The Role of Chief Bola Ige in the Destabilisation of Nigeria
Abubakar Siddique Mohammed,
In an interview with the
New Nigerian of Thursday, August 5, 1999, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Media and Publicity, was reported to have said that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA
) Hausa Services, were “agents of destabilisation and enemies of our nascent democracy.” He went on to add that, “it is unthinkable that these, otherwise respectable organisations, should allow themselves to be used so readily by those who want to destabilise Nigeria. As independent observers and coming from the civilised world, these stations ought to be eager to assist Nigeria in nurturing its young and fragile democracy in the interest of Africa and the world.” Dr.
Okupe added that, “when those who should know decide to act as if they do not know, you know that there is something amiss. That is why we are convinced that these stations are deliberately out to create anarchy in the country.” Dr. Okupe was reacting, principally, to the coverage by the two stations of the, tragic, violent, attacks on Shagamu residents of northern state origin and its spill over in Kano, where Yoruba residents were also attacked.
On Wednesday, October 20, 1999, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) members in the Senate, also claimed that “there are
forces from within the nation who are trying to truncate this new democracy through various schemes of destabilisation.” They further alleged that, “the same agents of tyranny and feudal hegemony, the same characters who truncated Ibrahim Babangida’s transition and paved the way for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, the promoters of Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) are at work again spending sleepless nights and their abundant wealth to
down the new democracy.” They further alleged that those who want to bring down the government, “had been shuttling between Minna and Abuja, scheming and appealing to base primordial and irredentist sentiments to derail the current wave towards a just and equitable society”
This paper is not a defence of the two stations attacked by Dr. Doyin Okupe, or of the ABN and the other “characters who truncated Ibrahim Babangida’s transition”. Rather, it is aimed at
showing that there is certainly something amiss, when Dr. Doyin Okupe and the AD caucus in Senate, led by Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, pretend to be oblivious of the destabilising activities of key people in the government of President Obasanjo. They should know that it is the activities of people like Chief Bola Ige, which is destabilising, not just the government of President Obasanjo, but the foundations of the Nigerian economy and the stability of its nascent democratic
political system. This paper is intended to show that a Minister of the Government of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, is actively involved in one of the most serious attempts at destabilising that government, political stability in the country and the basis of the national economy.
That Dr. Okupe and the AD senators are avoiding this stark reality, which daily stares us in the face, has to do with the fact that they do not see anything wrong with what Chief Bola Ige and his
associates in the AD and Afenifere are doing. They even seem to be trying to divert attention from their destabilising utterances and actions, by accusing others.
They know that, for several years, Chief Bola Ige has been preparing the minds of Nigerians for the most brutal form of national destabilisation, that is, inciting other nationalities in a
multi-national country to target one nationality as an evil oppressor, which should be wiped out in a genocide, as was attempted against the Tutsis in Rwanda. Although this incitement has been going on for some years, it has continued even though he is now a Minister of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where he is expected, by his oath of office, to serve and to be fair to all the citizens of Nigeria, of whatever nationality, religion, or region.
The Rwandan Experience
Anyone who has read the studies available on the genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsis, will know that
all those who plan genocide, that is a criminal conspiracy aimed at the annihilation of a target people, start by identifying the ethnic or national group they are planning to annihilate. They, then, use media propaganda effectively, to propagate hatred against this target group. The propaganda helps in brainwashing militant youth organised in militias, that are used, not only to control the actions of the national, or ethnic group of the genocidaires, but also to exterminate the target group. The control of the national or ethnic group whose fanatical militants are being prepared to perpetrate genocide, includes the elimination of rational and liberal members of that group who are opposed to genocide. They are called traitors from within. Extreme tension, crisis and fear are also generated by the organisers of the genocide within both the target group and their own
group. In most cases, they capitalise on serious national crisis – economic or political – to unleash their violence on innocent people. In doing so, those of them who are placed in strategic state institutions, use these institutions, national and/or local, depending upon their strength, in the implementation of their genocidal plans.
Above all, they fashion extreme racist ideology, which they use to fuel a fanatical determination in their militants to
engage in extremely, barbaric and brutally inhuman annihilation of the target group. As elucidated with precision by Africa Rights, on pages 46-47 of their well documented book,
Rwanda: Death, Despair and
Defiance, “Killing huge numbers of people in a short space of time is a complex task requiring sophisticated mobilisation.” But it can take place even in a society without the modern infrastructure and the sophistication of Nazi Germany.
The Rwandan genocide brings this out clearly. Although the world was rudely awaken only in April, 1994, by the badly mutilated and bloated bodies of hundreds of thousands of the massacred Tutsis floating in Lake Victoria, and the gory
pictures beamed to it by television, of Tutsis being subjected to the most inhuman torture to death by the militia group Interhamwe (“those who attack together”) and Impuzamugambi (“those who only have one aim”), the killings were not spontaneous. They were well planned, according to African Rights, on page 46 of the above book on Rwanda, by “groups of extremists at the heart of
government, all of them members of the President’s entourage, and many of them related to the President,” using the resources of the state.
