The Long Awaited Power Shift To The South In Nigeria Is God At Work. No Man Can Stop It

The North and the South of Nigeria must now understand that no condition is permanent. What goes around comes around and neither of the two power blocs in Nigerian Politics have a monopoly of wisdom or domination. The North has continuously dominated the political landscape of Nigeria for no less than 39 out of 50 years of Nigeria’s Independence if you are paying as much attention as I do as a historian and a political scientist.

The North has always managed to produce the Head of Government or Head of State or President in every flawed election or military coup Nigeria has had beginning with the 1959 election which produced Tafawa Balewa, a trained teacher but an eloquent orator from Bauchi as Nigeria’s first Prime Minister with his Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) as the senior partner in a coalition Government formed with the NCNC led by Ogbuefi Nnamdi Azikiwe who became a ceremonial President with little or no power to shape policy or change anything.

In the normal scheme of things, if educational qualifications, experience and track record were the yardstick for picking Nigerian leaders at the time, there was no way in the world Tafawa Balewa would have been preferred to Dr. Azikiwe. Since the NPC had won the largest number of seats as configured in that election, it was their right to produce the Prime Minister in the Parliamentary system Nigeria has embraced at the time. The soft-spoken Balewa was a mediocre compared to Zik, all things considered, and the whole nation knew that for a fact. Nigeria started to go astray from that point because the yardstick we have selected in picking our leaders was wrong-headed. That explains why the North was able to dominate the political leadership of Nigeria for no less than 38 years even though it was the least progressive of the three regions based on education, physical and economic development.

The January 15, 1966 coup led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu was designed to put a stop to that and wrestle power from the North by all means. The coup was hijacked by the top brass in the Nigerian Military at the time led by Aguiyi Ironsi who became Head of State before thinking of where he wanted to lead the country. It worked for roughly 6 months when Theophillus Danjuma as the arrow head of Northern resistance led a counter coup which restored power back to the North using a safe compromise choice in a Lieutenant Colonel named Yakubu Gowon, from the minority Christian area of the old North.

His selection was designed to appease and dissuade the predominantly Christian South not to stage their own counter coup. The contraption worked for upwards of 9 years before another northerner in Murtala Mohammed staged another bloodless coup against Yakubu Gowon who was out in Uganda attending an OAU Summit. Murtala Mohammed not only appeased the South by picking Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo as his second-in-command, he came up with an agenda and a draconian style of Governance that appealed more to the South than it did to his more conservative base in the North, and he did it with the alacrity and the bluntness of a man in a hurry for the 200 days he was in power before Colonel Dimka abruptly ended his regime. Because Olusegun Obasanjo was already the number 2 in the military hierarchy with some rigidity, the North had to reluctantly allow Obasanjo who appeared to be more northerner than the North, in some of his policies. He succeeded Murtala Mohammed from 1976 to 1979.

Obasanjo instinctively knew he could not survive without dancing to the tune of the North and he was decidedly right. The North felt confident they could momentarily use Obasanjo to regain their power and leverage, if they played their card well, and they did, pretending that the best interest of Nigeria was their ultimate goal. The real evil genius of the Nigerian Politics, Olusegun Obasanjo has convinced the North he was their man when he would not allow Obafemi Awolowo to even seek his day in Court before handing over power to Shehu Shagari as the winner of the 1979 elections, literarily throwing his fellow Yoruba leader under the bus for the whole North to see.

He received a standing ovation from the North for taking that position. That was how Obasanjo became the only southerner of consequence the North could trust to come rule Nigeria again in another interregnum that lasted from 1999 to 2007 when they brought the man out of prison to come rule the country. Once Shagari became President in 1979, the North was confident they have regained their leadership position in Nigeria and they saw Obasanjo as a facilitator to that development.

After Shagari came Buhari and Idiagbon both of whom were technically from the same North and after Buhari came the Maradona Ibrahim Babangida who initially chose Ebitu Ukiwe as number 2 before reaching out to Rear Admiral Aikhomu because Commodore Ukiwe was not a “yes” man to be dribbled any way he wanted. IBB ruled for close to 9 years before being forced by circumstances beyond his control to step aside for annulling the fairest and the freest election in the history of Nigeria.

As part of his diabolical game plan he, IBB had chosen to appease the South West by initially naming Ernest Shonekan of UAC as interim Head of Government for a few months before he was defrocked by maximum dictator, Sanni Abacha who reigned for another 5 years while putting Yar Adua Senior and MKO Abiola in detention for most of his years in that office. Abacha suddenly died to be followed in quick succession by Abiola. The vacancy at Aso Rock then went to General Abdulsalam Abubakar another northerner who ruled again for one year till 1999 with Rear Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe from the South as his second-in-command. Nigeria was already boiling over and the North needed a southerner who could be trusted to salvage the nation. The North again saw the need to call on Obasanjo, as a former military Head of State, to come help them regain power and to stabilize the country.

