WHILE ROME BURNS, EMPEROR NERO FIDDLES
By HR Udunna Ukegbu
The reader can replace this headline with: AS THE NORTH PREPARES FOR RESTRUCTURING, THE SOUTH BLOWS HOT AIR.
The Roman Emperor Nero is considered by many religious scholars to be the Antichrist, the beast codemarked 666, who ordered the execution of his own mother, persecuted and brutally executed many early Christians (including the apostles Peter and Paul), a group he falsely blamed for the fire that consumed most of Rome in 64 AD. Legend has it that as Nero watched the six-day conflagration, he somberly played the stringed musical instrument, the cythara. The “beast” was also a trained musician, sculptor, painter and poet, much like Adolf Hitler was also a painter.
Today, as has often happened in the past, some key Northern leaders always come together and plan ahead to confront a crisis they see approaching. [You have probably heard about the famous or infamous “Kaduna Mafia.”] You do realize now, I hope, that leaders in Northern Nigeria took time to plan the May, July, September and October 1966 massacres of Igbos and other people from Eastern Nigeria who lived amongst them. The tail end of their dastardly ethnic cleansing campaign took the veneer of a mob action, but was in reality carefully planned and executed across the entire Northern Region. Igbo leaders were not doing any planning on their own side, and the blood-letting caught them by surprise. At a point Igbos who had earlier fled to safety in the East returned to the killing fields in the North believing the new military government of Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon which seized power in August 1966 would protect them. How wrong they were; they had no knowledge of the enormity and extent of the massacre Northern leaders had in plan.
The onset of the Civil War prevented any international accounting being demanded of the Gowon government. The gory killings were swept under the carpet of war, and the barbarians got away with murder. Mass murder. The Igbos are only left with the hope that God will settle the matter in the hereafter.
Today, the entire Southern Nigeria is doing practically nothing as conservative Northern leaders put in high gear their operation to win the Restructuring battle in Nigeria. Day by day, the signs of this plot are being manifested, yet the Southern leaders remain clueless, completely unable to connect the dots. They moan loudly about this and that which the Buhari government is doing. Some choice items:
All the nation’s security chiefs are Northern Muslims, a clear violation of the “federal character” principle constitutionally required for all federal government appointments.
The Buhari government almost succeeded in borrowing a whopping $17 billion, with almost all of it going to fund projects in the North.
The masterplan for a new Railway system calls for it to go by the coast and avoids most of the Southeast.
When the late Abba Kyari forced the former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to accept a skewed membership of the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC), most of Nigeria had no idea what had happened, because then in 2016, if you went to the NNPC website and clicked on the button for the Board, it would not open. The following excerpt is from page 607 of the 700-page confidential report THE FUTURE OF NIGERIA 2017 published in December 2016 by my company IRG Consultants (division of Accrezion Corp.):
... the members of the NNPC Board:
Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chairman
Mr. Abba Kyari, President Buhari's Chief of Staff (North)
Dr. Maicanti Baru, Group Managing Director, NNPC (North)
Mr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance (North)
Dr. (Mrs) Jamila Shua'ra, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources (North)
Mr. Pius Oluwole Akinyelure
Dr. Thomas M. A. John
Mr. Mohammed Lawal (North)
Mr. Yusuf Lawal (North)
Dr. Tajudeen Umar (North)
Now things get curious with the names of the people appointed to the board of the NNPC. The junior minister (Kachikwu), as is the norm, is the chairman. Joining him on the board is Dr. Maicanti Baru, the NNPC's Group Managing Director. A statutory member is the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, in the present case, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (a Northerner). Another statutory member is the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. (Mrs.) Jamila Shua'ra, who is also a Northerner.
In the board membership announcements, Mr. Pius Oluwole Akinyelure, a retired top executive of Mobil Oil Nigeria PLC, is a member. He is clearly APC National Leader Bola Tinubu's appointee, as he is a well-known friend of Tinubu's. The third member from the South is Dr. Thomas M. A. John, the fellow who was Chamberlain Oyibo's predecessor as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC during the time of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida's dictatorship.
