Indegenship Of The North In Nigeria


Pastor Kallamu Musa Ali Kawu Dikwa







Nigeria is made up of 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).  The FCT, being Nigeria’s Capital Territory, as stated by government, is not an area that belongs to any particular ethnic group in the country.  However, there is the Gwari tribe, who still inhabit the area even before its declaration as a Capital Territory.  The country was originally divided into two, three, four, twelve, seventeen, and finally now 36 political portions, and indeed later we now have six Geo-Political zones, while still keeping the 36 State structure.  When it was two, we had the Northern and Southern Protectorates.  When it was three, we had the Northern, Western and Eastern Regions.  When four, we had the Mid-Western Region added to the previous three.  For other reasons we need not go into in this article, we got the other divisions that now ended up in 36 States and the FCT.


For what ever reasons, which I would like to term sentimentally sinister, Nigerians are unfortunately still fixed on the Northern and Southern sentiments.  Where it suites there political advantages, they go to lean on state affiliations, not yet on the Geo-Political zonings.  I am very certain that the effort of government at all the splits is to make all Nigerians feel the sense of belonging and patriotism where ever they reside in the country.  I do not want us to go into this as it may bring a lot of arguments; but it is an interesting thing to find out.




There is a general misunderstanding of the North by fellow Nigerians in the South, concerning tribal linkages, as most Southerners address all Northerners as Hausas.  This is erroneous.  Indeed this has been a very well known and uncorrected error for a very long time in this country.  In the North, for that unfortunate error, some, especially the Hausas, in whom the advantage of that error resides, have taken a political advantage and have invited the Fulani in what they term as Hausa-Fulani.  This is purely a political grouping.  There is no tribe in Nigeria called Hausa-Fulani.  I am taking time to attempt to correct this misunderstanding because I, a Kanuri by tribe, have been thoroughly embarrassed several times on this matter.  Because of the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos however, this error is very slowly but gradually being corrected, though used sometimes deliberately to hurt non-Hausas.  In the East, and the South-South though, the error has continued un-abated due mainly to lack of knowledge and awareness.


History informs us that the Hausa tribe were originally known as Maguzawa.  This tribe, Maguzawa, is one of the original inhabitant tribes that Shehu Usman Danfodio conquered in what came to be known as the Jihad.  Danfodio was said to have come from Mali through Sokoto and embarked on conquering the Maguzawa tribe who inhabited most of what is now known as North-Western Nigeria in his bid to ‘spread’ Islam.  During his campaign he got to a place known as Bavehi and the Kanuris stopped him.  Unfortunately due to some sinister political reasons, this is hardly narrated, and therefore the misunderstanding.


The Kanuris were said to have come from Yemen via Libya, Sudan, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon with their full knowledge of Islam.  They have the following clans: - Suwurti, Bodoyi, Kwayam, and Morr (Maiduguri Emirate), others are Fadawu, Balewu, and Gumatiwu (Dikwa Emirate).  They lived in their present location of what is now known as North and Central Borno for about 372 years practicing Islam before Shehu Usman Danfodio commenced his campaign.  The Kanuris noticed that Danfodio’s campaign was more politically motivated rather than Islamic, that was why he had to be stopped.  However, on the part of the Kanuris, all that while, and indeed up to this time I believe, they have not thought that the religion of Islam can be practiced correctly by any non-Kanuri, and indeed that is why the Kanuris do not even believe that the Hausas are true Muslims.  The simple reason is that the Hausas contaminate the religion with politics, and inject terms derogatory to others; terms which the Kanuris also refer to them with.  Unfortunately they also use such terms even in politics with harassment, cajoling and even violence at most times only to get them to political positions; the reason the Kanuris believe the way they believe.  And that is one of the main differences between the Kanuris and the Hausas; and indeed the main reason that the Kanuris do not consider the Hausas as true Muslims. 


This paper is not aimed at attacking the Hausas, but there is the need to make certain strong analysis to show the clear differences between the Kanuris most especially, and the Hausas.  I believe also that there are several of such differences between the Hausa tribe and all other Northern tribes that make the distinction. That is why I said earlier that some people in the North get hurt for being called Hausa.  The Fulani for example detest the term Hausa-Fulani for the same reasons.


In the same vein, while the Kanuris are over 99% Muslims, the Hausas are not.  The predominantly Hausa states in Nigeria are; - Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa. There are very large percentages of Christians and non Christians who are indigenes of those states, very unlike the Kanuris in Northern and Central Borno.


While in fact Hausa language is being spoken widely, Kanuri language on the other hand is not.  Again the Kanuris do not believe, very unfortunately, that any non Kanuri can speak the language unpolluted.  Now this is the reason the language is a kind of hidden, and known only more in History.  This is not on the other hand suggesting that the Kanuri language will soon become history or has become history any way; but care has to betaken by the Kanuri themselves. 


