Let there be no mistake about it: the rejection of Jonathan in 2015 will be interpreted as the rejection of the South-South by Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba bullies.
While speaking recently on a current affairs program on Liberty Radio, Kaduna, General Muhammadu Buhari boasted that the APC (All Progressives Congress) will wipe out the insecurity bedeviling Nigeria. The General conveniently forgot to tell us how he intends to do this. Since even the Americans with their military might and sophisticated intelligence outfits have not succeeded in wiping out Al Qaeda in over 25 years, one may well wonder how Buhari proposes to work his magic and wipe out the Boko Haram in Nigeria within four years.
Unless, of course, Buhari is inadvertently acknowledging what some have long suspected: that the escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency is essentially political; the outcome of the loss of political power by the Muslim North to the Christian South. Since the APC is now primarily an instrument for transferring power back to the North, then Buhari can be confident that the tide of Boko Haram terrorism up North against Christians will abate when and if a Muslim Northerner becomes president of Nigeria in 2015.
Let me underline my understanding of Buhari’s confidence. If APC wins the election in 2015, Boko Haram terrorism will stop, perhaps because APC members have a special relationship with the terrorists; the same way Goodluck Jonathan is alleged to have a special relationship with Niger Delta militants. But if APC does not win the election, the insecurity in the country can be expected to persist. So let us give Buhari the benefit of the doubt. He becomes president in 2015 and Boko Haram terrorism magically stops. Wonderful! But will that bring an end to insecurity in Nigeria? Not likely. Such an outcome is likely to unleash Niger Delta militancy in the South-South.
If APC wins the election and the Boko Haram terrorism stops, the message will be loud and clear, if it is not already: Boko Haram escalated because of Northern disgruntlement at the loss of power to the South-South. If so, loss of power by the South-South to the North in 2015 can also be expected to unleash new South-South militancy. The question to ask Buhari and his allies is this: what is the advantage of ending the Boko Haram scourge in the North, if this is likely to unleash a militant scourge in the South-South? At least, with Boko Haram, Nigeria’s oil-fueled economy continues to muddle along. However, with terrorism at the oil wells, Nigeria’s economy could be readily brought down to its knees.
From the noise emanating from both sides of the PDP/APC divide, the Nigerian electorate should not be in any doubt what the 2015 election is now going to be about. It is likely to be a choice between continued Boko Haram terrorism and resurgent South-South militancy. Of the two, the worst is clearly South-South militancy because the economic jugular of Nigeria is in the South-South.
The defeat of Jonathan in the coming election by a Northern APC presidential candidate, even if free and fair, will not augur well for Nigeria. APC success means an alliance between the regional parties of the dominant ethnic groups of the South-West and the far North succeed in wresting power prematurely from a sitting president from a minority ethnic group. This makes the APC alliance of the Hausa-Fulani and the Yorubas cynical and politically unhealthy. It means the two dominant ethnic groups in the country are saying we want South-South oil but reject South-South rule. This is unfair and untenable. How can another four years of Jonathan rule be so unacceptable, after all, we have tolerated far worse presidents from these same dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The Yorubas of the South-West, who can surely not provide a Nigerian president in 2015, should think twice before following Bola Tinubu into this disaster-prone alliance. In 1999, Nigerians came together and agreed that, because of the injustices of the past, a South-West man must be allowed to rule Nigeria in the interest of sustaining the corporate existence of the country. Accordingly, the only two viable presidential candidates that year were Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae, both from the South-West. That decision was certainly to the credit of the North especially. Northerners did not boycott the election because none of their favourite-sons was contesting. They went to the polls in large numbers and voted for Obasanjo.
Similar common-sense needs to prevail today. Providence has projected a South-South son to the presidency as a result of the unfortunate death of Yar’adua; a Northern president. In spite of the protestations of Buhari, right-thinking Nigerians know that Jonathan was popularly elected in 2011, in as much as anybody can be popularly-elected in Nigeria. But since that election, he has not been allowed to rule in peace. First there were riots in the North by those disgruntled with his election. Then Boko Haram terrorism went to another level, eating up a considerable amount of the resources needed for his success. And then, there has been outright sabotage of his government. With every improvement in power-generation, for example, gas pipelines are literally being dynamited.
