Since the return of democracy, power rotation arrangement has played out between the north and the south and along the geopolitical zones. Whenever it is the time for the south to produce the next president, the north resists it or tries to support the candidate that will assure them the protection of northern interests.
As President Buhari, a northerner, rounds up his tenure in office, it is expected that the next president will come from the South. ‘To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign’ also demands that equity should be upheld. The North, through the civil and military rule, has led the country for many years more than the south.
Recently, the Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed at the maiden Maitama Sule Lecture Series, said, “We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before whether we are President or Vice President, we will lead Nigeria. We have the majority of the votes and democracy says vote whom you want … why should we accept a second class position when we know we can buy a form and contest for first class and we will win?”
The statement shows that whether in power or anyone from another region is in power, the North pulls the string of governance in Nigeria from behind the scene. The statement also reveals the pride they are taking in controlling the affairs of the country. They seem unperturbed about the outcome of their being in ‘first class’ with the direction of the country as long as the federal power is in their hands. They are not backing down even when their rule has brought more retrogression than the development and progress of the country.
When that statement was still fresh, the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) held a meeting and declared that they “oppose the call by its Southern counterpart that the Presidency should move to the South in 2023.”
While the NGF cited that there is no provision for power-shift in the constitution, it is also not in the constitution that the presidency of the country must keep coming from the North.
From the argument proffered, it is not out of place to recall the statement made by Sir Ahmadu Bello which says, “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.”
It may seem the opposition to the power shift is not far from the fulfillment of Sir Ahmadu Bello’s statement.
After President Yaradua’s demise, the North resisted then Vice President Jonathan to serve out the Yaradua’s term. They insisted that the presidential slot was for the north, but backed down after the ‘doctrine of necessity’ was invoked. When President Jonathan ran after completing their four-year term and won, some northern politicians threatened to make the country ‘ungovernable’ for him.
By saying they have the majority of the votes to win; Hakeem whose root is traced to Mauritania is simply saying that the North does not need Southern votes to become the president. Is he trying to tell Nigerians that they rig elections or that even without a single Southern vote that they will still feature the president?
During the electioneering period in 2019, recall that two governors from the Republic of Niger came to Kano to campaign with president Buhari. Does Hakeem suggest that the voting number he is very proud of can be found from the neighbouring country?
Incidences of underage children voting in elections have been seen in the north. Certain photos and videos went viral especially in the 2015 presidential elections. Are the underage voters part of the enough votes that Hakeem talked about?
Senator Shehu Sani who prides himself as a human rights activist, supports the statement made by Dr. Hakeem. He wrote in his Facebook page, “He (Hakeem) played a leading role in the formation of the ruling party and the emergence of the present administration. All along he is a Nigerian, until when he speaks the uncomfortable and inconvenient truth to those allergic to it, then his Mauritanian root is now the issue.”
As a human rights activist, would it not be right if the former senator fought for the rights of Southern Nigeria? Does he mean to say that the ‘uncomfortable and inconvenient truth’ is that the South should not demand for their right to produce the next president?
Despite putting up a fight, what is going on in the country is also the fault of the Southern politicians who often play narcissistic politics.
The South has put up with these resistances and it is time to say enough by fighting for their right through insisting that the South produce the next president or be ready to be the ‘conquered territory’.