The effect of northern political dominance and hegemony in Nigerian politic is not in contention any more. This is why questions have been raised by some concerned individuals why one region should continue to rule or dominate virtually the political affairs of the country. Of course this is treated with levity like most validly raised Nigerian concerns.
Political attempts to correct the skewed balance inherent in one region dominating the political space since independence have proved abortive. Those favoured by the imbalance will sabotage efforts to mend the already bent tripod stand. The nearest attempt of a southerner becoming elected president after independence was in 1992 presidential election. It was won by Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and adjudged to be free and fair. The best election ever held in the history of Nigeria.
However, that election was annulled. The nation was thrown into a catastrophic political frenzy. The consequences of that annulment contributed to the messy state of both political and economic affairs of the nation today. The raging confusion eventually threw up the candidacy of Olu Falaye of Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who was set free from prison to assuage the anger of the yoruba south. It was a designed appointment to crown Obasanjo the head.
His bid for a second tenure was tumultuous and nearly a pipe dream. The “king makers” of the north wanted him out by any means possible. His vice, Atiku Abubakar was the anointed who would have routed Baba had he not applied less civility and more of brigandage and arm-twisting.
Goodluck Jonathan became president by devine intervention other than personal political effort. Although he won the 2011 general election; the crisis witnessed in the north was good reason enough to understand northern position and perception of him. Jonathan religiously held unto his constitutional right to contest the 2015 presidential election but lost. He was abandoned half way even by his party chairman and governors from the north.
The Almajiri schools he built was not good enough to define his good intention for the region. The project was abandoned after the 2015 election by those it was meant to serve their illiterate children. Have you not read Bisi Akande’s submission as reflected in his new book “My Participation” that even Sambo Dasuki who served as National Security Adviser (NSA) begged for Buhari to be president while serving under Jonathan? History will always remember Jonathan for that congratulatory phone call to Buhari.
One can shout to the roof tops on this issue of power rotation to the south. But I bet you nothing will change except if the south is prepared, very serious and work hard for the change so desired. A robust challenge to the political hegemony of the north is key. Or else, the entire south has to wait until any time the north decides to.
Number is important in electoral victory. The north has it. Unity of purpose is key; the north keys into political unity of the region. Religion is a factor; the north has near if not complete religious Islamic unity. Many northern Christians slso buy into northern agenda. The north has a unique culture binding them together. One common Hausa language is a vital unbroken bond between both Christians and Muslims alike. Any northern candidate standing for national election automatically is a northern candidate unlike the south. They understood when and how to take advantage of factors working in their favour to win.
Can an Igbo candidate be said to represent yoruba or Ijaw interest? The south in general especially the south east is already a vanquished region. Politicians of Igbo extraction understood the limit of their political and numeric strengths and unity of purpose. Therefore, they prefer to play second fiddle. The Yoruba nation is better fused and more organised than other tribes of the south. An Osun man can work in Lagos or Ondo with ease.
However, the quantum of love showed a fulani man from Chad in the north cannot be compared to the apparent lack of understanding and indifference common between an Igbo man from Enugu and his brother from Ebonyi. How many Igbo civil servants work outside their states of origin? A Kanuri man who was born and bred in Katsina is free to “claim” Katsina as his state of origin without any qualms. He is employed and rose to the pinnacle of his profession without any reminder of the origin of his forebears. This is the kind of deliberate unity created in the north which is in short supply in the south.
One way to demystify the northern political hegemony is for the south to be truly united in all ramifications. The region should continue to remind itself of the need to work their talk as the 2023 elections inches closer. One will continue to interrogate the readiness of the south to work closely as a people not only to win elections but to jointly demand for policy framework that genuinely work for all. Power should be devolved while major works have to be done on the constitution. The entire south should be united for once and forge a concrete political alliance. The effect will be gargantuan and a surprise to all.
Emerging signs of the 2023 presidential election shows the south already has six contenders. Bola Tinubu, Yomi Osinbajo, Anyim Pius Anyim, Dave Umahi, Dele Momodu and Rocha’s Okorocha. More will soon join the crowded race. One can imagine how the tace could turn into.
The reliance of some southern politicians on the north for survival is becoming clear by the day. Some have taken traditional titles from respected Emirate councils while others are scheming to buy the same for political relevance. One is donating cash to victims of fire disaster. How many northern politicians are title holders in the south? If you are given a title of Dan Jikan Daura for instance; you will be treated like a grandson not a prince of Daura.
When Chicken parts are served at the dinning table, yours is the head and the bony limbs. These are chicken parts specifically meant for grandchildren. If APC nominates a Southern Presidential Candidate in 2023, PDP will feature a northern candidate and even APC members in the north will vote against their party. It is a working strategy which the south has failed to understand. Even if they do; there is absolutely nothing they could possibly change except to take the bull by the horn. Power is taken not given they say.
The understanding of the north which has made up their mind on what to do is to hold on to power at all cost. The once abandoned inscription of the car plate number of a state in Nigeria was “born to rule.” It is engraved in the consciousness of the people. Removing it from the plate number does not alter what kingly perception the people have of themselves. During voting, the reality of the northern perception always plays out. There are established religious import which drives political behaviours in the north unlike the south.
The north sees Nigeria as a conquered territory. An exclusive war booty. In war the Victor decides what he does with the spoils seized from the vanquished. How do you expect a loser in war to dictate political events planned centuries ago against the defeated. It is amusing when southern politicians insist that power must shift. How well has the south gotten its acts together? Every region has a ‘secret place’ for political machinations and decision making.
While the north has an unquestionable-potent-binding-secret place when the chips are down; that of the south is very unreliable, weak, watery and slippery. The south should as a matter of fact take a lesson on how to win election from the north. This political hegemony of the North must not go unchallenged come 2023.
Sunday Onyemaechi Eze, a Media and Development Communication Specialist, wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org
and could be reached on 08060901201