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USAfrica: Debating the history and myths of Northern Nigeria domination. By Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

“The problem is: everywhere in this country, there is one Hausa, Igbo,

Yoruba and Itshekiri man whose concern is how to get his hands on the pie and how much he can steal.”



“We’re all victims of colonization” — debating the history of Northern Nigeria domination. Remarks by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (2009- )

Special to, USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston,  CLASSmagazine, The Black Business Journal

The insightful and provocative comments by Nigeria’s new Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi continue to draw responses by many. Most of the published ones seem in support of his sweeping but well argued statements about the fact the citizens of Nigeria, from all ethnic and social groups, suffer as “all victims of colonization”.  Continuing that internal and external forces have impoverished the North and Nigerians, as a whole. Adding, too, that regional arguments reflect 1953 mindset instead of 2009 and the options of the future. publishes the detailed text of Sanusi’s comments/speech, November 19, 2009, titled: ‘We’re all victims of colonization’ made at the Muson Centre in Lagos during the launch of the book “Nigeria, Africa’s failed asset?”. The book is by Sir Olaniwun Ajayi.

For context and clarity, has added some first/full names/titles/dates in brackets. Plus, USAfrica adds the sub-title to Sanusi’s valuable views. We welcome your responses. Thanks. Chido Nwangwu, Publisher, :

‘We’re all victims of colonization — debating the history and myths of Northern Nigeria domination.’ By Sanusi Lamido Sanusi


“Let me start by saying that I am Fulani. My grandfather was an Emir and therefore I represent all that has been talked about this afternoon. Sir Ajayi has written a book. And like all Nigerians of his generation, he has written in the language of his generation.”

“My grandfather was a Northerner, I am a Nigerian. The problem with this country is that in 2009, we speak in the language of 1953. Sir Olaniwun can be forgiven for the way he spoke, but I can not forgive people of my generation speaking in that language.”

“Let us go into this issue because there are so many myths that are being bandied around.”

Before colonialism, there was nothing like Northern Nigeria. Before the Sokoto Jihad, there was nothing like the Sokoto caliphate. The man from Kano regard himself as Abakani. The man from Zaria was Abazasage.

The man from Katsina was Abakani. The kingdoms were at war with each other. They were Hausas, they were Muslims, they were killing each other.

“The Yoruba were Ijebu, Owo, Ijesha, Akoko, Egba. When did they become one? When did the North become one? You have the Sokoto Caliphate that brought every person from Adamawa to Sokoto and said it is one kingdom. They now said it was a Muslim North.

“The Colonialists came, put that together and said it is now called the Northern Nigeria. Do you know what happened? Our grand fathers were able to transform to being Northerners. We have not been able to transform to being Nigerians. The fault is ours.

Tell me, how many governors has (the) South West produced after (the region’s leader Obafemi) Awolowo that are role models of leadership? How many governors has the East

produced like (Nigeria’s first ceremonial president from the area) Nnamdi Azikiwe that can be role models of leadership?

How Many governors in the Niger Delta are role models of leadership?

Tell me. There is no evidence statistically that any (part) of this country has produced good leaders.

You talk about (former military President of Nigeria, Ibrahim) Babangida and the economy. Who were the people in charge of the economy during Babangida era? Olu Falae, Kalu Idika Kalu. What state are they from in the North?

“We started the banking reform; the first thing I heard was that in Urhobo land, that there will be a curse of the ancestors. I said they (ancestors) would not answer. They said why? I said how many factories did (Cecilia) Ibru (of Oceanic Bank) build in Urhobo land? So, why will the ancestors of the Urhobo people support her?

“We talk ethnicity when it pleases us. It is hypocrisy. You said

elections were rigged in 1959, (former military ruler and later civilian President Olusegun) Obasanjo and (INEC Chairman) Maurice Iwu rigged election in 2007. Was it a Southern thing? It was not.

“The problem is: everywhere in this country, there is one Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and Itshekiri man whose concern is how to get his hands on the pie and how much he can steal.”

Whether it is in the military or in the civilian government, they seat down, they eat together. In fact, the constitution says there must be a minister from every state.”

“So, anybody that is still preaching that the problem of Nigeria is Yoruba or Hausa or Fulani, he does not love Nigeria. The problem with Nigeria is that a group of people from each and every ethnic tribe is very selfish. The poverty that is found in Maiduguri is even worse than any poverty that you find in any part of the South.

