National Assembly and indigene clause, By Olugbenga Ademodi

OLUGBENGA ADEMODI
OLUGBENGA ADEMODI

As an expert on Indigenous Peoples’ Status and Rights and author who has published book on the Rights and Status of Indigenous Peoples’ in Nigeria, an academic research that spanned six years, I hereby contribute this piece addressing the latest proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution concerning insertion of Indigene Clause in the constitution which will confer indigenous status on any citizen of the country, who has lived in an area for 10 years, thus making the visitor become an indigene of the host community.

Based on various indigenous peoples definitions propounded by United Nations, World Bank and a host of experts on the subject, it has been established that for any group of person to claim “indigene status” the following conditions must be met:

(1)  Proof must exist to show that the group was “traditionally regarded” as the first inhabitants of the said territory, and they must have a special relationship or tie with the land.

(2)  There must be proof of age-old subsistence economy by the group.

(3)  The group must be vulnerable, in otherwords they must be defenceless against the dominant group of the society; and

(4)  The group must be seen to be culturally distinct from the dominant society.

Objectively, the first condition is the only one relevant to the “indigene clause” issue and therefore will be examined solely. While the proposal before the National Assembly looks “genuine” on the surface, attainment of indigene status goes deeper than that, in otherwords, people desirous of indigene status must prove that “they are traditionally regarded” as the first inhabitants of the said territory and they must also have a special relationship or tie with the land.

The requested proof could be evidenced by age-long land-based religion or worship centers, burial grounds or graves of their fore-fathers. The fact of being descendants of the first inhabitants has to be proven by group of people claiming to be indigenes. This is where the World Bank characteristic stressing self-identification and identification by others comes into play. Group desirous of indigene status must be self-identified and identified by others as members of a distinct cultural group.

In interpreting indigene definition, it could be deduced that the status could only be attained by birth into the lineage of people regarded as first inhabitants of a place. While an argument could be made that marriage into one of such lineage could confer indigene status, this could only stand as far as the volatile nature of Nigerians would allow. Ife/Modakeke is a very good example that comes to mind. These are two communities of same tribe who had co-existed for several decades; their relationship is so interwoven to the extent that there are inter-marriages between the two communities. It is however a fact that when a feud started between the two communities sometime ago Modakeke men and women that came to marry in Ife were killed and vice versa.

The issue of indigene is so sensitive that it should not be toyed with because its repercussion would be calamitous. Indigeneity should not be confused with Naturalization under immigration law whereby an alien may become a citizen of a country after residing in the host country for certain years.

It is a fact that no Igbo or Hausa man can claim to be a Yoruba man even if he spends 60 years or more in Yoruba land. He cannot lay claim to the cocoa farm or other resources in Yorubaland. The same treatment will apply to Yoruba and Hausa man who resides in Eastern Nigeria for several years. They cannot claim to be Ijaw or Igbo nor lay claim to the Oil in the region. Yoruba and Igbo man residing in Hausa land can also not claim to be an Hausa nor lay claim to any resources in the North no matter how many years they reside there.

In Nigeria, a visitor to a place is seen as a stranger and there is no way a stranger will become an indigene of a community in Nigeria. Such stranger cannot prove special relationship or tie to the land. Even if such stranger builds factory in the host community, the moment trouble starts the issue of who is an indigene and who is not will arise and such stranger might have to flee or lose his life.

The best the National Assembly could do is to legislate that any Nigerian could contest for any elective position in their state of residence if they have lived there for 10 years. While this sounds reasonable, it is not realistic. There is no way an Igboman will win a governorship election in Kano state or an Hausa man win governorship election in Abia State. Even if the election result were manipulated and an Igbo man wins election in Kano State, there is no way he can rule in Kano, the best he could do is to rule remotely while residing with his kinsmen in Igboland.

Nigeria is not yet California, USA where Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian became a governor. Nigeria is not there yet but we shall get there some day.

National Assembly should therefore not bother wasting tax payers’ money legislating on a law that can never materialize.

