Tony Nnadi is the Secretary of Lower Niger Congress (LNC), a group working to have Nigeria restructured. He holds the view that Nigeria has been run into a cul-de-sac by the insincerity of its leaders from certain sections of country.
In this interview, he says holding elections in Nigeria at the moment, without resolving the issue of the country’s ‘illegitimate’ Constitution, would amount to courting violent disintegration.
In several places that I have heard you speak, you seem to give the impression that the Nigerian constitution is the problem of the country. Why is this so?
In recent MNN Bulletins, we have taken the trouble to tell the whole world why we would rather dissolve the Nigerian union than remain in enslavement in it. It is the same reason for which Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and others insisted that the apartheid constitution in South Africa could no longer be the basis for the governance of that country.
Likewise, we are saying that this Constitution that is a product of imposition and force can no longer be the basis of Nigerian union. And if we are not discussing to come to an agreement; to come to a consensus in place of force, in place of imposition, we would rather dismantle the monstrous enterprise they call Nigeria.
How easy do you think that would be?
The thing has already divided itself; the 12 states that passed Sharia law have already opted out of the Nigerian union. Boko Haram was merely an enforcement arm. The Yoruba west is a cohesive bloc that could be a country of 55 million people. We saw them saying clearly when the conference was on that “either we go back to regional autonomy” or they would pull out of Nigeria.
Those who said it have the capacity to take themselves out of the failed union of Nigeria, because the single thing that ties the people into place today is this Constitution. To the extent that it lied in its preamble that we the people have agreed to live by it, to that extent, the Nigerian title document is bad beyond redemption.
We have waited since 1967 to conclude the discussions that began in Aburi, for us to recommit to Nigeria. But they say over their dead bodies. They say they are born to rule the rest of us. That is why if we do not come to that agreement; to that recommitment, we will immediately take steps to retrieve our various portions. In the eastern side, we call it the Lower Niger. You saw when the Ijaw people came with the map of 1885 before Okurounmu Committee, which showed the territory we now called the South-East and South-South together as one territory now. It will be a country of about 70 million people. That is the Lower Niger.
Of course the Middle-Belt, that has been playing the role of willing tools and attack dogs, are now on the front line of being beheaded in the name of Sharia. They are not Muslims and they have said it that they would rather leave the union if the Nigerian union is what will compel them to remain the sacrificial lamb to be killed at will.
Of course in that formation where you see the map of Nigeria that is broken into four, the caliphate is already in place with people shooting and pretending to be fighting terror in the place, the matter is simple: the northern political leadership were clear in what their mission is. Now Boko Haram has come to enforce their threat of making the place ungovernable. We must remember that the enforcement of making the country ungovernable started on the day of election when corps members were killed. From there they marched on to a police station, burnt it down; they marched on to army barrack, and then the franchise became more and more popular all over.
Looking at what is going on in Iraq today – ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant), what is their mission? It is to establish a caliphate. You saw all the bulletins that Boko Haram gave. The matter is simple. They want to Islamize Nigeria. Look at their method, how is it different from the one we watch on CNN from ISIL? They behead people and do all kinds of things that are not different.
Many people will not agree with you on that
Boko Haram is abducting girls for sale, and if anybody is thinking that Boko Haram fell from the sky, no! It was 12 states that passed Sharia law. Remember that their champion at that time was Sani Yerima, who is now a senator. He was chopping off people’s hands as governor of Zamfara State. Today, Shekau is blowing off people’s heads. What’s the difference?
To that extent, they have a right to self-determination in that territory to go and do their Sharia since democracy is what offends them. In the same vein, we also have a right to live by ourselves. They have made the Nigerian union impossible. If we make the mistake of proceeding into an election, they don’t need to win that election in order to bring the sort of violence they had in mind in the threat of “ungovernable” and the blood of baboons mixing with that of dogs.
But All Progressives Congress (APC) that Muhammadu Buhari is flying its flag insists that elections must hold
It may look like APC to you, it does not look like APC to me. It is a determined march toward imposing authoritarianism in the land, which would lead to the extermination of one part of the contraption. Our answer to all of it is that the dissolution of the union is what we prefer at this time.
