General Ibrahim Babangida And The ‘’Doctrine of Settled Issues’’ —Femi Fani-Kayode

“I can go back to fight a war to keep this country together even at 71…..some people are saying that should anything happen to President Jonathan, forget about Nigeria and so on. I know those who are saying this. Yes, they are supporters of the President. But I know the President is a sensible person so don’t waste your time saying that the world would come to an end if something happens to your son. Of course he is your son but he is our President. I have always respected these people but these things that they say amaze me. These are the same people that went to school, people who went to universities, people that are educated and people who have held positions of responsibility. There is a doctrine known as the ”Doctrine of Nigeria’s Settled Issues” and nobody should attempt to tamper with them. Number one, I don’t want anyone of us to tamper with anything to do with Nigerian unity. Number two, the republican constitution is also a settled issue, more or less. Number three, the states are the federating units of this country and number four we are a capitalist country. Anybody that wants to talk about this country must make sure that he doesn’t do anything that will disrupt these basic settled issues in our political life. Anyone that is talking about dismembering this country you should not listen to him. If we see such things as ”christian south” and ”muslim north” we should disregard it. Even if such people say it the media should ignore it because you know it is not the truth, so you should not even write it”- GENERAL IBRAHIM BABANGIDA, The Daily Trust Annual Dialogue, Abuja, 26th January 2012.

I have nothing but the deepest respect and affection for General Ibrahim Babangida and those that know me can attest to this. He is not only a great and profoundly good man that has sacrificed so much for our nation but he is also one of the very few truly detribalised leaders who genuinely and honestly loves Nigeria and who passionately believes that the interest of every Nigerian is better served if our country remains as one. I do not for one minute doubt General Babangida’s sincerity of purpose or his deep sense of partiotism. Anyone that can take a bullet to keep Nigeria one must always be given his due respect and honour. Yet despite my personal feelings and affection for the general I am afraid that, from an intellectual and political perspective, I have to respectfully and humbly disagree with him on this issue. I do not believe that there is any such thing as a ”Doctrine of Settled Issues” in our body politic and neither, in my view, is Nigeria as we know it today a sacrosanct, unbreakable or unchangeable union. It is trite that the only thing that is certain in the life of men and nations is change. Whether we like it or not change is like an irresistable tide and, when it’s time comes, it is like a moving train and a raging wind which crushes or blows away anyone or anything that stands in its way.

You either bend with it or you break. I am a student of history and it may interest those that subscribe to this rather arcane and anachronistic theory known as the ”Doctrine Of Settled Issues” to know that Nigeria remains the only mega-nation and forced union of incompatibles that the British colonial masters cobbled together at the beginning of the 20th century that still remains together today. There were actually three in all and the other two, namely the Sudan and India, have broken into two and three pieces respectively over the years. Why should Nigeria be any different? More importantly why should we be told that Nigeria MUST be different? Would this have been so if there was oil in the north?

Again when one considers the delightful and miraculous ”crumbling” of the almighty Soviet Union (another forced artificial union) or the breaking up of the old Yugoslavia and the emancipation and creation of numerous new countries in the Balkans and eastern Europe which came as a consequence of that magnificent change, I ask again, why should Nigeria be any different? The words of the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher are instructive here. In the September 2, 1991 edition of Newsweek she said, ”the lesson of this century is that countries put together artificially will fall apart. National identities will not be suppressed”. Twenty years after these famous words were spoken we are beginning to witness their relevance and veracity in Nigeria. The right to self-determination and to forcefully resist what many feel is an internal colonial system is a legitimate and inalienable right of all free men and women. You cannot hold me down and keep me in your house on your own terms and deny me the right to be free or to say or do as I please. If you do not treat me fairly and if you continue to make me feel worthless and full of fear of your terror and ability to inflict violence on me and mine, then eventually, whether you like it or not, I will leave. No one signed their life or their future away to bondage and none of us subscribed to the view that decisions about our country and our furure can and have been made by our past leaders and heroes and that they can no longer be changed or altered. I say that they can if the circumstances determine that this must be so. And if you do not give us our rights eventually we will exercise them by force and regardless of how you feel.

