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Nigeria has a highly complex and colorful social mosaic. The cultural diversity and heterogeneity makes this mosaic chaotic. The diverse culture and custom of Nigeria cannot be compared with the melting pot of the American society or with the multinational state exemplified by the now defunct Soviet Union.
The foundations of federalism are based on the concerns for the unity and integrity of a culturally diverse nation like ours. Our historical experience is a sharp contrast to the important foundations of federalism. Ours is a disruptive and disintegrative sectarian forces coupled with political rancor and instability prevailing since independence.
Though Nigeria is a federation, the federation was foisted on us by the colonial masters whereby the country and the people were divided into different regions for administrative convenience.
Several cultural markers – language, tribe, ethnicity, and region serve as identity axes for ethnic groups and their mobilization. To be sure, more than one of these cultural markers are pertinent identification for the ethnic groups.
Nigeria is not bound together by strong bonds of culture, common objectives, friendship and affection. Sadly, there are inherent separatist and disruptive tendencies. When Nigerians talk of nationalism, each person’s idea of nationalism is his own brand of ethnic nationalism. It may be Hausa nationalism, Igbo nationalism, and Yoruba nationalism.
It is no surprise then that when two or three or more brands of nationalisms come into conflict, there is bound to be trouble. Thus we lack peaceful co-existence, collaboration, and competition. It can be argued that the preponderance of ethnicity in Nigerian politics is the chief creation of vested political interests. Ethnicized politics is a natural inclination of Nigerians.
Any diversity and heterogeneity is not conflict free. There is always a potential for conflict. We have witnessed ethnic conflicts in the process of our historical evolution. And we still do. The three major groups – Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba – are so hateful, spiteful, and dreadful of one another.
The lopsided power sharing arrangement between the federal government and the states fuels precipitation and intensification of ethnic conflicts. The politics of ethnicity has remarkably retarded our national development and has remained the sole engine that drives our modern history.
The most glaring aspect of our development is the unequal and uneven growth of the national prosperity, income distribution, and the sensitization of underprivileged groups to their disadvantageous placement in the national division of labor.
The economic set up has created inflating expectations which national resource generation and distribution mechanism failed to meet the expectations due largely to corruption and cronyism. Corruption and family better still, ethnic nepotism, have given rise to alienation and conflict formation.
The identification composition of ethno-religious groups has been further exacerbated and complicated by the defiance imposition of a group – the Northerners – wanting to politically subordinate and dominate the other ethnic groups.
Out of 53 years of our independence, the Northerners have been in political and economic control of Nigeria for 38 years. They have always found it compelling to capture the central government. Indeed, they believe in the self-fulfilling prophecy that they are born to rule Nigeria – forever! The arrogation and arrogance to be in perpetual control of the central government has further marginalized other federating units in the union.
In all the years they have been in power at the center, the Northerners have used diverse strategies and tactics to maintain and perpetuate their grip on power at the federal level. For 38 years they have been responsible for the economic neglect and infrastructural decay of Nigeria. Full of monumental incompetence, they are the unrepentant pirates and predators of our economy. Because of their long hold on power in the center, they, more than any other ethnic group in Nigeria, hindered the process of national development and integration.
For all these years, the Northerners who headed the central government are poster boys for corruption. National funds that were allocated did not reach the target groups and purpose. As expected, most of the cabinet positions and the federal bureaucracy were headed by ethnic Northerners. As a matter fact, headship of key Departments of Defense, Finance, Interior, Petroleum, the Police IG, Transportation, and Mineral Resources were monopolized by them.
Economically and politically, Nigeria is yet to recover and perhaps will never fully recover from the smoldering debris left behind by the brute dictators from the Northern ethnic group – Sanni Abacha and his cousin IBB. They terrorized us, they plundered and plummeted our economy. They destroyed our educational institutions and our moral cores of value and decency. They have pushed Nigeria back to the Stone Age.
In this graphic setting, the duo pirates and marauders of Abacha and IBB outwit known dictators of the universe. They are loathsome, parasitic, half-human creatures. They are succubi – ghastly, ghoulish, suffocating, vampiric, denizens from a ravaged political class.
