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Tinubu, Northern elders and the politics of regrets

 President Bola Tinubu | File Image

‘The mistake of supporting Tinubu in 2023 has taught us the importance of unity and consensus in selecting a candidate for the highest office in the land’

By Jude Ndukwe

Recently, some Northern elders under the aegis of Northern Elders Forum declared that the north regretted voting for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The Forum stated this through its spokesman, Abul-Azeez Suleiman:

“The North made a mistake in voting Bola Tinubu to the presidency in 2023, and it is unlikely that they will repeat the same error in the future.

“They have learned from their past misstep and will strive to select a candidate who can unite the country and govern in the best interests of all Nigerians.

“Moving forward, the North will be more cautious in selecting a candidate for the presidency. They will prioritise someone who is seen as more inclusive, less controversial, and more aligned with the interests of all regions of the country.

“The mistake of supporting Tinubu in 2023 has taught us the importance of unity and consensus in selecting a candidate for the highest office in the land,” he was quoted as saying.

This is another arrogant demonstration of a sense of exclusive right to determine who becomes President of Nigeria by the north. President Tinubu is only 11 months into his four-year renewable tenure and the north is already talking about regretting voting for him.

The north does not seem to like it when presidents emerge from other regions other than theirs. They do everything to cause disaffection for the person and unnecessarily heat up the polity with all manner of infantile criticisms just to lower the estimation of government before the people and make it look incapable of leading the nation.

Also read: Tinubu’s aide blames Buhari for rot in econom

This same Northern Elders Forum saw absolutely nothing wrong with former President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that was arguably the most nepotistic, clueless, corrupt, unjust, inept and incompetent in the history of Nigeria.

For eight years, Nigerians endured that government of anyhowness while the north cheered him on with impudent ecstasy.

Today, they have suddenly found their voice and are doing everything to discredit the Tinubu’s government.

But beyond the facade of advocating for good governance, discerning Nigerians understand why the north has developed a bellyache so early into Tinubu’s presidency.

With decades of lopsidedness in appointments, siting of institutions and infrastructure by past presidents of northern extraction, to the detriment of other regions, which in turn weaken our unity as a nation and erode the principles of equity, any attempt by any government to correct this age-long anomalies in our body polity will surely be perceived as witch-hunt by the protagonists of such blatant nepotism.

Tinubu as a progressive who believes in true federalism and restructuring is already exhibiting the needed courage to correct those anomalies and give every part of Nigeria their deserved sense of belonging.

For example, the north seemed to have forgotten that Abuja belongs to all Nigerians and not to any particular region of the country, hence, some of their leaders whipped up regional and religious sentiments against the appointment of Nyesom Wike, a Christian southerner, as minister of the Territory. But Tinubu did not budge.

They heated up the polity unnecessarily when the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, took a purely administrative decision to relocate some of its departments from Abuja to Lagos for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Of all regions in the country, only Northern leaders cried foul over that decision until one of them, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former CBN Governor himself, backed the relocation exercise with incontrovertible reasons.

It was the same thing when some MDAs under the Ministry of Aviation were to be relocated from Abuja to Lagos, some Northern leaders read meanings into it even when it was obvious and clear that those MDAs would be more effective in Lagos being Nigeria’s air travel hub.

The Northern Elders Forum does seem shocked that a non-northerner is now the Inspector-General of Police, while their hitherto seemingly unbreakable grip on the Chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has finally been broken.

Maybe they are also alarmed that shortly after Buhari had unreasonably shut out the southeast from heading any of our nation’s security outfits for the entirety of his inglorious eight-year reign, Tinubu swiftly reversed that absurdity by making one the Chief of Naval Staff. That must have ruffled the feathers of some ethnic jingoists in the North even though they head the Office of the National Security Adviser, Minister of Defence, Minister of State for Defence, DSS, Chief of Air Staff among others. They rather not see anyone from the southeast head any of our military or paramilitary agencies. They celebrated that ugly trend under Buhari and when those affected complained and reminded them about the need to be fair in such appointments, they quickly retorted that Buhari had the liberty to work with only those he trusted and that he should be allowed to make his appointments based on merits only as if the other regions do not have even more competent hands than the north.

They also probably can’t believe that for the first time in the history of our collective ownership of Abuja, a south easterner is the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, an assignment CP Benneth Igwe has carried out with uncommon courage, fervour and patriotism, clearing the FCT of violent crimes and criminality in record time after his appointment. And as the military gained more ground in the fight against terrorism, neutralizing many while rescuing victims and recovering swathes of lands from them, some of these northern leaders continued to bicker with the security agencies over their exploits against these terrorists. Why not? After all, some of them have been named as financiers of these criminal groups while others are well known sympathisers to them.

Or is it possible that these northern elders are angry that instead of constructing a highway and a railway from Katsina to Niger Republic like Buhari did, an action which many Nigerians considered a gross misplacement of priorities and an attempt to pander to his cousins outside the country at the expense of the nation, Tinubu has chosen to commence the construction of a more beneficial 700-kilometre 10-lane coastal highway cutting across several states from Lagos to Calabar with a rail line in its middle? They probably would have preferred it to be another highway of 861km leading from Yobe to Chad.

But Tinubu chose Nigeria for Nigerians first, and the north cannot seem to understand why.

It is even possible that their anger stems from the fact that Tinubu’s presidency has effectively clamped down on black market operators of foreign exchange market nationwide most of whom could be agents of these political hawks parading as ethnic leaders who would have preferred the continued rapid fall of the Naira as long as they are selfishly smiling to the bank?

When you are used to doing things wrongly, anyone who comes to correct them will certainly look like an enemy. In Katsina State for example, the state and the federal-owned universities prohibited Christian worship on campus indefinitely and reportedly locked up Christian worship centres while their Muslim counterparts are allowed to worship on campus without any inhibition.

Let us even assume without conceding that the state has rights to place such a ban since it is funding the university, what about the federal-owned university in the state that is being funded with federal resources? Why place such a ban? If President Tinubu declares tomorrow that such an illegal ban be lifted for the sake of fairness, equity and justice, some northern elders will pick up a fight with him. The north really needs to look inwards to help itself. They have led the country for the most number of years by far, yet they remain the most diseased, the least educated and the poorest of all the nation’s regions.

It is either they stop their shenanigans or their region will keep deteriorating even if they are allowed to produce the president alone from now till ‘thy Kingdom come’.

While it is true that Nigeria experienced excruciating hardship at the initial stage of the Tinubu presidency due to unavoidable reforms that must be carried out to put the nation on the right track, things are easing off lately.

 The President and his team deserve some accolades for that, not some irritable distractions churned out from an impudent and sickening sense of entitlement by elders of a region. Tinubu is already the president and should be supported to succeed because his success is Nigeria’s success. That way, even if the northern elders regret his presidency because of their selfish interests, the majority of Nigerians will rejoice because of the overall general interest that benefit them as a people.

. Ndukwe writes from Abuja.

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