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Nationality Question, Sharia and corporate Nigeria and 'the Southern lady of
means'

By Richard Akinjide, QC, SAN


THE situation in Nigeria today is like a marriage and threatened divorce.
The British Government took over the territory of Niger Coast Protectorate
and the Royal Niger Company in 1900. In 1914 the entity known as the Colony
and Protectorate of Nigeria was created by the British Government. The
colony of Lagos came into being in 1861 when Dosunmu ceded Lagos to the
British Government as Colony. The difference between "Colony" and
"Protectorate" is that in the case of Colony the title to the territory was
vested in the British Crown, whereas in the case of Protectorate the title
to the territory remained vested in the Chiefs and people of the territory.
The legal and factual situation were explained in a letter written by the
British Consul in Calabar in September 1884 to Jaja of Opobo. It was further
explained in a Cabinet paper prepared for the British Cabinet by the Lord
Chancellor - the Highest law officer in the British system.

The Sardauna of Sokoto, during the political crisis of 1953, in the
confrontation between the North and the South, made the following historic
statement in the House of Representatives in Lagos: "The mistake of 1914 has
come to light". This turned attention immediately to the serious
implications of the amalgamation of 1914. See the Autobiography of late
Sardauna of Sokoto,My Life, 1962, at p. 133; and at p.135 of the same book
he said "Lord Lugard and his amalgamation were far from popular amongst us
at that time (1953 Constitutional crisis) and there were suggestions in
favour of secession."

There was also evidence of divorce at the Ibadan Constitutional Conference
in 1950 to review the Richard's Constitution when the emirs of Katsina and
Zaria said that unless the Northern Provinces were granted 50 per cent of
the seats in the proposed central House of Representatives, they would "ask
for separation from the rest of Nigeria on the arrangements existing before
1914" - See p.218 of the "Proceedings of the General Conference on Review of
the Constitution held at Ibadan, January 1950." The actual Amalgamation
Report's full title is "Report by Sir F.D. Lugard on the Amalgamation of
Northern and Southern Nigeria, and Administration, 1912-1919 CMD 468 XXXVI
609."

But Lugard's entire report was never published. It was the edited version
"in a suitable form" that was published. When Lugard returned to London from
Nigeria in 1918, he wrote a letter to the Colonial Office as follows:

"I was informed in 1913 that it was Lord Harcourt's wish that my report
submitting proposals for the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria
should be published in a suitable form. Some delay took place in the
preparation of the papers and it was eventually decided to abandon the idea.
There is no record in Nigeria accessible to the public of the reasons for
the change which were introduced, and the alternative proposals which were
discussed."

Lord Scarbrough, chairman of the Niger Company declared that the coast ought
to pay for the development of the interior and that any other policy would
be a suicidal policy. The central kernel was that amalgamation was to the
economic advantage of the North and to the British Treasury. The south must
finance the North.

Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the Government of the
Federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion.

The section 10 provides: "The Government of the Federation or of a state
shall not adopt any religion as state religion." This was lifted from the
1979 Constitution. So it was not new in 1999. Section 5 (3) of the 1999
Constitution also provides: "The executive powers vested in a State under
subsection (2) of this section shall be so exercised as not to:

(a) Impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive powers of the
Federation;

(b) endanger any asset or investment of the Government of the Federation in
that State; or

(c) endanger the continuance of a federal government in Nigeria."

The Sharia provision in the 1979 Constitution was a compromise worked out
before the Northern members of the Constituent Assembly called off their
walk-out. No group has the right to do anything inconsistent with that
compromise. That will be as bad as destroying the Constitution. But why are
we in the mess we are today? To answer this, I must quote copiously from the
seminal work of Professor Omo Omoruyi: The Tale of June 12 published by the
Press Alliance Network Ltd:

ORIGIN OF NIGERIA

"There is no question that there were relatively independent units, call
them states/empires, in the territory that currently makes up Nigeria before
the advent of the whiteman and the colonial order. Anthropologists and the
Ibadan History Series provide us with the history and form of political
organisation of different groups in Nigeria. Following the Berlin Conference
of 1884, Lugard, then a Captain, paid his first visit to Nigeria to organise
on behalf of the Royal Niger Company, troops of subjugation to be used in
extracting treaties from the Chiefs of the North. The various groups in
Nigeria had no inkling that Britain was trying to amalgamate them.

