Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with those who are reckless with yours (Mary Schmich)
People who sow seeds of discord by preaching tribalism, racism and religious misunderstanding should find another place to go (Jakaya Kikwete)
No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith (George W. Bush)
A world without walls is the only sustainable world. . . . If the world is dominated by people who believe that their races, their religions, their ethnic differences are the most important factors, then a huge number of people will perish in this century (Bill Clinton)
There are large numbers of people who simply don't have the values and vision necessary to be part of an inter-dependent world. They think their differences -- whether religious, political, tribal or ethnic -- are more important than our common humanity. They believe the truth they have justifies their imposition of that truth on other people, even if it takes them to the death of innocents (Bill Clinton)
ost of all, this column has no political agenda here, as it will do an unbiased assessment of all the serious presidential candidates at a later date, and will then give its endorsement based on which candidate has the best programmes, policies, and ideas which will benefit the masses. More to that, our endorsement would also be informed by previous record of service (at any level whatsoever) of the candidates!
In its article of Friday, August 14, 2009 (published on this website), this column wrote: “The northern deceit to the (colonial) concoction called Nigeria did not start today, it has been there all along. This is what Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, (who later became the first prime minister of Nigeria) said prior to independence while speaking in the Northern Region's House of Assembly:
“We do not want sir, our Southern neighbours to interfere in our development. I should like to make it clear to you that if the British quitted Nigeria now at this stage, the Northern people would continue their interrupted conquest to the sea."
The Parrot (Newspaper) of Oct. 12 1960 wrote what Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, said twelve days after Nigeria’s independence from Britain:
”The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate from our great -grand father, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities in the North as willing tools, and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to have control of their future”.
Do we now see from where groups like Boko Haram derived their ideology and why the northerners think “they were born to rule?” As an addendum, the above quotes are the reasons the Northern Political Elders want to make Nigeria ungovernable, should President Goodluck Jonathan go ahead to contest the Presidency on the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP), and wins the ticket. Some ethnic bigots in the north think they only are the owners of Nigeria. In his book, “Nigeria: The Way Forward”, Erefagha Ezekiel-Hart took a look at how Nigeria has been ruled since independence till date (assuming Yar’Adua lived till 2011) and wrote: “During the period the county has been ruled as follows.
- Middle Belt-Zone (North Central) Gowon + Babangida + Abubakar= 17 years, 11 months, 20 days
- North East Zone Balewa + Abacha (Akanun) = 9 years 10 months, 6 days
- North West Zone: Murtala + Shagari + Buhari + Yar’Adua = 10 years, 5 months, 13 days
- South-East Zone Aguiyi-Ironsi = 6 months 14 days (Azikiwe was a ceremonial President with Executive Powers)
- South-South Zone No ruler = 0
- South-West Zone Obasanjo + Shoneikan + Obasanjo = 11 years, 9months, 6 days
From the above calculations, the three geo-political zones in the north have produced rulers of Nigeria for nine times (38 years, three months and nine days, including the few months Jonathan has served Yar’Adua’s tenure) while the South ruled four times (12 years, 3 months and 20 days).
This column is vexed that Malam Adamu Ciroma and his Northern Political Leaders Forum had said that the North will scuttle the presidential ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan, for jettisoning the PDP zoning arrangement at the expense of the North. Ciroma said: “Jonathan’s ambition is dishonourable because he is pursuing it at the expense of the North, which was entitled to eight years under the zoning agreement for power sharing between the North and the South.” He warned that the north was not leaving things to chances. In his words “Even if President Jonathan manipulates the party primaries and eventually emerges as PDP Presidential candidate in 2011, the North would deploy other options, including a consensus candidate to command popular support. The electorate would ultimately decide between a candidate of honour and one that elevates and pursues dishonour. Other options open to the North, were that Jonathan could face a mass protest votes from the electorate who may feel short-changed by the current scheme to abandon zoning.”
