EVEN before Mohammed Umar was sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to replace Ibrahim Magu, the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, there were already widespread speculations (backed up with names) of the imminence of another Northern Muslim as Magu’s replacement. Umar is the fifth Northern Muslim to occupy that chair after Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri, Ibrahim Lamorde and Ibrahim Magu; all police officers.
The question is: What is it about Northern Muslims that qualifies them more than other Nigerians (including Southern Muslims and Northern Christians) for the exclusive privilege of leading the anti-graft wars of successive Federal regimes? Some might retort: what is special about Southern Christians which qualifies them for the exclusive occupation of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, Chair? But that retort will miss the point I make here which queries the rationale in such a practice.
The interesting thing is that this syndrome of exclusive Northern colonies within the Federal Government is not an invention of Buhari’s government. It has been practised across the regimes, both military and civilian, and the empires are growing in scope and number.
May I ask: When was the last time you saw a Southerner as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, our so-called centre of national unity since it was created in 1976? There have been 16 ministers since then. Only Mobolaji Ajose-Adeogun, the pioneer minister (1976-1979) has been from the South; and only Jeremiah Useni has been a Christian from the North. The rest have been Northern Muslims. It does not matter? It does. I will tell you why.
Abuja, because of this factor, has gradually been manipulated to seem more like a Northern Muslim city rather than a capital city where all Nigerians feel equally at home.
This subtle Islamisation has been more in-your-face during this Buhari dispensation when the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, demolished night clubs with impunity.
The North now believes they own Abuja. This is contrary to the idealistic Abuja that the great Zik of Africa propounded as the way out of the traffic chaos of Lagos, our original federal capital. Shortly after the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, issued Ndi Igbo in the North their comedic “quit notice” three years ago, some Northern street gangs went around Abuja pointing at Igbo-owned properties that would become theirs when Igbo quit Abuja.
Our FCT has been hijacked, and nobody is talking. Well, I am talking now. This was not what we agreed when we set out to create a new capital territory on a virgin land in the heart of Nigeria. I am shouting: You cannot seize what belongs to all of us for yourself and expect me to keep quiet.
Abuja is only a tip of the iceberg of the excesses that have been going on for years, and nobody raised an eyebrow, let alone alarm. Go to Apapa in the South West, Yoruba land. You would think you were somewhere in Kaduna or Kano. This is because all the Federal establishments there: the military, security, police, Customs and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, have historically been in the hands of Northern Muslims. If you earn a living in Apapa it pays to be able to speak Hausa.
If you go to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the story is the same. It has been firmly Northernised. It is now easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a Southerner to be appointed NNPC GMD. Ibe Kachikwu, who was given that rare privilege by Buhari was booted out after barely 11 months to prevent him from proceeding with his intended, long-awaited reforms.
This ugly trend is also obvious in the Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and majority of the departments and agencies of the Federal Ministry of Education. These colonisations have produced an array of bitter ironies. A part of the country that has no oil is in charge of our oil sector, including the ownership of majority of the oil wells. The most educationally-backward part of the country is calling the shots in our educational system. A part of the country that has no access to the Atlantic Ocean is in charge of all our juicy maritime sector and decides who gets what and what gets done.
The territorial indigenes of these areas are reduced to mere spectators and agitators. A part of the country that has the least water is permanently in charge of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Federal Waterways.
Is it a surprise that Nigeria is the most backward country (even in Africa) in all these areas that have been parcelled off to a region to benefit people of a particularly religious culture?
The North captured the oil industry and put a refinery in Kaduna. The first financial report issued since its 43 years revealed that in 2018, the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company, KRPC, generated ZERO revenue but posted an operating loss of N64.5bn! This can only happen in Nigeria.
The colonisation of resource-rich ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government for the benefit of Northern Muslims is not only wrong in a diverse country like Nigeria, it is also unconstitutional.
Our Constitution mandates that there must be equity in the distribution and operation of all federal offices to prevent sectional domination. We are neither obeying the Constitution nor the common rules of decency.
So, why should we expect Nigeria to develop? Paradoxically, the part of the country benefiting from the parasitic attack on our national commonwealth are still the most backward. It is also the only part of the country being vengefully terrorised by its own abandoned youth! Evil never pays.
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