The Several Russias And UKraines In Nigeria - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Sunday, March 6, 2022

The Several Russias And UKraines In Nigeria

The Daily Crucible | Sunday, February 6, 2022

By Femi Kusa

Every person has a sphere of influence and is a sphere of influence to some one. What husband would joyfully allow another man to frolic with his or her spouse? How does anyone feel who keeps his or her siblings at a safe social distance but finds his or her children merrily running about with them? Nations are not different from any of us. And that is the way to see the war between Russia and Ukraine. That, at least is the way Russia sees it. Nigerians who give Russia 100 percent of the blame for this war do not know or remember there are several Ukraines in their own country.
Where are the Ukraines and the Russians in Nigeria? Let us begin with Western Nigeria of the first republic (1960-1966). The yorubas were the largest ethnic group in that setting. By colonial geography, the present day Edo and Delta states constituted their sphere of influence. This sphere consisted of Edos, Benins, Igbos, itshekiris and Uhrobos to mention a few groups. Incidentally, these people also constituted a sphere of influence to the expansionist Igbos of the then eastern Nigeria. Expansion into this zone by Ibos and defence of their sphere of influence by Yoruba brought consistent political conflict into relationships of both regions. Ultimately, with help from Northern region, senior partner of the Eastern region in the then federal government, the Edo Delta region was taken away from Western Region and handed over to the Eastern Region as Mid West Region. This region would later become Bendel State and, afterward, Edo and Delta states in the present dispensation.
Eastern Nigeria won its sphere of influence contest with Western Nigeria over the Mid West Region. But it would lose its sphere of influence in the COR area to the Northern Region and the remnant Western Region during the 1967-70 Biafran civil war. COR stood at that time for CALABAR, OGOJA and Rivers areas of Eastern Region. Today, this sub region is constituted by Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Bayelsa states and known as the south-south region of Nigeria. It was the footstool of the Ibos who made it their first home. Besides, the area was, and still is , richly endowed with crude petroleum and gas. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba, had interests in this area for his political ambition to become Nigeria's prime minister. If he could galvanise the remnant Western region, obtain chips of the Mid West region and the COR  region, and add more flesh to his takings from present-day Kwara, kogi, Benue and Plateau states,  he could hope to fulfil his dream. But fishing in another person's backyard or sphere of influence, is a clear and provocative threat to that person. It was, therefore, not surprising that the formidable Northern Region and the Eastern region recently fattened with the Mid-West Region would now gang up in their coallition federal government to politically crack up the Western Region, accuse Chief Obafemi Awolowo, its leader, of treasonable felony against the Nigerian state and send him to prison in 1963. In  1962, mid west region was created from Western Region after the Northern Region and the Eastern Region had politically cracked the Western region into two fighting camps. The mid west region would later become known as BENDEL (Benin and Delta) state with the break up of other regions during the civil war. Although Chief Awolowo paid the price for fishing for political power in the Ibo man's sphere of influence and in the Hausa/ Fulani sphere of influence, he had what one may call the bigger laugh when Gen Yakubu Gowon(then Let Col) freed from prison to become his deputy(vice chairman ) in the federal executive council. The Biafran war took longer to conclude than the federal government had thought. But the grounds shifted against the Biafrans when the Gowon government excised the COR sub region from Eastern Region and constituted them into autonomous states. Immediately, the COR people joined forces with Nigeria. They owned the oil which the Ibos had mortgaged to some foreign powers in exchange for support against Nigeria. But, unknown to them, the Hausa/Fulani from the northern region would in future own more than 75 percent of the oil Wells  allocatable to Nigerians. To gain control over their land, the COR people seized or it stole, all the property fleeing Ibo people left behind during the war. Till this day, these properties are known as ABANDONED PROPERTY. But in the Western Region all Ibo "abandoned property" were returned to their owners with acrued  rent. Today, Ibo influence over cross River, Rivers, Akwa ibom and Bayelsa (OR) states, have been eroded just as Yoruba influence over Edo and Delta state have evaporated.