This column is telling Ciroma that as an expired politician, he has no mandate to make reckless statements on behalf of the north. He was one of those who brought Nigeria to its kneels during his time as the minister of finance; the naira depreciated in value under his watch and has not recovered till today. Ciroma was one of those who looted Nigeria dry. Let him just retire to enjoy his loots until nature will call upon him. Ciroma and his co-travellers should be ashamed, because, having ruled Nigeria for more than 37 years; the northerners failed to develop their region and were unable to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and diseases from the region. Why do they need power again? Ciroma and co. should know that every Nigerian has the right to contest for any post as long as he or she is qualified for it. If the north feels short-changed in PDP, there are other political parties which have northern presidential candidates, let them (northerners) support any of those candidates. Afterall, the north has been claiming to be more populated than the south, let them prove that fallacy now. The expired politicians should give way and allow younger Nigerians to decide things for themselves. By now, it must have dawned on Ciroma that he’s on wild goose chase, because, the purported move by his Northern Elders Forum to produce a consensus presidential aspirant come 22nd October, 2010 failed. The committee of wisemen set up by his Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, recently started a region-wide tour, to make consultations with key stakeholders on their choice of a consensus Northern candidate, but, things are not working out as planned for Ciroma, as the northern federal legislators have rejected his call not to support Jonathan’s presidential ambition. Also, right before Ciroma’s eyes and right under his nose, the Speakers of North Central State Houses of Assemblies (the Speakers of Benue, Nassarawa, Kogi and Plateau states) declared their support for the 2011 election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan, insisting that the geo-political zone stands to benefit more in terms of socio-economic development under the Jonathan/Sambo presidency. This shows that his (Ciroma’s) politics of bitterness and campaign of calumny are not getting anywhere.
Even the northern PDP presidential contenders’ camp is also in disarray, no matter what they say openly, as each wants to “undo” the other (kill each other’s political ambition). General Aliyu M. Gusau was quoted as having said: “Now, there are four of us; and, we agreed and appointed a committee of nine wise men. Those nine wise men shall endorse anyone of the four of us as the presidential candidate who will go for the primary against anybody who wants to contest on the PDP ticket. I can assure you that all of us will abide by that agreement. I don’t think I am going to lose; I believe I am going to emerge as the winner. I cannot answer for others, but I can answer for myself. I don’t expect to lose”.
Jonathan’s campaign group has said that
“The consensus arrangement being pursued by Northern Nigeria is based on sheer opportunism and driven by an undemocratic and illiberal spirit. That is why the northern candidates have continued to be at pains to explain that they are at work, irrevocably committed to the success of the arrangement. They have continued feverishly with their individual campaigns while they continue to protest their commitment to subsume their individual, galloping ambitions. Who is deceived?”
This column wonders why the presidential candidates are not telling Nigerians how they will move the country forward, if elected. Rather, they’re only interested in whether a northerner or Jonathan will be elected the president. This shows that the north is not interested in the well-being of the country; rather, they’ve submerged their respective campaigns in ethnic bickering and parochial irredentism. Now, we know why they (northerners) had run Nigeria aground all these while. It might interest anybody to know that despite holding on to power for more than 37 out of 50 years Nigeria has been in existence as an independent country, poverty, ignorance and diseases are more prevalent in the north than in the south. If the north couldn’t get its act together for more than 37 years (it ruled), what’s the guarantee that a northerner as a president (whenever) will be more nationalistic and achieving than those (before him) from the zone? Yar’Adua, whom we all supported, thinking he will be different, rather proved to be the worst Nigerian ruler so far (in terms of parochialism), despite his masters’ degree. Pat Utomi said: “A leader has to show the way to a brighter future by telling you what he can do to make your life better. We cannot make progress with people whose only argument is that they deserve leadership because they are from such and such a region. That shows a total lack of ideas. How can you follow a parked car?
The Tribune, in one of its editorials, summed it up this way:
The various aspirants for the presidential ticket of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have virtually relegated the very essence of governance to the background. The pressure groups within the party have been hurling political brickbats at one another. The aspirants' campaign organisations have not been addressing the issues of massive unemployment, pervasive corruption and other problems that have rendered the economy prostrate. The focal point of their concern is the geo-political zone that should produce the president.
A former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Lawan Kaita, recently took the agitation for a "northern president" in 2011 to a worrisome dimension. He was reported as saying that the North would make the country ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan if he emerged the winner of the forthcoming election. (In Kaita’s words):
“Anything short of a northern president is tantamount to stealing our presidency. Jonathan has to go and he will go. Even if he uses incumbency power to get his nomination on the platform of the PDP, he will be frustrated out. The North should not be blamed for the calamity that would befall Nigeria if Jonathan emerged as the president”.
