“Our object in the construction of the state is the greatest happiness / Of the whole and not that of one class”.- Piato
“All well governed states and wise princes have taken care not/ To reduce the nobility to despair, / Nor the people to discontent” – Niccolo Machievelli.
THE inability of our leaders past and present to practice the Aristotelian concept of the pursuit of the greatest good for the largest number, altruistic commitment, failure to see the Nation, state and local Government Area as one constituency under their leadership etc has given rise to what sociologist call structural distrust, mistrust and fears.
The people now believe that the only way development can come to their areas is only when their kinsmen, townsman and tribal cohorts are in power. This has given rise to the clamor in most nations and states etc for power shift. Power shift is seen by some political analysts as one of the taboos to true and modern democracy.
Nigeria is a nation formed as a result of the agglomeration of different heterogeneous groups of people. But after our independence in 1960 the Hausa/Fulanis took over the reins of leadership from the British and went through their Nothernisation policy to entrench a very complex Northern stranglehold dominance of all the institutions of coercion, like the Army, Police, Navy, Air force etc. The presidency became their exclusive preserve.
The leadership Algebra and political statistical data shows that right from independence in 1960 till date there has been a preponderant dominance by the North,- Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1960-1966), Gen. Yakubu Gowon (1966-1975), Gen. Murtala Muhammed (six months), Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo ( he came as military and two-time democratically elected President), Alhaji Shehu Shagari (1994-1998),Gen.Muhamed Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993), Gen. Sanni Abacha (1994-1998), Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (1998-1999), President Musa Yar’Adua and now President GoodLuck Ebele Jonathan ( not in sequential Order). When these facts are silhouetted on the canvass of time and history, it shows that the North West geo-political zone has had four presidents, the North central geo-political zone have had three presidents, the North East geo-political zone have had two presidents, the South west have had (two presidents), the South east geo-political zone (none) because Zik was a figurehead and the South South (Niger delta) (1).
It was this transparent and lucid injustice that give rise to the “Power Shift” clamour in Nigeria. The wrangling and farrago gained on immense political intensity, indeed, push came to shove and the Notherners kow-kowed and then called for an election. In the subsequent election, Chief MKO Abiola won hands down, but was manipulated out of the presidency in what is now known as the “JUNE 12TH SAGA”. One thing led to another and THE MAN DIED.
Nigeria was thrown into political confusion of unspeakable proportion. The Northerners saw that Nigeria was on its way to Yugoslavia and on the verge and epicenter of disintegration and then decided to call for a fresh election under General Abdusalami Abubakar to empower the South West (Yoruba) because of MKO Abiola’s death. Then power was reluctantly shifted to the South west (Yoruba) with Chief Aremo kikiola Matthew Olusegun Obasanjo emerging as the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1999.
The success of power Shift in 1999 led to the recrudescence of the power shift mantra at national, state and community levels that led to the election of President Good Luck Ebele Jonathan. Today, in Delta state the power shift Syndrome has attained an unthinkable political crescendo, so much that, it is already setting the stage for a great political upheaval as we approach 2015.
The Aniomas, Ijaws, Isokos, Urhobos etc are already strategising. Delta state is a melting pot. It is a mini Nigeria with 25 local Government Areas and over eight ethnic groups. It is a consequence of Willinks Commission (1957/58), it became superimposed in the old mid- western region chipped off old western region then in 1963, it came into Bendel state until it is finally gained the long sought-after autochthonous status in August 1991, as Delta state (THE BIG or is it the FINGER OF GOD)?
The Urhobo ethnic group in terms of demographic data constitutes about 51.4 percent of the state. Indeed, they enjoy numerical superiority over all the ethnic groups in the state and they have had two democratically elected governors ever since the creation of the state- Chief Felix Ibru and Chief James Onanafe Ibori and they are clamouring for an Urhobo Governor in 2015.
The question arises, for how long will the Urhobo ethnic group continue to hold on to the governorship position in Delta state? Is the governorship position the exclusive preserve and birth right of the Urhobo people? Will other ethnic groups, exclusive of the Itsekeris continue to be political underdogs in Delta state because the Urhobos are in vast majority? Will there be peace, progress and tranquility under such a system. The answer, without slips of prolixity is a resounding and outright NO.
One of the tragedies of power is in its ambrosial insatiaty. When you are at an advantage you want to consolidate your hold on to power with peremptory magistracy, but when you are at a disadvantage you vociferously assert your rights to that position.
This instinctual edacity and natural desire to hold on to power has continued to be a troglodyte and Paleolithic idiosyncrasy of man. But there must be a balancing through political synchronization aimed at ensuring equity through adequate representational participation in the Wheels of governance.
When Northern hegemonists through their Hausa/Fulani oligarchical feudalism dominated and still dominate the political horizon in Nigeria, the Igbos, Yorubas supported by other minorities clamoured for power shift. In the old western region the Edo’s clamoured for power shift to forestall the yoke of Yoruba’s domination. This ultimately led to the creation of the old Mid-Western state and Bendel State.
The political metamorphosis continued until the creation of Delta state. You will observe that once a New a state or status quo is created there always emerges a dominant group. In our peculiar situation in Delta state the Urhobos are now the dominant group. Are the Urhobos in a political dilemma over power shift?
Will power now shift to the Delta Central Senatorial District to the North or Southern Senatorial District? Was there an amicably agreed functional formula to that effect amongst the political parties? It will however be tantamount to political escapism and despotism for the Urhobos to say that politics is a game of numbers only, and that the minorities should have their say and let the majority have their way.
This will definitely be a recipe for political topsy-turvydom and a fundamental and sacrilegious desecration of the inviolable pantheons of democracy.
Mr. BOBSON GBINIJE, a social critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State