Denying the South of Presidency will have consequences
Like all federations, our founding fathers negotiated Nigeria’s independence with colonial Britain. The purpose of those negotiations was to establish a united, prosperous and democratic nation where: “though tribes and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”.
Today, Nigeria is on the verge of disintegration because we abandoned the founding purpose of our country and chose to enthrone a leader with an unapologetic track record of extreme nepotism and religious extremism.
The drift to the current state of affairs started shortly after our independence. The North, which inherited leadership from our colonial masters basically sought to replace the colonialists with the South as its colony.
This attitude led to the crises in the West and eventually the January 15, 1996 coup, counter-coup and a civil war to keep Nigeria one.
But after the war, the North-dominated Army discarded the negotiated federalism and set up a centralised federalism with the North firmly in control.
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Our negotiated unity became “gunpoint” unity. We are no longer Nigerians by choice.
We are now Nigerians whether we like it or not, irrespective of how we are being treated and in spite of the serial rapes of our constitutional rights.
If we complain too much, we are either threatened with war or actually levied with war with our armed forces, security agencies and police which are firmly under northern control.
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The North got away with it because the southern leaders were always willing to compromise for their selfish benefits.
While the North moves together in its predatory antics towards the South, the latter responds with scattered camps and individual actors always ready to lend support to the North for the crumbs from the “master’s” table.
Midway into every political season, the North and South engage in public displays of bellicosity over power shift.
The regional attack dogs are unleashed on the polity, but after that, the real politicians take over. In spite of the newfound “southern” front crossing verbal swords with the established “monolithic” North, the major political parties will eventually settle for candidates who will keep them in power or catapult them to power.
Once such candidates are identified, all this regional sabre-rattling will be forgotten.
The North still holds the ace to produce the next president if zoning is jettisoned in favour of open contests.
The only way power can shift to the South in 2023 is if the APC and PDP respect the power rotation principle and deliberately zone the presidency to the South.
This can only happen if northern leaders, in good conscience or fear of South’s revolt (as in 1999), respect the South’s turn to produce the next president.
The new “southern front” posed by the southern governors had initially startled northern power brokers.
But already, five of the 17 governors (Ayade of Cross River, Uzodimma of Imo, Ikpeazu of Abia, Umahi of Ebonyi and Obiano of Anambra) appear to have broken ranks.
They have either pulled out of their commitment to the ban on open grazing or it is only on paper.
Where is South East’s Ebube Agu security network? Where is the implementation mechanism to protect the people against rampaging herdsmen terrorists?
Most of them are with the North on VAT collection. When the time comes to assert the southern call for power shift in 2023, most of them will already have relocated to their northern political masters.
The South is still too weak to rally a regionwide support for a southern candidate.
But for the North, it is a piece of cake. So, the next president is mostly likely to come from the North, with full southern support.
As I see it, however, if the North produces the next president after Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years, our polity will be permanently damaged.
In the first place, the South West political mainstream under Bola Tinubu, which helped to give power to Buhari, will feel betrayed.
Their own betrayal of a fellow southerner, Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 to empower Buhari, was done in anticipation of a quid pro quo or payment in kind by the fabled 12 million Buharists of the North in Tinubu’s favour.
Tinubu’s camp is very formidable on the South West streets, especially Lagos. They will not be happy, and they will not be quiet.
Secondly, though many southern politicians will still work for northern presidential candidates, a lot of their supporters who still at this moment believe in Nigeria, will feel alienated.
The feeling of alienation that swept some of us after the 2015 elections will sweep new converts into the camps of the separatist agitators of the South East and South West.
The intensity of Oduduwa Nation agitation will approach or even surpass IPOB proportions.
The next regime will have its hands full due to the South West’s prime position in our economy.
Thirdly, it will become difficult to get a southerner elected as president in future. Northern domination of political power will become permanent.
If the North succeeds in grabbing power after Buhari, the North will become so entrenched by 2031 (20 years since Jonathan’s victory in the 2011 presidential election) that most young voters would not have witnessed the last time a southerner won a presidential poll.
By then, the only way a southerner could lead Nigeria will be through the Yar’ Adua/Jonathan force majeure situation.
Perpetuation of northern rule will eventually lead to the completion of the Islamisation and Fulanisation agenda commenced by Buhari.
Nigeria will become an Islamic theocracy, and even the Vice President will no longer need to be a Christian or southerner.
Do not wave away this postulation. Every evil precedent, once set, has always been perpetuated in Nigeria.
There are many northerners who see Buhari’s Fulanisation and Islamisation agenda as the ideal northern agenda for Nigeria.
With the South’s weak resistance, it won’t be long before the North turns Nigeria to Alkebulanistan!