As much as I am amongst those that have criticised the Goodluck Jonathan administration forcefully, objectively and vigorously over some of their policies in the last few months let me make two things clear. Firstly my criticisms are borne out of my concern for our country and nothing else. I have nothing against Mr. President personally other than the fact that by not getting it right he is playing into the hands of the ”born to rule” northern cabal who believe that he does not have a right to be President simply because he is an Ijaw man. The overwhelming majority of the Hausa- Hulani intelligentsia and elite do NOT belong to this cabal and are indeed decent, law-abiding, rational and patriotic Nigerians. However there is a small, powerful and strategically-placed cabal that do espouse this Hitlerite philosophy and do believe that no southerner should have the right to rule in peace without being told what to do and without being teleguided and controlled by them. This small but strategically-placed group have sworn to make the country ungovernable for Jonathan and we are now seeing the results of that threat. For the record let us just warn these ethnic supremacists that they must not misconstrue the position that some of us have taken when it comes to this government and its policies as an endorsement of their deeply conspiratorial and despicable ethnic agenda. I should also add that Jonathan must not die under any mysterious circumstances. If this were to happen there would be no Nigeria left afterwards and by the time it is all over they will know that it is only when you kill a madman that you will know that he has friends and family. The new Nigeria has no place and no room for those that believe in the “born to rule” philosophy or those that subscribe to any form of Boko Harm or Taliban-style islamic fundamentalism. We will not tolerate it, we will not bow to it and we will resist it with every fibre of our being.

I have said it before and I will say it again- if Nigeria is not a place that every ethnic nationality is regarded as being equal and is treated as such then let there be no more Nigeria. There is nothing that is sacrosanct about a forced union of incompatibles. If you are in a bad marriage you get out of it before you kill each other. The Lugardian ”poor husband of the north” cannot force the ”rich wife of the south” to remain in this unholy and iniquitous union for much longer unless the terms are right and unless there is equity and justice for all. The mistake we made in 1967 by not standing on Aburi will not be repeated. The days of the master/servant relationship that we have witnessed between the north and the south for 51 years of our national existence are long over and they shall never return again. This country is moving forward and she is not going back and if Presdent Goodluck Jonathan can just get his act together and vigorously resist the hegemonist giants in the land he would have my full support and that of millions of others. This is the time for a new vision for our country. It is the time for new leaders who are ready to stand up and speak the truth about our precarious state of affairs and about the direction in which our nation must go. It is the time to talk about the convening of a Sovereign National Conference and to answer the Nationality Question. It is the time for courage. Let us not take our unity for granted or treat it as ”a given”. Nigeria must change, she must be restructured, she must be reformed and she must make every single ”Nigerian” believe that he or she can get to the top regardless of their nationality or faith.

On a final note permit me to point out the fact that it does not help when you have a northern Governor of Central Bank who seeks to create a subtle but clear intellectual justification for the existence and activities of Boko Haram by telling the Financial Times of London that ”there is clearly a direct link between the very uneven nature of distribution of resources and the rising level of violence. When you look at the figures and you look at the size of the population of the north you can see that there is a structural imbalance of enormous proportions. Those states simply do not have enough money to meet their basic needs whilst some states have too much money”. The subliminal message and signals are clear to the discerning. Yet it does not stop there. Thisday newspaper (28th Jan. 2012) reported that that same individual said that ”attempts to redress historic grievances in Nigeria’s oil-rich south may inadvertantly have helped create the conditions for the islamic insurgency spreading from the impoverished north-eastern region of the country”. I am astounded by this contribution and having read it, it is now very clear to me that President Goodluck Jonathan was absolutely right when he told us that there were secret members and sympathisers of Boko Haram at the highest levels of his government. The Governor of Central Bank’s rationalisation and attempted justification of the shameful and unacceptable activities of the murderous islamist sect Boko Haram are an eloquent testimony to that fact. Yet he is not alone. The northern Speaker of the Federal House added insult to injury by saying that Boko Haram should be ”forgiven” for their sins and called to the table for ”dialogue and negotiations”. And this was just a day after the Kano bombings. Mr. President apparantly took his advice because just a few days later he reached out to Boko Haram on CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, asked them to identify themselves and attempted to open a dialogue with them. In return, and predictably in my view, he was rebuked, spurned, treated with contempt and disdain and told to ”repent and become a muslim” before any form of dialogue could begin. So much for the advice, counsel and rationalisations of the ”insiders” and secret members of Boko Haram within our government. My advice to Mr. President is to identify these fifth columnists, name and shame them publicly and weed them out of his government before it is too late. The longer he waits the more dangeous it will be for him and for a united Nigeria. Let us pray for our country.

•Fani is former Aviation Minister.


  1. Ben Boaz

    Fani has raised very serious issues that should not be treated lightly. People are watching and …… waiting. The demonstartion of peoples’ power as per the oil subsidy wahala is a sign that no sane person should ignore.
    If the south is considered as ”docile”, just wait until the sleeping dog awakes. Have we forgotten so soon what happened after June 12? Wetin baba see wey make am ”step aside?”
    When gbege go happen no forces in the north can stop it. Nothing even those who will come out of retirement at 71 to keep Nigeria one!
    If Federal forces could not tame the ’67 – ’70 war let’s wait and see how they fight a war on at least 6 fronts!!.
    Perhaps this is the best time to address deep issues of our national life: if a section believes it is their birthright to rule because they are” superior” in terms of their mode of worship then why cant the rest of us go our separate ways?

