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POWER SHIFT TO NORTH: WHICH NORTH?

By NBF News

Since the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and the emergence of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as President, opinions have been said on whether Jonathan should contest the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the PDP going by the zoning system put-in-place in 1999.

The debate has been very intensive and provocative. It is one of the greatest debates of the democratic dispensation after the tenure elongation move of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The debate on power retained in the north for the 2011 contest makes the atmosphere boiling. The debate is like a volcanic eruption. It is quite interesting, fair and just that going by the zoning principle of the ruling party, the North stands qualified to field the next presidential candidate. What makes the debate to gather heavy storm is the apparent move among some Nigerians clamouring for the incumbent president to contest the presidential election or not to contest.

This development has fixed the PDP on the path of a political friction resulting into the evolution of two extremely polarizing camps of pro-zoning and anti-zoning.

However, from my point of view, there is a great danger in the campaign for power shift. The risk lies in pushing away the concept of credibility. Credibility of candidates must be incorporated into the much publicized and agitated power shift to the North.

Behind the struggle for power in the North is the tragedy of the emergence of first class opportunists who are desperate to serve and protect their selfish interest at the expense of the region and the country in general. The political factor of parading a credible candidate in general is very much essential, irresistible, progressive and desirable. The need for credibility will encompass the mutual and productive inter relationship of integrity, honesty, transparency, nationalism, patriotism etc.

Behold, the region's usual opportunists are at it again. They have completed their strategic plans to capture the mantle of leadership. Their power psychology, philosophy and sociology have nothing to do with the general aspirations of the majority. Their rigorous campaigns and struggles are geared toward the manipulation of power to make it discriminating, ineffective and socio-politically corrupt. They are vulnerable to being corrupted by power. Their leading role in forcing power back to the North lacks sincerity of purpose as far as the general well being of the majority of Nigerians is concerned.

There is a great damage in this clamouring, when credibility is relegated to the background. Credible candidates from the North are easily within reach. They love power not because of its intoxication. The likes of Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Gabriel Susuwan in Benue, Sule Lamido in Jigawa, Babangida Aliyu in Niger and Muhammadu Danjuma Goje of Gombe but for the simple reason that it is the vehicle of general progress.

Over the years these credible characters have embarked on a revolutionary mission which has as its first stage the extreme desire of serving humanity in their minds. We have them in our midst as source of hope to the hopeless. Their political credentials are very sound and stand the test of time. They live and lead the masses in spirit. Their greatest ambition is the enthronement of masses-oriented government.

A lot of socio-political and economic crises have been devastating the North for quite a long time since the unfortunate brutal murder of the first generation of its leaders. The crises have all along been associated with mistrust, betrayal as well as hypocrisy and nonchalant attitude to the welfare of the majority who are peasant farmers, artisans and farm labourers.

In the heart of the lingering crises is the lamentation of the late Ciroman Katsina and former military governor of the region, General Hassan Usman Katsina, when serving as governor. While addressing the council of Emirs and Chiefs of the region at Luggard Hall in Kaduna, he regretted that the region was unable to come up with a comprehensive development plan stipulating what the region would achieve at a specific period of time.

Decades after that assertion, the problem has escalated into a more complex dimension. Not only are the region's leaders unwilling to meet the multi-dimensional tasks of the time with a view to moving the region forward, they are also custodians of the destruction of some of the laudable legacies of the past heroic leaders of the region the likes of Sir Ahmadu Bello Rabah, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Micheal Audu Buba, Patrick Dokotri, Muhammadu Ribadu, Raji Abdallah, Joseph Sarwuan Tarka, Salihu Gonto, Abdurrahaman Okene etc.

It is very disgusting, disheartening and disappointing that while the other regions are advancing educationally, the North is frantically promoting a dangerous and hostile class region. The extremely rich are becoming more extremely rich and the extremely poor are daily exploited and becoming extremely poor.

When some northerners talk of power shift, should we succumb to their candidate who will patriotically bridge the widening gap or do we as northerners allow the heavy burden of hypocrisy to descend on our psyche and allow some unprogressive elements to emerge and widen the already existing glaring disparity?

The fact still remains that the North with its vast fertile land, a high concentration of human and mineral resources, an empire of retired and serving generals, a conglomeration of the good, the bad and the ugly democrats, the mighty club of the business elite, is by and large under-developed. It is still at war against chronic diseases of illiteracy, poverty, ethno-religious crisis and indigene/settler palaver.

The North is yet to survive the poisonous indoctrination of sycophancy and the psychological enslavement of the masses. The region is behaving as if it has reached the climax of development while it has many rivers to cross. Unlike in similar regions where humanitarian and philanthropic gestures form the yardstick of climbing the ladder of power, the methodology of the North is detrimental to human progress in which it counts on ill-gotten wealth as a means of attaining power.

The yearning for a desirable and positive change for our dear Arewa is now or never. The change is to begin by presenting a suitable presidential candidate against all odds. The progressive elements that can bring great difference are very much around. The region's greatest crime will be presenting a candidate who will temper with the region's future, who has amassed ill-gotten wealth, whose nationalism is questionable, whose vision is considered to egocentrism and materialism, whose power is a mixture of corruption, self complacency, hypocrisy and a general retrogression as well as degeneration.

The region's developmental process has reached a point of disintegration. Therefore, the greatest service and justice we can offer as northerners to our backward region is to honour the path of selfless service and sacrifice. We should build the bridge of transparency and probity for others to pass through. We have to discard the pleasure of pretence, falsehood and embrace the pains of the truth. We must remember that Ambrose Biercen once said of politics, 'The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.' The definition stands prominent in the current political turmoil in redirecting power to the North.

Those who connive to produce a candidate that will conduct our public affairs for his private advantage are reactionary elements and will be accountable to both people and the Almighty Creator.

If the North is at all required to produce a presidential material for the 2011 race and be acceptable to all, then the Northern Governors, Arewa Consultative Forum, Northern Union and other interest groups within the region should set the ball rolling in consultation with senior stakeholders in other regions across party divide for the unity of the country for sustainable democracy. Anything short of that, may throw a huge spanner in the wheel.

The opinion of Yuguda on the zoning system should not be wished away or be a subject of discourse of the pages of newspapers for cheap political goal. Yuguda had said: 'Whoever dares Jonathan dares God.' Jonathan was chosen by the Almighty Allah this time around to complete their presidential term. This is a naked truth and should serve as a guide to those clamouring for change of guards at the Aso Villa in 2011.

At their monthly meeting held on July 27, 2010, northern governors could not agree on a consensus candidate for the presidential election even though, majority of them supported the candidature of the incumbent. Few rejected the idea while Bauchi State was completely absent at the meeting mourning the death of one of its paramount traditional rulers, the Emir of Bauchi.

At any rate, Bauchi State is more interested in the unity of Nigeria than narrowing its thinking along regional, religious or tribal lining. If zoning is the only way out for Nigeria to remain a solid, strong and united country, Bauchi State is a subscriber.

•Sanusi Muhammad is the Senior Special Assistant (Media affairs) to Bauchi State Governor