Don Predicts End of Northern Hegemony in 2011

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LAGOS, Sept 19, (THEWILL) - Former Centre for Democratic Studies (CDS) Director of Studies, Professor John Adebunmi Ayoade has predicted that the 2011 General Elections will alter the Nigerian political order and break the hegemony of the North considering intense apathy against its entrenched political leaders and increasing division in the rank of Northern Governors Forum (NGF).

Ayoade, who delivered a valedictory lecture; Nigeria: Positive Pessimism and Negative Optimism to mark his final exit from the University of Ibadan after spending four decades in service, made this statement at the weekend.

Addressing a gathering of professors, senior lecturers and post-graduate students, he also explained how political errors of former Military Heads of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and General Sani Abacha foiled the plan of northern political and military leaders to remain in control of the Nigerian state.

The don traced the hegemony of the northern region in the country’s political system to what he described as the 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates without any plan by British colonial administration to integrate the people and the massive recruitment of the northerners into the military and police.

According to him, the mistake of 1914 transformed into the charter of Northern hegemony adding with the population census conducted one year after, which retrospectively confirmed the numerical superiority of the North. The spirit of the North is kept alive through the Northern Governors Forum made up of the nineteen Northern Governors.

Ayoade added: "The creation of states dealt a serious blow to the solidarity of the North. The division of Nigeria into thirty six States still conferred its numerical superiority with 19 of those States. Its composite nature has become much clearer particularly in the absence of a northern leader acceptable to all the states".

He explained how a recent meeting of the Northern Governors’ Forum to decide whether the presidency was zoned to the North in 2011 showed lack of a common position among the state governors, arguing that their pattern of votes obviously reflected their agenda rather than what the region stands to gain.

According to him, the vote was almost evenly divided between supporters and opposition. The division followed the majority/minority divide in the old Northern Region. The state creation process equally weakened the Eastern Region which lost the minorities and became landlocked. The federal system also suffered a critical distortion.

He argued that the 1983 military coup led by the present leader of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major General Muhammadu Buhari was organised "to prevent the northern region from losing the political power" and that the northern ascendency in Nigerian politics is the military largely comprised the northerners.

Had the coup not taken place, Ayoade explained that there was an allegation that the North "would have abandoned the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) at the end of President Shehu Shagari’s term in order to prevent power shift to the South. The North would have adopted the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) of Mallam Aminu Kano while Senator Barkin Zuwo was being promoted as the arrowhead of the alleged deal.

Ayoade said: "The coup that followed saw four successive northern military leaders (Major General Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, General Sani Abacha and General Abdulsalam Abubakar as heads of state. But Babangida and Abacha ignited the call for power shift to the South by their political errors."