Veteran journalist, columnist and administrator, Chief Adetola Adeniyi
says that restructuring Nigeria is inevitable as it must be achieved
either intellectually or by the use of force.
Chief Adeniyi said in this interview with Business Hallmark’s Teslim
Shitta-Bey and Obinna Ezugwu how the Fulani have over the years used
the military and trickery to bring Nigeria to where it is today, while
also criticising former president Olusegun Obasanjo who he said is the
most anti south leader Nigeria has ever produced.
Nigeria is at a critical point in its existence. The call for
restructuring as a way out is growing. What are your thoughts?
My thoughts remain the same. I recall that in 1983, I called a press
conference in Ibadan, the theme of which was the national question. I
said that unless the Nigerian national question was addressed, the
(Shehu) Shagari government should not go ahead to conduct the election
for second term. And that if it did, the government would not last for
three months. I noted that the country was sitting on a keg of gun
powder, and the political structure was skewed in favour of the North
as it was then because there is no more North now.
I was arrested and detained, and of course they went ahead to have the
election. But the government collapsed in three months by December 31.
For many years, even when I was regional editor of the Daily Times, I
have always felt that (Lord) Lugard was a devil; that bastard born in
India had mischievous agenda for India, Nigeria and Sudan, those three
countries where he featured as a soldier, as a mercenary, an
administrator and as a trader. It was the Royal Niger Company that
really brought him to Nigeria. The British actually didn’t want any of
their colonies to be independent or to ever be able to govern
What they wanted to do, which France did to a large extent, was to
make their colonies caricatures of Britain or France, so you will
neither be African nor English. With that devilish plan, Lugard and
most Britons of his era believed that pink pigmentation of the skin
was superior to dark pigmentation. That was why they gave government
in the Sudan to the Arab North and suppressed the South of Sudan which
forced them into war for several years. In India, they encouraged the
caste system for a long time and preferred the lighter skinned
Pakistanis and Bangladesh to the darker skinned middle and Southern
In applying the same thing here, they found out that the Fulani, who
at that time, had not really intermarried as they have done now, so
you had about half a million of them who were “fair” skinned. And they
also found the Southerners to be more progressive, more aggressive and
better exposed than the then colony of the Fulani. Before then, even
before Lugard was born, the Fulani led by Uthman Danfodio…one of the
lies sold to most of us in Nigeria was that Uthman Danfodio came from
Fouta Djallon, hat is not true. He was born in Sokoto and buried in
Sokoto, I visited his grave. What I’m saying is that the so called
North had been conquered when the Fulani killed the king of the Hausas
and took over.
But they are so clever politically; they didn’t take away the language
of the Hausa because it would be difficult for them as a minority to
impose their Language on the larger community, so they allowed the
Hausa to retain their language while they also retained their fulfude.
So Lugard allowed them to continue, he used what is now called
indirect rule. But for the North at that time to survive
economically, it needed the South which was already exporting timber,
coal, cocoa and so many other things, and had an existing port; the
South was very wealthy, and given that kind of background, they wanted
to make sure, especially when they established the West African
Constabulary – the Frontier force – they ensured that the bulk of the
recruits were from the North because he also foresaw as Ahmadu Bello
later did, the dictum of Chairman Mao that power flows from the barrel
of the gun.
They recognised at that point in time that they must get soldiers from
the North, equip them such that if they failed politically, they will
use their military wing to impose whatever they wanted on the rest of
the country. Lugard violated the natural boundaries of North and
South, the River Niger was there; the River Benue was there, so the
boundary ought to have stopped before Niger and Benue which was what
it was before the amalgamation. But by amalgamation and the
unfortunate incident of Afonja betraying the Alaafin during the Awole
reign, Alimi betrayed Afonja and had conquered Ilorin. In fact, they
wanted to push the boundary to Oshogbo, but for the Ijesha army that
drove them back. At the time they were driven back in 1888 or
thereabout, the British were already in Nigeria; Lugard was already
here. So they prevented the South, the Yoruba from pushing the Fulani
The British eventually ended up giving them such a large expanse of
land, and false population figures; the political arrangement was so
designed that whether it was parliamentary or presidential system, the
so called North must have majority in government. Then they went ahead
in 1952 to give them terrible false figures in census to ensure also
that if they base everything on population, they will say the so
called North had more population. They also went ahead to falsify
figures about even religion, giving the impression that the North was
Muslim, that it had larger Muslim population, but it’s not true. I was
a commissioner in National Population Commission in 1988 to 89, and I
know that apart from Bida and Kano, there is hardly any town in the
whole of the so called North that can boast of large population.
