Fabulous article by Abati! I especially loved this paragraph:
We want in 2007, a President who is a humanist, with blood in his veins, and a heart that beats. We do not need a superman, we do not need a messiah. Only the people will and can save their own destiny. But the man or woman who will be President must be a team-player, a manager; he must operate like the CEO of a multinational who is running Nigeria for profit - not personal profit but profit for the people of Nigeria. As CEO, he must render account to the people, and whenever he is called upon to do so, he must not be such a person who will treat Nigerians as if he is doing them a favour. We want a President who reads newspapers, not a President who relies on summaries of national events by press aides who in an attempt to keep their jobs, often choose to tell the man of power only those things that they think he wants to hear.
I hope there will be a free and fair opportunity and time for candidates to talk to Nigerians. I hope there will be a fair and free debate among candidates. I hope there will be question and answers for them? I hope there will be a plane level for them. I hope there won't be the type of running away from debate that OBJ was allowed when Falae looked for him to arrange for that in Nicon Noga? No pig in the bag again! In that way Nigerians will live with their choice.
Please change your handle. You have nothing to do with the first portion of that name.
We want as President, a man or woman who is happily married. Marriage is this sense means conventional marriage, not an ambidextrous kind of marriage. We want a President who will not be tied down by difficulties in the home-front. He must be a man whose home is not a complex government of its own: with wives running into double-digits and children as numerous as the sands of the Sahara with each branch of this unmanageable family tree making claims on the President's time. How on earth do men with multiple wives and concubines manage?
I often wonder how the sundry politicians and social critics who cannot maintain a decorous household can claim they can administer a complex and diverse society as Nigeria. A man who is not on talking terms with some of his children, or publicly exchanges verbal fisticuffs with concubines all over Abuja and sundry State capital becomes very scary when he claims to be a good manager of people. I don't want a person all of whose children are delinquents deciding policies that affect the fate of mine The ones that are the most amazing are those that spend 4 hours-plus every day religiously on drugs, booze, and prostitutes, but have the energy to do their job. Maybe that is the reason nothing has been done for seven years.
This is another good one! Most Nigerians will agree with these qualities. The problem we shall have is that the man/woman with these qualities is scared to get into politics in Nigeria. First, (s)he may not possess the financial resources to compete with the likes of IBB, Atiku and Marwa. Secondly, (s)he may not have the heart to rig elections as our politicians routinely do. Finally, (s)he may be so decent that (s)he would not want to deal with the power brokers such as 'Generals' Adedibu of Ibadan and Chris Uba of Anambra, and many more like them. Without these people, it is very difficult to win any election in Nigeria!
However, Nigerians can make it happen if we are determined and organised to insist on a free and fair election in 2007. Majority of Nigerians knows those it wants to govern Nigeria but ironically majority does not know how to make the choice. We should start by analysing critically the new electoral bill before the President signs it into law. We should also insist that INEC be reconstituted NOW to meet the yearnings of the political parties.
Personally, I do not believe that Professor Iwu is an honest broker.
Reuben, why can't you volunteer? I understand you are above 40!!!
Beautiful, simply beautiful! I wish we could have someone as
open-minded and intelligent and compassionate as Reuben
Abati appears to be as President of Nigeria. We pray for the day
to come when a regular guy with a heart that beats - a heart that
is incorruptible by power - will rise to leadership posts in Nigeria!
I think you forgot one among your "qualities" of the President you want; he or she must NOT be "Ibo" because the North have not forgiven Ndigbo because of the war. Did I hear you say "thanks for reminding me of that."
When you make this kind of statement, you try to hind behind some funny logic to mask your Igbophobia, but we know you.
When next you accuse anyone of things like ethnophobia on a public
forum, be kind to include specific instances of their display of such
sentiments. Do I hear you ask me why? Why, because that is a very
serious accusation that can malign someone's integrity.
Some of us who are more enlightened than others CANNOT possibly
take you serious as well, because as a commentator, you levelled an unverifiable and unsubstantiated accusation of ethnic bias at a man
that many people have a lot of respect for due to the clarity of his
views and logic on issues that affect us as Nigerians of all tribes.
