By Emma Nwosu
“The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us or have control over their future.” – Sir Ahmadu Bello, The Parrot, October 12, 1960.
The evidence keeps mounting that the Fulani-led Moslem North truly take Nigeria as their estate and are more interested in subjugating others to cling to power, exclusively, than in the peace and prosperity of the country. Among others, it was to this end that the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) relentlessly hounded the opposition in the First Republic, the events of which triggered the termination of that Republic by coup d’etat, followed by Civil War.
Then, the Northern military establishment consecutively hijacked the Federal Government by coups d’etat after the Civil War and leveraged on General Aguiyi Ironsi’s Unification Decree of 1966, out of context, to bastardize the federal Constitution and structure agreed by the regions as the basis for independence – from four vibrant, semi-autonomous, regions to a unitary federation of 36 vassal states. Nineteen of those vassals (in addition to the Federal Capital Territory) were created in the erstwhile Northern Region while only 17 were created in all the three Southern Regions.
Essential powers and resources were also confiscated from the states by the Federal Government. Merit was substituted with quota and patronage. And the coffin was nailed by Decree 24, in the pretext of the 1999 Constitution now in force, all to the advantage of the North – in terms of larger share of public revenues as well as the control of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of government.
The resultant lack of correlation between talent and opportunity and reward and contribution has killed incentive and spelt death to diversified production and healthy competition between the federating units, leading to unmitigated economic failure and rendering the Nigerian system entirely predatory and bedeviled by inflation, unemployment, secessionist agitation and all shades of corruption and terrorism.
Currently, there is the invasion of the country by barbaric Fulani herdsmen, bandits and mercenaries, in the manner of an expeditionary force.
And, to add insult to injury, there is also the vicious campaign against rotation of the Presidency, between the North and the South, enshrined in the Constitution of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and practised since 1999, now that it is the turn of the South.
Everything is being done to actualize Sir Ahmadu Bello’s Doctrine of Supremacy of the Fulani-led Moslem North and, in particular, to foreclose the opportunity of a non-Fulani becoming President of Nigeria, henceforth, regardless of the deplorable condition of the country under their rule.
If the PDP ends up with a Northern Presidential candidate, the All Progressives Congress (APC) would follow suit, ostensibly, to divide the votes. Since Christians and other tribes of the North are not in the scheme of things, Nigeria might be saddled with another Fulani President on the heels of Muhammadu Buhari. The APC and the PDP are also headed by Northerners.
Somehow, the rest of Nigeria have never truly challenged the Supremacy Doctrine, being wangled in many ways, but rather fall for every bait or fallacy while sleepwalking into slavery, even in the current campaign against rotation.
One of the campaigners’ baits, meant to sway unprincipled politicians (who yearn for unbroken breastfeeding) away from rotation is that the PDP could not regain the Presidency in 2023 without the numerical strength of the North and that failure to present one of them would nail the coffin of the party and the fortunes of its members.
But, in truth, the presumed numerical strength of the North is not enough to win the Presidential election, as President Muhammadu Buhari can testify. The party must garner a collage of votes from two-third of the states – which neither the North nor the South alone can afford, despite the lopsided division of states. And, if gross voting population is the issue, why must the Northern candidate be Fulani again, instead of the more populous Hausa or Kanuri, for example?
Another bait is to the emotion of the peace and unity of the PDP and Nigeria: that zoning out the North (implicitly, the Fulani) would lead to acrimony. This is a betrayal of the supremacy mindset. Zoning out the South had never precipitated acrimony. Why should the case now be different? Why must the peace of Nigeria always depend on the docility of others except the Fulani?
Why not, for once, demonstrate mutual respect and reciprocate the sacrifice and concessions by Southerners since the First Republic? Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s case was circumstantial while Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s was imperative and do not qualify as instances of deliberate support.
The fastest way to foster peace and unity in the PDP is to stick to the party’s practice of rotation, with opportunity given to those who have never been President but whose fate it may be to turn things around. The fastest way to restore peace and unity in the country is to revert to the sort of Constitution and decentralized federal structure previously agreed by the regions.
The most annoying bait is that the Presidential ticket should be thrown open in search for the best candidate. The presumption is that such a candidate could only be found among them.
The truth is that the Fulani are focused on conquest but do not have much to offer in education and culture, science and technology, commerce and industry, arts and entertainment, sports, or anything that makes the society tick and were never supposed to lead Nigeria from behind but for the mistake of the NCNC in 1960, whereupon they have seized the stool.
One can only imagine Nigeria’s global ranking, by now, had Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe or Chief Obafemi Awolowo been the first Prime Minister instead of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa or Dr Alex Ekwueme President instead of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, or Professor Yemi Osinbajo instead of General Muhammadu Buhari. The economy, nurtured to the largest in Africa – with little or no public debt and a fairly stable Naira – by President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan, successively, is all but dead now under President Muhammadu Buhari. It was also continuously devalued all through the days of the Northern military dictators.