The Northerners nearly aborted mid-way the so called National Conference, though nothing concrete or comforting came out of the national jamboree. In their obdurate ambition, they attempted many times to hijack the conference and make it a Northern issue. Every compromise or common ground was regarded as losing their hegemony and municipal pride.
Under the auspices of the Northern Delegates Forum, they rejected the voting formula on issues – consensus or two thirds majority. “They cannot take us for a ride,” cries Dr. Junaid Mohammed. “We are going broke, since they too are deceiving us and are leading without our consent,” said Mohammed. Who is taking who for a ride and who is deceiving who? These Northern elements have taken us and deceived us for 38 years. That’s a long deceitful ride!
Another Northern fool, Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim, sheepishly boast that the North can survive without oil money. Hear the comical and ridiculous threat from the Alhaji: “The era of oil is fast fading … We in the North have a serious edge they (the South) don’t have. We have food and we can also deny them food … We have a land mass of 275 million square meters. That is strength.”
Alhaji, of what use has the millions of arid land positively impacted on the education, and socio-economic wellbeing of your people? In all your years in government, what have you done to lift some of your Northern kindred from poverty and disease?
The Northerners are always against everything progressive and prosperous for a true federalism. At the National Conference, they opposed devolution of power, resource control, derivation principle, revenue sharing formula, state police, and the development of exploitation of mineral resources nationwide. Indeed, they want the current 13% derivation to be further reduced.
The Northerners almost subverted the Constitution of Nigeria when the presidency became vacant as a result of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s demise in 2010. They insisted that a Northerner must succeed Yar’Adua. But for the timely spirited and stubborn intervention of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) led by its fire brand clergy, Pastor Tunde Bakare, the Northerners would have pulled a fast civilian coup on us.
As recently as few weeks ago, Mallam Adamu Ciroma once again resurrects the succession issue. Speaking on Liberty FM, Kaduna, he said: “President Obasanjo did his two terms on behalf of the South, and Yar’Adua was doing his first term on behalf of the North but unfortunately, he died. And the PDP leaders, instead of agreeing on somebody from the North to complete Yar’Adua’s term, they all went to ensure that the Vice President became the President … I lost interest in Nigerian political affairs.”
Mallam, where were you when your kinsman – IBB – annulled the freest and the fairest election in Nigeria in which a Southerner MKO Abiola won the presidency with landslide victory? How could you substitute PDP’s internal agreement for the legally prescribed succession order by the Constitution?
The most deafening opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term is from the Northerners. Because of the few years they have been out of power, they cooked up imaginary lies and perverted propagandas that the North is being marginalized, neglected, underdeveloped and forgotten by the federal government.
Fact is, all the38 years they held the federal purse they had the opportunity to transform the Northern Emirates into a modern Dubai. But they preferred to pocket the money for their own private use. For example, the wholesale plunder of our treasury by the maximum thief Abacha alone is enough to make the North the Paradise of Africa, not to talk of the abhorrent looting by IBB. So, who is responsible for the marginalization, neglect, backwardness, illiteracy, and poverty of the Northerners?
Agreed all the different ethnicities that have served as Nigerian Presidents have performed woefully abysmal. However, the Northerners who have been in charge of Nigeria for most of the years are the most generously deficient in democratic leadership. They lack sacrifice, courage, initiative, imagination, and vision.
In the complex political, social, and cultural contexts of Nigeria, the Northerners have exhibited more profoundly than any of the groups that they have no idea of what participative leadership, servant leadership, transformation leadership, super-leadership, and value leadership mean.
Why should we continue to elect these political parasites into office in the name of a rotating presidency? Why should we abdicate leadership of this great nation to the narrow minded morons? Why should we continue to defer to their imbecility and torpidity?
What are we going to get that would be different from their past deformed vision and spineless leadership? What would be different from their corrupt past? In my view, the Northerners should be punished from assuming the presidency for the next 38 years for having abused the opportunities afforded them for 38 years without anything to show for it.
From today, the Northerners should stop whining like spoilt crying brats they are, for longing to go back to Aso Rock. Nigeria belongs to all of us. No one ethnic group should be allowed to monopolize power at the center at the exclusion and detriment of other groups.
The Northerners must stop this nonsense! They must stop groaning and start growing.
Bayo Oluwasanmi can be reached via [email protected]
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