Sometimes when an op-ed touches a raw nerve and enjoys wide circulation in Cyberia, there’s the one reader who bypasses known public channels of communicating with me, invites himself into my gmail inbox, and insists on not leaving till he gets an answer to a particular query. This type of reader comes to your inbox with his own chair in case you are thinking of not inviting him to sit down. Sometimes, I answer the query behind the back of the public. Where the query is of public interest, I answer the question here on Facebook or in my column.
I’ve had one such gmail visitor since my treatise on northern elders went public. My gmail visitor is a very polite gentleman who claims to be from Zamfara state. His query: do we still have common purpose in seeing Goodluck Jonathan out of Aso Rock in 2015? More on his “we” later. He has very nice things to say about my op-ed. He says there are many places in the north where the things I said about northern elders are now discussed in hushed tones by members of his generation. I assume he is generation selfie: thirty-years-old and below. Again, his question: do we still have common purpose in sending Goodluck Jonathan out of Aso Rock and taking power back to the north in 2015 in the interest of justice and fairness?
There is a lot to digest here. The anti-Jonathan camp is huge in Cyberia and cuts across every geo-political zone in the country. Even the international community has finally begun to see what we have all been screaming about, judging from the near unanimous verdict of the headlines of their major media and the talking points of all their key figures all the way up to Hillary Clinton. They now see the cluelessness, the incompetence, and the callousness we have been talking about. Those who are savvy in reading their signals and messages would have noticed the choreographed nature of it, from Washington to London to Paris. It simply means that The White House, 10 Downing Street, and The Elysee have reached a conclusion about Goodluck Jonathan based on the reasons we have been screaming and writing about since 2011.
But beyond this unity of purpose in seeing Goodluck Jonathan go in 2015 lies a parting of ways on the definition of justice and fairness. There are certain assumptions on the part of many in the northern brigade of the anti-Jonathan camp in Cyberia that must now be addressed. When our friend in Zamfara talks about a “we” united in the desire to free Nigeria from the incompetence of Dr Jonathan in 2015, the vision of that “we” must now be scrutinized. In essence, when Pius Adebola Adesanmi and Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai say that “we” want Jonathan out in 2015, are they saying the same thing? Are they in perfect consonance? When my friend from Zamfara and Dapo Rotifa, Agbaosi Sevezun Gloria, Petra Akinti Onyegbule, Yommi Oni say that “we” want Goodluck Jonathan back in Otuoke in 2015, are they saying the same thing?
No, there are two different sets of “we” saying opposite things here. The “we” of El-Rufai and my new friend from Zamfara have an understanding of justice and fairness that must see power return to their own corner in 2015 – a corner still massively overdetermined by a bunch of cruel, wicked, greedy, and patently anti-north northern elders. These northern elders are anti-north because the regain of federal power in 2015 translates to only one thing for them: renewed access to oil blocs and licences, renewed access to juicy federal contracts fed by oil revenue, renewed access to juicy federal appointments fed by oil revenue. The common northerner is not and has never been in their calculation. Outside of their narrow interests, polio, VVF, illiteracy, and backwardness can continue to ravage the north for all they care. The north of today, home to some of the world’s worst statistics in poverty and underdevelopment, is a product of their over three decades of chokehold on the Presidency.
The second set of “we” is saying something totally different. Take my own case for instance. I have explained things privately to my new friend from Zamfara. I am sorry he ever assumed that my own definition of justice and fairness is for Jonathan to leave in 2015 and for power to return to the north – in the hands of the northern elders I describe above. I am not responsible for his erroneous assumptions sha. If I am saying that Jonathan needs to go in 2015 for all the reasons I’ve been writing about, have I told you that I am tired of a south-south presidency? I am saying that the south-south cannot tell me that the clueless, incompetent, uninspiring, and wholly corrupt Goodluck Jonathan is the best they’ve got to fill that slot. Have I told you that I am not interested in a Donald Duke presidency? Have I told you that I don’t have a wishlist of bright, smart, and inspiring compatriots from the south-south? The only obstacle to my wish is APC – she will never do the needful, the revolutionary, by fielding a fantastic south-south candidate with Kwankwaso or Ribadu serving as running mate.
And when the south-south is done in 2019, have I told you that my understanding of justice and fairness will involve a shift of the presidency to the north? Have I told you that I am not interested in an Oby Ezekwesili or a Sam Amadi or a Chidi Odinkalu presidency for eight years after the slot of the south-south? That many Igbos are deceiving themselves that they are having “their turn” now with Goodluck Jonathan does not mean we should accept that logic. Ebele Azikiwe is Ijaw from the south-south, not Igbo from the southeast. We should sympathize with the Igbo who are “enjoying their turn” through him. It is evidence of the psychological violence visited on them by this country. That you have been so thoroughly worsted that you are willing to agree that an Ijaw south-southerner is filling your slot by default is evidence of the colossal injustice and unfairness that is Nigeria. So, my own sense of justice and fairness says that there is a southeast turn after the south-south’s turn.
And when we have gone round this tour of justice and fairness with an Igbo Presidency of eight years, when the presidency truly and genuinely ought to return to the North, will my friend from Zamfara, Nasir El Rufai, and the “northern elders” who are always giving orders on behalf of “the North” agree that a Presidency occupied by northerners such as Sam Nda-Isaiah, Pius Adesanmi or John Danfulani is a fulfillment of the North’s desire to regain the presidency? If they disagree, why?
And while waiting for their turn after the Igbo, northern elders can spend their time gainfully by learning that there is such a thing as life outside of Federal contract patronage and oil bloc distribution. They can apply themselves to a robust vision of an agricultural revolution in the north, bring back cotton and the groundnut pyramids they neglected and destroyed while feeding on oil, and transform the region to the world’s number one supplier of onions and tomatoes. Above all, they can spend their waiting time working with the rest of us on a redesigned, genuinely federal Nigeria in which no region shall need the feeding bottle at the centre. If we do this, they may not even need their do or die battle for the presidency any longer.
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