I delve into history today to illustrate what I foresee as the possible future of Nigeria as we know it now. I look at an ancient empire that crumbled at the end of the first World War [1914 – 1918] to be replaced by a nation state just as the British colonialists were creating Nigeria by merging the North and South of their vast and populous colony in 1914 and named it Nigeria. The old Empire was the Ottoman Empire – [1299 – 1923] which conquered parts of Europe and allowed the conquered nations citizens to practice their religion while conscripting some of the citizens into the army and using them as slaves and soldiers in the Empire’s army.
The Ottoman Empire today is replicated by Turkey whose president is Tayyip Erdogan , a very successful democrat who lives in the capital Istanbul in a 1000 room presidential palace befitting a modern Emperor or Sultan of Turkey. In my view there is lot that Nigeria today has in common with the emergence of the Ottoman Empire and the history of Turkey when the Empire collapsed and Kemal Ataturk became the ruler of Modern Turkey and left a legacy of a secular state to be run under the supervision of the military in Turkey. Although Turkey’s present president has changed all that, it is the relevance of this short story to the present political and socio economic circumstances in Nigeria that drives our thinking today.
In Nigeria today the major security issues driving the political climate and the issues, revolve around the terror of Boko Haram, the charge of Fulanisation and Islamisation, the threat and protests of the Shiites. All of which are about the groups involved trying to impose their will or faith and way of life on other parts of the nation. Of course Myetti Allah too falls under this category. Take it or leave it they resemble invading forces and they are armed and the Nigerian military apparatus is being stretched to its limit to contain them. These forces are however being treated with kid gloves while the rest of the nation watch with dismay and great anxiety.
This is where the analogy with the Ottoman Empire comes in. At the rate of aggression and challenge to the Nigerian state it is pragmatic and realistic to envisage a future of an Islamic Nigerian state run on the platform of Administration of the Ottoman Empire which was an Islamic state. Indeed the role of the Turks in the leadership of the caliphate made interesting reading to me. I read that as the caliphate became militarised and the Turks got promoted in the military the leadership of the caliphate became Turkish. If you substitute Fulani for Turks and you look at the groups or some of the aggressors against the authority of the Nigerian state you have an idea of what I am talking about.
In addition when Kemal Ataturk founded Turkey in 1923, he made Turks to abandon Islamic dressing and wear suits and he banned Muslim parties and made the army a watch dog to throw out fundamentalist parties in several coups until Erdogan who had won three elections in a row became president. Erdogan became so powerful that he stopped military intervention and consolidated democratic power when his supporters foiled a military coup by standing in the way of armoured vehicles on my birthday July 15, sometime ago.
Yet Turkey has a serious problem that it finds humiliating and embarrassing. Just as Nigeria and Nigerians find the slide into terrorism, kidnapping and insecurity so embarrassing in the face of the government that seems complacent with the unfortunate status quo. Turkey wants to join the European Union. But Turkey is Muslim and the Europe is Christian and the EU has stalled on granting full membership to Turkey even though Turkey is a full member of the NATO, the military arm of the EU. Even that military connection is under threat with Turkey buying some military hardware from Russia recently, against the provisions and protocols of NATO members of the military alliance.
Tukey’s non admission into the EU also sheds some light on the political structure of the EU and the role of migration and multiculturalism that has changed the European land scape and split the EU. Since German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed 1m immigrants fleeing war in the Middle East, into Europe in 2016 the EU has not been the same. Indeed key nations like Italy, Hungary, Czech and Slovak republics have refused immigrant quotas from the EU and have tightened their borders . This is similar to the current policy of the Trump Administration which is even trying to build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants coming into the US through Mexico.
Unlike the US which is a nation and a federation, the EU is a confederation of 28 states struggling to become a federation. The tension over migrants fleeing wars and invading Europe has raised fears amongst Nationalists in Europe giving rise to Islamophobia and xenophobia. Nigeria is having similar problems and there is no running away from that grim situation. But Nigeria unlike the EU which is confederation is a federal nation state of 36 states and fears similar to those threatening the unity of the EU are manifest on the Nigerian political scene. This is what has led to calls by leading Nigerian leaders for restructuring. This, however, in my view, is a veiled call for a con – federal Nigerian state which I do not see any sitting Nigerian government acceding to.
In reaction to the huge presence of illegal migrants and the attendant relation to massive insecurity in Nigeria, there has been calls for government to stop the tide or invasion. It is however amazing the Immigration Service is compiling a list of these illegal migrants with a view of declaring those after them illegal. That will surely compound the security situation as well as terrorism and crime rate which the government has blamed on influx of miscreants fleeing the war in Libya through the Sahara desert. Government should sift the list of illegal immigrants and deport those of questionable disposition and not grant automatic citizenship to people of dubious character. That is the only way to protect innocent and bona fide Nigerians in their nation. Once again, long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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