Nigeria: Political, Economic, and Socio-Cultural Discussions

Posts tagged ‘Northern Nigeria Traditional Rulers’

Nigerian Rulers and Their Unabashed Filial Cannibalism


Ahmed Garba

Hausa people have an idiomatic expression along the lines of, when a bastard  is also mentally deranged, then things are really too much (Abun yayi yawa, shege da hauka)Such is the case of Nigeria, northern Nigeria.  Things are really too much.

In the animal kingdom, there are, particularly carnivorous animals that engage in filial cannibalism—the act of eating their own young, if need be (e.g. Chimpanzees).  Often times they do this for dominance or out of sheer survival instincts.   Since they are “lower animals”, they lack the sense and rule of self-restraint that we humans (higher animals) claim to have.  We pride ourselves as creatures that have cultivated both rules and cultures of coexistence, and even a supposedly more refined tradition of nurturing our young.  So we claim.  But is that really the case?

Upon a long and hard reflection, one finds that despite our claim, in some human communities, there are painful examples of what arguably constitute evidence of filial cannibalism, though not as literal and glaring as what we see among animals, but the effects and consequences are somewhat similar—the guaranteed demise of the younger generation.  This situation is more apparent when one examines the relationship between the ruler and the ruled in a place such as Nigeria.  I chose the word ‘ruler’ as opposed to ‘leader’ for accuracy; Rulers don’t believe in accountability. The system of rulership in Nigeria can generally be divided into two main rubrics or classifications—traditional, and the so-called modern, meaning any form of the Greco/Roman (particularly borne out of Plato’s work) political system that has been adopted as the face of the government.  And as we shall see, in the case of Nigeria, the expression of any of these ‘modern’ systems is usually a bastardization of what it is supposed to represent.  In fact, even the ‘traditional’ system, as currently practiced has been whittled down to an embarrassing example of its real self.


Nigeria actually has the word ‘Republic’ in its name, as in “The Federal Republic of Nigeria”.  This is why it is tempting to examine its government(s) in terms of what Plato, and in fact, Socrates expect a ‘Republic’ to be like. For Socrates and Plato, a ‘Republic’ is a government where the entire country is considered a  ‘public matter’, not the private preserve of rulers.  Since his works borrowed heavily from Socratic thoughts, Plato places a greater emphasis on the concept of “justice” in his discussion of what a true “Republic” ought to be.  As Socrates himself maintained, it is ‘justice’ that can bring about a harmonious society, under the leadership of conscientious men, that is,  Philosopher-Kings.  [see “The Republic” by Plato].

Certainly, one does not expect to find that “Philosopher-king” in real life, and definitely not in the case of Nigeria, but that greater emphasis on ‘justice’ and  ‘just-man’ cannot be ignored, and this is the glaring failing of the ‘contrivance’ called Nigeria.  Heck, if you ask Nigerians, they will tell you, forget about a Philosopher-king, just plain old true “Patriots or Nationalists” with sense of justice and fairness will suffice.  Indeed, it is this lack of ‘justice’ and ‘just-men’ that has plagued the country, and the north in particular, so much that it has led all well-meaning observers to lament the state of the nation and the northern region.  It is also why I intend to posit here that in Nigeria as a whole, and the north in particular, there are those who engage in the equivalent of filial cannibalism, and they do so with impunity.

In its current form of government, Nigeria, in a very nominal sense will be described as a presidential system of government, not unlike the United States, but yet, quite different.  There are semblances of the three arms of government—Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary, as well as the bi-cameral representation in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end.  Whereas in the United States, the Legislature and the Executive frequently ‘checkmate’ each other in order to, at least, maintain the appearance of a working system, while the judiciary remains independent and plays enforcement role as much as possible.  No such luck in Nigeria’s so-called presidential system of government.

