So I was looking through Facebook today, and I saw one article on the whole post election crisis in Nigeria that wasn’t inspired by hysteria, based on falsehood (whether partial or outright), designed to incite hatred, or full or ridiculous theories and postulations.

It was written by @elnathan, Abuja Based legal practitioner and writer. He’s a poet, writer (currently working on his second collection of short stories), blogger ( and enjoys attending literary readings and critique sessions. Most importantly, he is single!

I caught up with him (wasn’t difficult at all) and I’ve reproduced our discussion (uncut), and then the article that caught my eye….

ME: First question, what makes you different from every one else?

ELNATHAN: I think that we essentially share the same humanity and are all different shades of the same color. I like to think that people are essentially the same. Apart from my name and distinctive dark shade, there is little else.

ME: Three things you hate?

ELNATHAN: I hate reality shows, hair on my head, and men that abuse women

ME: Nice! I wish I could pick up on men abusing women but that’s not the thrust of the discussion for today…


ME: Where did you grow up?

ELNATHAN: Kaduna, U/rimi to be precise

ME: I lived in Kaduna myself for a bit, matter of fact I am told that I could speak Hausa fluently at some point in my life. What was growing up for you like?

ELNATHAN: Growing up was sometimes confusing, depressing, but was mostly regular boring stuff. Go to school, sneak out to play football, sneak to the river with my brother and pray that my father doesn’t catch us. It was depressing because I questioned everything around me and didn’t get any answers. I grew up faster than my age. I remember  at about 10 or so trying to force myself to imagine eternity, when I read about God not having a beginning or an end; I ended up with a massive headache. After those headaches I know better…

ME: lol! Do you still try to imagine eternity? What the after life holds?

ELNATHAN: Yes I still do, many times. I mostly imagine what it feels like to be dead…

ME: Now that’s not exactly a good line of thought is it?

ELNATHAN: Sometimes it is a necessary line of thought

ME: Do you think that people in Kaduna (and indeed other parts of the North) are thinking along those lines now?

ELNATHAN: I guess they would be thinking more about life than of death. A sad state of affairs, Kaduna; where humans strip themselves of humanity.

ME: According to your article, the trust the different cadres of people in the North had in their leaders has been eroded over time…

ELNATHAN: Yes, completely. The traditional institutions used to command so much respect and trust. These days people painfully aware of the betrayal of that trust on every level. Thus the leaders have squandered the goodwill they once had and are unable to be the stabilising force their positions demand them to be during trying and violent times like these. The political leaders have done nothing but loot the comm wealth and turned the political scene into a theatre of the absurd.

ME: In their minds, is Buhari’s loss at the polls an expression of that of that or is it a case of a sitting keg of gun powder exploding on relevant or irrelevant impact?

ELNATHAN: Buhari is the only one person in the entire sad equation of mistrust, mutual suspicion and injustice. Buhari’s loss at the polls was simply a trigger for the unleashing of a frustrated angry crowd of impoverished, uneducated people, whose condition is the result of a deliberate policy of Northern leaders to keep the people loyal and subservient to them.

ME: I asked that question because Buhari wasn’t necessarily popular in some pars of Nigeria, whether of his making or not

ELNATHAN: Buhari has long been a symbol in the North of clean politics, of integrity and of trust. He has a cult following in the North where people have lost hope in all their leaders

ME: What of other parts of the country? The other areas where he needed to win?

ELNATHAN: Well the unfortunate ethnic and religious divisions, deliberate misinformation, and dirty political propaganda has combined to make sure that certain parts of the country do not see Buhari as anything but a fanatical Muslim.

ME: I agree with that. Before I let my reader enjoy the beauty that is your article, if you had one wish now that were sure would be granted, what would it be?

ELNATHAN: Improved power supply in all parts of the country!


I have read many articles, intelligent and painfully ignorant, about the current crises, which any Northerner or perceptive observer could have predicted. I am neither shocked nor confounded by the riots and the killings.

I choose to ignore the ignorant comments especially from people who live on the other side of the Niger behind computers and blackberry’s who have no clue about the complexity of this ‘North’.