There were even dress rehearsals between 1991 and 1994. Before the April, 1994 genocide, which claimed over 800, 000 lives, unpunished massacre of Tutsis was becoming a frequent occurrence since 1991. According to Alain Destexhe, on page
29 of his book,
Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century, “between 1991 and 1994, alarm bells were ringing and signs were there to be read, in the form of massacres that went unpunished”. Not even the reports by the U.N Human Rights Commission were heeded. This may have encouraged the Habyarimana regime to press ahead with its ruthless plan for genocide. Thus, in September 1992, the regime defined who the enemies and friends of the Hutus were. The enemies were, according to a
quotation on page 30 of the book
Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century:
“Tutsi inside the country or outside, extremists and longing to return to power, who have never recognised and never will recognise the reality of the 1959 social revolution [when the Tutsi were thrown out of power], and who would take
back power in Rwanda by any means possible, including the use of arms.”
The enemies within were, “anybody who gives any kind of support to the main enemy.” The media which was controlled by Hutu extremists constantly called the Tutsis “Iwenzi” meaning,
“the cockroaches that have to be crushed” They were presented as a “minority, well – off and foreign.” And, as is usual with organisers of genocide their media organs are also used to attack the “enemies from within.” Thus, one particular newspaper
Le Courrier du Peuple kept on pouring venom on Hutu liberals and opposition. According to Gerard Prunier, who wrote a seminal work on Rwanda,
The Rwanda Crisis: History of Genocide, this paper “was a hard-hitting scandal sheet which dealt low but well-aimed blows at liberal opposition figures.” Such was the level of propaganda that, what had become almost unthinkable since the Second World War, happened in Rwanda.
In its book on the role of women in the genocide;
Not So Innocent: When Women Become Killers African Rights, reported a catholic sister, Sister Gertrude, to have said, “the moment had come for the soul of the Tutsis to separate from the body.” (p.155). The brutal separation of the souls of the Tutsis from their bodies was captured graphically by Gerard Prunier on page 256 of his book on Rwanda cited above, thus:
“Sadism linked with racism could reach unbelievable extremes. On the campus of Butare University, a Hutu teacher whose Tutsi wife was in an advanced state of pregnancy saw her disembowelled under
his eyes and had the foetus of his unborn child pushed in the face while the killers shouted ‘Here! Eat your bastard!’ In some cases, militiamen tried to force women to kill their children in order to save their own lives. Some people were burned alive as their relations were forced to watch before being killed themselves.”
Bola Ige and Genocide
As with the Rwandan Hutu extremists, Chief Bola Ige knows the importance of propaganda and agitation in incitement for organised violence. He also, as a
SAN, knows the provisions of the international law on genocide and incitement to genocide, enacted by Resolution 260 (A) III of the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 9th December, 1946, which came into effect after its ratification by 120 members states on 12th January, 1951. In case he has forgotten, Articles III and IV of
the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defines crimes of genocide that are punishable and those who are liable. According to Article III:
“The following acts shall be punishable:
b Conspiracy to commit genocide
c Direct and public incitement to commit genocide
d Attempt to commit genocide
e Complicity in genocide
Those who are liable, according to Article IV, are:
“Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.”
In the light of what has been happening since, Chief Bola Ige’s decision to write a weekly column in the
Sunday Tribune seems to have been a strategic decision. It placed him in a good position to propagate hatred against his target group, the Fulani, in particular, and northerners in general. He has used every opportunity, to liken the Fulani to the Tutsis of Rwanda and sometimes of Burundi also. As the “Tutsis of Nigeria,” he provocatively proclaimed that the Fulani of Nigeria are likely to end up sharing the same bloody fate
with the Tutsis of Rwanda!
In an article in his column, on page 2 of
Sunday Tribune of September 4, 1996, entitled “Up Nigeria!!!” on the victory of the Golden Eaglets against the Brazilians in the semi-finals of the football event of the Atlanta Olympics, Chief Bola Ige said:
“…if the team had been made up from “ Federal character” and “quota” we probably would not have had Kanu together with Oliseh and Amunike and Amokachi. There probably would not be a
goalkeeper called Dosu. Some Nigerian Tutsis would probably have packed the team with their kinsmen.”
The intensity of his campaign of hatred against the Fulani was such that he derided even the dresses worn by Nigerian athletes. According to him:
“First who asked our athletes to wear those almajiri dresses in Atlanta at the opening ceremonies? I felt insulted that Mary Onyali and others should be asked to wear a dress which is like those
herdsmen and beggars wear in Northern Nigeria. There was hardly any difference between the contingent from Niger Republic and our own. Even the athletes from Benin Republic and Togoland showed off better than we. Or is this part of the native colonisation of Nigeria?”
Chief Bola Ige, in fact, endorsed the genocide inflicted on the Tutsis by the Hutu extremists. He protested against the
detention and pending trial of the Hutu extremists arrested for genocide. In an article titled, “River of Human Beings.” published in his column, on page 2 of the
Sunday Tribune of December 1, 1996, Chief Bola Ige said that the crimes of the genocidaires pale into insignificance compared with their detention. The Tutsis, like the Fulani, were also transformed into “native colonialist” for keeping “60,000, yes SIXTY THOUSAND, Rwandans holed up in a couple of crowded and smelly prisons on charges of murder and genocide. In a country where there are probably a score or a few lawyers to
Justifying the genocide, he wrote, “Buyoya of Burundi, Kigame of Rwanda and other Tutsis in uniform are doing what their
brothers in other parts of Africa are doing. They, a minority, want to dominate the majority. They forget, because of temporary power, that sooner or later, an oppressed people throw off yoke. Tutsis and their brothers in other parts of Africa seem incapable of learning the wisdom which white Afrikaners learnt very well in the last ten years; that if a minority does not quickly reach an accommodation with the majority the days of the minority will not only be numbered, they
may soon become nights and that quickly.”
