By Yinka Odumakin
NOTHING typifies the fault lines in Nigeria today than the boldness with which the governors of the north pursue sectional and sheepishness with which southern governors go about with their tails tucked between their wobbly legs.
The confidence,the gusto and temerity with which Arewa governors conduct their separate foreign policy to the exclusion of their southern counterparts is the missing page in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
Let us just take the last three years to interrogate this galling development that shames the joke of “one Nigeria”.
Governors of all 19 states in northern Nigeria spent three days in Washington DC at the invitation of the United States Institute of Peace,USIP, as we prepared for 2015 elections participating in the Northern Nigeria Governors’ Symposium from October 18 to 21 with civic leaders from the Senior Working Group of Nigeria and representatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Organised by the institute with support of U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, it was a follow-up to the first one which held in May 2014 to discuss the security challenges caused by the Boko Haram insurgency and strategies for stabilisation and development in northern Nigeria.
Speaking at the pre-symposium media briefing, USIP Senior Advisors and former ambassadors, Princeton Lyman and Johnnie Carson said the institute’s Northern Governors’ symposium was designed to bolster Nigeria’s commanding stature in Sub-Saharan Africa.
We want our power back gang: In essence,half of the country equals the entire republic in the estimation of Washington. The election being prepared for was not a regional election never mind the theme was “we want our power back.”
In February 2016,northern governors headed for Saudi Arabia to seek for loan leaving behind their southern colleagues who preside over the region where nearly 100% of what is shared monthly has been coming from.The dwindling returns from “the southern lady of means” obviously necessitated the migration.It took the condemnation of the trip by Senator Shehu Sani for us to know that it was the Kemi Adeosun-led Ministry of Finance that facilitated the trip.
The Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shettima said the trip of the forum to Islamic Republic of Saudi Arabia to seek a loan from the Islamic Development Bank was facilitated by the Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance.
But Shettima, who is the Borno State governor, in a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Isa Gusau, said comments credited to the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, labelling the action of the northern governors as unlawful “was unfortunate and out of ignorance.”
The statement read, “(Comments credited to Sani that) efforts by the Forum to obtain loans from the Islamic Development Bank in Jedda was an illegality. It was purely based on a lack of the slightest knowledge about the issue, because unlike what the very respectable Senator thinks, the IDB trip itself was not just done with the consent and approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance but rather, it was even the Federal Ministry of Finance that facilitated the trip and they had a representative as part of the delegation.”
And when US Secretary of State,Mr John Kerry visited Nigeria (?) in August this year,he met with the Sultan of Sokoto,the President and northern governors. The insensitive approach of the US to the diversity of Nigeria drew not a few flaks.
The protestation was not enough to convince America that its divisive foreign policy in Nigeria should change as the northern governors were in Washington again last week.
Ten Governors from Northern States in Nigeria were last Wednesday hosted at the White House, America’s seat of power in Washington, during which they held closed door meeting with President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice. They also met John Kerry at the State Department.
There is no doubt that there is an Arewa lobby in Washington coordinating all these outings to the exclusion of the other half of the country .
The pertinent enquiry however is what are the skimpy hearts who call themselves southern governors doing in the face of all these.They lack the testicular fortitude to even meet as a group within Nigeria not to talk of meeting abroad.If you see a few of them gathered at a spot it must be when they are summoned to Abuja like serfs or at social engagements.
I challenge one of them on this worrisome lack of capacity on their part a few months ago and he told me it would be a tall order “I know those who will put their phones on for Abuja to be listening if we hold such a meeting “.
As I write it more than half of them are scheming to be Vice -president in 2019. I doubt if it ever crossed the mind of any of them to aspire to be No 1.They have accepted there is a glass ceiling for them in Nigeria which they must not break .
Who has bewitched you oh southern governors?
Re: Lagos, NDDC and North East Commission: Injustice Nigeriana
WHEN Russia was dominating and exploiting the other states of USSR, it thought it was for eternity. Then Tito forcibly glued Yugoslavia with iron hand. What is the story today? I pity elite class in the North who think that the domination of the South is for eternity. Sooner or later the string would snap! And there will be no going back! Who do I blame, but our legislators who are in the Houses for their personal interest rather than that of their people. I pray I live to see the end of this holy alliance between Bola Tinubu and our exploiters. Tinubu had betrayed the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, the silent Yoruba majority and Southern Nigeria for his selfish interest. How long will the marriage last?
My Brother Yinka,
I have been following your robust contributions towards making Nigeria a better place for all. You see, it’s the lilly-livered who are afraid of restructuring, confederation or practising true federalism. This cap -in-hand method of rushing to Abuja every month just doesn’t work. Every section of Nigeria must bring their portion to the table. And if they have no contribution to the Central Table, then they have no business sitting on the dining chair. Because, there is no food for the lazy man! Even the Holy Book attest to this.
Yinka, for so long, you and your wife (madam) have been postulating about the mess in the Nigerian democracy. The North cannot hold Nigeria to ransom. Now, there are six regions in Nigeria; three in the north and three in the south. If the South can get their acts together socially, commercially, industrially, culturally, agriculturally, educationally, militarilly, etc, nothing is impossible to achieve as a block. The North is taking the South for granted, and treating it’s constituent parts as conquered territory. It’s time for the South to look at the North, eye ball to eye ball and see who blinks first. There is a common saying, that if you want peace, then prepare for war. Because nobody will give you your needs on a platter of gold, We’ve got to fight for it! Not by begging and appealing.
This time, it will not just be by Massob, IPOB, OPC, Afenifere alone…… In the South, we need the unity of purpose to forge ahead. What matters is our destination, since we have left where we are coming from. According to my German friends who told me that ‘if you fight, you may lose. But if you don’t fight, you have already lost’. Are we going to continue to remain in this bondage? And our children too? The yoke of this subterfuge must be thrown away. And let us swear, never again to return to Egypt. Thanks
John Puegeren, Warri Nigeria
Reading through your article on the above subject in the Vanguard of Tuesday 18 October, 2016 was quite interesting. But who is to be blamed? The South and the Middle Belt have their representatives in the two Houses that make up the National Assembly. What has happened to their sensibilities and perceptive abilities? If we decide to sell our souls for a pot of porridge as happens always, then who is to be blamed?
In line with your trade mark which is telling it as it is, you did a commendable job on the above topic.
These are the issues that give bullets to discontentment in our polity. By now seeds of injustice should not be fertilised. Rather, they should be nipped in the bud, to use the cliche. We are already surfeit with it. We need ‘justice and equal right’. for peace and love to reign. Imagine the disdain with which Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s Bill seeking special status for Lagos was treated. The North East Commission Bill sailed through devoid of acrimony. But that of NDDC had to be padded because ‘second class’ Nigerians are the beneficiaries. It is unfair. Every day we live the Animal Farm scenario in Nigeria,
The North East Commission Bill had the backing of Southern Senators otherwise it would not have been passed. Why was there no unanimity in the Lagos Bill and why was NDDC Bill passed in that watery state that it is. The NDDC States should take ‘solace’ in this Turkish proverb which says – when the axe came to the forest, the trees said the handle is one of us. Those who have ears let them hear.
On another subject, I was thrilled to read that the irrepressible Mrs. Joe-Okei Odumakin is your better half. Only God knows the class of Nigerians you are blessing us with. Bravo, my dear compatriot.