He is not the spokesman of the North. He is not that of ACF or NEF, and he is not so old as to count in the circles of the gerontocracts who lead the two Northern Elders groups that address issues of concern and interest to the North. Yet, whatever he says is invariably the position of the aggregate of Northern Elders.
One of the very informed and influential member of these Northern Elders is surely Sadiq Abubakar Umar, a Ph.D who hails from Gombe. He is a mathematics genius and statistics specialist who was a lecturer at Kaduna Polytechnic.
A pretty distance away from 60, Dr. Sadiq is of the new generation of Northern Elders who feel the days of Sardauna Ahmadu Bello, first and last Premier, were the best days of the North. He is a prolific radio personality, especially on the international broadcasters, VOA, RFI, BBC etc.
He tackles issues of concern to the North. Prime mover of the Mega Social Democratic Party that metamorphosed to SDP with Yoruba elder, Chief Olu Falae as chairman, Dr. Sadiq Abubakar was the North’s eye in the party serving as National Secretary up to 2015. He worked in SDP to promote General Buhari’s election. He is a Buharist who has always remained on his side since GMB joined the ANPP in 2002. By 2015, Dr. Sadiq Gombe as SDP secretary and custodian of its constitution was also D-G of CNPP (Conference of Nigerian Political Parties).
He worked to set up the COP-3 (Conference of Progressive Political Parties) which worked with APC to stall PDP’s onslaught in the build-up to and during the elections. Dr. Sadiq, then at loggerheads with the Falae faction of the SDP had to use the tag of an allied progressive political party, to participate in the Presidential election collation. It was Dr. Sadiq who publicly stood up to PDP’s Godswill Orubebe to stymie his antics, orchestrated to scuttle the presidential elections at the National Elections Collation Center. A faction of Dr. Sadiq’s own SDP led by Olu Falae was then cosying up to the irreparably discredited Jonathan Government.
The top northern intellectual and active politician spoke up in his usual educated pro-North passion a few days ago in a radio interview. He came out fully supportive of the calls for Restructuring, the same day that the President delivered his 2018 New Year Address.
This time around, he took on his own GMB, challenging and debunking his stance that there was no cause for any restructuring. Stating Dr. Sadiq Gombe’s bona fides with his no doubt impressive CV, is important to properly appreciate that he spoke the mind of The North and not as part of any opposition.
The NEF (Northern Elders Forum) of which Dr. Sadiq Gombe is a key Think Tank member has such well-known and able spokesmen as its chairman, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, defunct NPN minister, and fiery elder, Professor Ango Abdullahi who never shies away from saying his mind. But it was the passionate and timely position canvassed by Dr. Sadiq that captured the mindset of majority of Northerners on the restructuring debate.
He said it was not right for General Buhari, a Northerner who got 80 % of all his votes in 2015 from the North, to put a lid on the agitation for restructuring as presently the North is grossly short-changed and will benefit more with a restructured Nigeria. The North, according to the statistics guru, is also about 80% of Nigeria.
He reminded the General not to forget that Nigeria has consistently undergone restructuring from its initial Three Regions, grown to Four by PM Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s civilian administration, sacked before the structures had been properly tried and tested.
I agree absolutely that like GMB suggested in his New Year Address Nigerians are impatient and don’t allow any system to work before asking that it be jettisoned. But then like Dr. Sadiq rightly argued, restructuring Nigeria has been going on even before the Nigerian Military maliciously killed the First Republic of Tafawa Balewa. It wasn’t Nigerians but the military that dropped the truly Federal structures we had in the First Republic, and more importantly the parliamentary system and structure best suited for true federalism.
It was Oga GMB’s military colleagues who didn’t allow it to be tried long enough and brought in the very expensive presidential system which fits the top-down centralized command structure of the military.
For the parliamentary system we ran in the First Republic, the President and Prime Minister don’t need to run round the whole country to seek votes with all the attendant complications and costs. All they need is to master a single constituency.
In support of the calls for restructuring let’s read the APC Constitution. Article 7, “Aims & Objectives” of the APC’s 16 items and objectives, the first two fully support the calls for restructuring.
Item “i”, says APC aims “to promote and foster the unity, political stability and national consciousness of the people of Nigeria”. Now the whole nation is for it, restructuring is obviously the needed tonic for national stability and the ever elusive unity we only see during football matches.
Item “ii” says, APC is “to promote true federalism in the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, and true federalism is what every section says it wants to see enthroned.
These two are further reinforced by item “v”. It pledges APC, the President’s political party is “to consciously pursue the implementation of the policies and programmes of the Party, through those of its members that are appointed or elected into Government, Legislative Houses and Boards throughout the Federation”. As its chief representative, GMB is duty bound to do what his party says is the reason we should and did vote for it and its candidates.
These three aims and objectives taken together deny the President the right to deny what his own party wrote without any duress in its cardinal aims and objectives.
That should guarantee a seamless transition to the second term many of us pray Our GMB gets. Moreso as there is no better choice on offer than our General, yet.