The fact that the Tutsis were not in power when 800,000 of them were massacred in April, 1994 and, therefore, did not
constitute a ruling minority in any sense of the term, was disregarded by this Senior Advocate of Nigeria, in his determination to prepare the minds of Nigerians for a repeat of the Rwandan tragedy in Nigeria.
Like in Rwanda, where Tutsi were identified as the target group and blamed for all the ills of the society, Chief Bola Ige insistently identified the Fulani as evil oppressors and parasites and,
therefore, as the target group for genocide in Nigeria. Writing in his regular column on page 2 of
Sunday Tribune of 16 February, 1997, on the composition of the membership of the Vision 2010 Committee Chief Bola Ige again repeated his characterisation of the Fulani as the “Tutsis of Nigeria” and blamed all the ills of the country on them. Chief Bola Ige wrote:
“Since 1960, has our bane not been that the “Tutsis” of Nigeria (who are minority of minorities - in population, in education, in management skills, in the economy) have held Nigeria at the jugular, scheming political manoeuvres that make them hold on to power at all costs and in all circumstances? The result, of course,
is that all “non Tutsis” of Nigeria are not ready to trust their future to such minority who have never exhibited true Nigeria nationalism…The young people do not trust the authorities, and the way they see Nigeria is vastly different from how the “Tutsis” of Nigeria want Nigeria to be”
Yet in another piece captioned “Whose National Question” which appeared on
page 2 of
Sunday Tribune of 7 September, 1998,
where he discussed the Scottish referendum on autonomy, Chief Bola Ige raised his incitement against the Fulani to a higher level. According to him:
‘when the brothers and children of those who wanted confederation of Nigeria in 1953, now pose as the arch-gospellers of Nigeria’s “indivisible” unity…They do so because they think they are the Tutsis of Nigeria, and imagine that all Nigerians must be ruled by them till
Kingdom come. All sensible and rational people all over the world acknowledge that there are certain axioms about how people should live. If a country is multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious, its constitution MUST be federal…At the risk of being misunderstood, it seems to me that the reason the Tutsis of Nigeria cannot understand these simple axioms is that first, they are an immigrants uprooted group scattered all over Nigeria without any defined geographical
boundaries; secondly their culture has been lost to a “religious” culture so-called which unfortunately does not enable them to appreciate the culture of other people, not even the Habe–Hausa culture, thirdly they are insignificant in numbers they have to attach themselves to others and appear as part and parcel of those they parasite on; and finally, they have had the fortune of military rule in Nigeria for almost thirty years and have succeeded in manipulating the
military for their own purposes”
There is certainly no difference between Bola Ige’s characterisation of the Fulani in the quotation above and the
definition of the Tutsis by the genocidal regime in Rwanda. Even Hitler could not do better. For Hitler, the Jews were vermin, dirty, blood-sucking, insects to be exterminated. Calling humans insects, or parasites helps to prepare the minds of those who are being mobilised to carry out genocide, to do so without any iota of guilt. After all, are bugs not supposed to be destroyed? Target
groups are denied their humanity in order to make it easier to brutally and cold-bloodedly exterminate them.
Bola Ige and Islam
One would have expected Chief Bola Ige to respect the religion of Islam, which recognises Christianity as a religion, and respects Christians as People of the Book, with whom peaceful and harmonious relations should be sought by Muslims. In addition, as a self-appointed champion of the Yoruba people, one would have expected him
not to dismiss Islamic culture as “so-called” and to recognise the fact that a majority of the Yoruba, including some of the leading lawyers, educationists, jurists, chiefs, politicians, journalists, police officers, military top brass, businessmen and women, labour leaders, professionals and academics, are and have been Muslims.
Has Chief Bola forgotten that the late Alhaji Adegbenro, who ably led the Action Group when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was in prison, was a Muslim? Was Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu, the father of Ibadan politics, not a Muslim? Is Alhaji Babatunde Jose not a Muslim? Was that eminent jurist and scholar, Justice Taslim Elias not a Muslim? Is
Professor Saburi Biobaku not a Muslim? Was Chief Moshood Abiola, on behalf of whose mandate he claimed he would fight to death, not a Muslim? Is the Alafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi, not a Muslim? Is Oba Sikiru Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebuland not a Muslim? Is Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, his colleague in Afenifere and AD not a Muslim? Is Alhaji Lateef Adegbite, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria, not a
Muslim? Is Alhaji Ahmed Kusamotu not a Muslim? Is Alhaja Latifatu Okunnu not a Muslim? Is Chief Gani Fawehinmi not a Muslim? Is Alhaji Lam Adesina not a Muslim? Is Chief S. L Edu not a Muslim? Is Alhaji Abdul Wahab Folawiyo not a Muslim? Is Alhaji Lateef Jakande not a Muslim? Is Professor Babs Fafunwa not a Muslim? Is Justice Fatai Atanda Williams not a Muslim? Is Chief Kola Animashaun not a Muslim? Is Alhaji Musliu Smith, the Inspector General of Police, not a Muslim? Or
have they ceased to be Yoruba because they are Muslims? Is it only Christians like him who can become Christians and remain Yoruba in culture and identity? Are Yoruba Muslims denied this right? Or, are they being prepared for the slaughter, as the Hutu extremists slaughtered the Hutu liberals, because they opposed their genocide against the Tutsis?