The British came for 60 years and Sir Ajayi talked about few numbers of graduates in the North (two at independence). What he did not say was that there was a documented policy of the British when they came that the Northerner should not be educated. It was documented. It was British colonial policy. I have the document. I have published articles on it. That if you educate the Northerner you will produce progressive Muslim intellectuals of the type we have in Egypt and India. So, do not educate them. It was documented. And you say they love us (North).”

“I have spent the better part of my life to fight and Dr. (Reuben) Abati knows me. Yes, my grandfather was an Emir. Why was I in the pro-democracy movement fighting for June 12? Is (Moshood) Abiola from Kano? Why am I a founding director of the Kudirat Initiative for Nigerian Development (KIND)?

“There are good Yoruba people, good Igbo people, good Fulani people, good Nigerians and there are bad people everywhere.

“That is the truth”.

“Stop talking about dividing Nigeria because we are not the most populous country in the world. We have all the resources that make it easy to make one united great Nigeria. It is better if we are united than to divide it.”

“Every time you talk about division, when you restructure, do you know what will happen? In Delta, Area, the people in Warri will say Agbor, you don’t have oil. When was the Niger Delta constructed as a political entity? Ten years ago, the Itshekiris were fighting the Urhobos. Isn’t that what was happening? Now they have become Niger Delta because they have found oil. After, it will be, if you do not have oil in your village then you can not share our resources.”

“There is no country in the world where resources are found in everybody’s hamlet. But people have leaders and they said if you have this geography and if we are one state, then we have a responsibility for making sure that the people who belong to this country have a good nature.”

“So, why don’t you talk about; we don’t have infrastructure, we don’t have education, we don’t have health. We are still talking about Fulani. Is it the Fulani cattle rearer or is anybody saying there is no poverty among the Fulani?”


A response to Sanusi’s comments by Benjamin Aduba is here, titled Is Sanusi excusing Northern Nigeria’s failings and domination?


Nigeria, a terrible beauty. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica

[embedyt][/embedyt] goes richly interactive with new look, content….

By Alverna Johnson. Corporate Affairs, Houston:

On 10/10/09, the major redesign and addition of richly interactive options will go fully live on the award-winning web site of the first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet,

“The importance of this latest interactive re-positioning of is to fully tap into the advantages of the digital world to benefit our community and readers. Especially, the key issue and leverage is that we have and own unique content; and  with this initiative, USAfrica advances, further, the immigrant African views and news into the international media and public policy mainstream. It leverages the global resources of USAfrica, again, into the electronic frontline of critically informed, responsible discourse and seasoned reportage of African and American interests as well as debating relevant issues of disagreement”, notes Chido Nwangwu, the Founder & Publisher of,, The Black Business Journal, USAfrica.TV and CLASSmagazine.

“Some of the new features on have enabled for our readers and bloggers, the live texting of pages and page links to phones and other multimedia devices, instant sharing across all the leading social networks especially Facebook, Twitter, digg,  myspace, Mixx, Technorati, LinkedIn, AIM, LiveJournal and Yigg.”

Chido Nwangwu, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in May 2009 and analyst on CNN, VOA, SABC, highlights other advantages as “live RSS feeds and e-syndication of the USAfrica reports and premium content. In terms of graphics and structure, the new has visually refreshing headers and crisp pictures. We’ve also added more columnists, regional news correspondents and incisive special features writers. The site will be updated regularly, especially for significant breaking news.”

The flagship of the American media, The New York Times, several public policy, media and human rights organizations have assessed USAfrica and as the most influential and largest multimedia networks covering the bi-continental interests of Africans and Americans. The first edition of USAfrica magazine was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; PhotoWorks.TV in 2005, and dozens of web sites and e-groups/blogs.

The Houston-based USAfrica has a formidable, experienced network of editors and correspondents across the U.S and Africa. Its Publisher served as adviser on Africa business/community to Houston’s former Mayor Lee Brown.

office:713-270-5500 •  wireLess: 832-45-CHIDO (24436)                                                                                                           e-mail:  or

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  1. USAfricaLIVE

    September 2, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Lamido is the current Emir of Kano

  2. obinna aguh

    March 9, 2010 at 9:00 am

    i must confess, in recent times ive not seen a true nigerian like mallam sanusi, he impressed me first on the day he went for senate confermation, for this singular act, i gave him a copy of my book''inventing a new nation'' then it was''nigera;awaken potentialities'',today again, i stand to be corrected, if we have 100 sanusi's in nigeria, we would challenge any nation of the world to any duet,and we would win,as a political scientist–ABU–product, quote me any day! all what he said is a fact, with documents to buttress his view points, i am priviledged to come across some of the documents he quoted from, there exists even more documents that buttresses his points you can visit the KIL library in zaria. the present challenges we are facing in todays nigeria are all creation of our past masters. yet today its our time to change our past and begin to think, talk, walk, act like the people of the 21st century.