PUKPABI is right! I think we should be more concerned with the President We DON'T WANT. No matter how much we dodge the issue there is a silent conspiracy to deny the populous Igbo the Presidency of Nigeria for the reason given by PUKPABI. PUKPABI's comment is borne out of "Reuben Abati" in entirety not just with refrence to this piece.(and bacause Abati "flip-flops") (Its always safe to dodge controversial issues or to say things like "THE PRESIDENCY IS OPEN TO ALL" so as to be popular and not offend loud commentators on this site) (It is also safer (for fear of letter bomb) to not to attack former dictators DIRECTLY but to write on THE PRESIDENT WE WANT)
Abati's "listenning President" theory reminds me of Atiku's diatribe against his Boss. He also stopped short of saying our President should be "husband of one wife"/"Wife of one husband"! (excluding Muslims?) He should have been bold enough and direct - he does not want an OBASANJO type! (But he once said Obasanjo is the most distinguished Egba son)
To simplify choice (if any) and to maximise chances we should simply list the people we dont want: e.g. treasury looters, ex-Generals, tribal irredentists/war-lords, Religious bigots/fanatics and THOSE WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE ECONOMIC ADVERSITY OF NIGERIA.
I would be sorry indeed to see someone who did not attend a conventional University lead Nigeria again. The reality is that leadership material is scarce in the Polity and were we to implement Abati's "realistic" criteria, we would need a TT to search for a successor.
To BiafranPrincess, please include Wole Soyinka in the list of possible Presidential materials 2007.
1. NOBODY said Pukabi is wrong! He was simply asked to
make ONLY verifiable accusations of 'Igbophobia' he made of
2. Nobody said the author said anything 'Igbophobic' in his
latest piece - Pukabi was simply asked to show when/how the
author has been 'Igbophobic' in the past - or zip it.
3. Not all muslims are poligamists!!! For God's sake stop the
careless (or is it deliberate) twisting of the man's words! A
preference for a President with one wife was asked for by
the author - that could fit the muslim, christian or animist
profile of any citizen.
Who cares wether it is who we want or who we dont want?
The message is the same. If people dont have anything
positive better to contribute than demonizing others who do,
they should just zip it!
I think you forgot one among your "qualities" of the President you want; he or she must NOT be "Ibo" because the North have not forgiven Ndigbo because of the war. Did I hear you say "thanks for reminding me of that."
When you make this kind of statement, you try to hind behind some funny logic to mask your Igbophobia, but we know you.
I do not take you seriously anymore.
Sometimes it is better to stand on the sideline while watching these people fall over themselves in their backwardness. They want everything in the next president which they lack. They do NOT want any qualities in the next president which make their messiah what he is.
Notice how they praise Abati to high heavens for "another article well-written".
But what does Abati recommend as the qualities desired by them or as qualities undesirable to them?
The job of a President requires the ability to ... take [make] decisions.
... [to] be a team-player, a manager, ...[and a] CEO....
What is decision-making in the context of Nigeria presidency? Abati did not say!
What is a team in the context of Nigeria presidency? Does a "team" consist of the judiciary, the House, the Senate, and the Executive? What is a team-player in this context? A person who works within these structures? Abati did not explain!
What is a manager? A manager of what - of people, of tasks, of ideas, or of pigs and chickens? Abati did not explain because he does not know!
What do CEOs do to fulfill their obligation to their stakeholders? The Yoruba mouthpiece did not explain because he does not know! He does not know because he is not in any experiential position to know. CEOs and managers manage airlines (such as Nigeria Airways), utility companies (such as NEPA), construction companies, hospitals, public relation companies, etc, etc. These are the type of organizations/agencies/structures found in any government properly defined by human beings for human beings. The governments of Singapore, Kuwait, Ghana, Cameroon, and Cuba have these structures in place to serve their own citizens; and they employ their own natives to fill these jobs. The skills required to fill these jobs are taught in schools manned by native skills of these other nations. The more they practice how to do these things the more they KNOW how to do them better, more effective and more efficient.