Two of the members are individuals from Buhari's northern Katsina State, namely, Mr. Mohammed Lawal, and Mr. Yusuf Lawal. Dr. Tajuddeen Umar, another Northerner, who once chaired the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Authority, is also a member. The seventh member from the North is Mr. Abba Kyari, Buhari's Chief of Staff.
So, any time there is a vote by the Board, the North (with seven out of the ten members) is assured of a majority. Ironically, all the oil is produced in the South.
Mr. Bola Tinubu had to journey to London to lobby President Buhari [who was then in London dealing with his medical issues] to include his friend. Mr. Akinyelure wasn’t a tough candidate to lobby on behalf of, because Abba Kyari had served in Mobil as did of course Ibe Kachikwu.
Ever wondered why Buhari in this his second term took away the Ministry of Power portfolio from Mr. Babatunde Fashola and gave it to Mr. Saleh Mamman? You would quickly answer that Buhari felt that Fashola was not performing as well as expected handling the combined three ministries of Power, Works and Housing. But the correct answer is different, and I will soon come to that. Anyone who knows Nigeria would realize that Power is the thorniest problem that Nigeria has faced, and one that has defied solution for decades, and a proven leader like Fashola would be better placed to handle Power, if the superministry was to be broken up. It would have been understandable if Buhari had given Fashola the Power Ministry and offloaded the Ministry of Works and Housing to others.
Now, let us begin to connect the dots, and get more educated about what is really going on in Nigeria.
You heard it here first. The North is far along on executing its plan to be ready for life after Nigeria’s Restructuring. The Northern leaders know that they escaped by the whiskers from Restructuring following President Goodluck Jonathan’s National Conference in 2014. The members of that Confab, almost 500 in number, were very knowledgeable and important people from all the corners of Nigeria. Furthermore, the Chairman of the Conference was a respected former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Kutigi, from Niger State. There was no way the North could claim that they were marginalized in the membership of the Conference. Still, they battled tooth and nail to derail the Conference, everything went through votes, both needed and unneeded, and the provisions needed a supermajority to pass. Still Mr. Kutigi hung tough. He wanted the Conference, which consumed billions of naira, to not end in failure and be a waste.
The Northern leaders ultimately gave in and the Conference succeeded in passing substantial resolutions, even though these were clearly watered down from the original concepts. The remaining question became what choice President Jonathan would make: Organize a national referendum as is done virtually everywhere else in the world? [Instructively, the Nigerian constitutions passed since 1979 were not “We the people” constitutions, but “We the military” constitutions.] The alternative path for Jonathan was to send the Conference Resolutions to the National Assembly for that body to use for a massive exercise in amendments of the existing constitution. The cowardly Jonathan shelved the Report, announcing that he would take up the matter in his second term. That promise, reportedly packaged with dollar bills, earned him the endorsement of Southwestern monarchs, to the chagrin of the Afenifere, who were outraged by the massive corruption that had been going on in Jonathan’s administration. Still, Jonathan’s ploy succeeded to a considerable extent because the Yorubas gave him half of their aggregate votes. But he lost the election anyway, although to his credit he honorably conceded defeat.
As you might imagine, the Northerners breathed a collective sigh of relief when President Jonathan chickened out. President Buhari happily let the Conference Report gather dust on the shelf where Jonathan had kept it. The Northerners wanted to move immediately to create a plan to protect their interests, but the guerrilla war in the Niger Delta and low world oil prices had crippled the Nigerian economy, rendering them unable to quickly carry out their agenda. Consequently, they were determined to get Buhari a second term come hell or high water. That explains why they were ready to go to such extremes as to fire Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen and replace him with Mr. Tanko Mohammed, who would do anything he was asked. The Buhari government at this juncture did not care about international opinion about the rigging of the 2019 elections, though it was a country like the United States that pressured Jonathan to concede defeat in 2015. The Northerners were ready to turn their back on America, believing that China could satisfy their needs.