Can one not be a good Yoruba and a good Muslim and a good Nigerian at the same time, like many of the people I have mentioned above? But one is not surprised that Chief Bola Ige has exhibited lack of respect for Islam since it is common behaviour of those who incite genocide to find an excuse for unleashing violence against
members of their own ethnic group who they tag, “the enemies within,” because they are opposed to their ruthless inhumanity.
Chief Bola Ige has already revealed his capacity for the virulent targeting of other Yorubas, who cross his path, when he denounced the Yoruba of Oyo State as “tribal jingoist” and derided their distinct accent of speaking English, for not appointing his wife, Justice Atinuke Ige, the Chief Judge of Oyo State. His attack on
the Oyo Yoruba, in
Sunday Tribune of January 12, 1997 was blunt and unambiguous:
“Four years ago, a lady would have become the Chief Judge of Oyo State. But tribal jingoists and decadent politicians wearing the toga of former judicial office wanted a ‘shon of the shoil’ with tribal marks!”
This is consistent with his paranoiac hatred against the people of Ibadan in particular, since his tenure as the
Governor of Oyo State in 1979-1983. It also reveals how tribalist bigots like him will deal with fellow tribesmen who stand in the way of their greed and ambitions, parapo or no parapo.
Shagamu and Kano
Chief Bola Ige first revealed his full colours as a consistent tribalist demagogue, after his ministerial appointment, when ethnic violence erupted in Shagamu in July, 1999. In the heat of the Shagamu mayhem and the ensuing conflagration in Kano, which claimed over hundred lives, the Afenifere and its political wing, the AD met in Ijebu Igbo on Monday, July 26th to discuss the crisis among other things. Chief Bola Ige and the following 13 others were present at the meeting:
Chief Abraham Adesanya ;
Chief Olu Falae;
Chief Ayo Adebanjo;
Chief Lam Adesina, Governor of Oyo State;
Chief Segun Osoba, Governor of Ogun State;
Chief Akerele Bucknor, Deputy Governor of Lagos State;
Chief Bisi Akande Governor of Osun State;
Chief Ade Adefarati Governor of Ondo State;
Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Governor of Ekiti State;
10. Senator Mojisola
11. Chief Ayo Opadokun;
12. Professor Bolaji
13. Ambassador Dapo
At the end of the meeting the Afenifere
issued a statement, which was read out to the press by the Secretary General of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Opadokun. On the Shagamu and Kano violence, the statement left no one in doubt that it was calculated to further intensify the crisis.
According to the statement:
“…in the case of Shagamu, the meeting considered that the clash occurred as the result of the insensivity, intolerance, disregard for the culture and tradition of their community whereas there
was no justification for the cold blooded murder and massacre of the Yoruba people in Kano State.”
This means that it was justifiable to slaughter Hausa and Fulani in Shagamu but not justifiable to slaughter Yoruba in Kano. This was an attempt to put Nigeria on “the Road to Kigali” as the
Afenifere newspapers and magazines have been threatening since April, 1994.
As a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the least one expected of Chief Bola Ige was to advice to his colleagues to be responsible and statesmanlike.
Instead, they tried to fuel the crisis by encouraging the genocidal moves by the Odu’a People’s Congress against northerners in general and northern businessmen in particular who live and work in Lagos.
The Dangote Case
During the Shagamu and Kano crisis, rumours were generated and spread in Lagos that a Kano businessman, with extensive investment in Lagos, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, had provided the vehicles that
transported the dead and the wounded to Kano. The rumours spread like wild fire when some Lagos-based newspapers carried the story and gave it some “authenticity”. According to a report on page 8 of
TheWeeek of August 16, 1999, Alhaji Aliko was told at a meeting of his group that “word had gone round the whole of the South west as to the alleged role he played in assisting the retaliatory killings in Kano in which about 100 residents of Yoruba ethnic stock lost their lives while thousands of them were rendered homeless”
Sensing the obvious danger the rumours posed to him and his businesses, Alhaji Aliko Dangote made efforts to deny the
allegation. He moved from one house of an AD and Afenifere chieftain to another, to explain. A press conference was organised for him to defend himself and his business group. Part of the defence was published in
Thisday on page 2 of Friday, July 30, 1999. According to the Group “six of its 600 trailers in their haulage division were destroyed in the Shagamu riot, while four of its drivers, all of them Hausas, were killed. In Kano, three of the trailers belonging to the Dangote Group were also destroyed. The trailers were driven by Yorubas; one of who was killed and the other wounded. The group said at no time did it use its trailers to
evacuate victims corpses of the Shagamu riot to Kano”
The same paper reported that the mother of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Hajiya Dantata “has so far spent N150, 000 for treatment
of riot victims” What’s more as argued by Alhaji Aliko, “our trucks that normally carry goods to all parts of Nigeria are not allowed to carry passengers at all” and that “It is illogical for me as an investor to with a great percentage of my investment in the South west to set in notion a chain of events which can only culminate in the ruin and destruction of all that I have laboured to build”.
Alhaji Dangote, in an interview published on page 33 of
TELL of 16th August 1999, went on further to explain why the national scope of his business interests and the key role Yoruba play in these, would not allow him to play such a destructive role. He said:
“…I have business concerns in different parts of Nigeria. My major concern is to ensure peace and harmony in different
parts of the country. I have no intention in engaging in acts that will destroy all I have laboured to build in the past 22 years, now, or in future. I would hate to see these investments go up in flames in an ethnic conflagration. We do not have cause to support this kind of crisis to create problem. We are the ones investing in Nigeria rather than taking money out. We are confident that we are all going to live in peace with each other. If Dangote is tribalised you will not
come here and see that the majority of staff are non-Hausas. In fact majority are Yorubas. The highest decision-makers here are Yorubas”.
While some Yoruba elders, and Alhaji Aliko Dangote thought they had brought things under control, the
Sunday Tribune, came out in its front page with a screaming headline on Sunday 15, August: “Kano Massacre: Bizman gave out guns, rice! – Eyewitness”. Idowu Samuel and Bisi Ademakinwa wrote the story. Quoting an unnamed source:
“A Yoruba man, who has just returned from Kano, the hotbed
of the recent violence (names withheld), has made a startling revelation about the identity of one of the men behind the riot which claimed the lives of about 150 people. The man who was among the several thousands of people who forced to migrate down south after living in the northern town for several years told
Sunday Tribune that he saw the trucks of a prominent Hausa business man loaded with guns and sacks of rice. He said he and many other people sighted the trucks at Bompai area of the town and that they were filled with guns and sacks of rice”.
Although the particular report in the
Sunday Tribune did not mention Alhaji Aliko Dangote, as the businessman in question, it is apparent that the reporters were referring to him. The logical conclusion one can draw from the publication of this story is that it was meant to incite the Yoruba to attack Dangote and other northerners in Lagos. Subsequent actions by Chief Bola Ige clearly show that he was involved in this.
This came out came out clearly in his column, on page 2 of
the Sunday Tribune of the 5th September, 1999. The invitation extended to Alhaji Aliko Dangote to launch a book on Chief Abraham Adesanya, the “leader of the Yoruba” and Chairman of the Afenifere,
provided Chief Bola Ige with this opportunity to viciously incite the Yoruba against Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
In that article, which was entitled “Lest We Forget,” Chief Bola Ige wrote, “you can then imagine how appalled I was when I heard that morning that one Alhaji Aliko Dangote was going to be
the Chief Launcher of the book. My first reaction was: Dangote ke! …Why? It may be asked. The reason is simple. Where were the likes of Aliko Dangote when we were battling against military dictatorship? Least we forget all those who kept silent during brutal military dictatorship were nothing but collaborators. Where was Aliko Dangote and his ilk when Chief M. K. O Abiola was denied the fruits of electoral labour? Were they not
busy importing rice and sugar and distating (sic) the prices to undermine their Yoruba and Igbo rivals?…We must never accept blood money.”
Chief Bola Ige, given the alliances that AD has gone into, his manoeuvring to get cleared by the Senate without screening, and his associates in the government of President Obasanjo, has never
seriously bothered about working with those who worked with Abacha.
If he did, why did he not denounce, and refuse to work, with Dr. Doyin Okupe, who was not only not silent, but played an active role in the self-succession bid of General Sani Abacha. So effective
was he in the campaign in the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP), that he was asked by Major Hamza Al Mustapha, Abacha’s Chief Security Officer, to move over to the Grassroots Democratic
Movement, where Abacha, had a formidable opponent in the person of Alhaji M.D Yusufu. His assignment was to ensure the success of Abacha at the convention. For the job, he was flown to Maiduguri, on a daily basis, in a presidential jet, in the company of Major Mustapha for the duration of the convention, which took place at the El - Kanemi Stadium in Maiduguri, on Sunday, 19th April, 1999. One of Dr. Doyin Okupe’s responsibilities at the convention was to second
the nomination of General Abacha.
In fact, Dr. Okupe had even climbed the dais twice to second the nomination of Abacha, but could not do it because of some circumstances which were well beyond his control. For playing his role in
Maiduguri, Dr. Doyin Okupe was handsomely rewarded with two million naira, paid in cash, in two instalments, by Major Hamza Al Mustapha. But, although Chief Bola Ige knows all this, today Dr. Doyin Okupe is working amicably, and closely, with Chief Bola Ige in President Obasanjo’s team at Abuja, just as he did with Major Mustapha, when Chief Abiola was “denied the fruits of his electoral victory”! Dr Okupe did not only not remain silent on the fate of Abiola, as Chief
Bola Ige said Dangote did, he played an active, and a very lucrative, role to ensure that Abiola’s “electoral victory” was buried by an Abacha “electoral victory.” The issue clearly is, that Alhaji Aliko Dangote as a Fulani, or a Hausa, a northerner, is a target for annihilation, when the time is ripe, and the minds of the militants have to be prepared for that, by labelling him an “Abacha collaborator,” even though he was the Chief Launcher of a book on “the
leader of the Yoruba,” Chief Abraham Adesanya, and he did not do one-hundredth of what Dr. Okupe and other Yoruba politicians did to collaborate with Abacha, whom Chief Bola Ige is now working amicably with.
