Avarice and prejudice drove European conquistadors to carve up much of Africa like cake. With the gradual end of the transatlantic slave trade spurred by the industrial revolution in Europe, the trespassers, possessed by capitalist fiends, sought sources of raw materials for their industries and markets for their manufactured products. These encroachers considered Africa as ‘’terra nullius’’ – a vast land belonging to no one –, so they struck, usurping natural boundaries and turning brothers into strangers. All for greed, prejudice and arrogance.
But nothing changed after the European raiders left Africa. Only the skin colour and facial features of the oppressors varied. Colonialism by aliens gave way for colonialism by natives; black-on-black oppression.
In Nigeria’s case, the worst form of colonialism steeped in prebendalism, carnivory, nepotism, tribalism, corruption and predation took root. Nigeria’s political class are a hybridised version of the European colonial masters.
It is about two years to the next general election in 2023, and already there is chaos, confusion and caustic rhetoric brought on by politics of conquest. It is always about the cake for the Nigerian political class — how to carve it up and serve it among themselves; who to get what and what portion. It is never about how to make life better for citizens. Nigeria abandoned the development plans of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. In fact, we do not have concretised development plans anymore, but we always have plans and budgets for elections.
It has been said that Nigerian politicians plan for the next election instead of staying in the present and working for the people. It is always about the next election for them. It is all about how to acquire power, abuse it and retain it.
On Monday, governors of the southern region met and issued a communiqué after the conclave. I must say, the official communication contained fine points like — ‘’the forum rejects the proposed 3% and support the 5% share of the oil revenue to the host community as recommended by the house of representatives’’ as regards the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). It is against sensibility that ewes which make the best milk should not eat more of the finest grass. To stave off possible agitations in the future, it is only reasonable that the Niger Delta region from where the bulk of our revenue comes from is accorded this advantage.
In general, the intention of the governors may be noble, considering that it is for the preservation of their region. But where does the manifest polarisation of Nigeria into north and south by political leaders leave the country? Regional agenda has become centralised against the goal of the collective. There is a pursuit of self in negation of the whole. The chasm between the north and the south is widened by the operations of political leaders.
The resolution of the governors that – ‘’the forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between southern and northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the southern region’’ – could be unnerving for people who are not from the south.
I think matters of this character require national consensus not a regional gang-up. It requires statesmanship.
Most political leaders in the north have openly expressed support for a power shift to the south in 2023. Nasir el-Rufai, Kaduna governor; Babagana Zulum, Borno governor, and Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano governor, are some of the leaders who have said the next president should come from the south. Some northern groups have also voiced their support for a president from the south in 2023. So, what was the aim of that performance by southern governors?
What that resolution has achieved so far is to unnerve even those who have shown support for power shift to the south in 2023.
This is what Zulum, a proponent of power shift, said in reaction to the resolution by southern governors.
Zulum: “I have said it times without number that I, Professor Babagana Zulum, I am of the view that the presidency should go to the south in the year 2023 because the unity of our country is very important. Secondly, inclusivity is very important. Thirdly, I am in the APC. Six or seven years ago, APC had zoned the presidency to northern Nigeria based on the agreement that in the year 2023, the presidency should go to the south. But again, this is politics. We are supposed to meet and discuss this issue among ourselves, among the political class. This statement that people are saying that the president must go to the south, I want them to remove the word must.”
The politics of ‘’we against them’’ is one of conquest which benefits the political class. It is the politics of scrambling for spoils and partitioning the peoples of Nigeria.
The Nigeria Governors Forum used to be a formidable clique which spoke in one accord and even acted as a parallel government. It is sad to see this forum become a house of Babel. Now, we have Northern Governors Forum and Southern Governors Forum – representing and pursing regional interests.