This brings us to the unfolding situation in our country today. It appears that the Fulani leaders of yesteryear were far more honest and forthcoming in the expression of their views and disposition about the south than the ones of today. Let us consider the following.
In an essay titled ‘’Nigeria’s History and A Morbid Obsession With Unity’’ written in Vanguard Newspaper on October 6th 2013, Dr. Douglas Anele wrote the following:
‘’Now, it should be pointed out that before the July 29th 1966 (northern military ‘’revenge’’) coup, prominent Northern leaders, led by the Sardauna of Sokoto, much more than their Southern compatriots, disliked the unification or amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria. For instance, at the inauguration of the Richards Constitution in 1947, Tafawa Balewa, who later became Prime Minister, declared, “We do not want, Sir, our Southern neighbours to interfere in our development. …I should like to make it clear to you that if the British leave Nigeria now at this stage the Northern people will continue their uninterrupted conquest to the sea.”
At the General Conference held at Ibadan in January 1950, the Emirs of Zaria and Katsina made it quite clear that “unless the Northern Region is allotted fifty per cent of the seats in the central legislature, it will ask for separation from the rest of Nigeria on the arrangements existing before 1914.”
In March 1953 during a heated debate at the Federal House of Representatives, Ahmadu Bello (who later became Premier of the North region) remarked that “the mistake of 1914 has come to light and I should like it to go no further.” When a delegation from the Action Group decided to visit Kano in May that same year “to educate the Northern peoples about the crisis in the House of Representatives over the self government motion,” Inua Wada, Kano Branch Secretary of the NPC, declared in a speech two days before its scheduled arrival that, ‘’having abused us in the South these very Southerners have decided to come over to the North to abuse us’’.
Although the visit was cancelled eventually, it did not prevent the Kano riots in which scores of Ndigbo were murdered’’. (END OF QOUTE).
Wada, who later became Minister of Works in Tafawa Balewa’s government, was particularly virulent in his choice of words and many are of the view that his fiery submissions and threats of violence resulted in the Kano riots of 1953 which took place two days later and in which thousands of southerners were slaughtered.
To reiterate this point Bobson Gbinije, in his article titled ‘’Igbo and Northern Leaders: Hate and National Cohesion’’ which was published on September 2015, wrote the following:
‘’The invidious and inveterate mutual hatred and antagonisms between Easterners and Northerners through inspired hate speeches and media publications, dates back many years before independence. Sporadic out breaks in Northern towns, particularly the Jos riots of 1945, had been occurring in the past but the British Administration barely took them seriously. However, after the ruthless massacre in Kano in May, 1953 the British were constrained to look into the matter by setting up a commission of inquiry on the Kano disturbances.
The Report on the Kano disturbances posited that the remote causes suggested at the time could not by any means be referred specifically to Easterners. The attacks were attributed to the clash of cultures, the disparities in economic and social development between Northerners and Southerners, the occupation of strategic posts in the administrative, technical and commercial sectors of Northern life by Southerners and the leveling impact of Western religion and political ideologies introduced into the North by Southerners.
It is on record that there were series of polemical and aggressive verbal exchanges between Northern Representatives and the Action Group Members during the Lagos Conference. But the fuse that really set off the explosion in May, 1953 was the proposed visit to Kano of an Action Group (AG) delegation led by Chief S. L. Akintola, an Ex-Minister (who was Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s deputy and who later became the Premier of the Western Region) .
The organization and preparation of Northerners for the riots did not suggest to Easterners that they would be the main object of the attack. Northerners denied in 1953 that the massacres were ever organized or premeditated. But it is on record that two days before the disturbances began on Thursday, May 14, 1953, Mallam Inua Wada, then Secretary of the Kano Branch of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and later Federal Minister of Works, convened a meeting of the Native Administration sectional heads at the works Department in Kano during which he made a very ill-advised and provocative speech against the proposed visit of the Action Group delegation led by Akintola. Inua Wada said, inter alia,
‘’having abused us in the south these very Southerners have decided to come over to the North to abuse us but we have determined to retaliate the treatment given us in the South. We have therefore organized about 1,000 men ready in the city to meet force with force. We are determined to show to Akintola and his group what we can do in our land when they come. The Northern Peoples Congress has declared a strike in all Native Administration Offices for Saturday, 16th May, 1953. We shall post a sufficient number of men at the entrance of every office and business place and we are prepared to face anything that comes out of this business’’. (END OF QOUTE)
It appears to me that with the ‘’shut up’’ rhetoric of Rabiu Kwankwaso we may have another Inua Wada in the making. Whichever way history must not be allowed to repeat itself and southerners must not be massacred. It is also clear that the violent and provocative rhetoric of todays northern leaders will not go unanswered. Let us pray for the peace of our nation and let us hope that men like Rabiu Kwankwaso do not cause a second civil war.