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Friday, January 8, 2010
  Nigerian Headache (Part 2)
Eucharia Mbachu

Through their reckless acts of blending religion and politics, these lackadaisical and self-appointed ‘Imams’’ sadistically find pleasure in using religion as a weapon of mass destruction. In so doing, they stifled the nation-building efforts at the national level, causing many people in various parts of the country to be divided and polarized with division as the outcome, religious differences began to undermine the stability and unity in the nation resulting in the break down of the creation of structures to maintain law and order. From the 1980s up to the rise of Abacha the political chaos spawned by religious ignorance and fanaticism, brought us back to the rise of the Yanizala group which fought against the spread of the Maitatsine religious sect, a very dangerous group that waged a very dangerous religious war in the North. During this period, the regime of President Ibrahim Babangida found itself wobbling on a tight rope of ethnic balance on the one hand and regional cooperation on the other. He had to do something drastic to keep the peace and to hold the nation together after a bloody Civil War. In retrospect, one could maintain that the sources of inspiration for such a strategy and the implications that flowed from the action unfortunately placed greater role on the state than on the corrective powers of northern local and state institutions to calm stormy waters. Such a strategy continued the idea of the northern interest as defined by the colonialists as well as the post independence leaders, is responsible for many of the woes of Nigeria today. Rather than examine the historical realities that come together to bring pain and grief in their respective communities, they, on the contrary have developed all kinds of rationalizations to justify the primacy of Federal power over the Nation or alternatively the primacy of the respective states over their local jurisdictions. As a result of this development, the northern part of the country has become dependent on the Federal government. Without the state, there is limited or no independence. With the state, Big Brother rules supreme; and the politics of numbers and the predominance of northern group dynamics within the military determines the elements of categorization. The Civil War and the ethnic and religious antagonisms of the past fifty years have made the modern state a rich uncle to the politically savvy and to those with long legs. On the other hand, it is a zoo that domesticates all the weak, the ignorant and the helpless. It is indeed against this background that modernity becomes the source of power for the powerful and the self-victimizing instruments at the hands of the state against the politically unconnected. To those of us who are familiar with the logic and rationalizations of colonial rule, “the ideology of martial races” provided the mantra of colonial domination. Divide and rule through the reasons and instruments of Lugardian statecraft was the order of the day. Our post colonial rulers play with that buck of emotions our literary sage, Chinua Achebe, called “primitive loyalties.’ In the North, it is the application of Divine commands to love and embrace fellow humans which are deliberately twisted by the so called Imams and their groupies
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