Abati wants a Nigerian who has experience and skills in these things. How many of such Nigerians did his messiah produce in his 8 years in office? Abati will probably point out Charles Bronson of Virgin Nigeria Airways as an example of his messiah's experienced and qualified person. But CEO Bronson is not a Yoruba man. He is not an Igbo man, and he is not a Hausa man. Therefore, Nigerians may have to hire another CEO Bronson from another white nation since we are too inferior to produce such experienced people.
What we have are mainly polygamists. Abati does not want a man who has many wives as the next president because such a man lacks the qualities of an effective/efficient team-player/manager/CEO?
Their tribal mouthpiece has spoken!
The article must be "intelligent and intellectual" simply because their own mouthpiece wrote it.
This is why Nigeria continues to slouch towards the Stone Age. "Something is 'good and intellectual' because our tribe's mouthpiece said it."
But what did he say and what does it mean? What exactly is he saying? They do not know because they do not have to know. Yet, they want good life and good nation!
These people have centuries to go before they grow into full human beings. For now, just watch them as they show off their stuff!
Mr Judas, I thought you are a real villager! It is our culture in the village not to evaluate some writers but to just hail whatever they write. Don't you know whose writing we are talking about? That is why we have "CHORUS MEMBERS". You are asking for too much if you evaluate some writers as intellectually as you have done. You must understand that some issues are "delicate" and some personalities "inviolate". The delicate issues are to be avoided in order not to be unpopular". But those who need popularity to live must learn to just ignore those who refuse to be dragged into their bandwaggon. Free Speech is not just given to open mouth but to trade viable and valid ideas NOT sentiments. What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right. Then, when some "stars" speak, the earth shakes. Nigeria has its own Ayatollahs. Our "moral conscience of the nation" They don't go wrong and nobody must controvert them or their ideas because in Africa age/status is the solution to many problems hence we are where we are. But thank God for people like Fani-Kayode, our Minister-to-be for "elder Affairs". Thank God also for NVS - truly a marketplace!
The point is, like you, I am seeking write-ups that seek solution to the Nigerian Problem. That profer ideas and confront issues. Some writers write to project themselves and some readers read to associate with "popular" ideas but NVS accommodates us all. I would recommend Abati's essay as a Model Answer to the next UNIVERSITY MATRICULATION EXAM but here on the NVS it raises more questions than answers. But it is also "another well written article" CHORUS: Another well written article. Unregister will not stand on the sideline and watch my people "fall over themselves in their backwardness". That much I owe to Nigeria as it exists. I will not buy an idea because of the status of the writer nor will I overlook unknown writers. Nor evaluate in trend with "popular opinion" nor fail to admit if I am proved wrong. Nor say "I DON'T CARE" to the implications of my ideas.
An idea is useless if it does not relate to the situation on ground in Nigeria. An idea is dangerous if it will not stimulate peace and stability or if it endanger social and economic prosperity. As we move towards 2007 we have to be real. We already have a fixed voter population. Leadership can only emerge from the present core of qualified citizens. We will not go to Mass to find a President. Nigeria still consists of tribes whether we admit it or not. Nigeria is a multi-religious and multi-lingual Country. Nigeria has a history that cannot be erased. Nigeria is an oil producing nation. Nigerian military has failed Nigeria but the Military are Nigerians. Nigeria has a 1999 Constitution that cannot now be amended to produce the type of President we want. In an essay on 2007 Presidency we have to be real. We need to guide thoughts and relate to the above realities. That is what UKPABI just did. But to some he is being audatious. Popular writers try to dodge certain issues in order to remain popular. Our journalists do not conduct constructive interviews. They ask leading questions and try not to offend the interviewee. See what they've turned the ACHEBE SERIES to. And see how the popular majority tried and convicted the vocal minority over third term! See how otherwise educated people continue to allege that elections were rigged because somebody said so in a "Molue BUS" when the international observers (and the Supreme Court) said something different. See how we maintain loud silence when the judiciary errs see hoe we hail somebody who says "copy Ghana" See how we failed to notice a popular Nigerian Newspaper brazzenly sponsoring a corrupt ex-dictator for Presidency giving him prominence on its front pages but mobilizing its entire corps of writers against the present Govt which indicted that dictator etc In fact reading through the NVS one is sometimes lead to the rude conclusion that some writers are commissioned to stir the Nigerian waters or play "devil's advocate" or just confuse the masses. Its good to seek popularity through government criticizm but when you condemn EVERY Government call our politicians rogues protest every governmental action condemn our democracy hail every judicial pronouncement or activity or just issue statement to obtain applause of the gaulible masses something is wrong. Nigeria did not educate you to do that. Those we copy in America and Europe did not build their societies in that way. Its easy that to play safe and just find fault/errors and just profer or stand for nothing but Nigeria at this hour needs builders those ready to get back into the trenches of nation building as opposed to trenches of mass protests/demonstration. Leaders ready seek respects/judgement of history as opposed to transient popularity. Leaders human enough hence not afraid to be proved wrong empirically in the real world of the public/governance domain. Leaders of solutions as oppopsed to wailers/popular whiners. Who does not know the problems of Africa/Nigeria?
