*Why they are fighting to claim Abuja

The child keeps boasting that the fowl belongs to him. He will soon know on the day the animal is killed, who truly owns the fowl by the way the meat is shared” – Agbor wisecrack

The Muslim norths political ambition has been constant and not changed since after the counter coup of July 29 1966. It is to take every Nigerian public institution and move them to their homeland which they call northern Nigeria. So it is that the federal capital and all the institutions of state that goes with it have surreptitiously been moved to Kaduna, Zaria and Abuja. All military institutions and security installations are located in Kaduna, Zaria, Bauchi and Minna, none in southern Nigeria.

The plot to own all valuable institutions and therefore Nigeria itself goes with the sinister insistence on religious dominance, equating the name “north” to mean Muslim and Fulani. North is only a geographic locational description which as used in the Nigerian elite context does not describe Gwari, Kataf, Mumuye, Tiv, Berom, Igalla or Nupe in their peculiar non-Muslim cultures. All are subsumed in the word “north” which means Muslim and Fulani.

This is the notional foundation of the threats from the Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum, Senator Ali Ndume and many other northern groups to Bola Tinubu of “political consequences” for moving the Banking Supervision Department of the Central Bank and the Airport Management Authority back to Lagos.

The plot to move the federal capital to the north was started by Murtala Mohammed, that bigoted soldier and mass murderer of Asaba, who so hated Christianity that he was to organize his first coup in 1968, just because Yakubu Gowon as head of state wedded at the Cathedral Church of Christ in Marina, Lagos.

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The Akinola Aguda Committee did well to recommend the movement of the capital to the present site, Abuja, not minding the fact that the movement would deprive his own people the Yoruba, from enjoying the economic benefits accruing from hosting the federal capital.

The altruism of Justice Akinola Aguda and members of his committee did not fade with the violent death of Murtala Mohammed on February 13 1976. General Olusegun Obasanjo plodded on with the idea of a new federal capital until the announcement of Abuja as the chosen territory.

It was evident that the unselfish adoption of Abuja by Obasanjo and Aguda was interpreted by the Fulani oligarchy as a strategic victory in the long term plan to seize and own Nigeria.

But Abuja is not northern Nigeria by any means described. Abuja is equidistant between north and south, East and West of Nigeria. Abuja was the land of the Gbagyi, Gwari before it was purchased by the federal government and compensation paid for every resource contained in it. The money for the federal purchase of Abuja came entirely from the Niger Delta, the South-South region of Nigeria. Not a naira came from the “north” or Fulani.

The Gwari are neither Muslim nor Fulani. And Gwari no longer own Abuja because it has been purchased and compensation paid by the federal government of Nigeria. Gwari will not eat it’s cake and still have it. Northern Muslims continue to cling to this notion of ownership even when they are not Gwari nor are they investing in the city or advancing any dominant and beneficial social or economic agenda for Abuja.

While the UAE continue to advance and invite everyone in the world to come and invest and own a piece of their territory to the point that the entire emirate system has become the world centre for melding cultures, the Northern Muslim headed by the Fulani keep making claims on what they do not own or control. It will be interesting to know the value of private Fulani investments in Abuja in comparison to other ethnicities. How can you claim to own a city where you don’t historically own the land or the present investments?

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The Northern Muslim likes to believe he owns Abuja and therefore Nigeria, but a cursory study of the capital territory confirms that the Muslim north owns little or nothing in it. The Northern Muslim elite has always seen Nigeria as a gravy tray from which to eat and fart without thinking or working to add values or advance the national cause. The Fulani sense of entitlement to the benefits of the Nigerian state without taking corresponding responsibility for the challenges it faces has annoyed other compatriots to no end and created obstacles to mutuality and an abiding sense of nationhood and unity.

Abuja is not a northern city. It is the chosen capital of the federal republic of Nigeria. It is neither north nor south, East nor West and every public institution and property of state in it belongs to the federal Republic of Nigeria.

It will be stupid for anyone to believe that if for any reason Nigeria breaks up that the South, particularly the South-South will leave Abuja for the north to inherit. It is also utterly doltish for the north to be comforted in the belief that the criminal bandits menacing their territory can form the spearhead of a viable army that can seize and hold Abuja for a so-called northern Nigeria.

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The reality of the security situation in northern Nigeria is that the security and protection of the territory depends almost entirely on the will and capacity of the people of the middle belt who fought the war to unite Nigeria and still have the capacity for an organized armed force. For all intents and purposes, Sahel North is territory lost to dissonance and mayhem and if the security of the Sahel region is left to its own indigenes, it will turn worse than Somalia. Other Nigerian ethnic soldiers have been dying in their thousands just to sustain a semblance of order in the Sahel.

Nigeria and the institutions of state have to be decentralized to achieve a long denied economic growth. The mind of the northern Muslim also has to be disabused of the vaunting sense of ownership of Nigeria and made to work with all others for it’s true progress. Bola Tinubu has to be fair, equitable in the restructuring of Nigeria. He should begin by moving NNPC to Port Harcourt or Warri or the capital of any of the oil producing states in the deep south. He must not be seen to be favouring only the Yoruba or his own Lagos state.

The Fulani quest (in the name of the north) for control of the entire federal structure has resulted in the choking of federal institutions and systems in Abuja and furthered the asphyxiation of the Nigerian economy. It has also placed all federal economic investments in the wrong places resulting in so much activity but no economic progress. Nigeria has to be unbundled. Let CBN and FAAN be the beginning.

©Basil Okoh