Concept of northern leader outdated, says IBM Haruna
Posted by: Segun Ajiboye
Former Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Major-General IBM Haruna (rtd), has described those still habouring the concept of a Northern leader, as living in the past, adding that he does not believe in the concept of a northern leader.
According to him, people who continue to hold on to such views are deceitful, maintaining that “I know of the North, East, West, Mid-West, but not North and South. I do not have the concept of Northern leaders in my own worldview. So do not talk to me about Northern leaders. I only know of leaders in governance, bureaucracy and in the three tiers of government. Some people are still living in the past to continue to hold on to such geographical deceit as the North.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Nation, Haruna, who was reacting to a recent statement by the former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Muhammadu Lawal Kaita, that the North no longer has a leader, said such classification is unlawful, wrong, and being employed by those who continuously want Nigeria to remain divided.
He said: “Are we really organised as North and South? Is it lawful? For somebody to start classifying us as North and South is it right and lawful? That was a dishonest statement from Kaita because we are not North and South. It is a statement from people who continuously want us to remain divided.
“There are some people, who want to be seen as the new Sardauna, but unfortunately, we cannot have another Sardauna again and we cannot go back to Northern region any longer. It now belongs in the past to talk about a political leader from the North because we cannot have that arrangement again. Why do they want to see an individual promoted and celebrated as Sardauna? Is the North now an emirate?”
Reacting to the raging controversy over the roles by former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo with accusations of genocide and the use of starvation as a weapon of war against the Igbo during the Nigerian civil war, raised by Prof. Chinua Achebe in his latest memoir, There was a Country, the retired general, himself an active participant in the war, said the latest controversy is ‘unwarranted’.
While maintaining that controversies are created by humans, Haruna stated that “It is either Prof. Achebe is twisting the facts or he is interpreting the context to serve his own purpose.”
He added: “Controversies are human creations. Having said that, I must add that there are certain things in history that you cannot controvert if you accept the facts. It is either Prof. Achebe is twisting the facts or he is interpreting the context to serve his own purpose.
“But this is an unwarranted controversy because the facts are there for all to see. Will he deny that there were killings in the North, which culminated in counter-killings? Or is Achebe going to deny that there was a conflict of leadership and seniority between Gowon and Ojukwu? In what context is he perpetuating the view of genocide? Those who want to promote controversy should first of all state the facts. Above all, what were the objectives of the civil war? Was it to kill the Igbo? The war would not have come about until the county was divided into states. When people want to talk about the past, they should strive to put it in proper context.”
Haruna described the recent killing of fellow civil war veteran, Gen. Muhammed Shuwa, by unknown gunmen, as shocking, unfortunate and the greatest shame of a nation. He urged the Federal Government to ensure that those responsible for the dastardly act are brought to justice, adding that, “it is the only way the government can reassure those of us who staked our lives and fought for the unity of Nigeria.”
He described the late Gen. Shuwa as bosom friend and a contemporary in the Nigerian Army. “The late Muhammed Shuwa was my bosom friend and a contemporary in the Nigerian Army. We were cadets at the Ghana officer cadet school in 1958. Since then we remained friends and colleagues and served gallantly in the Nigerian Army as well as during the civil war. It was the most shocking and painful revelation to hear that he died in the manner the papers had reported. I feel very aggrieved and I wonder how this kind of death could come to a civil war veteran officer from unknown persons and they are not fished out and dealt with. It is the greatest shame of a nation.
“The one thing the Federal Government can do for his memory is to uncover the characters behind the act. And it is also the only way the government can reassure those of us who staked our lives and fought for the unity of Nigeria. I pray for his soul to rest in peace.”
With the Boko Haram denying complicity in the death of Gen. Shuwa, Gen. IBM Haruna advised that the state security agencies must set to work and ensure that those behind the act do not get away with it, warning that the government has a responsibility to ensure that society does not degenerate to a state of lawlessness and criminality.
Culled from THE NATION, November 10, 2012