As Nigeria counts down to 2023 presidential election, there are heightened conversations on issue of power sharing, especially sharing of key political offices like the President, Vice President and several others. Sharing of power has been a major source of conflict, not exclusive to Nigeria.
Ordinarily, zoning should not be a crisis for us if politics of compromise and harmonisation were strong armours for our politicians but unfortunately greed for power grab, is our strongest weapon. We easily forget our history hence we find ourselves slipping into the same crisis over and over again.
2023 presents yet another opportunity for us to attempt at being fair and just in the resolution of the Nigerian question. I have heard various arguments canvassed by different groups. We must admit that it is not only the South East that has not produced a President since inception of this republic. The North Central and North East are in the same tea cup with the South East. Our plight and arguments are similar hence what we need, is not to be pitted against one other but to seek cooperation amongst us three, in order to stop what I consider burgeoning political hegemony of the South West and North West.
Dr Udenta gave life to this conversation in his television interview with Arise TV and I think everyone affectionate about Nigeria should join in the debate with the hope that the outcome may help shape our path for a better and brighter future. Whatever is our individual ambition we must put the peace and unity of the country first because without having a country, our individual lifelong ambitions to be anything in Nigeria is meaningless.
Without mincing words, Nigerian government under President Buhari is ridiculous. It is self-involved. It is long-winded and fatuous. It is nothing so different from the fading old man leading it. A post Buhari President must be a leader with the character, competence, compassion and experience to stabilize the country. Build a productive economy and unite the country. Nigeria will need a president who understands the urgency of the time and will hit the ground running from day one. I see such capacity in Peter Obi , Bala Mohammed and Atiku Abubakar. But with Peter Obi not being sure-footed on whether to run or not, the expectation of a president of South East extraction is lowering. The reality on ground is that the South East is not offering the country a credible choice on PDP platform.
Perhaps it is this lowering expectation of the possibility of a President from the South East that informed Udenta’s position in his recent media interview. The Udenta that I know is a passionate but detribalized South Easterner who believe in peace, unity and justice for all. Like a patriot, he shouts those words, and I think all Nigerian politicians must imbibe and shout those words too. Those are words that should reflect our thoughts whether as politicians, elites or ordinary folks. We must never forget we are brothers of a common country with our history and future intertwined. Rather than trying to dominate others, we should seek to cooperate with one other. We should seek reconciliation and not domination of power.
Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, one of our founding fathers shared many advise on unity and patriotism. At independence, Azikiwe could easily have become the Prime Minister of Nigeria by accepting to forge an alliance with the Action Congress. Azikiwe rejected Awolowo’s overture in the interest of unity. Defeating the Fulani or building a Nigeria where the North will be dominated by the South wasn’t his ambition.
Once again, Nigeria is at a crossroad and we seem to lack men who are honest, fair and just. Now it is so obvious that the buffoonery of the political class is a peril to the rest of us and seeking justice and fairness from them is delusional, hence I welcome Udenta’s intervention; his knowledge and understanding of our political history and its crisis of values of conflicts of interest which he rightly blamed on the political class who has refused to master the politics of compromise which was the strong suit and point of reason of our founding fathers.
Turning the issue of zoning into crisis is on purpose. For obvious reasons, the two major political parties have chosen to be feeble and deflecting on the issue. The Southern Governors Forum’s position on issue of zoning is at best, unserious, concealing and deflective. The forum wants power rotated to the South but silent on where in the South they want the power to be micro-zoned to. Decision on power sharing must be categorical to serve the purpose of nation building.
If APC and PDP are serious and honest about zoning they should be clear on it while also rejecting the perpetuation of South West and North West hegemony which is what Udenta is up against. It is both repulsive and immoral for anyone from either the South West, North West or South South to put his name on the ballot for 2023 when the South East, North East and North Central have not produced a president since the inception of this republic. PDP should not be in a dilemma on this because they must reach a decision to zone the Presidency to either the South East or North East. With Prof Iyoricha Ayu as National Chairman, the North Central Zone is cancelled out.
Nevertheless, seeing through the apparent mischief of the political class on the issue and in the absence of rugged political hawks from the South East, Udenta rightly lowered his expectation of the possibility of a president of South East extraction by activating what he called a rear-guard option whereby he embraced Senator Bala Mohammed , the current Governor of Bauchi State as his rear-guard option. Bala Mohammed like Atiku Abubakar is from the North East. He, Bala Mohammed has officially declared his interest to contest the 2023 Presidential Election.
Bala Mohamed as Udenta posited needs no introduction: He is a fine gentleman, young, liberal minded and compassionate. He possess the pre-requisite experience to make a good president. He served as a Senator, Minister of the Federal Capital and now Governor of Bauchi State. In all the positions he occupied he has discharged himself creditably.
My advice to APC that claimed it is zoning the presidency to the South is to be clear on where they are micro-zoning the ticket to in the South because the South encompasses three non-monolithic zones. If the position of president is not zoned to the South East by the two major political parties, I will have no problem with a sound and solid candidate from the North East. That is justice. Both the South East and North East have compelling arguments on why they should produce the next president. Between 1999 to date, the South West for instance boasts of sixteen years of presidential journey. In like manner the North West has produced President Yar’adua and President Muhammadu Buhari who will be ending his second term of eight years by 2023.
This is a world of compensation. Those who would not be dominated must not consent to the domination of others. Those who deny others of inclusion, deserve it not for themselves and under a just God cannot retain to hold others in subjugation.
The politics of Nigeria requires consensus. It is not about pride, ego or prestige. It is about consensus building and harmonization. Like the political harmonisation that led to the emergence of two candidates from the South West in 1999. The South East and the North fairly conceded power to the South West to compensate for June 12 annulment.
We need to deeply reflect on our common existence as a nation as we are challenged in many fronts. We must continue to speak to the conscience of our fellow citizens from the South West and North West reminding them of the need to be fair and just and not to pose pretentious patriotism or perpetuating political hegemony. Sometimes the truth we speak may be bitter and the justice we demand hurting, but they remain the truth and justice that will heal our broken nation.