A 2023 agenda for southern Nigeria…1 By Bola Bolawole


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Some think it is foolhardy for the North not to want to relinquish power in 2023. They think it implausible for the North, after eight unbroken years in the saddle, to still want to cling unto power. Some think it should be obvious to the North that the South will have none of that and that should the North persist, it could – should, in fact – lead to the breakup of this country. My thinking is that the North will try its possible best to hold on to power not just beyond 2023 but in perpetuity! At intervals, it could suffer the interregnum of servile Southern elements that would help it fulfil all righteousness, just as we have had with Olusegun Obasanjo (military and civil tenures) and also with Goodluck Jonathan. Obasanjo and Goodluck were there just for the sake of being there. They left no enduring legacies for the South nor did they break any of its chains; but every Northern leader has added something substantial to the North: More Census figures, more States, more Local governments, more policemen and soldiers, a vice-like grip on the military, including the avalanche of military institutions and hardware in the North; the Federal capital, more Federal allocation, more capital projects, more seizure of the commanding heights of State apparatuses and of the economy, etc. Each Northern leader that comes deepens the North’s stranglehold and vice-like grip over the country and its resources but their Southern counterparts, like a candle in the wind, burn briefly and then fade away, leaving nothing substantial for their people or region. Southern leaders and their tenures are usually ephemeral.


There are many reasons why the North will not want to relinquish power. First is that the bare-faced and direct looting (apologies, Nuhu Ribadu) ongoing under the very nose of Buhari can only be effectively covered up by another member of their clan. I do not think even the most pliant Southern errand boy can be trusted to do a good job in this regard. Secondly, the way the North has cornered more than their fair share of the resources, plum jobs and positions available in the Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals of government is so widespread and vicious that only a continuation of the Buhari regime in another guise can protect and move that brazen acquisition forward. Thirdly, the controversial policies and legacy projects that Buhari is bent on executing in favour of the North can also subsist as well as move at the frenetic speed they want only if they remain in power. Lastly but not the least is that the failures of the Buhari regime are so monumental that an already demystified Buhari will be stripped stark naked if a serious administration takes over and begins to make progress in the key areas where Buhari has taken the country backwards in eight solid years – security, economy, and a genuine fight against corruption, for instance. All hands must be on the deck to prevent the North from retaining power in 2023 and/or stop Buhari from replicating himself in office.

For Buhari and his family, the stakes are high, especially with the rumours of corruption swirling around them. For the cabals around Buhari, the stakes are high, especially with all the sordid stories of influence-peddling swirling around them. For the Northern Establishment treating our collective patrimony as their personal estate, the stakes are high. For the Northern elite operating and taking firm roots in the various spheres of political, social, and economic life, as well as the civil/public servants that have been planted everywhere in leadership positions and commanding heights of the economy, the stakes are high. For those in the military establishments who have been favoured above their seniors and peers from the South and the Middle Belt, the stakes are high. For the Northern influence peddlers even in the middle-level cadres who speak in millions and billions of Naira, the stakes are high. To those for him the Boko Haram insurgency has become a rich pot of soup, the stakes are high. For those feeding fat on the atrocities of Fulani herdsmen and bandits, the stakes are high. The parlous state of the North may appear incredulous but there are those who created it, who sustain it, and who will want it to remain or even get worse. To those, the stakes are high.

It is true that the North is no longer as monolithic as it used to be. If anything, Gideon Orkar rudely awakened us to that fact with his abortive coup of 1990. There are the Far North, the Middle Belt, the North-east, and the coterie of small ethnic groups straddling the entire North, such as the Zuru and Kataf people. We have the Hausa, the Kanuri, and the Fulani. In the Middle Belt we have the Nupe, Tiv, Jukun, Igala, Idoma, Ebira, Birom, Eggon, to mention but a few. The Far North is “far” not just because of distance over land and space but because of the distance in its belief systems from those of the many other tribes that make up this country. The consequence has been the seemingly irreconcilable differences between it and its neighbours. Those sharp differences have lately spread, spinning chaos, death and sorrow to all the nooks and crannies of the country – some have alleged, with the duplicity and complicity as well as the soft-landing accorded it by the government in power.

But the days of reckoning are closing in already and Nemesis is at hand! Karma knocks on the North’s door! The North no longer holds sway today as it used to for the simple reason that the control mechanism of the so-called “Aryan” or superior race that arrogantly but myopically and stupidly claims the entire country as its inheritance contains within it the seeds of its own destruction. The wheels of history grind inexorably! Motion cannot be arrested. Change is constant. Those trying to resist change ultimately are consumed by it. They hate to admit it but the North is changing – whether the North likes it or not – and the reasons are not far to fetch. Enlightenment is growing and with it people’s awareness of who they are and what happens around them. Population is growing and, with it, competition for resources which cannot grow at the same pace as population. In the days of yore, there were more than enough juicy positions for the few educated Northerners to pick and choose from. No more! These days, they have to compete amongst themselves for the cherries. And they have to grab more opportunities that should have gone elsewhere. This way, they necessarily must come into conflict with the other people they are brazenly and audaciously denying their own rights in broad daylight. With more awareness in the North has come greater demand for rights which, not met, has led to the monumental breakdown of law and order that we witness there today.

Besides, an oppressor who oppresses others inexorably oppresses himself. As they say, “I will hold you down; himself must bend down!” The Jihadists came in 1804, overthrew the Hausa and imposed their own suzerainty. Since then, the Fulani have held the Hausa down and dominated them in an unimaginable manner. Whereas the dominating tribe is just a fraction of the population of the dominated tribe, the domination has been cast in iron. Before you wonder why the Hausa have not deemed it fit to throw off the Fulani yoke, ask yourself why the other ethnic groups in the North have also bent their back for the Fulani! It will interest you that because of the crumbs they receive from the master’s table, many – in the North as well as in the South – are willing collaborators with, and more vicious defenders of their own very oppressors. Some say the twin-policy of accommodation and co-option to play second fiddle has worked to quieten the Kanuri. But for how long? Nothing lasts forever! Kingdoms rise and fall! Empires come and go! It will not be any different with the Caliphate. You think it fell in 1903? It only transmuted and has been alive and well ever since!

But the process of its actual and eventual disintegration has now begun! That process may peak in 2023 but, if not, then, sometime afterwards. Awareness of the need to overthrow it has caught on and is spreading like wild Australian fire in the harmattan. It is this thinking that informed my views expressed here last week about Tinubu both as a person and as well as a metaphor. To throw off the insufferable yoke of the Caliphate by any means possible has become a task that must be done. Their excesses rankle. Every weapon – and I mean every weapon – must be thrown into the battle. All hands – and I mean all hands – must be on the deck. We must rescue ourselves from the North as we must, perhaps even more importantly, rescue the North from the North. For as long as the decadent and oppressive system they maintain remains in force, they will not develop and will not allow those who want to develop to do so. That has been the country’s trajectory as well as its tragedy.

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