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(1): Northerners’ Support of IBB: Conviction or Coercion?

First published on KanoOnline Online Forum on the 24th of October, 2010

It’s nearly an election season in Nigeria. Each and every political party has set before the people its products for buying or otherwise. Those of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party, especially of presidential seat, obviously seem to have attracted more attention and occupied wider political landscape. They include, among others, the incumbent president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and the former Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB). The two, indisputably, remain the much-talked-about contenders and formidable challengers with the former crushing the party’s ‘unofficial’ policy of zoning—where the candidacy in 2011 is said to be zoned to North—and the latter objecting to the former’s aspiration.

Other presidential hopefuls from the North of whom majority are barely ‘known’ beyond the Northern states include General Muhammad Buhari under the umbrella of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Although contestably, Buhari stands unique among them based on his virtually stainless records as erstwhile Head of State and a handler of various ranks and offices, yet could hardly get voted by the Southerners who mostly see him as a mere Hausa-Fulani Muslim who will favour his religion and region. Governor Bukola Saraki, has enough problems to settle in his state pertaining his sister’s governorship candidature; ex-VP Atiku Abubakar, is effectively politically dead and can thus scarcely win majority votes in his local government of origin; former Security Adviser to the president, General Aliyu Gusau, who, in politics, is no more than a featherweight; whilst it’s not yet time for the younger breeds like the former anti-graft commission, EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu. There is, thus, little or no hope in peoples’ minds over these contesters’ possibility and/or capability in challenging GEJ’s ardent bid in any way.

IBB did quite good to Nigeria during his reign, yet he, though arguably, is one of the most loathed leaders infamously because of the annulment of June 12, 1993 election, which is said to be the fairest, freest and most credible election ever witnessed in Nigeria’s history; his instituting of Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in the late 1980s; and his “maradonic” dribbling through out his stay on the Nigeria’s driver’s seat. The hatred is (or was?) so widespread to almost every nook and cranny of the country. But it’s more felt here in the North as some people fumed that “son of the soil disappointed us”.

Notwithstanding aforementioned ‘frailties’ of all the Northern contenders, Northerners still see GEJ’s ambition as dishonourable, for “it’s their turn”. Thus by whatever possible, peaceful means they seek for alternative and indefatigably deepen in their quest.

To make matter worst, GEJ all the time messes up things more. His infamy all at once outmatches that of the dictator, IBB. He is so naïve, incompetent and unfit to govern a state like Nigeria. For instance, much of a recent, in the aftermath of October 1 tragic bomb blast in Abuja, he unwisely made utterances that are plainly unpresidential, sectional and very parochial. He boldly absolved the terrorist group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) that took responsibility of the dastard act, adding that he knew who the attackers were. The president portrayed his real image—tribal bigot who’s so sentimental and temperamental—to the Nigerians, particularly Northerners, and the whole world, as observed many foremost columnists and political commentators.

Eventually many things followed that faux pas as the president senses that IBB is really capable of upturning his much desired wish. Hence, he decided to further follow the footstep of his mentor, the mischievous joker and old despot, Olusegun Obasanjo. He unhesitatingly ‘ordered’ a detention and questioning of the director-general of General IBB’s campaign organization, Chief Raymond Dokpesi by the SSS, over the bomb blast.

The issue worsened and twisted increases when Henry Okah, ‘leader’ of the MEND revealed what had transpired between him and the presidency. He was directed to “blame the attacks on northerners…” whom the president felt are problem to his becoming a president next year. That prompted an instant and strong condemnation of the president by the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) led by former finance minister, Adamu Chiroma, calling GEJ to resign or be impeached.

Days after, the same GEJ spew more heedless words that 6-3-3-4 policy of education, established by IBB, had failed and ruined education. He therefore called on former education minister Professor Babatunde Fafunwa, who died days after that politically motivated call, to apologise to the Nigerian children.

These are but a few of what is there for people to witness. Many more events have happened and more are forthcoming. Considering this and fearing for the worst, Northerners lost all confidence in him and are feeling stiffly unsecured. They seek for a refuge, at first by trying numerous ways such as a consensus candidate, which eventually flatly failed in the past and is prone to fail again and again. The last resort ultimately surface to be the same IBB they despised. The man, as an average Northerner would strongly say, has resources, both financial and human. He has “boys” in every cities and towns of the South and the North in the country. Thus all hopes cling against him to extricate people—Northerners, from GEJ’s grip of power.

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