The Northern Plan and its Execution
The Northern leaders know that there will be Restructuring after a Southerner becomes President in 2023. However, they would do their utmost best to help elect a Southerner who wouldn’t be serious with Restructuring or who would at least not do the type of Restructuring that would significantly whittle down the federal government. The Northerners know that they cannot elect a Northerner to become President in 2023, and neither can they hold on to the presidency after Buhari’s second term, for otherwise they would see the country break up.
So, just in case they cannot elect a “useful idiot” from the South to become president, someone the Northern hordes would be made to vote for en masse, they would use the last four years of Buhari’s second and final term to prepare the North for a life after Restructuring. The overarching aim is to use Nigeria’s resources to develop the North’s infrastructure very quickly, even to surpass the South, and set a new irreversible path for the North’s rapid development. Action points:
(1) Accelerate the Chinese development of the Northern Railway System. Even build a Railway line to the President’s hometown of Daura and take the line to the Fulani centre in Ramadi, in Niger Republic.
(2) Have the Chinese build a Transportation University in Daura, and have the Transportation Ministry handle this development, including sending many Northern students to learn all aspects of Railway transportation construction and management in a university in China.
(3) Announce the discovery of oil in the Chad/Benue basin of the North, the same place, international oil companies with their sophisticated technology have failed to find oil in commercial quantities. Actually, the real plan is to help the neighboring nation Niger develop its oil industry. Niger is already a small oil producer. The NNPC under Abba Kyari’s oversight during Ibe Kachikwu’s time had already been ordered to look into connecting the Nigérien oil fields to the Kaduna Refinery so that the North would no longer have to depend on Southern oil fields. The following excerpt comes from page 625 of the same 2017 IRG Consultants report THE FUTURE OF NIGERIA.
Nigeria to Import Crude from Niger Republic to Feed Kaduna Refinery
The Nigerian government is in advanced talks to import crude oil from the neighboring Niger Republic to use as feedstock for the Kaduna Refinery. To this effect the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. plans to build a 1,000-km pipeline that will transport the crude from Niger’s Agadem oilfield to Kaduna.
A statement by NNPC spokesman Ndu Ughamadu on November 27, 2016 quoted NNPC CEO Maikanti Baru as saying: “Due to challenges with the aged refinery and crude oil pipelines that had been breached severally, the operations of the refinery has been epileptic. This we are determined to resolve through various intervention methods, including evaluation of alternative crude oil supply from Niger Republic through building of a pipeline of over 1, 000 kilometers from Agadem to Kaduna. That effort is being championed by Mr. President himself.”
Said Baru: “The Corporation has already started engagements with the Nigerien Minister of Petroleum and the Chinese that are operating the field at Agadem.”
Niger's Agadem Block is located in the East Niger Rift Basin, and has a production capacity of 21,000 bpd. IRG analysts speculate that the NNPC may be trying to swap its partnership crude from Nigerian production in the South for the Chinese output in Niger. China's CNPC has been refining crude at the Soraz Refinery, near Zinder, close to the Nigerian border, in which it has a controlling 60% equity interest. The Soraz Refinery is configured to satisfy Nigerien domestic demand for refined products, leaving some capacity for export.
There are some who would say that the official petroleum minister, President Buhari himself, is putting the Kaduna Refinery in a position to operate successfully and serve the North, were the South to separate from the Nigerian state.
(4) Under the guidance of Abba Kyari and current Power Minister Saleh Mamman, the Buhari government was set to use major portions of the proposed US$17 billion Chinese loan to complete the $6 billion 3,050 MW Mambilla Hydroelectricity project in Taraba State to serve the needs of the North. Under the radar some of the loan was to be used for the upgrade and expansion of the Kainji Dam (960 MW nameplate capacity), the Shiroro Dam and Jebba Dam hydroelectric stations (combined output 1,200 MW). Money would also be devoted to developing other renewable energy projects, primarily solar and wind power, so that by the time Buhari’s second and final term ends in May 2023, electricity output in the North would be at least 10,000 MW. This output capacity would provide constant electricity to the North, all of it renewables, without the need for combined-cycle gas power plants which, you guessed it, would require natural gas from the South to function. This electric power development plan was of such urgency and importance that Abba Kyari himself had to travel to Germany to conclude what would have amounted to a secret deal with the German giant, Siemens AG. You ask yourself, why would a presidential Chief of Staff be handling such a responsibility?