Says the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo: “We are right now battling with over 20 holes, dynamite holes in Warri-Escravos line. Can you imagine that? All done to sabotage this country, to make sure that people think President Jonathan is doing nothing, whereas, if we had gas, we would easily be generating 1,000 megawatts more than we are generating now.” Moreover, Northerners are now defecting in large numbers from Jonathan’s ruling party.
This is not merely read politically as the rejection of Jonathan’s government. It is seen as the blatant rejection of South-South rule. This bodes ill for Nigeria. Nigeria cannot merely be a country of the two major ethnic groups. Nigeria must also be a country of the minorities. They cannot be in Nigeria under sufferance. The country belongs to them as much as anybody else. Therefore, let us give South-South their eight years at the presidency. If we limit it to four years, in spite of South-South presidential incumbency, this will be rightly interpreted as an outright rejection of the South-South. Can anybody hazard a guess as to when the South-South is likely to get another shot at the presidency?
This is not the time to placate noisemaker politicians from the North who, like Buhari, have been in power in one guise or the other for 38 of the last 54 years. Northern politicians have had more than enough time in the sun. They have creamed off huge chunks of Nigeria’s resources. They are sitting pretty with most of the oil-block allocations; even though the oil is not from the North.
However, we cannot afford to give the minorities the impression that they are just supposed to be hewers of wood and drawers of water in Nigeria, while declaring their oil to be the national patrimony. We must use the 2015 elections to proclaim that Nigeria belongs to all. We must declare that in the Nigeria of today and of the future, the first can be last and the last first.
Let there be no mistake about it: the rejection of Jonathan in 2015 will be interpreted as the rejection of the South-South by Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba bullies. The politicians defecting from the PDP to the APC today are not progressives by any stretch of the imagination. They are primarily Northerners, defecting simply because they want a Northern president. They have not put forward any policy-prescriptions. Indeed, they cannot because the APC is a party of any Tom Dick and Harry. They are not a people defined by any common vision for Nigeria. They are defined by lust for power for selfish self-serving reasons.
Under the circumstances, the rejection of Jonathan in 2015 is a recipe for the disintegration of Nigeria. Since the South-South sits on the oil, wisdom dictates that the people cannot be made second-class citizens of Nigeria implicitly or explicitly. If Jonathan is denied a second-term, the South-South might even start considering secession. If that is not militarily viable, their militants can decide to use their vantage positions to sabotage Nigeria’s oil-fueled economy. In that scenario, the Boko Haram scourge of today will become comparatively child play. Nigeria will be brought to its knees economically. Buhari’s boast about APC wiping out insecurity in Nigeria will become a cruel joke and a hoax.
The most prudent answer to all this is for there to be a general national consensus, as happened in 1999 with regard to the South-West; that in the interest of national peace and security, the 2015 presidential election should be a South-South affair. That means the APC should also endeavour to field a South-South presidential candidate against Jonathan. Indeed, that approach presents the best possibility for defeating Jonathan in the coming election. If, as some people claim disingenuously, they are against Jonathan because he has been an ineffective president, let them look for a more effective man from the South-South to run against him.
That option, however, will inevitably destroy the APC. As observed, most of those crossing the carpet to the APC are Northerners hungry for power-shift back to the North. A South-South APC presidential candidate will put all these people in political limbo. They will end up in no man’s land. Since the only reason why they are all joining the APC now is because it is the only viable party that holds the possibility of fielding a Northern presidential candidate, a South-South APC presidential candidate would scuttle their ambitions. Worse still, a South-South APC president would be eligible for a second-term in 2019. In which case, it might be better to re-elect Jonathan for only another four years in 2015.
How Nigerians maneuver within this political minefield is what makes the coming 2015 elections one of the most pivotal in the history of Nigeria. Going by past records, our greedy and self-serving politicians will surely find a way out. No politician wants to destroy the goose called Nigeria that lays the golden egg. Indeed, all the scheming has been about gaining the upper hand for corrupt enrichment.