2023: Let’s look to the North East, by Hassan Gimba
As parties are getting set to produce their candidates, we feel the need to reproduce this write-up, first published on October 18 last year.
If I were to be as sentimental as people are, I would say the North East, my zone, must produce the president in 2023.
Many people fight for their people, region, zone or state to produce the president for various reasons.
Reasons may range from the fact that a president attracts some goodies to his area. Ministers and other chief executives fall over themselves to site projects where the president comes from. Captains of industry, too, are not left behind in the jostle to provide for where the president hails from.
People from the president’s locality also have a false sense of being first-class citizens, oblivious to the fact that those from other areas may end up benefiting more from the administration. Those that would never have been heard of in their lifetime were it not for their association with the president’s roots can become overnight celebrities and points of reference.
For these and many other related mundane concerns of living in a competitive environment where resources are ever dwindling, people can go to any length for theirs to be there.
The concern is not for the nation, nor for the future or the wellbeing of the people. The primary push is self, then tribe. It is so unfortunate, but that is the reality. The religious card too is played, but that too is a complete game of its own. Whether Muslim or Christian, denomination comes in. Just because the other one is your tribe and religion, if he belongs to a denomination you consider hell-bound, then he can be denied anything, including the right to live.
Perhaps these reasons are why many seek political offices and the majority push others to political seats, hoping to reap where they have sowed.
This struggle to get “our share” from the national cake has seen brothers fighting one another, sometimes to the death. Our politics has become a do-or-die affair as buttressed by a one time president when he was seeking re-election. The smart alecs among our political elite have pitched us against ourselves, using our two major fault-lines – religion and region.
Many of us worship clerics and not God. Therefore, some can “remove” or “admit” others into religion as they have appropriated it. Their religion is just in the tongue but not in the hearts. Had we been worshippers of God, the true God, perhaps there would be more peace than we are witnessing. Our other god is the tribe. Some would not mind the country going to blazes as long as one from their tribe is not where they want him to be. That is on the one hand. There are also those who are hell-bent on excluding people from other tribes from the scheme of things, who think what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.
Many of the political elite, as we earlier said, thrive in deceit because if the citizenry knew the truth, their unworthiness would be glaring. They have ensnared and enslaved their people with falsehood even as they think they are thinking freely. They are those who Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749–22 March 1832), the German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, and critic talked about.
He said, “None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Masters who rule them with lies have kept from the depth of their minds the truth. They feed them falsehoods till something wrong looks right in their eyes.”
If not, how do you situate the recent statement by Professor Daniel Saror at his 80th birthday celebration in Makurdi to the applause of Governor Samuel Ortom and those who have always been blinded by the rogue elite? Professor Saror was the 7th vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, when ABU Zaria was ABU Zaria. He was also a two-term senator, first in 1999 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and in 2003 under the banner of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
One may assume someone of his calibre – and age – will be more circumspect in his utterances, having reached a level to be regarded as an elder statesman. Unfortunately, he unashamedly said, “The insecurity we are experiencing in Benue and Nigeria today is not an accident. It is a planned programme. Boko Haram does not consist of miscreants. They are intelligent people; they are highly connected in Nigeria and other countries in the world and the mission is simple: they want to conquer and Islamise the nation. The Jihadists that you hear about in the North-West are also not miscreants. They are highly connected, highly motivated, and highly experienced in their own (sic) ideas and what they want. They want to spread the caliphate throughout Nigeria.
“The armed Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents have contacts that extend to the Middle East, Asia, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, among others. They are funded in billions of naira to execute the conquest agenda of the caliphate in the country.” Such balderdash!
This is the unfortunate reality of our country. But we can change that; by just getting a listening, considerate, fair-minded and competent leader, all these problems would fizzle out.
A just leader will ensure that each community, each Nigerian, whether or not they voted for him, regardless of whether they belong to the same area with him, whether or not they profess the same religious belief with him, gets their rightful share.
Nigeria will know peace and rapid development, the moment a citizen realises he does not have to fight or follow a shortcut to get his normal entitlements.
Above all, we need someone who can create maximum wealth out of the country’s natural endowments.
As the 2023 race gathers momentum, it becomes incumbent upon us all to scout for, and draft into the race, a man with such qualities. The consideration should not be whether the president is from the North or South, Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, or that Nigeria now deserves a Northern or Southern president, Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo President. We do not also need a Muslim or Christian president. What Nigeria needs now is a Nigerian president – one that will put Nigeria first above lucre, region, religion and all other affiliations.
As is becoming our political culture, the president of the country is being recruited from among governors or those who were once governors. Maybe as our democracy deepens and matures, the field may expand to include those from the National Assembly, private sector, bureaucracy, etc.
If that is the case, we can safely assume that our next president may come from the current crop of governors, irrespective of whether that person has served just a term or two. There are some among the current crop of governors that have done well. While fulfilling their mandates at state levels, they have also contributed towards national peace and harmony, calming frayed nerves all over the nation, giving everyone and all parts of the country some sense of belonging and thus stabilising the government at the centre. While we have such governors in all the zones, the North East can claim to have the doyen of them all.
However, I do not want to be trapped in the sentiment of promoting a North Easterner for president in 2023 just because it is my region. Rather, I will support the North Easterner because I know he can do it, because I know he is an excellent material, because I know he is competent and can take us out of the woods, not primarily because he is a North Easterner. After all, it is fate that conspired to bring him out of there. I would still have gone for him were he from the South, East or West, Muslim or Christian.