Politics of Deportations: Where Are the Northern Governors?


Religion and nationalism are the most powerful forms of indoctrination and, in the name of these two, many injustices can be done so that our idea of a shared humanity [in terms of religion and nationality] is thus contradicted and ridiculed. Nationalism is theoretically the healer of a colourfully diverse country possessed by the ghosts of hatred along the lines of the things that highlight differences, from the shapes of our places of worship to the colour of our skin. And where nationalism fails, where the love for country and appreciation of its diversity are dominated by our allegiances to personal and private interests, conflicts set in, sometimes irredeemable ones, other times those repairable through diplomacy. But where the latter fails and the former is unanimously understood, cartographers are invited to demarcate the geography of our conflicts. Like the split of India and Pakistan. Like the split of North Korea and South Korea. Like the Split of Malaysia and Singapore. And, yes, like the attempted split of Nigeria into two unequal halves.

If our history of the last 50 years is not a memo on how not to run a country, I wonder how this growing sectionalism can be tamed. What’s happening in Nigeria today is a repeat, though reversed, of those dark years where a set of people became the scapegoats for an atrocity carried out by a few aggrieved or deluded citizens who are members of a persecuted ethnicity or region. This is what made the deportation, over the week, of 84 “northerners” by Imo State government very devastating news. On suspicion of terrorism, they said. The deportees, who were in Owerri to study at Imo College of Advanced Professional Studies, ICAPS, had reportedly camped on the premises of a newspaper house while awaiting their registration procedures before their identity became pronounced as the enemies, northerners, “terrorists”, and thus they had too be deported “for fears that they might be members of the dreaded Boko Haram.” A few days before that, it was the case of Igbo youths attacking Hausa traders in Onitsha. Their crime? “(A)lleged killing of a staff of the Anambra State Transport Agency, ASTA, by a trailer driver of Northern extraction (sic)” – Vanguard Newspaper (15/01/2015). Isn’t this, this careless scapegoating, the root of our deepened sectionalism?

The earth almost folded when Lagos State’s Governor Babatunde Fashola, in one of his anti-people policies, deported some Igbos to their home state. The streak of condemnations and especially the screams of marginalisation among Igbo political and intellectual elite and the compliant masses, was deafening, and I must add, frightening. The Igbo deportees have dragged the Lagos State Government to court, and this week they declared their demand for a billion naira in damages. None of us supported Fashola. Interestingly, none of these “human rights activists”, who had shown us the shade of their ethnic activism, bothered about the ill treatments of perceived northerners in the hands of the same Igbos. Only the empathy of a bigot functions is such a manner.

And when some of us stepped out to highlight these issues, there are murmurings about attacks on the Igbos too in the north by Boko Haram insurgents. Is Boko Haram a legitimate advocate of the north, Hausa-Fulani or the Muslims? Isn’t it an enemy of state, against any people, organisation or interest averse to its heavily flawed and misrepresented ideals of Islam? In the lash of its many crimes against humanity, has Boko Haram not killed uncountable innocent Nigerians, as it targets churches, mosques of non-cooperating Muslims, schools of both Muslims and Christians, boys and girls and also public institutions where religious affiliations are not tattooed on workers’ foreheads? Permit me to ask: is the emir of Kano, a frail old man who escaped death in gun attack and now living in fear of the terrorists, a Christian – and an Igbo? Are the young men here in the north called “Civilian JTF” who have risen to fight the terrorists also Igbos – and Christians? Were the murdered retired military officer and elder statesman, General Mohammad Shuwa, and all the northern elite and technocrats lost in this madness Christians and Igbos? And was the father of Kano State’s Governor Kwankwaso who was attacked just last week a Christian and an Igbo? If Boko Haram has enjoyed the backing of the north as is being touted by hate-mongering commentators who do not even know that the north is a region of 19 expansive states, why are indigenous northerners and Muslims also targeted alongside the Christians?

