You probably would have read or listened to a rabble-rouser who goes by the name Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesman of the Northern Elders’ Forum, when he spoke recently, as he always does, as though he has authority to speak on behalf of a superficial monolithic north, that heavens would not fall if the presidency remains in the north after President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
To be sure, I am not particularly interested in where the president comes from, what religion he practises or the language he speaks. This divisive and base level politicking is engineered by those who have continued to impede the growth and development of the nation for their selfish interests alone.
However, you cannot be in the Nigeria of today and pretend not to know that with the precarious situation the nation is now, what has now come to be known as rotational presidency remains the only way this nation can survive. It is the only way to give all the sense of belonging, fairness, equity and justice. Tempers have risen; the mutual suspicion in the air is so thick you can literally slice it with a knife. It is that bad. In a normal clime; merit should be the watchword; but ours is anything but normal.
Prior to Buhari becoming president in 2015, these so-called northern elders employed blackmail and deployed all the weaponries in their possession to gain power and competence was the least in their calculation. It was a war. Well, it can be argued that all is fair in love and war, but what I find difficult to comprehend is why the same northern leaders think that the southerners too cannot insist on a power shift to the south after eight years of Buhari in 2023.
Now, they insist that the North must be wooed by the South to have their own turn. They are suddenly beginning to preach merit and sermonise that the president in 2023 can come from anywhere, including the north, what is of significance is the candidate’s ability to deliver good governance. True, I agree 100 percent, but why was this not preached and sermonised pre-2015? Why were they prepared to destroy the nation and set it on fire if power did not return to the north in 2015? It is too late to sermonise and pontificate; what is good for the goose must also be good for the gander.
The Northern Elders’ Forum said heavens will not fall if a northerner succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
Baba-Ahmed had said at the inaugural edition of the Maitama Sule Leadership Lecture Series that, “We will surprise them in 2023 because we will vote for who we want, including the northerners, and nothing will happen. If we choose to vote for a northerner, the heavens will not fall. We will choose who we want in this country.”
The group also asserted that northerners would rather live with poverty than being disrespected by southerners adding, “A northerner is a respectable Nigerian. We can live with our poverty, but we cannot live with a sense of disrespect and anybody who toys with our respect. We will fight them to the end.”
He urged northern youths to continue to push for a northern Nigeria that determines the country’s direction.
“We inherited the North that determined where Nigeria went. We dropped the ball, and we are leaving you to pick it. The North needs young people to be strong enough,” Mr. Baba-Ahmed added.
What arrogance and crass naivety. These kinds of fellows think the north enjoys the monopoly of violence and they are superior to others. What a shame! The same kind of arrogance that has made the jaundiced northern elite claim they are born to rule. If the same northern elite brought in their kith and kin from the Sahara-Sahel region to run down the country if power did not return to the north in 2015 and pampered bandits and insurgents to terrorise the north, just to scandalise the Jonathan regime and got away with it; Nigerians are much wiser now and they know what to do come 2023. Thank God and Jonathan that the dogs and the baboons were not soaked in blood; but there cannot be any negotiation and pleading to do with any group; power must shift to the south.
Do these arrogant northern elite, who still conceive the idea of a monolithic north, feel that the average Nigerian in the north still see them as worthy of leadership and on whom they can still entrust the responsibility of defining or shaping their destiny and future?
Again, perhaps with the risk of sounding like a broken record, I still have unwavering faith in project Nigeria; I still believe that all Nigerians are on the same page with me. But, the reasons for all these agitations and clamouring for identity and recognition is because the very same selfish northern elite and their tiny collaborators from the south have continued to run this nation roughshod and create division and hate among the Nigerian people just so that they can achieve their desire to continue to divide and rule this nation.
The myth created around these so-called northern elite is nothing other than the fact that they have only continued to manipulate and exploit the existing lacuna around our institutions to perpetuate themselves. That is why they will stop at nothing to see that things do not change. That is why they have kicked against electronic voting and transmission of results; that is why they have had a vice-like grip on the nation. But, what they fail to realize is that there is always a day of reckoning. They brought in criminal elements to destabilise Nigeria, today they live with that reality as many of them can no longer go to their villages or walk on the streets of the same north they claim to have total electoral control over.
Baba-Ahmed with little or no electoral value is urging northern youths to continue to push for a northern Nigeria that determines the country’s direction. And in saying this, he thinks the youth of the other parts of the country will continue to tolerate their excesses. He still does not realise that it is such folly that continues to give room for calls of self-determination and other forms of agitations across the nation. He does not know that it is such indiscretion and lack of tact that oxygenates and fuels the creation of Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho) and other forms of militancy across the south.
I can only counsel that they continue to push that frontiers as it has opened the eyes of lots of southern Nigerians, who can see through all their deceits and now ask for justice, equity and fairness and are no longer ready to pretend that all is well. Nigerians are either all treated as equals or we seek our different destinies apart; it is a legitimate call.
I expect by now that the 17 states southern governors would have realised that their regular meetings in recent times have continued to unsettle the so-called northern elders and their cohorts. This new-found union must be taken to the next level. It must remain.
The 19 states’ northern governors have never failed in that direction. They introduced their political Sharia law in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, October 27, 1999. Prior to that, Sharia law in northern Nigeria was limited to civil matters and excluded criminal matters. Today, Hisbah police can arrest regular policemen in Kano. The South kicked against its introduction and they went on till this day. If the south insists that open grazing remains in the confines of antiquity; so be it. Human lives must always take precedence over cattle. If the southern governors insist that power must come to the south; so be it.
And for the south east governors who see this as another political issue to be treated with levity, it’s not. It is about adequately representing the people who elected them into office; because it is to those same people they will return after their tenure. It is about asking for that which rightly belongs to everyone. No one zone can continue to play the fool while some groups of overrated elders from the north continue to take undue advantage over us all.
They should also insist that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) uses the electoral transmission of results so that we can all see how it is possible for a war-torn region like the north east can achieve 100 per cent collection of voter cards and votes during elections, while the south cannot.