BRIEF OF REVIEW OF THE PROCESS

"Britain's implementation of the Berlin Treaty was done through independent
administrators, namely:

1. The Oil Rivers Protectorate, renamed Niger Coast Protectorate in 1895.
The Niger Coast Protectorate was ruled by Consul with headquarters in
Calabar and responsible to the Foreign Office, not the Colonial Office,
because the relationship with these states was by virtue of treaties of
protection and by cession.

2. The colony of Lagos ceded to the British Crown in 1861 was ruled by
Governors responsible to the Colonial Office based in Sierra Leone
(1866-1874) and Gold Coast (1874-1886).

In 1886, Lagos had its own Governor, Cession of Lagos was through a highly
fraudulent treaty. There was a treaty of Cession, nevertheless.

3. The Niger territories of the Royal Niger Company rule, 1886 to 1899 by
the agents of the private company, was responsible to the Board of Directors
in London. This corresponds to the present day Northern Nigeria. Sir
Frederick D. Lugard had, earlier as a Captain, worked for this company in
negotiating a series of treaties with traditional rulers in 1897. He was, as
a Brigadier-General, appointed the first High Commissioner of the Niger
Territories of the Royal Niger company to be called Northern Nigeria with
effect from January 1, 1900.

This was the day the term Nigeria was first used in official communication.
It would appear that the term was meant to refer to the North of Nigeria and
later the other two governments were renamed Southern Nigeria and Lagos.
They were merged to form Southern Nigeria in 1906. From 1906, Northern
Nigeria and Southern Nigeria were technically two autonomous entities
responsible separately to the Colonial Office.

"This was the situation when the design of Nigeria was conceived between
1900 and 1912. It should be noted that Lugard brought the various parts of
the North together and produced an administrative entity called first, Niger
Territories and later Northern Nigeria. It should be further noted that
Lugard was privy to the thinking in London about amalgamation.

This was why he campaigned to be given the assignment of incorporating the
various units in south constituting Southern Nigeria into Northern Nigeria.
He did not do in the south what he did in the North as the High
Commissioner. Lugard did not hide his intention in his new assignment in
1912. His plan was meant to incorporate the various units and people of the
southern territory into a unified North.

By 1912 when Lugard emerged on the southern scene there was something called
Northern Nigeria (which was over 14 years old) in the minds of the
traditional rulers and of the traditional elites in the North. On the other
hand, there was nothing called Southern Nigeria in the minds of the
traditional rulers and of the educated elites in various parts of the South.
The various groups in the South were treaty-based states who related to
Britain independently.

The North knew what they were getting into; the South did not. I came to
this conclusion after examining how Lugard went about his assignment between
October 1912 and December 31, 1913 in both sectors before amalgamation was
proclaimed on January 1, 1914. I also examined the terms of amalgamation and
how it was conceived to use Southern Nigeria to develop the North."

Lugard lied to trick southern leaders

"Lugard toured the southern states from October to December 31, 1912 and
went back to Lagos to reflect on what he saw in Benin, Yoruba land (Onisha),
in Calabar and in the Niger Delta. He framed how he was going to get around
the problems that he might face with the amalgamation plan. Throughout the
visits to these places in the South, Lugard never raised with them what was
going to befall them in a few months. The people of Abeokuta, Benin,
Calabar, Ibadan, Lagos, Okrika, Onitsha and Oyo did not see themselves at
the time as belonging to one political entity called Southern Nigeria. Nor
do they to this day."