It’s highly disappointing that such an unguarded statement has emanated from a man of Kaita's age and experience in partisan politics. It is as reprehensible as it is irresponsible. To make Nigeria ungovernable is to destabilise Nigeria. The logical inference that can be drawn from this reckless statement is that a "northern presidency" is more important to Kaita than Nigeria itself. The apocalyptic utterances of Kaita provide ample evidence of desperation for political power for sectional benefits and personal aggrandisement rather than for the good of the people.
Character assassination, lies and deceits are not what Nigeria needs from the presidential candidates. Rather, Nigeria will be better-off when the candidates engage in issue-based campaigns than engaging in political mudslinging. It’s unfortunate that the candidates have choose the deliberate spread of falsehood, to create disaffection amongst the people, as the best option to win the PDP nomination, but, they may end up tearing themselves apart that at the end, their party flag bearer will be unelectable, no matter who that may be. Jonathan/Sambo ticket has accused former National Security Adviser and a presidential aspirant, retired Lt-General Aliyu Mohamed Gusau, of playing dirty by his planting of the report published by the rightwing American website, WorldTribune, that said “the incumbent President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is bribing PDP delegates out of Federal Government funds, making most of the party delegates wealthy enough to buy a new home with the bribery funds.” The report also claimed that United States military strategists had said Jonathan gave $13,000 (about N2million) to each PDP delegate ahead of the party’s primaries”. Jonathan’s campaign in refuting the allegation, sees it “as a desperate campaign of calumny to portray the president in bad light and pre-judge the outcome of the forthcoming PDP presidential primaries, in which he is evidently the man to beat”. A top Jonathan aide said Gusau “hired GIS (an American Defense contracting firm) to launder his image and create an appearance of lack of support for Jonathan in the North.” He added, “Essentially, General Gusau has worked with these defense contractors all over Israel and the US and they feel compelled to help sell his candidacy so that he can open Nigeria to US defense contractors if he wins and becomes president.”
Ciroma and his co-travellers are known for being well-versed in ethnic sentimentality, so this is not their first time of engaging in divisive politics. Senator Spanner Okpozo accused Alhaji Adamu Ciroma and Tanko Yakassai of treason, saying their utterances and threats on President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2011 presidential ambition were a threat to the corporate existence and unity of the country. Senator Okpozo (who once represented the Delta South Senatorial District on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the upper chamber of the National Assembly) recalled that the duo of Ciroma and Yakassai waged a relentless war to stop the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola from running for the country’s presidency.
This column is asking Ciroma, Kaita, Yakassai etc if they are not listening to voices of reason from some Nigerians. Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State has described politicians insisting on zoning and northern presidency in 2011 general elections as (being) myopic and lacking (the) moral justification to pursue their agitation. The former Commissioner for Information and Communication in Plateau State, Mr Yakubu Dati, also described the call for President Goodluck Jonathan's resignation by Adamu Ciroma, as a pursuit of personal agenda, and not a voice of the North as he claimed. He added that Ciroma never consulted anybody before making the pronouncement. Dati said: "Adamu Ciroma is a statesman we respect very much; he has served this country in many capacities, and even after serving he also donated his wife, who also served as Minister, and probably we hope that one of these days he will also donate his son or daughter to also serve the country. But he cannot impose his personal opinion on the entire north; that is unacceptable. In making that statement, one would want to ask; did he consult the Emir of Zauzau, or the Shehu of Borno, or the Ohinoyi of Ebrialand, or the Gbong Gwon Jos? Aren't they northerners? Did he consult the north CAN Chairman or the JNI leader in the north? Did he consult the various youth organisations or the women body or the Governors in the North, who are elected representatives of the people? Certainly no, it is very clear that he is driving at a personal agenda. From all our researches and enquiries, he has not consulted any of these groups. So, we begin to wonder which north he is talking about. Is it the north of re-cycled leaders who want to keep doing it? He has served as minister; his wife has done same; is it because his son has not been made a minister in this dispensation that he is busy making inflammatory statement? If you look at the 9/11 Bomb blast in America; there was neither Democrat nor Republican. They all came out and joined hands to support their President because the country was passing through a trying moment. Those are what we expect from statesmen, not sectional politics. I’ll rather that we are ruled by President, who will try to solve our problems; who after one bomb blast would ensure that another does not occur, not a President who cannot travel to America and other countries because he has cases to answer out there. Most of these people opposing Jonathan cannot even travel out when they become President; how would we have our international relation?”