So, they had the military, they had false population figures, they had
false landmass; everything was tailor-made to ensure that the so
called North will continue to rule Nigeria.
Therefore, they didn’t allow either Zik or Awolowo to rule, and
unfortunately, Zik was more pliable – he was a great man, but he was
not a deep thinker. So you had only Awolowo standing against all the
devilish designs of the British. But some people may ask why we
tolerated this for over 100 years. It wasn’t for lack of effort,
people tried, but as Zik said to all of us, you don’t argue with a man
carrying the gun. It has been very difficult to free ourselves through
civil means, and this had prompted the riots in Benue, it prompted
Adaka Boro and all the militants that have tried at one time or the
other. And (Emeka) Ojukwu tried, he really tried with his secessionist
bid to free the Igbo and the rest of the country from this very
manipulative and very power hungry Fulani.
Remember that earlier on I said my own word is not restructuring, you
can only restructure a structure, but to me there was never a
structure. There was no structure, you had over 250 nationalities and
somebody just yoked them together, they didn’t create any structure..
So, what we should be doing is actually to go back to pre 1914.
Leaders of this place called Nigeria, must come together and discuss
the terms of coming together as a country. That hasn’t been done. We
Nigerian people… if there is anybody that can be so called because
there are no Nigerian people. We the people living in this expanse of
land were not involved in what they did with the expanse of land.
There is no structure given to that land, it is a landmass with
several nationalities, what we should do is to go to pre 1914 as
Solomon Asemota, one of the greatest thinkers on these issues said.
But if that cannot be done, we can at least go back to 1952/54, that
is, going back to the regions using language, culture and all that to
negotiate how to live together. Also, to ensure that the landmass
itself has to be redefined in a way that natural boundaries are agreed
upon. You cannot be taking about Western region, and leave the Jembe
and so on in Kogi or you have emirs in Yoruba land or emirs in Zango
Kataf or in Kafanchan, which are Christian lands.
If there is a correct census in this country, I can say that Western
Nigeria has more Muslims than any other part of this country. You have
had Islam here in Lagos since the 11th Century, and in other places
like Iwo, Oyo, Ijebu and so on. That’s why they called it ‘Esimali’
because it came from Mali. We had Muslims before Uthman Danfodio was
born, but they (Fulani) have done so much that not only have they
conquered the most vociferous and most enlightened part of Nigeria
politically and militarily, they have also enslaved us religiously by
calling somebody head of supreme council of Islamic affairs. What is
supreme council of Islamic affairs? Somebody that had never been voted
for! He has only been a Sultan, then using a puppet like late Dr
Lateef Adegbite, and now using another puppet called Ishaq Akintola
who is now the secretary of the so called Islamic affairs; there is
nothing like Islamic affairs.
But because of it, the Sultan will dictate to South West when to fast
and when not to fast; when to kill ram and all what not. And they
won’t allow Muslims from the South to lead prayers in the North. They
made it such that the Southern Muslims have submitted themselves to
the superiority of Fulani Muslims. And they have accepted to be second
class even in their religion. That’s why I’m also leading a forum to
free the Yoruba Muslims and ask the Alaafin of Oyo or the Awujale of
Ijebu land to act as the Supreme head of Muslims in the South West. So
that when the Sultan is dictating to the Fulani people, the Awujale or
the Alaafin of Oyo will dictate to us here. The Sultan should never be
arrogated as supreme head of anybody outside his sphere of influence.
You have spoken extensively about how the entire South has been
subjugated by the Fulani, but why is it that the South cannot come
together to stop it?
There was a strong alliance between Awolowo and Joseph Tarka, meaning
that it’s not just between West and East, but also between West and
Middle Belt. And when Awolowo was incarcerated in 1964, (Michael)
Opara came to the West and they formed UPGA which was a marriage of
East and West. Again, at a point, there was betrayal, or rather the
Fulani played a hand. The Fulani like I said, are still the most
sophisticated politicians in Nigeria, there is no doubt about that.
Because the only industry they have is power, and they have always had
British and American advisers, till tomorrow, and we didn’t have that.
Up till today, the South does not believe they need the British or the
Americans to advise them on politics. But the Fulani have always
submitted themselves to British influence and directives.
It is not that they (the South) didn’t try, but we have always had
fifth columnists among the Yoruba and among the Igbo. Once they dangle
some political office in their face, they fall for it. That has been
the bane, but we have all passed that stage. Maybe some governors are
too chicken hearted to talk, maybe some ministers cannot talk, but
they are only negligible minority. We now have a hurricane in the
South, nobody who knows history can stop it. I have argued in some of
my articles that it was the military wing of the Fulani that brought
us into this mess. It was them that followed the part and pattern
decided for them by the British.
