An unpopular opinion on the Atiku saga | Opinion

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Isn’t this the best time ever to be a Nigerian? Literally, I could clap my hands like a market woman and possibly cross my legs in wonder and amazement at the several revelations that have continued to transverse the Nigerian media space from 2018.

Remember when Buhari was labelled Jubril from Sudan? Many people termed it a wild conspiracy by the opposition and laughed at the incredulity and that went past. So also the time Atiku Abubakar was termed Saraki’s aide, and now the most ridiculous claim of the century- that Atiku is not fit to contest election.

When the story of the ex-Vice President made the news, I thought it was one of those loose talks that APC and PDP made to themselves in the media before the elections held. It was quite alarming that this wild allegation was made in court and put forward as an argument by an officer of law with so much gusto. This was the same way the Jubril claim rocked our boats when we heard it. That is why I am doing this analysis. Call it a fact-check, analysis or in-depth feature. Let’s compare personal histories and draw inferences.

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Personal History

Let’s start with the accused. Atiku Abubakar. Atiku’s history has been traced way back to Jada in Adamawa highlands, which was formerly Cameroonian territory till a plebiscite of 1961. Jada used to be in Ganye Local Government Area of Adamawa State. This area was never part of Nigeria legally until the February 1961 plebiscite in which the people of the then Northern Cameroon voted to join Nigeria. This interesting point of history has got to be a flip in the script for many political analysts like myself, fixated with the situation. Going by the constitution which makes provision for citizenship by birth in Section 25, many others have termed Atiku a Nigerian by Referendum and not birth.

Section 25 of the Constitution provides thus: The following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth, namely: (a) every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria; provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria.(b) every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and (c) every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria. (2) In this section, “the date of independence” means the 1st day of October 1960.

In all of these, I have made a startling discovery- call it a hypothesis, a theory or maybe hate speech, as politicians now call journalistic theories alien to their line of thought. Atiku Abubakar is actually Nigerian. In the 19th century and before the Obafemi and Azikiwe’s revolution for self-governance and determination, Nigeria wasn’t yet one as an entity. What we had then was a conglomerate of different territories. Nigeria was known as Colonial Nigeria in the 1900s. The 1914 amalgamation was done to bring the Northern Nigerian Protectorate and the South Nigerian Protectorate together because like the CIA put it- Nigeria was more of an ethnic entity than a Nation, Republic or Country.

“Africa’s most populous country (population estimated at 48 million) is in the throes of a highly complex internal crisis rooted in its artificial origin as a British dependency containing over 250 diverse and often antagonistic tribal groups. The present crisis started” with Nigerian independence in 1960, but the federated parliament hid “serious internal strains. It has been in an acute stage since last January when a military coup d’état destroyed the constitutional regime bequeathed by the British and upset the underlying tribal and regional power relationships. At stake now are the most fundamental questions which can be raised about a country, beginning with whether it will survive as a single viable entity.

The situation is uncertain, with Nigeria, is sliding downhill faster and faster, with less and less chance unity and stability. Unless present army leaders and contending tribal elements soon reach agreement on a new basis for the association and take some effective measures to halt a seriously deteriorating security situation, there will be increasing internal turmoil, possibly including civil war.

(October 1966, CIA Intelligence Memorandum)

I am guessing the Europeans who rewrote our history would be amazed at this new claim directed at Atiku because we have abolished history in our secondary schools and many of us don’t know this tit-bit. Nigeria used to be a colony of the Northern Protectorate which was quite vast. Until it became a dynasty that brought about the Kanem-Bornu Empire before it finally fell to the Sokoto Caliphate in the 1880s. This was way before the scramble and partition for Africa in 1885. The Sokoto Caliphate which was run over by Uthman Dan Fodio- an immigrant by the way, stretched over the present day middle belt up to present day Kebbi. It took the whole north and some part of Lake Chad, Adamawa Emirate, and Atiku’s birthplace in the Northern Cameroon. Adamawa Emirate was more like Colonial Nigeria’s territory because they paid tributes to the Sokoto Caliphate. Down South was the Nri Kingdom, Benin Empire, Lagos and Old Oyo Empire which stretched out to Cotonu and present day Benin.

These were all the entities that came to form Colonial Nigeria. So when the Europeans began the Scramble for the Partition of Africa in 1885, they all shared Africa like a piece of meat according to their preferences for Gold, oil and other precious minerals. Britain chose West Africa and cut the map of Nigeria, leaving a quarter of Cameroons in Nigeria- that was where present day Adamawa was shaped. It was shaped from Northern Cameroon and Adamawa Emirate to Gongola State and finally Adamawa State. It was an easy way in for migrants from Cameroon and other Lake Chad Basin communities, so they cut it and gave the French, Cameroon. The Europeans with assistance of Chief Leopold of Belgium shared Africa for themselves before bringing mass colonisation across our shores. There goes our history lesson for the day and the establishment of the fact that Adamawa before the plebiscite was destined to be Nigeria. The plebiscite was a matter of mere formality.

It was after Africa was divided that the British came to colonise us. They won their battle against the Sokoto Caliphate and liked their method of administration. That was why they choose to deal with them using the system of indirect rule which was quite successful by the way. So when they introduced the amalgamation in the year 1914, it can only be described as a sly move to force us to live together.

Is Buhari Nigerian too?

This is where I have to agree with Fredrick Nwabufo who said we are not Nigerians. Here is a quick look at President Buhari’s history. He was born in 1942, 18 years before independence and 4 years before Atiku Abubakar was born. His place of birth as at 1942 designated by Wikipedia is Daura, Northern Nigeria. This places Daura in the setting of 1942, after it was established by the Bayajidda. Don’t tell me you don’t know the story of Bayajidda. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Daura is a town and Local Government Area in Katsina State, northern Nigeria. It is the spiritual home of the Hausa people. The emirate is referred to as one of the “seven true Hausa states” (Hausa Bakwai) because it was, (along with Biram, Kano, Katsina, Zazzau, Gobir, and Rano), ruled by the descendants of Bayajidda’s sons with Daurama and Magira (his first wife). The University of California’s African American Studies Department refers to Daura, as well as Katsina, as having been “ancient seats of Islamic culture and learning.”

Legend has it that Bayajidda; the one who established the President’s birth place was a migrant from the Sahara. Maybe this informs Nnamdi Kanu’s hypothesis. In fact, many historical analysis places Bayajidda as a prince from Baghdad (the capital of Iraq) and son of King Abdullahi, who was exiled from his home town after Queen Zidam conquered his city. The historical narrative places both the origin of President Buhari and the former Vice President birthplaces out of Nigeria. In fact according to the subsection (a) of Section 25, their ancestral linkage and grandparents (if we are to consider the Bayajidda legend and the Adamawa tit-bit of history) is external to Nigeria. May we then find them – non-Nigerians?

Think hard about it and ponder on this fact deliberately.

Look hard and long at this excerpt and try and interpret it with the fact that President’s Buhari ancestral lineage maybe questionable here:

Section 25 of the Constitution provides thus: The following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth, namely: (a) every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria; provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by virtue of this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria.(b) every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and (c) every person born outside Nigeria either of whose parents is a citizen of Nigeria. (2) In this section, “the date of independence” means the 1st day of October 1960.

The first sub-section says the grandparents must be born in Nigeria. History tells us neither Atiku nor Buhari’s ancestral grandparents originated from Nigeria. The questions we will then ask here is: In the year 1942 was Nigeria a country or republic then? Wasn’t it until 1963 Nigeria was recognised as a republic? What happened to the people born in the 18th Century? Are they not fit to be called Nigerians?

Can we say Buhari’s citizenship should be questioned? He like Atiku descended from non-Nigerian grandparents- this means he may also not be a Nigerian by birth. Buhari may claim his Nigerianess by birth while Atiku’s own may be by naturalisation. But Guess what? They are both Nigerians and thought the constitution might be twisted to suit either narrative; one thing is sure, Buhari and Atiku’s ancestry is non-Nigerian. Atiku is the same person that schooled in Nigeria, rose to head Customs, was Govenor-elect and ex-Vice President. President Buhari had ruled Nigeria both in the Democracy and as Head of State. Nevertheless, for all that they have done for Nigeria and God knows where this stupid allegation came from, they are Nigerians because I choose to accept them, you should too. Even though our history books maybe sketchy.

The simple truth is that we are not Nigerians because we were born here. If our origins were all to be systematically traced- we may not be fully Nigerians but we are one by virtue of the Berlin Conference and the Scramble for Partition of Africa. I guess it is high time we accepted that fact- the quicker, the better; and stop making mindless political statements about our origins that may heat up the polity of our national unity.

However, come to think of it, I know many of us that will rather not be Nigerians.

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Joseph Olaoluwa | Today News Africa
Joseph Olaoluwa is an award-winning poet, journalist, scriptwriter, and social media manager. He tweets not too frequently @theminentmuyiwa. He can be reached on josephmuyiwah99@gmail.com

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