For example, after being ‘s’elected, the current Emperor, Ruler, President–take your pick–Ebele Jonathan (Jonah), actually thought it wise, no, imperative to sit down and consult with the Senate President (the alpha and the beta thieves) on the list of candidates that he, Jonah had drawn up for his own cabinet positions, so that once “things have been negotiated”, the so-called confirmation hearings–that would have provided opportunity for thorough scrutiny–will be nothing but a charade.  It didn’t matter that it was the country that will be the worse for it, as these confirmed candidates were hardly the best qualified for the jobs.  In other words, cronyism and patronage trump merit.  Such apparent subversion of the system and a clear demonstration of tremendous trust deficit did not face Jonah or the peoples’ representatives.  Therefore, the beginning of injustice conducted by unjust-men behind the curtain, under the guise of representation is the evaporation of “Republic” from the Republic of Nigeria.  Welcome to presidential democracy, Nigerian style!

Once these cabinet appointees ‘rubber stamps’ have themselves been rubber stamped, the country was doomed.  As usual, they have sworn to follow their patrons to the core of hell, and this marks the beginning of the demise of the polity and the prevalence of filial cannibalism.  From this point on, the plight of the current and future generation is sealed.  The marching orders are, if you have to take candy from a baby, do so, because the ‘sponsors’ have to be ‘settled’.  We also saw how parts of the country were sold off, lock, stock and barrel, as ‘delegates’ sacrificed their regions and people once they have collected that ‘betrayal allowance’.

In Nigerian ‘democracy’, it is an open secret that just as elections are routinely rigged/purchased, cabinet appointments are also bought and paid for, sometimes through an elaborate system of patronage.  Let’s recall the case of Nasir El-Rufai, the former Minister for Federal Capital Territory.  The story goes, when he was selected for this cabinet position, he was “advised” to pay homage to one senator before the confirmation hearings began.  After the typical Nigerian discourteous, ill-mannered, insalubrious reception at the senator’s house, El-Rufai was put through the widely known and often expected ‘shake-down’.  He was asked to come up with funds to the tune of 55 million naira, as a condition for his smooth sailing at the confirmation hearings.  Since he was too poor at the time to come up with such ungodly amount, he “put the word out” about his encounter with the senator.  Needless to say, he was ‘somehow’ eventually confirmed for the position.


When I talk about ‘filial cannibalism’, I am not referring to the actual act of devouring the flesh of the young (though, we have seen this practice among those who believe in certain types of ‘money rituals’).  In the context of Nigeria, this act takes several forms.

We have seen rapacious elites/rulers, who, out of sheer extreme selfishness are willing to rob their community blind, even if doing so will render not just the adults, but the youngest members of the community, hungry, helpless, and even destitute.  There have been occasions where traditional rulers, governors, local government council chairmen etc., will commandeer for themselves moneys and other means of development, including foreign aids intended for their own communities’ growth and development.  It was recently rumored that, the WAEC results for Sokoto state was being withheld, due to the state/governor’s failure to pay some money that was due.  If true, is this not tantamount to ruining the future of the younger generation, without a care in the world?  We are all familiar with the cases of ‘rulers’ who pay and receive ‘betrayal allowance’ in order to sacrifice their respective communities!   Unfortunately,  nowhere is this practice more prevalent and damaging than in the north, where the ‘Northern Establishment’–the group formerly known as the Kaduna Mafia, consisting of traditional rulers, some former military officers, and some so-called intelligentsia–which has now been honorarily admitted into the larger den of thieves  called ‘the cabal’,  continues to extinguish its own young through unimaginable act of brutality and neglect.

