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NDA Attack and Yusuf Buhari’s Lavish Wedding

By Farooq A. Kperogi

By Farooq A. Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The attack on and abduction of military officers at the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) are at once unprecedented, humiliating, and dispiriting, but they are not in the least shocking because they merely represent a predictable pattern of Nigeria’s tragically progressive declination into the low-water marks of extreme precariousness in the last six years.

I perfectly understand the mass sensation of powerlessness and hopelessness that a vast number of Nigerians feel about the attack. For one, it dramatizes the impotence of the military in the face of domestic nihilistic and terroristic violence. For another, it removes any ounce of illusion that Nigeria’s premier military university is training a corps of officers to defend the nation.

 An institution that is putatively equipped to fight and contain external aggression but which failed to repel an abduction of its members by domestic terrorists on its own premises can’t protect the nation. It’s like bearding the lion in his den and living to tell the story. That’s not a lion to dread and trust to protect the animal kingdom. That not even one kidnapper was shot and demobilized throughout their operation is indicative of the emasculation of not just the military but the whole country. 

People who say the next stop for the terrorists is to invade Aso Rock fail to realize that Aso Rock has already been breached, making its non-invasion by terrorists only a question of choice, perhaps because the chief occupant of the Villa isn’t distinguishable from them. 

Apart from Aisha Buhari’s claim that she’d relocated to the United Arab Emirates because of “insecurity” in the Presidential Villa, on May 10, the Peoples Gazette reported that "armed men" had "invaded" the Aso Rock residences of Ibrahim Gambari, Buhari's Chief of Staff, and Abdullahi Maikano, an Aso Villa admin officer, and made away with "valuable assets."

The presidency all but confirmed the authenticity of the story (after one of its officials initially predictably called it “fake news”) but spiced it up with the mandatory official falsehood statements from the government must have by insisting that the breach was only a "foolish attempt" at burglary. In Nigeria’s more than 60 years of existence, there had never been any record of a “foolish attempt” at burglarizing the residences of key government officials in the Presidential Villa.

In my May 15, 2021 comments in the aftermath of this incident, I wrote: “If even the most fortified place in the country isn't secure enough for Buhari's wife to stay in—and his Chief of Staff is vulnerable to armed raids in it—where's safe? 

“It’s worse when the person who should be most concerned about this isn’t even alive enough to know what’s happening around him, much less what’s happening in the country.”

So, the invasion of the Nigerian Defense Academy is only an outgrowth of much worse security breaches in the very seat of power—and elsewhere. Even the characteristically restrained Sultan of Sokoto has said that abductions and murders of people are grossly underreported by the media. Most people know this, but it takes courage for a traditional ruler like the Sultan to voice it openly.

 Of the primary duties of governments all over the world, the most fundamental, the most sacred, is the obligation to protect and preserve life and property. That was why Thomas Jefferson once said, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

This regime has spectacularly failed in “the first and only object of” its existence and has lost the moral, and even legal, justification to continue. Any government that fails to protect life and property has no reason to exist, and opposing it is a moral imperative.

Arewa Elite Weddings and Evolving Cultural Homogeneity

After every elite wedding in Hausaphone Muslim Northern Nigeria, social media chatter always obsesses over how the conduct of the weddings negate the ethos of Sharia and how the anti-poor, hypocritical moral police called Hisbah chooses to look the other way when these transgressions occur but wax all holier-than-thou and aggressively self-righteous when poor people as much as wear a hair style.

We saw how Yusuf Buhari’s profligate wedding to Zahra Bayero violated all the conventions of traditional Muslim wedding. We saw videos of children of upper-class Muslim northerners dancing to and repeating raunchy lyrics of southern musicians while the cowardly and morally bankrupt Hisbah brigade looked the other way. 

The consequence-free violation of Sharia moral codes by the children of northern Nigeria’s political and cultural elites has caused people to say that the rich and the powerful are exempt from the self-denials of Sharia and that Hisbah is merely a gaggle of sickeningly sanctimonious and spineless thugs.

