Following the Press Release by the Northern Governors Forum after its recent meeting, I have read some opinion of some Southerners and Politicians.
I dare say that some of the bickerings are borne out of a victim mentality but the South is surely not a victim in this particular instance and cannot claim to be. If truth be told and if recent history is anything to go by.
Let me remind us that the same North ‘conceded’ the Presidency to the South in 1999 after the return to civilian rule after a long military interregnum. Whatever the reason(s) anyone might adduce for that ‘concession’, it did happen.
In 2009, due to the ill health of President Yar’adua, the North (at least Northern elements) was at the forefront of agitating for then Vice President Jonathan to be made acting President. It is on record.
Subsequently, upon the unfortunate death of President Musa Yar’adua, Goodluck Jonathan became President as stipulated by the Constitution. The North did not voice any opposition or propaganda to it and I stand to be corrected.
Furthermore, in 2011, the North actively supported the contest and subsequent election of President Jonathan as President for a full tenure; even though the North was supposed to have 4 years left of its ‘turn’ going by the unwritten gentle man agreement on power rotation between the North and South by the PDP.
In all occasions cited above, the North was neither threatened nor was it forced to conceed. Except for behind the scenes discussions, negotiations, lobbying and jockeying by those that matter, which is normal and healthy for such situations.
In 2015, there were some misgivings from some elements in the North over the intention of President Jonathan to run for a second full term after completing the tenure of Yar’adua and running a first full term.
Yet a large population of the North, especially the PDP elements was willing to support President Jonathan and indeed gave him the PDP ticket and not because of any undue pressure, threats and or intimidation from the South.
That was so until Jonathan’s team, especially and particularly his wife made series of concerted moves to malign and denigrate the North as a people (for those with an active memory). The result of that naive politicking, in addition to a complex of other factors; including but not limited to the determined, tactical and deliberate resolve of the South West to ally with the North, was the predictable defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP in 2015.
Consequently, power returned to the North after 16 years, which was interrupted only by 2 years of Yar’adua from the North. By implication the South held the Presidency for 14 years out of 16 years; from 1999 to 2015.
By further implication, by 2023; out of 24 years; from 1999 to 2023, the South would have held the Presidency for a total of 14 years, while the North would have held it for a total of 10 years, if my arithmetic is correct.
Today, as we approach 2023 which would mark 8 years of back to back power (Presidency) residing in the North, the general expectation is that power would return to the South; which truth be told would be worthy of commending the North, for its understanding.
Pursuant to that, the Southern Governors under the aegis of the Southern Governors Forum chose a path of grandstanding and playing to the gallery in my humble view by publicly saying power MUST return to the South. I recall that I dutifully faulted the Southern Governors Forum at the time and called it out for that tactless statement.
That has never been the spirit or modus operandi with which this decision has been reached in Nigeria. It has always been a matter of subtle, behind the scene, deft political maneuvering by politicians of stature and pedigree from across both divides, involving the major political parties. One done in convivial and give and take spirit with the interest of national stability, peace, unity and equity in mind.
It has never been a matter for the public or one brokered in the media. We are not re-inventing the wheel.
The question is do we still have politicians from the South with the requisite sagacity, sincerity and stature who can earn the mutual respect and trust of their Northern counterparts who on their own part must also rise above primordial sentiments and approach the issue with equal sincerity, seriousness and statesmanly disposition?
The submission by the Northern Governors Forum in its press release is apt and proper in my considered view and it is consistent with the stand of most Northerners that I know. They have never been against the Presidency going South in 2023 but the use of the word ‘must’ has no place in this matter and that must be acknowledged and pointed out by all democratic and progressive minded Nigerians.
The Northern Governors Forum only reminded the Southern Governors of the provisions of the Constitution which is the grundnum of our nation. In spite of that it reiterated its overall non opposition to power shifting to the South in 2023 in principles; thereby throwing the gauntlet to their Southern counterparts to do what they must do politically and appropriately.
Southern politicians must therefore as a matter of urgency and duty rise up and responsibly do the strategic politics and politicking they have to and must do, which others before them have done in the past. There is no viable alternative.
Any thing other than that would amount to effortless grandstanding, mischief and emotional blackmail which have no place in the current important national discourse. Beligrance will not cut it.
It is my humble expectation and fervent prayer that our leaders across the spectrum would act in a responsible manner, in the greater interest of the nation and Nigerians. Posterity and history beckons on them.
He Who Comes To Equity, Must Come With Clean Hands.
My humble take.
By Uche Diala