According to history, or some version of it, independence came too early for northern Nigeria.
While yan kudu, or southern leaders were trying to hurry the brutish to pack up and go, northern leaders made no bones about not being ready to embrace that thing called independence. We reluctantly went to Lancaster House determined not to push the envelope of freedom.
Had the sun not been setting on the British Empire, Lugard’s girlfriend would have had trouble finding a poetic baptismal name for a nation with its geographical head severed. As often happen at sunset after a tedious battle, even stubborn masters discharge their lawful captives. Thus, Lugard’s mistress sprinkled the water of baptism over an amalgamation of the ready and the unconvinced.
When I hear from the north that it refused to join the #EndSARS protests because it could see through its political undertones, I could understand what they say about the apple and its tree. We, the north are true children of our political fathers. For the past two weeks, we have shown that we were not ready and there’s no need to be ashamed, Arewa and the rest of the country are not frying the same kurungu (fish).
In spite of our skepticism in the 50s, with Allah’s help, our leaders became the first custodians of the new Nigeria. With only a few school blocks to our region compared to the south, we have dominated Nigerian politics for most of its flag independence and by Allah’s grace, our son; Muhammadu Buhari too has made history – leader twice, failed once – make your choice.
It’s been six decades, and thanks to the federal character principle, the north has benefitted from a lot of things that yan kudu have had to kill each other for. Down there, you had to be extra-brilliant to make it beyond elementary school. Up here, attendance is enough and if your parents matriculate you into almajirci, you get fed for showing up at school.
Down there when brains were no longer enough, people began to ‘fix it’ with magic centres to meet their education cravings. Any such centre up here would fail, because Boko is not a requirement for success in life, or in politics.
Therefore, when yan kudu shut down their slice of the country with #EndSARS hashtag, creative and loyal northern youths counter with supportive hashtags for the regime.
The excuses were as valid as those of our leaders at Lancaster House. Northern youths have had no problem with SARS. Dele Udo was not a northerner when he was gunned down in Lagos in 1981 for arguing with an overzealous policeman.
A southern victim testified that when a patrol blocked him at a checkpoint, he was set free on linguistic preeminence – he spoke fluent Hausa. That linguistic superiority might not earn you admission in Ife or Port Harcourt, but it could buy you uhuru at a checkpoint.
It is true, that 90 percent of the horror stories that stoked the #EndSARS protest were southern stories. The north, our north is home of peace. Here, when people die, we don’t freeze them, we don’t do autopsy, we don’t agitate; we bury them because agitation has never revived a dead body. It’s a lesson we should teach southerners.
Our comfort with and unwillingness to kick against the goads may sometimes be regressive amnesia. The SARS that wastes them in the south is friendly in the north. Northern youths monitor social media for a different reason – the race to make eternity! Ever seen a sibling or friend breaking the moral code, shame them into repentance, be the social media vigilante or hisbah, expose the traits of the unbelievers.
Ribadu’s daughter had to apologise for her ribald dressing on her wedding day. Ganduje’s daughter too for lewd wedding shots. We don’t do south!
Southern social-media agitators do not make hashtags about killings in southern Kaduna or the kidnappings in Sokoto or the sacking of entire villages and towns in Zamfara because we constantly tell them to mind their business. Our son is commander-in-chief.
Hashtags don’t trend where there are no retweets; retweets don’t happen without a sizeable following. We the north would respond to a hashtag praising the Hisbah’s destruction of cartons of beer. We don’t take kindly to our behinds being exposed by others.
Our youths hate haram as they hate sweet, sweet codeine. Dadiyata is lost; Yahaya Sharif-Aminu’s sentence went faster than the accusations against Ganduje. Jangedi has Yeriman Bakura to thank as a candidate for paradise.
Sometimes, outsiders might see Nigeria like two or three Ankole-Watusi bulls struggling to drink from one pot at the same time. Boko Haram has ravaged the north for nearly two decades. We the north do not count casualties – it saves the dead from indignity, the maimed from ridicule and the displaced from feeling the pinch of dislocation. It pays not to pay attention.
We the north are immune to the syndromes that afflict yan kudu. The officer who killed the #ApoSix is a-waiting IG. The one who tortured Hassan Alfa to death got a double promotion. It was not SARS that murdered Mohammed Yusuf and spurned his followers into an orgy of mindless violence. When the Shia was mauled, we excused those that did it. It wasn’t a northern hashtag that placed Nigeria on the global terrorism map or on the list of Trump’s shithole nations.
We, the north are happy to see a loathed foe taken care of. If a suspect’s final end were likely to be a miserable life-jail or death by hanging, what difference would it make if they were summarily executed? To the policeman that wasted Yusuf, the execution was perhaps better than time and money wasted speaking dogon turanci in court or a long trial that incites endless Friday processions by his followers.
Indeed elders from Yusuf’s clan demanded that the onslaught against his murderous gang be stopped. They promised to reform Boko Haram with talks. They dreaded how a military defeat might create an uneasy precedent in which sectarian leaders are eliminated SARS-style. Some of those tiger-riding leaders have become casualties. Those who survived are trading on the graves of the dead. Our politicians win awards for helping the displaced, not for hashtags to end the insurgency.
It was great seeing the pyrrhic calm in the north as southerners protested. Hussain Coomassie, an ambassador and obviously a northern elder asked Buhari to roll in the tanks. Our sheikhs warn of a mob overthrow of our son. They know that agitation would open the eye of the masses. An enlightened almajiri is a danger to an unconscionable politician.
September 2003 was the last time a northern leader featured in a prominent protest. General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) led that protest with his late vice-presidential candidate, Chuba Okadigbo. They were both teargassed. Today, Buhari is C-in-C and Coomassie wants the army marched in to quell youth protests because, in the eye of the north, everything is honky-dory.
Doubtful that there are issues affecting the north to pinch our anger button. If we find something bad worthy of our protests, that evil must surely fall – ask Goodluck Jonathan. He had to reverse economic policies to pacify northern anger. Our son has done it four times over with no qualms.
Not much has touched our anger button in the last five years – not Boko Haram, not endemic poverty, not gross underdevelopment or being undermined by the quota system. Ask Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; an Emir deposed by a corrupt government for consistently speaking truth to power – conduct below his status as emir. He could have pined away in a mud hut in Awe. He earned no hashtags – poor south, happy north.