"If the people of the Southern Nigeria did not see themselves as one entity,
on what basis would one be talking of an amalgamation of two parts other
than an incorporation of the various parts of the South into the North. Most
significant was that the different treay-based obligations between Britain
and the various communities in the South would have warranted consequential
re-negotiation of the various treaties with these communities before
embarking on the two forms of amalgamation - within the South amalgamation,
and the North-South amalgamation. But at this time it should be emphasised
that Northern Nigeria had been functioning as one country for about 20
years. Shouldn't this have been allowed to continue? Why was it not allowed
to continue? It was uneconomical to administer Northern Nigeria as an
autonomous colonial entity, hence the need to embark on the amalgamation
plan with Southern Nigeria."

LUGARD SAW THE NORTH AS ONE ENTITY AND THE SOUTH IN PIECES

"Lugard's visit to the North beyond Zungeru was well planned because it was
obvious he was visiting a country. He did not have to visit the various
parts as he did in the South. This was why a special Durbar at Kano was
arranged for this visit by all the Emirs and Chiefs in the North to honour
him on January 1, 1913. The Durbar was graced with well over 15,000 horsemen
and countless number of footmen, each grouped around their chief. There were
800 from the Royal West African Frontier Force with some 300 mounted
infantry which was created by Lugard in 1898. Lugard's account of the Durbar
is fascinating."

"All the Emirs were seated together - a marvellous sight when one recalls
the bitter jealousies which formerly possessed them.... Even the Chinese
have little or nothing to teach these Emirs in the way of courtesy and good
manners... but the Pagan dances were simply wonderful. There were tumblers
and contortionists from Ilorin, and wrestlers and also pugilists. These
latter impressed me more than anything. Round their right hands they had
matting bond with rough native sting making a most formidable "boxing
glove", much more severe than a naked fist. With this they dealt each other
blows in the face or body with their whole strength, sparring with the left
hand. The blows were so heavy that I wondered why serious damage was not
done, but the way they were taken, and the genial way in which when a man
was knocked down and vanquished, he accepted defeat."

"And so also among all these vast crowds of horsemen and footmen during all
these three days belonging to rival Emirs who had grievances against each
other, and each trying to aggrandise their own lord - not a single quarrel
or even altercation did I see or hear of! Everyone kept saying to each other
that it was a really marvellous sight which they would not for the world
have missed. And so it was!

"Contrary to what obtained in the South whose leaders were seeing Lugard for
the first time, the Emirs in the North were familiar with him and were in
communication with him. As soon as he landed in Lagos he dispatched gifts to
them and they in turn acknowledged the customary formal gifts they received.
From Lugard's papers, were letters in Hausa showing the warm relationship
between the Emirs and Lugard. Examples demonstrate the difference between
the North and South. Some of these letters are:


SHEHU OF BORNO:

"Letter from the slave of God... to our good helper, our prop, the solver of
our difficulties, the one who carries our heavy burdens, Governor Lugard
with salutations more scented than the musk perfume and sweeter than honey.
May God prolong your life, the keeper of those who keep others."

EMIR OF BIDA:

"Sent.. salutations and goodwill shining bright as do the planets and
constant as their light as the return of morn and eve, Oh! My Chief, my
Leader, we ask God to prolong your life in prosperity and health. My present
to you is a sword in a silver scabbard and two gowns."

EMIR OF YOLA:

"To the Deputy of the King of England, the governor, who holds all our
country in his and rules it all. A thousand salutations and fealty and
homage repeated."

EMIR OF JAMA:

"I and my people, all of us, will not refrain from praying for you morning
and evening... I told my people to rejoice at your safe return. We rode our
horses and raced. I read your letter morning and evening and it makes me
very happy."

EMIR OF NUPE:

"Many beautiful salutations, a clean love... my present to you is two
turkeys, I package of plantains and I of limes."

AMALGAMATION - UNIFIED ADMINISTRATION

"According to Perham, Lugard's task was to unify administrations not people.
Lugard was bent on keeping the North as one entity. He rejected Morel's plan
of 1912 which would have separated Ilorin and Borgu from the North and
merged them with Yoruba land. Lugard also rejected the second plan submitted
by Governor Temple based on his experience which would have divided the
territory into seven large provinces: four in the South and three in the
North (Hausa States of the North West, Chad territory covering Borno, Bauchi
and Yola and Benue Province containing the remaining southern and western
districts along the Niger. Lugard rejected it and stuck to the North as one
entity.'