The Lagos Abattoir Case
But these attacks did not stop with Dangote. Another example is the termination by the AD Lagos Governor, Alhaji Bola Tinubu of the five-year contract of the company, Utility
Services Ltd, in which Alhaji Hamza Grema, a well-established Lagos-based northern businessman has substantial interest. The company was blamed for the congestion at the abattoir. Although, when Governor Tinubu visited the abattoir he was made to understand the congestion was caused by the movement of cattle dealers from Apapa to the present site of the abattoir.
It was agreed to set up a “committee to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the abattoir by the firm and the issue of providing additional slaughter slab.” Instead of sticking by the agreement, amicably arrived at, at the meeting, Governor Tinubu arbitrarily revoked the five-year contract, which had run for only
one year. The Governor was only restrained by the Lagos High Court, and by the threatened strike by the butchers and cattle dealers. The case is still in court because this target is not such an easy target as the meat supply of the mega-city of Lagos was being put at risk, with potentially dangerous consequences to Tinubu’s shaky position as Governor of Lagos..
The Yoruba Economy Agenda
Clearly, the people and the governments of Nigeria can only ignore what Chief Bola Ige and the forces he represents are doing at their peril. These forces are now set to implement a calculated strategy to
destabilise the Nigerian economy by forcing, through tribal blackmail, the executives and legislatures of the governments of the states of south-western Nigeria to pursue an agenda explicitly aimed at disrupting the Nigerian economy. The tenth and eleventh resolutions of the 4th Pan Yoruba Congress, which met on Wednesday, 28th September, 1999, attended by Chief Bola Ige, are that,
“…in order to meet new targets in the development of the Yoruba nation, three councils should be set up immediately, namely, an Odu’a Educational Council, Odu’a Economic Council and an Odu’a Medical Council. These councils will formulate appropriate
strategies in their various specialised areas,”
“…that special study groups on the economy be set up immediately and that these study group within three months arrange an Odu’a Economic Summit which will comprise Yoruba businessmen, intellectuals, politicians and state governments”
This position, taken by senior political leaders, including the Minister of Power and Steel of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clearly aimed at destabilising the Nigerian economy, which has reached such a level of integration that any agenda for fabricating up a Yoruba enclave economy will
only generate counter-agendas which will disrupt the economy. This agenda can only be meant to provoke other counter-agendas, because these states, except Lagos, already have a summit where they meet to manage the common services and investments they inherited from the Western Region.
This provocation can have very disruptive consequences to our already ailing economy. Take for example manufacturing. About 70% of modern industrial manufacturing output of the whole country is from the states of the south-western Nigeria. But almost 80% of the raw materials for these industries come from other parts of Nigeria. In addition, about 70% of the output is for markets in other parts of Nigeria. Moreover,
about 60% of all professionals, executives, and technicians, in the public and in the corporate private sectors, in most of the states of Nigeria, are Yoruba, even if one leaves Yoruba traders and the artisans who number in millions, in every nook and corner of Nigeria.
The disruptive consequences of this ethnocentric economic agenda can already be seen in the violence that accompanied the change of leadership in one of the trade unions of the dock workers, at the Tin Can Island
Port, in Lagos, on Thursday, 7 September, 1999. This violence, which claimed 12 lives was a result of the insistence of the Odu’a People’s Congress, the armed wing of Afenifere, that only Yorubas should be employed in Lagos ports, because they are located in “Yoruba nation;” and they should also lead the trade unions there. The far-reaching implications of such an agenda for the national economy even at the level of dock
labour alone is immense.
The recent spate of killings and mayhem unleashed at Ajegunle, on Tuesday, 2nd November, 1999, by the armed militants of the Odu’a People’s Congress, which almost engulfed the whole of Lagos metropolis, is also a manifestation of this agenda, pursued by Chief Bola Ige
and his associates. They do not seem to care a hoot if the economy of Lagos is destroyed, by forcing people to flee the city or to live in tribal ghettos as long as they remain in control.
What is also significant about this agenda to create a Yoruba enclave in the Nigerian economy is, that Yorubas own more than half of all private hospitals and private schools, in
the northern states. Their land-holdings in Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Makurdi, Minna, Sokoto, for example, are massive and long-standing. This is not to talk of their extensive and massive shareholding in all sectors of corporate business activity across Nigeria and beyond. By promoting this Yoruba enclave economy agenda, Chief Bola Ige and others, are deliberately generating suspicion and distrust, which will only disrupt the flow of labour, skills, goods,
services and investment in our national economy, when we need this flow very badly in order to revive and develop the economy.
How can any well-meaning group of political leaders behave as if the states of the southwest are in a position to implement a Yoruba agenda and not expect other groups to also implement such disruptive, exclusivist, agendas to the
detriment of our very poor economy? How can Chief Bola Ige who has sworn an oath, as a Minister, to serve all the people of Nigeria, justify his active involvement in the attempt to disrupt and balkanise the Nigerian national economy in the name of a nebulous “Yoruba nation,” largely created by Egbe Omo Oduduwa propaganda since 1946.
National Security Implications
The actions and utterances of Chief Bola Ige and his associates clearly have grave national security implications, particularly in the light of our knowledge of the experience of how the Rwandan genocide was planned, triggered and
implemented, which Chief Bola Ige and his media acolytes, have looked up to as a way of dealing with those they regard as obstacles to the fulfilment of their ambitions in Nigeria. In that country, the Hutu extremists, who planned the genocide against the Tutsis assassinated a Hutu president, President Habyarimana, by using a missile to blow-up his plane in the air, as it came to land at Kigali airport on 6th April, 1994. He had gone to Dar – es – Salaam on
that day over the peace talks with the Rwandan Patriotic Front and was returning with what was a softening of the hard-line position the extremists had insisted on. Since the plan for genocide of the Tutsis was already complete and President Habyarimana was no longer useful as President and was more useful as a Hutu martyr, they decided to kill him and trigger the genocide.
