The ‘born to rule’ syn­drome and the Nige­rian elite

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

Last week in this column, en­ti­tled “Jonathan’s fair-weather friends,” I said Dr. Reuben Abati, former spokesman of Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan, was wrong to sub­scribe to the pop­u­lar be­lief that a sec­tion of this coun­try, specif­i­cally the North – for which read the so-called Hausa/Fu­lani - be­lieved it is, to use the hack­neyed ex­pres­sion, “born to rule.” Abati did not use ex­actly those words in his well-pub­li­cised sharp rep­ri­mand of Chief Ed­win Clark over the god­fa­ther’s re­cent de­nun­ci­a­tion of his erst­while god­son, Jonathan. But the dif­fer­ence be­tween the words he used and the hack­neyed phrase was more or less like that be­tween half a dozen of one and six of the other. The only dif­fer­ence this time was that Abati stretched the pre­sumed North­ern su­pe­ri­or­ity com­plex to in­clude oth­ers out­side the re­gion.

The be­trayal of Jonathan’s con­fi­dence by the likes of Clark, Abati said in his put­down of the old man, was one rea­son “why the ex­is­tent power blocs that con­sider them­selves most fit to rule, con­tinue to be­lieve that those whose an­ces­tors never ran em­pires can never be trusted with power.”

Abati’s ref­er­ence to “those whose an­ces­tors never ran em­pires” ob­vi­ously would in­clude at least the Jukuns who once ran the mighty Kwararafa Em­pire, the Yoruba who ran the Oyo Em­pire and the Edo who ran the Benin Em­pire. Abati, I am sure, knows very well that none of these three na­tion­al­i­ties, or for that mat­ter any other na­tion­al­ity, would agree that it suf­fers from any su­pe­ri­or­ity com­plex, along with the Hausa/Fu­lani. But then even the Hausa/Fu­lani them­selves would deny they suf­fer from this com­plex and even go fur­ther to ac­cuse oth­ers of the same com­plex.

The fact is that ev­ery na­tion­al­ity in the world, no mat­ter how small, thinks it is su­pe­rior to oth­ers – hence its faith in pre­serv­ing its lan­guage and cul­ture - but para­dox­i­cally also ac­cuses oth­ers of the same com­plex. This clearly makes the no­tion of eth­nic su­pe­ri­or­ity, and by the same to­ken, eth­nic in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex, more sub­jec­tive than ob­jec­tive.

Take, for ex­am­ple, Nige­ria’s po­lit­i­cale­con­omy which has rested on a tri­pod of its three big­gest eth­nic groups, the Hausa/ Fu­lani in the North, the Yoruba in the West and the Igbo in the East. In his 1987 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, the late Al­haji Ba­batunde Jose, post In­de­pen­dent Nige­ria’s great­est news­pa­per­man, pro­vided what I be­lieve is prob­a­bly the great­est in­sight into the coun­try’s tri­pod-based pol­i­tics.

This was in Chap­ter 7 where he shed some light in what led to the in­fa­mous Kano Ri­ots of May 18, 1953 which started from Sabon Gari, the mainly Igbo set­tle­ment on the city’s out­skirts. Jose was at that time on tour of the North as a se­nior re­porter of Daily Times. He had, he said, ar­rived Zaria from Kano by train when he heard that a riot had bro­ken out in Kano fol­low­ing a cam­paign rally ad­dressed by Chief Ladoke Ak­in­tola, then Deputy Leader of Ac­tion Group, in which he dis­par­aged the North­ern lead­er­ship “in fluent Hausa” for op­pos­ing the in­de­pen­dence mo­tion that had been moved in par­lia­ment in La­gos by his party.

As a re­source­ful re­porter, Jose per­suaded a se­nior rail­way of­fi­cer to al­low him to dou­ble-back to Kano on a goods train that night. He then filed an eye-wit­ness ac­count of the riot in which he re­ported that it was one be­tween the Hausa and the Yoruba. “Some­how,” Jose said, “it ap­peared in the Daily Times as a riot be­tween Hausa and Ibos, a very dif­fer­ent mat­ter, and po­ten­tially a very dan­ger­ous er­ror.” So dan­ger­ous that Percy Roberts, the ex­pa­tri­ate boss of the news­pa­per, was sum­moned by the Chief Sec­re­tary of the Govern­ment (to­day’s equiv­a­lent of Sec­re­tary of the Govern­ment of the Fed­er­a­tion) and per­suaded to with­draw the en­tire edi­tion and re­print it with the cor­rect story.

“We,” Jose said, “never found out how the mis­take oc­curred. Was it an ac­ci­dent or was it a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to fo­ment trou­ble?”

What­ever it was, the in­ci­dent pro­vided an in­sight into how pol­i­tics in this coun­try has re­volved around the three big­gest eth­nic groups in the coun­try. As Jose pointed out in that chap­ter, “The Yorubas had lit­er­ally ruled Nige­ria since the Bri­tish came to the ex­clu­sion of the Hausa and the Ibos. While the Yorubas had pro­duced the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of grad­u­ates in law, medicine and en­gi­neer­ing, the Ibos were just start­ing with the first gen­er­a­tion. But the Hausas had not started at all... La­gos was Nige­ria and there was re­sis­tance to the back­ward provin­cials com­ing to share power in La­gos.”

