- The North often captures Nigeria’s presidencial seat by cunningly instigating division in the South, knowing that the South doesn’t speak with one voice.
The amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates to create Nigeria in 1914was an involuntary merger. But since it happened, it should have been a true partnership of equals since neither entity conquered the other. Yet, the fear of Northern domination has historically defined inter-ethnic power struggle in Nigeria.
IN 1967, the then head of state; General Yakubu Gowon, in a speech, cited “the fear of domination” for his decision to create 12 states from the then four regions. Gowon said: “The main obstacle to future stability in this country is the present structural imbalance in the Nigerian Federation”.
By “structural imbalance”, he was referring to the fact that Northern Nigeria, one of the two protectorates that were merged to create Nigeria in 1914, remained a monolithic entity, while Southern Nigeria, the other protectorate, was divided into Eastern, Western and Mid-Western regions. Thus, of the 12 new states that Gowon created, six were from the North
But splitting the North into six states and, over the years, the present 36 states hasn’t ended the fear of Northern domination in the power struggle among Nigeria’s ethnic groups; rather, fear of domination continues to undermine Nigeria’s unity, stability and progress.
Of course, with an over-powerful president and a dominant Federal Government, political hegemony has greater salience. Reduce the powers of the president and the Federal Government and make the regions centres of political and economic powers, the centre will lose its allure, the inter-ethnic struggle to produce president will lose its existentiality and the fear of Northern domination will lose its intensity.
But where does the North get its hegemonic power from? Well, first, from Britain. Lord Lugard described the South as the “rich wife”and the North the “poor husband,” implying the latter’s superiority. What’s more, because the South fought vehemently for Nigeria’s independence, while the North opposed self-rule, the British treated the North as an ally and the South as an enemy. As a result, Britain deliberately enabled the North and deviously handed it political control over Nigeria at independence.
Secondly, the North’s hegemonic power came from its head start in the military. While other Nigerians were pursuing non-military careers, young Northerners joined the military, urged on by Northern emirs. The logic was simple: power flows from the barrel of the gun. It’s not a coincidence that, apart from the first military coup in January 1966, led by the young Southern majors, all other coups in Nigeria were led by Northern soldiers, who then ruled the country for nearly 30 years under different military regimes.
But while the leg-up from the British and the barrel of the gun gave the North absolute advantage in the past, they are no longer relevant today. So, what’s the current source of the North’s political hegemony? Well, it stems from its large population and its ability to “weaponise” the population for its political advantage. If politics is a game of numbers, the North plays it well, and even brags about it.
Yet, population alone cannot and must not be the basis for securing political power in a multi-ethnic, federal state. As the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it, in a genuine federal system, no part of the federation should be “so dominant that others have little opportunity to provide national leadership”.
The recent ministerial appointment by the president Ahmed Tinubu led administration is a shame and an aberration to say the least. Why should the Northwest have 10 slots, southwest 9 slots, south-south 7, Northeast 7, North central 8, and southeast just 5 slots.
This is clear indication of marginalization.
The American founding fathers knew that if population determined who became president, America could become a one-party state. For instance, Democrats, who traditionally control large states like California and New York, would always produce the president.
So, under US Constitution, it’s the Electoral College vote, not the popular vote that matters; a candidate that wins the popular vote but not the Electoral College vote won’t become president. This forces a candidate who wants to become president to win in both large and small states.
In the 2000 US presidential election Al Gore beat George Bush by more than 500,000 votes nationwide but had 266 Electoral College votes against Bush’s 271
In Nigeria, the Constitution requires a candidate to have, a) the majority of votes cast at the election and b) “not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.To become president, a candidate must have one-quarter of votes cast in two-thirds of 36 states and the FCT, meaning in 25 states.
Now, despite having 19 states, the North cannot produce president without the South. Its candidate may have the majority of the vote cast in a presidential election and win one-quarter of the votes cast in all its 19 states, but that won’t be enough to become president. The Northern candidate needs to win at least one-quarter of the votes cast in at least six Southern states.
In 1979, Shehu Shagari won by aligning with part of today’s South-South. In 2015 and 2019, Buhari won by aligning with the South-West. So, the North often produces president by dividing the South, knowing that the South doesn’t speak with one voice.
The Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, and Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, huffed and puffed. But the North knows that if the South truly unites and speaks with one voice, the north will find it extremely difficult to exert political and economic dominance as they have done in the past nearly five decades.
The question is for how long more is Southern Nigeria going to remain like that. Nigerians are happy being one big and united country but with a caveat that there must be equity, justice and fairness. A situation where the North takes the lion share in virtually everything in Nigeria is worrisome.
For instance, recent events in which Fulani herdsmen appear to have taken the law into their own hands to believe that it is their eternal right to graze their cattle and other livestock across the length and breadth of Nigeria, from the North to the South, unrestricted, portends grave danger. This is more so as the Federal Government seems to be helpless and in tacit support.
With the wanton killings going from Southern Kaduna to Benue, Taraba, plateau, Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Delta states, it is not known how long more these killings would be allowed to continue.
The unfolding realities whereby Southern Nigeria that holds the economic and intellectual power that ought to power its destiny in the country but, ironically, is relegated to the background by the less endowed North makes it imperative for the South to forge a common front and speak with one voice in order to survive. By Southern Nigeria I mean the South-East, South-West and South-South zones.
It has got to the point whereby Southern Nigeria must partner and work together or perish. The recent Ohaneze and Afenifere rally in Enugu is a positive development that should be given full support. Southern Nigeria has wallowed in dereliction for too long instead of asserting itself.
Again, the government of Ahmed Tinubu is nursing a nocturnal plan to establish a Fulani colony in Benue State, even when they knew or ought to know that the people of Benue state have suffered so much in the evil hands of this Fulani Janjaweed.
They knew that the population of Fulani in Benue is just 2 percent or even less; yet, they want to impose an ethnic ideological conquest on the people. The middle belt must not allow this to happen, if it is allowed, it will be a great political suicide. It is a time bomb waiting to explode.
This is satanic, injustice, and a hatched plan to further intimidate and subject the Benue people into untold hardship and wanton killing, destruction of farmlands and underdevelopment.
The North has systematically alienated the south from the scheme of things in the center, the center can no longer hold. Some of the southern oligarchy is in alliance with the North on this, because of political power and positions.
The bloodletting in Benue state is enough, people no longer sleep with their two eyes closed, and the one reported is lesser than those unreported.
There is strength in unity as well as unity in diversity. The time has come for the southern Nigeria to come together as one indivisible, indissoluble and indefatigable one entity. This is the only solution to tackle the Mired of political, social, economic and insecurity challenges facing the blessed zone
In other words, if Nigeria must remain as one country, then Southern Nigeria has no other choice than to join forces and assume its rightful position. The balkanization of Southern Nigeria at independence was a deliberate ploy to create division and whittle down the sub-regional power. Some historical facts as I have carefully analyzed above will help to clarify my point.
Moreover, the South’s unity and solid alliance with the Middle Belt will have a seminal effect, creating a balance of power that will inject equilibrium into Nigeria’s political-power equation, and engender Nigeria’s stability.
But can the South ever unite?