By Adagbo Onoja
Those who might have no ideas about the nature and character of opposition politics in Jigawa State and the agenda of its godfathers which some surrogate writers pretending to be Lamido praise-singers are now carrying out may not be in a position to appreciate this disapproval.

But the godfathers in question have an objective of re-constructing and re-presenting Sule Lamido in a way that accords with their own existential radius. The project consists of many tactics but the strategy is to entangle the man and his regime in their journey to nowhere. Hence they tirelessly organise and publish fabrications, expecting to be replied and made heroes.

Or, they attribute silly accomplishments to the governor and arrange to praise-sing him for that. The idea that Lamido’s stand on zoning is a praiseworthy defence of the north is one such organized commendation.

Olusegun Obasanjo and Sule Lamido

There is nothing wrong with speaking up for the North or any other region depending on the issue in question.

Evidence abound that, in the last three years in particular, Lamido can speak for the north in the most eloquent, strategic manner unimaginable but not in a woolly, exclusivist ethno-regional terms or in the interest/defence of friendship, in this case, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

After all, the former president’s relationship with his former minister was never constructed on any conditionalities but shared signification.

The opinion articles appearing in carefully selected newspapers in praise of the governor for what the surrogate writers call his tough position on zoning and which position they interpret to be a courageous one unexpected from the governor given his relationship with  Obasanjo is the climax of this ill-fated campaign since nothing that Lamido has said on the debate ever since can be interpreted to be a defence of the north or of any other region at all.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Jigawa governor’s  most comprehensive position on rotation of power so far remains the interview he granted and published on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 by a national newspaper. In that interview, Lamido challenged the PDP to seize the high ground and relocate the debate back to the party.

This is not only to disallow people who have no idea of the origin and mission of the PDP and the debates that brought it to be, the traditions upon which it was anchored from hopping into the arena and taking over the debate but so also as to put Nigeria first in the way the debate is resolved.

It cannot be arrogance to describe this institutionalist framing of the debate as a certainly more distinguished intervention than the current domination of the debate by cheap, personal opinions and claims. According to Lamido, this is the only way to understand the sudden prominence of someone like Chief Edwin Clark.

In here also falls the paradox whereby almost all the ‘Sai Jonathan’ voices now, including some of the founding fathers of the PDP, are the same people who stormed out of the party in 2007 on the grounds  that Obasanjo was imposing Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan on the PDP and that there was no internal democracy and so on and so forth?

And Lamido’s question is whether Jonathan would have been in the Villa today if someone had not “imposed” him? Hence Lamido’s conclusion that it is only the party that is collective enough, aggregate enough to retain or do away with rotational presidency, taking into consideration the historicity of the principle.

That reference to historicity is a reference to the fact that Nigeria is an archtype of the deeply divided society and there is, therefore, the need to, at all times, appreciate this in relation to the federal therapies such as the abolition of regions and continued creation of states to counter perceived domination, the federal character principle, the quota principle, the zoning formula in recruiting political headship at various levels in the country.

And that it should be noted that Nigeria was, until recently, seen as one of the most viable of the seven federal states that came out of Africa in the 1950s solely on account of the introduction of these therapies at a time when most African countries were reeling under single party dictatorship.

In contrast to such African story of the privatization and personalization of power, the Nigerian power elite has always been conscious of the imperative for the reification of the federal ideology before it was too late. And that, in fact, the reification of the federal ideology was supposed to be the raison d’etre of the NPN as developed by its intellectuals like Adamu Ciroma, Chuba Okadigbo, Ibrahim Tahir and so on.

It was for the reason of inducting the average Nigerian in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria into Nigerianity that President Shagari was advised to have his eyes and ears in every state of the federation and which he did in the form of Presidential Liaison Officers. Typical of the NPN, they couldn’t explain the point behind the idea and the whole thing was discredited by opposition propaganda.

In all, we can modify Lamido’s institutionalism insisting on the relocation of the debate back to the PDP but we cannot fault the idea that it is only the party that can adopt and market President Jonathan, if it so decides, institutionally.

No ethnic group or region or individual, no matter how great, can do that. And this came out very well in Lamido’s interview in question where he was aghast about any region, be it north or south-south or any other cleavages coming out to negotiate the locale of the presidency over and above the PDP. As he put it, this is not acceptable because Jonathan can and should only be Nigerian son, a Nigerian president of Ijaw origin, not an Ijaw or south-south president of Nigeria.

I find it implausible that this argument by Lamido can, in any way, be a defence or attack on any body or any part of Nigeria . I can only see it in the context of a previous argument of the governor where he said the rotation debate may be full of hot air but, nevertheless, a debate on how to make Nigerians out of Nigeria.

To  him, it is not a terrible thing to say that the debate on whether or not  Jonathan should interrupt the rotational sequence (in Nigeria , rotation can only be interrupted, not abrogated) between the geo-political axes can be called a debate bordering  on making Nigerians out of Nigeria.

After all, was that not the kind of thing the Italian nationalist, Massimo d’Azeglio,  is reported to have said after the Risorgimento in respect of Italian identity viz, “We have made Italy, now we have to make

Italians?” In our context, the presidency is the most potent symbolism for making Nigerians out of Nigeria.
The only difference is that, in the case of Nigeria , it has not been lucky to have the presidential leadership (I said leadership, not a leader) of dedicated nation-builders. Instead, the politics of power-for-profit has robbed the country of the subjective factor  (leadership) that could have brilliantly converted the objective factors into Nigeria ’s greatness in a transformative sense.

That is how we came to the present condition where ‘All the King’s horses and all the King’s men are having serious problems putting Humpty Dumpty together Again’, to use that sign tune of Afro-pessimism.
Putting Humpty Dumpty together again is clearly going to be such a Herculean task if we take just the pitch, the opportunism and the crassness in the framing of this debate so far.

We have conducted the debate in a manner that has simply manufactured more evidence for Afro-pessimists and their argument that by reason of poverty and the violence of our politics, we cannot move in a democratic direction? Or that it amounted to political blindness to have expected democracy to prevail in Africa.

Of course, Nigeria will have democracy and Afro-pessimists will be shamed but,  for now, we cannot escape reflecting on why Nigeria is perpetually in turmoil in spite of its wealth, natural and human, and its ‘natural’ leadership of Africa and the black world, conferred on it by the wealth and her demographic stature.

Just how could “the largest concentration of black people under one government in the history of the world” be such an embarrassing case study in self-mismanagement? Unless if the present incoherence of Nigeria is the eve of the phenomenal transformation everyone expected of Nigeria ever since her birth, Lamido’s is something worth reflecting upon.

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