This is a legitimate critique, but beyond the obvious hypocrisy of differential moral codes for the rich and the poor in Muslim northern Nigeria, I’m seeing an intriguing quest for social homogeneity between the children of Northern Muslim elites (who are typically culturally insular) and Southern Nigeria. This has a lot of implications for the future of Nigeria.

The weddings of the scions of the upper crust of the northern society are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from southern weddings. The songs, the dances, the vibes, and the cultural performances, such as “spraying money,” now mirror southern Nigeria.

And because they are immunized against the sanctions of Hibah by their wealth, social status, and symbolic capital, scions of Arewa’s highest social hierarchy are instituting a new culture that bridges the distance between the North and the South. 

A new generation of Nigerians, mostly from the South, is generating a vast repertoire of national identity symbols in songs, dances, cinematic experiences, and other forms of cultural expressions that the rest of the word has come to regard as uniquely Nigerian. Because of the time-honored political and cultural tensions between the north and the south, it was always thought that the north wasn’t partaking in the emergent southern-inflected Nigerian songs, dances, and cultural practices that the world increasingly recognizes as distinctively Nigerian.

In my September 26, 2020 ethnographic forecast of an evolved Nigeria titled “Nigeria Won’t Break. It’d Evolve. Here’s How,” I prognosticated that three different identities would emerge in Nigeria in the coming generations: a Hausaphone northern Nigeria (with a few holdouts), which would be riven only religion; Yoruba-speaking western Nigeria; and “an alchemic ethnic fusion of disparate groups [in eastern and southern Nigerian] enabled largely by the enormous creolization of Nigerian Pidgin English and the Pentecostalization of the Christianity of the regions.”

I didn’t reckon that the relative cultural provincialism of the far North would loosen and find common grounds with the South. The surprising fluency that the children of rich northern Muslims show about modern southern culture during weddings shows that the structural integrity of the hermetically sealed cultural silos of the North is giving way.

This is particularly significant because it involves the elites of the north who can—and do—subvert the region’s appointed and unappointed moral police without consequences. In conservative societies, cultures often evolve through the osmotic pressures of elite emulation, that is, through the conscious and unconscious aping of the ways of the cultural elites who enjoy symbolic and social prestige. With time, even the moral police will give up and take on new battles.

So, for me, if there is any redeeming feature in the decadent, Sharia-defying weddings among the upper crust of northern Nigeria, it is that, in spite of itself, Nigeria is self-fashioning in ways that transcend its hitherto rigid cultural boundaries. 


  1. If I could have answers Professor Kperogi: is what you are - an excellent and impassioned critic - the result of the excellent journalistic skills you have copiously acquired? Do being the world-class journalist you are, having the great analytical mind you posses and being the objective and impassioned critic you incontrovertibly come across as one - do all of these mean that one would, for example, make a great president if one was elected one? If "Yes" is the answer to all of these, then, I daresay, it would be a great disservice to our fatherland if you continued to stay aloof from elective politics in Nigeria. We need you for what you are to straighten the path - made seemingly irremediably crooked including, and above all, by the wishy-washy administration of General Buhari - to straiten the crooked path for the march of Nigeria towards becoming a land flowing with milk and honey for every Nigerian.

    Good morning Sir.

    1. Did you just say Kperogi for president? I would have joined you in saying so. But how do you even emerge as presidential candidate of a formidable political party in Nigeria without you hurling all you noble qualities into the dustbin? Except if our constitution recognizes independent candidacy which it doesn't. And even if it does, how many hungry masses (who constitute 95% of voting population) know Kperogi? Would he (Kperogi) be willing to distribute N1,000 notes or distribute Kperogi's Atlanta or Borgu' s bread🍞? This is the reason why Kperogi should continue with his watchdog 🐕 job he is good at doing. All we can do (and that is the best) is to join him in forcing government to see reason in reason. I understand your passion my brothe. It is only that the reality does not permit dream of yours (Kperogi becoming Nigerian president) to see the daylight. Thanks. May NigNIGE be better.