Dr Abati is popular on NVS but my applause goes to Dr Shilgba who has once again captured my views in his new write-up hereunder: (Nigeriaworld)
"NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY: MATTERS ARISING By DR LEONARD SHILGBA
Democracy is a form of government which is participatory and very much influenced by popular choices. The popularity of choices is not founded on some obtuse virtue that may be woven around them but rather on the numerical strength they acquire through the number of people that own them. The power of choice in a democracy is not openly acquired, thereby comes in the issue of suffrage. In most democracies age and sex are important determinants; this also could be viewed as discriminatory.
Democracy is not the sublime form of government devoid of black spots. It is however the most popularly accepted evil among so many other evils of similar mould in human history of experimental governance. The major attraction of democracy is the opportunity of choice and participation in governance. Democracy compels me to make a choice between a given spectrum of options; and my choice could be to choose none. Democracy requires me to trust my affairs to other people who are called delegates or representatives; hence, democracy is also a representative form of government.
Democracy accommodates all views while allowing the popular ones to carry the day. In a democracy, expression of unpopular views should not be vilified. Like I said above, popularity of a choice is only in its numerical strength. A culture that is intolerant of contrary views is hardly democratic. Moreover, there should be no feeling of shame if my espoused view or position is defeated by the principle of popular choice at a period of time. Defeat or victory in democracy is only for a time. Victory and defeat are un-identical twins in the household of democracy; and there is no democracy without them. Everyone afraid of anyone of them should stay away from the household.
I have observed that in Nigeria, the clichés "undemocratic forces", "enemies of democracy" "champions of democracy" etc are used so freely and carelessly without regard to meaning. Recently, Nigerians debated so lively the constitutional amendment proposals made by a committee of the National Assembly. The proposal that got the greatest attention was that which sought three terms of four years each for the Executive arms of government at State and Federal levels. Some people were in support while many Nigerians were against it.
What to me was the beclouding of an otherwise democratic exercise was the descent into pure hate and deliberate misrepresentation of opinions. Why should those who supported three terms of four years each for the Executive be branded undemocratic while opponents called heroes and heroines of democracy? It is hard to understand why the achievements and image of President Obasanjo should be vitiated simply because of the failure of the tenure extension proposal to sail through.
Senator Adolphus Wabara, former Senate president, said that those who supported tenure extension for the Executive should "step aside" from their elective positions. No suggestion can be more ridiculous in a democracy! If our democratic practice is so intolerant of divergent views and opinions, then what right have we to call ourselves true democrats? Senator Idris Kuta suggested that May 16th (The day the constitutional amendment debate was thrown out) should be declared Democracy day in the Senate; he also singled out one Senator from the South-South, whom according to him (Senator Kuta) stood up for democracy while by implication, other Senators from the zone did not behave like democrats. This is balderdash and absolute nonsense.
