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Yorubas are the Problem with Nigeria By Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

(This essay was published on on Wednesday, 27 May 2009,
Yorubas are the Problem with Nigeria – By Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Prosective Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria)

“In sum, the Yoruba political leadership, as mentioned by Balarabe Musa, has shown itself over the years to be incapable of rising above narrow tribal interests and reciprocating goodwill from other sections of the country by treating other groups with respect. Practically every crisis in Nigeria since independence has its roots in this attitude.

i. The Yoruba elite and area-boy politics;
ii. Igbo marginalisation and the responsible limits of retribution; and
iii. The Yoruba Factor and “Area-boy” Politics.

My views on the Yoruba political leadership have been thoroughly articulated in some of my writings, prime among which was ” Afenifere: Syllabus of Errors” published by This Day (The Sunday Newspaper) on Sept 27, 1998. There was also an earlier publication in the weekly Trust entitled ” The Igbo, the Yoruba and History” (Aug. 21, 1998).
In sum, the Yoruba political leadership, as mentioned by Balarabe Musa, has shown itself over the years to be incapable of rising above narrow tribal interests and reciprocating goodwill from other sections of the country by treating other groups with respect. Practically every crisis in Nigeria since independence has its roots in this attitude.
The Yoruba elite were the first, in 1962, to attempt a violent overthrow of an elected government in this country. In 1966, it was the violence in the West which provided an avenue for the putsch of 15th January. After Chief Awolowo lost to Shagari in 1983 elections, it was the discontent and bad publicity in the South-West which led to the Buhari intervention.
When Buhari jailed UPN governors like Ige and Onabanjo, the South-Western press castigated that good government and provided the right mood for IBB to take over power. As soon as IBB cleared UPN governors of charges against them in a politically motivated retrial, he became the darling of the South-West. When IBB annulled the primaries in which Adamu Ciroma and Shehu Yar Adua emerged as presidential candidates in the NRC and SDP, he was hailed by the South-West. When the same man annulled the June 12, 1993 elections in which Abiola was the front-runner, the South-West now became defenders of democracy.

When it seemed Sani Abacha was sympathetic to Abiola, the South-West supported his take-over. He was in fact invited by a prominent NADECO member to take over in a published letter shortly before the event. Even though Abiola had won the elections in the North, the North was blamed for its annulment. When Abdulsalam Abubakar started his transition, the Yoruba political leadership through NADECO presented a memorandum on a Government of National Unity that showed complete disrespect for the intelligence and liberties of other Nigerians.

Subsequently, they formed a tribal party which failed to meet minimum requirements for registration, but was registered all the same to avoid the violence that was bound to follow non-registration, given the area-boy mentality of South-West politicians. Having rejected an Obasanjo candidacy and challenged the election as a fraud in court, we now find a leading member of the AD in the government, a daughter of an Afenifere leader as Minister of State, and Awolowo´s daughter as Ambassador, all appointed by a man who won the election through fraud.

Meanwhile, nothing has been negotiated for the children of Abiola, the focus of Yoruba political activity. In return for these favours, the AD solidly voted for Evan Enwerem as Senate President. This is a man who participated in the two-million- man March for Abacha´s self-succession. He also is reputed to have hosted a meeting of governors during IBB´s transition, demanding that June 12 elections should never be de-annulled and threatening that the East would go to war if this was done. When Ibrahim Salisu Buhari was accused of swearing to a false affidavit, the Yoruba political elite correctly took up the gauntlet for his resignation.

When an AD governor, Bola Tinubu, swears to a false affidavit that he attended an Ivy League University which he did not attend, we hear excuses.

For so many years, the Yoruba have inundated this country with stories of being marginalised and of a civil service dominated by northerners through quota system. The Federal Character Commission has recently released a report which shows that the South-West accounts for 27.8% of civil servants in the range GL08 to GL14 and a full 29.5% of GL 15 and above. One zone out of six zones controls a full 30% of the civil service leaving the other five zones to share the remaining 70%. We find the same story in the economy, in academia, in parastatals.

