by Ochereome Nnanna
A national newspaper over the past weekend carried a bold headline: “North Vows To Stop Jonathan”, with riders: “We will ensure PDP loses” – Ango Abdullahi; Arewa Chair Commassie: “We are keeping Plan B to our chest”.
Professor Ango Abdullahi is the spokesman of the reactionary Northern Elders Forum, NEF, which is overpopulated with former holders of prominent offices at the federal level. They were the people that the late leader of Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, slaved throughout his life to educate and pump into prominent positions during the years that the region exclusively dominated the Nigerian political sphere.
Ango Abdullahi and his cohorts were given free education and pampered like princes while at school because they were just a handful when compared with their teeming colleagues from the former Eastern and Western Regions.
When they graduated, their classmates at Barewa and other colleges in the North who were sent to the military had occupied prominent positions in the Federal Military Government. They enjoyed all the plum postings between 1966 and 1999. At a point they believed that Nigeria was a colony of Arewa because apart from Olusegun Obasanjo, their surrogate who succeeded Gen Murtala Mohammed when he was killed in a power struggle between Northern factions in 1976 to 1979, the North reigned for 39 years.
It was this class of Northern elite that wrecked the country, its economy and institutions set up by the colonial masters and post-independence leaders. Like parasitic cankerworms, they ate down federal parastatals such as the Railways, Shipping Line, Nigeria Airways, Ajaokuta Steel, Alscon, NITEL, NIPOST, among others, until they were either scrapped or sold off for pennies under questionable privatisation programmes.
Back home in the North, they appropriated all the money and power they derived from their dominance of the Federal Government to themselves, friends and family members and produced a tiny core of super-billionaires, with their children attending the best schools in the world.
On the other hand, the children of the talakawa – the poor and downtrodden – were rendered into fly-infested al majiri; street urchins who live with exploitative koranic mallams. They frequently deploy them to kill non-Muslims and non-indigenes in the North. The youth have now channelled their anger into Boko Haram insurgency to overthrow the ruling class of the North for which Ango Abdullahi is a noisy spokesman.
These system wreckers want to gate-crash back into power by all means. These were the people who threatened that if Jonathan was allowed to enjoy his inalienable constitutional rights to vie for presidency of the country, they would make Nigeria ungovernable for him.
Their argument is that after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, his Deputy, Dr Goodluck Jonathan should have forfeited his constitutional rights to succeed his boss. He should have given up his inalienable rights to vie for the presidency because of the rotational principle of the PDP.
They call it a fight for justice. Where was equity when Ango Abdullahi and other Arewa freeloaders exclusively called the shots for 39 years, reducing the South to mere spectators? Is it now that a president from the South-South in the former Eastern Region is presiding over Nigeria and gradually restoring the broken institutions of state that Abdullahi attaches a sanctimonious meaning to “equity”?
The truth of the matter is that Ango Abdullahi and the NEF are in no position to carry out the threat they have issued. They cannot stop Nigerians from voting for Jonathan or the PDP if that is what Nigerians want. Also, they have no power to facilitate the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC. APC victory will happen in spite of the NEF if that is the wish of the Nigerian electorate.
The Northern Region that the British colonial master created and made a monster to rule Nigeria either through ballot or bullet is no more. The three old regions are dead.
The old Northern region was the last to die. It was the inheritors of Ahmadu Bello’s largesse like Ango Abdullahi who killed the North through religious extremism and oppression of Minorities and non-Muslims who helped them and the Yorubas in the war against Igbos during 1966 to 1970. At the just-concluded National Conference, the Middle Belt separated themselves cleanly from Arewa Muslim North and sided with the combined South to create a new political possibility which potentially renders Arewa to an underdog.
Even at that, Arewa North does not dance to the political tune dictated by the faction that Ango speaks for. Ango Abdullahi, Lawal Kaita and Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, who boasted that the North would release “Plan B”, are agents of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s faction of the APC. They used their Northern posturing to vie against Jonathan in 2011.
Northern presidential aspirants closed ranks against Jonathan and Atiku emerged as consensus candidate. Jonathan still thrashed Atiku at the PDP primaries by scoring 2,736 against Atiku’s 805. Jonathan went ahead to beat Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential election of 2011, scoring 59% to Buhari’s 32%. Using the ogre of North to frighten political opponents no longer works.
Nigerians still vote along ethnic and religious lines to some extent, but that is not the deciding factor. The deciding factor is where the various political leaders belong. The North is a major stakeholder in both APC and PDP.
The North (both Arewa and Middle Belt) is a major stakeholder in the Jonathan presidency. The choice before these leaders in 2015 is whether their interests are better served with theincumbent, President Jonathan, or whoever emerges as the APC flag bearer. They will direct their loyalists at the localities to vote accordingly. Ango Abdullahi is just letting off empty, hot air.
As for Coomassie’s Plan B, it no longer exists. North used to bring in the army whenever their civilian wing in power was no longer sure-footed. They used to change even military regimes whenever the one on ground was no longer acceptable to them. Those days are over. If Boko Haram was Plan B, it is failing. It will not affect the eventual outcome of the 2015 elections.
Ochereome Nnanna writes for Vanguard newspaper where this piece was first published.
Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.