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Now Is Not The Time To Talk of Separation, By Hassan Gimba

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Now is not the time to talk of separation, by Hassan Gimba

The calls for Nigeria to dissolve into its various parts have never been this high. The call is more strident in the Southern part of the country. In the South East, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is calling for autonomy of the zone, populated by the Igbo. In the South West, there are also such calls. The North, too, is not left out as many stakeholders align with those who think it is not worth remaining in a union with those who no longer want it.

In the South, especially the east, the agitation is so widespread and gaining momentum that it is threatening to get out of hand. The general feeling there is that of people seeking freedom from bondage. Unfortunately, southern agitation is fueled by propaganda which the government could not counter. The skewed information dished out is becoming the truth in the minds of those targeted, those meant to be convinced.

Perhaps miffed by the avalanche of the propaganda, all mischievously and deliberately slanted to achieve certain goals, the North reacted. A section of its elders met and stated that the southeast should be allowed to go. That the north, and indeed Nigeria, is not willing to fight anymore to keep anyone in the federation.

A major aberration is that those who cry about being victims are in reality those who victimise. However, they craftily make it look like they are at the receiving end or there is a grand conspiracy to end their existence on earth. In other parts of the country, they move freely and engage in their activities without harassment from any quarter. In their area, certain people are not as free and they live on borrowed time.

But we have come a long way as a nation. No one should force anyone to remain in Nigeria as a Nigerian. We have to remain together as one in our collective interest. To borrow from a popular cliché, united we will stand, divided we shall all fall.

I have some time ago written that even if Nigeria would balkanise, now is the wrong time, for all our sakes. The best time would have been 1966 and, perhaps by now, we would all have been independent nationalities, each with its peculiar problems and prospects. But now, none of the six geopolitical zones can survive outside Nigeria. Bandits, insurgents, militants and would overwhelm us all. Even the Igbo nation cannot stand on its own if left alone to the arrogance and demagoguery of its anointed secessionist leader.

Even though the Boko Haram insurgency appears to be getting to an end, the truth is if turmoil overtakes Nigeria, the chances that the insurgents will roll out their “caliphate” and become the lords of the north-east are high.

The north-west and north-central probably may go to the bandits and herdsmen who could easily be tempted to join hands with Boko Haram–if they are not under their control already.

The south-east may likely witness fights between groups clamouring for dominance. The group with the most arms and daredevil members may triumph after protracted warfare. Militants will rule the coasts and each group may have its fiefdom. Perhaps the only zone that may move on as a nation-state after a little turmoil may be the south-west. It has a political leadership and is economically better organised. Its youth can respect the elders as well.

The northern elders know the uncertainties and dangers associated with the dissolution of Nigeria now. Despite its bravado, the discerning from the south-east also knows that the upheavals to be witnessed in their zone with Nigeria’s dissolution is better imagined than witnessed.

With all the brave faces being shown by the Igbo living in the North, they know that living in the North is far better than going back to the East. At the height of the Boko Haram killings in Borno and Yobe, two states at the epicenter of the insurgency, many of them that fled back home, returned almost immediately afterwards. The stories they gave of their experiences were horrific. Those of them living at home are mostly the ones bent on seeing that those outside return. Envy? Well, only they and their God know.

With the current situation of Nigeria, it is wise for all parties to sheathe their swords and extend the hand of concord, friendship, and understanding to one another.

Most of those shouting for dissolution are those who have lost out and think they cannot compete favourably with others within the united nation. So they believe they can be lords of the manor at a part.

Let us build the country, make it peaceful and secure. The average Nigerian may not give a hoot who the president will be as long as there will be fairness and justice; and as long as he can provide for his family the necessities of life. This is at the root of the problem.

The masses of people do not hate one another. In the communities where they cohabit, they often live in peace and respect for one another. It is the political class that tries to cause division among Nigerians to profit from the fracas that result. For they know that once the suspicion and contrived conflict among the various peoples that make up this potentially great nation are pushed aside, the people will band together to understand who their common enemies are – those who have systematically appropriated the vast resources of this country for themselves, their families and few associates.

And while they gorge themselves on the people’s commonwealth, seeking to perpetuate their unfair privilege, the masses wallow in the most dehumanizing living conditions one can imagine.

The agitations being witnessed may spread to engulf the country as those ostracised from a reasonable distribution of our country’s wealth for decades will be up in arms, unleashing their frustrations on all of us. If not addressed properly, and when the masses get a uniting leadership, the pull at the country’s seams will increase and thus threaten its very existence.