When (Alani) Akinrinade, Black Scorpion (Benjamin Adekunle) and Alabi
Isiama, who were the war heroes that I know, but for them and the
Christians in the Military who were mostly Yoruba, there was no way
the so called federal military could have defeated the Igbo. That is
now painful, when you read Jimanze Ego-Alowes’ book, ‘How the Yoruba
won and lost the Biafra War’. We fought; allowed ourselves to be used
by the Fulani to kill the Igbo, but the first thing they did for us
was to create 12 states and weaken the federating units. They gave the
Yoruba just one state, and gave the so called North about six at that
time, and gave the East three because they wanted the minorities
separate from the Igbo. Thus, the Yoruba became the first casualty.
Then the worst came when someone of very doubtful paternity called
Olusegun Obasanjo, who for reasons best known to him has remained the
greatest anti south southerner in this country. It wasn’t Murtala
Muhammed that took Federal government out of Lagos, it was Obasanjo.
It was Obasanjo who imposed presidential system on Nigerians, it was
him who took over all the achievements of the South: the University of
Nigeria, Nsukka; the Obafemi Awolowo University; the television
stations; Liberty Stadium… it wasn’t Murtala Muhammed that
nationalised them, it was this … Obasanjo..
He is a rootless man that believes that he can only “satanically” hang
on to that mirage called Nigeria since he cannot say he is Igbo, even
though we have question marks about his connection with Obi Onyejekwe,
there is a question mark about whether Ashabi his mother was from
Yoruba land or from Nupe, there are question marks on whether the man
his mother married later who was called Obasanjo and who according to
a television broadcast in 2005 in Abeokuta was actually ‘Sango Sonjo’
but who changed his name to Obasanjo when he became a Christian. So
you have all these questions hanging around his name and around his
paternity.. He has done the greatest harm to restructuring Nigeria; to
making Nigeria a truly federal state than any other person in Nigerian
Of course, since they knew who he was, even after (MKO) Abiola was
denied the presidency, the Fulani, using some proxies… because among
those who brought Obasanjo back to power, it was only Aliyu Mohammed
Gusau who is Fulani. Babangida is not Fulani, he is Gwari; Danjuma is
Jukun, but the Fulani used them to choose somebody they know will
always dance to their tune to make him president, they have tested him
before. But before then, the military government of Abacha, which was
itself a creation of the Fulani had gone ahead to divide Nigeria into
36 states and created 774 local governments that had no rhythm nor
rhyme. I know a particular place called Chalawa in a Local government
in Kano; there are not up to twelve houses there. And the only house
there that is plastered, not painted, is a 2-bedroom bungalow.
You call that a local government headquarters, to compare with
Alimosho Local Government, to compare with Ibadan, to compare with
Obafemi Owode. You have local governments dotted all over the North
that cannot boast of ten thousand or even five thousand people in
population. And yet the sharing formula for Nigeria’s resources is
based largely on landmass, which is false; on population, which is
false and on local governments, all of which are fraudulent. So for
peace and stability to return to this landmass, we have to go
confederate, anything short of it is just window dressing; anything
short of that is still going to collapse. Nigeria must be based on a
Let us have six republics: the Caliphate Republic; the Elkanemic
Republic, which is Borno; the Igbo Republic; the Niger Delta Republic;
the Yoruba Republic and the Middle Belt Republic. And those six
republics would then come together and have the confederal republic of
Nigeria on agreed terms. Every republic will have its own
constitution, police and military but to be coordinated by the federal
military for national defence against external enemy. Why should the
federal government have the ministry of education, why should it have
ministry of agriculture or ministry of lands and housing? Federal
government does not own land, you cannot be doing agriculture when you
don’t have any land. The land belongs to state and local governments.
So, once we have that, let every region develop at its own pace.
There is no point in talking about whether or the North wants that to
happen. We cannot be talking about the North when there is no North.
You can’t be killing people in Benue and say they are Northerners;
they are not. I spoke to some professors in Niger State, they told me
that they are more bitter about this so called Nigeria than we Yoruba
are; that they have been the perpetual slaves of the Fulani that they
cannot even talk. They slaughter Benue people almost on daily basis.
The Zango Kataf people in Southern Kaduna are being killed on daily
basis, and you are calling them Northerners? You only have the
caliphate that has overrun the rest of the so called North, but they
never succeeded in overrunning Kanuri, the Borno people.
