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A Critical Review Of The Holding Of Presidential Power In Nigeria Since Independence

The spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, recently made the opinion of the sociocultural organization, which embodies the elders from the old Northern Region of Nigeria, now consisting of 19 States in Nigeria, public. The opinion suggested that the rotation of Nigeria's Presidency to the South, as demanded by Governors of the Southern States, is unconstitutional.

The suggestion of the NEF is unfortunately coming at the heels of the ceding of Presidential power by the North, as the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari halts in 19 months. Nevertheless, what the NEF needs to learn is that laws are made for the people, and not the other way round. Let's start this article looking at the NEF suggestion that way.

Dr Baba Ahmed, reiterating on how the North has enough votes to keep Presidential power, revealed how much the North believes that whether holding the Office of the President or that of the Vice President, the North would still rule, and continue that way.

This position of the NEF on what is constitutional or not, infuriated a section of people from the South. This should not be so. Dr Baba Ahmed offended nobody by his revelation, however, the arrogance he displayed when doing so rather made it a wake-up call for the South, as this article will clarify.

No one should attempt to trace Dr Baba Ahmed's ancestral roots to Mauritania, as some writers have tried to do recently because they feel offended by him. Better than getting provoked negatively by Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed's statements, coming from the Northern Elders Forum, the picture should be seen of how the core North thinks the South is incompetent to contest Presidential power with them. A positive view of the position of the NEF informed this article.

The South needs to reflect more on the position of the NEF than finding offence in how theor poaition was conveyed to the South. Leaders and elders from the South need to review what has been revealed, to identify how true the submission of the North is. Attacking Dr Baba Ahmed would change nothing, and it will also achieve nothing.

The South should never forget that while they fought British hegemony, the North embraced it, learning the principles of "indirect rule" from them. This is the truth Dr Baba Ahmed revealed, nothing more than an existential truth. Why should anyone quarrel with truth, revealed as it is?

This opinion thinks that the South should rather come together, no matter the cost, as their Governors have done, to insist that power returns to the South as soon as possible. In spite of what the North thinks about Nigeria's Presidential power, this opinion believes that it is incumbent on the entire Southern Nigeria to rally together to prove the NEF and Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed wrong. Both the NEF and Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed are inconsequential in how Presidential power moves in Nigeria. They are only a loud, and an annoying minority as this article will reveal.

If the South cannot change how the North sees their sociopolitical upbringing to diagnose it properly, especially around how the North had exploited this upbringing in the past, to arrive at the conclusion they have reached, that the authority of Nigeria's Presidency rests in the North, the South will never solve the political equation the North has problematized for them to solve.

The position of the NEF is derived from a logical point of view, looking at it rationally and passionately, than reacting to it emotionally - the North has always capitalised on this weakness to exert their politico-economic exploitation of the South.

At each point the South produced the President of Nigeria in the 4th Republic, it had seemingly appeared that the permission of the North was sought to allow it. Chief Olusegun Matthew Obasanjo's Presidency was the making of the North, which brought and supported him to run. Mother luck smiled on Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, and the Presidency fell freely into his hands.

In 2011, it was the Northern Governors who persuaded the North to conceded the Presidency to the South. And by 2015, when Dr Jonathan bidded for his re-election. It was the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the North that truncated that bid. So why should anybody quarrel with the position of the Northern Elders Forum, as aired by Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed?

Now let us take the review of how the North had fairly divided the South to rule Nigeria in the past. In the first Republic, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), led by the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir (Dr) Ahmadu Bello Rabah, CBE, the then Premier of the Northern Region, divided the South against herself, and embraced the South East, through the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC), led by the Owelle of Onitsha, Dr Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe, to rule. In the Second Republic, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the political party dominated by Northerners, pulled immense support from the South South, dividing them from other partners in South to rule.