But the bulk of Nigerians know we are better off together. Even in the East where the call for dissolution has been long and in the west where it just began, most of the intelligent class do not subscribe to a dismemberment; they want a governance arrangement that they feel can stand a better chance of improving the general well-being of all than what is currently on offer.

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Opinion

Goronyo Attack: NEGF Donate N20M, As Zulum, Yahaya Pay Sympathy Visit To Sokoto

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Goronyo Attack: NEGF’ Donate N20m, As Zulum , Yahaya pay sympathy visit to Sokoto

By Madu Mohammed, Maiduguri

The Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum alongside his Gombe counterpart, Governor Inuwa Yahaya were on Saturday in Sokoto on behalf of the Northeast Governor’s Forum (NEGF) on a condolence and solidarity visit to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal over a recent attack on Goronyo market by bandits, which left about 40 dead..

Governor Zulum who is the Chairman of the NEGF, accompanied by Governor Inuwa Yahaya led the visit on behalf of the Northeast Governors Forum, and donated N20m as solidarity humanitarian support.

Governor Zulum while condoling Governor Tambuwal at the Government House, Sokoto said the Northeast Governors share the grief of families affected by the attack hence the delegation, to register their condolence and express solidarity.

Zulum prayed for the return of peace in Sokoto and all parts of Nigeria, noting his doors are always open to exchange of experiences given from challenges faced by Borno State, and steps being adopted on the way forward.

Respinding, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal expressed profound gratitude to the Northeast Governors Forum, stressing that the visit was a soothing balm to victims and affected families, and to the entire people of Sokoto State.

Tambuwal further described the coming of Governors Zulum and Yahaya as a clear manifestation of love and brotherhood between the Northeast and the Northwest in general, and between Borno, Gombe and Sokoto States.

Governor Tambuwal acknowledged the many efforts of Zulum in Borno since becoming Governor two years ago.

The two Governors were accompanied to Sokoto by Borno’s Commissioners for Agriculture, Bukar Talba, Works, Architect Yerima Saleh, Adviser on Special Duties, Bakari Ali Kotoko, and Adviser on Local Government and Emirate Affairs, Abba Kawu Shehu Garbai.

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The North East: Which Way Forward?, By Hassan Gimba

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The North East: Which Way Forward?, by Hassan Gimba

Being a speech delivered by Hassan Gimba, publisher of Neptune Prime online newspaper and magazine, chairman Northeast Publishers’ Forum, as the Guest Speaker at the 6th Annual Awards and Recognition Night of the Northeast Star magazine, held on the 21st of October, 2021 at the Conference Hall of AUN, Yola, Adamawa State.

All protocols observed.

The North East came into existence on the 5th of May, 1967 when, in his bid to check the influence of Odumegwu Ojukwu in the East, General Yakubu Gowon created 12 states out of the four regions in the country.

On the 3rd of February, 1976, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed divided the monolith North Eastern state into three – Borno, Bauchi and Gongola. These three states were further divided into six by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on the 27th of August, 1991. From Borno we got Yobe, Bauchi gave birth to Gombe and from Adamawa came Taraba.

From a part of the Northern Region to an independent state, the North East, which now boasts of six states, has always been number one among its peers in almost all aspects of human endeavour – but from the rear.

For instance, in 2017, Taraba State was number 21 in Nigeria in WAEC, Borno number 25, Adamawa 28, Bauchi 31, Gombe 34 and Yobe 37. These are the kinds of results we have been getting through the years.

But we all know that education is the foundation upon which individuals, communities, nations develop. Without it, no barriers can be broken.

When you look at the health sector, we have the least number of tertiary hospitals and research institutes in the country.

We have dilapidated infrastructure and a poor road network with a lot of hinterlands unopened, so our farmers have limited access to urban markets. There is currently no functional railway network in the whole of the North East.

All these have not helped because insecurity, fuelled by the Boko Haram insurgency, has ravaged the zone.

Despite all these disadvantages, we have the potential to feed the nation. We have some of the best agrarian fields in the country, with a plateau that boasts of the best temperate climate around.

We have produced some of the best brains in the country. The Golden Voice came from here. The North East has produced great technocrats, captains of industry, politicians and statesmen that have contributed to making Nigeria a great nation.

What many cannot understand is that it is the North East that has given stability to a political North that allows such to be translated into national stability.

In 1978, a son of the North East, Malam Adamu Ciroma, despite being arguably better qualified, embraced a North Westerner to form the central government. When the opposition wanted to destabilise the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, a North Easterner, stood against that.

By joining the government of General Sani Abacha in 1993, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe yanked the carpet from under the feet of those who wanted to destabilise the nation because of the annulment of the June 12 elections.

