By HASSAN GIMBA
Southern governors last week rose from their second-ever meeting with a communique sounding more like one by Niger Delta militants in their heydays. While some of their conclusions are in the national interest, some smack of arm twisting and blackmail.
For instance, their position on the removal of electronic transmission of election results from the electoral act is spot on. For us to further develop our democracy, one area that needs upgrading is our electoral system, especially in the method of voting, counting, transmission, collation, and even announcement of election results. Agreed, ours is a nation that a myriad of problems hampers its elections. Chief among them is epileptic power supply, poor communications network, poor road network, etc., however, by having the resolve to get our elections right, we will develop the will to straighten out all these aberrations.
Another plus is their re-affirmation and commitment to the unity of Nigeria “on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful co-existence between and amongst its people.”
However, a contradiction is in their calling for a commitment to the politics of equity and fairness but in the same breath “unanimously” demanding that “the presidency of Nigeria rotates between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region.”
The problem with the southern governors has much to do with their hurry to appease brigands. It is not much to do with the importance of having a stable nation. They fear hoodlums who call for anarchy have taken people away from them. To fight to snatch back their followership, they have to swim with the tide. And that means fighting the imaginary northern enemy with Fulani as the fall guy.
The danger here is that to jump in front of a rowdy, unreasoning crowd that has fallen in love with conspiracy theories and prefers to believe the mischievous, you must feed them more sinister lies since what fuels their existence are falsehoods.
So, to achieve that, the governors have to out-kanu Kanu and outshine Igboho in their recruitment methods, and that demands the ‘kanunisation’ and ‘igbohonisation’ of their worldview. They are only smart by half, falling short of calling for secession but giving conditions for remaining in the union. They cannot support secession because their authority is courtesy of Nigeria.
But southern governors became governors not through demanding for it but through a free choice exercised by the electorate. Supposedly, anyway. To now turn around and “demand” to be given the presidency points at their democratic credentials or the lack of it.
They have jettisoned the “equity, fairness and justice” they mouthed on the altar of feeding the insatiable greed of those they want to bring back to their beck and call. From 1999 to 2023, the South has presided over Nigeria for 14 years and the North for 10. By this, who is now showing to the world that they were “born to rule”?
Perhaps new to the game of regional governors gathering and so, playing catch-up, they are in a hurry to stamp their presence and let their people believe they are in the game. But they lost it at the starting line and may need to go back to the drawing board.
A major problem the South has is how it underestimates the North. Their minders have led a majority of them to believe that the northerner is an unschooled moron who only progresses through connections. Despite northerners that became billionaires by dint of hard work, intellectuals that have pushed the frontiers of scholarship, leaders that have provided impeccable administrations to great applause and politicians that rose like the colossus to dominate their environments, the average southerner still gets bamboozled – and envious – by the way the northerner dictates what goes where.
But a pertinent question to ask is, why do people kick against federal character yet want a position zoned, rotated or surrendered to them? If they are as intelligent and educated as they think they are, then they should know that politics is all about bridge-building, consensus and give and take.
However, in their confusion, despite their belief in the superiority of their intelligence, they take Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho as heroes. Some even believe they are comparable to Sheikh Gumi. A Methodist Bishop ridiculously said that he will stand by Kanu as long as “northerners stand by Pantami and Gumi”. A known southern columnist, too, wrote on how Kanu and Igboho were arrested while Gumi “had a slap on the wrist.”
What they refuse to accept is the fact that Kanu is a terrorist in the class of Shekau. A fugitive from justice having jumped bail while standing trial in a court of competent jurisdiction. He instigated people to kill through electronic messages the way Shekau did. He calls for the Balkanisation of the country. Perhaps being a second-class British citizen, he sees Nigeria as a “zoo” and Nigerians as animals. His gullible followers, Nigerians through and through, accept being animals in a country that is a zoo.
Maybe because most of his followers are those frustrated with their lives, they find solace in living in utopia. They claim they are Jews. Laughable as it was, with no historical or biological evidence to support the phantasmagoric claim, they do not know nor do they seek to know the history of the Ethiopian Jews. The Ethiopian Jews, who are immigrants and descendants of the immigrants from Beta Israel, called the Falashas (Falash Mura), trace their history back to 325 CE when Ezana became the emperor of Axum.
And even with this rich and ancient history, the real Jews did a DNA test to confirm their Jewishness. They studied samples from Falasha Jews and Ethiopians with the Y-chromosome-specific DNA probe to screen for TaqI restriction polymorphisms and haplotypes. Two haplotypes (V and XI) are the most widespread in Falashas and Ethiopians, representing about 70% of the total number of haplotypes in Ethiopia. Because in the Falasha population the Jewish haplotypes VII and VIII are not present, they concluded the Falasha people descended from ancient inhabitants of Ethiopia who converted to Judaism. Therefore, they do not have the same rights as the real Jews in Israel.
So, just because you wake up in a state of hallucination, start wearing the Jewish kippah or yarmulke (also called kappel or skullcap), drape over your shoulders their tallit and hold their tzitzit (rosary) and call yourself a Jew does not make you one just as speaking through the nose and decking yourself in a three-piece suit does not make you a white man. Claiming to be them and calling your country a zoo will not also make Netanyahu come to your aid when caught by nemesis. He does not even know you exist. The world sees you for what you are: a madman. No wonder one of his incoherent phrases that his demented followers love parroting is “mad people everywhere”, not knowing it is about them.
The major difference between northern governors and southern governors is that at no time have northern governors supported Boko Haram insurgents. But the southern governors are always beholden to rabble-rousers from among their dregs.
We cannot compare Kanu to Gumi because at no time did Gumi take up arms against the state or instigate anyone to kill anybody. While Gumi goes into the strongholds of bandits, calling on them to renounce banditry, Igboho took it upon himself to uproot people from their bases on spurious excuses.
For too long have we allowed sentiments to guide our utterances and actions. It is a favourable time to treat the other person without undue regard to his tribe, region or religion but based on their humanity.
We all know who we are and where we came from. Like it or not, Nigeria is our country and we have no other. None of us here can go wherever our fancy tells us we came from and get accepted as a citizen. But come to think of it, are we not all one when we go back to Adam and Eve? Let us join hands with one another, speak the truth, see the good in each other and take our country a notch higher. We owe it as a duty to bequeath to our children and the children of their children a better and more peaceful nation than we have now.