    Mark my words: Nigeria will split. The BIG question is whether we’d do so by jaw jawing or by war warring…. the real revolution is coming.

  2. Garden-City Boy

    The issue of whether or not there is really a Hausa/Fulani conspiracy to keep a stranglehold on power in Nigeria has remained a lightening-rod for contentious debate. With hindsight, it does indeed appear the string of endless army coups, vote annulments and vote rigging where components of a grand design to keep the nation a Hausa/Fulani serfdom. As those gambits became stale, the inventive evil geniuses invoked PLAN-B. This timed around it pulled the deadly BOKO-HARAM insurgency out of the hat of intrigues, which again is actually another product of a clan’s conspiratorial ingenuity. With nearly every word uttered these days, the little doubt left about the Hausa/Fulani agenda rapidly melts away, exposing the naked treachery of a manipulative cult. Rather naively, Southerners have soaked it all up in good faith, in the belief that their Northern “compatriots” were acting in good faith, and playing to the rules, for the common good. Current developments and utterances by Northern elements suggest that Boko Haram is indeed a massive plot to create general instability and chaos, and then set the stage for the Jonathan-led administration ouster. While the South was kept guessing, the North went to work with burying its fangs deep in the nation’s jugular with uncanny avidity.
    The condescending show of crude arrogance of the oligarchy spokesman is to drum it into our thick heads HOW THEY WANT IT AND HOW IT WAS CARVED ON STONE TO KEEP IT THAT WAY IN PERPETUITY. As he was quoted as saying, ‘it is quite amazing’. It did not come as a surprise that when he usurped power in a military coup, he arrogated to himself the title of president, but never for one day did he look like one. The ‘Doctrine of Settled Issues’, nicknamed the ‘constitution’, was then they rammed down; the nation plodded on wobbly legs ever since, and getting nowhere.
    In his famed infinite wisdom, the status quo is Babangida pick on our behalf as he retires from a failed political gamble. The veiled resolve to covertly return to the trenches in uniforms yet again, to fight imminent political restructuring, is well noted. We do not need for him, or anybody for that matter, to remind us that Jonathan is Nigeria’s President. He did not break out of the woodwork, or drop from the skies by a parachute. He doubles as an Ijaw native -a Southerner. Similarly, Tafawa Balewa, Murtala Mohamed, Shehu Shagari, Muhamadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sanni Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar, Shehu Yar’Adua are all Northerners, mainly Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri, and did not break out of the woodwork.
    It is both insane and irresponsible to suggest that the South should not “waste (your) time saying that the world would come to an end if something happens to your son”. Babangida should know better than pushing his frustration beyond safe limits. That remark is engorged with the insinuation that the alarm raised over an assassinate plot against this President may indeed be true. It is imprudent, for a man who ruled this country for 8 miserable years, to taunt a section of the society with you-can’t-do-anything-about-it mien. It is an expeditious path to stoking a conflagration. The cabal must be exceedingly careful that no harm comes to this President may be traceable to them. The backlash will make the 1966 Hausa/Fulani rampage a child’s play; those heavens will literarily come crashing down, the South can promise that.
    Fani-Kayode spoke the mind of the South; it could not be done any better. There is no question that Southerners are miffed with the piece of classic Hausa/Fulni disdainful haughtiness. However as “if the world would come to an end if something happens”, Fani-Kayoke went on a rigmarole of patronizing a wishful thinker. He clothed a proponent of a whimsical baloney he characterized as the “Doctrine of Settled Issues” in borrowed garments. There is nothing sincere about dribbling the nation into a catastrophic minefield of a ‘return to democracy’ – a transition to military rule he did not intend. He was in carried away in his euphoric juggling that he dropped the ball on the Hausa/Fulani, revealing all the wild cards that they played close to the chest. At the end, he ‘stepped aside’, whatever that meant. He jumped the ship of state, leaving it in the most turbulent drift. It is rather odd that Fani-Kayode takes that as the best act of a patriot who meant well for his country. What about the long list of mysterious deaths? What is honorable about a man fingered for helping himself with the proceeds from the Gulf war oil bonanza? What about S.A.P, that made many dry up? Had he not been the personification of arrogance deceit, he would have accorded some recognition to the nation he ’loves‘, show some modicum of humility and submit to an invitation to attend the Oputa Truth and Reconciliation Panel hearings. Rather, he exploited the gaping loopholes in our bastardized legal system to frustrate his invitation. He dared anybody to do something about it, or go to hell. During his rule, I believe it was, a Muslim man was posted to the Vatican as ambassador to the Holy See, as well as in Mecca. Not one Christian could qualify for that job, let alone a Catholic. The guy capped his fanaticism with throwing the nation into the OIC through the back window, while no one was watching. As far as he was concerned, Christians neither exist nor count in Nigeria. That is as fanatical as a man can be.
    Then here he comes again, talking down on us, dictating what he wants, how he wants it, what we should think and how to say the thoughts, having radicalized the citizenry with some idiotic “DOCTRINE OF SETTLED ISSUES” the call “constitution‘. With 51 years experience with cultic shenanigans, the South would want to say: NEVER AGAIN!!!

