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The North on a pedestal (2)

Seeking a perspective on the subject matter, I spoke to a UK-based Nigerian political analyst who maintains extensive up to the minute contact with powerful…

Seeking a perspective on the subject matter, I spoke to a UK-based Nigerian political analyst who maintains extensive up to the minute contact with powerful and influential people in and out of government, and he had this to say: “I can tell you for sure that we are indeed witnessing the last stages of northern political hegemony in Nigeria. I am absolutely certain that after President Buhari, it will be highly problematic to have another northerner from any of the two major political parties succeed him. 

“The entire South of Nigeria and a significant number of people in the North will not welcome the idea and will work against it. Although the North had relinquished power to the South before in 1999 in favour of Olusegun Obasanjo, it was at the instance and terms dictated by the North. In the present dispensation going to 2023, however, the North is being compelled to hand over power with all the aces it holds in political power coming to nought. In the likely event of that happening, the North would have been forced against its will to retain its major factor of comparative political advantage in Nigeria. And there will be political significant consequences both for the North and Nigeria’’.

As this reality weighs heavily on the minds of the northern elite, a number of options are being considered.

The first option is that of forming a new political party or hijacking one of the existing northern-based political parties wherein the cream of northern political figures will parachute into. This is based on the calculation that the northern voters will turn their support to such a party if as expected it picks a northerner as its presidential candidate.

But the uncertainty in this move is that with the limited time left before 2023, such a party may not be able to make the desired impact to register itself in the minds of voters and get them to shift their support to it. And then another question to ask is will the party be able to attract enough significant northern political figures to make the difference?

Yet again, the point is will the South and significant parts of the North take this political sleight of hand from the North lying low? I bet the naysayers to this won’t.

Perhaps the uncertainty in this political caper is what gave rise to the option of looking for a pliant and malleable southerner to hand over power to in order to fulfil all righteousness. Former president Goodluck Jonathan, who going by the provisions of the constitution can only serve a term of four years, was considered as a perfect fit for this ploy. An added advantage is that he will have a northerner as his vice-president who by arrangement will then take over after Jonathan must have spent four years, thereby returning power once again to the North.

But again as convenient as it looks, this does not wash. The idea has predictably come under heavy pressure from the South and pretty much from every decent personality in the country not to agree to such a move for a number of reasons prominent of which is that his reputation and standing as a statesman will suffer greatly.

Out of odds and options it is obviously not looking good for the North. The prevailing concentric situation of insecurity leading to the near total decimation of the rural economy and the corollary of debilitating poverty in most parts of the North is abysmal enough. Added to the cocktail are the widening fault lines of ethnicity, religious and sub-regional differences and identity which are weakening the once cohesive North.  If we add that to the fact that the North is about to lose a game, (contest and control of political power) in which it has all along been the master then the picture of complete uncertainty and desperation pervading the power circles in the North becomes clear.

And to make it worse still in the likelihood of power shift to the South in 2023 under the current political reality, the North cannot expect any political favours from any Nigerian president from the South. The North can expect that in its weakened state it cannot resist the move by any president of southern extraction egged on by relentless pressure from southern intelligentsia to sponsor fundamental political and economic reforms that will ultimately clip the political advantages that the North had enjoyed in the polity for long.

It is quarter to midnight for the North and with the tiny window of opportunity left; the North can either sort the mess it is in or have it sorted out by forces it can hardly control to its eternal detriment and regret. There are many in the North who would rather deny this reality or resort to taking offence at the mention of this. But for its sake and the country this unpalatable fact must be brought to the public space. 

The first step in coming to terms with this reality is to delve into history. The situation in the North has a parallel with the situation that existed during the pre-jihad era. Then rulers and even clerics were involved in all manner of oppressive practices to live a life of debauchery. Slavery and slave raiding, banditry and kidnapping, confiscation of farm produce of the peasantry, unjust taxes and general corruption was practiced to the hilt. This led to the depopulation and decimation of the rural economy and livelihoods with the resultant insecurity.

This political and social low point provided the fertile ground for the rise of Uthman dan Fodio and his revolutionary/reform movement and its success in overthrowing the old order. The historical irony in this is that it is his heirs who constitute the traditional ruling system, the clerics and modern intelligentsia of the North which has sunk to the same low point as it was over a couple of centuries ago. Taking the irony further, the epicentre of the current happenings in the North, Zamfara, was also the epicentre of the low point of pre-jihad Northern Nigeria which gave rise to Uthman dan Fodio.

In the present circumstances, the North as a whole is at an all-time political and socio-economic combustible point and going further the likelihood of internal and external factors acting to change the situation is real and imminent.

For the North, it will be ultimately futile to try to stand in the way of this movement or ignore its import because its momentum is driven by objective historical factors. History teaches us that human societies being dynamic, the continuous interplay of forces are bound to result in changes in structures of such societies sooner or later. The present order in the North and in Nigeria is a product of such objective historical trajectories. And for sure they cannot remain so in perpetuity.

Societies that have survived through history standing strong today had invested much to anticipate such historical movements and ride with the momentum they bring in order to be part of the eventual outcome.

The North should anticipate the momentum of current political and socio-economic developments in the country raise and encourage its young Turks to join up and be part of the quest for a new Nigeria which all these is inevitably leading to eventually. (Concluded)   

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