Many of us were shocked beyond words when the National Christians Elders Forum, once again issued a scathing statement, alleging an attempt to islamise Nigeria by the Buhari administration. My Big brother, Alhaji Femi Abbas, rose to the occasion, in his weekly column, The Message, by exposing the lies being touted by these so-called elders through distortion of historical facts. This is definitely a must read. Enjoy.
Decency is like gold which gives value and confidence to its custodian.. If it rusts the custodian loses dignity.
NCEF’s Press Conference
A group of self acclaimed National Christian Elders Forum (NCFF) addressed a press conference last week, to draw the attention of Nigerians to certain facts about what the forum called the Islamization of Nigeria.
The first cited evidence in that press conference was a speech credited to the first and only Premier of Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Sardaunan Sokoto. While quoting copiously from that speech, without disclosing when and where it was made, the forum exposed itself to ridicule of through blatant lies and insensible fabrication, just to curry undeserved dignity.
Proof of Assertion
To prove this assertion, this writer hereby brings the genuine speech made by Premier Ahmadu Bello vis a vis the fabricated one quoted by NCEF. And the places as well as the dates of both speeches will be disclosed here with evidence to further confirm that NCEF’s ‘gold’ is actually a mere copper.
The Genuine Premier’s Speech
At a time before Nigeria’s independence in 1959, when the entire Southern Nigeria considered it as an abomination to grant any Muslim festival a public holiday because the then rulers felt the only existing religion, as far as they were concerned, was Christianity, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, a Muslim did not only declare a public holiday for Christians, he also made a public radio broadcast to felicitate with the Christian citizens of the Northern Region, who were grossly in the minority, at Christmas. That message was not limited to the radio. It was widely published in all major Nigerian newspapers of that time and it is still available in the archives of those newspapers. Here is an excerpt from the 30 minutes broadcast:
“…Fellow Northern Nigerians, we are people of many different races, tribes and religions, who are knit together by common history, common interests and common ideals. Our diversity may be great but the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us. On an occasion like this, I always remind people about our firmly rooted policy on religious tolerance. Families of all creeds and colour can rely on these assurances. We have no intention of favouring one religion at the expense of another. Subject to overriding need to preserve law and order, it is our determination that everyone should have absolute liberty to practice his belief. It is befitting on this momentous day, on behalf of my ministers and myself, to send a special word of gratitude to all Christian missions…”
“…Let me conclude this with a personal message. I extend my greetings to all our people who are Christians on this great feast day. Let us forget the difference in our religion and remember the common brotherhood before God, by dedicating ourselves afresh to the great tasks which lie before us….”
The above speech was made on Thursday, December 24, 1959 on the eve of that year’s Christmas which fell on a Friday And this is verifiable in the calendar.
The Fabricated Version
Several decades after Ahmadu Bello’s unjustifiable assassination, some evil elements in the media, in active conspiracy with certain mischief-makers among political demagogues went to fabricate another version of the broadcast statement and credited it to the same Premier Ahmadu Bello. The concocted statement was said to have been published by an unknown newspaper called ‘The Parrot’ which cannot be traced in the history of print media in Nigeria. Here it is:
“…The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Othman 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.”
Funny enough, this fabricated statement joyously quoted by the so-called NCEF was said to have been made by the same Ahmadu Bello on October 12, 1960. The question is this: how can a Christmas message by any sane leader in Nigeria be made in October? Is Christmas a festival for October?
This further confirms that blatant liars and mischief makers never think of the implications of their devilish lies.
Truth and Falsehood
Now, looking at both statements very carefully, any sensible person without blind religious bias should be able to see clearly, a distinction between truth and falsehood, between gold and copper and between dignity and shame.
Conscious Nigerian Muslims should note here that Premier Ahmadu Bello’s genuine Christmas message quoted above was made on Thursday, December 24, 1959 through a radio broadcast and was published by all newspapers in the country including the vociferous ‘West African Pilot’ owned by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the boisterous ‘Tribune’ owned by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the clamorous ‘Daily Times’ jointly owned privately by certain prominent individuals at that time. That speech was equally published by many other smaller newspapers in Nigeria at that time. All those newspapers are identifiable in Nigeria’s media history even though most of them are now defunct. On the other hand, the place and occasion of the fabricated statement credited to Ahmadu Bello and ingloriously quoted by the so-called NCEF was not indicated and cannot be traced in Nigeria’s newspaper history. The fabricated speech credited to Premier Ahmadu Bello is a confirmation of their hatred for Islam and for public officers in Nigeria who happen to be Muslims.
