e all know that power has the ability to both excite and incite. It has the ability to elicit feelings of hope and strength, as well as tension, hatred, and bitterness. Why should the next President’s regional heritage be a contentious issue that prompts threats and retaliation? Why should brothers be at odds about power dynamics? Should we not be talking about how to put Nigeria back on the right course rather than trade words with one another as to the identity and personality of the next President come 2023 election. I believe in a society where brotherhood should be ahead of any ethnicity because division is the brewer of instability in a land especially the type we find ourselves.
Why should the geography of power be such a contentious subject if the primary goal of gaining central control is to guide Nigeria and all Nigerians down a road of peace and development? Why should the axial arrangement of power be the minatory issue if the interests of all Nigerians are of importance? I see no reason for the pyrotechnics and why we cannot agree on where power should orbit in 2023 unless the underlying goal of acquiring power at the centre is to pursue regional and sectional agendas.
In reality, ethnic and religious schisms have marred Nigerian leadership. A new leader is elected, but once in office, he turns his attention to ethnic protectionism. As a result, Nigerians are concerned because power is used for the convenience of a select few rather than for the good of all. The North may be concerned that power orbiting to the South will be to its detriment, while the South may be concerned that power remaining on the current axis will erode its interest further – a conflict of titanic interests and agendas. But, where has Nigeria’s agenda gone? Is it possible to have one for all and all for one?
Is it not logical that, given the awareness of our problems and the point at which the house began to cave in, we come to an agreement on the leadership qualities of the next President in 2023 — such as his antecedents, credentials, demonstrated leadership and managerial abilities, demonstrated patriotism, expansiveness, and respect for diversity — but with ethnic/regional background as a secondary value?
We need a Nigerian President, not one whose identity is determined by his ethnicity or geography. Yes, a President who will use authority to benefit all Nigerians. So, regardless of where the President comes from (North or South), a majority of Nigerians will feel a sense of belonging and patriotism. Not the Northern or Southern agenda, but the Nigerian agenda is required.
The quest for power should be for the sake of ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone. We have made some mistakes in the past under different leaderships, and we should be bold enough to address them now. We can not hope for change if we keep thinking in the same box. How can we reorganize the system if we insist on maintaining the status quo because we want the pendulum to swing our way? We need to be able to tell the difference between primary and secondary values.
With their intemperate statements on the 2023 Presidency, a number of notable Nigerians and groups have stoked the fires. The Northern Elders Forum’s spokesman, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, is said to have made some atypical remarks about the geography of power in Nigeria’s Presidential election come 2023.
Baba-Ahmed is quoted thus: “We will lead Nigeria the way we have led Nigeria before whether we are President or Vice-President, we will lead Nigeria. We have the majority of the votes and democracy says vote who you want. Why should we accept a second-class position when we know we can buy a form and contest for first class and we will win? Why does anybody need to threaten us and intimidate us? We will get that power, but be humble because power comes from God. We inherited leadership and being honest is not being stupid. The North has pride; we are humble enough to know that we are going to run Nigeria with other people but we are not going to play a second fiddle to anybody. We may not have the most robust economy, there are people who are trying to strangulate us even more than we are being strangled.’’
I have been following Baba-Ahmed’s views for a long time and have noticed his cool demeanor when it comes to divisive National issues. It is for this reason that I find his latest comments offensive. Other significant individuals and groups in the South, alongside Baba-Ahmed, have been infusing their ambition for dominance in the region with corrosive words and threats. I would say that threatening one another is not a good idea.
When Southern politicians make obscene claims about power shifting to the area in 2023, the opposite side is bound to react. I believe that in situations of this nature, tact and diplomacy are required, rather than threats and counter-threats. Even if the majority of people think that authority should go to the South in 2023, public agreement is still required.
We must all work together to accomplish our goals. By making unrestrained comments, leaders simply exacerbate sectional worries and widen the divide. No region or group should be isolated or made to feel endangered because of where the next President should come from.
Leadership also entails the use of words that are appropriate to hearing since the affairs of leadership is public-oriented, it will be amicable and admirable for political, religious, group, and community leaders to keep their public statements about the 2023 Presidential election to a minimum. They should understand that elections can only be held in a peaceful and safe environment. They should refrain from making rash pronouncements that could cause havoc.