Dr. Ademodi is based in Miami, Florida.  He is a Special Advisor on International Human Rights Research for Global Guild for Human Survival.  Email: ademodi.global@sids-supportguild.org

  • ilubarde

    Dr. Ademodi is a confused diasporian who is leaving in the sky. Every Nigerian is a citizen and indigene of Nigeria. The Ogonis applied to the UN to be conferred an indigenous status. Now, if they knew that they are indigenes, howsoever defined, why did they apply to be conferred that status? Nigeria is not New Zealand or Australia or Brazil or the USA. In these countries, there were indigenous groups or inhabitants before the violent occupation and decimation and political hegemony by the often white, racist and predatory occupiers/colonialists.
    However. the history of Nigeria is different. Every African who lived in the land that eventually became Nigeria or his descendants cannot become a non-indigene in Nigeria. This much the Constitution of Nigeria has provided and has been affirmed by the recent decision of the Supreme court in a relevant case on this issue.
    Secondly, the issue of indigen/settler dichotomy has nothing to do with the right to stand for elective offices. This right has amply been provided to every Nigerian anywhere in the extant electoral laws and the constitution of Nigeria. What is at issue is the pernicious issue of exclusion, discrimination and deprivation in the social and economic space. For example, in employments, discriminatory school fees, in hospital charges, in grant of land titles, etc.
    Thirldy, it also manifest when you marry a woman from a different state or local government area. Which is the local government area does she belong to? that of her husband or the one she originated from? And, so on and so forth.
    The amount of ignorance, oftentimes the result of prejudice and ethnic jingoism, being peddled by some supposedly expert and knowlegeable persons on this issue is alarming and condemnable.
    This doctor ought to go back to school so as to arrest his mis-education of people.

    • Clement Aduayi

      Ilubarde, you should note that every Nigeria is a citizen but when it comes to issue of indigene it is another ball game entirely.

      You need to study some literatures on indigenous peoples/indigene/indigeneity to enlighten yourself on what this subject is all about.

      It is hightime people like you stop relying on your emotion and face reality. So many lives had been lost on the issue of whether some people are indigene of a community or not.
      You stated that “every….Nigerian or his descendant cannot be non-indigene in Nigeria”.

      This is the most narrow-minded statement in recent times. Your ignorance is so visible that one will think you never pass in front of a school. Even market women know the difference between citizen and indigene. You need to learn from history and stop being ridiculous. Infact I doubt if you are a Nigerian because you do not sound like student of history. People that have lost their loved ones and bread winners because of this issue will never appreciate your stupid arguement and I think you also need to be in their shoes and experience the pain they go through to make you wiser.

      For your education: every Nigerian is a citizen of Nigeria but every Nigerian cannot be indigene of a particular community. You can only be an indigene of a particular community in Nigeria.

      Ilubarde, you need to do your research and back you arguement with facts next time you want to ctiticize anybody.

      I have some posers for you:

      Can you become a king in your wife’s community? If you are a Lagosian or Abian,can you go and become a king in Zamfara? If every Nigerian is an indigene of any part of Nigeria, why can’t every Nigerian lay claim to oil in Ijaw region?

      This is a subject I have vested interest in. If you want more tutorials on this subject, I am willing to oblige you.

      I can go on and on but I do not want to waste my precious time on illiterate like you.
      Ilubarde, if you are truly a Nigerian and you believe every Nigerian is an indigene of any community in Nigeria, my advise to you is this: You should go and and live in Zamfara, Jos, Kaduna or Kano for ten years and then contest for kingship in any of the listed places.
      Before you follow my advice, make sure you write your “WILL” and “settle” your loved ones before you embark on the”ambitious adventure”. I believe a word is enough for illiterate and narrow-mind people like you.

      Clement Aduayi contribute this piece from Jos.

    • Clement Aduayi

      Ilubarde, you should note that every Nigeria is a citizen but when it comes to issue of indigene it is another ball game entirely.

      You need to study some literatures on indigenous peoples/indigene/indigeneity to enlighten yourself on what this subject is all about.

      It is hightime people like you stop relying on your emotion and face reality. So many lives had been lost on the issue of whether some people are indigene of a community or not.
      You stated that “every….Nigerian or his descendant cannot be non-indigene in Nigeria”.

      This is the most narrow-minded statement in recent times. Your ignorance is so visible that one will think you never pass in front of a school. Even market women know the difference between citizen and indigene. You need to learn from history and stop being ridiculous. Infact I doubt if you are a Nigerian because you do not sound like student of history. People that have lost their loved ones and bread winners because of this issue will never appreciate your stupid arguement and I think you also need to be in their shoes and experience the pain they go through to make you wiser.

      For your education: every Nigerian is a citizen of Nigeria but every Nigerian cannot be indigene of a particular community. You can only be an indigene of a particular community in Nigeria.

      Ilubarde, you need to do your research and back you arguement with facts next time you want to ctiticize anybody.

      I have some posers for you:

      Can you become a king in your wife’s community? If you are a Lagosian or Abian,can you go and become a king in Zamfara? If every Nigerian is an indigene of any part of Nigeria, why can’t every Nigerian lay claim to oil in Ijaw region?

