July 7, 2022
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A letter to Bola Tinubu and Orji Uzor Kalu on politics (2) – New Telegraph Newspaper

  • November 12, 2021
  • 10 min read
A letter to Bola Tinubu and Orji Uzor Kalu on politics (2) – New Telegraph Newspaper

It was against the background of the foregoing political excursion into colonial and post-colonial politics of Azikiwe and Awolowo, that two prominent southern politicians – Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Bola Ige considered this situation of southern schism unacceptable and proffered a solution which they hinged on levelling up the gradient political structure of Nigeria by forging a southern counterpoise to this British-contrived northern unipolar political structure and consequent dominance by making the south to have political understanding and sense of national purpose.
Chief Ojukwu in one of his public interventions counselled that it is only a Southern entente which he called “a handshake across the Niger” that will rescue Nigeria by achieving a balanced political participation and outcomes. To Chief Ojukwu, once the Igbo and the Yoruba, and afortiori the southern minorities agree, the Hausa/Fulani dominance will be neutralized.
Chief Bola Ige, an acknowledged Yoruba leader in his book, ‘People Politics and Politicians of Nigeria’ was more explicit by attributing the British-contrived quarrels between Azikiwe and Awolowo between 1950 and 1960 to make political understanding, national purpose and focus impossible and adjudged this situation to be the disaster that has robbed Nigeria of qualitative and creative leadership. Chief Ige pointedly urged southern Nigerian political leaders to solve this problem and regain their nationalist orientation and egalitarian dreams of Nigeria that flowered and flourished between 1930 and 1949 to recreate Nigeria on equitable and egalitarian model.
Chief Ige’s prognosis is worthy of reproduction since most Nigerians may not have access to the book. He had considered the Action Group politics that denied Azikiwe political relevance in Western Nigeria a grave error and declared: “…the action of the Action Group people also depressed me. I felt that it was not right, and perhaps wicked, for them to thwart what seemed to me a proper and logical party decision – that is, that the leader of the NCNC should go to represent an NCNC constituency in the Federal House. I felt very strongly that the Action Group had used political might and expediency wrongly and had thereby committed a moral wrong.
I felt that since the Action Group has shown their majority on the floor of the House, there was no need to over-kill Zik. Somehow, although what the Action Group did was within their constitutional rights, I felt it was not right and that only God would know the consequences. “In 1952 I strongly felt that the way the Action Group blocked the way of Zik going to Lagos was neither prudent, nor just, nor by any yardstick, charitable.
It is over 30 years now and I have no reason to change my view. As a matter of fact, I doubt whether Obafemi Awolowo and his party men would have done what they did then if they knew what the consequences for Nigeria as a whole, and the electoral fortunes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in particular, would be what they have since been.
For I believe that Zik has probably never forgiven Awo for that 1952 episode. I also believe that Zik and the Igbos must have taken an oath, or something like it, never to give Awo a chance to lead Nigeria and also to sabotage such chance whenever any seemed to appear. That unfortunate, misguided, though politically expedient, action has wrought havoc on Nigeria’s political terrain for more than 30 years. When Awo and Zik attempted to reconcile in 1983 and they did try – the ghost of 1952 was not far in the background. That ghost must be exorcised.
That ghost must be laid to rest. It is quite depressing. “Lastly, with the squabbles in the South, Northern leaders went ahead, and with the new party they had formed – the Northern People’s Congress – they proceeded to fashion government and politics in the way they pleased or considered right.
That meant still further entrenchment of vested, especially feudal, interests with active collaboration of the British colonial officers. “The NEPU was squeaking from Kano area, but they were muted squeaks, quickly muffled. The Action Group could not be bothered yet about any place outside the West, and Zik was busy fighting for his place in Eastern Nigeria. Between 1952 and 1954, Nigeria was very well polarized politically, and almost hermetically sealed regionally.” It is not on record, that these two great men who are dead ever took any practical steps to actualize their dreams/advice to have a southern political understanding and national purpose and focus.
They, however, threw up the idea and it is the duty of the living to fructify the idea and I think Senators Tinubu and Kalu are the most competent and capable of making this happen. In the first place, Senators Bola Tinubu and Orji Uzor Kalu were governors between 1999-2007 and each have had experiences at the national level as senators.
In terms of political capacity, each of them, despite the attendant weaknesses is well equipped in term of media presence and ownership to mobilise public opinion in support of the ‘Handshake across the Niger’ or political understanding and national purpose and focus by Southern Nigeria. Each of these men also has the contact and reach across the South and the Middle Belt to achieve the object.
So, sirs, your greatest deed before retiring from politics or transiting to eternity in years to come lies in destroying this British subterfuge and political chicanery in setting up one dominant political establishment to manage and control Nigeria. The present generation of politicians can already see their successor-generation, that’s the fourth generation represented by Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Adeyemo, Mujaheed Asari Dokubo and the leaders of insurgents (Boko Haram), bandits and kidnappers are playing their own politics the way they understand it.
If the third generation represented by Senators Tinubu and Kalu don’t wish to see Nigeria collapse on their head, then they must act fast to heed the advice of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Bola Ige to re-create a Southern Entente as a counterpoise political stream to the British-created unipolar northern political establishment to contest for power since that British-created northern wing neither represent national interest based on equity and justice but on selfish interest of domination and control judging from what Hakeem Baba Ahmed told the nation recently.
This southern alternative will only be a resurrection and resuscitation of the 1944-1950 pan nationalist movement largely championed by southern/middlebelt politicians but decapitated, and dismembered by Britain to achieve dominant northern feudal power base.
In calling this generation represented by these two great men to take up this national duty against the easy way known to them which is ingratiating themselves to this British-created Northern political establishment and bid their time based on the power-concession formula founded on the northern establishment’s contrived feudal principles of zoning, federal character and quota system. Achieving Southern understanding will heal Nigeria’s diseased political health and restore its political integrity in the comity of nations so that it can remove the shame of being a ‘giant with clay feet’ and ‘big for-nothing’.
The argument that this political consciousness and action is sectional but the British-created Northern political establishment is crass sectional scheme. There danger of challenging the system in the twilights of these men’s existence is appreciated but every human endeavour is fraught with dangers. Juxtapose the shame and humongous bloodshed the politics of Nigeria on the basis of this system has visited on Nigeria and every citizen and you appreciate the need for its abolition. These men’s hopes of governing Nigeria on their own merit or their descendants having such right are forlorn, and that should be clear to them.
Their generational and personal salvation lies in working to abolish a system that has damaged Nigeria and continues to do so no matter the consequences. But history is on their side, as truth and justice will always triumph over the forces of falsehood and oppression. History favours crusaders for justice and truth for no force can stand against an idea whose time has come. And the time for this national rebirth and reconstruction on justice and truth has come. Let their generation not betray this generational cause for the consequence may not be fathomed now.
Seeking after the Nigerian presidency may be tantalizing and enticing but it is a poisoned chalice which bewitches whoever it is handed to as can be seen by recent experiences since 1999. Winning the Nigerian presidency on zoning formula will neither serve Nigeria nor the world as that cannot help Nigeria to grow out of its fundamental problems. Let this generation work to rescue Nigeria and reconstruct it on equitable and competitive principles so that the succeeding generations may inherit a functional system and a truly united people. This letter humbly submitted sirs, is a call for national duty.
The consequences of your acceptance of this clarion call to national duty now and working to actualize it or refusing it in favour of wildgoose- chase after the Nigerian presidency will only be understood may be after your presidential quest or after your earthly sojourns. This is a tall order but see what you can do!
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