  3. Kabiru

    January 3, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I really agree that Northerners were great victims of neocolonialism, first and foremost on Education. That if you educate the Northerner you will produce progressive Muslim intellectuals of the type we have in Egypt and India. So, do not educate them. This policy intentionally denied prominent Northerners access to higher decrees, rather they were forced by the colonial masters to work under Native Authorities or retarded to Teachers in Elementary Schools. While their contemporaries were flown abroad to study in best schools ( then at the expense of Norther resources), where they are trained with some valuable characteristics that are beneficial to them and their communities. Was this not a highest level harm that colonialism did to Northerners?

  4. fola oludare ayodele

    December 25, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    After carefully gone through Mr Sanusi Lamido's comment on subject matter,I wholeheartedly supported the CBN Governor.However,I wish to draw his attention to one obvious fact as regards rulership in Nigeria.The North has been privilledged to control the leadership of Govt in the country for many reasonable years be it military or so called democratic. It is unfortunate that the LEGACY left behind by the founding fathers were bastardized and that explains the situation we are today. Gowon's administration had the opportunity to turn the country into a model African state,but the reverse was the case, same to other successive administrations which has Northerners in control.The reckless spending and abandon projects would have been controlled by the military as done in many developed nations.

    Today we hear of billions naira budget we dont know where these spendings drained into. Many Nigerians today live in terrible abject poverty,yet these leaders are not bordered.something really need to be done quick.The issue is not north or south,but the few clicks who are not ashame of themselves thinking that the country is in their pockets.

  5. sanusi lamido sanusi

    December 21, 2009 at 7:50 am

    For all those who are interested in the true facts of British Colonial education and how it in fact differed in northern nigeria from all other territories I advise, before rushing to judgement that you do some research. to start with you may wish to buy and study this book: P. K. Tibenderana, Education and Cultural Change in Northern Nigeria(1906-1966): A Study on the Creation of a dependent Culture (Fountain Education Series). the argument was not contrived or defensive. the british were allies of the NPC and the northern feudal aristocracy. they were not allies of the northern people. The NPC was not the party of the northern people. Those were NEPU and UMBC. blaming "the north", if by north we mean northerners, is the classic case of blaming the victim. I will try not to reply to further comments-I have given an independent source, and the author is a professor of education who is not Nigerian!

    • Olatunde Adeniran

      January 2, 2017 at 4:58 am

      @Sanusi lamido sanusi, you wrote as if Nigerians from the South did not live and work or school among and made close friends with the northerners. Anybody can write a book and say whatever they want or think, but we Nigerains we know each other. Let us set aside what the colonial master did. Lets stop this Hippocrates of praising Awolowo?Azikiwe now. Who were the greatest opponents of Chief Awolowo’s free education for all in Nigeria? Who were the people who vaiwed that the “evil Awo” must not rule Nigeria? Who are still (2017) teaching the average northerner youth that western education is haram(is bad)?…the muslim cleric…who pays the salaries of these muslim clerics….the northern governments(have you seen any state south paying salaries of religious leaders? You Sanusi and every Nigerian knows that these same clerics are hired by muslim north elites to tell the average youth that poverty is good that the poor will make 1st classes heaven and these corrupt government officials who divert the money for the greater north development into private pockets are publicized as enriched by Allah(such gather and feed these poor youths daily and use them to destroy properties of prosperous southern Christians living in the north anytime they want…but these elite northerners send their own kids to the best schools in and outside Nigeria including “infidel” nations like USA and Britain). Even people like Yar Dua, the vice President was misled to think Obafemi Awolowo University was getting more federal allocations and wasting(when he visited the university and saw beautiful buildings), until he was respectively corrected by the VC that his excellency can go check records of all university allocations. Yar Dua must have been appalled by the dilapidated substandard buildings in ABU (Ahmadu Bello University)which were constructed with super inflated inflated contracts to line the pockets of elites in the north who are still blaming the British in 2009.. Let’s suppose the british deliberately prevented northerners from attending the 1st higher education institutions set up one each in each region, I know from personal experience( I was in the system) that the children of the poor were deliberately sent to teacher training/lesser schools and only the children of the elite were allowed to attend Kongo college in Samaru, Zaria where they are more readily prepared to for degree programs in ABU and elsewhere. We thank God for what Gowon did by introducing the NYSC which opened the eyes of the average norther(when they go the serve in southern Nigeria) who went through the hard path to get a degree. He who rides on a tiger should be ware as one day they too can end up in the stomach of same tiger. Now these same poor/jobless youths in the north have been take over by Boko Haram who is now killing more muslims northerners than even the christian. Those who are looking the other way from the Fulani headmen who are killing southern Kaduna christian population and in other parts of the south will also reap what they sow. It is food Sanusi is preaching one Nigeria. I sont agree with sir Ajayi or anyone who is preaching a divided Nigeria. We must stop worshiping money and thieves in our mist or blaming another group and work from inside our homes, tribes to root away economic parasites, that way, we can come together to build Nigeria. Let us call our local leaders into accountability to build our local areas like Awolowo, Jakande, and the current Lagos state governor is doing.