      This is a subject I have vested interest in. If you want more tutorials on this subject, I am willing to oblige you.

      I can go on and on but I do not want to waste my precious time on illiterate like you.
      Ilubarde, if you are truly a Nigerian and you believe every Nigerian is an indigene of any community in Nigeria, my advise to you is this: You should go and and live in Zamfara, Jos, Kaduna or Kano for ten years and then contest for kingship in any of the listed places.
      Before you follow my advice, make sure you write your “WILL” and “settle” your loved ones before you embark on the”ambitious adventure”. I believe a word is enough for illiterate and narrow-mind people like you.

      Clement Aduayi contribute this piece from Jos.

    • Jabiru alhassan

      Reasonable critique is what we crave for not sentiment like this.

    • Clement Aduayi

      Ilubarde, you should note that every Nigeria is a citizen but when it comes
      to issue of indigene it is another ball game entirely.

      You need to study some literatures on indigenous
      peoples/indigene/indigeneity to enlighten yourself on what this subject is all
      about.

      It is hightime people like you stop relying on your emotion and face
      reality. So many lives had been lost on the issue of whether some people are
      indigene of a community or not.

      You stated that “every….Nigerian or his descendant cannot be
      non-indigene in Nigeria”.

      This is the most narrow-minded statement in recent times. Your ignorance is
      so visible that one will think you never pass in front of a school. Even market
      women know the difference between citizen and indigene. You need to learn from
      history and stop being ridiculous. Infact I doubt if you are a Nigerian because
      you do not sound like student of history. People that have lost their loved
      ones and bread winners because of this issue will never appreciate your stupid
      arguement and I think you also need to be in their shoes and experience the
      pain they go through to make you wiser.

      For your education: every Nigerian is a citizen of Nigeria but every
      Nigerian cannot be indigene of a particular community. You can only be an
      indigene of a particular community in Nigeria.

      Ilubarde, you need to do your research and back you arguement with facts
      next time you want to ctiticize anybody.

      I have some posers for you:

      Can you become a king in your wife’s community? If you are a Lagosian or
      Abian,can you go and become a king in Zamfara? If every Nigerian is an indigene
      of any part of Nigeria, why can’t every Nigerian lay claim to oil in Ijaw
      region?

      This is a subject I have vested interest in. If you want more tutorials on
      this subject, I am willing to oblige you.

      I can go on and on but I do not want to waste my precious time on
      illiterate like you.

      Ilubarde, if you are truly a Nigerian and you believe every Nigerian is an
      indigene of any community in Nigeria, my advise to you is this: You should go
      and and live in Zamfara, Jos, Kaduna or Kano for ten years and then contest for
      kingship in any of the listed places.

      Before you follow my advice, make sure you write your “WILL” and
      “settle” your loved ones before you embark on the”ambitious
      adventure”. I believe a word is enough for illiterate and narrow-minded
      people like you.

      Clement Aduayi contribute this piece from Jos.

  • Clement Aduayi

    Ilubarde, you should note that every Nigeria is a citizen but when it comes to issue of indigene it is another ball game entirely.

    You need to study some literatures on indigenous peoples/indigene/indigeneity to enlighten yourself on what this subject is all about.

    It is hightime people like you stop relying on your emotion and face reality. So many lives had been lost on the issue of whether some people are indigene of a community or not.
    You stated that “every….Nigerian or his descendant cannot be non-indigene in Nigeria”.

    This is the most narrow-minded statement in recent times. Your ignorance is so visible that one will think you never pass in front of a school. Even market women know the difference between citizen and indigene. You need to learn from history and stop being ridiculous. Infact I doubt if you are a Nigerian because you do not sound like student of history. People that have lost their loved ones and bread winners because of this issue will never appreciate your stupid arguement and I think you also need to be in their shoes and experience the pain they go through to make you wiser.

    For your education: every Nigerian is a citizen of Nigeria but every Nigerian cannot be indigene of a particular community. You can only be an indigene of a particular community in Nigeria.

    Ilubarde, you need to do your research and back you arguement with facts next time you want to ctiticize anybody.

    I have some posers for you:

    Can you become a king in your wife’s community? If you are a Lagosian or Abian,can you go and become a king in Zamfara? If every Nigerian is an indigene of any part of Nigeria, why can’t every Nigerian lay claim to oil in Ijaw region?

    This is a subject I have vested interest in. If you want more tutorials on this subject, I am willing to oblige you.

