Nigeria’s political history viz-a-viz the hate and no-love-lost relationship between the Igbos, Yorubas, and Hausa-Fulani, predates the recently concluded general elections in 2023. Hence there is a need for caution with the mindset of nationalism. Ethnicity has been perceived in general as a major obstacle to the overall politico–economic development of our beloved country Nigeria.
The country is marked by underlying ethnic cleavages and inter-ethnic fears and tensions, hence a bellicose nation.
Rising from the ashes of the crises; Nigeria, a multi-ethnic country, is a nation of nations. More than two hundred and fifty ethnic groups make up Nigeria. The country, however, sits on a tripod, namely Igbo, Yoruba, and the Hausa-Fulani. Therefore, as our beloved country Nigeria warms to inaugurate its 10th National Assembly (NASS), it is imperative to note that the Nigerian political history beckons as well as the priority of the tripod of Igbo, Yoruba, and the Hausa-Fulani phenomenon.
It is instructive that even after some level of rapprochement and reconciliation arising from age-long mutual suspicion, the issue of trust deficits remains prevalent. It is ironic that it had to take the northern political gladiators promoting unity by sacrificing parochialism for the existential truth of our togetherness.
Below are the examples of such altruism:
The sequence of historical events, particularly the February 14, 1999, PDP presidential election (Jos convention), was deliberately programmed to produce Olusegun Obasanjo who later became the President C-in-C of the federal republic of Nigeria having been previously released from prison and cleaned up for a specific purpose. It was a clever political move to placate the Southerners, particularly the southwest region where the issues of June 12 with the attendant consequences have become a very big question.Interestingly, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo a Yoruba man from the southwest region brazenly rigged election results and violated the gentleman agreements which would have compensated the Igbo nation through the presidency of Dr Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, a Nigerian politician who had previously served as the first elected vice president of Nigeria from 1979 to 1983 during the Second Nigerian Republic under President Shehu Shagari as a member of the National Party of Nigeria.
It should have been four years of the southwest and the other four years for the eastern region. Sadly, it was the beneficiary of the magnanimity of the northern elements President Olusegun Obasanjo who willfully indulged in political opportunism and mischief.
Likewise, Obasanjo was embroiled in controversy regarding his “Third Term Agenda,” a plan to modify the constitution so he could serve a third, four-year term as president.
Symbolically, what was designed to achieve the elusive ‘Equity, Fair play, and Justice’ was completely mismanaged and the opportunity to achieve the desired unison was squandered thereby turning what the northern political gladiators in their wisdom conceived as the solution to the myriad of issues and tensed atmosphere around the country. Ironically, Obj had on many occasions admired the quality of leadership of President Nelson Mandela, but refused to act like Madiba of the blessed memory.
Fast-forward to 2022, shortly before the party primary elections not less than 13 governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) insisted on presidential power moving to the South in 2023.
The governors mostly of the northern extraction, made their position very clear at a news conference that they endorsed a power shift and advised Northern APC presidential aspirants to step down. Again, for the second time, the Southwest benefited from the magnanimous tendencies typically characterized by strong dispositions and steadfastness of the northern elements.
Again, in the run-up to the inauguration of the 10th NASS, the hawks are let loose very much unlike the demonstration of goodwill, fairness doctrine, and covenant of equity and justice. It is even the same magnanimity of the northern political gladiators that is keeping hope alive for the Igbo nation of the southeast extraction to be in contention for the number three topmost public office.
Recently in a short live interview during Arise News, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, Leader of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, was articulate and made a strong case for a Senate President from SE in the 10th National Assembly. And he was emphatic about how such a move will strengthen peace, unity, and stability in Nigeria. His reasons were sound, reasonable, and compassionate.
During the interview, he implored Senator Albullaziz Yari, former governor of Zamfara State and frontline Senate President Aspirant to concede the Senate President to the former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, for the sake of unity, peace, fairness and justice that will include the South East zone in mainstream governance.I quote from Alhaji Yerima Shettima’s interview on Arise and Hakeem Baba Ahmed live interview with Seun Okibaloye of channels TV on Tuesday night.
“To have a Muslim as President and Vice President it will be out of place to consider that we shall have another Muslim as a Senate President as the Number three citizen of the country. So for me in the spirit of equity, fairness, and justice we have to look inward and look at other parts of the country.
Over time, there has been this perception that the North is ganging up against the Southeast. Though the South East is not playing the game of Politics in the way that it should be, only a few of them are playing it the right way.
Having said that, they remain our brothers and Nigerians. And at this point, I felt strongly that if we can also, give them the chance and all the necessary support to come up and occupy the No.3 seat” – Alhaji Yerima Shettima -.Leader of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum.
The position of Yerima Shetima was validated by the statement of Asari Dokubo who asserted that, “I am among those who have taken bullets for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, so I am insisting that, the senate presidency should go to the southeast.
“Furthermore, the umbrella body of the entire north the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) made clear their position through the spokesman, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed argued that legislators should be allowed to decide their leaders without presidential interference.
He said, “Legislators should be allowed to decide where positions go. That is the argument I have made. I haven’t made an argument saying it must go to the North.
I have said there are other elements that need to be considered.“If the decision is made freely and fairly by legislators, it can go to the South, we will live with it. It can go to the North, we will deal with it. There is no problem.” He said the position of the Senate President is Primus inter pares and anyone who finally emerges could be impeached.
Once again the interviews and statements shows the selflessness of the North to concede power to the South anytime it borders on equity, fairness, and justice, while also making necessary sacrifices along the way. Unlike the altruism of the North, I cannot believe some of the things I hear from my people in the South. The question to be asked are numerous: is it greed, self-centered mindsets, or something else? Interestingly, yours truly, as a realist and conversant with the Nigerian situation, I daresay that, the only pathway to the Promised Land is to be sensitive to the clamor for national healing of a nation that is sharply divided along obvious ethnic and regional fault lines.
Similarly, In line with balancing the political equation for the purpose of equity, fair play, and justice: the tripod of the three major tribes; Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa-Fulani needs considerable attention and properly synchronized and scrutinized so that the verdict of posterity, verdict of history and the judgment of God will be favorable to us as a nation.
Permit me to conclude this contribution that focuses on the independency of the Nigeria parliament (10th NASS) with an extract from an article “Tinubu: Putting A Wrong Foot First” by Bola Bolawole. He posited: “Tell Tinubu Nigeria is not Lagos, tell him! The Nigeria he inherited is divided like never before; the people are demoralized and angry like never before; they were brutalized throughout the Buhari’s eight years in office; their standard of living dropped to an all-time low; and their sense of self-worth and confidence is nothing to write home about.
They seek a lifting; they need a Messiah, so to say, but agonizingly, Tinubu fell far short of their expectations. Where then is the Renewed hope that he promised?”In all of these, the first major task for President Bola Tinubu is to ensure that democracy survives.
The Parliament is an independent arm of government, as such interference or imposition of NASS’s leadership is an aberration. Finally, taking cognizance of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s words in his Presidential Inaugural address, let healing begins with a Senate President from the Southeast.
NIGERIA MUST NOT BURN.