Obasanjo returned to the office again in 1999, spent his first 4 years dancing to the tune of the North by giving Atiku Abubakar the impression that he was a shoo-in for the presidency after him. He spent much of his second term telling the North to make haste slowly, as there would be no vacancy in Aso Rock until he has had a third term. Atiku in frustration has, in the meantime, become the arrow head of the northern opposition to Obasanjo who has overstayed his welcome as far as the North was concerned.

Obasanjo who does not take a “No” for an answer, quietly decided to fight back. He threw Atiku under the bus while finally going for Umaru Yar Adua, a sickler who eventually died in office after serving two and a half years and leaving Nigeria in another cul-de-sac while he remained on life support in Aso Rock to make it that much harder for his Vice President to pick up his mantel as prescribed by the Nigerian Constitution. The North was not going to let power revert back to the South for obvious reasons. They claimed the presidency had been zone to them not by the Nigerian Constitution but by the PDP’s obnoxious Constitution which they argue should be superior to the nation’s Constitution because the PDP is just too big to fail. It is either their own way or the Highway.

The North, in their born-to-rule rationalization and regardless of what the Nigerian Constitution says, wants the PDP Constitution to override the Nigerian Constitution by refusing to let Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan succeed Yar Adua as clearly and unequivocally mandated by the Nigerian Constitution. This was where Obasanjo and the majority of Nigerians from the South and even some powerful elements from the North decided to break ranks with the core North by openly supporting Jonathan to succeed Yar Adua and openly encouraging him to feel free to run in 2011 Nigeria was at the precipice again and it needed another bail out by another Messiah.

Two out of the three tripods on which Nigeria is delicately balanced minus the North have at different times in Nigerian History suffered their own baptism of Fire. The North has so far been spared of that profound baptism of fire except when in one fell swoop, she lost in one day, a few or her top brass in the military coup on January 15, 1966 when the North lost the great Sardauna Bello of Sokoto, the Premier of Northern region and the central glue binding the entire North together. The North also lost Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, Brigadier Maimalari among several of their top notch leaders.

The two regions in the South namely the East and the West have always been the biggest victims and losers in Nigeria. The West suffered her own reverses when the North sponsored S.L.A. Akintola and his Democratic Party popularly called (Demo) to destabilize the old Action Group, checkmate the progress and advancement of the old Western Region, and to frustrate Awolowo from ever realizing his life ambition of becoming President of Nigeria, and by implicating him in a treasonable felony charge that sent him to prison along with his trusted colleagues like Anthony Enahoro, Goomsu Ikoku and Lateef Jakande and so many others to prison.

Part of the Federal Government’s diabolical activities against the West in 1964 or thereabout was the carving out of the Mid-Western Region from the old West by force just to cripple the old West under Awolowo. They little realized that the creation of the Mid-West was only going to be a first step and a chain reaction that was going to forever change Nigeria in a way the North did not, and could never have envisaged or imagined. What goes around comes around. The West has never recovered from the subterfuge but the rest of Nigeria has been paying for it, ever since, as I would explain shortly. The urge to start creating more states in Nigeria whether they are sustainable or not, has become an incurable Cancer in Nigeria. Many more are contemplated, as we speak, once the next 2011 elections are over and done with. Trust me.

The Eastern Region has faced her own baptism of fire in 1967 when the North officially declared a pogrom on the Igbos in particular by maiming and killing them in their thousands in all of the major cities of the North. That development had led to the Biafran War from 1967 to 1970 in which the whole Federal side sustained painful and indescribable losses in man, money, and materials that the nation would not forget in a hurry. Up till tomorrow the East is still being persecuted and discriminated against for taking up arms against Nigeria when they were driven to the wall to defend themselves. Nigeria has never been the same again.

It is now the turn of the North to taste out of their own medicine they have always used to divide and rule and polarize the south for their own selfish interest. For once in their political domination of Nigeria, nemesis would appear to have caught up with the North. They did not want the North divided up or carved up into states like the East and West. The creation of 12 states in 1967 by Yakubu Gowon was designed to cripple Biafran but it ended crippling the North irredeemably, if you understand what I mean. At the last count, the North now has 19 states with agenda which are totally different from what used to be the Northern Agenda as we knew it. Some northerners have always believed that the North would always produce the President of Nigeria come rain or shine. The little concessions they have made to the Yorubas, was simply to appease them for their stopping M.K.O. Abiola from claiming his victory at the polls on June 12, 1993.