"In the two plans rejected by Lugard, the people or their accredited
representatives were also not consulted. In all the cases the treaty
obligations of Britain were ignored. Specifically, when Britain captured
Benin in 1897 after a bitter war, the rulers of Benin were made to sign a
letter of protection but they were not told at the time Lugard emerged on
the scene in 1913, that their land was going to be ruled along with some
artificial territory called Southern Protectorate and later Nigeria. Secrecy
engulfed the British plan in southern Nigeria because Lugard was concerned
with the anxiety within what Lugard called "educated natives." Even the
Legislative council which at this time had been extended to the whole of
Southern Protectorate never discussed this matter. The first time
southerners knew of what was to befall them was after Lord Harcourt's
announcement in London which was followed by the statement of the
relationship between the North and the South.

HARCOURT'S PLAN MEANT INCORPORATION OF SOUTHERN PARTS INTO UNIFIED NORTH

"Lord Harcourt went to the House of Commons on June 27, 1913 after receiving
Lugard's report on his tour of the North and the South and announced the new
British government policy of two Nigerias. According to Lord Harcourt,
unification of Nigeria demanded both "a method" and "a man." The man was to
be Lord Lugard and the method was to be the marriage of the two entities.
According to Lord Harcourt:

Happily, the man is at hand with a tried and proved capacity to supply the
method. Though I have been convinced ever since I came to the Colonial
Office that this amalgamation was desirable, I frankly admit that I should
not have thought the moment opportune unless I had happened to know and to
command the services of the one man marked out for this great work. Sir
Frederick Lugard. I have been able, greatly to the regret of Hong Kong, to
induce him to leave that post and to take up what will shortly become the
Governorship of the combined Nigerias. Northern Nigeria is in the truest
sense the product of his foresight and genius. He reclaimed it from the
unknown; he gave it a legal code, differing only in its civilisation from
the essential lines of native custom; he established a land system which,
combining altruism with revenue, may well be a model and inspiration to
other Protectorates... On my earnest solicitations he returns now to the
field of his early and brilliant labour, to complete and consolidate what
was proved, I think, to be the greatest tropical province of the Crown."

On another occasion Lord Harcourt laid down the kind of relationship that
should exist between North and the South as a marriage with the North as the
"husband" and the South as the "wife." According to Lord Harcourt:

"We have released Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the Treasury.
The promising and well conducted youth is now on an allowance on his own and
is about to effect an alliance with a southern lady of means. I have issued
the special licence and Sir Frederick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May
the union be fruitful and the couple constant. (Italics mine)"

Founding fathers more concerned for Northerners than Southerners

"Who were the founding fathers and what did they have in mind? Chief Obafemi
Awolowo did not think that he and other Nigerian political leaders of his
generation were the founding fathers. He identified Sir Frederick D. Lugard
(later Lord Lugard) as the founding father when he stated of Lugard in his
book, The People's Republic that:

"to him, more than anyone else, belongs the credit or discredit for setting
Nigeria on a course which Nigerian nationalists and patriots feel obliged to
pursue albeit with mixed feelings till the present day.

"What Chief Awolowo did not appreciate was that Lord Lugard was simply
implementing the British model of a Colonial order which was on the drawing
board with the setting up of the Selbourne Committee in 1898 and later
personified by Lord Lewis Harcourt who was then the Colonial Secretary. It
is sad to say that in answer to the question, who were the Founding Fathers
of Nigeria, no Nigerian Leader (Azikiwe, Sardauna, Ironsi, Gowon, Murtala,
Obasanjo, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha) could claim to be a Founding
Father. Rather, they were all part of the problem of nationhood which
continue till today. I would say the founding fathers were Lord Harcourt,
Lord Lugard and Sir James Robertson. What was the credit? What was the
discredit? Why did the so called Nigerian nationalists feel obliged to abide
by the colonialist plan despite the mixed feelings? At what stage did the
mixed feelings turn into a mistake for some and a source of despair for
others? Why was the matter raised in 1950, 1953, and 1966 as "the mistake of
1914" by the North? What was the true feeling of the southern leaders in
1950, 1953 and 1966? Was it a blessing for the south then? At what stage did
this mistake turn into the blessing of 1914 for some? What is the true
feeling of Nigerians today from the North and the South?"

