Expectedly, the secession threat by the Lamido of Adamawa, His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha, has elicited a plethora of criticisms from Nigerians across professional leanings and nationalistic divide. However, much of the reactions border on the bizarre, the ridiculous and the mundane; they deliberately or conveniently ignored the historical, contextual and circumstantial underpinnings of the royal father’s threat.
For a good measure, the Lamido said, “If anything happens and the country disintegrates, God forbid, many of us who are shouting their heads off may not have anywhere to go. My people and the people of Adamawa have got somewhere to go. I am the Lamido of Adamawa and my kingdom extends to Cameroun. The larger part of my kingdom is in Cameroun. Part of that kingdom is today called Adamawa State in Cameroun. You see, if I run to that place, I will easily assimilate.”
In a spontaneous reaction, a constitutional lawyer and national conference delegate, Chief Mike Ozekhome, said “I didn’t expect that kind of statement from such a revered father, am very sorry to say. I pray that he changes his mind. His son, the former Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs, Alhaji Mustapha, is my good friend, so I do not want to make comment. If such comment has come from a lesser Nigerian I would have said well, well, but for his royal highness to say that there is already an Adamawa State in Cameroun and if anything happens they are ready to go, to me, with all respect, that was not a fair comment on the situation in Nigeria.”
The most bizarre reaction came from the spokesman of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin. Odumakin said, “Initially I thought it was Shekau, because that’s the language of Boko Haram. I am from Yoruba land, there are Yorubas in Benin Republic, in Togo, in Ivory Coast and in Brazil; but if I want to go and meet them, it will not be after destroying Nigeria. That statement by the Lamido is loaded and from the murmuring and comments we were hearing, some people were saying ‘O yes’. The veiled reference here to the Lamido as Boko Haram kingpin is most disingenuous and expletive, considering the high ranking of the Lamido of Adamawa as the 5th Emir in Northern Nigeria
The pan-Igbo group, the Ohanaeze N’digbo described Lamido’s threat as empty threat. Its National Treasurer, Chief Damian Ogene, said “Adamawa people should be happy that through the unrelenting efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan, they were rescued from the hands of the Boko Haram. I mean, they should go to the confab with spirit of oneness and not to demonstrate an uncalculated empty threat to the entire Nigerians.” This remark disregarded the fact that the ongoing national conference was convoked ab initio because of the endemic nepotism and clamour for self-rule by some ethnic nationalities, which did not include that of the Lamido.
However, a few comments took the path of empiricism, deviating from the adumbrated verbal umbrage. Former Lagos state police commissioner, Abubakar Tsav, said the traditional ruler was right after all. He said, “North has ruled this country for a very long time and nobody agitated secession. Why is it now that a minority is ruling from an oil-rich region that this kind of agitation is so pronounced? Oil is God’s given natural resource and He (God) may decide to dry it up anytime. Majority of the food we eat in this country comes from Northern Nigeria but we do not make noise. So if the South thinks they have oil and so nobody can rest, let them go. Lamido spoke sense. In this country, when you are telling the truth, nobody likes you.”
It is easily discernible from the mindset of the various ethnic nationalities, as exemplified by the foregoing comments that Nigeria’s unity is on tenterhooks. In fact, the monach merely expressed in a peaceful manner what many ethnic irredentists have advocated violently under the guise of resource control. Since the discovery of crude oil in 1954, the North has had to contain with a barrage of vitriol, culminating in the appellation of a parasite which cannot survive on its own without oil. This has led to the emergence of militia groups in the 1990s from the littoral region, like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND),
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), and a host of others, agitating for self-determination. At a point, the North-east narrowly missed being excised from Nigeria by Major Gideon Orkar coupists.
In the face of this extreme provocation, it was only natural for the Lamido to call the bluff. The only difference is that by being non-violent, the Lamido of Adamawa’s reprisal fell short of the requirement of the doctrine of proportionality. Those who live in a glass house should not throw stones, says an adage.