I should think that every Nigerian has the right to propose a bill or some amendment to any portion of our constitution. A proposal as the word suggests is just that; it is not a unilateral imposition. The popularity of a proposal or idea at a time does not mean it will always remain so and vice versa. Let us learn to appreciate the beauty of debates without bitterness.
What transpired during the constitutional amendment debates did not make democrats or anti-democracy villains. It was simply a democratic procedure whose conclusion was truly a victory to democracy-that is the culture of democracy-without bloodshed. Let us stop displaying unbelievable ignorance. We have democratic institutions which we are sometimes afraid of using when predictable outcomes cannot be determined. Some people had called on President Obasanjo to renounce tenure extension without giving the opportunity to test the popularity of the proposal in the National Assembly. What we have now is a proof that if we have faith in our democratic institutions, we shall not need to fear ambitions of people. We shall only have to put them to a democratic popularity test.
Everyone in Nigeria has a right to dream and hold political ambitions; the timeliness and acceptability thereof shall be tested through the democratic laboratory. If I have a political ambition, I should not be upbraided for this; I only need to submit it to the public test represented appropriately and constitutionally. The point is that no democrat or villain has been created through the recent democratic exercise at the National Assembly. Opportunists should shut up and tell Nigerians what plans they have for the people and how they would fulfill those for the collective benefit of the people rather than go about mouthing some phony victory to "consolidate democracy".
We have suddenly had "champions of Democracy" overnight just on account of their opposition to what they called "Third term agenda". The recent debates on constitutional amendment were just a normal exercise in a democracy. We Nigerians can be easily distracted. Instead of asking hard questions from aspirants to various political offices come 2007, we are bogged down with "celebrating the defeat of Third term agenda". I must confess that not a few Nigerians (University graduates of course) are very ignorant about democratic practice. It is not uncommon to hear Nigerians during phone-in TV programs say things like, "You are a disgrace to the young generation" when young politicians who are guests on such programs say things they don't approve of or espouse ideologies they don't share or support personalities and positions they are averse to. We have this military mind set of which we are surprisingly unaware. We are very derogatory in the use of language. How can we expect civilized and "democratic leaders" when we Nigerians are not what we want our leaders to be?
The wise democrat is he who exploits provisions (call them loop holes) in the grand norm called the Constitution of his country for his benefit and country's. You may disdain him for all you care, but cannot fault him constitutionally. He is like a lawyer who searches for loopholes in the law to win litigation cases. People who alert of a design to extend President Obasanjo's term in office but cannot tell us how, should spare us the worry if they cannot properly educate us. The fact, however, is that if we passed up a good opportunity to amend the portions of the constitution which the majority have deemed necessary just because we were averse to tenure extension, then any future exploitation of some loopholes contained therein by some clever politicians in the near future should be blamed on us.
We shall soon look back and agree that our emotions were too effusive to make a clear judgment. The beauty of democracy is that while the majority have their way and the minority their say, both partake in the consequences of the majority decision. I will be remiss not to point out that throwing out the whole constitution amendment exercise was foolish. We assume the next President, Governors and legislators at State and National levels will make constitutional amendment their priority; they will not!
To have credible elections in any democracy, mutual trust among interested parties is vital. Having listened to comments by Nigerians, I have come to the conclusion that not many are optimistic that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can conduct free and fair elections in 2007. I also believe that not many Nigerians will support postponing elections indefinitely until we can trust ourselves enough. Therefore, what do we do? Some have suggested option A4 used in the 1993 general elections, while others have suggested a modification of that system. INEC has expressed its decision to use the secret ballot system with some electronic methods which include electronic voters' register that will capture biometric data of voters, electronic verification of voters at polling stations, and electronic transmission of results. Some politicians are quick to suspect a "secret agenda".