One will have to search far and wide to find a group of people more guilty of unenlightened self interest than the ‘Northern Elites’.  As wealthy as these people are, individually and collectively, and for as long, it is quite bewildering to realize that virtually none of them has been known for any form of ‘productive philanthropy’.  One will be hard pressed to find a ‘Northern cabal member’ who provides education, employment, training, etc. assistance on a large scale in his or her own community, if only to uplift the standard of living for a few.  It never bothered the likes  of Mai Daribe, his family, and friends, that while they luxuriate in palatial mansions, bedecked with unfathomably expensive furniture, stepping over gold-threaded rugs, only a stone’s throw away are children ravaged by hunger, begging in the streets instead of being in schools.  It is beyond comprehension to imagine that the Mai Daribe(s) of northern Nigeria never thought of setting up foundations, even if only to provide funding up to secondary school for perhaps a couple of hundred kids.  By the way, don’t nobody tell me that these selfish, heartless creatures often finance hajj pilgrimage for hundreds of people, or that they feed hundreds of people in the month of Ramadan.  That is not where it’s at, at all.  In fact, for all I care, they can shove those acts of ‘generosities’ where the sun doesn’t shine.

As northern Nigeria and its people continues to suffer from massive under-development, we saw the certified, bona fide myopic ‘Northern Establishment’ wasting no time to deepen the regions poverty.  Who can forget the roles played by the likes of Ibrahim Babangida, Theophilus Danjuma, Aliyu Gusau, etc., who had no qualm gathering Olusegun Obasanjo in tatters from prison and lobbed him over the fence into Aso Rock, against all hues and cries.  And true to the saying that ‘there is no honour among thieves’, we saw how Obasanjo repaid his sponsors.  First, there was that vengeful, pin-pointed focus on the Abacha family, which entailed bringing down some of the economy of Kano city at all cost.  Why?  Because, it was Kano’s adopted son, Sani Abacha who dared to imprison the incestuous cretin from Otta.  Hence, the people of Kano must pay for it.  Then we saw Obasanjo moved to privatize publicly held establishments that used to provide the limited employment the north ever had.  To add insult to injury, it was some of these ‘Northern Rulers’ who stepped forward to take private ownership, and gladly, true to form, ran down the establishments, to the detriment of the region and its people.  For example, where is Kaduna Textile today?  Even the Kaduna refinery was reported to have been put on the auction block, with the likes of Atiku Abubakar offering to purchase it, until Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, despite being ‘a dead man walking’ had the presence of mind  to put a stop to the silly shenanigan.

Another heart-wrenching example of eating their young, was the story of Pfizer’s damaging experiment with the children of Kano state.  In a report published by the newspaper,  234Next, we learned:

“As the opportunity for the victims of the 1996 Pfizer clinical trial in Kano of getting satisfactorily compensated continues to hang in the balance, a NEXT investigation has uncovered the despicable conduct of prominent Nigerians who sold their conscience to partake in what the late President Musa Yar’Adua described as “Pfizer’s blood money”. ……..As part of Pfizer’s “lobbying tactics”, it secured the services of a former head of state, Yakubu Gowon, and the Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero (represented by a senior traditional ruler), amongst other unnamed political elites especially in the North who, NEXT discovered, were instrumental to influencing the Kano State government to significantly reduce its claim…….. The significance of the influence exerted by Mr. Gowon, the representative of the Emir of Kano, and the other influential Nigerians employed by Pfizer as lobbyists, is better appreciated when one considers the fact that the Kano State claim, which was initially $2 billion dollars, was drastically reduced to $150 million, and finally to $75 million.”

Source:  “Gowon and Bayero Secretly Worked for Pfizer”, Published on Sunday, 09 January 2011 17:38

I will hazard a guess that most of the victims of Pfizer’s deadly experiment probably did not receive much from that measly settlement, assuming they are even aware that there had been a settlement.

We also have the unabashed, unapologetic, unrepentant, parasitic characters such as, octogenarian cougar,  Lawal Kaita.  A man who was once attached to the coattail of Yar’Adua and has now latched on to Atiku Abubakar, like the leech that he is.  Here is a man, who by all accounts had been in ‘politics’ for longer than most can remember, and therefore had the chance to leave some enviable legacy.   But alas, the man’s proudest accomplishment was that in the second republic (1979-83), he, along with the rest of the vultures in NPN grounded Kaduna state to a standstill, mainly because, the then governor, Mallam Balarabe Musa (a more conscientious public servant) refused to let the vultures have their way with public funds. This orchestrated stalemate eventually led to the impeachment of Balarabe Musa, with Kaduna state losing an opportunity for what might have been good governance.

