Whose North? .
Saturday, 20 February 2010 00:00 Nigerian Compass
. .The drumbeats of war have begun; the unwary should take heed. The Northern caucus of the National Assembly was on Thursday reported to have, quite distressingly, told Acting President Goodluck, in no unmistakable terms, to prepare for impeachment if he dared dissolve the current federal cabinet.
Twenty-four hours after the threat, which was reportedly issued after the caucus met at the Apo Quarters of Abdul-Ningi, there has been no rebuttal of the claims. So it is safe to take the report as true.
Apparently to them, it is irrelevant if the ministerial team is incapable of pushing through the visions of the Acting President, or even of the ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, let alone that of the nation. The cabinet has come to stay, pure and simple.
That the cabinet has since inception failed to raise power generation and supply across the country, and has not given any indication that it will anytime soon, is irrelevant to the Northern caucus of the national legislature.
It also does not matter to the caucus that the current cabinet has failed to frontally tackle Nigeria’s heavy food imports, or improve the provision of water, or get appreciable results on road construction and repairs. We are nowhere near the starting blocks in science and technology, or education, or industry. Please, do not mention the petroleum sector where Nigeria has continued to behave like a slowpoke, watching Western nations refine its crude oil, shipping the black gold abroad for refining, and milking us all the way through.
To the legislators in the caucus, the current Minister of the Niger Delta can continue being busy doing nothing; federal highways can be death traps until eternity, the national healthcare system can continue to be in the hands of usurious private medical practitioners; indeed, the status quo that preserves the so-called advantages of the North in the current dispensation must be maintained.
And, oh!, Michael Aondoakaa, who has served the interest of the North so well must be kept in office in whatever shape or form. He can still be of great use, whether in the Ministry of Justice or as Special Duties minister.
Fortunately, the North has the numerical advantage in the National Assembly, going by Nigeria’s peculiar history, a trend that dates back to the colonial days. Thus, it is irrelevant if the entire South and the common people of the North are agreed on an issue, it will be defeated when put to vote once the Northern elite decide against it.
The only unfortunate thing is that the so-called interest of the North that they seek to protect is narrow, very narrow. It does not include the interest of the farmer in Kaura Namoda, whose children may never go to school and are either sent into almajiri training, when males; or married off at tender ages, when female. The so-called northern interest that is being sought to be maintained at all costs by this caucus does not include the mass of the people in Maiduguri who have no access to electricity, or enjoy it only in fits and starts; or the pregnant woman in the other parts of the North, like her counterparts in the South, who in the subsisting dispensation is left to her fate, both in delivery and training of the offspring. It does not include the interest of the nomad, or the elderly man who has been a street beggar all his life and has sired more beggars and deserve a national leadership that will come up with a programme of social security for the young and the aged.
It does not address the serious disconnect between the leaders and the led that bred boko haram, a doctrine that sees all sorts of Western education as evil since virtually all its known beneficiaries have put the knowledge to negative uses.
Truth be told: the so-called Northern interest, if it continues to be at variance with that of the nation, will impoverish the average Northerner, equally, if not more that his Southern compatriot.
Pray, what is wrong in giving the Acting President a free hand, so that he can make the best of the remaining years of this joint presidency? Is it in doubt that even if he is well enough and returns to the country today, Yar’Adua has been presented to Nigerians and the entire world as one who abdicated his throne without justification; that the ailing President has been alienated from the citizenry by those who preferred to run the country on his behalf, anonymously and without being held accountable?
Without doubt, it is a warped sense of Northern interest, and not national cause, that led Yar’Adua’s handlers to keep him away from Nigerians since November 23 last year, and have him held hostage by doctors in Saudi Arabia; the sitting president of another country!
That Nigeria’s president had to seek medical attention abroad is shameful enough, but for our legislators to insist that the status quo must continue is unacceptable. With such a disposition, it will be difficult, if not impossible to hold Jonathan responsible for the performance of the cabinet. It is not in doubt that in this clime, as well as most parts of the world, the choice of ministers is strictly of the President and not the party, much less of his deputy. If, in the unexpected development of the deputy taking over the reins, as is the case with Dr. Jonathan, the country must live with either a change of cabinet by the new leader or a lack-lustre performance by the administration. The decision to retain ministers and any other appointee ought to be left to the new leader who will take the ultimate credit or blame for the performance of the administration. Forcing a clearly unenthusiastic team on the Acting President is a disservice to not just the country but the larger Northern interest that the legislators purport to represent.
Shorn of its linguistic garb, the declaration of war by the caucus is not in the interest of the North, by any stretch of imagination, but of those who stand to profit from the dark clouds in the horizon. If something radical is not done about the Yar’Adua/Jonathan cabinet, as is being rigorously advocated by the caucus, the negative consequences will be suffered by the mass of the Nigerian people, including if not more particularly, those of the North on whose behalf the caucus purports to act.