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The labour of our heroes past

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Following the revolutionary lecture and rally, which was held at Glover Memorial Hall, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, Habibu Raji Abdallah was arrested and charged to court, along with his compatriots; who were all very resolute in fighting the colonialists, towards the attainment of political independence for Nigeria. Thereupon, Habibu Raji Abdallah, delivered a famous revolutionary speech at the Lagos High Court, where he was arraigned on November 7, 1948, thus :-

“This is an important day indeed. The most-important, perhaps in the history of our country. I call it the most-important because it is today that we have to decide, whether we are to be free or remain hereditary bondsmen, who knows not that they must be free?”

“I hate the Union Jack with all my heart. Because save in Britain, wherever it goes; far from uniting, it divides the people. I have nothing against King George VI of England. But I hate the Crown of Britain with all my heart.Because to me and my countrymen, it is a symbol of oppression, a symbol of persecution and in short, a material manifestation of iniquity.We have passed the age of petition. We have passed the age of resolution. We have passed the age of diplomacy. This is the age of action. Plain, blunt and positive action. Therefore, I am here this evening, to call a spade a spade, an axe an axe, and a machete, a machete.”

Today, I, Habibu Raji Abdallah, by the grace of God, President-General of the Zikist Movement and Field Secretary of the NCNC, do hereby, declare myself a free and independent citizen of Nigeria – “I owe no allegiance to any foreign Government, and in the absence of any ‘government of the people by the people and for the people of Nigeria’; I am henceforth, not bound to obey any law, other than the Nigerian Native Laws, Customs and International Laws. Therefore, I shall pay no more tax to this Government.Because if you pay, they will use that money to perpetuate their domination over you.”

At the end of the day, Habibu and his compatriots, Anthony Enahoro, Fred Anyiam, Smart Obike Ebbi (“Marshall Kebby”) and Osita Agwuna, were arrested, tried and sentenced to two years imprisonment for sedition. Upon his sentence, he reacted in mitigation to the presiding judge, Justice Gregg, thus :- “if you sincerely believe that it is a crime to fight for freedom, then by all means, condemn me to death. Were I to be set free today, I cannot give assurance to muzzle my tongue. As for me, my conscience being clear, I shall be satisfied to leave the final verdict to God and His unfathomable river of time. So, proceed to fulfill the pleasure of those who put you here. I shall leave the final verdict to God.”

Before his trial and conviction, Habibu Raji Abdallah, who was a Senior Wireless Monitor in the Post & Telecommunications (P&T) had been dismissed from the Civil Service for attending a political meeting, contrary to the Government General Order. He had on August 8th1947, attended a conference of the Zikist Movement and delivered a talk, titled – “ZIKISM : AS A NORTHERNER SEES IT.” Thereafter, he was issued an official query on 17th January 1948, to explain why he should not be disciplined for attending the meeting. He was given 7 days to reply. But hebravelysubmitted his reply within 24 hours, as follows : -“I did not take permission from either the Secretary of State or the Governor, before attending the rally and making that memorable speech, because by the passage of the Act of Emancipation in 1833, no man was to be made a slave within the British Empire.” If I had contravened the provision of General Order (40B), then, I contend that the Orderis a direct violation of the ideal, which the British Empire stood for; and its continuedexistence is a breach of faith with thousands of my fellow Africans, who died in the last war for that Empire and its ideals. Therefore, I believe in the righteousness of my cause and offer no apologies.”

Consequently, Raji Abdallah was summarily dismissed from the Civil Service, without any retirement benefits. Thereafter, he became the President-General of the Zikist Movement. At this point, it dawned on the ColonialGovernment that unless a drastic action was taken, the situation would get out of hand. Then, on April 12th1950, the British officials promulgated an Order-in-Council,outrightlybanning the Zikist Movement.

Some ‘first generation’freedom fighters and nationalists, who boldly dared the colonialists during the fierce struggle in Southern Nigeria, were James Johnson, J. K. Randle, Sapara Williams, John Payne Jackson, Felix Oladipo Solanke, Mojolaoluwa Agbebi, Stella Jane Thomas, Orisadipe Obasa, Oyinkan Abayomi, Charlotte Obasa, M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu, Kola Balogun, Ernest Ikoli, Eni Njoku, Louis Ojukwu, Adelakun Howells, Margaret Ekpo, Eyo Ita, Okoi Arikpo, Jaja Wachukwu, Karimu Kotun, Alvan Ikoku, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Ebun Adesioye, Michael Imodu, Curtis Adeniyi-Jones, Akinola Maja, Bassey Duke Ephraim, Eric Moore, Kitoyi Ajasa, Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, S. G. Ikoku, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Ojike Mbonu, Sam Shonibare, Ayo Adebanjo, Nduka Eze, Osita Agwuna, among others.

Otherdogged freedom fighters, who boldly challenged colonial oppressions in Northern Nigeria were the likes of Ibrahim Imam, Yusuf Hadejia, Babba Dan’agundi, Bello Ijumu, Abba Maikwaru, Abdulrahman Bida, Aminu Kano, Maitama Sule, Tanko Yakasai, J. S. Tarka, Isaac Kpum, Gambo Sawaba, M. D. Yusuf, Magaji Dambatta, Abba Habib, Ali Konte, Yusuf Dantsoho, Abubakar Zukogi, Abdulrahman Howeidy, Mudi Sipikin, Dalha Dankasa Tela, Lawan Dambazau, MustaphaDambatta, Hamisu Hitla, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Ibrahim Heebah, Shehu Dantata, Uba Na-Alkassim, Bashari Gezawa, Sani Darma, Shehu Satatima, Baballiya Manaja, Garba Bida, Abubakar Tambuwal, Girinya Lokoja, Sa’adu Jega, Moses Rwang, Jonah Assadugu, among others. To aid their cause,a resistant freedom fighting organization, called the Positive Action Wing (PAW), was formed under the umbrella of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) in Kano,as a platform for mass mobilization and joint action. The structure and strategic operations of this group was very similar to the “Mau-Mau”, which was the Kenyan freedom fighting organization that fiercely fought for the independence of Kenya.

Regrettably, many unpatriotic, self-serving and visionless individuals are now dominating and implanting themselves in various leadership positions; they are massively looting our “common wealth”; destroying the structures, legacies and sanctity of the Nigerian Government, as well as the society; they are heartlessly thwarting the hard labour of our heroes past; and making living conditions unbearable for the citizenry.

000To drive home the essence and depth of stanza 5 of the Nigerian National Anthem, which inspired this article, I hereby wish to use this medium to passionately appeal to the federal, as well as all the respective states government, to immortalize “Nigeria’s Unsung Heroes”; who have not been given proper recognition by the government till today. Societal role models and patriots needs to be encouraged and properly celebrated, for Nigeria to attain an impactful socio-political change, sustainable development and progress.

Comrade Abdullahi, a veteran youth activist and a concerned patriot, writes via [email protected]