Yet in spite of being so dominant, the Yoruba complained and complained of marginalization. Of recent, in recognition of the trauma which hit the South-West after June 12, the rest of the country forced everyone out of the race to ensure that a South-Westerner emerged, often against the best advice of political activists.

Instead of leading a path of reconciliation and strong appreciation, the Yoruba have embarked on short-sighted triumphalism, threatening other “nationalities” that they ( who after all lost the election) will protect Obasanjo ( who was forced on them). No less a person than Bola Ige has made such utterances.

To further show that they were in charge, they led a cult into the Hausa area of Sagamu, murdered a Hausa woman and nothing happened. In the violence that followed, they killed several Hausa residents, with Yoruba leaders like Segun Osoba, reminding Nigerians of the need to respect the culture of their host communities. This would have continued were it not for the people of Kano who showed that they could also create their own Oro who would only be appeased through the shedding of innocent Yoruba blood.

I say all this, to support Balarabe Musa´s statement, that the greatest problem to nation-building in Nigeria are the Yoruba Bourgeoisie. I say this also to underscore my point that until they change this attitude, no conference can solve the problems of Nigeria. We cannot move forward if the leadership of one of the largest ethnic groups continues to operate, not like statesmen, but like common area boys.

iii.The Igbo Factor and the Reasonable Limits of Retribution.

The Igbo people of Nigeria have made a mark in the history of this nation. They led the first successful military coup which eliminated the Military and Political leaders of other regions while letting off Igbo leaders. Nwafor Orizu, then Senate President, in consultation with President Azikiwe, subverted the constitution and handed over power to Aguiyi-Ironsi. Subsequent developments, including attempts at humiliating other peoples, led to the counter-coup and later the civil war. The Igbos themselves must acknowledge that they have a large part of the blame for shattering the unity of this country.

Having said that, this nation must realise that Igbos have more than paid for their foolishness. They have been defeated in war, rendered paupers by monetary policy fiat, their properties declared abandoned and confiscated, kept out of strategic public sector appointments and deprived of public services. The rest of the country forced them to remain in Nigeria and has continued to deny them equity.

The Northern Bourgeoisie and the Yoruba Bourgeoisie have conspired to keep the Igbo out of the scheme of things. In the recent transition when the Igbo solidly supported the PDP in the hope of an Ekwueme presidency, the North and South-West treated this as a Biafra agenda. Every rule set for the primaries, every gentleman´s agreement was set aside to ensure that Obasanjo, not Ekwueme emerged as the candidate. Things went as far as getting the Federal Government to hurriedly gazette a pardon. Now, with this government, the marginalistion of the Igbo is more complete than ever before. The Igbos have taken all these quietly because, they reason, they brought it upon themselves. But the nation is sitting on a time-bomb.

After the First World War, the victors treated Germany with the same contempt Nigeria is treating Igbos. Two decades later, there was a Second World War, far costlier than the first. Germany was again defeated, but this time, they won a more honourable peace. Our present political leaders have no sense of History. There is a new Igbo man, who was not born in 1966 and neither knows nor cares about Nzeogwu and Ojukwu. There are Igbo men on the street who were never Biafrans. They were born Nigerians, are Nigerians, but suffer because of actions of earlier generations. They will soon decide that it is better to fight their own war, and may be find an honourable peace, than to remain in this contemptible state in perpetuity.

The Northern Bourgeoisie and the Yoruba Bourgeoisie have exacted their pound of flesh from the Igbos. For one Sardauna, one Tafawa Balewa, one Akintola and one Okotie-Eboh, hundreds of thousands have died and suffered.

If this issue is not addressed immediately, no conference will solve Nigeria´s problems.”

This essay is composed of excerpts from: Being a paper presented at the “National Conference on the 1999 Constitution” jointly organised by the Network for justice and the Vision Trust Foundation, at the Arewa House, Kaduna from 11th –12th September, 1999:

See this article also: The Adulteress’ Diary by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi:

What are you thinking?

