IN 2015 AC (After Change), I I did an unsolicited consultancy for politicians of Yoruba extraction whose political moves were guided by only expediency and opportunism. They had openly displayed lack of principles and inability to be guided by their rich history. Even in their drunken state, some of them boasted they already achieved what the immortal Leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, could not achieve by winning power at the centre. They mocked Awo’s refusal to call a cow bros just to eat some suya. I reproduced the words of caution I penned four years ago to refresh my readers.
Arewa political artistes have been singing songs of captivity lately and not a few ears would have been tingling, especially among the lot whose misplaced expectations have led to this quandary. But thank goodness for Col. Dangiwa Umar of that region who sings redemption songs.
Among the former who see Nigeria basically as the northern soil and conquest from the south is Senator Saidu Dansadau. I was invited to some event in Abuja in 2006 at the Adamawa Governor’s lodge in Abuja by then Honourable Sola Adeyeye (now a senator) to gather more pressure against the third term gambit. Atiku Abubakar was part of the night’s event. We were about an hour into the meeting when security operatives stormed the place with an instruction to disperse the gathering.
The day after, Professor Adeyeye who I spent the night with invited me to a meeting at Dansadau’s residence in Abuja. He was soft-spoken (as if they are trained in it) with the usual aloofness.
I did not see him again until the 2014 National Conference where we were both delegates. One of his major contributions at the conference was the call for the establishment of a Women and Children Islamic Commission to deal with the prevalence of divorce in northern Nigeria. He said men in the region were not compliant with Sharia when it comes to divorce as many kick out their wives after eight children. He spoke about a gentleman who already had 78 divorces in his 50 years on earth.
But why I’m writing about him this week is his song of conquest that just went viral even before the inauguration of a northern president. It was a simple question to him on whether the APC South-West’s demand for Speaker of the House of Representatives was just and fair.
He said it was gluttonous after having the Vice-President as if there is no aspirant for the same position from the North-West where the President comes from. I personally don’t give a damn how they share their spoils.
The bit that got my goat, however, were the additional statements that came from the abundance of his heart and I quote the former Zamfara Senator verbatim:
“Nigerians should take note of the voting trend since independence. In fact, since the 1950s, the North-Central per se had never voted in the manner it did along with the other parts of the North as it did at this particular time. These are the kind of things we have been looking for, (for) a long time.
“Various initiatives have been put in place in order to see that northerners from wherever they are, from the 19 states, become one as far as voting is concerned. We are not saying 100 per cent of northerners should be in one political party, but that northerners should have one voice. They should decide and dictate the politics of Nigeria; like it has been before independence and even during the First Republic because of the numerical strength of the North.
“But of recent we became divided so we became so vulnerable. But God in His infinite wisdom and mercy used the goodwill of General Muhammadu Buhari and we have gotten the kind of unity that we have been yearning for, for so long. We have realised this dream now.
“So, now that we have achieved the unity we longed for because of Buhari’s goodwill, it is only fair that we now make some efforts to consolidate these gains because General Buhari will not be the president for ever.
“So that after him, we have consolidated this goodwill and we will be able to grow this unity, political cooperation, electoral cooperation from strength to strength so that the North will as much as possible dictate the political landscape of the country and what happens in Nigeria as it used to do.
“This is necessary because my fear is that not that Senator Ahmed Lawan is not qualified, he is very much qualified, but in third world countries where there are lots of crises and ethnicity and religions, you have to balance power in such a manner that every ethnic and religious group as much as possible will feel satisfied with the balancing of power. That is all we are saying.
“And for the North-East, they really deserve the Speakership. There is no doubt going by their number and how they contributed to the success of the APC going by the candidates contesting for the position, they truly deserve a very important office in this dispensation.
“There is no doubt about that. But I feel no sacrifice is too much as far as the unity of this country is concerned. No sacrifice is too much as far as it concerns the growth and the continuity in power of the APC. So, in order not to take a decision that will make the strength of APC wane so quickly, I think regional groups and individuals should learn to make sacrifices.
“In fact, where I fault the leadership of the APC is why should the leadership do zoning piecemeal? Why should they zone the Speakership to the South-West? When you are taking that decision, why didn’t they take the entire zoning together?
“That was what the PDP did in the past and since it is good, the APC should emulate it. If any crisis arises as a result of the zoning I will blame the leadership of the APC. Why, because if they had sat down from the word go to zone all the positions, this problem wouldn’t have arisen.”
Only the naive and uninitiated would not be able to get his drift.
Senator Abraham Adesanya in his lifetime was fond of telling the story of two friends, the cock and the fox. The fox was relating with the cock with respect thinking that the comb on its head was a burning fire until the day the latter, driven by greed, asked the former to feel his head in exchange for a favour. The fox did and discovered that what it feared as fire was so cold and delicious.
That was how the cock that was hitherto feared became a regular meal for the fox. Solomon in the Bible carried out all possible experiments on behalf of humanity and documented it all in the Book of Ecclesiastics.
Those immovable truths have proved inviolable to date. In like manner, Prophet Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo who created ethnic pride for the Yoruba country carried out loads of experiments with the Nigeria project and like Solomon documented his findings in his various publications.
Unfortunately, the Yoruba political landscape of today is littered with men who have never read a book from Awo even when they are in love with his glasses, without his vision, and his cap covering brains that never engage in serious strategic thought.
It is not that difficult for such men to remove the ancient landmarks, which their fathers have set and thus become a plaything and song themes on the lips of Arewa children like the gentleman I quoted extensively.
The summary of all Awo’s findings is that a multi-ethnic Nigeria can only prosper with its constituent units living in peace and happiness if it is run along federal principles. That was what Awo fought for all his political life that denied him “power at the centre” but he remains at the centre of political discourse in Nigeria, 28 years after his transition to higher glory.
And within those years arose strange children in Yorubaland who, buoyed by unearned wealth, felt the Awo way was not for them. They chose the Akintola road and with their media power they blackmailed those who insisted on the Awo path. They were able to mobilise a generation of angry and disoriented youths who were totally bereft of knowledge to act against their own enlightened self-interest. Like bewitched Galatians, they confused their own desires for good governance with Arewa’s quest for CHANGE of baton. In a matter of weeks, Arewa spokesmen are making it clear that the March 28 removal of the virus that entered their power computer was the only common denominator and hangers-on should find their level.
What a tragedy of victory! The stiff-necked adventurers who uncritically assumed a day would come when Arewa would embrace power sharing are now doing what Yoruba call “aramora, iso kijipa”, like you are being whipped but you can’t afford to drop any tear.
The children of Oduduwa who gave an identity and the formula to engage all nationalities with pride are now hovering like Almajiris in Abuja because they sacrificed their core values to play at their traducers’ area of strength.
The gloom on their faces is worse than those who lost elections. They are now busy tearing themselves into pieces jostling for who will be the senior in the slavery they have just sold themselves into. Like Fela Anikulapo Kuti around this time in 1984, “I just dey look and dey laugh”.
To be continued