There is nowhere on earth where the chicken does not go home to roost. The rest of Nigeria is" UKRAINE" for Northern Nigeria. That means Southern Nigeria is the backyard or sphere of influence of Northern Nigeria. The CORE of the Northern Nigeria we speak about is the Hausa/Fulani. In Nigerian history, the Fulanis fought an Islamic war into Sokoto, established a caliphate there and then moved on to conquer the Hausa states, Islamising their captives. Their aim was to conquer other indigenous peoples  along the way up to the Atlantic coast in Lagos, an outpost town in Western Nigeria.They sacked the old Oyo Settlement (OYO ILE),whose inhabitants fled to the present Oyo town. They took Ilorin whose army commander, Afonja, betrayed the supreme commander, the Alaafin Oyo of Oyo empire. But the Fulani southward march was defeated and halted at Osogbo. The Fulanis may have been unable to immediately cross into eastern region because they fought on horse back and their horses could not easily move in the thick forest of that region. They would have to postpone their conquest of those regions. British protectorate and colonialism halted the Fulani dream. 

Today, the Fulanis are actualising their dream. Today, 62 years after Nigeria's independence from great Britain, Fulanis lived comfortably and reared their cattles in those thick forests of eastern Nigeria. They also are found in large numbers in eastern cities, towns and villages. What is going on in the former eastern region is simultaneously going on in the former Western region. With heavy migration in the east and in the West to europe and America and replacement fulani migration into these regions, what would happen in the elections of 2023 if Fulanis win Senate and House representation of their conquest areas? I leave that to your imagination.
There is nothing as a nation or the "national interest". It is the mercantile/industry or economy class which aggregates its interest and foists it on a geographic space or boundary and calls it the "national interest." This interest includes the "sphere of influence." That is why Northern Nigeria does not agree to constitutional reforms that would give its Southern Nigeria "sphere of influence" or vassals in that region the constitutional freedom to control their domestic affairs. The "national interest" of the Hausa/Fulani is to find a home for the roaming Fulani in Nigeria, especially in the forests, towns, cities and villages of Southern Nigeria. Inadvertently, Southern Nigerians are helping this northern "national interest".  In which family in the South have several young ones not migrated to the United States, Canada, Europe, China and even Ukraine and Russia? In next year's elections, migrant fulanis will vote in Southern villages and upset many political expectations. The north will certainly have more voters across the country, unless those emigrants return  home or the new electoral  law permits overseas voting. The North will not take kindly to the yorubas taking back Kwara and Kogi states. An exit of Benue and Plateau states from the political influence of the North will not be tolerated either. The north is the self preserving region in Nigeria. Captured Boko Haram soldiers are not prosecuted for treason , imprisoned or executed but pardoned. Bandits are treated with kid gloves. Abak Kyari is now to be sent to the United States for trial, after a long delay, probably because keeping him in Nigeria to answer to drug running charges may spill the beans on high and mighty fellows. 
In this case, it may be better to sacrifice one lamb to save the biblical 99. Conversely, Nnamdi Kanu will be bundled into Nigeria. Sunday Igboho has probably not been brought home because, being Yoruba, he is kept captive for Nigeria by Bene republic, a sphere of influence for the Nigerian Yoruba, which is Yoruba speaking and Yoruba by culture.

