Who are the beneficiaries of the current state of insecurity in Nigeria?

By Rafiq Raji

Kano is the real centre of the north, not Kaduna. Politics follows commerce, always. The profession of choice among Kano natives (“Kanawa” or “BaKano”) is trading. Kanawas are traditionally traders. Before contact with the British, a respectable bakano male was either a trader, an Islamic scholar, a warrior or all of the above. Although today the list is a little longer, the respectable professions are along the same lines. If you got an education, you almost always ended up in the civil service as a teacher, doctor but in most cases as an administrator. The business-savvy ones – the majority – went into business or banking. The warrior types went to the military. So you’d typically find the Hausa-Fulani at all key points of power in the Nigerian society. These choices have proved fortuitous for the Hausa-Fulani stock, as they have ruled Nigeria for the most part since independence. Their relative enervation in recent years since the Obasanjo administration thus remains a very sore wound.

A typical Hausa-Fulani is highly politically sophisticated. The Bakano is even more. Because of the nature of their domestic structures, most Hausa-Fulani males grow up in polygamous households dotted on by their mothers and female relatives. The Hausa-Fulani male would not cook his food or wash his plates. It is an anomaly frowned upon by male and female members of each household for the Hausa male to even linger over much in the kitchen. By tradition, he is privileged. This privilege comes with responsibilities, however. All Hausa-Fulani males are conditioned to be alpha personalities. He learns early on how to organize, persuade, coerce, influence views and shape opinions for his ends. Although typically in the shadows, the females are even more politically astute. They have to compete with other similarly wily wives, remember. Their political savvy usually metamorphoses itself in their sons and husbands. Men may boast all they want, the neck would always determine where the head turns.

So if you wanted to hit at the heart of the north, you go for Kano. Why? They don’t suffer fools gladly. There has not been an election in Kano where the elected was not the choice of the people. Ever! A very proud people, Kanawas. They have a saying: Ko da mai kazo an pika! It means “with whatever you come, we are better than you!” This recent bombing in Kano was political irrespective of who the perpetrators are. And for a very politically aware and proud people, their reaction is predictable. Defiance. Sarki Sanusi knows his people. He is one of them. To have stayed back in Saudi Arabia a minute longer would have been frowned upon. The symbolism of that sunset prayer at the site of the bombed mosque this past Saturday should not be underestimated. To have done anything less would have amounted to him not being worthy of his throne. It is also a sign of things to come.

When I first heard of the attack, the first question that popped up in my head was: which mosque? You hear about these things and you try to empathize while still doing your job. You try to imagine how it would feel if the victims were your loved ones. But no feeling you work up comes even close to how heart-wrenched you feel when there is even the slightest possibility that one of your own could be a casualty. A loved one was at that mosque on that ominous day. Being a prominent figure, he was as well a target as His Courageous Highness. It then begs the question: who are the likely beneficiaries of this recent spate of violence? You don’t need to be too discerning to know that the attacks have become bolder and more political of late. The political messaging of this recent attack is unambiguous. Whether Sarki Sanusi was the target or not – by some accounts, the third time an attempt would be made on his life since his ascendancy to the Kano throne – the attacks achieved a very clear political objective that is potentially rewarding to both sides of the political divide. This recent bombing in Kano bolsters the insecurity narrative of opposition politicians. It also potentially creates the foundation for a case the authorities could make to impose a state of emergency in Kano, postpone the February 2015 elections, or not conduct elections in certain parts of the country. But then any such measure would have to be approved by the National Assembly; a legislature, particularly the lower House, now vehemently opposed to the Executive.

So the question again: who benefits from the current state of insecurity in Nigeria? There are internal and external beneficiaries. Both the ruling and opposition parties are also beneficiaries. And the explanations are complex. So let us stick with simple logic. If there is insecurity in a country, who do you blame? You blame the institution charged with that responsibility. It is the responsibility of a government to provide security for its people. Thus, although the authorities say they are doing all they can to fight terrorism, the people of the North are not convinced. And this recent attack at its heart has likely succeeded in entrenching this view. Kanawas’ political views usually carry the day in the North because of their relatively high population and dynamism. If the intention of the bombers was to finally extinguish the slightest speck of credibility the current administration has in the North, they likely succeeded. Conversely, if the intention of the bombers was to create the grounds for emergency rule in Kano, election postponement or no election at all in places like Kano, they also likely succeeded. So I ask again: who benefits from the current state of insecurity in Nigeria?

Opinions expressed are mine and not that of any institution(s) I may be affiliated with.


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