This crisis is a bit different in my estimation from the other mindless religious conflicts that have visited the north. For the first time in the North(especially the Muslim North), I heard young uneducated men expressing hope that for once there is a worthy man on the ballot; that at last their time has come. For the first time, there was actual trust in a person to whom they bequeathed all their dreams. This man was General Buhari. Anyone who speaks Hausa and knows the Hausa speaking people will know the importance of the concept of ‘amana’. Trust. It is the one thing that is cherished above most things in the Muslim North. It is not uncommon for you to meet a Hausa petty trader to give you goods without money or collateral, regardless of whether he knows you or not. In fact I still remember how my mother at the market in U/Rimi in the North of Kaduna city, would stop a Hausa motorcyclist (she always insisted on a Hausa man) whom she had never met, give him her shopping sometimes worth thousands and describe her house to him. She would pay him and not fret about the things reaching home. My mother always only bought meat from Hausa Muslims because she trusted that it would be fresh and that it was not a dead animal. In Hausa communities, shops would be left open when people went to say their prayers. Amana. Trust.

This is the trust that has been squandered by Northern leaders, notably in the past 12 years-members of the PDP led ruling class, and before that, military and traditional leaders. These Northern leaders have destroyed every level of trust given to them without questioning by their people. One man seemed to rise above all the filth, above all the distrust. They noticed his lifestyle. They didn’t see flashy cars in his drive way. They didn’t see his kids drive around town recklessly with loud music spending plenty money on their pre pubescent girlfriends. They didn’t hear scandals of massive overseas accounts. They met him at petrol stations. They saw an honest, straightforward, religious man. So when they went to the streets, they went first after their own leaders who had squandered this trust and those who they perceive had abetted them. Sadly, as with all mob actions, it provided the perfect cover for criminals, miscreants and those with sinister agendas (and there are plenty in this North- politicians, thieves and fundamentalists). So eventually, churches were burnt and innocent people killed.

However, the man is a Muslim and unapologetically so. He has not been afraid to express his ‘Muslimness’ in public. This alone is enough to constitute a problem in the North. For we are not one North. We are many North’s. There is the Muslim North. The uneducated rural North. The aristocratic North. The cosmopolitan North. The Christian North… each with its own interests and sometimes as different from each other as people from different countries. The marginalisation of minority groups in the North has also hurt Buhari who is seen as the face of the oppressor by at least some in the Christian minority. The countless religious crises have divided the North and created mutual suspicion, further highlighting the fact that the idea of a single united North is a myth. Some have suggested that Sardauna created one North and that we only recently created divisions. This is far from the truth. The facade which was One North was in fact a mix of dominant and dominated people, peace existing only because the quiet grievances of minorities like non-Muslims had not concretised into vocal movements for the exercise of rights. The Jos crisis is a classic example of the manifestation of decades of frustration among the minorities. That manifestation though reactionary is more than a knee jerk reaction. It is minorities paranoid about the increasing dominance of the majority and taking rash actions to hold onto power, land and resources in a region where the dominant sentiment among minorities is that if you are not Hausa Fulani or Muslim, you will be marginalised.

The decades of injustice meted out on Nigerians by their leaders have made eventual violent reaction inevitable. The many poisonous variables in our polity which have been allowed to interact under the lazy watch of Nigeria’s thieving political class have fixed themselves firmly in our polity. What we are now dealing with are just the early warning signs of a cancer that is malignant. Our mutual suspicions make us easy to exploit and set against each other, so that while we are fighting over whose god is bigger, our government loots the commonwealth. Where there is no justice there cannot be peace. An aggrieved man is many times an irrational man. It is wrong to always judge a reaction, which is unplanned, when you do not judge first, the action, which is planned. A reaction is many times worse than an action, for it is delivered without a sense of proportion, only a sense of wanting release. There is usually more passion in a reaction. He who sets a ball rolling should prepare to follow it wherever it rolls to.

This government has a choice. To move beyond its rigged landslide victory and actually give its citizens a semblance of justice. To move from the hawks that now have it by the scrotum, namely PDP party investors, and work for its citizens- give them roads, electricity and rule of law. To provide infrastructure and stop the massive looting of government resources that is now going on. Or. To oversee the early days of the disintegration of a Nigerian state that has miraculously held on for the past 50 years.

  1. Bankole says:

    This is a scoop Godsister, a fresh perspective on the issue from someone relatively closer to it than the rest of us Blackberry/iPad outliers, well done!

    @elnathan does bring a good deal of insight into the remote causes of the chaos in the North, his theory of the ‘Many Norths’ is logical and would explain many things. It’s the assertion of rigging that I have my reservations about, although I’d rather not go into that.


    • @ Lordbanks, yay!!!! My first scoop ever! It was actually a ‘spur of the moment’ decision, I saw it and because it was different (didn’t follow over used but most misunderstood religious and or ethnic lines) I thought it would be refreshing, and of course, offer a new perspective.