Following the impeachment of Balarabe Musa, old cannibal Kaita assumed office as the governor of Kaduna state in October 1983.  But, as luck would have it, Kaita couldn’t settle into his intended blood sucking orgy, as General Muhammadu Buhari was on time to rest Kaduna, and Nigeria off the hands of vampires like him.  Is it any wonder that ever since his premature ejaculation, not only has this old geezer been harboring hate against the likes of Buhari, but has also been spewing out all sorts of rubbish, supposedly in defense of the ‘North’.  His unsolicited verbiage, jostling, and antics would have made more sense had he any antecedence to back his ‘northern patriotism’.  Other than maneuvering to place his own children in well-cushioned jobs, can Lawal Kaita point to any of his accomplishments that benefits the  ‘talakawas’?

Lest we forget, Kaita has a southern counterpart named Pa Edwin Clark, another historic underachiever with ‘basket mouth’.  The harbinger of hate against Northerners, and the self-appointed King of the Ijaw Nation.  Ever since the Ijaw people started smelling the possibility of residing in Aso Rock, Pa Clark has been vociferous in his tribal/sectional attack against the North.  Yet, this is the same Edwin Clark who was first given a break as Commissioner for Information under a government headed by a Northerner–Yakubu Gowon, and he did not register a single exemplary accomplishment, that one can hinge on his ‘Ijawness’, for the youths of his community.  If Pa Clark had done much for his people, perhaps Nigeria would have been spared the emergence of MEND or an embarrassing PhD holder.   Now, this vermin from the creek cannot contain himself.  To hear Pa Clark talk, you’d think that he was never guilty of partaking in any of the corrupt governments that Nigeria has been having.

No doubt, one common thread between people like Kaita and Clark is unmitigated, filthy self-interest.  They have no care for the consequences of their words/actions.  They will consume their young for their own malevolent, selfish benefits.

Without ever justifying, not even explaining away, the senseless murderous conducts of Boko Haram, one cannot escape the logic that has been expounded that, this pathetic menace has been partly engendered by utter youth neglect.  That is, the horrendous malfeasant conduct of ‘northern rulers/elites’ who, in their classic short-sightedness, saw no reason to develop the region’s youths, except for their own family members, who, by the way, are sometimes lacking in cerebral capability to justify the resources expended on them.  These are the rulers who unflinchingly devour their own young, and do it proudly!

On a side note, was it me or did anybody else notice that when Boko Haram announced a proposed list of acceptable negotiators, they somehow failed to include a single, well-known/respected Islamic Cleric?  So much for their claim of Islamic jihad.


From the foregoing, it is no wonder that, thirteen years into ‘democracy’,  the north has  been witnessing a dearth of ‘performing’ governors, local council chairmen or what have you.  It is therefore, necessary to wrench the region from the clenches of these cannibalistic derelicts, parading as ‘Northern Leaders’.

It is also beyond apparent, that the likes of Ibrahim Babangida (one of the senior architects of the demise of Nigeria as a country); Atiku Abubakar (the weasel of Adamawa, and the megalomaniac head of PDP renegade faction);  Jerry Gana (a man who, despite being a Christian, is known to have posted bail for Muhammad Yusuf–head of Boko Haram, but who himself has never been held to account);  Bamanga Tukur (Nigeria’s master of ‘pay-day’ loan; a man gladly poised to sell off the north for sufficient ‘betrayal allowance’);  Adamu Ciroma (a PDP henchman who has demonstrated a glaring deficit of political acumen, re: PDP zoning debacle),  and all the unaccomplished representatives of the north are bad news for the region.  In fact, they are the cancer of the region, and like cancer, they have been eating away at the few functioning organs of the region, namely, determined public servants such as General Buhari.  These people, who apparently suffer from munchausen by proxy (they suffer their own young and then cry about it) should no longer be allowed to chart the course for the north.  It is high time the north and its people became enlightened enough to not only recognize these blood suckers for what they are, and replace them with more well-meaning public servants, but also jettison that servile mentality; that undue deference to someone simply because of seniority in linear age, possession of wealth, or family lineage.