None of the current Northern aspirants can compete (in credibility, prudence, extensive and complex knowledge and skill and energy for the Nigerian President at this time) with the typical Southern aspirant like Peter Obi. Is it the 76-year Atiku Abubakar who has been shopping for the title of President since 1993, or Bukola Saraki, the master of deception, who ‘jumped fence’ to snatch Senate Presidency, or Bala Mohammed who beckons on the Fulani from all around the world to swamp Nigeria?
If the Fulani were wonderful leaders, why is the North (particularly, the Northwest) which has been under their hegemony, the illiteracy, poverty, disease, corruption and terrorism capital of Nigeria – a grave demarketing factor if Nigerian voters were informed?
It has been a tale of the tail wagging the dog and a journey to perdition which may never be halted until the old Eastern and Western regions (who have been behaving like people under a spell) put their petty rivalry aside and come together to rescue Nigeria.
The most laughable bait is that the PDP would resume rotation of the Presidency after retrieving it in 2023 with a Northerner! Hahaha! What you could not wrestle from your opponent on a level ground, how would you retrieve it after he has been armed to the teeth with the Nigerian Presidency? Once this 2023 Rubicon is crossed, it is goodbye to rotation!
There is also the fallacy that the campaigners are motivated by the perception and hatred for the Igbo as most daring and most likely to upturn the apple cart – seeing that the pendulum of a Southern President is swinging towards the South-East.
It is the pure argumentum ad hominem and the height of impudence to block rotation because the likely beneficiaries are perceived as game changers, when Nigeria is in dire need of game changers. Evidently, clinging to power is more important to them than positive change.
Both Karma and the Law of Retribution stand against the exclusion (from political leadership and power) of those who were at the forefront of independence struggle and are also at the forefront of all that have kept Nigeria alive – from education, commerce and industry to sports and entertainment – and who have been the most loyal to the PDP since 1999. By implication, without an Igbo candidate, the PDP will lose the 2023 Presidential election.
Moreover, the Igbo are not alone in the quest for a renegotiated and repositioned Nigeria, with devolution of powers to federating units – close to what obtained in the First Republic or to the Aburi Accord of 1967. It is in the absence of egalitarianism that some zones clamour to leave, in order to realize their suppressed potential, evident all around the world. Thus, beyond the Igbo, the demand for power rotation (in the interim) a new Constitution and a restructured federation will never cease and, if not addressed soon, will end in the disintegration of Nigeria.
Above all, the winner-takes-all supremacy doctrine is antithetical to the spirit of the Nigerian Constitution (as imperfect as it is) and to the sacrifice and concessions enjoyed by the North from the South over the years.
The centralization of regional resources and public revenues on the Federal Government (for redistribution to the advantage of the North) the provision of separate laws and Courts for Moslems in a secular country and the deprivation of some citizens of healthy competition and the destiny for excellence, through the obnoxious and perverted quota system, among others, point to the imperative of inclusiveness.
By the same spirit, national independence was deferred until the Northern Region was ready, once Sir Ahmadu Bello and the NPC threatened (in 1953) that the Region would, otherwise, secede. In 1960, they again threatened that the region would secede, if the NPC was not allowed to form the first independent Federal Government and were yet indulged.
In the 1959 election (for the first independent federal government of 1960) the NPC polled about 1.6 million votes, against Action Group’s (AG’s) 1.9 million and NCNC’s 2.6 million and could not have formed that government had the NCNC not conceded it to them and accepted to be junior partners. But, thereafter, each time the NCNC or AG complained about election or census manipulation and asked for re-run, they were damned to go to court – literarily, to go to hell – the same manner in which the demand for a new Constitution, for restructuring and, now, for rotation of the Presidency, between the North and the South, are dismissed, today!
In 1993, Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election of Chief M. K. O. Abiola as President. Yet, in 2006, with the imminent end of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency, the Northern Governors Forum issued an ultimatum that the Presidency must return to the North and were supported by their Southern counterparts who were rather in the forefront to frustrate the alleged Third Term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo, with Ken. Nnamani as Senate President.
In summary, the same impetuous Fulani-led Moslem North, who always threatened to secede at the slightest delay of their demand, would always force down the throat of others what they would never accept to even taste. In particular, like dog in the manger, they are utterly contemptuous and implacable when it comes to the control of Nigeria while leading it downhill. Their argument against rotation is balderdash and they know it.
Rotation of the Presidency – which is a sensible template to give every part of Nigeria a sense of worth and a foot in the door of power – should, indeed, be constitutionalized. Meanwhile, it could be dumped only when the quota system and religious laws are dumped, with essential powers and resources returned to federating units. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander and no one can eat his cake and still have it.
The die is now cast. Should the campaigners cross the Rubicon of rotation in 2023, there can never be a Southern President again, not to talk of restructuring or a new federal Constitution.
To avoid the impending doom of slavery, all well-meaning Nigerians – from gentlemen of the mass media to delegates to party primaries to voters at the polls – must put pecuniary interests aside and arise to vote wisely to uphold rotation and challenge the Doctrine of Supremacy.
Nigeria can only prosper in justice and equity. Otherwise, we had better part ways to exploit our wasting potentials.
Chief Emma Nwosu wrote from Lagos