It is a well known fact that though Hausa language is being spoken predominantly in Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Kwara, Kogi, Plateau, Niger, Nasarawa, and Kebbi States, these states are not Hausa or Muslim dominated.  There are of course Hausa settlers in these states.  It is very essential to make this clear difference known.  Kebbi State for example has the Zuru as the dominant tribe.  Borno State has the Kanuris in Northern and Central Borno while Southern Borno isn’t Kanuri dominated, and is predominantly Christian.  Adamawa State has a very predominant Christian population with tribes like the Bachama, Burra, Kilba, Mbula, Yandang, Chamba, Yungur, and several others, and also a few Fulani.  There are similar clear cases of distinction with the Hausa tribe in all these states mentioned above.  However, there is a very large population of non-Nigerians who speak Hausa and reside in these States and therefore claim to be Nigerian Hausas that give the impression of Hausa indigenes there.


There is similarly a very large population of non Nigerians who claim Kanuri as their tribe in the Military and the Police.  To my mind this is in order because during the Nigerian Civil War which lasted from January 1966 to July 1970, the Kanuris did not like to be recruited in either of the services, but they instead encouraged the Godogodos and the Bānānās from Southern Chad (by the way this tribe, Bānānā isn’t the fruit you eat please) it is pronounced Bānānā, and not the way you pronounce the fruit.  The Hausas at that time of the civil war reduced themselves to praise-singing for war veterans from other tribes especially the Bachama in Adamawa State.  There is no wonder therefore that the Hausas are now at the top of the political campaign for what they want to be called Hausa-Fulani to gain domination of the political cloud in the North, and tactically edge out even the Fulani.


While we have the very patriotic South Chadians in the forces for example, we have others, who may have come into Nigeria from the same Southern Chad to settle, and probably not having any trade or vocation, but speak Hausa, which is also spoken widely in Chad, who may be the ones perpetrating most of the violence termed religious in Borno, though indeed encouraged by their Kanuri sponsors, who may be idlers or even influential politicians.  I think this need to be researched.  There is no doubt therefore that during the recent violence in Jos, there was the insinuation in certain quarters that these South Chadian people residing in Jos were responsible. 


Here care must be taken to note one thing; Hausa is spoken widely in Southern Chad and Northern Nigeria.  There is what we always call religious violence in the North.  Nobody seems to have found the time to study this trend.  While at the end of the violence, which would normally start either in the mosque, like in the case of the Maitatsine riots, or in the market squares, or in Igbo shops, or by burning churches with sponsors from God knows where, government would ask for investigations.  No white paper has ever been made public, or any culprit mentioned.  Why?  Now because the violence would midway be termed to be between the two main religions, falsely interpreted by the press, like the cases in Kaduna State in the past, one finds that those in government and influential members of the public would go to lengths to protect their religions, and not allowing the search go the full length.  We know that while members of one of the major religions would like the investigations to go the whole hug, the others wouldn’t.


Now the government of this country has been once again faced with a challenge in the riots of the ‘Boko Haram’.  I am pleased that some investigation has been made into the cause (among others) of the riot that has killed several people, including killing of Pastors, namely Rev. Sabo Yakubu of COCIN Church Jajeri Ward Maiduguri, Rev. George Oji of Good New Church of Christ at Wulari Ward, Maiduguri, Rev. Sylvester Onuniobong Akpan of National Evangelical Mission also at Wulari Ward Maiduguri, and also burning down of about 25 Churches once again in Borno State.  What comes out of the investigations is left to Nigerian government and God to tell us.




As I conclude this article, I want to make it clear once again that this article is not intended to attack the Hausa tribe, neither is it aimed to be religiously biased.  The main aim is to show how tribal leanings and affiliations especially in the Northern part of Nigeria are used to distort the thinking of a people, and misinform the people.  It is these misinformation and distortions that end up in bringing clashes and crises that hinder development in this country.  And if this is not very fully understood and dealt with, Nigeria will continue to draw backwards.  While I do not wish to cast any aspersions on other countries on indigenes of other countries, I make bold to say that the porous nature of our boarders in the Northern fringes have contributed immensely in drawing this country backwards.  The use of very unnecessary and avoidable sentiments also even in our political and social life as a nation has contributed in pulling us backwards.  The use of such sentiments especially religion as said in History, being the opium of the masses has become dangerous to the sustainable survival of Nigeria.  The unfortunate thing is that very well informed and elder statesmen and elite in this country are the ones perpetrating these, only to have them remain in the corridors of power.  These must stop if Nigeria is to progress.  Remain blessed.