If since 1967 till date, we cannot go to regional autonomy which has been the demand, because even the MEND is all about regional autonomy – to recognise your land as your own – which the Constitution today forbids. They say my land belongs to a man in Kano who is not willing to come to discussion with me.
It is our proposal; we are going to pursue it because we have a right under the United Nations instrument governing the situation. You saw Scotland go through referendum the other day. People have made Constitutions for the three territories that are not Sharia. In the eastern side, those six languages there have made their Constitutions – the Ijaw, the Itshekiri, the Urhobo, the Annang, the Efik, the Igbo – as we were in the 60s when Eyo Ita led his party to victory in Eastern Nigeria.
Then the Middle-Belt. With the Yoruba bloc and the Lower Niger taken out, it is all the balance of the country minus the Sharia states, but including the borderline cases of southern Kaduna and others. The people who are going to make it happen in their territories are going to insist on their right of self-determination. Nobody is going to keep them by force in the union of Nigeria, election or no election.
But President Goodluck Jonathan instituted a National Conference. Is that not enough?
Of course, Mr. President understood what the problem was because he knew how the presentations were made for there to be a conference. Then he told them in writing at the time of convening that the conference was designed to realistically examine and genuinely resolve the long-standing impediments to our cohesion as a united country. If you read the speech by which he inaugurated the Okurounmu committee, you will see it.
So, we have a situation in which the President was clear to them that it is a matter of how we live together that was going to be discussed on the floor of the Conference. What was the first decision on the floor of the Conference? The same elements from that part of the country, the North, working with their allies, decided that the matter of our unity was not to be discussed at the conference. Bottomline, nothing has been discussed.
Therefore, we are saying that we are not going to fold our arms and watch those who have not discussed how we want to live together, how education and healthcare can get to the people, just in an attempt to go to hold the head of the knife, drag us into the situation we saw in 1964/65, that became 1966 and therefore 1967 to 1970, where more than three million got killed.
If we go into this election, we are thinking that up to 10 million would have been buried before we go back to what we would have done in the first instance. We are going to confront the politicians. We are already mobilising for massive civil disobedience if they insist in going for elections because we are rejecting that Constitution. We are not looking at who the winner or who the candidate is. We are looking at what instrument they will use to govern because that is the job description of the government.
There is this argument in some quarters that Nigeria has been a terrorist state since the 70s, which was stopped in a way with the coming of Jonathan as President, and pushed terrorist elements out of governance. Do you agree with that assertion?
Well, to the extent that anybody who saying it and taking it only from 1970 may have his own reasons may be when he became aware of it. But I can tell you from the documents we have that it was created to be so from 1914, when the British lumped together various territories they had conquered, albeit under the pretence of treaties.
You know they were doing things by force, but would come later and bring their documents for you to sign when you are not in a position to refuse. So, by a combination of brute force and guile, they were able to secure a vast swat of territories which theyin 1914 called Nigeria.
Are you then saying that Nigeria, as a terrorist state, started long before 1970?
Yes, the British started it and handed over to Fulani in the North. The bottom-line of it is that the Britain saw Nigeria as its outpost. They have come from Europe to take away what they could find to take away peacefully here. But those who opposed them they terrorised and subdued.
Why did they so much want to put the Fulani in charge? Why were they at home with the Fulani?
They were resisted in the South from the onset by the likes of King Jaja of Opobo, Oba Ovwieramen of the ancient Benin Kingdom, King Pepple of Bonny, Chukwemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s grandfather. From that point, it was clear to them that the people of the South were not going to accept them, especially in view of the larger scheme of the things they (the British) sought to take away from the southern part, and, as such, must be kept down at all times. Oil is at the heart of this mayhem.
Now, somebody may be talking about Oloibiri as the place of the first discovery of oil in Nigeria. It is all falsehood; they had sold our oil for about 50 years before Oloibiri. It was the approach of independence that made them declare Oloibiri.
It was when they started the pretence that they tried to obfuscate the matter of who owned the assets they were taking away, then they started looking for new identities of people who would not be able to resist them the way a larger bloc of people would be able to resist them in the east. In the whole country, it was a clearly settled intention on their part to create a master-servant relation between the North and the South.