NATO, Russia and Ukraine

I had the privilege of learning under Mrs Odunsi, an English woman married to a Yoruba, what the sphere of influence means to a nation state. She was my history teacher at the Igbobi college, Yaba, Lagos, lower and upper six art classes 1969. The spheres of influence of a nation state is that geographic zones on which its economic survival and physical security vastly depend. It is like the tail of a cobra. You may sit on the head or body of a cobra, and it will not bother. But if you drop a grain of sand  on its tail, you are as good as being in the den of a hungry and angry lion. In modern European history, nation States formed alliances to protect common spheres of influence or to protect their ways of life from contamination by irritant cultures. In 1094 an Anglo Russian agreement came into being.
Mrs Odunsi taught our class about the TRIPLE ALLIANCE, ENTENTE ALLIANCE and the QUADRUPLE ALLIANCE, among others. Google refreshes my memory of them and others...
Google says
"A Tense the early 20th century, Europe was home to a tangled network of alliances that pitted nation against nation. Tensions grew rapidly as countries snapped up any territory they could get their hands on, built massive armies and navies, identified their enemies, and prepared for the huge war that was looking more likely every day.
"There had already been several small wars in the century's first 14 years that strained the continent's peace even further. By 1914, Europe was divided into two hostile camps and it would only take a little spark for the situation to explode into war. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the two opposing sides that would soon fight World War I. 

The Triple Alliance

On one side, we have Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, which formed the Triple Alliance. Germany and Austria-Hungary were already allies by 1879 when, worried about a threat from Russia, they formed the Dual Alliance. Italy joined the group in 1882. There was a concern about a possible attack from France and the Alliance needed powerful friends to help defend it. The three countries promised to assist each other if any of them should be attacked.
"The three countries renewed their alliance in 1887, 1907, and 1912. Each nation, however, seemed more interested in serving itself and gaining power and territory than it was in helping its allies. Austria-Hungary, for instance, was a powerful-looking nation, but it was always struggling to solidify the many nationalities that fell under its domain. It was so busy coping with its internal difficulties that it needed Germany's support to meet its goal of capturing territory in the Balkans.
"Germany too had ulterior motives in creating and remaining in the Triple Alliance. It was a fairly new nation, only united in 1871, but it was ready to conquer the world. Germany knew that Austria-Hungary was weak and it was perfectly willing to use that fact to its advantage: it would help its ally get some Balkan territory and then, perhaps, snatch a bit for itself and maybe, just maybe, it could maybe control Austria-Hungary as well.
      "Finally, Italy was out to capture territory in Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans, and it needed strong allies to do so. Italy did not, however, trust Germany and Austria-Hungary. In 1902, it made a secret alliance with France, promising to remain neutral if Germany should attack France and essentially making the Triple Alliance, of which it was still a member, ineffective and very, very shaky.
"The Quadruple Alliance was signed in November 1815 by Russia, Britain, Austria, and Prussia, following the long series of wars that began in the aftermath of the French Revolution and concluded with the defeat of Napoleon. It was essentially a continuation of the Treaty of Chaumont of 1814, in which the four powers vowed to defeat France and remain allied for twenty years to keep France in check. At the time Russia was the preeminent military power in Europe. From 1813 to 1814, Europeans had watched with a mixture of amazement and horror as Russian soldiers drove Napoleon's Grand Army out of their country and, joined by Prussia, Britain, and finally Austria, all the way to Paris. Britain ruled the seas, but no army rivaled Russia's, and fear of this new power was keen in Austria and Britain until its disastrous defeat in the Crimean War.
"The individual most responsible for the complete destruction of Napoleon's power was Emperor Alexander I (r. 1801–1825). The other continental powers had been willing to negotiate a settlement with Napoleon, but Alexander had insisted on total victory. Since at least 1805 he had been convinced that only Russia and Britain had the resources to vanquish Napoleon and reestablish order in Europe based on a new treaty system.
"With the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the victorious powers faced two related problems: how to contain France, and how to prevent revolution. In November, the British foreign secretary, Viscount Castlereagh, proposed a continuation of the alliance system, bolstered by a system of greatpower congresses to deal with crises as they arose. Alexander's vague response was a "Holy Alliance" of Christian monarchs who would treat one another with Christian brotherhood and charity. This proposal had no practical effect.
"Castlereagh had his way, and in the Quadruple Alliance the victorious powers pledged to maintain the political system established at the Congress of Vienna for the next twenty years, by force if necessary, and to meet periodically to consult on the maintenance of order and stability. The foreign secretary declared that Britain would never intervene militarily in the internal affairs of another state. When Alexander pressed him to promise support for the restored Bourbon monarchy in France, Castlereagh refused. This did much to fuel Alexander's suspicions of British policy.
"As Alexander's anti-British feelings grew, he came to regard France in a more favorable light. Prodded by his advisers, particularly Corfiote Capodistrias, he concluded that if France were admitted into the Quadruple Alliance, it could become a counterweight to Britain and, to a lesser extent, Austria, especially if Prussia continued to follow Russia's diplomatic lead.
"The result was the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818. Ostensibly convened to end the military occupation of France, it really had the goal of restoring France into the great-power system. Its outcome was twofold: France joined the alliance, which became the Quintuple Alliance, but the Quadruple Alliance was reconfirmed because the victors, despite their mutual distrust, were still fearful of a resurgent France. Over the next few decades, however, fear of Russian power and expansionism would seize all the great powers except Prussia, until they united to defeat Russia in the Crimean war.


