“…We can’t keep feeding the philosphy of two Nigeria’s and expect to make progress. Consider this-how can you make progress with your brother when he is pulling in one direction and you the opposite direction? If the old guard have chosen that destiny for themselves, the youth ought to chart a new course. You shouldn’t be a Northerner or Southerner first. You must be a Nigerian first. That’s how to build a country.” — Nasir El Rufai, Facebook, June 2010
Nasir El Rufai is right here and this is a wonderful submission and contribution from him. It is very encouraging to us all and this really is the way forward…..no-one can dispute that. Nasir is my brother, he is one in a million and because of people like him there is still hope for Nigeria. But the bitter truth is that the overwhelming majority of the older northern leaders do not share that liberal and advanced philosophy and disposition which people in the younger generation like Nasir El Rufai, Nuhu Ribadu, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Uba Sani, Attahiru Jega, Aliyu Gajo, Nenadi Usman and a few others share. As a matter of fact that is why people like Babangida and those that think like him do not like the El-Rufai’s and Ribadu’s of this world. If all or even a large number of core northern leaders could think like Nasir and say this sort of thing and actually mean it then there would be no problems in Nigeria today. The problem is that the overwhelming majority of them, particularly in the older generation, do not think like this, do not believe it and cannot say openly even if they did it. And that is where the problem lies. Trust me when I tell you that this is a very real problem that is brewing now and we must not attempt to sweep it under tha carpet or just wish it away. There are young, moderate and reasonable men and women like El Rufai on both sides of the regional divide and therein lies the hope for the future of our nation but if the extreemists on both sides of this very real divide take over this matter and are allowed to conduct this debate without the voice of reason or restraint prevailing then this issue will lead to a terrible conflict next year which could even tear apart our nation, set us back many years and pull down our democracy. That is why I believe that zoning should be scrapped by every party and people should just be allowed to contest or vote in whichever way they want. That is the only way forward and not idle threats from anyone or group of persons from either of the two sides.
If democracy falls or is brought to an end by the military next year as a consequence of the infighting between northern and southern politicians over where the power should go next year, then we ALL lose, whether we are from the north or from the south. The only people that will gain will be the military. And we will all suffer and regret it. That is why I find this meeting of northern leaders demanding for zoning so dangerous and unreasonable. Supposing the southern leaders meet tomorrow and say that there must be no zoning under any circumstances or else. Then the seeds for a reginal conflict would have been planted….as a matter of fact they have already been planted.The people of the north have to tell their leaders to stop putting Nigeria on the brink of turmoil by having such retrogressive meetings and making such undemocratic and unreasonable demands. There is no ”you must vote for one of our sons or else” philosophy in democracy……..not in the politics of Nigeria in 2010. Those days of hegemony, threats, manipulation, annulments and domination have long gone and they have gone forever. There can be no going back to that. Not now and not ever.