The 3rd Republic politics was short-lived because the North was not comfortable with the emergence of the independent-minded and the very wealthy winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential election, like they are presently mobilising against the South West in their Presidential permutations for 2023, testing several grounds as the NEF has done by their statement. Their talk about rotational Presidency is from nothing than their fear for the emergence of one man from the South West.

Chief Moshood Kasimawo Abiola won the freest, fairest and the most credible elections in the history of Nigeria, but was denied his mandate through the collaboration of military officers from the North, led by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. Where in all these, therefore, is the reason to quarrel with the position of the NEF? It will take more than calling the North out to change the status quo, as illustrated above.

In the politics of Nigeria, while the North attempts to keep her monolithic posture, through a lying logic, they keep the South divided in 3 parts by their "divide and rule" tactics, using national resources, making one part of the 3 always available for the North to pick as their second fiddle.

When it was clear that the opposition struggle in Nigeria needed a break, the opposition parties in Nigeria came together, and what informed the Muhammadu Buhari's Presidency in December 2014, was the numerical strength, in terms of votes which President Buhari garnered in past elections. For the first time since Nigeria's independence, the South West became the lovely bride of the North.

Looking at it more plainly, it would be observed that the North has flirted, politically, with all the regions in the South standing as "One North".

This opinion therefore concedes to the position of Dr Hakeen Baba Ahmed that Presidential power would constantly remain with the North and hereby ask: would the North support a President who is a Christian from the North? It would be too critical/harsh for the Moslem-North to see the Christian-North as just the number they need for votes during elections, and having none among them seen as worthy to assume Presidential power.

This is therefore the statistical review of the rule of the North in Nigeria: apart from Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (North East), whose Presidential powers was dictated by Sir Ahmadu Bello (North West), and Dr Yakubu Jack Gowon (North Central) whose Presidential power was dictated by Murtala Ramat Mohammed (North West), every other President Nigeria has had, had been from the North West. President Muhamadu Buhari is the 7th President from the North West, while North Central and North East had only shared one guided opportunity each.

All of them, except one, Dr Yakubu Jack Gowon, were Moslems. The Middle Belt States need to see their true position in Northern Nigeria, and how "monolithic" they have allowed themselves joinedup with the core North. The position where the Moslem-North thinks they are one with their Christian kinsmen, but keep them from Presidential power, was clearly what Dr Baba Ahmed revealed.

Unless a Christian-Northerner is supported by the entire North to emerge President in 2023, let the true picture be seen by the Christian-North that they are mere classless citizens of Nigeria, who are just a mixed-multitude in the crowd the Moslem-North has brought them into.

If a Northern Christian is not supported by the North, outside the North West in 2023, and they decide to field another Moslem-Northerner, likely from the North West, then the Christian-North need to understand how they are pawns on the chess board of the monolithic North, only good at being used to count votes.

The only way to put a lie to the ironic conception of the Northern Elders Forum, among whom are consenting Christians, is for the Middle Belt to join in coalition with the entire Southern Nigeria to put the Moslem-North in their true place, by birthing the monolith of Nigerian ethnic nationalities to check migrants who have imported their slave mentality into Nigeria, and are slowly welding political power against ethnic Nigerians, making laws that satisfies only them.

Otherwise, settlers would unsettle land-owners, as they have been pushing, with some of the obnoxious considerations they seek from the incumbent administration. Nigerians must therefore pray for the pleasant and happy ending of the Buhari administration, which end is the true nightmare the North fearfully avoids from happening. They abhor Southern Presidency this time because of how they have abused political power lately, to entreched themselves.

This is the major reason they are resisting the "Capone" of the South from being on the frontline of political participation in the country. He is their worst nightmare. The entire Southern Nigeria, toegether with the Christuan North, therefore, would need to let the Moslem North understand why a kind landlord would not be too stupid and blind to cede his authority over what he owns. No matter how strong "the North" is numerically, the eternal truth is that they remain a minority in Nigeria when ethnic nationalities are set apart from them. I pray this is well understood by all concerned.

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Hakeem Baba Ahmed NEF Nigeria Northern Elders Forum Southern States


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