  6. Barth Nwachukwu

    December 20, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Having read Ben Aduba's critic of Sanusi's expose on the state of affairs in Nigeria, I would have to agree with him that Mr Sanusi comes off as defensive, and oftentimes, contrived, as he tried to meander through the delicate landscape of tribal relations in Nigeria. His take on the colonial history of Nigeria, as it relates to the education of the regions is also questionable, to say the least. Mr Aduba is also correct in his assessment of Sanusi's decision to cite Olu Falae and Kalu Idika Kalu, as evidence of complicity, during the despotic and autocratic regime of Babangida, as an attempt to mislead. Anybody who knows anything about military rule in Nigeria knows better.

    I will, however, take issue with Mr. Aduba's critic for failing to address the larger issue of Mr. Sanusi's speech. Mr. Sanusi's contention is that Nigeria's predicament and her deplorable state of affairs cannot be blamed on one tribe, or region, alone. He denounced Nigeria's apparent inability to produce Statesmen of Awolowo and Azikiwe's caliber. People who, at one time or another, in their political lives, undertook causes far greater than themselves. The problem, he says, is that Nigerians of all stripes have not been committed to the edification of the country, to help make it the great country it is capable of being.

    Mr. Aduba keeps saying, Mr. Sanusi is from The North; as if, being from The North, he is incapable of being objective. Unfortunately, by playing the "tribe card" Mr. Aduba helps Mr. Sanusi make his case, which, in synthesis, is that we should focus more on Nigeria and less on tribes. In trying to point out Mr. Sanusi's bias, Mr. Aduba, inadvertently, exposes his. Mr. Aduba could have made an effective case without, repeatedly, pointing out a fact which Mr. Sanusi made clear, himself, at the beginning of his speech.

    I am not a Sanusi apologist, but, all things considered, I cannot help but agree with the premise upon which his speech is predicated. As a country, Nigeria seem to exist only in the figment of the imagination of every Nigerian. What we call Nigeria today is, apparently, a conglomeration of people of diverse cultures and divergent interests. The coming together of a people who seem to have, absolutely, nothing in common, except as it relates to tribe, and of course, petroleum. I dread to think of what would happen to Nigeria if the oil wells were to, suddenly, dry off.

    In a country where public figures dissimulate corruption and bury their misdeeds with wanton bravado, I think it is refreshing to have a man stand among his peers and decry the fact that Nigerians have not done right by Nigeria, and that, in spite of our individual achievements, as a country, we have very little to write home about.

    The Nation-building experiment that informed the creation of Nigeria was undertaken by the British to prove that people who have no, prima facie, common interests could survive effectively under the rule of law. Survived, we have. When it comes to nation-building, though, we are still tied very loose.

    The British did what they had to do as a colonial power; giving the country lambs for lions and placing their interests well above and beyond the interests of the colony. The Nigerians who came posteriorly, after independence, ironically, followed in the footsteps of the colonialists. Not much has changed since then. A generic Nigerian public servant would, if the opportunity presents itself, empty the national coffers and transfer the proceeds to Britain or a Swiss bank; just like the "master" would. The ''learned behavior" in Nigeria is to get it before someone else does and call one a fool for not getting it. As any "good nigerian'' would be quick to assert, What belongs to everyone belongs to no one. All these, to the detriment of the country.

    Some would be quick to blame the British but I would invoke Cassius to say "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars", It is neither in the North, nor the East, West nor South. It is not the Yorubas, the Igbos nor Housas. neither the Efiks nor any other tribes, for that matter. "The fault is in ourselves that we are underlings."

    Unless we conceive of Nigeria as a gestalt, greater than the sum of her individual parts, ours is bound to be the story of the bird that took flight as an eagle and landed with a disappointing whimper.



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