The foregoing is a lifestyle of the insatiable, expansionist and ravenously plundering Western world. Only about five nations did their mercantile and class industry class not colonise and exploit as its sphere of influence . In Nigeria, colonising Britain made all primary school children of my time wear standard khaki over khaki school uniform produced by one of its fabrics companies. Even in high schools, the white poplin had to be the U.K Standard. Imagine how much money one company and one nation made from another nation by exclusively producing fabric of uniform for that nation's school children. Great Britain bought Nigeria's cocoa cheap and brought it back either as TOFFEE, a "sweet", or as Ovaltine, a beverage for adults and children. At that time, Nigerians numbered about 55 million people. If only 20 million drank Ovaltine everyday, that was homongous money for the United Kingdom. Is it not only now that we know we can add raw cocoa powder to corn pap, yam porridge , rice, beans and that it is high in antioxidants and phenolic compounds and promotes restful sleep?

The ravenousness of the United States and Europe is well described in books such as THE WEST AND THE REST  OF US by Chiwezu. Ravenous plunder of one man by another or by one nation of another is a human foible or weakness not confined to the Western world. Asians, too, pounced on themselves . Did Africans not fall upon one another to sell themselves as slaves to Euro Americans? Is the FULANISATION of Nigerians not ravenous plunder? Many Nigerians hear of the war between Russia and Ukraine, but do not understand it. In Mulero, near Agege, Lagos, some Marua (tricycle) taxis bear posters which read THIRD WORLD WAR...RUSSIA VS UKRAINE. I wish they knew that they and their families would not survive a nuclear weapons exchange should the conventional war degenerate to nuclear battle. On top of this triffling with words in print have come news reports that some Nigerians are approaching the Ukraine embassy in Nigeria for recruitment into Ukraine's army. Obviously, they believe this is a golden opportunity to get out of the oven they say their country has become. The Ambassador may not be a good mind reader if he succumbs to these requests. They may make political balm of Gilead of sorts to Ukraine in this season of the castigation of Russia as an aggressor. But Nigerians who know Nigerians know these Nigerians are merely seeking the cheapest and all expense paid to, in youth language 'yapa' escape to Europe. Isn't this better than a Saharan desert journey?
What goes up comes down, we say. So does what goes round. In 1962, the Soviet Union powered by the Russians , disrespected the sphere of influence of the United States on Cuba. The Soviet block got as far as to smuggling missiles into the background of the United States. The Soviet Union denied even satellite evidence that it was piling up dangerous weapons in the backyard of the United States. It only pulled back and took the missiles back home when president JF Kennedy set to press the buttons for a nuclear bomb attack on Russia. That was 60 years ago this year . In the present scenario, the Russians are experiencing what the Americans experienced from them  in 1962. Ukraine like Cuba then , has not behaved well at all. It has  a right to self determination, no doubt. But common sense demands that this may be better achieved through means other than inviting arch enemies of its former master into his backyard. Ukraine is to Russia what Hong Kong is to mainland China and South Korea to North Korea and former east Germany to West Germany. Although India and Bangladesh have resolved their dispute, will India tolerate nuclear missile states in Bangladesh? The ever insatiable expansionist, ravenous and plundering United States and its West European allies should have known the likely outcome of their bid for a foothold in Ukraine.