For the north to reel out of its squalor, there is definitely a need for major re-thinking, an inside-out revolution of mindset, a paradigm shift of sort.  A region and its people cannot develop when a handful of its population can ‘live high on the hog’ almost for eternity.  Witness how many traditional rulers, ‘first class’ Emirs and Chiefs especially, sit on their thrones for decades with nothing to show for it, while at the same time, they and their relatives live in luxury.  Some of them (especially the so-called first class  Chiefs and Emirs) are so egocentric that they don’t even respond when spoken to by ‘lay persons’.  This is supposed to be chucked to some ridiculous tradition.  Never mind that Allah himself spoke directly to Musa (Moses).  What was he thinking, with his whole benevolent and merciful self?  I bet if these same ‘lords’ want to ‘pin down’ a ‘Kuyanga’ (handmaiden) in a dark corridor, they do wag their tongues.  Just saying.  These rulers expend so much energy to ensure that only those who will protect their own self interests get to be presented as ‘Northern Leaders’, and the symbiotic relationship is also reflected in how some traditional rulers serve the interests of governors.  Recall how the Emirs of Lafia and Nassarawa vamoosed–with their tails tucked between their legs–from their respective palaces, on the orders of Governor Aliyu Doma, when General Buhari came calling during the 2011 presidential campaign.  And these Emirs were supposed to be serving ‘their people’?

I am yet to see sufficient evidence of the public good that had been done by these traditional rulers, especially, the long serving ones among them.  It used to be the case that they employed the services of the so-called ‘native authority’–a bunch of pathetic characters dressed in clownish outfits, running around hounding and harassing the populace, especially under the guise of tax collection.  The saving grace for the ‘masses’ was probably the emergence of military governments, who put an end to the terror conducts of these minions often unleashed by the Chiefs and Emirs.

In fact, one can now argue that the conduct of Boko Haram, and the inability of the traditional rulers to respond clearly demonstrates their illegitimacy as rulers.  Don’t they constitute the ‘local’ in local government?  Or are they only effective as ‘government’ through the use of uncultured ‘Dogarai’?  The manner in which Boko Haram has emasculated the Emirs and Chiefs is too revealing to ignore.  These were the same rulers who were able to whisper into the ears of the likes of Ibrahim Babangida to get him to overthrow Buhari’s regime, partly due to Buhari’s willingness to put them in check, and now they failed woefully to rise to the challenge posed by a bunch of marauding bandits in their very own localities.  Whatever happened to their supposed ‘influence’?  Should anyone venture to retort that they possess no armed forces or security capability, then the question ought to be asked, of what good are they?  and more importantly, why is their existence so heavily subsidized, often times, at the expense of the future generation?  After all, it is not that they ever served the interest of the ordinary citizen anyway.  Right before our very own eyes, these rulers, their ‘Dogarai’  and their other sycophants have devolved into nothingness.  They have always legitimized their value on the basis of influence pedaling, but now that they have been unable to ‘influence’ Boko Haram, state government, or federal government, even to save their own lives, then the ‘jig is up’. The ruse has been uncovered; ‘Game over’.

