The North and the Presidency: A Biased Agitation By Abubakar Abba Sanusi
“If we remain united, there is nothing this vast region can not accomplish. Therefore, let me give a solemn warning against those who try to break this unity for their selfish ends. They set tribe against tribe, Christians against Muslims, people against their chief. I am sure that you northerners will heed my warning and not accept their disruptive and untrue rumours and statements” – Sir Ahmadu Bello, 15th March 1957.
It is disheartening and sad when we look at the situation in the north and discover that the immortal words of the great Sardauna above have passed unheeded.
The polity has been over heated, confusion, blames and strategies everywhere. So much motion but no movement. Self styled elders in the north have emerged and they are telling everyone that cares to listen that it’s our turn. Is it really their turn?
No nation as diverse as Nigeria has ever allowed a region to monopolize the presidency. The northern region of Nigeria had been particularly lucky in this regard. Many will however argue that the military era is different from the civilian and in that regard the north can only said to be unlucky.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo rode on the north’s shoulders to be the president for two terms; a total of eight years and duly handed over to the late Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua from the north. The disturbing issue is throughout the Obasanjo era, the north considered him as a president from the South, while the South-East and the South-south regions of Nigeria see him as a president from the South-West. The clamour for the presidency to shift to the South-East or South- South continued unabated.
The South-East seems contented with ‘juicy’ appointments here and there and has kept a low profile so far. The South-West are not even contending for the presidency. They have rightly figured out that they had their chance and now the best way for them to remain relevant is to follow the North. The only region in the South that is likely to give the North a tough time is the South-South. They got the presidency by sheer luck which they didn’t justify so far and are determined to keep it at least till 2019 against popular wish obviously.
The North remains the dominant voice that screams to high heavens that it’s their turn. The Ango Abdullahis, Junaid Mohammeds, Babangida Aliyus etc never seem to shift ground but is their agitation justified? The fact that most northern presidency agitators are doing so for their selfish ends is appalling. Even if the citizens will collectively ask the north to take the presidency, who will be the candidate and from which part of the North will he come from?
Many Nigerians forget the fact that the North-East is the black sheep of the northern family. Apart from producing the first and only prime minister of Nigeria Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and two term vice president Atiku Abubakar, no individual from the North-East has taken the top job in Nigeria
As against the North-West that produced Murtala, Shagari, Buhari, Abacha, and Yar’adua. They ruled for a total of about 15 years. The North-Central produced Gowon, IBB and Abdulsalam. They ruled for a total of eighteen years. Only the North-East is conspicuously missing in this power play with a paltry 6 years of Prime Minister Tafawa balewa.
The question we need to ask the agitators are whether they think it’s an injustice to the North that the presidency is not theirs anymore? If yes, are they willing to correct the injustice and marginalisation of the other sections of the North? Can the Northern elite support a Shuwa Arab or Babur/bura from Borno for the Presidency? Will they oppose when a Tiv or Idoma from Benue, a Berom from Plateau or Higgi from Adamawa take the North’s slot to the presidency? If all the answers to these questions are NO, then I think the North has no moral right to lay claim on the presidency till they put their house in order and resolve all forms of disparity if not it will be an agitation in futility.
Abubakar Abba Sani writes from email@example.com
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