According to Gerard Prunier, the President was blown-up over Kigali at about 8.30 p.m. on 6th April 1994. By 9.15 p.m. that night, the Hutu
Interhamwe, had roadblocks all over Kigali and other parts of the country and had started searching for and herding for slaughter, all the Tutsis and liberal Hutus they had already targeted. The next day, the horrendous killings began, and when they stopped, 800,000 Tustsi had been annihilated out of the 930,000 Tutsis in the whole of Rwanda as at 6th April, 1994!
The grave national security implications of this to Nigeria today is that Chief Bola Ige may be the spearhead of a plan to repeat the Kigali scenario, particularly as the Afenifere press, particularly
The Punch and
The News have, since the 1994 Rwandan genocide threatened Nigerians with the slogan: “The Road to Kigali.”
This is not speculative. It is based on a solid circumstantial evidence. For, as reported on page 6 of
Sunday Tribune of 25th July, 1999 a leading member of Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi, has threatened that:
“Nothing must happen to him (Obasanjo) otherwise that would be the end of Nigeria.”
This threat has been repeated by one of the leaders of Afenifere’s armed militia, the Odu’a People’s Congress, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, as reported on page 20 of
Tell of 5th July, 1999. All of this, is of course, to prepare the minds of the armed militants and the Yoruba, and the Nigerian public, generally, that, if President Obasanjo drops dead today, even from the most natural causes and is succeeded by a Fulani, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Fulani in particular, and northerners in general, are to be held responsible for what happened, and be annihilated.
If, however, as is likely, President Obasanjo builds on his record of patriotic service to Nigeria and devotion to the cause of Pan-Africanism, and refuses to allow room for any ethnocentric agendas, then he will
be more useful to Chief Bola Ige and his associates dead, as a Yoruba martyr. And they may take us on “The Road to Kigali” and do to him what the Hutu extremists did to President Habyarimana on 6th of April, 1994.
The reasons why they are likely to try to violently eliminate Obasanjo and blame the Fulani, and/or northerners, are simple and straightforward. It is not only because they would never forgive Obasanjo for being
a patriot and accepting the verdict of the 1979 presidential election and for his subsequent insistence on the unity of Nigeria. It is because, the type of parochial, retrogressive, politics which Chief Bola Ige and his associates survive, on and which they generate, is being rapidly bypassed by the far-reaching demographic, social, economic, political, cultural, and even linguistic, changes which are transforming Nigerian society, unless something is done to stop and reverse
these changes, as the annulment of June 12th partially succeeded in doing.
The fact that Alhaji Shehu Musa Yar-Adua was preferred, in 1991, by the Social Democratic Party, Lagos, voters, instead of Alhaji Lateef Jakande, who was once the UPN Governor of Lagos State, shook the foundation of their type of parochial politics,
which Nigeria is quickly leaving behind. The fact, for example, that in 1991, Alhaji Yahaya Abdulkarim, was elected the Governor of Sokoto State, on the platform of the National Republican Convention, although both his parents were Yorubas, long settled in Sokoto, and he served as Governor of the “capital of the calipahate” without anybody bothering about his origin, is the type of development taking place all over
Nigeria which frightens the hard core Yoruba chauvinists leading Afenifere, like Chief Bola Ige. The fact that, on June 12th 1993, the people of Dawakin Tofa local government area, where Alhaji Bashir Tofa came from, and the people of Gandun Albasa ward in Kano City where he lived most of his life, voted, overwhelmingly, to reject him at the polls in favour of Chief Moshood Abiola., frightened the likes of Chief Bola Ige. It
shows that the Nigerian electorate is freeing itself from the politics of ethnic bigotry which the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, through the Action Group, and the Unity Party of Nigeria, had imposed on it, and is going back to the original tradition of nationalist politics which saw the NCNC led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe defeating the Action Group in the first democratic election. in Western Nigeria.
If President Obasanjo succeeds, in what he has committed himself to, at his inauguration, he would be actually digging the grave of Afenifere. After all, it was the annulment of the June 12th elections, which they had denounced, and the incarceration of Chief Abiola,
who they had denounced and abused for decades, which saved them from complete political extinction. One of Abiola’s unforgivable sins in their eyes was that, he made it clear that, he belonged to the NCNC in his youth and never had any time for the parochial politics of the Action Group. Clearly, this was one of the reasons why he was able to build an effective national network for his campaign, within and beyond the Social Democratic Party.
Therefore, the stake for Chief Bola Ige, and his associates are very high. This is at the heart of the grave national security implications of the utterances and actions of Chief Bola Ige and his associates. We can only ignore these
implications at our own peril. By the time everything is in place, and Obasanjo suffers Habyarimana’s fate in the hands of Afenifere extremists, it may be too late to reverse our journey on “The Road to Kigali.”