    I can go on and on but I do not want to waste my precious time on illiterate like you.
    Ilubarde, if you are truly a Nigerian and you believe every Nigerian is an indigene of any community in Nigeria, my advise to you is this: You should go and and live in Zamfara, Jos, Kaduna or Kano for ten years and then contest for kingship in any of the listed places.
    Before you follow my advice, make sure you write your “WILL” and “settle” your loved ones before you embark on the”ambitious adventure”. I believe a word is enough for illiterate and narrow-minded people like you.

    Clement Aduayi contribute this piece from Jos.

  • Clement Aduayi

    Ilubarde, you should note that every Nigeria is a
    citizen but when it comes to issue of indigene it is another ball game
    entirely.

    You need to study some literatures on indigenous
    peoples/indigene/indigeneity to enlighten yourself on what this subject is all
    about.

    It is hightime people like you stop relying on
    your emotion and face reality. So many lives had been lost on the issue of
    whether some people are indigene of a community or not.

    You stated that “every….Nigerian or his
    descendant cannot be non-indigene in Nigeria”.

    This is the most narrow-minded statement in
    recent times. Your ignorance is so visible that one will think you never pass
    in front of a school. Even market women know the difference between citizen and
    indigene. You need to learn from history and stop being ridiculous. Infact I
    doubt if you are a Nigerian because you do not sound like student of history.
    People that have lost their loved ones and bread winners because of this issue
    will never appreciate your stupid arguement and I think you also need to be in
    their shoes and experience the pain they go through to make you wiser.

    For your education: every Nigerian is a citizen
    of Nigeria but every Nigerian cannot be indigene of a particular community. You
    can only be an indigene of a particular community in Nigeria.

    Ilubarde, you need to do your research and back
    you arguement with facts next time you want to ctiticize anybody.

    I have some posers for you:

    Can you become a king in your wife’s community?
    If you are a Lagosian or Abian,can you go and become a king in Zamfara? If
    every Nigerian is an indigene of any part of Nigeria, why can’t every Nigerian
    lay claim to oil in Ijaw region?

    This is a subject I have vested interest in. If
    you want more tutorials on this subject, I am willing to oblige you.

    I can go on and on but I do not want to waste my
    precious time on illiterate like you.

    Ilubarde, if you are truly a Nigerian and you
    believe every Nigerian is an indigene of any community in Nigeria, my advise to
    you is this: You should go and and live in Zamfara, Jos, Kaduna or Kano for ten
    years and then contest for kingship in any of the listed places.

    Before you follow my advice, make sure you write
    your “WILL” and “settle” your loved ones before you embark
    on the”ambitious adventure”. I believe a word is enough for
    illiterate and narrow-minded people like you.

    Clement Aduayi contribute this piece from Jos.

  • Clement aduayi

    citizen but when it comes to issue of indigene it is another ball game entirely.

     

    You need to study some literatures on indigenous peoples/indigene/indigeneity to enlighten yourself on what this subject is all about.

     

    It is hightime people like you stop relying on your emotion and face reality. So many lives had been lost on the issue of whether some people are indigene of a community or not.

    You stated that “every….Nigerian or his descendant cannot be non-indigene in Nigeria”.

     

    This is the most narrow-minded statement in recent times. Your ignorance is so visible that one will think you never pass in front of a school. Even market women know the difference between citizen and indigene. You need to learn from history and stop being ridiculous. Infact I doubt if you are a Nigerian because you do not sound like student of history. People that have lost their loved ones and bread winners because of this issue will never appreciate your stupid arguement and I think you also need to be in their shoes and experience the pain they go through to make you wiser.

     

    For your education: every Nigerian is a citizen of Nigeria but every Nigerian cannot be indigene of a particular community. You can only be an indigene of a particular community in Nigeria.

     

    Ilubarde, you need to do your research and back you arguement with facts next time you want to ctiticize anybody.

     

    I have some posers for you:

     

    Can you become a king in your wife’s community? If you are a Lagosian or Abian,can you go and become a king in Zamfara? If every Nigerian is an indigene of any part of Nigeria, why can’t every Nigerian lay claim to oil in Ijaw region?

     

    This is a subject I have vested interest in. If you want more tutorials on this subject, I am willing to oblige you.

     

    I can go on and on but I do not want to waste my precious time on illiterate like you.

    Ilubarde, if you are truly a Nigerian and you believe every Nigerian is an indigene of any community in Nigeria, my advise to you is this: You should go and and live in Zamfara, Jos, Kaduna or Kano for ten years and then contest for kingship in any of the listed places.

    Before you follow my advice, make sure you write your “WILL” and “settle” your loved ones before you embark on the”ambitious adventure”. I believe a word is enough for illiterate and narrow-minded people like you.

     

    Clement Aduayi contribute this piece