37 Responses to “Yorubas are the Problem with Nigeria By Sanusi Lamido Sanusi”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The North have bein lamenting nonsens for the victory Britain gave to them but let glory be to God that all the ethinic group today are facing the pain even ppl like Yoruba who are naive an felt lackadaisical to do the right thing at the right time during the war that hausa used to brag today the whole world fought against Ibos but ofcourse trust Ojukwu an after the war how many Yoruba elite has rule this nation? If the are not as stupid as rabit.

  2. Fols says:

    It’s funny that Yoruba’s are the problem with Nigeria and not the Norths feeling of entitlement to rule this nation. I guess we all see what we want to see.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nigeria as anation is too large, let share dis country so dat development can follo.

  4. onyii says:

    The above publication was made in 1999,you can’t now bring in boko haram when trying to criticise it. It is so bad for sanusi to blame just the youruba’s and the igbo’s for nigerians wahala especially when delivering a a paper before the arewa forum! It shows that he was not being truly objective. Though they might be some truth to what he said,I think that the problem with nigeria though might be seen from ethnic perspective,can also be seen in every citizen! We are not nice! If we can be found worthy individually,we can turn into a great nation. I guess that we know our individual faults. Let us all work on it to be good citizens. Let’s learn to pay our tax,protect government,vote on what we believe and not on ethnic or religious reasons!we can do it peeps! Nigeria can be great if we want! God bless us all.

  5. prince olumuyiwa says:

    sanusi is tribalistic and a religious bigot. the major problem we have in this country is dated back to the colonial era, the british gave power to to north for thier own selfish reason of divide and rule. the level of conciousness and awareness in the south west is high believe it or notthe stability of nigeria is a collective effort. the level of impunity corruption in the north is high due to high level od illeteracy the almajiris are willing and ready tools to any political ,religious and all other unholy activity by the northern elite, the level of poverty is so high in the core north because the so called national cake is only circulating among the few elite.
    the so called population of the north is highly over blown due to political manipulation sanusis view is misleading and incorrect.allover the world the cradle of civilazation is mostly in the west and the east, same also is applicable in nigeria.

  6. Anonymous says:

    wat sanusi said might be tru bt my question is dat ‘ is ds d right time 2 publish such artiku’ which means he himself is in supot of dividing nigeria, bt if dat wi solve d problem of ethnicity, tribalism, nepotism analysed by sanusi den let dem divide nigeria so dat no 1 wi blame odas 4 their mis4tune.

  7. Anonymous says:

    let all fear ALLAH and d day of reckoning and accountability

  8. Adeoluwanike says:

    Just remembered that this 2 faced hypocrite called Sanusi is the same onwho purchased a property in ABJ for 1B naira to build a GARDEN. Then threw the people living there out despite the fact that their tenancy hadnot lasped without any compensation. Is it from his salary that amassed 1B Naira? Bloody thief then turned ard to force subsidy down our throat so that he n other like him in govt can continue to amasss filthy lucre at our expense. He shd remember that God is watching n He(God) can not be deceived. He will repay everyone making Nigerians suffer! They turned the children of the clothe seller in to those wearing rags. As the bible said servants are riding on horses while princes r walking BAREFOOT! Strange thing in deed!

  9. Adeoluwanike says:

    I wonder y pple r saying y publish it now and I say y not? I am sure that a lot of were not aware that he made such a statement in 2009. U fail to realise that the level of awareness of the average Nigerian has multiplied since 2009 and have exploded to us asking question since 1st of Jan this year. So we want to know in fact we need to know. Aftr all he did not say it in a corner of his room he said it in a very public place so let it be shouted from the rooftops now to his shame. I guess Boko H is from the Yorubas? All the religious intolerance is by the yorubas n ibos? Abi? What he did is an abuse of office n opportunity he was not invited to come n use the medium to settle whatever scores or grieviances he may have agst other tribes in Nig. He was there to provide constructive discuss not a divisive one like that. If such was made by a yoruba or ibo person abt the north they wld have taken to the streets killing the innocent yorubas n ibos in the north. Of all tribes the northerners r the most intolerant with an equally in tolerant religion that promises paradise for killing others. Sanusi shd go in to exile before govt that will make him pay for his misdeeds come into power.

