The election of President Mohammadu Buhari aka PMB in 2015 is what Nigerians have come to call “the mistake of 2015”. It was a blunder of unimaginable proportions that turned the nation upside down. The coming of the APC regime revealed a lot about the Nigerian people. One thing that has always been there about the Nigerian people but has been laid bare in this dispensation is the political behaviors of different Nigerians especially those who are said to be the major ethnic groups. The Fulani have been portrayed as people who cannot share power or cohabit with others and whose allegiance is not to country but to the lost empire of their ancestors. Ndigbo may seem lethargic and naïve politically but is clearly ahead of the rest in terms of electoral decisions.
The Yoruba of the South West have been denounced as people who practice the politics of demagoguery and exclusion, who pretend to defend national unity. When (PMB) made its infamous 95:5% dichotomy statement, a lot of people lambasted it, but I pointed out to people around that it wasn’t just a revenge idea of PMB, it was the party‘s crude power-sharing policy. The All Progressives Congress (APC) has the Yoruba-dominated Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as the main heritage group that formed the party and before the 2015 elections all political offices of the party had been zoned excluding the Southeast region. because according to them, the party has no stronghold in the Southeast. It was a re-enactment of what the Yoruba-dominated Social Democratic Party (SDP) did in 1992 when the zoning committee headed by Adekunle Ajasin zoned every party office to other areas excluding the South -Is under the lame excuse that the party has no roots. in the region, as out of the four governors in the region, only one Chukwuemeka Ezeife from Anambra State belonged to the party while the rest were members of the National Republican Convention (NRC). And when Arthur Nzeribe protested against this, MKO Abiola, the party’s presidential candidate, told him he could do without the Igbo. And the rest is history.
In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, Raji Fashola, the former Governor of Lagos State and incumbent minister in the current regime, reportedly asked people in his area to vote for the continuity of the current government so that by 2023 the power will shift to their region. His appeal was not based on the performance of the current regime, ideology or party programs, but on an overriding consideration. And this time, Bola Ahmed Tinubu echoed the same sentiment when he recently claimed that it was the Yoruba’s turn to be named the country’s president. In other words, there was an agreement or pact between the Fulani and the Yoruba to share power to the exclusion of other ethnic nationalities.
In 1999, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) won the ticket for the presidential election but made the sacrifice by giving up his post when his party formed an alliance with the Alliance for Democracy (AD ) in other to produce the Yoruba-Yoruba ticket. Ndigbo voted overwhelmingly for the PDP against the APGA for the emergence of leader Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) even when his relatives rejected him. And even when OBJ served his term and left, the party zoned the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives to the Southwest; first to Patricia Etteh then to Dimeji Bankole when the former was dismissed, although the party has no roots in the South West region.
But a look at APC will show a stark contrast. The APC has proven to be a sectional party of pretenders and unreasonable politicians who treat other parts of the country with disdain. The President and the President of the Senate are from the same region and the same religion. The Vice-President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives come from the same South West excluding the South East. And now the South West is leading the clamor for a transfer of power to the South with the intention of seizing it as well.
If the Yoruba in the South West want power to rotate between North and South, they must also allow it to rotate between the political blocs in the South, otherwise they must shut up and let the democratic process unfold. It is hypocritical to speak of power rotation when one is not prepared to practice it. The South has three political blocs – South-East, South-South and South-West – recognized by the constitution. Some Southern States including Anambra, Enugu, Delta, Abia among others have successfully and transparently demonstrated the rotation of the Governor’s office among the three Senatorial Districts.
In the current Democratic dispensation, the Yoruba took their turn through OBJ and also produced the speakers for the Vice President and the House of Representatives. The South-South produced Goodluck Jonathan as president. The president’s office should go southeast for fairness, fairness and justice. Ndigbo has amply qualified people for the office of the presidency both inside and outside the APC fold. Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the first Governor of Abia State, Dr. Chris Ngige, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi just to mention but few are tested and competent. Apart from the APC, you have capable individuals like Peter Obi, Okonjo-Iweala, Chukwuma Soludo… Do I hear you saying: you are fighting for power? Yes, that’s what you always hear when it comes to Southeast issues. They will put forward some outdated political theories to justify their Mephistophelian policy against Ndigbo. You’ll hear theories about punitive retribution, checks and balances, and all that just to maintain the status quo.
Read also: OPINION: Disruptor Peter Obi
The game in the current dispensation shows that the South West has contempt for the Igbo. This is why every government that tends to identify with everyone, including Ndigbo, is branded a bad government by the Yoruba-dominated press. It has been pointed out by informed commentators that the Yoruba drove Jonathan out for no other reason than to antagonize the Igbo. Since the start of the current election campaign, Tinubu has traveled the country, including a visit to the UK, but has not visited the South East and instead invited South East delegates to a meeting in Abuja. What impudence!
If the Yoruba have no intention of rotating power between the constituent units that make up southern Nigeria, then they have no justification, legal or moral, for demanding the rotation of power from the North. It is as if the conception of the Yoruba man of southern Nigeria is the region between Lagos and Illorin and Abeokuta and Ondo. This narrow outlook and contempt for other regions has worked against the unity of the South and the nation as a whole. It is difficult to achieve consensus and congruence of objectives. This breeds bitterness, mutual suspicion and recrimination. Democracy in a plural and multicultural entity like Nigeria should involve openness, strong commitment and inclusiveness for national unity and peaceful co-existence.
Obviously, the winner-takes-all mentality of the Yoruba man is a serious impediment to cooperation among the people of southern Nigeria. The unity of southern Nigeria will mean the unity of the whole country. We cannot lose sight of the obvious implication of the political behavior of the Yoruba nation. First, he portrays them as the late SG Ikokwu observed as a people who cannot rise above ethnic and regional politics. It seems that all that matters to them is: the enthronement of “my people”, regardless of their performance or qualifications. Second, it shows a people with a do-or-die or power-at-all-costs mentality; a people with an inordinate desire for power, which cannot do without the advantages of office. Again, this can portray a people who have little regard for others and who can substitute mediocrity for meritocracy with primal feelings. Moreover, their political behavior shows people who have a bad idea about politics and governance. This is exemplified in their celebrations of the failure of the APC government. Osinbajo said he wants to consolidate the good works of the regime which is a colossal failure in all its ramifications. Moreover, it indicates that the people cannot learn from past mistakes and political miscalculations. In all of this we see politics without a clear ideology and philosophy other than ethnic irredentism and political grandstanding, hypocrisy and deceit.
AUTHOR: Gozie Irogboli
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the authors and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial position.
Join the conversation
Support Ripples Nigeria, Support Solutions Journalism
Balanced and fearless journalism, driven by data, has huge financial costs.
As a media platform, we hold leaders accountable and we will not trade the right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression for a piece of cake.
If you like what we do and are willing to support solutions journalism, please donate to the Nigeria Ripples cause.
Your support would help ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for the development of society.