In 2011 Nigeria saw its worst election period in what is relatively a young immature democracy. Coupled with the wide spread election malpractices nationwide, violence and resentment enveloped most parts of the Northern region. Traditional leaders and their properties were destroyed, the ruling party and many of its associates in the north were not spared from the ensuing chaos, most unfortunately, innocent lives and properties were also caught in what became known as the ‘Post-Election violence of 2011’. It became clear at that point that Nigeria’s long history of bitterness between regions and religions had in no way disappeared and that if a quick solution wasn’t found, future elections could be the doom of a Nation with great prospects.
Blames flew In from all parts of the country, a picture was painted of a Northern region whose people only wanted their own to be the President or no other. The opposition Candidate was chastised for not coming out fast enough to denounce the violence which they implied might have ended it and brought normalcy to the region.
Even though it wasn’t entirely true, the ruling party and its government were quick to brand the problem as anarchy by disgruntled supporters of the opposition candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and that some miscreants had seized the opportunity to re-introduce sectarian violence to the volatile region. They called on the opposition candidate to immediately come out, denounce the violence and call his supporters to order, which he gladly did even though he was also a victim of the violence at that moment and he had definitely played no part towards inciting them in the first place.
Now what the ruling party and its government forgot to say or chose not to say was the truth – that a very huge population of the Northern region felt deprived and suffocated by the election rigging with the disparity in results especially in the North, they also forgot to point out that according to statistics, the same Northern region had the worst living conditions and illiteracy levels in the entire country (which is quite a substantial number). They also conveniently left out the fact that an ongoing systematical genocide was taking place in the North-Eastern part of the country and some other small pockets of the northern region and that poverty worse than we know it, was and still is the fastest growing epidemic in that region! With confirmed cases of people selling their votes for as little as a one pack of noodles, a bar of soap, a plate of rice or 100 Naira (Half a dollar) you will understand that calling the poverty levels there a growing epidemic is putting it lightly.
Now bringing us to my main reason for scribbling down these, I have read about and watched recent campaign tours of Mr. President (Goodluck Jonathan) to some Northern states where he and his campaign team have been subjected to ridicule, being stoned at, booed and pelted with objects of all kinds, most of all being held under siege at the Katsina family residence of the late President, Umaru Musa Yar’adua by protesting youths. First of all I must say that I do not support any of that and it is totally unacceptable! A few northern leaders like former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar have called for an end to that and I also believe more northern leaders should add their voices. Although I find it hard to believe that he is getting resentment in states controlled by his party and safe passage in states controlled by the opposition when it should be vice versa, leading me to believe recent statements credited to Gov. Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State on BBC Hausa saying that the PDP had a hand in the whole disobedience at the Bauchi rally.
Something that should be pointed out here is that the defiance of these youths has nothing to do with Mr. President’s religion or region, but more to do with the frustration, hurt and deep anger of a huge population of the Northern region towards Jonathan’s government and his intention to continue for another four years, a feeling that a growing number of Nigerians nationwide also share! Hundreds of Thousands of Nigerians especially from the North-east have been slaughtered in the past 3-4 years under a questionable insurgency which this government has not only failed to tackle, but also seem adequately unable to tackle. Economy and means of livelihood in the north is fast disappearing, northerners have been living under heavy army siege since 2010 all in the name of ineffective checkpoints to checkmate Boko-Haram! A typical journey from Abuja to Kano which normally takes 4-5 hours before 2010 now takes at least 7 hours on a good day! Entire families, villages and ways of life of a people is on the brink of extinction. Education, healthcare and businesses are fast becoming non-existent in most parts of the Northern region! Even if it were a northerner in that position at the moment acting the same way Mr. President is, he definitely will get the same, if not even worse rejection than is being dished out to President Jonathan now.
In a sane environment, a Leader would be ashamed of those in his government and party who act as ambassadors of his to their people in the Northern region, especially with the level of resentment and widespread rejection he has witnessed in the past few weeks within that region. But then again it raises the question if Nigeria has had a leader for the past six years and also the level of illusion which he and those around him have created for themselves.
Another point worth pointing out to my brothers and sisters from all regions of our dear nation is that M.K.O Abiola of blessed memory was a Southerner who was well accepted and voted for in the North. Ex-President Obasanjo campaigned in the North on two occasions against a Northerner and he wasn’t booed or ridiculed. The same President Jonathan campaigned in the Northern region in 2011 and it was largely successful with no animosity towards him, so now that the rejection of his government and the ruling party is so wide spread in the north, we must all understand that it is the genuine anger and pain which the people are suffering that has led them to that path and the only way they feel they can vent that anger is by acting in such manner, though not acceptable but it is effective.
One lesson he must learn from all of this is that it is not by claiming to have a large number of Northerners or people from any region in his government/ cabinet that he will gain acceptability, but by doing what he swore an oath to do and making Nigeria a safe and inclusive nation for all its citizens.
On a final note, with a dwindling popularity all over Nigeria, President Jonathan does not need an army of kamikaze internet warriors to spread his propaganda in a style similar to that of the Nazi party about phantom, non-existent policies and ghost projects which have had absolutely no impact whatsoever on the people of Nigeria. Mr. President’s popularity is so bad in some parts of the country that only those who benefit directly from his clueless kindergarten form of leadership support his ambition for re-election.
I hope and pray to God almighty that by May 29, 2015 when he, Jonathan hand’s over to a more qualified and credible successor in the person of General Muhammad Buhari, we will still have a Nation to salvage. Amen
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