You may not understand what inimitable Fela Anikulapo’s early days of Koola Lobitos’ ballistics-sounding song which he entitled Alujanjan kijan was about until you hear the anecdote behind the song. It goes thus: A very debilitating drought had seized the village inhabited by Tortoise, that figurative animal with huge cunning. Hungry, he one day met the rabbit, known in Yoruba as ehoro, who offered to help him. That night, they both walked into a huge forest, to the foot of a big Iroko tree, where ehoro sang the above Fela refrain and a long twine descended. The rope took both of them to the top of a cliff where ehoro’s long dead mother was waiting for them with assorted cooked food delicacies.
A few days later, hit by this strong drought, tortoise decided to go it alone and walked down to the foot of the tree. Mimicking ehoro’s voice, he sang the Fela song and the twine loosed down from heaven, which he began to climb with to the top. He was almost atop the cliff when ehoro suddenly emerged, saw the pretentious Tortoise heading for his mother’s sacred groove and sang to tell his mother that an impostor had attempted to supplant him. Ehoro’s mother then suddenly cut the rope and Tortoise fell, breaking his back shells into smithereens, which only, upon healing, got needled together to form a jigsaw-puzzle-like carapace.
The Fela Alujanjan kijan, combined with an analogy authored by adjudged greatest English poet of the Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer, in his 1390 book, The Parson’s Tale, seem to tell current Nigerian story in unpretentiously imaginable ways. Chaucer compared curses to young chickens which, after pottering around all day looking for food, at sunset, will surely come home to roost, “as a bird that returneth again to his own nest.”
For Nigeria, borrowing from Chaucer’s classic, not only are the chickens of deceit and subterfuge that constitute the building blocks of the country, indeed, her foundation, coming home to roost, the Tortoise with the renowned cunning is about to lose its once beautiful carapace to the game in which it has a notoriety.
The recent de-invitation of Kaduna governor, Nasir el-Rufai to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) ongoing conference may however be what would push the chickens home early enough and permanently lift the veil of the Tortoise cunning of Northern Nigeria. Last week, some aggrieved northern members of the NBA reportedly pulled out of the group, founding their own christened New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA), named after the now rested Northern newspaper megaphone called the New Nigerian.
About the same time, two gallant South West governors, Rotimi Akeredolu and Seyi Makinde seemed to have infuriated the North. Aghast at the bunkum of the Inspector General of Police that his community policing project would be paid for from the purses of the states, both governors frontally disclaimed as hogwash this very wonky call by the IG. South West’s regional security outfit, Amotekun, would not be subsumed under the federal police, the governors hit the IG with a sharp riposte. Hardly allowing the quills to peel off the arrow, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Garus Gololo, expressed indignation at this and urged leaders of South West to tread the path of pacifism if indeed they wanted power to shift to them in 2023.
This has been the pattern of northern domination narratives and self-acclaimed paternalism in the so-called Nigerian federation since the July 1966 coup. The good news, however, is that, it appears that the Lord Lugard subterfuge of 1914 is nearing the edge of its tethers and Muhammadu Buhari may be the denouement of that macabre matrimony. Since he came into office in 2015, Buhari has been riding on the crest of a bid to continue to hold Southern Nigeria captive, in line with the footsteps of the Northern military officers’ coup of 1966.
Since 2015, Buhari has been deploying the Tortoise subterfuge, subterranean dealings and all manner of tomfoolery to get the Bill on National Water Resources 2020 passed by the National Assembly. Notwithstanding the total rejection of the bill by the Bukola Saraki-led Eighth Assembly, Buhari is continuing the decades of Northern domination without firing a single bullet through this Water Bill. Its ostensible target is to give cows and their tenders suzerain-hold over land and waters in the whole of Nigeria. If passed into law, offspring of those who desired Nigeria’s split in 1966 would, in the words of Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, have fief-hold and “absolute control over the nation’s entire water resources, both over and underground.”
The May 1953 Kano riots which lasted for four days and which claimed the lives of hundreds of Yorubas and Igbos, in the hands of northerners opposed to Nigeria’s independence and southerners who wanted immediate independence was the eye opener to the crisis ahead. The next was the pogrom against the Igbo starting from May 1966 and reaching its peak on September 29, 1966. During this period, an estimated 8,000 to 30,000 Easterners were estimated to have been slaughtered.
Northern Nigeria was about the first of the regions to realize that Lugard was Number One enemy of Nigeria. In 1966, after Kaduna Nzeogwu had killed some Northern leaders, its military officers moved to secede from Nigeria in what was code-named Operation Araba. However, like the Tortoise in the above allegory, the North quickly realized that there was another route to Northern domination Eldorado than separation.
The NBA leadership should be persuaded to allow Northern Tortoises go to the foot of the Iroko tree as they have started doing. It will speed up the process of dissembling the Lugardian contraption and get the chickens to roost even before sunset. Indeed, we should encourage a Miyetti Allah-Sympathetic Bar Association, Fulani Peoples Bar Association and the like. Soon, it will be obvious to all and sundry that we cannot continue this pretentious unity as we do not belong to same country mentally and spiritually. Our ways, cultures, worldviews are very far from and diametrically opposed to each other’s.
The morale of the Tortoise and rabbit anecdote is that no one should claim to be smarter than the other in the race for existence. If you do, someday, as the Yoruba say, wisdom would be the death of the wise as the children of the mugu (supposed idiot) would outgrow the wiles of their suppressors. Already, there have been calls from different angles asking that, since the North found it worthy to federalize the NBA, this should open the floodgate into other federalizations. It should be justification for Southern Nigerian this and that, ranging from a Southern Army, Southern railways, Southern Navy, flag, NYSC, national anthem, Southern NNPC and others. the NNBA and Buhari’s Water Bill are no doubt perfect analogies of the Tortoise which wants to deploy its cunning to get undue advantage for itself and progenies, at the expense of the collective. It is time to have our Nigerian Tortoise’s carapace broken into different shells.
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