Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Blaming The North While Excusing One Another
December 28, 2005
Nigerians have to learn how to accomplish individual tasks before we can move forward as a Country. By blaming someone else, we relinquish responsibilities and render ourselves helpless waiting for heavens to help us. It is a perfect situation for those who are afraid to compete fairly but comfort self by tagging along. As this presidency term ends in 2007, politicians are jockeying for leverage, followers and free loaders. They hide behind third term rubbish, the turns of the North, South-east and South-south. Contrary to popular belief, no single region determines the election of the President; it has always been formulated by North-South special interest coalition groups.
What has always worked is where the majority of the regions or zones swayed. It takes astute politicians to accomplish that goal. Indeed, most of our fair elections have not been a landslide. There was always elbow room for backdoor negotiation that finally produced regional Premiers, executive President or Prime Minister. If you have been outwitted and outsmarted, blame yourselves not those who outclassed you.
In the early fifties, it was NEPU in the North that started winning local elections very early in the primaries before the colonial powers started replacing them with Native Authority officials whom Ahmadu Bello later assimilated to form NPC. Awolowo did the same in the West with IPP that was lured away from the NCNC to join AG. In the East, Azikiwe repeated the trend by charming over a seat in his hometown Onitsha and 11 out of 13 seats won in Calabar by independent candidates against NCNC. This power of persuasion, wheeling and dealing if you wish, continued at the federal level later.
Awolowo’s Action Group was the official opposition in almost all parts of Nigeria except the West. It was an accomplishment at its peak. In 1961 AG became the official opposition both in the North after an exhausting campaign that shocked Ahmadu Bello out of complacency canvassing for votes in his backyard since 1959; and also AG became the opposition Party in the East. No matter what you think about Awo, Zik and Bello political expediency or tactics, they united North and South politically. Better than what we have now. Zik was able to work with Aminu Kano, Awo was able to work with Takar. Ironically, Zik’s NPP was later reduced to Plateau, Imo and Anambra states while Awo’s UPN was reduced to Western states in reverse tactics.
By the North, if you mean Fulani, say so, and if you mean Hausa, say it loud. Watch out for these contradictions on the way though. Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim from the North joined forces with Adeniran Ogunsanya, a Zik loyalist to form NPP. He lost control of the Party and Ogunsanya took it to Zik. Waziri later formed GNPP. Alhaji Aminu Kanu the leader of NEPU must also be included; he formed a coalition with Zik. Our political history illustrates a clear picture. Aminu Kanu and Waziri Ibrahim bolted from the interest group in the North. Why is this exaggerated power vested only in Hausa or Fulani and not Middle Belt where most of Nigeria’s leaders hail from? Do not get confused with the wannabes who were of no use to their base.
If Gowon was installed by the powerful kingmakers, they must be trying to appease some people. If so, I wonder who? Could it be the moderates, Middle Belt, or the Southerners? Under this definition Takar, Danjuma, Babangida, and Abubakar are also anointed by kingmakers. Going by the Southern leaders calculation, North-central anchored executive leadership for 18 years; North-west for 11 years and North-east for 6 years – a total of 35 out of 45 years of Independence. The disparity in the number of years has never been an issue among them except in the Middle Belt or North-central, the longest rulers, while their base cry against domination; playing the blame game.
Gowon, Babangida and Abubakar do not come from an area that is typically referred to as “North”. So which North are we talking about? Does Danjuma, a kingmaker in his own right, belong to that sector? Oh, the conservative North-west. Could they be the same ones that tried or did get Obasanjo to sign a secrete deal in1999? After the election Obasanjo won without the same Sokoto region and in 2003 Buhari lost in Katsina his home State. That did not put a stop to the exaggerated influence of self appointed kingmakers.
I think the South need to find ways of courting North-central by learning how the rest of the North is doing it. They agreed mostly with the South until it came to resource allocation. Yet no power can compete with South-south and North-central coalition. Do they realize their potential power, and if they do what are they waiting for? The old special interest group can not wait. Actually the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa powers are jittery, though North-central and South-south alliance power is not yet a reality.
The Power of Negotiation
It is true that some in the North had resisted being part of Nigeria in the first place and they were persuaded to stay. Azikiwe and Awolowo’s campaign all over the North helped. The power of Southern (or British) persuasion was strong and effective and the North succumbed to a united Country. That is now being repeated in the South.
In spite of all the skilful and highly educated Nigerians in the South, when it comes to power politics; emotions, ethnicity, greed and selfishness come to play. Why is it so hard to admit this? Political negotiation is almost impossible in the south. For Zik, it was just an uncomfortable endeavor with Awo.
Akintola saw his vindication with Ahmadu Bello, not with the East. He said whatever the East gained from their association with Balewa at the Federal level, he wanted the same. He was able to get the Federal Ministry of Education under Akinjide amongst other positions. If it was not for that move by Akintola, some would say, Yoruba would have lost everything at the federal level.