One of the greatest North Easterners of all time is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. A true democrat if ever there was one. He, more than almost everyone, has deepened our democracy through seeking court pronouncements to restore his rights after his falling out with his then principal, President Olusegun Obasanjo, and many other democratic actions. He has pushed us towards democratisation and the acceptance of democracy.

Even though the North West and North Central are bigger than the North East, the zone has always acted as the big brother for peace to reign. Politically, we have always given in to the two other zones to produce the president.

This is not because of incapacity. No, we have always at all points produced capable people who could steer the ship of state successfully and to the satisfaction of all. We have always given in to maintaining our bond and ties. We view all as our brothers and we love being our brothers’ keepers.

We have never cried over this. While others may want to see it as marginalisation if it were them, we see it as a unifying gesture. But now is the time for them to reciprocate.

The North East should henceforth mobilise and sensitise people on the fact that it is now its turn to produce the next president.

Another sound argument is that we have capable hands that can take this nation forward. We have them: those who will be fair to all and have the nation at heart; those who will give everyone their rights; those who can turn around the fortunes of this nation and make it into the great nation that it ought to be.

But we should not mouth such an agenda as a slogan. We have to be deliberate in working for it and working towards it. We have to start by empowering ourselves. Those with the opportunity to empower people should do so; those empowered owe it as a duty to build up others.

Some of the senior North Easterners have done so – building institutions and businesses that would take many people off the streets and thus cutting down on the recruitment base of insurgents and perpetrators of violent crimes.

Our political stakeholders must, as a matter of urgency, look into our political recruitment process. Governors should not be afraid of having capable hands in the houses of assembly in their states. A situation where nitwits, instead of brilliant young chaps, are pushed to the legislature will not augur well for our present and future development.

When a governor recruits those brilliant minds, they don’t take his glory away because he remains “His Excellency” in the state and any success must be linked to his name, but he gets them to apply their God-given resources to work for the people, the state and the region. They also learn the fine points of politics, leadership and governance which will prepare them for service to the people at local, state and national levels.

READ ALSO: 2023: Let’s Look To The North East, by Hassan Gimba

By surrounding themselves with such good heads, the governors and other political office holders will provide good leadership not only now but also in the future.

This is, however, a short, medium and long-term plan.

From now till 2023, we must mobilise the North East to know that the presidency should come here. Not for any personal gain, but because taking Nigeria out of the woods has once more fallen on its shoulders.

Once more?, people ask. Yes, once more, is the answer. The North East is the hub of northern politics. Northern politics that reached out to dominate national politics started in this zone. The discussions for the formation of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) which culminated in its fruition in Zaria, started in Bauchi.

The first political party in Nigeria, the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) was founded in Bauchi and its intellectual fountain was Sa’ad Zungur. Malam Aminu Kano keyed in because he was a teacher in Bauchi then. We should also not forget Ibrahim Imam and his Borno Youth Movement.

Perhaps we do not want our brothers from the North West and North Central to think because Nigerian politics started in our zone, that’s why we want to Lord it over them. And so we always bend backwards for them.

People with vast resources, rich culture and history always make good leaders.

The North East is the richest zone in the country. The exploration of the Mambila Plateau will reveal one of the most natural resources endowed areas of the world. Apart from that, we have many other natural resources that can turn any nation into an economic superpower if harnessed.

We have had Mali and Songhai empires not to talk of the thousand-year-old Kanem Bornu empire. The Adamawa Kingdom is transnational.

When you look at it from the angle of national unity, the bulk of those who fought to keep Nigeria one were also from the Northeast.

Therefore, a North Easterner coming out of such an endowed region will be a blessing to the entire nation.

As we leave this hall, we should all disperse into the nooks and crannies of this blessed country and call all to join us in producing a leader who will salvage this country. Tell them there is a Northeasterner that can.

Thank you.

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Opinion

2023: Let’s Look To The North East, By Hassan Gimba

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2023: Let’s Look To The North East, by Hassan Gimba

If I were to be as sentimental as people are, I would say the North East, my zone, must produce the president in 2023.

Many people fight for their people, region, zone or state to produce the president for various reasons.

Reasons may range from the fact that a president attracts some goodies to his area. Ministers and other chief executives fall over themselves to site projects where the president comes from. Captains of industry, too, are not left behind in the jostle to provide for where the president hails from.

People from the president’s locality also have a false sense of being first-class citizens, oblivious to the fact that those from other areas may end up benefiting more from the administration. Those that would never have been heard of in their lifetime were it not for their association with the president’s roots can become overnight celebrities and points of reference.

For these and many other related mundane concerns of living in a competitive environment where resources are ever dwindling, people can go to any length for theirs to be there.

