It pains me to have to write this. It saddens me that I must write this. Why? For three reasons. Let me summarize the reasons for my pain and sadness with respect to the person and status of Professor Ben Nwabueze, a legal luminary, academic scholar, international jurist and a man of substance. Until now, a national icon in my perception of him. First, as a Law student in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, I was fascinated by the books of Professor Nwabueze on Constitutional Law which were part of our academic curricula. It was scintillating for me as an undergraduate to read such masterful educational material produced by a Nigerian.
“A History of West Africa” by Ado Boateng of Ghana evinced a similar scintillation when I was in King’s College, Lagos. That Africans had attained such levels of academic excellence for their works to be part of our school books, gave me, as a student, a feeling of great pride. Indeed, in the field of legal studies, Dr. Teslim Elias and Professor Ben Nwabueze were “Giants of Africa”. Second, as an adult in my twenties, while a State Counsel, I admired the politico-legal articles of Professor Nwabueze in newspapers, magazines and journals. This was the phase in my life in which I was developing Existentialist parameters.
Professor Nwabueze provided perspectives which guided me in navigating prevailing currents of the times. By reason of his insightful writings, he was a Nigerian of stature to me. I seize this opportunity to hereby, in a nostalgic feeling, register my eternal gratitude for his past efforts which educated some of us. Certainly, my mental faculties have the input o f Professor Nwabueze. Third, despite his immensely reputable record, he served as a Minister in the latter part of the Babangida regime, which to me was an act of humility. That regime, at the time, was in the throes of a transitional programme misadventure. Professor Nwabueze was amongst those appointed as a Minister.
I was so sure that he would decline the appointment to protect his highly regarded reputation. When he accepted, I deemed him as humble in view of a self-diminution his being a Minister was to me. These three reasons have, since my University days, made me consider Professor Nwabueze, an Honourable Elder of the Nation. Or so I thought. Until now. His recent paper on “NORTH AND SOUTH” has revealed the paucity of his mind. I shall not delve into any thesis, antithesis and synthesis of that ridiculous presentation. Because it is ridiculous, simply put.
There exists no substance in it deserving of mental exertion. It is no more than an exhibition of crass myopia, coming from a man of standing like Professor Nwabueze .It is important for people of “Southern Nigeria” who think like, or believe what people like Professor Nwabueze has portrayed to understand a few vital issues. They revolve around the notion of “North as Under-dog in Nigeria”, which in essence, is the theme of the paper he wrote.
There is a famous statement of Late Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, Premier of Northern Nigeria. To quote; “The mistake of 1914 has come to light.” With all the polemical absurdities, political chicaneries and related pedantic from Southern Nigerians with respect to Northerners in various mediums and for a presently, it does appear crystal clear now that our one and only Premier, late Sardauna, was absolutely correct. Over the years, I had always believed that Sardauna made that statement out of a bout of anger in his political discussions with Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and their lieutenants. Professor Nwabueze was an important part o f those discussions in those days. His recent “NORTH AND SOUTH” paper now make me realise that, perhaps, it was presentations made by he and his ilk that informed Sardauna’s statement. Sadly, it appears Professor Nwabueze and his ilks have filtered through the ages to generations behind them in Southern Nigeria revisionist bunkum, which is what this paper of his is. Nigerians of the South of Nigeria must understand that some of us Nigerians of the North of Nigeria will not countenance the nuanced denigration of our past, or inhale without indignation a persistent misrepresentation of our present, nor do or say nothing about the prospects of our future. Let it be recognized by Professor Nwabueze and his ilk that we are ready, prepared and capable of advancing a future societal regeneration for social, political and economic advancement of Northerners with or without Southerners. For some of us Northerners born just before Independence, who were children in the 1960s,became teenagers in the 1970s, matured into adults in the 1980s, and who believed Nigeria is our country to toil for, as the same Sardauna and his lieutenants taught us is a duty upon my generation, Professor Nwabueze’s tepidity is an insult that must cease. Northerners are not the problem of Nigeria, as his paper subtly indicates, even though forcefully pronounced. Just a few Nigerians are the problem of Nigeria.
Nigerians from the North, the West, the Mid-West, the East. If preferable, apply nomenclature of existing six geo-political zones. It pains and saddens me now to realize that Professor Nwabueze is one of them. “Patriot” is what Professor Nwabueze considers himself. Amusing is what I consider such a grand description of himself. His supposed historical foray to expostulate contemporary dilemmas is, at best ludicrous, and, at worse, transgressive. Intellectualism of low esteem. Information of distorted content. Analysis of disingenuous context. Conclusion of fraudulent manifestation. In a nutshell, this is my estimation of Professor Nwabueze as an adult delinquent.
Ahmadu Abubakar wrote from Abuja.