From your assertion, it would then mean that the North was willing to play that role?
Yes, anybody talking of 1970 maybe became conscious of the matter by 1970. If you doubt me, you look at this statement by Ahmadu Bello, which he made in the week of independence in 1960, because the British had created this master-servant thing that they left in their hands, while the rest were celebrating what they thought was the exit of the British, Ahmadu Bello was telling his lieutenants a different story. I quote him now, from the Parrot newspaper of October 12, 1960, where he was saying:”The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future”.
So, even at the point of Independence, these matters had been worked out into a constitutional framework in which one region of the country – the then Northern Region – was going to be a permanent political majority. They did this even when they were in the minority.
How was it possible to create a majority from a minority?
British did it; they turned it around by inflating the population figures for the North in the 1951/52 census, which they again reinforced in 1961/62 census that became controversial.
They also wanted to reinforce it in 1971 and again it got rejected. It has been falsehood and falsehood all through, and you now had a situation where that thing that Ahmadu Bello was talking about became a battle script. If you look at the Constitution by which Nigeria is being managed today, you will see that we came to that arrangement on account of the implementation of that battle script of Ahmadu Bello, because he was talking to his political descendants.
You have a map of Nigeria and you make a mental picture of three or four divisions in it; you begin to place the characters that played one role or the other in the development of what we now have as Constitution. Who did what coup? Put them where they belong in that map and you will see a clear picture of the roles of the ones from the Muslim North, who are at the apex, and the ones from the Middle-Belt who were their attack dogs. Ahmadu Bello called them willing tools.
These people are still playing that role of willing tools in the hands of the people who are the inheritors of the political empire of Uthman Dan Fodio which Ahmadu Bello was talking about.
Ben Nwabueze, who took part in the drafting of that Constitution, confessed the other day that Murtala Muhammed and his agents had already written the Constitution fully before the Constituent Assembly was called. He confessed that the little adjustments they thought they had made during the Constituent Assembly were removed. On the 21st of September 1978, when Murtala Muhammed had already been killed by his fellow military rulers, Obasanjo who became the new enforcer completed the job for him.
How do you situate the Biafra/Nigeria war in all these?
What they call the civil war was an attempt by one side saying that you cannot continue to kill us in an arrangement we have not agreed upon, and it was the first serious push to be truly independent. Of course there was a gang-up between the Northern Region and the Western Region to choke the Eastern Region.
If you thought it was an accident, you look at that letter that Murtala Nyako wrote to the 19 northern governors, accusing Jonathan of genocide in their place. In that letter, you will see that instructively that he had described Jonathan as an element of Eastern Nigeria, that was out to avenge the killings of 1967/68 in their area. He conveniently forgot the new name tag they placed on Niger Delta, being South-south and South-east.
When it was convenient for him, he describes Jonathan as an element of Eastern Nigeria. Let me tell you what it means. If you go back to the era of Azikiwe, when he was fighting the colonialists, he did all the fighting with Mokwugo Okoye, Osita Agwuna, Mbonu Ojike, and of course with few other people here and there. But when the matter of transfer of power came to be effected, it was an alliance of that conservative North and a renegade wing of Yoruba South-west that was given power. It was that alliance that made it impossible for Azikiwe to preside over Nigeria at independence.
It was same alliance that came to life when Awolowo, having been premier of Western Region, and with all his knowledge and experience, subjugated himself to working under Gowon, a boy then with school certificate. Gowon only went to school after he was thrown out in 1975. Awolowo worked under Gowon for nine years in order to beat down the East. Again, if you have an imaginary map of Nigeria, you will see who comes from where and to what purpose their alliance has been put.
Certainly that alliance cannot be existing today?
It is that alliance that has come up in the name of APC today. Anybody may be talking about democracy or free and fair election. But what I am seeing is the fifth re-enactment of that alliance of two regions to undo the other region.
I am not seeing any APC, I am seeing the Sharia North with that wing of the Yoruba west forming a majority in the name of a political party to choke out what they call the minority man from Eastern Nigeria. And we are saying that the issue of how we live together must be addressed before we go for any election.