My position on this issue is that the problem is never methods but manners; we Nigerians have bad electoral manners. When Nigerians are ready for free and fair elections, we shall have them. President Shehu Shagari said in 2003 that all political parties rigged the elections; it was then a matter of who out-rigged the others in a State or the whole nation. Usually, people out-rig their opponents where they have the greatest influence and support. Because of lack of requisite trust for credible elections, even though a politician could ordinarily win in an election, they would for fear of their opponents rigging to defeat them, go on to rig just for protection of their legal votes. Therefore, rigging is a product of fear born out of mistrust.
In the 2003 elections, many Nigerian and foreign commentators agreed that President Obasanjo won; the problem was the margin and level of victory. Some blamed this on the overzealousness of supporters. I have not come across a rational commentator who claimed that Gen. Buhari won that election. The exaggerated margin of victory came about because of the fear factor I am talking about. Just like the fight against corruption should be our common fight, the desire for credible elections in Nigeria should be practically shared by Nigerians.
Political parties must do their home work well or shut up. If they cannot recruit trustworthy Agents at the 120,000 polling stations for the 2007 general elections, they should blame themselves. INEC has only 5000 employees, which amounts to a ratio of 1 INEC employee to 24 polling stations in Nigeria. INEC must therefore hire Nigerians who are not their regular employees to ensure credible elections are held. If we have smeared elections next year, the people to blame are Nigerians, not INEC or the government. If we are ready as Nigerians to defend our votes, that can be done. But I must point out quickly that we should not expect elections in Nigeria to be more credible than Nigerians are in their businesses, academic work, sports, etc.
If Agents of political parties cannot be bought with money by opponents, then we can have credible elections. Since it is known that most rigging takes place at the point of collation, the electronic transmission of results should be monitored by all political parties. This is what I suggest:
The electronic collation rooms should have representatives of all political parties present.
As results come in with the endorsement of party Agents at the polling stations those representatives should also endorse.
INEC should then announce them in the presence of party representatives. Those released online should also be endorsed online by the party representatives.
If a representative protests those electronic results, it must only be because the polling Agents did not endorse them.
Where there are disagreements or violence at a polling station, those results shall be wholly cancelled.
The burden will then be on political parties and all Nigerians to ensure credible elections. INEC will just be an umpire just like JAMB and WAEC. Wherever there are disputes, INEC should not hesitate to cancel results there.
Good morning Nigerians. May we not live in yesterday."
COMMENT: I will not hail people who should be leaders remain critics from regime to regime since independence. I will not fail to scrutinize to discern writers who are executing their "consultancy" on this forum or applaud tribal irredentists. IN SHORT, I (unregister) will not watch my people "MISTAKE HOPE FOR ACHIEVEMENT" (Kofi Annan) This, to me, is a creed.
Auspicious,you dont seem to know mr Abati at all.Abati is a known Igbo hater,and so many of his anti Igbo articles are widely available on the web. As far as people like Abati are concerned an Igbo no matter how capable or qualified should not be president. That is Abati for you.The man seems to me to be an opportunist and a sadist. It is a tragedy that the Guardian made such a bigot,their editor. I dont have the time now to post all his hate articles,but find enclosed a recent one published in NVS in which he sarcastically said an Igbo should not be president because the North has not forgiven them for the war. Abati is a typical black African with all the negative qualities that being an African represents in our contemporary world.Let me leave that for another day.
South South and the Presidency
User Rating: / 6
Written by Reuben Abati
Friday, 26 May 2006
The struggle for the post of the President of Nigeria by 2007, now effectively vacant, has begun with the North and the South South as front-runners both in terms of their insistence and the articulation of their preferences in the public domain. The South West is automatically out of the race having spent the last seven years in office (?). Some other geo-political zones, particularly the Middle Belt, are not as enthusiastic. The South East makes some occasional noise about its interest in the Presidency, but Ndigbo is disunited, and this is its biggest problem, its leaders sound ambivalent, those who have expressed interest in the Presidency from that zone have too many internal enemies who are determined to stop any other Igbo man from rising.
to the idea of an Igbo Presidency; it is an optioBeyond this internal division, the North has never hidden the fact that it is opposed n that the North never considers. Other ethnic groups have also never really forgiven Igbos for the civil war. But whenever it is eventually the turn of Igbos to be President, Nigeria would have become a far more politically enlightened country; the ghosts of the past would necessarily have been laid to rest. But that is a subject for another day, lest some ethnic wrestlers misinterpret my true position in the matter.
