By Akeem Yusuf
Nigeria has been languishing in the problem of leadership right from the independent from the British colonisation before my generation, and the next generation is yet to witness the worse (God forbid). As a Nigerian citizen, the only thing I have benefited ever is the free education under the UPN, Unity Party of Nigeria at my primary school level.
Since then, the propensity for prosperity through the government’s empowerment has rather turned to a nightmare. Not just for me but also, for all the generations before and after me. This is as a result of monopolisation of power that oscillates between the Northerners and South Westerners for a long time. Nigerian leadership always leave two things out of the equation; God (Allah) and the Easterners. This system has resulted into the sense of individualism rather than collectivism, corruption instead of discipline, impunity that lacks respect for accountability and, of course, it is now heading towards division and a total collapse of a nation called Nigeria.
By the end of this piece, or even before the end, you would either hate my guts and my thought process because I am a Muslim and a Yoruba man – because religion and race have become the benchmark by which people are judged in the modern world, especially in the multi-religious society like Nigeria). Or you would agree with my honest view without prejudice that I mean good for Nigeria to move forward.
The original sin of the Easterners
I have always wondered and asked myself, why have I not seen an Igbo Nigerian President? And I have remained perpetually in that state of wonderment until I studied a GST course in the higher institution: Nigeria People and Culture. I reckon this course could have been given another title that would portray what it is, that is, the History of Nigeria. One thing I learned from this course that got stuck to my memory forever is that, the Igbo were the first people to carry out the first and the bloodiest coup in Nigeria, which was the 1966 coup. Thus, they are labeled ‘Untrustworthy Race’.
Although it was an unfortunate thing to have happened as it tarnished the reputation of the race that was accused of masterminding the coup. Many lives were lost in the process especially of great statesmen. And it changed the political landscape of Nigeria till now.
However, I should say, enough of all this rhetoric that misrepresents the Igbo as untrustworthy race. Didn’t the Yoruba participate in it? Has this become the concept of the original sin for the Igbo as in the Bible (which I don’t believe in anyway)? Not because I am a Muslim but because it doesn’t make sense. The individual who committed a sin will bear its burden. How many coups have the Hausa and the Yoruba carried out after the 1966 coup? Five or six? Are they being castigated like the Igbo? No, they are not. I don’t have the appropriate statistics to proof that the Igbo are being marginalised, but they obviously feel so. They are agitating for cessation and they want freedom.
The question is, would that demand solve their problem and make their lives better? Are they really united in this course of cessation? Obviously no, with due respect, I am afraid that their disunity could make their case worse than that of South Sudan. The South Sudan wished they hadn’t demanded for cessation from Sudan as it has been war after war and deaths in large scale sequel to their so-called freedom. They were deceived by the large oil deposits in their region, but they are now more disunited than they were under Sudan with higher level of poverty. They might even be divided into two now.
So, I do not believe that cessation is the solution to the political problem of Igbo people save justice. The Igbo need justice as stated in the Qur’an 5 vs 8: “Believers! Be upright bearers of witness for Allah (God), and do not let the enmity of any people move you to deviate from justice. Act justly, that is nearer to God-fearing. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is well aware of what you do” …if Nigeria has to move forward for better.
The power addiction of the Northerners
Historically, apart from Nnamdi Azikiwe (just a figurehead president), the two Yoruba who have been presidents three times by chance (Obasanjo and Shonekan) and Jonathan, the helms of the affairs of Nigeria have mostly been in the hands of the Northerners. I have always believed that the Hausa are much more trustworthy, when it comes to business transaction, than the Yoruba and the Igbo.
This point is further buttressed by the opinion poll conducted by a journalist on YouTube: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpwgbXPhh70) where all the three major races mentioned what they like and despise about one another.
Both the Yoruba and the Igbo said they would trust Hausa in Business transaction than other races. And of course, being a Muslim, I have always attributed their trustworthiness nature to Islam because, that is what Islam teaches and that is who they are. Unfortunately, some Nigerians believe that when it comes to being at the helms of affairs of this country they (Hausa) are ironically untrustworthy and are mostly responsible for rocking the boat of the nation towards the level we are today. They argue that they are much more corrupt than two other races.
So, they are equally untrustworthy Race? Yet most Northerners, with some unguarded utterances, believe that it is their birth right to be the president because they are claiming to be the majority. As a Muslim, I believe that it is not Islamic because, Islam demands that a leader should carry out his duties (trust) justly on the people as the Qur’an 4 vs 58 says: “Allah commands you to deliver trusts to those worthy of them; and when you judge between people, judge with justice. Excellent is the admonition Allah gives you. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”
Then is it not high time to separate Islam from the hypocrite Muslims because they lack the fear of Allah (God)? So why should the Nigerians agree that the Northerners should rule again? Especially the Igbo who feel disenfranchised? This resentment for power addiction by the Northerners seems to further polarise the nation even more.
But should we blame the mistake of some individual Northerners on all of them, even the good ones? Of course no because, the current President is from the North and, please disagree to agree with me, he is the best of all the presidents we have had in the past in dealing with corruption which is the cancer that kills our nation. He is not corrupt and he is trying to bring the country back to its former glorious status.
Although many would say we are in the recession under his leadership. This is arguably not true because we have technically been in recession long time ago. It was just a matter of time to manifest which happens to be under his leadership. For now, Nigeria is in the hand of the best leader we ever had under the guidance of God…at least if some Nigerians do not like him but they believe that he will not embezzle their money. That is enough from a Nigerian leader for now compare to the former ones.
The South-Westerners as middlemen
Undoubtedly, the Yoruba race is the most educated with the best brains in many fields, reference to the same YouTube opinion poll conducted the journalist earlier mentioned: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpwgbXPhh70). They sometimes play political victims but largely score political victories. They can be very organised especially in politics. They are better than the Igbo in mobilising their people to the party they believe in. To the Yoruba, no permanent friend and no permanent enemy, but where the permanent interest lies.
However, they cannot be absolved from the blame for the mess of leadership problem we find ourselves in Nigeria; they are also the culprits and equally corrupt. They lack the fear of God even though they claim to worship God. The word: ‘Politician’ is synonymous to dubious person nowadays. And the Yoruba are very masterly in politics. They seem to be the middlemen between the Northerners and the Easterners, but not being sensitive enough to the reality of the leadership problem in Nigeria, probably because they have a taste of the power. That doesn’t sound like a ‘Trustworthy
Race’ either. Although a lot of the ignorant people who read this article might call me Omo Ale (a bastard) because I am saying the plain truth as a Yoruba man. Is it not better to be a truthful bastard than a legitimate hypocrite? So, what role should the Yoruba play to keep Nigeria as one for better tomorrow?
Nigeria through the lens posterity
It is very disappointing to begin to hear the Northerners already warming up to produce yet a Northern candidate for 2019 election when we are in 2017. And it is still possible that Buhari might want to spend the second term to complete the total overhauling of the country which I see as work-in-progress. I do not believe they should even dream of it after Buhari if they really believe in the unity and oneness of Nigeria. It would be wise to support the Igbo presidency after Buhari. Although not a power-hungry one, but the Igbo that can continue in the footstep of quality leadership of Buhari and not only restore the dignity of the Igbo but also prove that they can even be better than the ex-presidents. And the Yoruba must play a good role in ensuring that this becomes a reality because it would accord them respect and dignity.
The agitation for cessation does not guarantee the unity among the Igbo, only in their collective effort to produce the next president of Nigeria lies their strength and propensity for prosperity for all Nigerians can become reality for the posterity, In Sha’ Allah (God willing). Ameen (Amen).
God bless Nigeria