Power Must Shift to the North!

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

All you need is to listen to the apostles of power shift to the North to know that we are in deep, deep trouble in this country. Apart from that, you also need to know the kind of people involved in this power-must-shift-to-the-North crusade to know that in politics you should expect the unexpected. Take for instance that October 10, 2006 interview the arrowhead of power-must-shift-to-the-North granted The Guardian. His interviewer wanted to know what would happen if people not acceptable to the North like the two Abubakars (Rimi and the Colonel) showed up to be president and this was the emphatic response: ‘We are talking about a Nigerian President in 2007 who must come from the North and not a president of the North’.

The biggest reason that the arrowhead of power shift has adduced for there to be a shift in the geographical location of the personality that leads government is that the North also wants ‘a piece of the action’. He also says that based on a certain ‘gentleman’s arrangement’ with certain shadowy figures in the pre-civilian government of Olusegun Obasanjo, it was agreed that at the expiration of Obasanjo’s government, power would ‘shift’ to the North. We must be quick to express that these are hardly valid reasons for the power shift crusader to impose a standard based on geographical location as the most important consideration in the determination of who becomes the president of Nigeria in 2007. There are other much weightier issues we must consider, apart from geography and a mere wanting ‘a piece of the action’. As an aside heretofore, I marvel at this reckless tendency powerful politicians put language to, to drive home their message. Who does this arrowhead think he addresses when he says that power must shift to the North? Are we his children or his wives? Are we his employees or his business associates that he must give executive fiats that we must obey?

If the exponent does not mind, perhaps we should remind him that we are no longer in the military or at the mercy of a king who decides our collective destiny. Those days are gone. Power today no longer resides in a military alpha and omega or in a king. Every primary school pupil, believe it or not, knows that we run government on the principle of separation of powers. There is the executive arm of government, the legislative and the judicial arms of government.All of these organs of government operate on the basis of proportional representation, to mean that everyone’s interest, the minority as well as the majority, is taken into consideration in the determination of the distribution of our commonwealth. Therefore, we do not understand what the person wasting his retirement time and money traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria wants in asking for a ‘power shift’. Is he asking that all the persons who head the executive, the legislature and the judiciary be from the North? Is he saying that everyone in the executive arm of government must be from the North? Or that it must be the heads of the judiciary or the legislature? Is he saying therefore that all the political parties in the country must have presidential candidates who must be from the North?

If what he wants is that the executive, legislature and the judiciary powers ‘shift’ to the North, then he really must be looking for trouble and trouble I hope he gets from the rest of us. But something in the way the demand is made tells me that that is not what the crusader is after. He seems to refer to the executive arm of government only and even as at that, his demand has been made from the disappointing position of ignorance at what necessarily constitutes power in a democratic government. Otherwise, I would have had cause to believe that that demand was made in bad faith, taking the rest of us for idiots. Let us put it to this crusader that we need not remind him that in the forty-six year history of the Nigerian State, military as well as civilian rulers have come more from the North than from any other region of this country. May we also remind the power-shift to-the-North crusader(s) that those who had ruled us in the past from that geographical location he insists must rule the executive, judiciary and legislative arms and get ‘a piece of the action’ are still very much around. Gowon did leave behind a lasting legacy in the NYSC programme but as soon as he began to drift, our beloved Murtala Muhammed shoved him aside gently in a bloodless coup. Was this arrowhead of power-must-shift-to-the-North not there when Nigerians mourned the death of a Northern military ruler we all loved but was assassinated by another Northerner? Was it not also clear that the austerity measures put in place by the government that Obasanjo handed over to, led to the Buhari/Idiagbon coup? But when it was obvious that the Buhari/Idiagbon junta was almost there with their draconian policies to sanitize the economy, IBB struck. Now, what did IBB do with the eight years he was there as military president apart from provide the enabling environment for corruption to thrive? Need we ask the arrowhead of power-must-shift-to-the-North about the reign of terror that Abacha unleashed on us in another eight years after IBB? Need we ask him to account for the insensitivity that Abdulsalaam displayed to the plight of the Niger-Delta Jesse pipeline inferno? Need we tell the power shift exponent that none of the persons who ruled from Gowon to Abdulsalaam has a name that sounds like Anyanwu, Othuke, Okon, or Bekederemoh? Shouldn’t we at least give other people a chance to try to move this great country forward? Shouldn’t we at this point be thinking of the only relevant shift of power for now, from the masculine to the feminine gender? In simple English, shouldn’t we begin at this point to tinker with the idea of having a woman for once as our next president? As far as I am concerned, that is the only sensible shift of power that Nigeria needs today.

Let us make it categorically clear to the exponent of power shift to the North that the people of the Niger-Delta as well as other stakeholders in this country were not consulted when that so-called ‘gentleman’s arrangement’ was brokered and agreed upon. We insist that such a callous agreement is not binding on us and we refuse to acknowledge it. We also declare that the days when a cabal in the military met in their messes to decide the fate and future of this country are over too. Power has never, ever to my knowledge been ceded to any section of this country as a birthright and if that is what the exponent of power-must-shift-to-the-North is hinging his specious argument on, he better adjust himself with the common trend today.

And that common trend is that Nigerians are ready to vote for anyone from any part of the country who truly represents their collective aspirations and interest. We as Christians voted in MKO Abiola who was a Muslim because we believed in him. The talakawa in the core Northern states did not vote for MKO because he was a Muslim. They voted for him, a Yoruba, because the man had a charisma that held us all together as Nigerians. What the power-must-shift-to-the-North crusader should concentrate on now is try fish for somebody in the North who has an emulsifying personality that could unite us all as Nigerians rather that concentrate his energies on such divisive tendencies as imposing a Northern president or whatever on us at all costs. Let him shop for a credible Nigerian, a Northerner or a Southerner, an Easterner or a Westerner who should pass through the fire of the election process rather than insist rather superciliously that we must return to the status quo of a seeming Northern hegemony The way it is now, a lot of us in the Niger-Delta and other parts of this country are already disenchanted and have lost interest in the present government. Therefore, we eagerly hope that that change we hope for comes from any part of this country that will take us seriously, though it must not be in the w

ay the crusade for a president from the North is being presented.

The demand that the president of this country must come from the North is one embarrassment that a colleague has referred to as a misnomer and an aberration. I cannot agree more.

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