The situation is that to the Southerners today, 1914 is a mistake; to the
Northerners, it is a blessing. What steps can we take to make it a blessing
for all? Democracy in Nigeria must be found in the solution to these
questions. The original design for Nigeria in 1914 was conceived as a
marriage between the North and South with the North as the "husband" and the
South, "the Wife." The June 12 election would have amounted to a "status
reversal" as it would have put a southerner in charge of Nigeria contrary to
the model introduced into Nigeria in 1959 by Sir James Robertson. This was
why the June 12 presidential election was annulled on June 23, 1993."

We have released Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the Treasury.
The promising and well conducted youth is now on an allowance on his own and
is about to effect an alliance with a southern lady of means. I have issued
the special licence and Sir Frederick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May
the union be fruitful and the couple constant.

Saturday, September 2, 2000
Hausa/Fulani: How they became one

By Lawrence Adenipekun


The Hausa has been an assimilating ethnic unit and the Hausa language has
predominated over other non-Hausa languages. Many people who were not
originally Hausa later became Hausa through acculturation. The Fulani
language known as Fulfulde, which was widely spoken all over Hausaland when
Fulani immigrants came to Hausaland, survives today in Hausaland as the
first language only among the cattle rearers who live in remote areas.

THE relationship between the Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups has, in recent
times, been a subject of discurse among prominent Nigerians. Given the
recent fratricidal wars between the Ijaw and Itsekiri of Delta State, as
well as Ife and Modakeke in Osun State, many became curious to know whether
or not the much-publicised dissension between the people of the Middle Belt
and the core north is a sign-post for a Hausa Fulani face-off.

When The Guardian On Saturday decided to visit some states in the north on
this burning issue, some of the questions that rushed to mind were: What
kind of relationship presently exists between the Hausa and Fulani? If there
is division between the two ethnic units, what are the causes of this? And
if the two groups still remain undivided, as they have always been, what are
the unifying factors?

Investigations revealed that there is no open or latent conflict between
them. The two groups see themselves as an indivisible entity so much so that
ethnic differentiation in whatever form has become an anathema which
everybody in that part of the country runs away from. This explains the
reluctance of many prominent people in the north to speak on this issue,
while many who obliged did so on the condition of anonymity.

Dr. Mohammed Tukur Usman, Head of History Department, Usmanu Dan Fodiyo
University, Sokoto identifies the reasons for the complete integration of
the Hausa-Fulani people and why the relationship between them has been
devoid of any virulent animosity such that could have resulted in
inter-ethnic vendetta.

"The Hausa has been an assimilating ethnic unit and the Hausa language has
predominated over other non-Hausa languages. Many people who were not
originally Hausa later became Hausa through acculturation. The Fulani
language known as Fulfulde, which was widely spoken all over Hausaland when
Fulani immigrants came to Hausaland, survives today in Hausaland as the
first language only among the cattle rearers who live in remote areas.

"Ability to speak Hausa language is an important factor which persuaded
Hausa people to regard a stranger as bonafide Hausa. As the Fulani people
used Hausa as their first language in all their dealings with Hausa people,
they became wholly accepted as bonafide Hausa and the language has
unofficially become the lingua-franca of the entire north.

"Two reasons contributed to this assimilating process. First, the Hausa
people are very accommodating. Second, the language is very easy to learn.
In the north today, various peoples from Southern Nigeria learn and
understand the Hausa language within one and a half years of their residence
in Hausaland."

The Fulani are found all over northern Nigeria. Over the years they have
intermarried with Hausa people and so interwoven are they that it has become
extremely difficult for most northerners to trace their ancestral root to a
specific tribe.