The fact is many Southerners in sober moments, always think that Northerners are straight forward and easier to deal with. This amounts to nothing but admission of trust. We admit to ourselves that many Southerners in good positions are conceited, arrogant and unapproachable. Those going to Abuja to transact simple business echo the same thing up to today. Of course Southerners have articulated displeasure about federal character and religious fanatics amongst our brothers. But federal character also works for all ethnic minorities.
There are many things we have to learn from our brothers in the North and there are others the Northern brothers have to learn from the South.
The North has never forced anyone from the south to join political association, they earned it. They use the power of persuasion, give up the (finance) money department, and their approachable lure gained support and power. Isn’t it? If the Southern leaders want Presidency, they must convince their Northern brothers by logic and reason, not by threats. Threats and force can only repress behavior temporarily, even against the South.
Indeed, the ethnic masturbation that is growing all over Nigeria these days may make it more difficult to reach out and build bridges across. The way some of these local champions have been touched were by presenting beautiful brides clad in nothing but looted funds. As they saw money bags, they buried their differences; North and South became irrelevant in full view of money bags. This time Presidency is more important?
Look, there must be something about the Fulani or may be the Hausa that we can hardly tell the difference. Yet they remain different and also agree to disagree among one another. When they fight, we do not report it and they hardly report it either. We have to learn something from them as they learn religious tolerance from us.
But the North is as ethnically diverse as the South.
Apart from religion, a great force I admit, the Hausa and the Fulani are not closer or related to one another than Yoruba and Hausa or Igbo and Fulani. Check out the Fulani-Fulbe-Pullo history and compare that with Hausa history. Whatever the case, they have learned how to fight and make up. That is something that needs to spread to the rest of Nigeria. No fair election can be won in our Country based solely on ethnicity.
The Blamers Had Opportunities
In this day and age, people still lament that it was the British who made our brothers our leaders and after the British left, they already had the system in place against the South.
Of course, Northerners ride on that.
Obasanjo has more time than the gods of Egypt and Greece and could have changed the system. Those from North-central in military uniforms, the Hausa/Fulani wonnabes – Gowon, Babangida and Abubakar - could have changed the system. Ironsi never had enough time but if he had changed the system, the consequences could not have been worse than what befell him and Fajuyi. Azikiwe could have been the Prime Minister by choice but decided to anoint Balewa, by definition he could have been the ruler instead of the kingmaker and change the system. Each of them did not in their wisdom or self interest because it might dislocate the very existence of the Country. So, why play the blame game?
Abiola was told there was no vacancy for Presidency in NPN after relying on earlier agreement when the party was formed. Instead of playing the blame game, he took the bull by the horns. He later changed tactics, made up with his base campaigned all over the Country. He won, only to be denied by a North-central ruler.
It is obvious that no power in this world has monopoly on violence. There is this threat of military might that defeated Biafra. Nobody repelled invasion at Ore but the Yoruba who prevented the overrun of Lagos. Those days are gone forever. The worst is a fight to a stand still with bleeding and waste on both sides. But where has violence ever won the hearts and minds of the oppressed today?
Fear of Neighbors
If the South-south wants to admit it, they feel more secured in an association with the so called conservative or progressive North than with any of the so called conservative or progressive Southerners. History has taught them that they will be cheated whereas they can rely on the promise made to them by whatever we call North. So who are we to blame the Deltans for their association with any ruling power, knowing that they could have been swallowed by their neighbors? They were not particularly happy with the Yoruba in the Western Region or with the Igbo in Biafra.
Both Igbo and Yoruba are quick to point out the length of time these associations existed compared to their association with the North. Whatever the case, if we have been treating our minorities right and realized that the Country did not belong to Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa alone, our situation may have been different.
Oil Resources versus Other State Resources
The mother of our disagreement with the North has to do with crude oil even though not all southern States produce oil. The reason is simple; oil is the main earner of our foreign currency. It has been argued, times without number that if the oil was abundantly located in the North, there would be no more Nigeria. Well, well, well I don’t know about that.
All these hard work by all our founding fathers can be torpedoed by this curse brought to us by crude oil? As we approach 2007, every Nigerian must ask him/herself if s/he would vote for a candidate who promised to let each state keep all its resources. Seriously, I do not think a single candidate would say that.
However, if we want to resolve our problem, every state has to produce oil (impossibility) or every state has to depend on its alternate recourses. Every part of Nigeria does not produce oil in commercial quantities but we all enjoy its receipts in the name of federation. No matter what, we can not be equally endowed. The solution about how to redistribute our income has to be first negotiated between our minorities in the South-south and North-central before it is introduced to the rest of Nigeria for general endorsement. Yes, endorsement.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.