But of course, for selfish reasons, and for what their stomach will
eat, there are some leaders of Borno, some leaders of Jukun, Benue,
like Paul Unongo, Plateau who they decorate with an empty title of the
chairman of Northern whatever. The person you can say is the leader of
Arewa is (Ibrahim) Coomassie who is a Fulani from Katsina. They
deceived Sunday Awoniyi and made him chairman. Chairman of who? They
deceived Unongo and say he is the head of Arewa, how can Unongo be
chairman of Arewa when they are killing his people every day? I’m
saying therefore, there is no more North and the South must begin to
recognize that fact.
We have been so timid because we have been brainwashed to believe that
there is a superior force somewhere. No, we don’t have any Nigerian
army now, what we have is a Fulani army that may still be exploiting
some people in the military. The kind of military that went to
massacre the Igbo does not exist anymore. I’m still asking whether
there are Igbo among the people from 82 Division who went to harass
people in Abia. I doubt if there were any Igbo or any Yoruba there.
They will selectively call on their Fulani and some stupid Hausa who
have still not seen themselves as slaves to join them.
What about the political conferences like that of 2014. People have
suggested that we take this document and implement what we can.
At that point in time, it probably satisfied some concerns, but now we
have grown beyond that. You cannot be talking about 2014 conference
that recommended that you should create one more state in the South
East, and create more local governments. We have gone beyond that,
state creation is not the business of the federal government, local
government creation is not the business of any federal government. Let
the republics create them. If you want to create one million states in
Yoruba republic, it is your business.
What is obvious from your point is that we cannot move forward without
tinkering with the structure of Nigeria, but still you have a
situation where the Hausa/Fulani…?
There is no Hausa/Fulani, you cannot be Ibibio/Efik, you cannot be
Annang/Ibibio, or Ijebu/Egba. These are the things they use to confuse
us; the use of language for political effect. You have only the
Fulani, about five million of them.
You have this arrangement where the Fulani who like you said are in
control of the military still opposed to restructuring. How do we go
about getting the country you want?
Yes, they control the army, the intelligence service, the SSS,
immigration the police and so on, but it is possible through two
approaches; only two. First is brain, second is brawn.. The Fulani
brought us to where we are today using brawn, and a bit of trickery
and deceit. But it was largely through the military. The creation of
states, killing Biafrans, killing Southerners in the North, local
government creation, presidential system… all those were made possible
by the military. In fact, like I said earlier, it was the military
even though they did well in providing infrastructure that was used by
the Fulani to destroy Nigeria politically.
And I have argued that as unpalatable as it might sound, it is still
the military that can take us out of this mess. It is either organised
military or armed militia that will come from various parts of the
country, this status quo cannot continue. The 36 states cannot pay
salaries, the federal government cannot pay police salaries. They are
owing the military pensioners three months salary areas. So, it’s
either we wait for the oil to dry up or to be unprofitable, which will
happen in the next few years, then everyone will go away. But what we
are saying is, please come now, let us restructure Nigeria. The
caliphate has more to benefit than any other part of this country.
Why do you say that?
They have a lot of resources which laziness and over dependence on
people’s wealth which they have been spoon feeding on has stopped them
from exploring. The caliphate, the North East and Middle Belt are so
rich in agriculture that if you have Middle Belt republic and
Caliphate republic, and Elkanemi republic, they can be exporting
agricultural products: cattle, beef, tomatoes and so on to the rest of
the world. They will make more money from exporting agriculture
produce, but they abandoned all that because they are stealing the
resources of the South. Lagos alone contributes more than 67 percent
of VAT than the rest of the country put together. They say they don’t
drink alcohol… which is a lie, but if you don’t drink alcohol and we
consume it in the South, why are you using our VAT money to develop
So, to answer your question, we will get out of it using our brains
which is what we are doing now, trying to persuade everybody. If that
fails, it would be brawn. But either of the two must yield to us the
country we want. And it is in the interest of everyone to allow brain
to decide for us. If Nigeria breaks into militia as you have in
Somalia, it will not be palatable for anybody. So, let us go the
Czech-Slovakia model. Let’s decide to stay apart peacefully and come
together in a confederation than to wait for militia to emerge from
every part of the country.
The people in Southern Kaduna will not wait indefinitely; people in
Benue will not wait indefinitely. They have been able to conquer
Plateau, but some elements of Plateau are going to wake up and say no,
you cannot put army of occupation in our land. I told some people that
you can say whatever you like about (Nnamdi) Kanu but I believe that
there is no Nigerian today who commands the kind of followership he
commands, so such a person cannot be dismissed. The forces they have
gathered, you can drive them underground, but when they unleash terror
on this country it will not be funny. The military may be the only
organised force, but they don’t have monopoly of violence.