The National Democratic Forum also asked Ciroma to mind his business as he (Ciroma) and his NPF have no right to speak for northerners. The Forum criticised the position taken against Jonathan by the Northern Political Forum and said that "the so-called northern leaders" have no justifiable grounds to speak for northerners and maintained that they should all resign from politics for impoverishing the people of the north or face divine impeachment. The Forum referred to members of NPF as a clique of failed politicians who had used their political positions to entrench poverty in the north while amassing wealth for their immediate family members, friends and cronies. In its words: “The leaders were crying foul of zoning not because they had interest of the general north at heart but because they view politics as their only means of creating financial security for themselves and their family members. All the common legacies created for the general interest of the north by past leaders like the late Sardauna of Sokoto had been plundered by the same politicians "who are hiding under the umbrella of NPF". Mentioning Bank of the North as one of the plundered legacies, the National Democratic Forum called on the Federal Government to dig into archives and unmasked the identities of northern politicians who contributed to the collapse of the bank through their unpaid loans.
This column thinks it’s time for those making reckless statements, which can put Nigeria in more dire straits, be made to pay for their words. Nigeria’s nobody’s personal property; even if it was some people’s fiefdom some years before, as from now on, the table has turned and this column will be the last to acquiesce to the hijacking of Nigeria by any group or people. Even if we can’t make any difference, at least, we can shout! To make it clear here and now (as stated in the first paragraph of this article); this column is not supporting Jonathan’s or anybody’s presidential ambition for now, because, it’s yet to make its decision as it will vet all candidates (at the conclusion of the parties’ primaries) and will then endorse the most viable and people-oriented presidential candidate.
But having said the above, Jonathan will be the candidate to beat due to a number of factors which include the power of incumbency and what Akpan Okon wrote here:
“ Why Jonathan will win PDP primaries and the presidential election: The Goodluck that has been the trade mark of President Jonathan will continue to manifest until he is elected president next year for several reasons. (1) Traditionally people of the south south have always aligned politically with the north. As far as they are concerned, it’s payback time. The people of the oil region are of the view that the north must reciprocate that age long loyalty now, by allowing Jonathan, who became vice president and now president by sheer providence, to emerge leader. The region is the most militarized in the nation and with a huge amount of undeclared firepower, after the amnesty, disgruntled factions are threatening to cause havoc if one of their own is not allowed to clinch the presidency in next year’s election.
(2) Jonathan is being backed by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and except the controversial general is struck by lightning and dies, the northern forces massing against Jonathan will be mere mince meat. There are reports that anti-Jonathan forces have tried and failed to fatally silence the general. Two attacks in as many months have come to naught. And so, with life in him Jonathan is literally coasting on the home stretch. As long as Obasanjo is alive, Jonathan can sleep with both eyes closed.
(3) Jonathan’s supporters have indeed produced security reports, now being circulated in London and Washington indicating that a potential apocalypse is real should the north control the top political post in next year’s election. Thus, key Western powers, worried about their investments in the oil region have reached out to Nigeria’s northern elite to step down their presidential ambition, else the forecast that Nigeria may cease to be one country may come to pass much earlier than the 2015 previously predicted. Jonathan has received a huge war chest from surrogates of these countries to ensure he is victorious. They need to protect their investments.
(4) The northern candidates themselves are putting a feeble challenge to Jonathan. They are not spending enough money among PDP members to be taken seriously. It is believed that some are mere stalking horses. Saraki for instance is a camouflage. He will soon declare support for Jonathan. Atiku who is incapable of winning his state, Adamawa, is beating his chest. His agenda is political relevance, and even in that he will fail, because Obasanjo fast tracked the demise of his political credibility. IBB is reported to have demanded N50 billion to step aside. So why won’t Jonathan win? Someone please challenge me!”