      On your thoughts on rigging differing from Elnathan’s, that’s fine man! And it would have been nice to see a conversation about that…. That’s the whole point of putting this up in the first place!


  2. Falconer says:

    Elnathan couldn’t have put it better. He paints a vivid picture of northern Nigeria’s complexities. The bottom line re-emphasized remains; these are the early warning cries the majority who feel oppressed, hopeless, and ultimately betrayed by a system which has done nonthing by keeps them in perpetual slavery…
    Very good piece.


  3. Caleb says:

    Nice one dear. I love wordpress blogs.


  4. ifyola says:

    A good read I must say but not in total agreement to his analysis. I think it is wrong to have a presupposed mind about an election or anything at all.
    About the”rigged landslide” election result, “Justice is my being allowed to do whatever I like. Injustice is whatever prevents my doing so”(Samuel Butler,1612-1680;British poet and satirist).Time will only tell.


  5. elnathan says:

    ifyola, thanks. I am not sure however what you mean by presupposed mind. Preliminary reports show clear and consistent cases of electoral fraud especially during collation. Now one may argue that the winner would have won anyway, but this doesnt validate the irregularities. It is easy to be blind to it when it is in your favour. At least two international and local observer reports including a reputable civil rights group have pointed out some of these apparent irregularities. for me the election started being unfair when all the emirs were warned not to recieve buhari and ran away from their palaces when he came to visit. (these were the same emirs that were attacked during the crisis- zaria, kano, nassarawa) and denied him venues to hold his rallies. The foundation for this violence was laid long before the elections. In Kano for example it is on record that INEC fixed the software issue after CPC complained and so they were able to salvage a lot of votes. They were however unable to do the same for most other northern states.
    now i am not canvassing for buhari or that the elections should be annuled. i am saying that we should not be blind to facts just because it is convinient for us to do so. My opinion is that they shouldnt go to court but wait and see whether this government will squander its goodwill or not. i hope not. the country belongs to all of us


  6. ifyola says:

    Contrary to what you think, I have always supported Buhari until the theme of fatal guard of votes was issued. Do you know how many churches instructed their members to vote for CPC? CPC and PDP cheated without any doubt. With one better than the other.
    About “presupposed mind” CPC leadership and members sounded drums of war before the election. There was no restrain with words. How would violence atone for the sins of their leaders?The narration of corp members in the north will give you an insight of the extent of the malpractice by them. Unfortunately one of them did not make it out alive from their hideout. My take is do not cry foul yet unless you are clean yourself.
    I would love them to go to court, so we can learn from the evidences they would tender in court.
    About the new Government, it has seen the handwriting already. Its no longer business as usual.
    I love Nigeria. I am very detribalized. I have in-laws that are Muslims. I still believe that CPC has handled the violence wrongly and only time will tell.”I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever”(Thomas Jefferson).


  7. Abang Mercy says:

    Bigups @elnathan for the article. Yes i know ”amana” and it’s gradually fading in the North as a result of years of dissapointment


  8. Sylvanus says:

    I think Elnathan is spot on. It is important for commentators to rise above the emotions of the moment and discuss issues objectively. El’s piece crosses that threshold. Fantastic bro!


  9. bunmi says:

    Wow… The most objective, analytical and deep commentary I have read so far on this election and the aftermath…@ElNathan God bless u and increase your wisdom…@Chioma Thanks for sharing this insightful piece and for bringing ElNathan on board…Kudos to u sis


    • Thank you Bunmi, once I read it I saw that it was different from the religious or tribal crap people (including those without a clue) were spewing, and I thought to share…..


  10. simple man says:

    @FGS,Like d interviews…keep it up
    @El Jo,u r a very good writer,have gone thru some of ur works.truly impressive!
    Nice article on the north,very objective i must confess and u deserve all the compliments showered on you.

    Generally its a complex country,and the problem is,everybody is involved in this mess!
    All the people shoutin foul or win today will do somthn silly here or there tomorrow,thats human nature nobody is flawless.
    For the past election,well,most Northerners think Southerners voted without reason along the tribal,religious and ethnic line[like we dont think objectively*smiles*]….maybe so,maybe not.
    *my uncle says ‘onye ara na uche ya yi’
    no matter how mad a man is there’s a reason for his actions*,and i couldnt agree more.

    Politics is a game of numbers,forget all the BB,twitter,fbk updates etc,how many people use em.
    If d votin was on the internet,Ribadu would score more votes than the percentage he had!

