By Donu Kogabra
LAST week, I wrote that Iâ€™d heard that a significant percentage of Northerners are bitterly opposed to the idea of Dr Goodluck Jonathan becoming Head of State if Yarâ€™Adua cannot continue. I described such elements as shameless tribalists.
Mohammed Zurmi, a Vanguard reader, took exception to the above comments and sent the following response:
Dear Donu, your â€œsignificantâ€ figures do not add up. Can you substantiate your claims with facts and figures? This power rotation issue is only a PDP contraption and is unconstitutionalâ€¦Leaders should emergeÂ from any section of the country as long as they are competent. Having been a regular reader of your write-ups over the years I am surprised about this deliberate distortion of facts. That insult on fellow Nigerians was unnecessary. Please let all Nigerians exercise restraint in our public discourse. Not doing so unnecessarily heats up the system.
Last week, I also said that even though Nigeria is frequently talked about as ifÂ it is on the verge of collapse, it is actually a surprisingly resilient country that has been going about its Business As Usual despite the Presidentâ€™s absence.
I received many reactions to this observation, including the following letter from Sani Ibrahim Musa, a lawyer who comes from Sokoto State.
DK, in a country that suffers from ineffective leadership, it is extremely difficult to notice any difference as a result of the absence of the President. In terms of performance, one can safely assume that the Nigerian state is performing at a rate of not more than 30 per cent of its potential compared to other nations.
What this means is that the leadersÂ in Nigeria hardly add any value to what they met on ground and their presence or lack of it hardly makes any difference. What continues to baffle me is how we all stand by andÂ watchÂ a group of gangsters destroy what little is left of the country in the name of democracy.
These gangstersÂ are hell-bent on protecting their selfish interests and would go to any lengths to stop the Vice President from taking over the Presidency. And yet, the constitutionÂ ofÂ a party can never be superior to that of Nigeria.
It is high time these hoodlums were told to go to hell with their zoning nonsense. I have been told that this is the second time a certain politician from the North is witholding letters written by the President authorising Dr. Goodluck to act in his absence. How can any serious nation allow such a thing?
Finally, I just hope thatÂ Nigerians are learning from the unfortunate events that have been unfolding and begin to insist on making their votes count. Most of the politicians in power today rigged their way there and it is little wonder that they went to the extent of forging the Presidentâ€™s signature on the supplementary budget. Such things do not happen even in the so called banana republics.
The Federal Executive Council members are aware that if Goodluck takes over power from Yar’Adua, most of them will lose their juicy positions and to expect them to declare the President unfit to rule is asking them to commit class suicide.
The annoying thing is that our problems are simple to address if only we can be SINCERE to ourselves. Unfortunately, sincerity is a very rare virtue in us as a people. That is why we always end up with mediocres in positions of leadership in a country that is so blessed with a number of talented and visionary people. The funny thing is that we know who these people are but we simply sideline them.
I will not be surprised if the bad guys triumph in the long run. There is corruption everywhere (even in the most developed countries), the only difference is that in Nigeria, you are 99.9 percent certain of getting away with it.
Let me seize this opportunity to apologise to Mr. Zurmi – and anyone else who was offended â€“ and say that I didnâ€™t intend to be insulting or inflammatory or to give the impression that all (or even the majority of) Northerners are bigots.
The above reader responses confirm what I have longÂ known via my numerous social and professional interactions with folks who hail from the geo- political zones that are North of the River Nigerâ€¦being that some Northerners are neither die-hard Yarâ€™Adua administration supporters nor motivated by blind ethnic prejudices.
But many Nigerians ARE motivated by blind ethnic prejudices; and this divisiveness isÂ not restricted to the North. There are plenty of unrepentantly tribalistic Southerners who discriminate against â€œoutsidersâ€ when they get a chance.
So let us not bury our heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the existence of enemies of national unity. I cannot protect myself against allegations of deliberate distortionÂ by providing concrete evidence, but I got my information from high-level sourcesÂ I regard as reliable. And I remain convinced thatÂ there areÂ Northerners who canâ€™t stand the thought of a Niger Deltan running the show – even for only one year; and I condemn such elements for undermining the One Nigeria dream.