Many Nigerians have been blaming Russia for being too hasty and too militant rather than being diplomatic. They do not, in my view, appreciate well enough that Russia has been dealing with these fellows and knows them like the back of its palms. Russia lost the Crimea war to a grand alliance of forces. More than 1 million soldiers died in that war.  It lost territories in the Bolshehevic revolution of 1917.Ukraine was one of the lost territories. After 1939-45 second world war, Russia got back Ukraine , now a republic, as a buffer territory in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic to protect it against Western adventurism or attack.  In the perestroika pressure, partly piled by the West, and economic difficulties within, Russia let go Ukraine and other Republics to pick their own bills, but not completely off its hook as allies or spheres of influence.
The events in Russia and Ukraine have lessons for all nations, especially Nigeria, with mini RUSSIAs and UKRAINEs within them. Nigeria is becoming a fertile Homeland for Fulanis who are displaced in Lybia or who have been roaming the African continent for centuries and wish to settle down but without a geographic Homeland. The Fulanis of Nigeria who control the federal government and are sympathetic to the cause feel obliged to be their brother's keepers. The foreigners have become a menace in especially the Southern states, whose forests, villages, town and cities have become homes to the "new" Nigerians. Their votes will count in the presidential and other elections in about one year from now. What would happen is yet unknown, if, with many voters in these states now living abroad, they lose out on a game  of numbers? There are two major political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and People's Democratic Party (PDP). The APC presidential ticket will very likely go to a Yoruba. The Ibos hope to square up with the PDP ticket. But Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president wants it too. The Ibos have told him they would vacate the PDP if he got it. In desperation, Atiku has been searching for an Ibo running mate. But he has been turned down wherever he has turned. May a desperate Atiku backed by the Fulanis caliphate not turn up as an independent candidate and appeal to Nigerian and foreign Fulanis? If the South divides its vote, but the North solidifies its own, may we, inadvertently, not have a northern and Moslem successor to president Mohammadu Buhari, a Moslem, northerner and a Fulani? For 2023, former Anambra governor Peter Obi is not on the shopping list of former vice president Atiku Abubakar, although they ran together against president Buhari in 2019 as boss and subordinate. The Ibos have told Atiku they would abandon the PDP if he got the presidential ticket. Atiku's choice could be the abrasive or corrosive incumbent Rivers Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, who has said he was not available to run with the former vice president. If Governor Wike would like to be president, would the Fulanis not consider him "too hot for them"? Would Peter Obi, self effacing as he appears on the surface, win the confidence of the North for president, or would an alternative northern presidential candidate, most likely a Fulani, prefer to run with him? Would the Ibos not consider this a slap on their faces as a second fiddle nation of all time? Do they have a 2023 presidential hopeful in former president Ebele Jonathan, through the PDP or the APC, contesting the polls? 

