By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi
In the 21st century of global villages, democracy, and westernisation of ideals and even beliefs, it is certainly difficult to comprehend what Northern Nigeria is, let alone what it stands for. The massively Islamised North, where peace and religious scholarship reigned supreme, has become a savannah of religious extremism and terrorism and almost a ground for legitimised banditry and bloodshed.
Life has become almost worthless, and tens of thousands of lives are lost to terrorism from Boko Haram in the east and kidnappings and banditry from the west yearly. Its traditional institutions of legendary valour and glorious kinship remain emasculated by State Governors who neither know the value and importance of these institutions nor have an iota of respect for them. Its political leadership is so partisan and fragmented, with every ‘Kingpin’ in bed with one political party or the other, or worst still, belonging to one candidate or the other. The North has remained in name and geography but fortuitously in almost all other ramifications.
This is what has become of the behemoth The North since the democratisation of the Republic in 1999. For the few years that power has resided in the hands of Northerners, what good was it, and what did it bring since 1999? A large following of the North did mortgage the North’s future turn in power and campaigned for the continuity of Southern power. Only providence saved the day from the bastardisation of our nascent democracy. And perhaps a fall off from that pitiful nuance was another truncated term of a Northerner in power.
Present day 2015 to 2023 Northern Presidency has also been continually challenged by Northerners largely, and even though it has survived that onslaught, a moment of truth has come upon the North, where power arguably, and reasonably, is supposed to move to the South. It may not have been constitutionalised, and it perhaps may not be carried by the statutes of Federal Character, but no sane mind would oppose the notion of a power rotation for the peace and unity of the supposed federating units.
The raging debate is as to whether democracy remains whole when elections are based on ideas like rotation and, in other quarters, if the North has been shortchanged in this dispensation and power can be retained Northwards as a balancing equation. But what is a democracy, if not a phenomenon where the people are to decide how they want to be democratic? And what amount of tenure would strike a balance enough if other parts of the Federation are wont to run back the clock to cover previous republics or even military regimes?
While those debates are waged by the elite and the political strategists, The North, in the last eight years of power, has not been cured of poverty nor its un-educatedness. The reigns of power resident in the North as against the gains of power, be the reins resident in the North or not, seem to be mutually exclusive events.
The North must learn how not to be in power and yet, record economic growth and development. Development that seeks to bridge the gap of education, infrastructure and disposition. Northerners behaving like expectant infants, to be fed and bred by the government, is sorely a thing of the past. Communist ideals are rarely ideal in the 21st century, where techies are building worlds that are driven by knowledge and technology.
Embracing a new world order, where self-reliance is a burgeoning business, is the new deal. The North must cut deals with the ruling party, where it stands to gain agriculturally and infrastructurally. Its size and population make it unbelievably powerful in the say-so of what happens to Nigeria’s politics. The last 8 years have seen so many Northerners in positions of power, but alas, they have not been able to affect the lives of Northerners, not even in simple small ways. The groaning populace, under the clutches of poverty, is miraculously Northern, while their brothers fill the corridors of power. To what use is this power? The North surely needs more lessons of utility in power.
The history of the North is not borne out of vain glory. The reputation of integrity, honour and glory was carved into the annals of our history by hardworking, honest men who believed they were leaving a legacy of honour. If the North was hitherto shortchanged, it is not in its place to shortchange others and perpetuate a cycle of vengeance and unfair play. For posterity’s sake, the North must honour its political agreements, either written or not. Murmurings of betrayals by Northern leaders/ governors must be dispelled and should not be entertained, not even by the evilest amongst us.
In the final analysis, PMB is honouring himself and the North by leaving in 2023, just like Jonathan did himself and the South in 2015. The writer is an advocate of justice and fair play, and of course, power rotation. Mistakes of the past cannot be corrected by mistakes of the future. There is no remedy for an anomaly that was created by a selfish few who were not thinking of their regions or their country but of themselves only. We have survived the Nigeria 2015 apocalypse by a far stretch of another 8 years. Plunging our nation into unnecessary crises is selfish and barbaric. Keeping Nigeria one and sane is what our leaders should be thinking of before their separate agendas. May God bless Nigeria.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi