Why Does The North Rage Against Jonathan?



It has become a common and regular feature of the Northern elite to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan on very trivial and vacuous inanities, to set road blocks on his path and to contest every action and decision of the President through variously undemocratic channels.

Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became Nigeria’s first Prime Minister in 1957 and since then there has been no break in Northern hegemonic rule until some invisible but divine hands threw up Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan after the unfortunate demise of their bosses,  General Murtala Mohammed and President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 1976 and 2010 respectively.

I do not want to believe that the duo’s ascendancy to power was nature’s balancing act to rectify an extra constitutionally mounted device by the colonial masters to ensure an eternal northern domination over Nigeria. This could be so because the concept of harmony and balance exist in various aspects of life for the quality and sustenance of life and the natural environment.

All over the world the main function of the opposition party is to democratically challenge the ruling party to keep them in check if there is any derailment or political immaturity rears its head. The aim of the opposition is not to invite international terrorists to overthrow governments in power. The aim of the opposition all over the world is not to use Islamic fundamentalists to frustrate and engender anarchy all over the country as is being perpetrated now by boko haram.

One of the most salient duties of opposition parties is to fashion out a better way of governance than the government in power which will be more appealing to the electorate who decide which party gains power in the next election.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced free education in the Western Region in January 1955. He also introduced free health facilities for all westerners then. But the federal government and the governments in the northern and eastern region were not as foresighted as  Awolowo’s government.

As opposition leader in 1957,  Awolowo displayed so much parliamentary ingenuity, adroitness and constantly put the Federal Government on its toes and on the path to benevolent democracy.

Northern Nigeria has never accepted the role of opposition because of the manipulation of census figures to their advantage by our Colonial Masters. Even during Obasanjo’s three years military rule and eight years civilian rule, Northern Nigeria was very vocal and was not in any way an opposition party.

Even today Northern Nigeria which still remains a monolithic unit is not an opposition member in President Goodluck Jonathan’s government. The Vice President Arch. Namadi Sambo is from the North and he has a lot of input in this government.

The only crime committed by President Goodluck Jonathan is that he is from the Southsouth of Nigeria – a minority geopolitical zone. The founding fathers of Nigeria never even in their remotest imaginations expected the Southsouth zone to produce a President because governance then was a triple entente between the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo.

This tripartite alliance crumbled after the 1966 coup de’tat and the subsequent civil war in June 1967 because the Hausas felt the Igbos have lost all rights to the governance of Nigeria by waging a war of secession against  their fatherland.

And so the former wazobian tripod now stands on two wobbly legs as the southwest and the North are in a sizzling political romance while the Southeast has understandably pitched their tent with Southsouth.

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The crux of the matter is that the North has governed Nigeria for 41 years from 1957 when Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became the first Nigerian Prime Minister. At independence in 1960  Balewa was returned as Prime Minister. Also in 1964 he was re-elected Prime Minister. The North has always ruled Nigeria except for General Aguiyi Ironsi’s 6 months, Gen. Olusegun  Obasanjo’s 11½  years, Chief Ernest Shonekan’s almost 3 months and President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2 years which total 14 years 3 months.

Why then should a part of the country be more powerful and greater than the whole country? What really do the northern elite want after ruling the country for 41 years? The Nigerian constitution permits every qualified Nigerian to contest and aspire to the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The constitution does not exclude any Nigerian on the basis of tribe, gender or geopolitical origin. And so why does the north rage against President Jonathan?

When the President came to power he proposed a 7-year single term tenure for Nigerian Presidents but those who have vowed to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Jonathan termed this great idea a tenure elongation strategy for the President. And today we have seen the wisdom of the President’s proposal. The race for the 2015 Presidential election kicked off immediately the President was sworn-in on 29 May, 2011. This unwarranted distraction could derail an unfocused President. President Goodluck Jonathan has warned politicians not to beat the gun in the race for the 2015 Presidential election. This applies to government officials only and not private citizens.

The North has never supported any of Jonathan’s good programmes because they are in a hurry to take over power from him. I personally foresee great crisis if the north attempts to access the Presidency because in my view President Jonathan is constitutionally entitled to two terms in office while the Igbos too are entitled to their two terms after Jonathan. The Igbos are the only geo-political group that has not occupied Nigeria’s executive seat-The Presidency.

I know it’s a long wait to 2027 but prudence and justice makes it the only alternative for the North even though we have heard of the Northern elite boasting to seize power politically or otherwise if Jonathan attempts to run for President in 2015.

The Northern rage against Jonathan is both uncalled for and in very bad faith. The failed Northern political class has used several devises to intimidate, frustrate and even physically chase Jonathan out of Aso Rock because it is a very strong and unshakable northern belief that Aso Rock belongs to the North and that any non-northern occupant is a stranger who will leave sooner or later. Even children born today are taught this northern philosophy of political power.

And recently again the North and its agents descended on the President to reveal details of the First Lady’s illness and where she is receiving treatment. This to me is increasing the war against President Jonathan to ridiculous and comical heights. This is a great distraction of the President’s precious time and focus.

The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan is not a member of the Federal cabinet neither is she a Federal Government official. Why then compound the President’s emotional burden by ridiculing and violating the President’s fundamental human right to privacy?

The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was governor of Katsina State for  8 years and for these 8 years he was in and out of German hospitals for most of the 8 years while his wife Turai governed Katsina State. And when Yar’Adua became President in 2007 the story did not change. He was in and out of German and Saudi Arabian hospitals until he had a major crisis on 21 November, 2009. He was then rushed to Saudi Arabia two days later and was flown back to Nigeria on 24 February, 2010, 93 days after he left Nigeria. For those 93 days the Northern elite did not see anything wrong in Yar’Adua’s absence without official leave. He was given 100% support by the Northern elite who even went further to posit that the  ailing President could rule Nigeria from where ever he was and return whenever he wanted.

What Jonathan needs from Nigerians including the garrulous Northern elite is lots and lots of prayers and empathy. It would be grossly unfair and mischievous to embarrass and ridicule the President because his wife is indisposed. After all, we are all human and we are all subject to the vagaries of human frailties.

Instead of building the objectionable culture of lambasting the nation’s President as a daily routine, we must rally round our President in love and unity so as not to look stupid before the international community. It is only if we respect our President that the international community and the outside world will respect our President and our country.

The President himself has shown undisguised disgust at the flagrant abuse and insults he receives daily from Nigerians especially from some high calibre personalities who are expected to know better. Let us all join hands together and show maximum love and respect to our President whether we are from the North or from the South. It is never too late to do so.

•Nanaghan wrote in from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]

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