This column thinks that Ciroma and co. have thrown caution to the wind and have lost the respect they once enjoyed. Unless they desist from making more inflammatory remarks, this column will be forced to join others in suggesting that they be tried for treason. If they (Ciroma and co.) think they are untouchable, then they must be living in the past really. Nigeria of today has no place for people like them who had already being consigned to the dustbin of political history. May be it’s hard for these old men, who have outlived their usefulness, to understand that things have changed in Nigeria. Many Nigerians are not amused by how he (Ciroma) and others are making destabilising comments. The Northern Christian Elders Forum has urged the Federal Government to order the immediate arrest and prosecution of some Northern political leaders threatening to make the country ungovernable should President Goodluck Jonathan emerge as the presidential candidate of the People's Democratic Party. NOCEF said that it was irresponsible and unpatriotic for those who claimed to be leaders of a section of the country to engage in war-mongering through their unguarded utterances. It therefore warned that the Federal Government should not treat such threats from these Northern political leaders with kid gloves, adding that it was a criminal offence for anyone to issue such statement against the sitting president of the country.
Ndiameeh Babrik wrote: “These are trying and interesting times in Nigeria especially for the ruling Northern Nigeria elite who have lost power for good and forever. This is why some of us despite being Northerners have been calling for the sovereign national conference. When I read some statements for example credited to Adamu Ciroma asking Dr Goodluck Jonathan to resign because of the Abuja bombing by terrorists, it instantly came to my mind that it is true that the average Nigerian elite assume that the Nigerian commoners have amnesia.
Adamu Ciroma's principal, Mr. Ibrahim Babangida, has murdered more Nigerians than any other person in history comparable only to the innocents killed in the civil war. Please check General Babangida's legacy under “Nigeria ' years of the locust on the Internet.”
It was estimated that between 500,000 to one million people were killed all over Nigeria as a result of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. Some through outright killing by the security agencies, some in rioting while others in road traffic accidents! All the blood of the innocents killed in the June 12 election annulment riot plus that of Chief MKO Abiola and Alhaja Kudirat Abiola are all on Babangida's head.
Ibrahim Babangida has the singular dishonor of presiding over the killing of the finest military officers Nigeria has ever produced. At one go he wasted General Mamman Vatsa and 16 senior military officers, most of who were exceptional fighter pilots. They were all from the middle belt and the south. In 1990, Babangida again murdered 41 officers and soldiers, some were retired. The youngest was 21 years, an Igbo Army Officer, by the name of 2nd Lieutenant Nicholas Ude. All of them were still from the middle belt and Southern Nigeria.
In September 1992, Ibrahim Babangida still had the singular dishonor of murdering in one swoop 212 middle level military officers when he killed them in the Ejigbo Air force plane crash in Lagos. We are not mentioning the assassination of people like Dele Giwa or Vice Admiral Muftau Elegbede yet. Therefore for Mallam Adamu Ciroma, a geriatric politician, to have forgotten that his principal Ibrahim Babangida is the number one mass murderer in Nigeria speaks of how clever by half he is. If people who are old like him who are supposed to be elders can lie without decorum, what will they teach children? It is obvious to us now why Nigeria has been ran aground in the past 50 years. Adamu Ciroma for example was CBN governor, minister of finance and had many other government appointments. Of course his principal was a military tyrant for eight wasted years and hence they ran Nigeria aground.
Sovereign national conference will move Nigeria forward. There we shall discuss true federalism, fiscal federalism and state police. In our north, we will bring back our ground nut pyramids. The Northern Nigeria youths must challenge these expired politicians who ate their yesterday, ate our today and they still want to eat our children's tomorrow.”
Finally, this column has established that all the furore or cacophony from men like Ciroma is only “shakara”. The have only one aim: To draw out a concession from Jonathan.This column can authoritatively confirm that the sustained northern opposition to Jonathan’s candidacy is aimed at the ultimate goal of persuading him (Jonathan) to agree to sign a pact with northern elders that he will not run for a second term and that he will concede certain ministries and agencies to the North after the 2011 presidential election. The ministries, departments and agencies the north wants are the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Agriculture, Water Resources, Finance, Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF), State Security Services (SSS), National Security Adviser (NSA), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), among others. Jonathan will be committing political suicide, if he agrees to these demands. The north should be stopped from further holding the country to ransom for its elite’s selfish gain. And the time, for that, is now!
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!