Now where are the northern governors? And where are the so-called representatives of the northern interests, especially the Arewa Consultative Forum? So there is no screaming and calling for Governor Rochas Okorocha’s explanations and apologies, and, threatening to retaliate? Our Governors, especially Katshina State’s Governor Ibrahim Shema from whose State the “terrorist” suspects hailed, must carry out a needful a measure, in the fashion of Anambra State’s Governor Peter Obi’s confrontations of his Lagos counterpart. They must prove to these boys that they are indeed elected to represent them. If those prospective students have been suspected to be of the Boko Haram militants and potentially considered threats by the clairvoyance of the security personnel in Owerri, why weren’t they handed over to the “appropriate authorities” as our bail-abusing policemen are called in friendliest references?

Well, the next election is just a calendar away, you may chant “Sai mai sallah” again in abusing your franchise having been hoodwinked into sectional alignments. What have these political “masu sallah”, those representative of your own religious values and ethnic identities, done for you now that you’re being hauled as worthless third-class citizens with no political representatives? Thank you, Governor Okorocha for exposing that the Boko Haram insurgents from the republic of northern Nigeria now carry identity cards around. We thank you, sir. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

7 thoughts on “Politics of Deportations: Where Are the Northern Governors?

  1. Its frightening when Nigerians are being deported internally. Any Nigerian should be able to live, study and work frely in any part of the country. I hope advocates and people find their voices against this dehumanising treatemnt happening in ones own country.

  2. Mr Kakanda. Thanks for this write-up. The actions by the Imo state government indeed deserve condemnation. Such deportations like this and the previous occurrence that happened in Lagos make a mockery of any claims of Nigerian unity.

    I read your article quite closely. You have made several valid points. However I fear that in your indignation you have allowed yourself to exhibit some of the same ugly and regrettable emotions that inspire some of these kinds of actions. Let me explain:

    There is some concealed but still apparent anti-Igbo rhetoric in this article. Why for instance the generalized reference to Igbos and not just to the person of the governor or (if you will) the state government? After all in reference to the deportations of several Igbos from Lagos, you make reference just to Governor Fashola. That is correct and as it should be.

    In your reporting of the deportation from Imo State however you have gone a step further and sought to rope in “Igbos” in general as if this was some popular, mass movement. By all means criticize the governor/government but do not try to imply that this admittedly wrong and callous (but isolated) event is some common or systematic ill treatment of “northerners” by Igbos. The direction that you allow your article to take in this regard is quite regrettable.

    Your use of some carefully chosen hyperbole like “The earth almost folded when Lagos State’s Governor Babatunde Fashola…deported some Igbos to their home state.” and “…ill treatments of perceived northerners in the hands of the same Igbos” are also quite sensationalist and appear engineered to feed some of the bigotry, resentment and sectarianism that you claim to oppose. I find these and other profuse references to “Igbos” quite unnecessary. Your points could have been made quite clearly without these. I do not want to impute any sinister motives but to a casual observer your write-up does appear to seek to galvanise some kind of reaction.

    I understand your indignation and empathise accordingly but please be advised that flippant and poorly chosen words can often stoke tensions, inflame and trigger unfortunate outcomes in this our very fractured and bitterly divided nation. Thank you.

  3. Apparently my previous comment was not allowed on your blog. I assume this one will suffer the same fate. Not a problem, it’s your blog and you are free to allow the comments you desire. From what I can see the only comments which are allowed appear to be either those that praise your writing or agree with your point of view. A comment that offers some criticism or challenges certain aspects of your essay seems to have no place on this blog.

    Quite unfortunate though as I had assumed/hoped you to be one who would not one to shy away from the a little criticism and willing to have his views challenged. I had remotely hoped that we could have a useful conversation and through the purifying process of dialectic become better informed.

  4. I fet a compelling and rising fury within me as I read this as I can feel the emotion of the writer. What is more is the loud silence of the so called Human Right Activist. Where is Falana who had to leave everythinh he was doing just to save Governor Chime’s wife? Where are the likes of Debo, the Odumakins and others? Oh…. Are we to believe that there Jurisdiction don’t extend to the North?

  5. You are incensed (and rightfully so) by the profiling of the “northerners” as terrorists. I agree with you in this respect. However you then commit the same thing you accuse others of being guilty of. Your article goes to great lengths to ascribe collective guilt to “Igbos” for the actions of a few individuals. I find this inconsistent

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