By Yusuf Alhaji Lawan
Despite the categorisation of democracy into full, flawed, hybrid and authoritarian and the groupings into pluralism, civil liberties and political culture, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research division of the Economist Group, a UK-based private company published its 2020 report and has it that democracy exists in 167 countries of which 166 are sovereign states and 164 are United Nations member States.
This is owing to the fact that the world has a total number of 195 countries today. The total comprises 193 countries that are member states of the United Nations and two countries that are non-members but observers; the Holy See and the State of Palestine. This shows democracy as the most popular form of government in the contemporary world practiced in over 85% of the world.
Democracy is a form of government that is remarkably stable, just and popular which lasts over 200 years. It is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. The simple concept of democracy is in holding the popular wish of people. It is mostly described as leadership of the majority in the popular concept of “Majority rule, Minority right.”
The Federal Republic of Nigeria has a total number of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja which are further seen as two regions; North and South. The North has a total of 19 states plus the FCT Abuja while the South has 17 states. The details of 2006 National Census which is the most recent, conducted by the National Population Commission during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) presents the North as most populous with Kano state having the largest number of inhabitants.
News items that dominated the Nigerian Media Industry these days are more of threats, intimidations and harassments from Southern Nigerian citizens including the Southern Governors’ Forum insisting that the next president must come from their region. Vanguard Newspaper of 5th July, 2021, reported that the Southern Governors’ Forum held a meeting at the State House, Alausa Ikeja, Lagos. The Governors in a communique issued at the end of the meeting read by its Chairman, Ondo State Governor, His Excellency Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN reads in part, “The forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agreed that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from Southern Region.”
On 21st September, 2021, Premium Times reported Senator Rochas Okorocha saying APC has no justification not to zone Presidency to South East for the 2023 General Elections. This is aside agitations and disturbing comments by some Southerners on their insistence and trying to coerce the country to pick a president from their region. The IPOB terrorists are having free days in South East and Yoruba Nation Agitators too in the South West wrecking havoc all over.
These calls are considered undemocratic and also translates into disbelief in the democratic principles. No one cares to mention competence and merit but the attention is centred towards getting a person from their region irrespective of whether the person has the prerequisite to be or otherwise.
Presently, Nigeria has a total of 91 registered Political Parties. Any individual or group that feels having an aspirant(s) that have the technical know-how on how to move Nigeria forward, the best option is to present them to any of the registered political parties or begin the registration process of a new party for possible adoption as a flag-bearer, mobilize support from all Nigerians and go to the polls.
It is a known fact that 20 is greater than 17 in plain numeracy. Also, it is indisputably true that Northern Nigeria constituted the bulk of Nigeria’s population. If at a particular point in time, the Southerners feel they need the support of the North to install their own in the highest office of the land, then this should come with a lobby and appeal not intimidations and harassments. Beating drums of war, chanting war slogans, blackmail, campaign of calumny, libel, slander as well as attack on law-abiding Northerners living in the south and destruction of their legitimate hard-earned properties cannot make the region succumb to the wishful thinking of the Southerners.
Going back to memory lane, Nigeria returns to Democracy in 1999 with President Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR (southerner) who served for 8 years. Succeeded by Late President Umaru Musa ‘YarAdua (Northerner) in 2007 who battled with sickness in most of the time spent in the office until his demise on 5th May, 2010. The then Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (Southerner) was sworn-in as Acting President on 9th February, 2010 when his master was hospitalized. He remained in charge of the country up to the death of his boss and his immediate sworn-in as substantive president on 6th May, 2010. He completed the tenure and contested for the Presidency and won in 2011 and served a tenure of 4 years which ended in 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari (Northerner) was voted into power as President and sworn-in on 29th May, 2015, served a four-year tenure and was reelected for another four years which is expected to end on 29th May, 2023.
A simple arithmetic here will reveal that out of the 24 years of Nigeria’s democracy, Southern Nigeria ruled the country for cumulative of 13 years, 3 months while Northern Nigeria ruled for 10 years, 9 months. If I may ask, honestly and sincerely, between the region that ruled for 13 years, three months and the one that has 10 years, nine months, which deserve to produce the next President?
We have found ourselves in a society that has so much distortions about the truth, interested in conspiracy theories and spread of propaganda, but to put the record straight, Northern Nigeria has found itself in a very pathetic situation that it is always marginalized even when one of its own is leading the country because of the over domination of Southerners in the critical spheres of governance. This led to the underdevelopment of the region. Few examples can suffice.
The number of companies that collapsed in Kano state alone between 1999 and 2007 were in hundreds, mostly due to poor electricity supply. BBC Hausa did a special report on that some years ago. At the same time, companies in Lagos and other Southern states continued to flourish. All in the same country.
In Niger state alone, Nigeria generates a very high percentage of power with Hydroelectric stations; Kainji Power Station, Kainji, Jebba Power Station, Jebba and Shiroro Power Station, Shiroro all in Niger state. Presently Zungeru Hydropower project is on-going in the same Niger state which is expected to generate 700MW at completion. But take a visit to Minna, the Niger state capital and see how epileptic power supply is in the city. There has been series of consultations, agitations and street protests by Niger youths on poor supply of electricity.
Use the opportunity of Freedom of Information Act and take a visit to a number of Federal MDAs and request for Nominal Roll and Staff Disposition and see how Northerners are marginalized in terms of appointments into Federal Civil Service. These are just few examples to cite.
There exist threats of further underdevelopment of the Northern Nigeria if a Southerner is imposed on the nation as the agitators demand.
The Northern Nigeria is at liberty to retain power from now to when God destined it because that is all that remains for the region to hold unto as the civil service and the Economy (Business) is dominated by Southerners.
The North should go back to drawing board and put all hands on Deck to bring out an experienced, qualified, cosmopolitan, person of integrity and God-fearing individual that believes in the unity and development of Nigeria who will uphold the rights of the minority to contest for the upcoming 2023 Presidential Election and use its voting power to bring him into office for peace and progress of our dear nation.
God Bless Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Lawan, a stakeholder in the Nigeria Project and public affairs analyst, wrote from Hausawa Asibiti Ward, Potiskum, Yobe State.