As we move closer to 2023, when power may be shifted to the South, social and political events point to a bleak future for the North. The North/South relationship is at its lowest level; tension is growing by the day, the body polity is being heated, and behind the scene, enemies of the country are planting the seeds of animosity.
A bad omen is set for a bleak 2023 early this month when the Southern governors met in Lagos. Their communique strongly called for a power shift to the South come 2023. The governors had forgotten that leadership rotation was the brainchild of the North, that it was a political concession meant to heal old wounds following the June 12 political turmoil. They also forgot that when President Umar Musa died two years into his first term, the same South flouted the power shift arrangement. Former President Jonathan openly said this section of the country hated him because they said the power shift arrangement be honoured.
Two recent social unrests define the Noth/South relationship and the political tension that’s setting. First was a disagreement between a Northerner, tomato seller and a Yoruba woman that degenerated into killings and displacement of mostly Northerners in Ibadan. Then came the IPOB’s sit-at-home order in the South East, where ethnic persecution of the Northerners ensued. Many were killed and hundreds displaced.
Recently, there seems to be a collective animosity towards the North and whatever the North represents. The problem with many Nigerians is that they can’t differentiate between elitism, elitist tendencies and the massive social gaps between the two classes. Historically, these same elites from either side of the divide have been known to exert elitist solidarity in perpetuating their own interests, in the process, alienating the masses.
Most of these Southern grievances emanate from skewed political appointments by President Buhari. They forget that Buhari’s government is the reincarnation of Jonathan’s. Once, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, Major General Minimah, Air Vice Marshall Amosu were chiefs of defence, army staff and air staff, respectively. Only Admiral Jibrin was from another faith. Moreover, the President, Secretary to the Government, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minister of Finance were from the same faith. The same with the ‘Kitchen Cabinets.’ Remember the powerful economic team? Hausas say ‘idan ɗan maye ya manta…’
Granted that President Buhari’s government suffers from poor public relations from the President himself to his public relations team. So also was Jonathan. Towards the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, shortly before the general elections, Jonathan and his wife, Patience, went to churches in Abuja and South East preaching the gospel of hatred. I am not condoning nor defending the present arrangement, far from that; I am reminding us about the past lest we forget.
The recent Afenifere political blunder is a clear pointer that Southerners would politically persecute the Northerners when power is shifted to the South. Afenifere strikes intentionally and timely to cause disaffection. Like Chalie Hebdo, they know that to Muslims, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is the centre of gravity; he’s the Prophet, the Divine link, the undisputed spiritual leader, the guide, the intercessor, the light, the mercy and blessing to humanity. To the Muslims, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is the best that could happen to the world. Yet, they intentionally came out to hurt feelings and cause disaffection.
They claimed to be liberals, but where’s the so-called liberalism when you lack empathy? Where’s the so-called freedom of expression when it overlooks inclusion ànd pluralism? Where’s the so-called free press when it can’t draw a line between the intellectual identification of feelings, sensitivity, thoughts of a people on the one hand, and on the other hand, the subjective urge to exhibit petty tribal solidarity?
What Afenifere does is self-immolation. This is because there’s no ethnic group in Nigeria that’s socio-culturally cohesive, an ethnic group that’s equally infiltrated by the two major religions like Yoruba. Religious consciousness is new to them. Now the Yoruba Muslims would undoubtedly realise that Afenifere doesn’t represent them. Thus, setting an unprecedented social trajectory of an ethnic group stratified along religious faultline. It would be the worst-case scenario, for this would divide families, friends, and social groups along religious lines as is found in the North, the root cause of social unrest.
The North may have a majority in the service chiefs and defence, yet they can’t secure the North from the clutch of marauding bandits. We have the minister of finance who can’t lessen the Noth’s skydiving poverty!
As 2023 draws closer, it seems, whoever is selected to be president from the South, there may be the tendency of political persecution of the North, and the basis of this would be justified on the failure of the current leadership to stabilize the region. When finally we demand attention, they would respond that our kin couldn’t give us what we demand from them. For now, the sociopolitical trajectories portend a bleak future. But for now, only time will tell.
Salisu Yusuf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.