Home Columns 2023: Power should rotate to the South but…..

2023: Power should rotate to the South but…..

by Ahmed Yahaya Joe
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Ahmed Yahaya – Joe

 Let the truth be told, when in 1999 the Muslim North worked assiduously for the Christian South to attain power there were no terms and conditions.

Unfortunately, trust among politicians is like honor among thieves. So, instead of a handshake across the Niger Bridge to link the Asaba-Onitsha segments of the political South, the antics of “Area Boy” politics took precedence.

Hear Chief Ayo Adebanjo, a chieftain of AD that would metamorphose into ACN which eventually collapsed into APC in page 4 of the November 12, 1998 edition of Tempo;

“Obasanjo has just come to the show as a spoiler. There is no genuine intention to serve the people. The people who are pushing him want to use him to divide the Yoruba. I will not vote for him. Voting for him is like voting for a Northerner. That is why I am concerned. I don’t see any difference between Obasanjo and a Northern president and there are many people like me.”

Just a mere 3 days later, in page 6 of the Sunday Tribune edition dated November 15, 1998, Debo Abdulai wrote;

“The sons of Oduduwa are not looking for a man who is more at home elsewhere than with his kinsmen; a man who does not share the virtues and clamour of the Yoruba race, clamours that include regionalisation of the army, redesigning and restructuring of the federation, Sovereign National Conference, etc.”

Apparently, the South West that is now angling for power come 2023 has forgotten how it rejected its own son in the February 27, 1999 presidential polls;

“In the six predominantly Yoruba states of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Eketi, Osun and Oyo, Obasanjo got only 1.09 million votes, this is less than the 1.29 million he got in Kaduna State alone, and barely higher than the 0.96 million he got in Katsina State. He lost his deposit by scoring below 25% in five of these six states getting as low as 12% of the votes in Lagos and 16.6% in Ondo.”

Simply put OBJ became president through the tireless efforts of the North including an overwhelming endorsement from the South East and South South.

I am therefore worried by the recent declaration by IPOB of, “We want to let the world know that Biafra land is not Nigeria and shall not be.” The group went ahead to affirm that on October 1, 2021 there will be, “a total shutdown in Biafra land as a sign of the rejection of the evil construct called Nigeria”

The group has since called for, “all Nigerian flags mounted anywhere in Biafra land must be brought down”

The main challenge is that while the South-South has recused itself from, “Biafra land” the political mainstream in the South-East is eyeing an, “Igbo presidency”.

Once upon a time in Nigeria our nation’s Numbers One and Two were from the South and the sky did not fall. Till 6 months later on July 29, 1966 chiefly because they lacked the political skills to keep Nigeria on course.

Major General Aguiyi Ironsi (1924-1966) who enlisted into the army in 1942 and commissioned in 1949 and Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe (1924-1971) that enlisted in 1941 and commissioned in 1953 were Nigeria’s Head of State and Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters respectively. They were supported in office by army chief: Lt-Colonel Yakubu Gowon, air chief: Brigadier George Kurubo (1934-2000) and Naval chief: Commodore Joseph Wey (1918-1991) including IGP Louis Edet (1914-1979)

How these matured men lost power to young boys commissioned only after national independence is akin to the clueless Danfo driver that lost his steering wheel to a pragmatic conductor.

 Only that under the current dispensation the North has attained the magisterial disdain of a LASTMA official. Will the North that willingly conceded the steering wheel to the South in 1999 might not do so in 2023?

 Perhaps if it is well negotiated with terms and conditions this time around.

I am not a political fan of PMB but each time I hear the South West intelligentsia “wail” I get the impression;

“When they have what they want, Nigeria is good. Otherwise it is bad. When a Yoruba candidate loses an election (like Awolowo did in 1979 and 1983) it is rigging. When he wins (like Abiola in 1993) it is a landslide victory in a free-and-fair election. When Buhari overthrew a democratically elected and sworn-in government headed by Shagari, he was hailed as a reformer who came to fight corruption.

 When his tribunals jailed ‘progressive’ Yoruba governors for theft he became unpopular. When Babangida dissolved the election of Adamu Chiroma and Shehu ‘Yar Adua as flag-bearers of NRC and SDP the decision was hailed as patriotic and courageous even though it led to an extension of military dictatorship. When the same man annulled Abiola’s election it was a travesty of democracy.”

Hear, Ego Ugboju;

“Igbo land has been marginalised. Perhaps that is retribution — the inescapable fate of the vanquished. Perhaps it is residual Igbophobia — a consequence of the victor’s paranoia. Perhaps it’s an exaggeration, a misconception — an artefact of an incurable sense of victimhood”

Unlike the ace columnist, Azuka Onwuka of Writers War Room, Egboju like most other members of the Igbo intelligentsia refuse to take any unequivocal stand on the self-destructive antics of IPOB.

Those of us that still believe in a united and indivisible Nigeria are therefore having a hard time navigating through the kind of narratives pushed by Debo Abdulai and IPOB.

As the Egbojus feign neutrality, the Onwukas are lone voices out of the political wilderness of South-East, while the proponents of the breakaway Odua Republic still clamor to hold the federal reins!

If agreed power should return to anywhere in the South, can our compatriots over there be entrusted to still keep Nigeria one?

This summarizes the Arewa fear of just letting go the steering wheel.

May the best negotiator win!

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