Evidence of Fabrication
The first time any genuinely existing newspaper ever made reference to that fabricated statement was on November 13, 2002 (42 years and one month after it was purportedly made. And ‘The Tribune’ newspaper that published it only claimed to have culled it from an online column published on October 24 2002 by a purported Yoruba Journalist (name withheld) who entitled it ‘the northern Agenda’. It can therefore be deduced that the statement was actually fabricated not in the 1950s or 1960s but in October 2002, by the so-called columnist who credited it to a newspaper that never existed. The objective was to give it an undeserving credibility. What a country! What a people! What a shame! This is a typical case of an obvious mischief by heartless mischief makers who trade in Islamophobia just to fetch for themselves ephemeral fame and illegal income.
The belief of the fabricators and those quoting them was that once such a fabricated article appears on the internet and is ignorantly quoted by some inconsequential writers as well as self acclaimed Christian Elders, it would automatically become a document of facts. That is Nigeria for you.
This is a further articulation of the authenticity of the Qur’an where it was revealed thus:
“The truth has come and falsehood has vanished; surely, falsehood is ever meant to vanish (in the presence of the truth)”. Q. 17: 81
A Premier’s Charisma
Of the four Premiers in Nigeria’s first republic, only Ahmadu Bello was bold and sincere enough to allay the fear of the minority groups in Northern Nigeria by making a public policy statement about his government’s stand concerning tribalism and religious bigotry. And this man of blessed memory was the poorest of the four Premiers despite the enormous public wealth at his disposal.
Among the four Premiers in Nigeria at that time, only Ahmadu Bello could not in any way be evidently linked to corruption. Unlike others who lived opulently, Ahmadu Bello was an ascetic personality who served his people patriotically without any blemish. He left only a small residential bungalow in his home town of Raba in Sokoto at the time of his death. And even this, was said to be the house given to him by his father, on the occasion of his first marriage. Who else left such a flank? Sir Ahmadu Bello could also not be singularly accused of tribalism because tribalism was the basis of all the existing political parties of the time. No Premier from 1954 to 1966 could be exonerated from it directly or indirectly. They were all guilty of it.
It can be recalled that certain tribal groups such as Ibiobio State Union (IBU), Ibo Federal Union (IFU) Egbe Omo Oduduwa (EOO) and ‘Jam’iyyar Al-Ummar Nigeriya ta Arewa’ translated as Northern Elements Progressive Association (NEPA) which later transformed into Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) were all tribal socio-cultural organizations that metamorphosed into political parties. All those parties preceded ‘Jam’iyyar Mutanen Arewa’ meaning Northern People’s Congress (NPC) to which Sir Ahmadu Bello belonged. Many other ethnic-based political parties later emerged to broaden tribalism in Nigerian politics. If anything, Ahmadu Bello was the least tribally inclined Premier of his time.
Xenophobia Versus Islamophobia
Nigerians who are mature enough to know how British visa was obtained by Nigerians before 1986 will testify to the fact that as citizens of the British Commonwealth, one didn’t need any visa to enter that country until 1986. As a student in the 1970s and early 1980s, yours sincerely travelled to Britain severally without visa. It was at the point of entery at Heathrow or Gatwick airport that one’s passport would be stamped with entry visa. And the minimum period of validity for such a visa was six months in the first instance.
However, that situation changed in Summer of 1986 under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who deliberately introduced visa as a prerequisite for entering Britain. That policy was a reaction to Nigeria’s championing the third world members of the Commonwealth countries to boycott that year’s Commonwealth Games hosted by the United Kingdom. At that time, General (now Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) was Nigeria’s Military Head of State. It was at the instance of Nigerian government, many British colonial countries from Africa and Asia boycotted that great event that rendered Britain nonplussed. The reason for boycotting the event was that the British government allowed the Apartheid regime of South Africa to participate in the Games in defiance of Nigeria’s vehement protest.
It will be recalled that at that time, Nigeria was the foremost African country that championed the emancipation of black South Africans from the manacles of the white Arpatheid government in that country.
In that year, yours sincerely was the Deputy Foreign Editor of Concord Newspaper owned by Bashorun MKO Abiola, who later won the June 12, 1993 Presidential election that was sadistically annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida, the self-acclaimed Evil Genius.
After calculating the anticipated gain which Britain would have made from the abortive Games, Madam Thatcher decided to punish Nigeria and other African countries that joined her in the boycott by introducing payment for entry visa into Britain which was hitherto not the case.
Now, the same Nigerians who stood firmly by South Africa in her days of racial persecution are now being subjected to xenophobia to the great amazement of the government and people of Nigeria. Yet the same people who abhor xenophobia are the champions of Islamophobia in their home country. What an irony? What a shame?