By Matthew Agboma Ozah
The most controversial issue in Nigeria at the moment is that of the successor of the incumbent president, Mohammadu Buhari. Perhaps for the very first time in the nation’s history, agitations about where the next person to rule the country comes from has become something of grave concern to almost all Nigerians, and the debate is taking such a dangerous dimension which if not properly managed is capable of setting the whole country on fire. Right now, there is a deep-seated suspicion of those who felt, and rightly so, that the North is trying tooth and nail to lord it over and dominate the rest of the nation, and the stage seems set for a serious scuffle the outcome of which no one can predict.
It is true that following the return of Nigeria to Civil rule, the idea of rotational presidency appeared to have been the unwritten gentleman’s agreement among all the various ethnic groups in the country. It was set in motion from 1999 when the Yoruba had the first shot under an arrangement purportedly made to molify the people of the South West for the annulment of the election believed to have been won by the late M. K. O Abiola. After Obasanjo’s occupation of Aso Rock for eight years, the baton went to the North albeit the fledgling regime was cut short by ill health and subsequent death of Umaru Yar Adua in 2010 thereby bringing the leadership back to the South again as Goodluck Jonathan became the acting president.
The attempt by Jonathan to continue in office for eight years after a four-year term as president was scuttled as he lost the election to the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Now, as the eight years of the present regime gradually winds up, the argument is everywhere that power should once again shift to the South. In order to articulate their position properly, the Southern Governors held a meeting recently where a unanimously agreement was reached on the issue. Even though most Southerners were happy at the pronouncement and strongly supported the view expressed by their governors, no one seems to realize the non-specific nature of the demand.
If the presidency must come to the South, which particular Southern part is envisaged? In the South are three major geo-political zones namely South East, South-South and South West. And since the return to Civil rule, only those from the South East are yet to produce the number one citizen. However, to counter the agreement of the southern governors, some segments of the North are insisting that the South cannot have the slot yet as they argue that the North is still having a constitutional mandate to continue. As the rigmarole continues, there is every tendency for many Nigerians to be swayed by such controversy.
In reality however, everything about Nigeria’s leadership is skewed in favour of the North and all Nigerian leaders, irrespective of wherever they come from, are bound to serve the northern interests. For instance, ask any Yoruba indigene what the Yoruba gained from Obasanjo’s eight years in Aso rock or what the South South can point at as their own dividend of democracy made possible under the Jonathan’s administration and the unmistaken answers would be completely negative.
Now if the incumbent president is being accused of placing the Northern interest above those of others in almost all the key positions in the country, he is only following the original masterplan and it only confirms a reality most Nigerians are either ignorant of or not yet ready to accept. The Nigerian enterprise from inception was created by the British to favour the North and no matter whoever occupies the number one position, or wherever he comes from is completely inconsequential as only the Northern interest will always remain dominant and paramount.
The North holds tenaciously to its privileged position and has always maintained a close siege over the other regions. To achieve its purpose, it aligns itself with few collaborators from the South and also plays the southern geo-political zones against themselves to disallow them from speaking with one voice. While therefore those from the South dissipate so much energy at trying to rule the country, the North determines who among them succeeds, and must be ready to do the biddings of the North. As soon as a northerner takes over, the same rule of placing the northern interest above others becomes more pronounced as observed in the present regime.
In order to keep other regions in the dark perpetually, the North employs all manners of antics including hiding the true population of the north. If the headcount is done a million times, it is doubtful if anything tangible can be achieved because the North will always circumvent the process and never allow a thorough outcome since it is well aware that having the correct statistics and figures will expose its true state and all eyes will be opened to all the atrocities of all the decades of unholy alliance masterminded and spearheaded by Britain.
Oyewusi lives in Lagos.