I quote my friend Salisu Mohammed, the director general of All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Progressive Governors Forum who in his piece published last week posited that “trust is lacking amongst the political class that represent the various regions and ethnicities!” That is indeed true.
The reason for all the crisis and agitation in the polity is that trust has broken down, justifiably so. Only renegotiation on the basis of truth can we return and rebuild trust.
Today, the South does not trust the North and the North does not trust the South. The East does not trust the West and the South South does not trust the East or the North. Indeed trust no longer exists. No one can escape this conclusion.
The reason trust has fled our politics is that the political class has replaced negotiable with subterfuge; they have replaced compromise with trickery. A case in point is the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). It is obvious that all the hood that bill ought to have brought has been lost because the National Assembly acted without adequate consideration of public reaction to allocating owners of crude less than 5 per cent while allocating 30 per cent to search for crude oil.
That single legislation in my considered view will go down in history as one of the major disservice that the current National Assembly did to the idea of Nigerian nationhood and unity. It simply means that oil owners don’t matter. It tells them to renew their anger and possible agitation.
Many things done by the political class in the last 20 years are tearing Nigeria apart. Take appointments or even recruitment into the federal services. Sometimes, when you look at those published lists, it reads as if Nigeria consists of one region. Is it that those who do this do not understand that even only a handful of dissatisfied people can wreak havoc, talkless of whole tribes or regions?
However, the 2023 general elections is another chance to build trust in the political space and cool tensions down. The way to achieve this is for everyone, every player to respect the equity embedded in the zoning principles that has been part of the understanding and the under pinning of our nation’s diversity.
To achieve this, presidency must return to the south. To cool tensions, to assuage injury, to dispel any insinuations of apartheid or political favouritism, the presidency should head south in 2023.
All those who have come out to posit otherwise are those who are heating up the system. They are the ones who think that the other regions will sit back in some kind of subservience.
I was one of the vocal commentators who insisted that former President Goodluck Jonathan should not run after he completed the Yar’Adua term in 2011 presidential election. I posited that he should allow the North finish their two terms. I not only wrote and spoke, I worked on both the former Defence Minister and former National Security Adviser, General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (rtd) campaign organisation and also the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar campaign organisation as Director. I didn’t do so because I hated Jonathan, I had no reason to hate Jonathan, besides I am also from the South South like him; I did so because I believed that equity and justice was more important than personal or regional interest.
Today, on the same basis of equity, I call that the presidency should return to the South. Not only to the South but to the South South in particular. Reason being that since 1999, when the current version of democracy berthed, every zone has completed two terms of 8 years. The South South, the very goose that lays the golden eggs should be no exception. Zoning is certainly an agreement that can be said to be not only conventional but can be found in the constitution as federal character principle.
Jonathan did one term, Obasanjo served two terms, so is Buhari doing today. There is a potent risk of alienating the South South if they are passed over for either the South West or the South East. What is fair is fair. This is made more imperative in the light of recent events such as the PIB and other decisions that are unpalatable to the South.
If the North seeks to or tries to keep the presidency beyond 2024 as it appears to be scheming to do, it will not augur well for the establishment and further grounding of national unity. You cannot have unity in a system where any section feels marginalised or maltreated. Certainly not in this day and age!
Anyone who loves Nigeria must work for presidency to go southward. If that does not happen, no one needs to be a prophet to foresee more unrest and more agitation to an already fragile state of affairs.
If the political class means well, if Nigeria will be peaceful and progressive, it can do so only under an atmosphere of peace, justice and fair play. The way to ensure that is to play fair and allow South South finishes its two terms before any other consideration. As they say, conscience is an open wound that can only fester with lies or heal with truth.