So Nige­ria’s predica­ment has been one in which democ­racy, as es­sen­tially a game of num­bers, has pitched the elites of one big eth­nic group who think they have the num­bers to dic­tate the shots against the elites of the other two big groups who be­lieve they have the Western ed­u­ca­tion to be the right­ful heirs to the de­part­ing colo­nial­ists. And un­til Jonathan, an Ijaw, came along in 2011, the other smaller eth­nic groups were sup­posed to be lit­tle more than bit play­ers in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal drama.

Num­bers may have trumped Western ed­u­ca­tion in the pol­i­tics of this coun­try since In­de­pen­dence, but nei­ther the West (Yoruba) nor the East (Igbo) have the moral right to ac­cuse the North (Hausa/Fu­lani) of think­ing it is “born to rule.” If noth­ing else, the vic­tory of Chief M. K. O. Abi­ola, a Yoruba, against Al­haji Bashir Tofa, a “Hausa” in the now fa­mous June 12 1993 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion even in the North, and the sup­port his vic­tory got from lead­ing North­ern elites like late Ma­jor-Gen­eral Has­san Us­man Katsina, Malam Adamu Ciroma and Al­haji Balarabe Musa, has since de­bunked the no­tion that North­ern­ers alone be­lieve they are born to rule.

Of course, a North­erner, mil­i­tary pres­i­dent, Gen­eral Ibrahim Ba­bangida, an­nulled the elec­tion and another North­erner, Gen­eral Sani Abacha, buried the strug­gle for its re­al­iza­tion as mil­i­tary head of state. But none of them had any one’s man­date to do so. And they only suc­ceeded with the ac­tive sup­port of elites from all over the coun­try.

The fact is that few of our elites, what­ever their eth­nic­ity, be­lieve in democ­racy as a means to power through the pop­u­lar will. Fewer still are pre­pared to work long and hard to cul­ti­vate any rea­son­able level of pop­u­lar sup­port across eth­nic, re­gional and re­li­gious lines. In­stead they’ll sooner use all three, and oth­ers more, to di­vide us in or­der to rule us.

Any­one in­clined to ac­cuse only the North of a “born to rule com­plex” should re­mem­ber how, in an in­ter­view in Sun­day Van­guard of July 21, 2002, Mr Femi Fani-Kay­ode, then a spokesman of Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo, de­clared that whether any­one liked it or not the South would rule Nige­ria for “close to 50 years.” He even ar­gued that the North would “ac­tu­ally be bet­ter-off be­ing ruled by peo­ple from the South” be­cause the ben­e­fits of good gov­er­nance, which, pre­sum­ably, was a South­ern pre­serve, would “flow down.”

It should also be re­mem­bered that three years af­ter Fani-Kay­ode’s dec­la­ra­tion, the South­ern Lead­ers Fo­rum met in Enugu and de­manded that power re­mained in the South be­yond the 2007 elec­tions and threat­ened oth­er­wise to boy­cott the elec­tions.

So if the so-called Hausa/Fu­lani, and by ex­ten­sion, the North, ap­pear more guilty of a “born to rule” syn­drome than the other big eth­nic groups – and re­mem­ber as we have seen in sev­eral multi-eth­nic states like Benue, Kogi, Delta and Bayelsa, one man’s mi­nor­ity group is another’s ma­jor­ity – it is not be­cause it is the ver­i­ta­ble truth. It is sim­ply be­cause as Arthur Sch­lesinger, Jr. the Amer­i­can his­to­rian once said, “Karl Marx held that his­tory is shaped by those who con­trol the means of pro­duc­tion. In our times his­tory is shaped by those who con­trol the means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

In Nige­ria’s in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion or­der, the North has clearly been grossly dis­ad­van­taged his­tor­i­cally and has re­mained so even to­day. For this, how­ever, the re­gion can have only it­self to blame be­cause it has had more than 50 years to catch up or at least nar­row the gap sig­nif­i­cantly but has failed to do so. Rafael Nadal ral­lied from the depths to nar­rowly pre­vent a re­peat of one his his worst ca­reer losses as he beat Lukas Rosol 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) at the Swiss In­doors late Monday.

Three years ago, the then num­ber 69 jour­ney­man fa­mously up­set world No 2 Nadal in the 2012 Wim­ble­don sec­ond round.

This time, Nadal had to make nu­mer­ous re­cov­er­ies, the last from 4-2 down in the fi­nal-set tiebreaker, be­fore fi­nally pre­vail­ing. Wayne Rooney has been granted a tes­ti­mo­nial by Manch­ester United, with the Eng­land cap­tain promis­ing to do­nate all pro­ceeds from the match to char­ity.

The tes­ti­mo­nial was granted af­ter fans wrote to the club ask­ing them to recog­nise Rooney’s con­tri­bu­tion.

It will be at Old Traf­ford on 3 Au­gust 2016, with op­po­nents to be de­cided.

“The match night will ob­vi­ously be spe­cial for me and my fam­ily but I hope that we can also de­liver one or two sur­prises,” said Rooney.

Wayne Rooney

Rafael Nadal

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.