  2. I think you're Aminu kano student?

  3. Although I disagree with you in some of the sentimental statements, the article is unarguably commendable. I look forward to reading more. Thanks

  4. Mr Unknown, FK is a great mind. I would be surprised if he had not given your suggestion a thought. But I prefer to see him remain the conscience of the world rather than entering the Nigerian muddled political water. I have not seen any one stay clean in it.
    Most importantly, it would be great to know his views, if he has not given it before.

    1. I have said repeatedly that I'm not interested in any elective political office in Nigeria. I'm content doing what I do.

    2. I know you wouldn't, you have built your integrity to the Pinnacle. Who ever wishes to be part of Nigerian politics must be ready to compromise his integrity.

  5. It will take an army of determined socio-political Crusader to straighten the crooked mess we are today. A lone Fighter will fail because of the many forces feeding fat on the soul of Nigeria

  6. Prof, authentic northern culture has always had a permissive side even without southern influence. Before the 1990s, weddings in the north had featured provocative dancing where hijab compliance was usually not an issue. In my part of the north, there was even a part of wedding ceremonies when cigarettes were shared freely to both smokers and non-smokers. That was the north of my childhood. What we have now, the Hisbah stuff, is not northern culture but a recent import from Saudi Arabia. A huge cultural change has happend in the north over the last 30 years inspired by alumni of the Islamic University of Madina who were given a big boost by Sani Yarima of Zamfara.

    1. Excellent points, Mohammed Bello. I've made similar points in relation to my part of the North. In my hometown, even babies wear hijab. When I was growing up there, only married women wore hijab. Weddings used to be indulgent, too,, and took place over several days, but weddings are now non-events and last only a couple of Hours. The cultural landscape of Muslim northern Nigeria has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, and you're absolutely correct in your analysis of the cause of this change.

      However, I was referring to singing and dancing to southern Nigerian songs during wedding ceremonies and even "spraying" money on dancers. That's new, I think.

    2. Prof, if you had been here in Nigeria roaming from North Central to South West and to the Far North ( or Core-North) you would have observed two significant cultural changes in the Nigerian society. One is Cultural transmutation- the Conservative, Shy and very religious Arewa Low to Middle class Arewa family will organise Marriage ceremonies in line with what obtains is the the South West alongside with their dress patterns, musical jamborees and free- mix of Men and Women once they have the financial wherewithal. All the 'Dos and Don'ts will be sidetracked so that they look 'Modern' as against Conservative and Poor people. Secondly, there was class restratification.The hitherto bustling but contented 'Middle Class' of the Late Seventies to late eighties with one car per family, all children in school, residing in a 3-Bedroom government-owned bungalows were phased out and replaced by Low and High income groups. The low have nothing except to be accomplices to power brokers to be able to sustain their family basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter even if government owned and pay for School fees ,Medical bills etc and save nothing. The high brow, on the other hand have everything imaginable. This includes chains of houses, cars, Jewelry, Overseas Medical and Pleasure vacation, Millions in Dollars etc . This upper class does not care about cultural Dos and Don'ts but will celebrate anything from weddings to Birthdays with fanfare, money-sprays, dressed in latest Western World attires, Careless about religious exhortations and distance his family from the lower class. This becomes the envy of the children of the lower class.This group is made up of Government top echelon, Big wig politicians, Chief executives as well as PAs/TAs to Power brokers. You cannot fit in here because there was no 'Umar' in Nigeria from independence to date who succeeded in 'Changing' things except for a brief spell by Late President Umar Yar'Adua and Former governor of Taraba state Alhaji Umar who was emasculated to leave the scene! Do that's it for you !


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