AS we count down to likely emergence of presidential candidates from the various parties, my question is to all those who are wanting to become the President of our great country. Is the President of Nigeria a Northern president or a South-South president or a Yoruba president or an Igbo president?
My question has arisen because recent statements credited to some of the contenders which I read indicated these contenders have declared that they would ensure only a northern president would be acceptable to them in 2011. In similar vein, others have indicated they want a president of south-south extraction.
I believe that is not what they said or if that was what was said they do not mean it in the interest of our nation. As usual it could be that these statements were being quoted out of context. This is because all these are distractions from our real problems at our age post independence.
We as a people of Nigeria wanting to live together as one entity need to be serious. Fifty years after independence, we are still angling about whether the President of Nigeria is a northerner or southerner. What is really wrong with us? I am baffled as a man in the age bracket of Nigeria as an independent nation that development in Nigeria has been very poor and uneven since our independence. Rather than looking for ways to manage this we are talking about what tribe our next President should come from.
Those who have been at the helm of affairs for the past years; be they military or democratic, northern or southern have not been fair to the country. And I believe their unfairness is not in any way connected to where they hailed from. They are all Nigerians who have had the opportunity to make a difference at various times but never did. That is why we are where we are now ‘shikena’.
In Nigeria, northerners have made southerners and southerners have made northerners. I remember during the military era, we had northern officers as administrators in southern states and they were well accepted. Likewise, we had southern officers as administrators in northern states and they were also accepted. Many of the current politicians benefited from their military friends be they northerners or southerners.
If we look back at the two past presidents we have had in the persons of Obasanjo and Yar’Adua; whose presidents were they? The northern power brokers were the foisters of an Obasanjo from the Yoruba clan as the president of the country in 1999. So whose president was Obasanjo? In 1998, only God knows what happened in the Jos PDP convention when Obasanjo who just came out prison without any political base was selected to become the flag bearer of the PDP and went on to win. Who made it happen? We all know that this was the handiwork of a clique of northern power brokers. So nobody should now tell Nigerians that Obasanjo was a southern president. Even his people did not vote for him.
Similarly, in the Yar’Adua presidency Obasanjo was the foister. Only God knows why he decided that Yar’Adua was his man when the Odilis and the Dukes were busy travelling the nooks and crannies of the country canvassing for votes. We all saw what went on at the Eagle’s square when Yar’Adua was declared winner to fly the PDP flag.
It is obvious to me and I believe to the generality of Nigerians that the elitist political class in Nigeria is certainly taking Nigerians for a ride. They do what they like and call it any name. All these are because votes do not count in our so-called (s)elections, which we use billions of Naira to carry out. But I believe candle is burning out on us and we have to change our ways to move forward. Nigerians are a very resilient and hopeful bunch. I have a strong belief that things will not be business as usual very soon.
The President of Nigeria is a Nigerian president. Where he comes from should not be the question. We should rather be asking what he can do and how he plans to do it. A Nigerian president who will use northerners, southerners, easterners or westerners to ensure that there is equitable and even distribution of infrastructure in the country is who we want. We all crave for constant electricity, good roads, good schools, and security of lives and properties whether in the Niger Delta or in Maiduguri. We do not want any Gboko Haram or Niger Delta militancy in the country. That is what a Nigerian president is expected to effect. Does he have to be a northerner or southerner? That is far from the point.
This is why I worry that so few months before the (s)election no body is telling us Nigerians what they will do or how they plan to do anything. What we rather hear is where the president should come from. I do not want to believe that we as a people at fifty will still be courting politicians who tell us about where they come from or who they are. It is clear that the forth coming 2011 elections will be personality driven rather than guided by policies that will improve the nation’s fortunes as all our previous (s)elections have been.
In my world of work and health, we find that the best way to predict future consistency of an individual is the person’s past records. This is why anybody who applies for a job produces curriculum vitae showing their past and current achievements. Can we as Nigerians not look back at what and how these contenders have performed previously in the various tasks they were given in the past and judge?
What do Nigerians want of their President in 2011? Is it what he can do and how he will do it or where he comes from? We should not allow politicians for the want of enjoying and maintaining power for themselves deceive us. We all know they have a way for themselves and never want to leave the scene. So no matter who becomes the next president, he should remember he is the President of Nigeria and not a Northern, Southern, Eastern or Western president.
Finally, as the parties struggle to select their flag bearers, I believe strongly that this is the time to scrutinise their health records and ensure that we are not saddled with an individual who will become a health liability. Whoever becomes a flag bearer of any party should have his health record in public so that whoever wins is at least known to be healthy and strong to face the onerous task of even development of our great country. Once beaten twice shy.