We refer to the interview granted to Sunday Trust [published 26/8/12] by Mallam Isa Yuguda, Governor of Bauchi State. The Governor touched on many issues, including his many achievements since coming to power six years or so ago, the attitude of some of his colleagues in power who, according to him, are basically preoccupied with the pursuit of pleasure, flouting of wealth, and impoverishing the people. Inevitably, the Governor had something to say on the plight of the people in Northern Nigeria. He is particularly dismayed by the grim, distressing, if not sub-human, conditions in which the people languish. He said: ‘At least 70% to 80% people in the North are starving. If you go to a community of 1,000 persons and ask them to produce N100, 000 so that you support it with an additional N100,000 you will be shocked to find that not more than N20,000 will be produced by the people. The poverty in the North is as serious as that.’ Yet you search in vain to see, throughout the interview, where the Governor has made education free for all the children of the state at all levels, which in the present circumstances is the least that can be done to lift the people from where they are now to where they ought to be, and which, in truth, the state can comfortably afford. People of knowledge will always find their way, others are prone to lose their way. Knowledge is the key to the development of Northern Nigeria, technology is the surest route from poverty to prosperity. The real undoing of Northern Nigeria, therefore, is extreme poverty of knowledge.
In the interview, Governor Yuguda delved into the ongoing controversy regarding onshore oil and offshore oil. His thoughts on the matter is the subject of this discourse, and they articulate what we may call the Yuguda Doctrine. To refresh our mind the position of the Nigerian Constitution is that onshore oil belongs to Nigerian as a whole, which exercises sole sovereignty over whatever lies in the sea within its exclusive economic zone, that is 200 nautical miles. Therefore the claim of the oil states to certain percentage of offshore oil, which does amount to assuming sovereignty over territories beyond their borders, is not only spurious, but illegal and unconstitutional. Governor Yuguda acknowledged this fact, but strangely enough he insisted, nevertheless, that the illegality and unconstitutionality should continue. He said: ‘As far as I’m concerned, the current arrangement should stand for some time. But let there be justice, because the Supreme Court has passed a judgement on the boundary of the littoral states, which is the watermark. But I would not want it to be reopened immediately. I don’t want the people who have been producing oil from coastal areas to be neglected. Government should do something now to empower them and fix the environment. Yes, our territorial water is called Nigerian maritime waters, hence it is for Nigeria. The National Assembly may have to decide on what to do about this matter, but my position is that it should not be immediately. Let the injustice be tackled first.’ The Governor did not say how long it would take to fix the problem. Perhaps eternity?
The governor went ahead to compare the plight of the people of South-South to the plight of those he called ‘my people’, the Pastoral Fulani. He traced the plight of the Fulani from the colonial era, when initially they were, for economic reasons, respected and catered for, their cattle routes well mapped, the health of their livestock attended to; to the present era when their condition has plunged to the lowest ebb. Now Governor Isa Yuguda’s sole priority, as he sees it, is really not to improve the condition of his kith and kin, his primary constituency, but rather to embark on an ego trip to areas beyond his constitutional competence — to save the people of Niger Delta. In other words, the Fulani Cause, and likewise, the Northern Cause is lost. He said: ‘But what has been the fate of the Fulani man today? The people in the oil producing states, if they are unlucky, if their environment is not fixed, their lives would be like the life of the nomadic Fulani man. He will not have access to schools, health care, drinking water or electricity. He is chased from one place to the other, stoned and matcheted in the name of farmers/pastoralists’ clash, because the Fulani are no longer relevant. We don’t want that to happen to the people of the South-South, to suffer what the Fulani are suffering now.’ Who then is there to cater for the Fulani, to give them water, electricity, health, cattle routes and security? This then is the quintessential Northern Governor, and this is the quintessential Northern Doctrine: never fight your cause, never stand by your people, never uphold high principle but instead follow the cause which promotes your personal interest, go by the trail of the banana dangled before you, go by the lure of sudden wealth, follow blindly the enticement of instant power.