But God Almighty had a different plan. Obasanjo, a southerner has not only become the longest serving Head of State of Nigeria by miracle. Whether they like it or not under their current rotational formula in the PDP, could the North ever stop a qualified Igbo man or a qualified South/South candidate from ever becoming President of Nigeria again? The resounding answer to that question is “No” if the current situation in Nigeria today is anything to go by. The surge in support for the current southerner in Aso Rock today from the North and the South is a pointer to what God is able to do when he says “yes” When God is for us, who can be against us? Tell me about it.

God is truly awesome. Who would have thought that the kind of letter just addressed to to Mr. Okwolieze Nwodo, the current Chairman of the PDP’s National Working Committee by Adamu Ciroma and some powerful elements in the North could one day come to any southerner, as a power broker in the ruling party of Nigeria at a time when another son of the South, Olusegun Obasanjo is today the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the same ruling Party in Nigeria and at a time another son of the South is now the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by sheer the permissive will of God Those who say that God does not exist are the biggest fools on Earth.

The Nigerian world has turned one full circle. Whether you like it or not, the North is now on the receiving end for once in our 50 years of Independence. I am sure at some point again, the North would surely come out of it and reclaim her leadership again in Nigeria because no condition is permanent, but the die is cast for now, and it is marvelous in our eyes. What is important is that the North must understand that. There should be nothing like born-to-rule in Nigeria. We, North and South, together own the country and each of the six political zones in our country reserve the right to have its own day in the sunshine like our brothers and sisters in the North have done for 39 years. We want our own slice of the pie, and that is what we are getting. Period

I would not end this piece until I comment on what should happen at 2011 or 2012 assuming that Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of INEC has his way and got more time to conduct the elections. To rush the elections is to make that much easier to rig it. I totally agree with Professor Jega. My readers would recall that I was initially opposed to President Jonathan presenting himself as a candidate in the next election because I strongly believe his participation could compromise his ability to run a completely free and fair election not because I don’t believe he is qualified to lead the country. He is eminently qualified to rule the country, and I have cause to support him as a Nigerian.

The Northerners were right when they toasted Yar Adua as the first Master degree candidate to ever rule Nigeria. They, sure, got that right, but Ebele Jonathan is also the first Ph.D. holder to have an opportunity to be President of Nigeria thru the permissive will of God, and southerners should be very proud of that. That is something to write home about in a predominantly illiterate society like ours. We must not forget that.

The other point I cannot overemphasize is the fact that all of our Northern brothers who have had the opportunity of ruling us in the past, have done so based on their region or state of origin and quota system and not on their qualifications, competence , ability and track record which I think is totally wrong. When you go to the Olympics, you field your best talents not on average individuals selected on quota or based on their state of origin. No country goes to the Olympics to win the highest number of medals based on quota. Never. Nigeria must not be the first example of such a country. We must never use rotation as enshrined in the PDP’s Constitution as the basis for picking our President if we have the best interest of Nigeria at heart.

I have the greatest respect for Adamu Ciroma, a one-time Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank and Federal Minister of Finance even though his first degree was in History obtained from the University of Ibadan. He is also married to a Yoruba woman as a true Nigerian. I would be the last Nigerian to disrespect him calling him names for taking the position he has taken now, but I would remind him about a few things that I know about him. He came to prominence in Nigeria riding on the principle of rotation which was the only thing he knew. The Nigeria of today is far too sophisticated and advanced to continue to depend on the principle of rotation to continue to be our moral compass for picking our President.

I therefore applaud the powerful element of the PDP in the North who are supporting Ebele Jonathan in the coming elections and totally disagreeing with Adamu Ciroma and his supporters. I am one Nigerian who would have been happier if Jonathan was not contesting the coming election on the platform of the PDP which to me has forfeited her right to be considered as a very serious party in Nigeria based on their track record and ideology and more so their foolish rotation formula as defined in the PDP’s Constitution.

I would have been happier if Jonathan were to come from the rank and file of the opposition parties in Nigeria. But if this is what it has come to in Nigeria, what more can I say? A nation deserves the leader or the party she gets in a Democracy. In a more civilized polities around the world, the PDP would have been defeated and humiliated in this election circle by a viable opposition even though Jonathan could still win based on what he is offering and his track record so far.

The PDP is talking today as if the election is all but theirs to lose and the opposition appears to be in total disarray, sad to say. If the election can be free and fair as promised by Jonathan and Attahiru Jega, that could be a good starting point for the future as far as I am concerned, and because to me the “Future Began Yesterday” the title of my new book soon to be published.

I rest my case.

By Dr. Wumi Akintide.

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