(5) The government of Gen. Gowon, you can say, went overboard in its massive irrigation development projects in the North, an effort that was seen to completion by Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, who tried to do something for the South with his “Operation Feed the Nation,” and “Water Basin Development Authorities,” which basically all collapsed soon as he left office. [In fairness I should add that General Obasanjo drew up plans for the construction of the Ikere Gorge Dam on the Ogun River in Oyo State, which was being built during 1982/1983 by President Shehu Shagari. That dam was not of the quality or size of the Northern dams built by Gowon and quickly became useless as it was abandoned by subsequent military dictatorships. It was the same situation with the tiny Oyan Dam near Abeokuta in Ogun State, and the Obudu Dam in Cross River State]. Look for the Buhari government to pour more Southern resources from crude oil sales and taxes into building more dams and irrigation projects to make the North, that is being assailed by desert encroachment, even more fertile. Right now, there are irrigation dams virtually everywhere in the North, and agricultural production is massive. The dams include: the Challawa Gorge Dam (Kano State); Tiga Dam (Kano State); Kafin Zaki Dam (Bauchi State); Kiri Dam (Adamawa State); Dadin Kowa Dam (Gombe State); Zobe Dam (Katsina State); and Goronyo Dam (Sokoto State). And don’t forget, Kainji (Niger), Shiroro (Niger), and Jebba (Kwara and Niger).
(6) The Buhari government has also recently announced that it will borrow €950 million ($1.2 billion) to import equipment for mechanized agriculture and agro industries. Your guess is as good as mine where those mechanized agricultural equipment will be headed to. The North? The part of the country where large-scale agriculture is most practised? The part of the country where virtually all the national fertilizer production and imports go to? The Buhari government says that the loan, the source of which is undisclosed, will be used to buy the tractors and other such machinery and leased to private individuals and companies who would then hire out the machinery on a per diem basis, and use their profits to service the loans. Purportedly the tractors will be made available in all the thirty six states, but guess which people would take the risk of leasing the tractors? Definitely not many people in the South who don’t do agriculture on the massive scale of the North. And who can say whether eventually the loans would not be forgiven and the individuals and companies who received the machinery in the North get away with paying absolutely nothing? The aim, after all, is to make the North more economically dominant in agriculture than it already is.
(7) The unyielding nature of the Igbo people, their stubborn refusal to accept Buhari as their leader, the horrors of the Civil War which led to the deaths of over 120,000 Nigerian, and Hausa-speaking Chadian and Nigérien soldiers, is not something Gen. Buhari is able to forget, and so there is Igbophobia going on. That explains why if anything that smells like trouble rears its head in the Southeast, he overreacts and quickly takes the proverbial hammer to confront an ant.
(8) The Northern leaders would support even a Yoruba politician for President if he would stop Restructuring from taking place. But they know now that no Yoruba politician would dare stop Restructuring come 2023. That would spell the end of that politician. Many Yorubas at this point are even more anxious than Igbos and Niger Delta people to leave Nigeria.
(9) In my forthcoming article titled OPERATION ABRACADABRA REDUX, I will explain in detail the strategy behind the clandestine influx of Northern youths into the Southeast and Southsouth.
If they complete their agenda, Northern leaders, come 2023, would tell the clueless Southerners, “We are ready for Restructuring. You can split the country into two if you like. We are ready. And with that they will laugh and tell you to go ahead and repay the $23 billion they borrowed from China, on top of the other tens of billions of dollars they have previously borrowed, using your crude oil reserves as collateral.
Hector-Roosevelt U. Ukegbu, Economist, International Business Analyst, and Financial Consultant, is the Chairman & Chief Economist of IRG Consultants/Accrezion Corp., and is a graduate of the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York.