A reasonable person would wonder about the mental state of a supposed leader who says, “The new nation called Nigeria should be an Estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us and never allow them to have control over their future”. Just a few days after Independence in 1960 Ahmadu Bello, Premier of the Northern Region, was quoted as having said that, in The Parrot newspaper, 12th October 1960. If not for the horrendous state that Nigeria is in, and that the South seems to actually be a “conquered territory”, such a statement by Bello could have been dismissed as “just crazy ranting”.
Bello was a Fulani man. The Fulani are a settler and immigrant people in Nigeria having begun to arrive massively in the territories that were to become Nigeria, at the turn of the nineteenth century. Thus, by 1960 the Fulani had been in Nigerian lands for over 150 years, enough time to have learned how to integrate with the indigenous people. However, it appears that despite all his education and privileged position, Bello seemed determined that “the new nation called Nigeria” would be a place of horror and terror for those who are not of Fulani stock, and therefore cannot say “our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio”. The question we now ask is, how did Bello’s ugly vision for Nigeria come to be the Nigerian reality? The answer is found in the 1999 Constitution, a forgery imposed upon Nigerians, and that does not have the consent of the governed.
Bello’s dream was of a Nigeria that words such as “ruthlessly”, “conquered territory”, “willing tools” and “never allow them to have control over their future” would be the pillars propping up such a country. The illegitimate 1999 Constitution meets Bello’s desires very well. Its 68-item Exclusive Legislative List of areas that Central Government alone controls ensures that Nigerians can never control their future. For instance, Police and Armed Security are on the Exclusive List so whatever Central Government delivers to any state facing insecurity, is what that state must make do with. This is why insecurity has spread and deepened under the duo of President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo, because indigenous peoples in their own ancestral lands have been forbidden by the 1999 Constitution to carry arms and thus protect themselves against armed attackers.
Here are more reasons for Nigeria being what it is. Individual, and national potentials are destroyed through lack of electricity, making it impossible to develop. Few people know that Nigeria has all the different sources of materials needed for every method invented for electricity generation, yet the people groan daily because of the effects of electricity lack. These sources are: natural gas, crude oil, coal, biomass, sun for solar, water for hydroelectricity, wind for electricity turbines, and Uranium for nuclear powered electricity. That Nigeria lacks electricity, is due to the 1999 Constitution. Preventing electrification of the country is cleverly done. For, the Exclusive List also states: “67. Any other matter with respect to which the National Assembly has power to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”. This Section was used to create the 2005 Electric Power Sector Reform Act that allows Central Government to control the national grid through which all electricity must pass. This national grid is in permanent disrepair and in weak transmission capacity, hence the constant electricity lack. Here are some figures that young people especially need to know because it is their future that is being hijacked. Estimates say that one million people would need about 1000MW. Therefore Nigeria with over 200 million people, would need at least 200,000MW. Officially, Nigeria generates 12,500MW, but it is only what it TRANSMITS that the consumer gets, and that in 2020 was a paltry 3500 MW to 5000 MW (Source: GET.invest, Europe).
One also could wonder why just a handful of people are able to monopolise manufacturing and business. That is because registration of businesses is under the Exclusive List. This means that only those types of businesses by only those who Central Government wants, will ever get registered. This type of power is open to much abuse, and there are numerous accounts of people, especially from the Lower Niger Bloc (South-East and South-South) who have complained bitterly that great businesses they had planned for their Bloc, had been refused registration, or normal start-up support.
Control of ports is also under the Exclusive List. It is no secret that Central Government has used this power to keep the ports in the Lower Niger Bloc underdeveloped and underused, thus negatively impacting the region’s economy and ease of doing commerce. This has also had a knock-on effect on the busy Lagos ports in the Oodua Bloc. They are over-congested, and concentrating most of the shipping trade in one part of the country has led to people flocking there seeking work, which creates massive overcrowding and slums.
Elections for state Governors and their deputies, plus regulation of political parties are under the Exclusive List. Thus, only those approved by Central Government will ever be able to hold such office. Meaning that honourable citizens, with the ability to bring positive things to their state if given the chance, could be prevented by whoever sits at Abuja.
Other key development items that appear on the Exclusive List include: Aviation and airports, Banks, Census, Fishing and fisheries, Post, Telephone, Railways, etc. Thus, when a hostile Central Government manages to grab power through rigging elections, it becomes very easy for such a government to keep citizens and country underdeveloped.
It is essential to also mention Chapter 4, Section 44 (3) of the 1999 Constitution which provides that, “the entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in, under or upon any land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Nigeria shall vest in the government of the Federation…..”. This text is used by Central Government to seize natural resources belonging to ethnic nationalities, and those from the Lower Niger Bloc that comprises most of the oil producing areas upon which Nigeria’s economy has been built, have been the worst hit by it. Other Blocs are not spared. The limestone (for cement) of the Middle Belt Bloc is seized. The bitumen of the Oodua Bloc is seized. The wealth thus generated is redistributed in a strange allocation formula based on biased and unverified population figures, land mass, and a skewed number of local government areas. Taken altogether, this massively favours those who can like Ahmadu Bello say, “our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio”, and their stronghold, the Arewa Bloc.
The 1999 Constitution has now finally made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world after 22 years of its use. That is because economic and social rights are not guaranteed in Nigeria. Although there are provisions for social welfare, those provisions are not justiciable under the 1999 Constitution so they cannot be enforced.
People in foreign lands are puzzled, wondering why Nigeria’s leaders allow the country to deteriorate so badly. The leaders themselves are aware that the 1999 Constitution that enables unbridled corruption and impunity, limits and destroys the lives and future of their own people. Their callous and uncaring behaviour is exactly what Ahmadu Bello had described as “willing tools”. These are people who feel protected by the illegitimate 1999 Constitution that they willingly uphold and that allows them to believe, “We can do whatever we like and nothing can happen to us”.
There will be denials and counter responses from some quarters about the type of legacy that Bello left behind. That is to be expected. He was a public figure, and the impact that public figures have on any society will always be scrutinised and discussed. Our immediate concern is that the illegitimate 1999 Constitution has come about through mystery, secrecy and fraudulent means. It brings about an agenda that is hostile to indigenous peoples, subjecting them to a life of wretchedness and degradation. Bello’s openly stated vision for Nigeria means poverty, discrimination and oppression. The 1999 Constitution brings that vision to life, and this injustice has already lasted for far too long.