That Nigeria will continue to be faced with forces, internal and external, aimed at destabilising it, is not surprising. No country in the world is free from the threats of such forces. It is up to
the governments and the organised citizens of each country to stand up to these forces and overcome them. There is no need to moan and cry about the fact that there are forces determined to see that the current effort to build democracy in Nigeria and revive the economy fails. Some of them hope that this will enable them to establish their own ethnic, or, religious, republics, or, sovereign micro oil-chiefdoms. Some of them just want to continue to make money from this
chronic instability, as they have done over the last fifteen years.
But the people and the governments of Nigeria, should not beat-about-the-bush when looking for these forces, in order to overcome them. Some of them clearly stand out and play key roles in the affairs of the country at the highest official level. Among these, the case of Chief Bola Ige and his associates in Afenifere has been addressed in this paper. It
has been shown that from their consistent utterances and from their actions, with regards to genocide and inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in Nigeria, they pose a serious threat to the stability of the country, both economically and politically.
If the Senate had carried out its responsibility of screening the ministerial nominees of President Obasanjo properly, the documented evidence that, Chief Bola Ige, not only endorsed the massacre of
800, 000 Tutsis in Rwanda in April, 1994, but has labelled the Fulani as the “Tutsi of Nigeria,” and incited genocidal attacks against them; in addition to sympathising with the arrested members of the Hutu militia which carried out that horrendous blood shedding in the heart of Africa, would have come to light. His hatred and contempt for Islam, a universal religion which even the majority of the Yoruba people belong to, would have also been brought out. Chief Bola Ige
would clearly have been disqualified by this evidence, and found as someone not fit to hold the office of a Minister of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
As it is, Chief Bola Ige was not screened. His nomination was approved, like almost all the ministers, without any investigation of his records as to his fitness for the office. He went ahead and
swore the oath of office as minister, as provided for by the 7th schedule of the Constitution, solemnly committing himself to:
“…be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria…that as minister I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability…and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…I will do right to all manner of people
according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will…”
Since swearing that oath and taking office in the strategic Ministry of Power and Steel, Chief Bola Ige has continued to, individually, and with his associates, violate the letter and spirit of this oath and has contrived to incite genocidal attacks against Fulani, in particular, and northerners in general, and has never expressed any remorse or regret for
his support for the April, 1994, genocide in Rwanda. The organisation he belongs to, has formally committed itself to, an agenda intended to attempt to create a Yoruba enclave within the Nigerian economy, an agenda, which will inevitably generate other such ethnocentric counter-agendas, which will seriously disrupt and dislocate the national economy, at all levels.
President Obasanjo has to shoulder the responsibilities placed on him by the people of Nigeria and stand up to all the forces trying to destabilise this country, including the forces represented by
one of his senior cabinet ministers, Chief Bola Ige. He has to obtain the full records of Chief Bola Ige’s utterances and actions on inter-ethnic relations in Nigeria, and on the tragic conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi, particularly on the genocide of April, 1994 and the treatment of the Hutu genocidaires by the Rwandan Government. This aspect of Chief Bola Ige’s politics has to be fully covered, not only for grave domestic
reasons, but also for the sake of our standing and role in Africa and in the world.
After obtaining full information, President Obasanjo should request Chief Bola Ige to retract from these positions at a formal meeting of the Federal Executive Council. If he refuses and still
stands by his support for genocide and threats of it against communities of Nigerian citizens, he should be removed from office. The Nigerian Police and the Interpol, and other agencies enforcing the international laws of crime against humanity, should be left to investigate his case and take the necessary measures, as they are doing with others in Rwanda, Burundi, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and East Timor. There are tribunals for those who break these laws in the Hague, and in Arusha.
If President Obasanjo refuses to do his duty to overcome these forces of destabilisation, including those represented in his government, at the highest
level, by Chief Bola Ige, the Senate should investigate the matter and pass appropriate resolution over his tenure as a Minister, leaving international law to take its course.
The people of Nigeria, from all our ethnic groups, regions and religions should become much more alert and stand together and begin to expose and reject all the forces of destabilisation, which wants to destroy our nascent democracy and disrupt our already battered economy and shaky livelihoods. They should see through the utterances and actions of racist
and tribalist bigots like Chief Bola Ige, and the other leaders of Afenifere, and be more active in promoting and defending inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony and co-operation in this country of ours, which has so much for all of us, and which our sisters and brothers in Africa and the diaspora place so much hope on.
Our level of integration has already gone so far, that we either stand together or sink together, dragging most of the rest of Africa down with us. The bitter experience we have gone through in the past and survived, indicate that we shall stand together, but to do this we have to set all sentiments and protocol aside and be honest and frank about the role
of people like Chief Bola Ige and his associates in the destabilisation of our country.
1 African Rights,
Rwanda: Deaths and Despair and Defiance, African Rights, London, August, 1995
2 African Rights,
Rwanda, Not So Innocent, When Women Become
Killers, African Rights, London, August 1995
3 Destexhe, Alain
, Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century, Pluto Press, London, 1995
4 Prunier, Gerard,
The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide,
C.Hurst & Co, London, 1995.
New Nigerian, 5th August, 1999.
Sunday Tribune 1st December 1997, 16th September 1997, 12th January 1997, 15th August 1999.
ThisDay, 30th July 1999.
Tell, 5th July, 1999
TheWeek, 16th August, 1999
Abubakar Siddique Mohammed
Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training,
1077, Hanwa, Zaria, Nigeria