  10. abimbola adebo says:

    A yoruba proverb says ” if a madman is given a hoe , he will definitely cultivate to his own side , am not dissapointed in sanusi @ all he is fm disable generations who is blind to see any good in others.The hausas contributed Nothing to the development of this Nation & they are MILkING us,taken so much than others, they are the most benefited of ALL policies of the government. The quota system is in their favour in all ramification, yet they will oppress kill & destroy others @ slightest provocation.they have NO regards for other citizens , claiming that power belong to them. Its not their fault , its the UNHOLY MARRIAGE of 1914 by Lugard. Sanusi is only acting the script written by his people , Nigeria is not meant to be , enough is enough ! Every tribe will soon know where he belong. Definitely Akingbola & others are paying the price of being a Yoruba man, the hausas are the once that grounded our refineries & will not allow PHCN to function. Very soon you shall begin to eat your tomato & alubosa.

  11. Adeoluwanike says:

    This article by Sanusi is obviously intended to paint the other major tribes as bad. He was conspicuously silent on the activities of the north in what Nigeria has become today. He made no mention of what IBB,Abacha etc have done to this nation. He did not mention that money sharing policy that is the philosophy of the North anytime they get in power. He did not mention how the Yaradua govt undid all that the Obj govt achieved in moving this nation forward. He did not mention that the average hausa elite is a squanderer n spend thrift. It is not his fault sha its the people that grant twisted minds like him audience. We shd also ask this govt the criteria for appointing pple in to public offices. Was this guy not screened? Did no one in govt read this article n realise its implications? How can someone who pblicly expresses such biaas be in any position At all? Hmn! Naija!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t know how this article relates to the functions of d office of d CBN gov. D problem we av is we r all sentimental in 1 way or d other and d publication of dis article at dis moment is, i must confess, targeted at fomenting upheaval and to expedite d lopsided selfish desire to disintegrate d country. We must bear in mind dat every tribe has its blames and credits 4 d current situation of d country.Each tribe will survive if we insist on splitting, but such thoughts are myopic and unpatriotic of dis generation in view of d cornucopia benefits,love and united strength we currently enjoy.I’ll urge us all to disgorge scurrilous notions of our leaders and reload our determination as future leaders to salvage d nation.

  13. teju says:

    If it is yoruba, then e fiwa sile ke ma lo.

  14. owolabi says:

    A good response frm all d pple dat gave there utmost opinion and ofcourse to Mr.Sanusi.i guess everyone is entitled to there opinions and knowing fully well dat opinions and comment shud b sometime scrutinize,because if alter @ d wrong tyme may cause problems and anarchy.i think Mr.sanusi is absent minded to luk at d past dat d first coup in Nigeria ws carried out by d oda tribes he is trying to make saint,and fail to envisge on d activities of his tribes on d problem they ar causing to d nation now.Am sure d writer will b kicking himself for wat d sect group ar doing to d nation now. Not hidding unda a spurious shadow dat d major tribes are d bane of d nation.above all,GOD Nigeria!!!

  15. kaizer says:

    Chuks I bliv division in2 6 is nt entirely a bad idea. our elite wud nt want dat 2 happen cos they r benefitting greedily frm dis amalgamation called Nigeria. all regions 2 ur tents!

  16. chukwudi says:

    what this article and the responses that followed still goes to support the fact that ‘Nigeria’ as a nation is a joke.Whoever wrote that paper succeeded in bringing to the fore the short comings of the other 2 major tribes-yoruba and igbo while presenting the hausas as saints.He/she did not think the ?minor tribes has played any role good or bad in the nations history.What gives me concern is the fact that the country is governed along tribal/religeous inclinations and yet some people feel it should remain so.LET ME ASK YOU GUYS-WHAT IS WRONG IN DIVIDING THE COUNTRY INTO 6 ALONG GEO-POLITICAL ZONES?

