federation;
(b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation;
(c) encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and
(d) promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious and or other sectional barriers.
(4) The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.
Subsequently, we should begin to put the activities of Arewa and other tribal organisations to scrutiny in light of the above constitutional provision including the public utterances of its officials to ascertain whether they violate any of the aforementioned laws; and if, they should be proscribed by the courts. Also, subsections 3(d) (4) are very instructive that states cannot work together to promote divisive policies to undermine the unity of our people but to end the barriers that promotes sectional differences. Mr Yar’Adua, you took oath of office to protect the interest of all Nigerians and spread development evenly. You should be aware that one cannot build unity in division and we cannot continue to bend the rule to suit northern interest to sink Nigeria. Those who sowed Obasanjo’s destruction are already working towards your fall, hence they have not made you to realise that you have been violating the tenets of Federal Character in Sections 14 and 42 of the constitution in the appointment of political appointees. Even though, the president is required to appointment only trusted advisers and cabinet, it cannot be right for him to appoint only those from his ethnic group or from the northern geopolitical zones to juicy political offices and still expect to command the loyalty of southerners who are now systematically marginalised that nobody could accuse Obasanjo for.
Mr Umaru Yar’Adua, you have become a Mr reversal President. You cannot continue to reverse all of Obasanjo’s policies without replacing them with something better if we agree you understand what rule of law is about as you tend to propagate. Obasanjo may not have done certain things right, especially on the sale of government businesses, but we must commend him for attempting to liberate the public and private sector of our economy. Irrespective of who bought the government businesses, at the moment, the duty of this government ought to end in just monitoring to ascertain whether any of such businesses have violated the condition of sale to warrant any clampdown and takeover that should follow only through an order of the court. Even when we suspect that Yar’Adua’s policy is borne from the desire to allow northerners to have a big share of ownership of businesses, the President must understand that Obasanjo’s privatisation policy was not informed by ethnic factor otherwise, Dangote, a northerner who benefited most, would have been left out of the gold rush. However, I have no problem whatsoever with whom the government chooses to sell its businesses to as long as they keep to the terms of the agreement of sale and they guarantee quality of services to consumers. Since the essence of the privatisation was to serve public interest and not a return to the era when northern elites and its stooges thought that only the rich should enjoy certain services such as telephone, electricity, luxury goods and others; which are now basic necessities in other societies. Our industries need the best hands and managers so that they provide jobs and pay taxes to run public services; they should be outside of federal character because it has not served us well, which has been an antithesis to our competitiveness.
I only worry about our people in the south as a result of the fraud in the political space, which led to its people being served by those who are part of Nigeria’s problem and have no idea of the real issues and their lack of ideological focus. Hence, they have allowed Sharia to stay and its corrupted ex-governors chased around as the only thieves in Nigeria; whereas, the EFCC does not intimidate the ex-northern governors who are equally as culpable as their southern pals. It is no saying that I support official treasury looting or public corruption but my resentment is against our biased system of justice that always single out southerners as the scapegoat of others. I hope it is not a repeat of Buhari’s government treatment of UPN’s progressive governors! Whereby only southerners were systematically jailed including the late Professor Ambrose Alli, ex-civilian governor of Edo state; while Shehu Shagari, the man behind the evil still troubling Nigeria was left the hook. That the south has wayward politicians who instead of bulwarking the Northern hegemony are pursuing self interest is regrettable. Inasmuch as I lament the lack of patriotism of northern politicians who believe only in unity of Nigeria because it has allowed its political elites to have access to the oil wealth and according to their dictation. They expect everyone else to be quite while its think-tank dictates the political destination of Nigeria even if it is in the wrong direction. Only southerners are not caring about what has become of its oil resources without fear of blackmail by northern politicians that Yar’Adua is strategically positioning to consolidate its anti-south policies, which his northern predecessors have used in the past to make Nigeria ungovernable and our people scummy.
If northerners would not in their own volition end its anti-south negative sentiments, southerners should begin to pay them back in their own coin so that we know who will feel the heat even when I sympathise with my fellow ordinary brothers of the north who are not part of the politics of sabotage. I wonder whether northern politicians still need any person to remind them that they have burnt down this house. Their Sharia madness have ended the unity of Nigeria and divided it into a nation of two systems: sharia conservative legal order in the north and western liberal order in the south. The north must not wait for the oil resources to dry up before they leave the union since this is the only thing still holding the bond. As we know that the oil wealth has been more of burden and curse and only helped our political leaders to amass private wealth to the detriment of building public institutions for the creation of commonwealth. Anyway, I hope those troubling Nigeria will understand that they would be locked out in all the foreign countries they have carted our commonwealth to when their anti-peoples’ policies begins to backfire.
It is time we stopped of criticising ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo publicly irrespective of our disagreement of his rule and let the appropriate authority deal with any of his wrongs. We should not forget that we have a new government that is yet to find its focus after almost nine months in power and escaping scrutiny because of the desire to shame Obasanjo while other northern ex-head of states are not put on the same spotlight. No ex-head of state should escape probe if we are at all serious about fighting corruption. I still want to give my benefit of doubt to President Yar’Adua to right the things that have gone wrong in Nigeria even though I have difficulty to make any sense of his policy of reversal without a better one. I am yet to be convinced by his academic laurels that he is the leader to take Nigeria to the promise land if he cannot prove that he is a president for all Nigerians; who has a mandate to protect our people’s interest equally no matter our political and ethnic differences. As our first university graduate head of state, you have a higher threshold. And for you to succeed, you need to seek our best brain to serve our nation if you want to achieve good result and not what your tribal apologists want that led to our nation’s failure, political and economic bankruptcy. Only by this will Nigeria be able to actualise China’s economic miracle and your vision 2020. Look forward to my upcoming book to be published at sometime this year!
By Patrick Odionikhere, Austria