+How It Gave The NORTH The Edge To Run NIGERIA
One of the quotes in history says that historians ought to be precise, truthful, and quite unprejudiced, and neither interest nor fear, hatred nor affection, should cause them to swerve from the path of truth, whose mother is history, the rival of time, the depository of great actions, the witness of what is past, the example and instruction of the present, the monitor of the future.
Nigeria’s history has taken various colourations and directions, as it mostly depends on the interest of the writer. Some people believe the country was a product of a mistress of a colonial merchant, while others believe that the union of all ethnic groups that make up the country was the work of God.
Some writers celebrate the likes of Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe, while other writers paint them the roots of Nigeria’s problems since independence, citing some decisions they took in the course of self-determination.
Against another view that the British government handed over Nigeria to the northern leaders to conserve the long-standing indirect rule, a progressive group from the West are of the opinion that it was the Igbo actually placed Nigeria in the hands of the North to serve the interest of their leaders.
The Young Yoruba For Freedom, YYF, a pro-liberation group from the South-West, released a documentary to back their claims that the leaders from the East initiated the plot that brought Nigeria to where it is today.. Read excerpts
Who handed over Nigeria to the Fulan? That has been the big question for decades. The general belief that the Fulani are Yoruba’s number one enemy and that the British handed over Nigeria to them.
There is a piece of new documentary evidence now, which reveals that this is not so. It reveals how Zik allegedly betrayed Awo and pitched his tent with the North in 1959. According to the documentary evidence the British did not hand over Nigeria to the Fulani. Let’s tell you more.
According to the documentary, the parliamentary elections were held in Nigeria on 12 December, 1959. The result was a parliament that had no clear majority to form a government. According to the narrative, Zik’s National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) came first with 2,594,577 votes to get 81 seats.
Awolowo’s Action Group (AG), came 2nd with 1,992, 364 votes to get 73 seats.
However, Sir. Ahmadu Bello’s Northern People’s Congress (NPC) came a distant 3rd with 1,922,179 votes to get 134 of the 312 seats in the House of Representatives, despite getting fewer public votes.
The above three major political parties in the election did not get enough seats to form a government. So, an alliance had to be formed to determine who would rule Nigeria. It was a no brainer that Zik’s NCNC and Awolowo’s Action Group should make a coalition government as they came first and second respectively.
Awolowo then humbled himself and volunteered to be a deputy prime minister or finance minister in a coalition government with Zik as the Prime Minister.
This was because Zik’s NCNC party had more public votes and seats than Awolowo’s Action Group.
Zik invited Awolowo’s team to Asaba, the gateway between the Yoruba’s western region and the Igbo’s Eastern region to hold coalition talks.
The talks were a clever ruse to keep Action Group hopes high, so that the party could be kept distracted from meeting with other minor parties for talks. Other junior parties included: Northern Elements Progressive Union with 8 seats: Mobolaje Grand Alliance with 6 seats: Igala Union with 4 seats: Independents Candidate with 4 seats: Igbira Tribal Union with 4 seats and the Niger Delta Congress with 1 seat.
While the Action Group team was waiting in Asaba for a meeting with the NCNC, they read in the newspapers that Zik and the NCNC had gone up North and clinched a deal with Ahmadu Bello on forming a coalition government with the Northern People’s Congress (NPC).
Tafawa Balewa, from a minority ethnic group in Northern Nigeria, would be the Prime Minister of Nigeria, while ZIk would be a ceremonial, Governor-General. Even the President of Ghana, Dr. Nkrumah was shocked. He asked why ZIk, having expended so much energy, fighting for colonial emancipation and settling for a toothless bulldog role when Nigeria needed him the most.
Zik wrote in his autobiography why he did not go for a coalition government with Awolowo;
In 1947, over £13,500 was raised from the Yoruba people and given to the NCNC. Zik had led other six prominent NCNC delegates to London to protest the obnoxious laws of Governor Arthur Richards.
The trip ended in failure with backbiting, abuses and accusation of theft levelled against Zik.
Zik’s opponents in the NCNC accused him of squandering the money and the trust of Nigerians. Zik replied, insinuating that the Yoruba in the team, who were: Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin, and Dr Olorunnimbe, were the problem. There erupted a heated and prolonged press war among Zik’s political associates’ reminiscence of what happed in his West African Pilot and H.O Davie’s Political Panorama in the Daily Service. The incident spurred the Igbo in Lagos to rush to buy machetes in large numbers, thinking a tribal war was imminent. The Governor and his General Secretary, Hugh Foot quickly called ZIk and H.O Davies to order at the Government House. Zik went away with the resolve that “the Yoruba must not be allowed to rule over others in Nigeria”.
And later, Daily Service published the speech of Zik in 1949 about Igbo being destined by God to conquer and rule over others. That speech, among others, was later to explain why Zik rejected Awolowo’s offer of a coalition government in 1959 and instead decided to work with the Fulani.
The Fulani had been reading Zik and the Igbo through the lens of his 1949 speech ever since. The Fulani’s way of neutralizing Zik when the opportunity came in 1959 was to offer him a powerless post, which surprisingly Zik and the NCNC dutifully accepted in place of being Nigeria’s first Prime Minister.
ZIk had thought that the Igbo could easily manipulate the Fulani, unlike the educated Yoruba. He thus manipulated Balewa to arrest Awolowo in 1962 and to have him jailed for 10 years in 1963 for treasonable felony.
Zik also manipulated Balewa to remove from the Western Region the Edo, Urhobo, Isekiri and western Ijaw that account for 70% of the oil wealth in Nigeria and created for them Mid-Western Region. Zik’s hatred for the Yoruba gave the Fulani the impetus to rule over others in Nigeria. The coup plotters tried to rectify Zik’s mistake in 1966. And unfortunately, they killed other ethnic group leaders and left their leaders, which resulted to the civil war. Britain did not really hand over Nigeria to the Fulani, Nigeria was given over to the Fulani by the Igbo. However, to hold on to power in Nigeria, the Fulani enlisted the backing of the self-serving career politicians in England.
Not many Igbo especially the young ones know this narrative. I don’t think the Yoruba, even their elders remember this. Has the Leopard changed its spots? No. The Igbo people have always voted for the Fulani since 1959 and continue to do so.