What is indicated in the present circumstance, however, are the same old issues about power rotation, power shift, and the need to run this country in a manner that every stakeholder will feel a sense of belonging. It is now incontestable that one possible way to ensure national unity in this country is to allow power to rotate among the various stakeholders, including the smallest groups. Ethnicity is an eternal albatross that Nigeria must carry like the load of Sisyphus. Section 55 of the 1999 Constitution which recognises only three major ethnic groups: Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa, makes other Nigerians look like passengers in the Nigerian arrangement.
In the past decades, the marginalised, minority groups, owing to the spread of Western education among them and their awareness of international human rights, have very radical in responding to all images of internal colonialism. They are opposed to internal colonialism, especially the type that is endorsed by Section 55 of the Constitution and which is given full effect in governmental operations. They want this displaced in order for us all, as individuals and citizens to have a proper country, and build a nation. The minorities began their struggle long before now, and that is the import of the Willinks Commission and successive protests by that region (Adaka Boro, MOSOP and Ken Saro Wiwa, Niger Delta Volunteer Peoples Force, MEND etc) , but it seems certain that the future of Nigeria is tied to the resolution of the anxieties of the minorities. When one minority in a particular geo-political zone is offered a sense of belonging, other minorities, who indeed collectively represent the majority in Nigeria, would have been granted a sense of possibility. Human beings are driven by a sense of possibility. They are driven to desperation by a sense of denial and closure.
Am I speaking in parables? No, and I guess the thing to do is to immediately contextualise the present struggle for power. The North wants power desperately. It is already fighting as if its life depends on it. Power is the oxygen that keeps the North alive. For 35 years, the North held on to power at the centre, and ruled Nigeria as if it belonged to one particular group. That is the Fulani, for it would be wrong to assume that power in the hands of the North we knew meant the Hausa (who are not even accepted as an ethnic group by the Fulani) or any of the other marginalised groups in the North who must be subservient to the Fulani to gain any form of attention. The Fulani are in more than twelve countries in Africa as a nomadic group and wherever they are either as majorities or minorities, their acute interest in power is a permanent aspect of the power equation. In more than seven years in power in Nigeria, they have been shut out of the corridors of power, and access to the control of Nigeria's economic resources.
Obasanjo who suffered immensely in the hands of his Fulani successors in power has not been very kind to the general Fulani group since he came to power in 1999. One of them jailed and humiliated him. Obasanjo has also further displaced the Fulani hegemony. He destroyed the LPO system which sustained that hegemony; he offered positions to children of the North but he refused to put them in charge of the economy. The economy, he handed over to Ndigbo, thus creating an ironic balance. The North's bid for power in 2007 is in part a response to this withdrawal factor; this marginalisation of the North by the Obasanjo government.
To worsen matters, he who used to be their man and candidate has refused to be manipulated by them. He has for the most part ran his own show in the last seven years, the defects of that show are singularly traceable to his own limitations, already well-defined elsewhere. In addition, the average Nigerian continues to nurse a deep-seated grudge against the North and its principal icons. Thirty-five years of Northern domination of political power brought few advantages to the North, if anything, it further divided the North. Is there any guarantee that the return of power to the North would create a different situation? This is the basic issue that the Northern elite must worry about even as they search for a candidate that would represent the interests of a non-existent monolithic North.
But where do we stand in relation to this as Nigerians, as ordinary Nigerians who are not looking for power on an ethnic basis but who are just interested in being citizens of a country that works? It is not difficult to know what ordinary Nigerians want. They want a country that is properly managed. They want a country where the human being can feel a sense of humanity. They want leaders who are motivated by a sense of the common good and an interest in history. They want a united country where a Yoruba man can woo a pretty Ijaw woman and not feel that he is doing something strange. They want to live like the people of London and New York where even the poorest of the poor do not have to worry about those details that give ordinary Nigerians the greatest anxiety. They want to live like human beings, and this includes those rude Nigerians who abuse others on the internet with their terrible, ill-mannered prose. Ordinarily, it should not matter where a leader comes from as long as he is a leader, but nations are not the same and societies must manage their own circumstances.
