THE concept of one united Northern Nigeria where the leaders speak with one voice has survived attempts to balkanise the three regions of the country. Not even the creation of 19 states out of the former Northern region has shaken this belief that the North is one entity where tribe and tongues may differ but they are united in fighting a common cause to protect the interest of all people from Northern Nigeria. The North is united in fighting for the political economic, socio-cultural and religions interest of its people within the larger enclave called Nigeria.
The people have common economic and financial institutions that promote development of their region. This unique position of the North is very different from that of its Southern counterparts which were never administered by one administrator right from the colonial days. The position of the North on issues is very different from those of its Southern counterparts, who have never bothered to have one united forum such as the Northern Governors’ forum. Attempts by the first group of governors from Southern Nigeria to have such united entity fizzled out after the initial efforts made at the beginning of the present civilian dispensation. After a few highly media-hyped meetings, the Southern governor’s forum appears to be in coma and the hope of reviving it is anybody’s guess.
Unlike the moribund Southern body, the Northern governors’ meeting has continued to convey the message of a united North despite the creation of 19 independent states out of this former region. Bishop Hassan Kukah succinctly pointed this out on June 17, in Bernin kebbi, Kebbi State, when he said: “As if in defiance, despite the creation of the 36 states and six zones in Nigeria, these states still continue to hold together and define themselves as Northern states. Whereas we have meetings of the governors and traditional rulers of the South West, South-East and South-South, we have not heard of a meeting of the Governors or traditional rulers of North-East, North-West or North Central States. The apparent reason is to demonstrate that the north is still an unbroken bond of unity. No one seems to be able to point at a cultural or an ideological thread holding these diverse peoples with different cultures, languages together to qualify as a united entity.”
Be it as Kukah has said, the current dynamics in the political horizon with the advent of Boko Haram, perennial clashes between the Hausa Fulani herdsmen and the locals in Jos, Plateau, Taraba, and Benue states and the attendant political chicanery, has thrown up dissenting voices in the North. The disenchantment of some members of the powerful Northern Governors’ forum over the furore in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where Jonah Jang was supposed to be the Northern governors candidate to take over from Governor Chibuike Amaechi, is the most visible sign of disunity among the North. The Boko Haram killings which affected more churches than the mosques is also causing disaffection between the Northern Christians and Muslims. All these are coming into play with the politicians strategising for the emergence of a president of Northern extraction in the 2015 elections.
As some northern prominent leaders and politicians canvass for one Northern agenda in 2015 election, there are other discordant voices also from the North singing a different tune that anybody qualified who is not from the region can emerge as the president. This has thrown up the idea that the much-touted concept of one united North is an illusion. The Realnews editorial team has investigated this claim and our findings are detailed in this week’s cover story entitled: One North, Many Voices. It was anchored by Olu Ojewale, general editor. You will be happy reading it.
— Aug. 12, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT