NIGERIA: MUSLIM NORTH AND CHRISTIAN SOUTH

Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Ghaddafi, has an interesting antidote to the frequent religious
riots in Nigeria: break the country into two – something like the Islamic Republic of Northern Nigeria and Christian Republic of Southern Nigeria. …

Libyan leader, Col. Muammar
Ghaddafi, has an interesting
antidote to the frequent religious
riots in Nigeria: break the country
into two – something like the
Islamic Republic of Northern
Nigeria and Christian Republic of
Southern Nigeria. In his own
calculations, this is the ultimate
recipe for peace and stability.
There would be no more religious
riots and burning of places of
worship. We would live apart
happily ever after. Hindus and
Muslims used to have a similar
problem in India, Ghaddafi
reminded us, until it was split in
two with the creation of Pakistan
for Muslims in 1947. Many
Nigerians have reacted angrily to
his suggestion. Senate President
David Mark, a Northern Christian,
described Ghaddafi as “a mad
man”. The House of
Representatives wants Nigeria to
sever diplomatic ties with Libya
in protest. The Federal
Government has recalled the
Nigerian ambassador to Libya
“ for consultations” – obviously
over Ghaddafi’s pronouncement.
On the other hand, not everyone
is disgusted. Many Nigerians,
especially Southerners, are
backing the proposal. The "Hausa
people" are the problem of
Nigeria, they argue, and Nigeria
would be better off without
them. Their argument goes thus:
until the country is divided into
North and South, Nigeria will
never make progress. It is the
North that is “dragging us back”.
After all, it is the South that is
sustaining the North through oil.
The argument goes on and on
and on and on.
The responses to Ghaddafi’s
proposal have been largely off
the point. What is the issue? The
Libyan leader said Nigeria should
be divided into Muslim and
Christian units. He didn ’t say it
should be divided into North and
South or Hausa and “others”. But
read and listen to the responses
and you start hearing things
about “Hausa”, “Yoruba”, “Igbo”,
“Niger Delta”, “oil”, etc etc. We
are involved in what students of
logic call “mistaken argument”.
One thing you will easily notice
about public debate in Nigeria is
the way issues are jumbled up.
This usually derives from a
combination of intolerance,
ignorance, primordial sentiments
and mischief, interjected with foul
language, eventually producing
no reasonable discourse and no
reasonable outcome. We end up
confusing issues, unable to make
head or tail of debates. You just
have to worry about the quality
of public debate in Nigeria.
Now, is it practically possible to
divide Nigeria into Muslim and
Christian units? I would rather
examine that than choose to be
overwhelmed with hysteria.
Ghaddafi ’s suggestion is
obviously a product of
widespread ignorance– the
ignorance and the myth about
“ Muslim North” and “Christian
South”. I, therefore, do not blame
him. Really, there is a global
misconception about the very
complex ethno-religious structure
of Nigeria. When the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) said
recently that power would
remain in the North, the foreign
press reported that the party
said the next President must be
a Muslim! The BBC said power is
rotated between Muslims and
Christian in Nigeria. Such
ignorance was exposed by a
Southern Muslim's victory in the
1993 presidential election (MKO
Abiola). Yakubu Gowon, a
Northern Christian, was military
head of state for nine years! So
much for "Muslim North" and
"Christian South".
At a private dinner with an Asian
ambassador recently, THISDAY
executives took turns to
introduce themselves. "I'm
Yusuph Olaniyonu," the Sunday
Editor said. "You're Muslim. So
you're from the North?" the
ambassador asked. The MD of
Leaders & Co introduced himself:
"I'm Deji Mustapha." The
ambassador said the same thing.
On both counts, the ambassador
applied the misconceived
template for Nigeria. On both
counts, he was wrong.
Many outsiders think it is as
simple as classifying one part of
the country Muslim and the other
part Christian. How would
Ghaddafi ’s proposal resolve the
Jos crisis, for instance? Jos is
indeed a test case for the
advocates of balkanisation of
Nigeria. The massacres are not
about North and South. How
many Igbos and Yorubas were
killed in the latest mayhem in
Dogo Nahawa and other villages?
It was strictly between Fulanis
and Beroms – two Northern
ethnic groups. So how would
Ghaddafi ’s proposal handle that?
Some of these funny proposals
are based on a lack of
appreciation of the complex
nature of the country. It is not
just outsiders who make the
mistake – Nigerians do so all the
time. To the unenlightened
Southerner, the North is another
word for “Muslim” and “Hausa”.
To be a Northerner is to be a
Hausa Muslim. To the Southerner,
Hausa is Fulani and Fulani is
Hausa. Kanuri is Hausa. Bachama
is Hausa. If you tell a typical
Southerner you are from Kwara
or Adamawa or Kaduna,
automatically you are classified
as “Hausa”. I once overheard a
Kanuri politician protest
vehemently when my journalist
colleagues called him Hausa. If a
journalist does not know the
difference between Kanuri and
Hausa – and we are supposed to
be active participants in public
debate – then we are in real
trouble intellectually.
At least 12 of the 19 Northern
states have significant
“ indigenous” Christian population:
Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Gombe,
Kaduna, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara,
Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau and
Taraba. And at least five of these
states are predominantly
Christian. You have Christians
scattered all over the North. How
do you gather them together to
form a country? Are you going to
create new communities, build
new houses and provide new
ancestral environments for them
in the South? On the other hand,
you have the South-west equally
spilt between Muslims and
Christians. The Yoruba ethnic
nationality is a case study on its
own. In the same family, you can
have Muslims and Christians. It is
not uncommon for the husband,
a Muslim, to drive his wife to the
church on Sunday, drop her off
and come back to pick her after
service. In the same home, you
will find children of the same
parents practising different faiths.
How does Ghaddafi want to
explain that?
Ghaddafi ’s proposal is flawed,
need I say? It is going to be
geographically and socio-
politically cumbersome to break
Nigeria into Muslim and Christian.
Ghaddafi forgot to add that in
India, Muslims and Hindus are still
fighting long after Pakistan was
excised. He also forgot to add
that Bangladesh broke away
from Pakistan in 1971, despite
Islam binding them together. The
Nigerian supporters of Ghaddafi
have also not explained to us
how the two-state proposal will
resolve the recent communal
killings in Benue and Ebonyi. Or
how it would have prevented
Ife/Modakeke, Ogbe-Ijoh and
Tiv/Junkun wars. Or the Umuleri/
Aguleri carnage. Meanwhile, how
do you separate Yoruba along
religious lines? Are you going to
move the Yoruba Muslims to the
North? What happens to Auchi
Muslims? Will they relocate to
Kano or Jigawa?
Obviously, I strongly believe
Nigerians can live together in
“ peace and unity” based on my
observations and concrete
evidence gathered over the
years. I believe the things that
bind us together are more than
the things that separate us. I
believe that accommodation and
tolerance will help reduce our
conflicts. I believe that justice and
fair play will make us stronger.
But if Nigerians decide to go their
separate ways, how is that my
problem? If breaking up will stop
treasury looting, if breaking up
will make governors and council
chairmen build more roads and
hospitals, if breaking up will allow
free and fair elections at all
levels, if breaking up will provide
24-hour electricity, who am I to
suggest otherwise?
It's always amazing how we try
to reduce our problems to a
matter of religion and ethnicity.
Agreed, these are real problems.
There is too much ethno-religious
cleaving and less emphasis on
integration. These are real, real
problems. But I am more
bothered about the things that
magnify our differences:
politicking, ignorance and
intolerance – which are ever so
often fed by economic tensions
and the buccaneering,
manipulative elite from all ethnic
groups without exception. The
intelligentsia is, unfortunately,
complicit. The ordinary people
are the victims. They are hungry
and exploited. The politicians will
rather give them cutlasses than
cutlery. When somebody is
hungry and desperate, it is all too
easy to whip up sectional
sentiments in him or her.
Clearly, Ghaddafi is ignorant
about the nature of Nigeria.
Things are more complicated
than they appear.
what do you think ?

Share with your friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
15 views

Leave a Reply

3 Comments on "NIGERIA: MUSLIM NORTH AND CHRISTIAN SOUTH"

avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
kassimdandago
Guest

I support your argument. Afterall if we are divided in to two. The world order has changed. The west would make its choice, and strangle the muslims like the Gazans.

YARIMA07
Guest

But if we divide the country who will be our president.maybe the sarkin muslmai of sokoto.

YARIMA07
Guest

Gaddaf is a evil genius.

wpDiscuz