By Abdulrahman Agboola
The truth crushed to the earth will surely rise again is a maxim that exposes the short reign of falsehood over truth, suffice to say that irrespective of the intensity of confusions caused by falsehood, it cannot stand the test of time. As a result of the long reign of personalities of Northern extraction at the helms of affairs of our dear Country, the diversionary agents with intentions to exonerate the real detractors that derailed the cause of good governance in Nigeria have spread and hanged the wrong notion of born to rule mentality on the Northern Elites.
By the formation of Nigeria, every qualified citizen possesses a right to aspire for political office as provided by a system of government inherent in our Constitution at any point in time. It is worthy to note that the bid of notable democrats from Northern Nigeria for the Office of the President in recent time has been meted with campaign of calumny by propagandists and sinister forces maligning the North by portraying the Northern Elites as being desperate for power with the mentality of born to rule. This unfounded propaganda is indeed a calculated attempt to sow seed of discord among the adherents of an egalitarian society with equal opportunities for all Nigerians.
To put the record straight on this propaganda, it is imperative to analyse some events and occurrences within the corridor of power in the early Nigeria to defuse the misconceptions arising from brainwashing of the unsuspecting masses by the beneficiaries of rancor and promoters of the division of the Country along ethnic and religion partitions. It is equally important to dissect some of the intricacies involved in the formation of the Country at Independence in 1960.
The Country started with a Parliamentary System of Government with three regions known as Northern, Eastern and Western Regions. The struggle for the position of Prime Minister was between Alhaji Tafawa Balewa of Northern Region and Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Western Region where Chief Nnamdi Azikwe of Easter Region who eventually emerged as the Ceremonial President in 1960 aligned with Alhaji Tafawa Balewa to defeat Chief Obafemi Awolowo at the election for Prime Minister, leading to the emergence of Chief Awolowo as opposition leader at the Federal Parliament. This analysis is to confirm that the emergence of a Northern person as the Prime Minister of the Country at Independence was made possible by the people of Eastern region.
The alliance between the Eastern region and Northern region against the Western region eventually led to the emergence of statusqo in the leadership of the Country in 1963 when the Country became a Republic. In the cause of administration, the Prime Minister was very powerful than the President, a normal dictate of the Parliamentary System of Government, led to ill-feelings among the people of Eastern region that believes their brother in the capacity of President ought to call the shots.
Bickering started over the outcome of the 1963 Population Census which the Igbos thought overestimated the population of Northern people to the give Northern region more population in the Federal Parliament and the change from Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government was partly premised on that ground, but not without terror on the Country by the aggrieved Igbo Nationalities.
On 15th January, 1966, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, a Nigerian of Igbo extraction from the Eastern region with support of Igbo Nationalities, led the first Military Coup that killed many leaders of both Northern and Western Regions including but not limited to the Prime Minister, Federal Republic of Nigeria Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello Premier Northern region and Chief Samuel Akintola Premier Western region. In the same Coup, top Army Officers from North and West were killed while the Premier of Eastern region, Igbo Army Chiefs and other leaders from East were spared by the coup executioners.
The coup foisted General Aguiyi Ironsi on the Country as the Head of State to the satisfaction of the people of Eastern region. On 18th January, 1966 the leader of the coup, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu was arrested in Lagos in the company of another Igbo citizen Lt Col. Conrad Nwawo. The Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi also an Igbo man showed leniency to the arrested culprits to the chagrin and disappointments of other nationalities, an action that indicted the Head of State as part of the COUP.
With the reality of the underlining motives of the murderers that gruesomely murdered Northern and Western leaders in their conspiracy coup to be in control of the Country at the expense of other nationalities, other nationalities resiliently repelled the coup on 29th July, 1966 and restored sanity to the nation with the emergence of Major General Yakubu Gowon as the Head of State. Lt Col Emeka Ojukwu as the Head of the Eastern region in a premeditated manner facilitated the transfer of Kaduna Nzeogwu from The Maximum Prison Kirikiri in Lagos to Nigeria Prison, Enugu and later released him from Prison in April 1967 in his preparation for the Civil War later declared on the Country by Lt Col Emeka Ojukwu.
The administration of General Gowon declared commitment and dedication to the return of power to the Civilian Government and moved to split the four existing regions to 12 States in 1967. The leader of the Eastern region rejected the proposal with his declaration of Biafra Republic in a violent manner that led to the bloody Civil War in Nigeria from 1967 till 1970. General Gowon failed on his promise to return the nation to civilian government which led to a palace coup devoid of bloodshed in 1975 with General Murtala Muhammad as the Head of State.
In pursuance of the earlier defeated greed of Igbo Nationalities, another Igbo man Major Buka Dimka aggrieved over the transition programme of General Murtala to hand over power to a Civilian Government, led another violent coup that led to the killing of General Murtala Muhammad in 1976. General Olusegun Obasanjo as the new Head of State completed the transition programme and handed over government to a Civilian Government in the person of Alhaji Sheu Shagari in 1979.
It is imperative to state that the adjudged controversial victory of Sheu Shagari of the Northern Party of Nigeria against Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria was aided majorly by Southerners who mobilized vehemently against the outstanding credentials of Chief Awolowo both at the 1979 and 1983 Presidential Elections. The result of the 1983 Election was seriously contested in Court. The administration of Sheu Shagari was alleged of high level of corruption and poor governance which led to the abolition of that Republic by concerned Nationalists in the Military.
A proper analysis of the change of governments since 1983 till date does not indict the Northern Elites of desperation at any point in time. Following the annulment of 12th June, 1993 Presidential Election involving Chief Mko Abiola, it was a Yoruba Nationalist Chief Ernest Shonekan that accepted to lead an Interim Government at the detriment of Yoruba Nation while in 1999, the entire Northern Elites supported a proposal for the President and Senate President to emerge from the Southern Nigeria and the Yoruba Nation produced the President while the Igbo Nation produced the Senate President.
It is a common knowledge that the agreement among the Northern and Southern Elites in 1998, was a rotation of power between the South and North after two terms of Eight years each and since the advocacy of the Northern Elites for their turn to lead the Country expectedly, some Southern Elites mostly from the South East and South South have not spared the Northern Elites with the appellation of BORN TO RULE. Without fear of contradiction and the avalanche of facts on the desperation of races to impoverish this Country, the Northern people does not portray the born to rule mentality been labeled against them by the detractors of our collective goods.
People should not be carried away by the antics of subterranean forces to blackmail the Northern Candidates against their inalienable rights to seek mandate of the people to lead the Country in the capacity of President. It will be in the best interest of the young people to get the facts correct about struggle for power and defuse hatred for people and their race ignorantly. We must overlook the past and unite as One People of a great Country to positively direct our affairs devoid of blackmail or propaganda against any region. The rights of every Nigerian must be respected in consonance with the understanding of our leaders on rotational leadership in order to restore the lost glory of our noble Country.
Comrade AbdulRahman Agboola
Mass Action for Good Governance and Grassroots Developments in Nigeria.
[email protected] 08032813279