    • Olumayowa says:

      Chukwudi, May God bless you for your submission. U have clearly address Daura, Kabir & Fubara’s point with this incisive reply. Nobody would have attack Sanusi, if he had clearly showed us the negative parts his Hausa/Fulani brothers too played in putting Nigeria in this sorry state. But for him to had single out Yoruba & Ibo and left out the negative roles no matter how minute they might be from his own tribe, show him to be more tribalistic than other will make people that are critically analyzing this write up of his. To the issue of time, whether, it is written 10years or 20 years make no difference, it is the spirit behind it that matters. For him to have this biased opinion in 2009, shows that he had taken some actions/inactions based on this parochial stands. Great leaders look at every segment they oversee(Good & Bad), not looking for bad of some segment & blindly close their eyes on the bad of a few segment most especially where they come from.

  17. Saagaagii says:

    D article is irrelevant nw(2012) it was publish since 2009. u pple are nt helping matters by posting it nw dat we need 2 focus on our current security challenges. 9ja is 4 all lets unite & move it forward

  18. kaizer says:

    Most of these comments lack depth, constuctive criticism requires dat u counter fact wit fact! Naija we r 2 sentimental! Sanusi may hv put it harshly, bt dia sm truths in his article. The elite hv continued 2 fail frm all d ethnic groups cos they thrive thru tribal manipulations strictly 2 feather dia own nests.. Igbo hv paid dia dues.. Rochas 4 president!

  19. fubara opellia says:

    Mr Sanusi i applaud you for this right gesture on the matter on ground. As a proud Nigerian who is fearless on the matter affecting the development of a project called Nigeria,the problem of Nigeria lies with what mr Sanusi has enlighted,i think he should be applauded and not to be criticize.He is different from others that would attempt to evade the central issue affecting the nation.

  20. Anonymous says:

    @ sanusi , Being important figure u are not expected to make this article. Its not d time of passing or trading blames but time for bringing solutions or way out.

  21. Kabir says:

    Some1 said that Hausas can not speak correct english this clearly shows that he is not educated coz english is just a language, other countries are using their own lang. If u speak like Barrak Obama nd can not put what u read into practice u are not educated. Emi hausa ni but ma bo yoroba dada.

  22. Botschafter says:

    Nobody is ready to accept blames for the wicked and selfish interests he/she had displayed against the so called country Nigeria.

  23. Botschafter says:

    If Sanusi can confidently say this to the entire nation that Yorubas are the problems of Nigeria then I see no reason why Nigeria should continue to exist as a nation when its people continually raising accusing fingers against one another particularly that of tribal differences.

  24. Kabir says:

    That was his view but the question is does Sunusi make sense or not? We should pls stop applying stupid sentiment in every issue arrising.

  25. SUNUSI LAMIDO’S speech seems to be right&trustfulness b/c in the past both yarubas&their counter part Igbos their mission was’nt promote peace rather then confusion to this nation. Before the independent sardauna & northerners was throne in Lagos which resulted a kano riot. After independent Igbos despite distrust b/w Yarubas&Igbos but igbo led coup where northern elites were killed such as Sardauna &Tafawa Balewa.

    • tolani says:

      Donkey is talking again like it did in d past! Almajiri for president pains d north the joker their baba-obasanjo did to them, giving us a predated yaradua saga! Many were blind to the Phd of pull him down syndrome that sanusoi got against akingbola and ibru, its glaring now! Sanusi mu foots-glorified malu!

  26. Enoch A. Johnson says:

    The problem with Sanusi is that he talks too much and in the process make enemies for himself easily. As a public figure he needs to exercise decorum in his judgement of people and avoid taking sides in politically sensitive issues like this. He is becoming an embarrassment to the government.