    Truth is,that kinda cult followin Buhari had in the north,GEJ had it down south[may not be fanatic].
    He’s someone everybody can identify with,typical southerner who tries to involve everybody.
    Parents love him as their own[go ask,maybe Choma’s sef..lols],his peers say he’s humble,the Youth see him as a listening father.
    he doesnt strike as somone who looks down on anyone,and truth is, what every Jubril,Okeke,Olu wants is recognition,relevance,the rest can be taken care of

    Somhow you gotta give it to the guy,there’s something about him!
    Thus many voted 4 him not PDP [we both kno the system is d problem ie PDP,other parties have similar cockroaches too]

    For others really,the religious,ethnic and nepotic sentiment must come in2 play,thats again,human nature.
    Obama had a lotta black and so called coloured people’s vote just cos he was a black man goin to the WHITE House!
    and to others based on his promises he can deliver this country to a good extent.
    Buhari is well respected here but thats all,he never came down, southeast esp,to really really campaign and tell us what he’s gonna do,i understand the challenges he faced with em incumbents and all.
    he and his advisers should never have thought he could win down south,against one southern frontrunner,and probably shouldnt make his followers think so.
    He had no grassroot[which is all you actually need esp in 9ja],no sitting governor,no prior experience[CPC] etc

    GEJ shared the northern votes with all Northern candidates which was smart and instrumental to his win[alleged rigging aside,cos all camps are acusin and counter acusin each otr]

    Mind u,southerners think d north has ruled for a greater part of our post-british years.somtimes such sentiments must be considered.

    U r learned,how come after all these years of being in power [Buhari included] 38 or so,many of ur bros and sis up ther are still illiterate?

    U answered it in ur article,so tell me at this point,why would a southerner vote 4 anybody from up north who wouldnt ensure his people attend good schools and live a good life irrespectiv of d condition of the infrastructure?
    an educated mum has a higher if not absolute chance of keepin her children alive[under-5 especially]than her uneducated counterparts

    Remember UMYA ‘we were told’ had Amana,some of us voted for him some didnt but he won and no one went to the streets to shout ‘we want Buhari cos of his Amana’,no single soul was lost too.

    Whtr we like it or not,the Yoruba’s are academics cos of Awolowo and many others who r probably in pdp right now,sucking the national juice with straw under split unit!

    I cannot rule out all em sentiments and dnt intend to engage u in an arguement cos i will lose[halo,i aint a Lawyer..lols]
    all am trying to say is,nobody is worth any man’s life…
    ‘dont take,dont give!’
    It is wrong,irrational,can never ever be justified.
    Suppresion,political, religious or whatevr reason,the endpoint is death to Southerners!
    we treat northerners,corpers esp with respect,if u’v served am sure u will agree with me,non has ever been raped,maimed or killed cos of our bad roads,dark nights,dirty markets,joblessness,419 politicians etc

    Chioma wrote in one of her articles that their children[the Northern elites] are in the gym some country cold,discussin their summer plans in Bahamas,spain and Dubai!
    Burning their houses makes no meaning whatsover,a single contract puts paid to all that.
    If well executed too,will still be counted as a dividend of democracy.lols

    Bottomline, i humbly admit we’v been misled all these years by the powers that be,but currently,all of them now still strike me as the same.
    ACN gave Tinubu’s family tickets in one state,IBB,Atiku et al championed d merger between CPC and ACN,Abacha’s son is a CPC Guber candidate,PDP is worse!
    can any of the candidate really combat corruption effectively at this rate?

    This country will great one day,but its a slow process,painfully!
    future elections will progresively be better i am sure if You and I continue this way.
    Cheers bro.

    P.s,it is said all political office end in disappoinments,Obama’s,Ghadaffi’s,Sarkozy’s,Mandela’s,Buhari’s,Ribadu’s,GEJ’s.
    pls lets not expect too much from any Govt,seriously.


  11. Simon says:

    The situation facing Nigeria is complexed, however the central issues of our time are not economic political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature. May the people of Nigeria never forget this!


    • Simon, I do not completely agree with you. Why? Sometimes I think we are quick to the spiritual things that we can change but cannot muster enough will power to do either because we are afraid of change, or sometimes even for our own selfish interests. Quick example, the bus driver who knows he should stop at a traffic light, and doesn’t is as bad as the convoy of the Governor who do not stop at the same traffic light. Different people, same scenario. Replicate this example with the issues of corruption, kidnapping and you’ll see that the blame for the troubles with Nigeria rest with each and everyone.


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  17. clickpresh says:

    Nice piece by Elnathan…


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