So, while the constitution review committee is still siting, perhaps, it should be proposed that non-performing traditional rulers stand to be replaced by their respective ‘performing’ local government council.  Alternatively, the entire institution of traditional government can be eliminated, and any loud-mouthed uncooperative members can be embalmed and hanged for display in the department of antiquities for posterity.  After all, with the existence of local government council, isn’t the whole idea of traditional rulers a form of ‘parallel government’, albeit a non-performing one at that?  1976 economics nobel laureate, Milton Freidman once said something to the effect that, if you want to know the value of an employee, fire him and see what happens to his job.  If the job suffers then that employee was important, else he was not. With the seeming free reign of Boko Haram, we may have already, inadvertently conducted  the ‘Freidman experiment’ and the result is out in the open.  If the elimination idea is too harsh or unwise, how about making these roles wide open for public elections with term limit?  After all, nowhere was it ever ‘written by the fingers of God, on the hearts of men’ that certain individuals, just by virtue of, or by accident of birth should ‘lord it’ over the rest, forever.  In fact, I will submit that the concept of rulership/leadership by inheritance should be alien to sunni muslim north in particular.  After all, the Exemplar of muslim conducts and traditions (Prophet Muhammad) never practiced leadership/rulership by inheritance.

The northern re-engineering and re-orientation campaign should also emphasize the need to seek out, identify, and present educated, enlightened, committed individuals, regardless of family background.  In some sense, this is actually a clarion call for a return to late Aminu Kano’s philosophy/principle, whereby, the children of ‘talakawas’ share in the opportunity for development and leadership.  Though it must be noted that some of the current crop of ‘Northern Elites’ were once ‘talakawas’ themselves or are children of ‘talakawas’ whose loyalty to self and kin has now gone awry.  After Amimu Kano rescued them and their parents/children from the shackles of parasitic, avaricious, ‘Sarakunas’, they have now become the predators (Witness the Labaran Maku(s) of our time).  Furthermore, it is arguable that Buhari actually represents the Aminu Kano of this generation, and like the Aminu Kano of the past, his beliefs, philosophy, agenda, and popularity among the dispossessed has remained a disturbing threat to the bourgeois/ruling class.  Hence, their unrelenting determination to scuttle his chances as they did Aminu Kano before him.

However, in this second time around, the population of the north needs to remain vigilant, so as not to be hoodwinked by the hypocrites within.  Yes, it is not always easy to tell the hypocrites from the sincere, but, it is worth the effort, for what is at stake now is the survival of an entire region!  Whenever anyone starts babbling about their intention to lead any community, let’s subject them to scrutiny, publicly!  The questions should be asked: What is your antecedent, either in privately or publicly held position(s)?  Will you declare your asset now?  What do you intend to do for the community?  How do you intend to fund these agenda items?  How should your performance be tracked and verified?  Compare and contrast yourself with your opponent, how do you differ?  What similarities do you share?  I mean, seek out  think-on-your-feet, speak-intelligently, sharp-sharp kind of people.  None of that letting a village vagabond become a senator overnight, only to see him multiply his number of wives, houses, cars in jiffy, while doing nothing for his constituency.

The north needs to stop electing people who go around in their warped mind saying, “this here politics is my life, my day job, my everything. (Kunga, mu fa siyasar nan ita akasa a gaba)”.    Politics is never anyone’s whole life or profession, it is a temporal public service.  Play your part and vacate the stage.  Let’s use thorough investigative accounting to promote spirited competition among candidates.   One thing about human nature is that, liars in particular, resent scrutiny, that is, determined, sustained scrutiny.  They will soon wither and die.  Let’s put an end to the practice of hanging ourselves and auctioning the future of younger generation, by the shackles of our own present state of poverty.  In other words, choosing candidates based on one’s own pressing economic existentialism is bad for your kids’ future.

Hopefully, by the time this sort of scrutiny becomes routine, we would have mastered the art of weeding out the unqualified, the illiterates, the unlettered, the uncultured, the uncommitted, the undeserving–bourgeoisie or not.  May be then we can put an end to filial cannibalism.


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