Yesterday, the 19 Northern governors, national Assembly members from North, traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders and strategic intellectuals from the North met in Kaduna, a city renowned for its long history of hosting some of the most strategic gatherings and if you must, conspiracies, of the North. The Inspector-General of Police was also present, and you know what, the media was just allowed to take pictures before the main meeting commenced, in strict confidentiality. They give to the media what they want the media to get.
The North is not more homogeneous than the South like some people have been led to believe. Like the South, the North has its differences in religion, politics and tribes. Everyone in the North is not Hausa, nor is every Hausa, a Muslim. The Northerners are not all APC. At least, six of the nineteen Northern governors are PDP members and there is a reasonable number of National Assembly members from the North who are of the PDP. Clearly, every politician in the North doesn’t agree with a particular political ideology. They have their varied interests, but the interest of the North would always be the uniting factor among all politicians from different ideological backgrounds.
Like in the South, the North has varied tribes and languages. We have the Nupe, the Kanuri, the TIV, the Idoma, the Gwari, the Jukun, Berom, Angas and several other tribes and languages whose lingual and historical differences with the dominant Hausa-Fulani are well pronounced, but rarely in an acrimonious tone. They have their histories of rivalry, conquests and even wars, but they have mostly put that behind them and deliberately pursued a development focused kind of politics.
The meeting held yesterday in Kaduna is one in a series of such meetings held in the last one month. And one thing has remained constant in all these meetings – unity. They have always come out with a united voice on any issue they deliberated on and these issues have always been about the North’s economic, security and political interests. When they said they did not support the complete scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, they spoke with one voice, because they believe that the abuses and excesses that are rampant in the South are not the same in the North. They also hinged their position on the issue on the fact that they have peculiar security challenges in that region.
In recent history, the North have been in a position where they had to fight to ensure that the presidency shifted to them, and they approached this with every sense of unity and sincerity of purpose.
In 2007, there were assumptions that President Obasanjo was not very keen about respecting the agreed zoning arrangement which should see the presidency seamlessly return to the North. Many aspirants came out from the South, including almost all the sitting governors, who had completed their second terms. Chief Peter Odili was seen as been on very good standing to win the PDP nomination, but the unity of the North and their tenacity in insisting that the power shift agreement be maintained left the Peoples Democratic Party and the President at the time with no other option but to uphold the zoning arrangement and overwhelmingly nominated Umoru Musa Yaradua as their candidate.
When in 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to seek a second term of his own, against the prevailing sentiment in the North which favored a power shift back to the region. The North also spoke with one voice. Even State governors who remained in the PDP with Jonathan were helpless in the circumstance, as they let the will of their people to prevail. We had situations where some States in the North voted by over 80% for President Buhari, while in the governorship election which came barely a week later, the PDP either won the governorship or the margin of victory for the APC became drastically reduced. This was as result of the mass mobilization of the Northern electorate to ensure victory for one of their own. Those who couldn’t join the campaign for mass mobilization of the electorate in their areas, deliberately laid back to allow the message to spread well among the electorate.
It is to the credit of the North that they rise together when their interest is threatened. They speak with one voice when their region is threatened by any form of violence or crisis. They have a meeting point, where everyone goes to, removing the togas of partisanship and religious sentiments. Today, the North hasn’t been able to solve all of its sociopolitical and economic challenges, but it has continued to maintain a disproportionate advantage over the South on the issue of power play.
Another key strategy of the North in ensuring that they got the best bargain politically, is that they would always unite behind their most viable candidates, at each point in time. Other equally qualified and credible aspirants would either be prevailed upon to queue behind the Northern interest or be left with no other option but to merely participate for the sake of participating. It is rare to see a situation where the Northerner is used to sabotage the interest of a fellow Northerner.
It is my earnest belief and recommendation that we (South) must learn one or two tricks from the politics of the North in order to make headway in the Nigeria Politics.
God Bless Nigeria!🇳🇬