By far, the South South seems to have prepared a more reasoned claim to the Presidency through both advocacy and militancy. The latter method represented by the likes of MEND and its band of hijackers and the Asari Dokubo group on the other end of the scale may have attracted much criticism but no one can claim not to know what the South South wants. This remains clear even if some of the elites from that region nearly diluted that message with their open, may be insincere declaration of support for the Third Term agenda. They have however since recovered their voice, heard loudest during the National Conference and almost simultaneously through such groups as the South South Peoples Assembly, with their articulation of the compulsory need for a South South President in 2007. The South South probably has the largest collection of advocacy groups seeking justice and equity for the people of that region and the power question is right at the centre of that agitation. Nigeria's refusal to listen to the complaints of the South South and by extension the cries of the minorities is largely responsible for the instability in the country. There is no other place like the Niger Delta in the world. At the moment, the South South's search for power at the centre can be linked to ethnic power politics, and it actually looks like a credible entry point into resolving the national question. But perhaps not exactly as the South South elite is currently phrasing it.
It seems to me that the South South search for power is predicated on the woolly assumption that once a man from that region becomes President, the fears of the people of the Niger Delta and their neighbours would be addressed automatically. Our experience with political power in Nigeria has shown that ethnic anxieties are not necessarily addressed by the kinsman in power. It is possible to have a South South man in power and he could prove to be an enemy of South South interests and a good promoter of his own selfish ambitions. It is true that if the South South were to win the Presidency in 2007, it would be a great revolutionary development indeed.
But the South South must never be under the illusion that the North would willingly grant it that opportunity simply because there is violence in the Niger Delta. South South leaders must take their search for power beyond the level of rhetoric. They must organise, organise and organise. They must also reach out to other Nigerian constituencies, groups and stakeholders. A minority South South President will be kept in power not by MEND and the Asari Dokubo group or Egbesu boys but the consensus of other stakeholders. Such insular and regional methods adopted by the ethnic militants in the South South can only in the long run prove to be politically counter-productive.
The other challenge before the South South is to identify the right and proper candidate, and build a consensus around that candidate. The SSPA after its last meeting in Port Harcourt had said that its plan is to appeal to every political party to choose a South South Presidential candidate. That kind of wild goose chase makes no sense to me. To gain power the South South must operate as a united front if it is serious about its ambitions. But having won power, it would then face the bigger task of ensuring that the man who gets to power on the South South platform will be not just a nationalist, but a nationalist with "a local base".
For sure, a South South Presidency will be resisted by the North which claims a superiority of numbers, and has shown a tested capacity for power politics. Strategists of the South South Presidency must begin to worry about how to sell their candidate(s) to the average man in the North who may have been tutored to believe that the presence of a South South President in Abuja could mean a reversal of all inherited advantages. Can the South South find a bridge-builder, someone with the political savvy and maturity to navigate Nigeria's troubled waters, a man or woman that can be trusted with Nigeria? If such candidates exist, the South South must move beyond media posturing and sentiments and name such persons without any further delay...
"...see how the popular majority tried and convicted the vocal
minority over third term! See how otherwise educated people
continue to allege that elections were rigged because somebody
said so in a "Molue BUS" when the international observers
(and the Supreme Court) said something different..."
Does anyone remember Saddam Hussein's famous Minister for
Information? The one who kept on churning out propaganda of
the defeat of the "invading infidels" (US Forces) while the latter
was making strides as it overran the desert country in 2003?
Well whatever his name is, point is the individual who made the
comments in quotes above sure reminds me of him. Surely
that individual will make a good propaganda material. Supreme
Court ko, "The Supremos" ni! Maybe he should ask himself why
journalists sometimes go to the street to get the opinion of
the average Obodonaija (as in any society) to get the most
accurate news about issues that affect us as a society.