The concern is not for the nation, nor for the future or the wellbeing of the people. The primary push is self, then tribe. It is so unfortunate, but that is the reality. The religious card too is played, but that too is a complete game of its own. Whether Muslim or Christian, denomination comes in. Just because the other one is your tribe and religion, if he belongs to a denomination you consider hell-bound, then he can be denied anything, including the right to live.

Perhaps these reasons are why many seek political offices and the majority push others to political seats, hoping to reap where they have sowed.

This struggle to get “our share” from the national cake has seen brothers fighting one another, sometimes to the death. Our politics has become a do-or-die affair as buttressed by a one time president when he was seeking re-election. The smart alecs among our political elite have pitched us against ourselves, using our two major fault-lines – religion and region.

Many of us worship clerics and not God. Therefore, some can “remove” or “admit” others into religion as they have appropriated it. Their religion is just in the tongue but not in the hearts. Had we been worshippers of God, the true God, perhaps there would be more peace than we are witnessing. Our other god is the tribe. Some would not mind the country going to blazes as long as one from their tribe is not where they want him to be. That is on the one hand. There are also those who are hell-bent on excluding people from other tribes from the scheme of things, who think what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.

Many of the political elite, as we earlier said, thrive in deceit because if the citizenry knew the truth, their unworthiness would be glaring. They have ensnared and enslaved their people with falsehood even as they think they are thinking freely. They are those who Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749–22 March 1832), the German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, and critic talked about.

He said, “None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Masters who rule them with lies have kept from the depth of their minds the truth. They feed them falsehoods till something wrong looks right in their eyes.”

If not, how do you situate the recent statement by Professor Daniel Saror at his 80th birthday celebration in Makurdi to the applause of Governor Samuel Ortom and those who have always been blinded by the rogue elite? Professor Saror was the 7th vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, when ABU Zaria was ABU Zaria. He was also a two-term senator, first in 1999 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and in 2003 under the banner of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

One may assume someone of his calibre – and age – will be more circumspect in his utterances, having reached a level to be regarded as an elder statesman. Unfortunately, he unashamedly said, “The insecurity we are experiencing in Benue and Nigeria today is not an accident. It is a planned programme. Boko Haram does not consist of miscreants. They are intelligent people; they are highly connected in Nigeria and other countries in the world and the mission is simple: they want to conquer and Islamise the nation. The Jihadists that you hear about in the North-West are also not miscreants. They are highly connected, highly motivated, and highly experienced in their own (sic) ideas and what they want. They want to spread the caliphate throughout Nigeria.

“The armed Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents have contacts that extend to the Middle East, Asia, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, among others. They are funded in billions of naira to execute the conquest agenda of the caliphate in the country.” Such balderdash!

This is the unfortunate reality of our country. But we can change that; by just getting a listening, considerate, fair-minded and competent leader, all these problems would fizzle out.

A just leader will ensure that each community, each Nigerian, whether or not they voted for him, regardless of whether they belong to the same area with him, whether or not they profess the same religious belief with him, gets their rightful share.

Nigeria will know peace and rapid development, the moment a citizen realises he does not have to fight or follow a shortcut to get his normal entitlements.

Above all, we need someone who can create maximum wealth out of the country’s natural endowments.

As the 2023 race gathers momentum, it becomes incumbent upon us all to scout for, and draft into the race, a man with such qualities. The consideration should not be whether the president is from the North or South, Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo, or that Nigeria now deserves a Northern or Southern president, Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo President. We do not also need a Muslim or Christian president. What Nigeria needs now is a Nigerian president – one that will put Nigeria first above lucre, region, religion and all other affiliations.

As is becoming our political culture, the president of the country is being recruited from among governors or those who were once governors. Maybe as our democracy deepens and matures, the field may expand to include those from the National Assembly, private sector, bureaucrats, etc.

If that is the case, we can safely assume that our next president may come from the current crop of governors, irrespective of whether that person has served just a term or two. There are some among the current crop of governors that have done well. While fulfilling their mandates at state levels, they are also contributing towards national peace and harmony, calming frayed nerves all over the nation, giving everyone and all parts of the country some sense of belonging and thus stabilising the government at the centre. While we have such governors in all the zones, the North East can claim to have the doyen of them all.

However, I do not want to be trapped in the sentiment of promoting a North Easterner for president in 2023 just because it is my region. Rather, I will support the North Easterner because I know he can do it, because I know he is an excellent material, because I know he is competent and can take us out of the woods, not primarily because he is a North Easterner. After all, it is fate that conspired to bring him out of there. I would still have gone for him were he from the South, East or West, Muslim or Christian.

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