Rivers Governor Wike has warned him of the political disaster which a cross over to APC could bring to him. But it would appear the North would not mind a politically soft Jonathan as president backed by a steely, steaming and boisterous vice president like Elrufai, incumbent governor of an almost anarchical Kaduna State. If Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not playing a decoy game, that would make him and incumbent vice president Yemi Osibajo as two political Giants in the yoruba 2023 South West set for the 2023 presidential race. Vice president Osibajo is a quiet, intellectual fighter. He was Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Bola Ahmed Tinubu's administration in Lagos State and one of the strong pillars which made Lagos State defy president Olusegun Obasanjo's financial sanctions against the government and state. While agitations for political restructuring by the South of Nigeria irritates the ears and thoughts of the North, vice president Osibajo has quietly gone about helping the nation achieve the same goal by preaching FINANCIAL FEDERALISM. This is all about more powers and money being taken away from the federal government and handed over to the states and the local governments. The constitutional reviews successfully pushed through the national assembly so far are in this direction. Vice president Osibajo has proven that a self effacing man may strike hard and deep with power form in his grip. As Acting President, he appointed as Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onoghen, an unlikely candidate of president Muhammadu Buhari and of the attorney General and Justice minister Abubakar Malami,  an irredentist strong pillar of the Buhari administration. As Acting President, Osinbajo also tampered in the security architecture which had been constituting a nuisance in the polity and approved modular refineries in some southern states to legitimise a legal but beneficial refining of crude oil. The president would later reverse this decision. But he has had   to come to terms with it in the 2022 budget. For these actions, the vice president will be hated by the president's men but loved in the South-South states. 
He does not appear to have a serious foothold in the South West grassroot, but is popular among the intelligensia and young people.  
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on the other hand, has proven an unbeatable "political house builder" in Nigeria. Only Chief MKO Abiola, now of blessed memory, would appear to match Tinubu's capacity to build bridges across the various spheres of influence of the Russias and UKraines of Nigeria. He groomed and produced many of the incumbent and former governors of the South West Region. He is responsible for the present leadership architecture of the Senate and the house of representatives. He even dismantled the leadership of the APC under John Oyegun who appeared to instigate rebellion among some South West governors that Bola Tinubu groomed and brought to political fruition . Adams Oshiomole, who Bola Tinubu  helped to succeed Oyegun probably lost the controls in an ego battle with the governor he had groomed and produced Godwin Obaseki.
Here stands Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a grand master of Nigerian politics, as the nation prepares for the March towards 2023 presidential and other elections. Amid his various tremulous Russias and Ukraines, some of Bola Tinubu's critics say he is too old for the billing. He has replied that he does not need the physical energy of a drainage digger but a functional and agile brain to govern. Other critics say he does not allow them to breathe, that he thinks and acts for them. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was accused that much. Chief Awolowo often replied that while his critics were enjoying themselves under colour lamps in clubs at night, he was in his library burning the night candle to research Nigeria's problems and find solutions to them. If at a meeting the following day he could not find answers to these problems Superior to his own, Why should he yield leadership ground, chief Awolowo would ask. Tinubu has shadow cabinets working for him on practically every national question, and he meets with them day and night. He is, thus, unlikely to be a president who would be pushed around, hither and thither by political captives. Working regularly with intellectuals to produce the LAGOS BLUE PRINT which has sustained Lagos governments after his own, Bola Tinubu gels well with vice president Osinbajo, a political son of sort . If in the absence of the president for months in the U.K, vice President Osinbajo  showed Nigeria could be run better and peacefully, this testimonial for a political son is a plus for Bola Tinubu, who mentored him as the vice president himself acknowledged in a birthday tribute to his mentor. Bola Tinubu adds to his portfolio, the capacity to work with the knowledge industry a great understanding of street life and a willingness to not leave the street folks and the rustics behind as he wines and dines and works with the knowledge industry. In the March to 2023, there are many lessons for Nigeria's political class to learn from the current events in Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine has a right to self determination, but it sought to bring Russia's arch enemies for hundreds of years to Russia's doorsteps. Did Ukraine expect Russia to fold its arms in cowardice? Could Russia not have spared itself open confrontation with the rest of the world by responding to the Ukraine provocation in a softer way? Will the United Kingdom of Great Britain allow Russian missiles in rebellious Scotland or Ireland? Will France clap and smile if the republic of Benin, with a substantial Yoruba population vote for political reunion with Yoruba in South West Nigeria? Will it let Southern Cameroun rejoin Southern Nigeria? The truth is that we still live in a world led by the insatiable , ravenous or plundering Euro Americans, and we have the images of this world in even our own country, Nigeria. Just as a former editor of the Sunday times, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, wrote in a column about THE BABANGIDA IN ALL OF US, to show that we all carry deep within the vices we accuse his administration of , I would say that there are RUSSIANs and UKRAINEs in our country all of us.

Femi Kusa
Phone. Nos: 08034004247, 08116759749
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