  27. Ubong David says:

    Sometimes it amazed me that certain individuals are hell8ent to destroy the country in whatever means. If this essay was published since May 2009, why do you bring it now especially when the nation is facing serious challenges? Ok, your aim is to incite one ethnic group against another. You will never succeed. I will advice our Yoruba brothers not to respond to this article since it is a past event. They should focus on the way forward for Nigeria.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even if there’s an iota of truth in this ‘goat’s’ claims, does that mean that his ‘cattle’ fore-fathers are clean as saints. Sanusi ba hankali!

    • Musa Tanko says:

      David ur statement is really matured and u are the kind of people that should be responding to such articles. You are right. People should cast there minds back to when the article was publish, where and when? Untill u know these u will do justice or otherwise to the article, moreover what is the relevance of posting this article in the present condition? Those calling Sanusi with such names, continue but u should know that the best way in responding someone is by way of presenting facts, circumstances and dates where posible. For those calling for war better stop that cause yiu don’t know it thats why ur mouth is watering calling it but if thats what u choose…….

  28. Kpayan says:

    Yorubas can never be the roots of any problems in Nigeria, rather they’re solution providers, ‘cos they’re the most enlightened, sophisticated, educated, and accomodating of all the tribes in Nigeria. Anybody from other tribes who is raising any eyebrows is doing so out of jealousy and lack of self-esteem.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Sanusi was so foolish to an extent,he saying yoruba is main root of Nigeria, i can’t blame much like that because if most of yorubas because little money earn they will betray themselves,if not how dare the stupid stagnant saying that to us. Just live them alone, they are so envious when we talking of fruitfulness of land,culture and above all academia God inherit for us, for instance, no hausa simple and correct english without theirare intonation reflecting on what they speak. Don’t blame sanusi he is a tout like father like son he soon dethrone. Only solution to this, yorubas should unite let no all these cows,camel and terroists utter a word of blamspheness to us. Main solution to nigeria problems, they should declear state of emergency among three major ethnic tribe so each of them knows what they are weighing on a scale but i know it can’t occur like that except we go to war.

  30. Olumayowa says:

    Again, could this revelation be the main reason why ONLY Akingbola & Ibru were the ones visited mercilessly for Banking reorganization of Sanusi. Is Sanusi telling us that others including himself were quilts free when he was with first bank? This submission of his showed clearly that the allegation leveled against him in taking the banks from the hands of Yorbas to dash them to his Hausa brothers were true after all if not forthe scrutiny of ever conscious western papers, which quickly deflated the dubious move of Sanusi. Sanusi, you just stupidly shot yourself in the foot with this unprovoked & deliberate bias of yours, you deceived Nigeria & president Jonathan with half truth about subsidy removal only for you to admit that the figure you claimed was paid was actually more than that & the figure has ever continuously changed since house of rep investigation began. Sanusi, which kind CBN gov are you?

  31. Olumayowa says:

    It was Yorubas that made more than 80% of Northerners to poor, illiterate & hopeless? Let work with Sanusi’s assumption that Yoruba caused All Nigeria’ s problem, But why was it that anytime Yoruba caused the problems, it is Hausa/Fulani’s that benefited most, Gowon, Shagari, Buhari, IBB, Abacha, ABUBAKAR. Was Dimka a Yoruba man too? So, it’s only Yoruba & Ibo that are Nigeria’s problem while Boko Haram ‘fathers, Uncles, brothers & cousins like Sanusi are ‘saints’ . Hmmm.. I can now understand part of the reasons why Sanusi’ s father wags dethrone as Emir of Kano & why the educated son of Sanusi’ s former bank (1st bank), Muttalabi is a Terrorist personifying & will not be surprise if one of Sanusi’s biological children take same root. Uptill now I think he is a wise man, but now we know better.

  32. If he can boldly said that Yorubas is the problem that Nigeria have ,what of the bokoharam that found sponsored by his people? but very soon investigation will refil those behind that in the future, but if he, sanusi want to be in the news every day he shoud known that, this game he about to play we knew it more than him. Every ethnic groups

  33. BELLOCITY says:

    Okay so what next?


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