With this rich cohesive political history, the Hausa-Fulani, being the
largest ethic group in the north, have been providing leadership for all the
other ethnic groups.

The major concentrations of the Hausa people are in the north-western and
north-central parts of the region. The Hausa people have been living in this
area from time immemorial. Their culture-hero was one Bayajida, a prince of
Baghdad in Arabia. Following some misunderstandings pertaining to the
Islamic religion, Bayajida fled Arabia, crossed the Sudan and eventually
settled in Kanem among the Kanuri. There, he warned himself into the hearts
of Kanem aristocracy and a princess was given to him as wife. He became so
popular and influential there that his father-in-law became jealous of his
growing followership.

Bayajida, in order to avoid the wrath of his father-in-law, fled westwards.
He first settled at Biram, in Hausaland where he left his wife. At Gaya, his
next place of settlement, Bayajida met a community of blacksmiths who made a
special sword for him and therefore proceeded on his migration.

At Daura, Bayajida allegedly heard of the story of the invincible snake that
scared people away from fetching water from a well located at the precinct
of the town. Bayajida went to the well, met the dreaded serpent and
succeeded in killing it. As a reward, he was offered the hand of queen of
Daura in marriage and from the affair emerged the seven principal Hausa
states of Gobir, Kebbi, Daura, Katsina, Zamfara, Kano, Rano and Biram.

The Fulani, on the other hand, migrated from the Senegambia region in the
Western Sudan to northern Nigeria about 600 years ago. When they came, most
of them were herdsmen (cattle rearers) and they continued with their nomadic
life. Some of them however imbibed the sendetary settled mode of living of
the hosts and subsequently became farmers.

Significantly, there were also many Fulbe (Fulani) people who were well
learned in eastern education. Because of their advanced knowledge in Koranic
education, they were easily employed as teachers, scribes and malams by the
Hausa rulers. It was this close interaction with the Hausa aristocracy that
enabled these educated Fulani to see the growing interpolation of Islam.
They therefore decided to remove those aspects of native tradition and
culture which tended to overshadow the basic tenets and teachings of the
Koran.

It was under this circumstance that the famous religious reformer, Usmanu
Dan Fodio declared his jihad (holy war) in 1804 and established the Sokoto
Caliphate, a political system that played a significant role in the
integration of the various groups in northern Nigeria.

But if Dan Fodiyo unified the northern Nigeria by force of arms, Sir Ahmadu
Bello Sardauna of Sokoto and premier of northern region in the First
Republic established one geo-political north, that stood the test of time,
through diplomacy. The late premier, whose love for the region made him turn
down the prime ministership, had feared that the exalted position would take
him out of Kaduna to Lagos and halt his dream of successfully building a
formidable political north, despite its ethnic, cultural and religious
differences.

A prominent indigene of Kano who does not want his name in print, recalls
the policies of Ahmadu Bello which helped in uniting the various groups in
northern Nigeria: "We no longer have a monolithic north because all the
legacies left behind by Sir Ahmadu Bello have been thrown into the dust bin
by successive military leaders. When he was alive, Ahmadu Bello was always
on the side of the talakawa (common man) rather than pursuing his own
selfish interest.

"Ahmadu Bello did not also discriminate against the different ethnic,
religious and cultural groups in the north. This is exemplified by the
composition of his cabinet which included even the Yoruba from Kabba. When
he wanted to establish Ahmadu Bello University, he didn't cite it in Sokoto,
his home town. Rather, he cited it in Zaria. The same thing happened when he
took the headquarters of Bank of the North to Kano.

"Ahmadu Bello encouraged the enlistment of young people into the Nigerian
Army from all parts of northern Nigeria. Many indigenes of the Middle Belt
geo-political zone who benefited from this generosity, are ironically sowing
the seed of discord among the peoples of northern part of Nigeria by saying
that they are no longer part of the North.

"This agitation to break away from the core north, which has Hausa-Fulani as
the dominant ethnic group, does not in any way adversely affect the
relationship between the Hausa and Fulani for they see themselves as one
people irrespective of their place of settlement."

 

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