  3. jaeramy

    What an idiot! You are no better than a prostitute! You know what Fani? I think if the devil offers you money and political power, you will kill God for him…if you can! Shut up!

  4. Nasir Ahmad

    It is quite unfortunate that a former minister is saying this.Only god knows what the illiterates are thinking.Just make sure you have enough petroleum in yoruba land mr fani because by the time this nation break, the niger delta wil continue to say “our resources” not for them and you kindred

  5. leke

    fani Kayode… how come you did not have these ideas when you were in Govt and had influence.
    We in Nigeria are fed up of people like you that do shit when in Govt and start saying you have ideas when you are sidelined.
    Both you and IBB should be resting in a prison somewhere instead of occupying our valuable news media

  6. Ukattaokore

    Boko haram started a revolution on a wrong footing,If IBB had used the 12b oil windfall to build dams in the north and buy agricultural impliments to create employment for the teeming youths,there wouldn’t have been any Bokoharam today.Rather he chosed to live bigger than the queen of England by using the money to build palaces and running multi- billion companies by proxy.Well he exposed people to opulent live and

    opened a highway to unimaginable corruption as every body threw caution to wind and began to pillage our resources thus bringing us to a state of anarchy.Boko haram should continue the revolution by collecting our money from IBB,Danjuma,Abubakar and the rest of the crimininals who have been in government and their contractor friends.You can imagine what 300b dollar can do if handled prudently by the revolutionaries.

  7. Justin Opara

    This may be a good article but it came from a very wrong person. Why must we talk of reorgnisation or soverign national conference now when during the time of Obasanjo,mere mentioning of such things would have attracted insults to whoever dared to do so.Obasanjo made the Federal governement more powerful and ran the most corrupt government ever in that country.I do not care whether Nigeria lives or dies but I hate hypocrisy.Note that the presence of Jonathan at that highest level of goverment in Nigeria, was one of the evil legacies ofObasanjo and his government of which this same Fani Kayode was an active participant.

  8. Abusman

    The speach of mr kayode is out of sence!

  9. Omosigho

    This Fani of a man is seeking for position again the write up is his modus operandi in drawing the Government of the day to ” I am available for a ministerial job” the tactic he used in getting jog from Obasanjo before he looted the Aviation Ministry. By the way has he returned the loot? or is he thinking that this write up will make Jona to tell EFCC tha t” this is one of us”. the language of looting cabals

  10. frank


  11. Prince Olu Olu Omi

    Well spoken and well written, like father like son, Balogun RA fanikayode was never afraid to speak his mind, in the 1950s; he wanted the British must leave our soil. Please keep up the good sprit. If I could remember, it was once said that Nigeria was a description of a geographical area. We need to have a dialogue and find a lasting solution to this lingering problem of security and other menace

  12. Inaran

    I enjoyed reading your article and I believe Nigeria should be allowed to split by choice. IBB’s comments regarding this are a clear sign of someone who has a controlling spirit. The gift of choice to man is from Almighty and we should not be deprived of it. As for Boko Haram and their supporters, they have already lost the battle. Almighty God was already aware of Boko Haram & Co before Nigeria was even put together falsely and Almighty has dealt with them. My sincere hope is that those who are called to stand in the gap, to pray more. Please don’t put your hope in any man but God alone and this should reflect in our daily walk.
    Those who are pregnant please don’t live in fear as you will pass it on to your unborn child. Just watch and pray.

  13. Johny Amene

    The earlier we go our separate ways the better for us. This country in the true sense is ungovernable right now.

  14. Abrahan Nnanta

    Alhaji IBB forgot or failed to include that Nigeria is a member of IOC in his list of doctrine of Nigerian SETTLED ISSUES, Is this not enough to push us to war with him for tampering with the most important of the issues?. Please we need apologies.

  15. RSK

    Well said omo Fani power. You forgot to add that it was an unholy union.The name Nigeria was coined by the concubine/girlfriend of the colonial governor Lord

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